Jenifer Martin, JD –Public Health Advocacy

Member Highlight –April 2017

  • Jenifer Martin, JD (
    • Director, Government Relations, School of Public Health, University of Michigan
    • Co-Lead, Policy Workgroup, University of Michigan Injury Center

What is your current position with the U-M Injury Center?

My role is co-lead of the policy workgroup.  I serve as a liaison between Center faculty and policymakers in Lansing and in Washington, DC.  My work includes developing strategies to share relevant expertise and research findings with appropriate state and federal policymakers, preparing comprehensive, yet comprehensible materials for policymakers and other external stakeholders, and communicating this information in a concise and timely manner.  This is a pivotal time, as the new Administration recently proposed dramatic cuts to federal research funding for the upcoming fiscal year 2018; these cuts could be devastating for the Center and the important work that we do.  I am especially focused on sharing information about the Center’s impact on policy topics such as the opioid epidemic, the rise in concussion and traumatic brain injuries, the implications of distracted driving, the repeal of Michigan’s helmet law, and others.  Last year, Rebecca Cunningham, MD, Director, Marc Zimmerman, PhD, Associate Director, and I met with several members of the Michigan congressional delegation to share an overview of the work we’ve conducted at the Center; this year we will emphasize how this work would be impacted by the current budget proposal.  

How does your work relate to injury prevention?

I am a process person - I am a lawyer by training and am not credentialed in health.  I am not a substantive expert in any of the topical areas comprising the Injury Center's work - but I know how to execute an effective advocacy strategy.  My goal is to apply this process knowledge to whatever injury prevention topics that the Injury Center prioritizes, giving a voice to the important work that we do. 

What are you most proud of in terms of accomplishments or achievements throughout your career?

I am most proud of the work I've done with students over my 15 years at the University.  After years of advising students on a variety of advocacy activities through the campus wide Health Policy Student Association, in 2013 I had the privilege of teaching a class at the School of Public Health.  I frequently guest lecture and give workshops on "advocacy 101" and "policy writing" across campus.  I find that people use the word "policy" very loosely, without fully understanding what it means to influence policy or how to do that - whether at the local, state, or federal level - or even within an organization.  Many people misunderstand "advocacy" or "lobbying" and are hesitant to approach policymakers or other decision makers.  As a publicly funded research institution, our role in informing policy debates is essential!   The steps in effective advocacy strategies are the same, no matter what the setting or issue.  I love teaching students how to approach a problem with these steps in mind and it has been very gratifying to hear from former students about how these steps have resulted in success in their careers.  This is my legacy!  

Click here to view videos of Jen Martin speaking on the topic of advocacy and how to write effective one-pagers. 

Publication Date: 
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Article Type: