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Our team

Valerie Ward headshot

Valerie L. Ward, MD, MPH

Senior Vice President and Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer
Director, Sandra L. Fenwick Institute for Pediatric Health Equity and Inclusion

Dr. Ward provides leadership, vision, and strategic oversight for Boston Children’s Sandra L. Fenwick Institute for Pediatric Health Equity and Inclusion. The Fenwick Institute is focused on evidence-based knowledge creation from innovative pediatric health equity research that addresses relevant and important health inequities for children. The Fenwick Institute has also created a novel leadership-development program for mid-career professionals with a focus on health equity, diversity, and inclusion as well as innovative biomedical research studies and initiatives to ensure more equitable health outcomes for all children.

As a nationally recognized thought leader on pediatric health equity, Dr. Ward is sought after to provide her expertise through national pediatric research and clinical collaborations. She represents Boston Children’s on national steering committees and collaborative working groups, including the Solutions for Patient Safety (SPS) Health Equity Leadership Workgroup, SPS Safety Disparities Steering Committee, Inaugural Children’s Hospital Association Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group, and the Pediatric Health Equity Collaborative. She is a health equity advisor and a co-leader of the Health Equity Core for the Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs Research Network. She is also a member of the Strategic Advisory Board of the Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership.

Lois Lee headshot

Lois K. Lee, MD, MPH

Associate Director for Public Policy, Sandra L. Fenwick Institute for Pediatric Health Equity and Inclusion
Senior Associate in Pediatrics, Division of Emergency Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital
Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Lois Lee’s clinical and academic work focuses on pediatric emergency medicine, health equity, and health policy as a physician at Boston Children’s Hospital. At Harvard Medical School she is the founder and co-director for the course “Social Change and the Practice of Medicine.” Dr. Lee has published seminal research on pediatric emergency medicine, health equity, and health policy. She has published research related to the association of poverty with health outcomes, improving care for patients with limited English proficiency, and the effects of legislation on health outcomes. She has also published on workforce development for women in medicine and implicit bias and skills for caring for diverse patients.

Dr. Lee has a long track record of health policy and advocacy work. She was a co-lead on the teams that helped pass the Massachusetts booster seat and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) laws. She was a Nick Littlefield Health Policy Fellow at the Network Excellence for Health Innovation in 2017. During this time, she served on the health policy staff for Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). She is the inaugural director of the Academic Pediatric Association’s (APA) Health Policy Scholars Program. Her passion for improving child health drives her clinical care in the emergency department, research, teaching of trainees and faculty, and advocacy work in health equity.

Paul Rufo headshot

Paul A. Rufo, MD, MMSc

Associate Director for Inclusion, Sandra L. Fenwick Institute for Pediatric Health Equity and Inclusion
Attending Physician, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition

Dr. Paul Rufo is a lifelong resident of Boston and the first member of his family to pursue a career in medicine. His reliance on building a supporting network has afforded him direct insight into the challenges aspiring medical students face when they have no family or social mentors on whom they can rely to advise them through the pre-medical process.

Dr. Rufo joined the Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition Program at Boston Children’s Hospital in 1993. As GI Fellowship Program Director for 12 years, he mentors residents and fellows as well as graduate students in his research group.

Dr. Rufo has also been a leader in helping develop innovative mentoring programs that identify and support promising and enthusiastic high school and college students from underrepresented populations. Working with fellows and faculty members across Boston Children’s, he is focused on uncovering the root causes of inequities in entering the field of medicine and recruiting diverse faculty and staff to help make Boston Children’s a model of inclusive opportunity.

Ravi Thiagarajan headshot

Ravi R. Thiagarajan, MBBS, MPH

Associate Director for Research, Sandra L. Fenwick Institute for Pediatric Health Equity and Inclusion 
Chief, Division of Cardiovascular Critical Care
Callaghan Family Chair in Cardiac Intensive Care

Dr. Ravi Thiagarajan is a staff physician in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Boston Children’s Hospital. He is interested in exploring social and clinical mechanisms that lead to health care disparities and building health care policies that improve outcomes for all children based on these findings.

Dr. Thiagarajan obtained his medical degree at the University of Madras, Tamil Nadu, India, and subsequently moved to the United States to complete residency training in Pediatrics, and fellowship training in Pediatric Critical Care and Pediatric Cardiology.

He has cared for Boston Children’s patients since 1998 and earned a Master of Public Health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in 2005. His research interests are in studying the short- and long-term outcomes of critical illness in children, especially those requiring mechanical circulatory support.

Faceless Woman

Melicia Whitley, MM

Senior Administrative Director

Melicia Whitley supports the Fenwick Institute for Pediatric Health Equity and Inclusion as an organizational partner with the director and associate directors to develop, execute, and monitor strategic planning to advance the Institute’s three focus areas: health equity research, inclusive excellence, and public policy.

Before joining Boston Children’s Hospital, Melicia was the associate director for Finance and Research Administration at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Biostatistics in AIDS Research, where she managed the finance team and oversaw the overall fiscal, operational, and administrative management of two international National Institutes of Health HIV clinical trials network awards (cooperative agreements).