Meet Dr. Julie A. Elginer, Dr.PH, MBA

Dr. Elginer teaches CHS M430 Building Advocacy Skills: A Reproductive Health Focus.  This course is supported by the Bixby Center.  Below you will read why students find that this course is one of their favorite and most relevant classes taught throughout the MPH program.

What makes it unique?

The course is a tangible, skills-building experience where students develop a portfolio of deliverables that are immediately transferable into any advocacy initiative or job.   Over the ten weeks, students learn how to develop a comprehensive advocacy plan and as their final deliverable, present it to panelists who are advocacy experts.  The students receive specific recommendations and feedback, such that the plan could conceivably move forward as an advocacy initiative.  In fact, that has been the case several times.  Most recently, in 2016 with “Creating Space: a community-based participatory project born out of the needs of UCLA mothers. The goal was to create an advocacy plan that would better support mothers on campus through improved lactation spaces, administration, support, and education.”

In addition, students learn how to conduct specific advocacy deliverables such as conducting a root cause analysis, a media assessment, writing a letter to the editor or press release, conducting a legislative bill analysis, communicating with legislators offices and how to develop a budget to sustain their advocacy initiatives.  Many students cite this as one of the most valuable experiences during graduate school.   As Dr. Elginer states throughout the course, “You will work.  You will learn.  You will have fun.  You will be imminently qualified to join or lead any advocacy campaign.  You won’t be asked to do something that isn’t exactly what you could expect to do as part of an advocacy job.”

Over the years, the course has become a destination for multiple departments within FSPH including both Community Health Science and Health Policy and Management students.  However, the cohorts also include several students from the Luskin School of Public Affairs including students from Social Welfare Development as well as Public Policy.  Plus, the course often includes students from the David Geffen School of Medicine.  This interdisciplinary seminar allows for a rich discussion and sharing of perspectives as students seek to lift up their voices on behalf of those who most need assistance.

Dr. Elginer has a vast network of reproductive health and advocacy experts who come to UCLA to guest lecture in the class.  As such, the students are learning from those who are working every day and fighting for improved services, improved systems, improved social conditions, and funding allocation.

How does the Bixby Program fit in?

The reproductive health curriculum is the foundation for the entire course.  Students learn how to conduct advocacy using reproductive health as a platform.  The course introduces students to reproductive health topics throughout the lifespan including women’s RH, men’s RH, adolescent RH and more.  Students also learn about emerging reproductive health issues such as maternal mental health, human trafficking, expanding and protecting access to reproductive health services, non-traditional partners in the reproductive health arena, reproductive health technologies.  All assignments and the final deliverable pertain to reproductive health subjects.  As such, students take a “deep dive” into several reproductive health topics both on their own and as part of their group project.

What types of projects do students produce? 

Throughout the six years that the course has been offered, students have produced some impressive deliverables on topics including:

  • Mandate to Educate: Meeting the Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs of Foster Youth in LA County
  • More than Just a Condom: Improving the Sexual and Reproductive Health Services of Young Men of Color
  • Building LARC Capacity at School Based Wellness Centers in Los Angeles County
  • Los Angeles Postpartum Progress Initiative: Improving the Mental Health of Women Through Screening at Well Child Visits

 What do alumni say?

What portions of the course best prepared you for the advocacy initiatives you are working on post-graduation?

  • Bill analysis.  I do it all the time now and it was really helpful.  Also, learning the CA regulatory process and policy system was very helpful.  This was by far one of my favorite and most relevant classes throughout the MPH program.  I highly recommend it to anyone interested in policy or advocacy work, regardless of whether or not reproductive health is your pet issue.  -Erynne Jones, MPH 2012
  • Stakeholder analysis, issue identification, and legislative advocacy assignments were particularly helpful portions of the class. – Laura Carter, MPH 2013
  • Community capacity building, root cause analysis, legislative advocacy, letter of support, and stakeholder power analysis activities are vital in the work I do—hence prepared me for my current position. We also specifically use the social determinants of health to guide our projects. Having an understanding of SDOH is a requirement in my field of work. This was by far one of my favorite graduate courses and one of the most useful. -Fabiola Santiago, MPH 2012
  • The portions of the course that have best prepared me for the advocacy work I have done thus far were those focusing on coalition building, key messaging/talking points/issue framing, analysis of the political/social/economic climate, and stakeholder analysis. However, I feel I have only begun to scratch the surface of ways to use the skills I gained from the course.  Jennifer Frehn, MPH 2013
  • Dr. Elginer’s Advocacy class was the most informative class I took for my Master of Social Welfare degree at UCLA. I learned tangible skills about advocacy, which included media advocacy, legislative advocacy, and organizational advocacy. Dr. Elginer literally used every single moment of class time to teach and review skill sets. She utilized anonymous feedback surveys throughout the course so that she was constantly checking in with the students regarding our requests for additional information/clarification. She worked hard to make sure that the readings were manageable and directly relevant to the course material. She brought in guest lecturers that were effective in elevating/enhancing the course material.  I also appreciated that gender and racial diversity was represented among the guest lecturers.  Dorit Iacobson, MSW 2013

Tell me more about Dr. Elginer’s advocacy background:

Speaking on a panel encouraging women to pursue appointments to boards and commissions post graduation. Photo includes Kimberly Freeman, Asst Dean for Diversity Initiatives and Community Relations

Dr. Elginer is a recognized leader in advocacy and health policy issues.  She has led volunteer non-profit advocacy throughout California and in Washington DC.   She has drafted legislation, conducted policy analysis, testified before the legislature and successfully advocated for several issues including perinatal mental health, human trafficking, categorical eligibility of food stamps, microbicides funding and more.  In 2010, the California Assembly bestowed upon her an Individual Member Resolution for her “lifetime of achievements and meritorious service.”  In 2011, Julie was a member of a delegation recognized by the United Nations Association of New York for her work addressing the perils of human trafficking, along with colleagues from the Association of Junior League International.

Her civic leadership is well recognized, as she holds two appointed positions.   In 2012, she was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to a four-year term as a member of the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners and has held elected leadership roles including as Secretary and Chair of the Governmental Affairs and Strategic Planning Committee.  In 2013, she was appointed by the City of Calabasas as a member of the Environmental Commission and is the immediate past chair.

When is it offered? 

CHS M430 Building Advocacy Skills: A Reproductive Health Focus is offered each spring.  Dr. Elginer also teaches HPM 445: Healthcare Marketing in the fall and HPM 436: Healthcare Financial Management in the winter.

Does Dr. Elginer do anything else? 

Yes!  First and foremost, she is a wife and mom to two active boys ages 11 and 5.  She frequently shares the challenges of being a mom while balancing her consulting business, faculty, gubernatorial appointee, non-profit board member, team mom, youth sports coach and more.

Personally, she is an avid recreational athlete having completed several marathons, triathlons, and obstacle course races.  Julie shares her love of athletics with others, serving as a youth basketball coach.  Most mornings you will find her up early to run and most weekends are spent on the soccer or baseball sidelines.  Her family is very active and loves to hike and explore during their “down time.”   She also believes strongly in direct service and volunteering alongside her sons.  Since 2011, each month the family serves those experiencing hunger and food insecurity through the Conejo Valley Free Meal Program.  She enjoys traveling particularly with an emphasis on global health.  In 2009, Julie and UCLA colleagues conducted a pilot project to determine the feasibility of establishing an emergency medical system (911) in Nairobi, Kenya.