PIA Executive Committee

Health Policy

Chair: Walter Dawson
Walter Dawson, DPhil, is a health and aging policy researcher and a lifelong advocate for individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and their family care partners. At ten years old, he was invited to testify before a Congressional Committee about his family’s experiences caring for his father who was living with Alzheimer’s disease. Dawson remains one of the youngest people in history to testify before the United States Congress. 

Dawson is currently an Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health with the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) at the University of California, San Francisco and is an Adjunct Professor at the Institute on Aging at Portland State University. His research interests include long-term services and supports financing and public policies and interventions that support people living with dementia including improved cognitive screening and detection efforts. 

Previously, Dawson served as the Director of Research and Analytics at the Oregon Health Care Association in Portland, Oregon and as a Fulbright Scholar to Canada, where he held the Visiting Research Chair in Governance and Public Policy at McMaster University. Dawson also worked in Washington, DC as staff at the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging and at the National Academy of Social Insurance. 

In 2015, Dawson was appointed to the Oregon Governor’s Commission on Senior Services. His volunteer service also includes the Alzheimer’s Association Oregon and SW Washington Chapter’s board, the Alzheimer’s Association’s National Chapters Advisory Workgroup, and the Editorial Board of the American Society on Aging’s journal, Generations. Dawson holds a master’s from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a doctorate in social policy from the University of Oxford.

Vice Chair: Lais Fajersztajn
Laís Fajersztajn is an environmental health epidemiologist. She holds a Ph.D. from the Medical School, University of São Paulo, Brazil, where she studied the health effects of air pollution. Her most cited paper was published in Nature Cancer Review and underlines air pollution as a global issue.  In 2018 she become an Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health at the University of California, San Francisco and started to investigate the relations between air pollution and neurodegenerative diseases. Her research interests include air pollution and other environmental urban exposures, dementia, and social determinants of health, always with an eye towards policy.
Fajersztajn is a specialist in Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis.  At the University of São Paulo at the Institute of Advanced Studies and at the School of Public Health, she has worked with multidisciplinary groups concerned with science-based policies to improve health and well-being in cities. Prior to that, she had the opportunity to work with similar groups at an NGO, which inspired her to become a scientist herself and inaugurated her interest in policy and science. In 2013 she won the Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award, promoted by the Dow Chemistry Company and the University of São Paulo. In 2014, she won the New Voices in Global Health, a competition promoted by The Lancet, University of São Paulo, and the M8 Alliance of Academic Health Centers.

Programs Chair: To be announced

Communications Chair: Jalayne J. Arias
Jalayne J. Arias, JD, MA is an Assistant Professor at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) in the Memory and Aging Center, Department of Neurology. Her research uses empirical legal research methods and qualitative research to explore the legal, ethical, and policy challenges associated with diagnosing and identifying risk for Alzheimer’s disease in adults under the age of 65. Ms. Arias joined UCSF as an Assistant Professor in 2016. She completed the Atlantic Fellowship for Equity in Brain Health at the Global Brain Health between 2016 and 2018. She also completed the Cleveland Fellowship in Advanced Bioethics (Cleveland Clinic) in 2013 and a Master of Art in Bioethics (Case Western Reserve University) in 2012.  Ms. Arias obtained her law degree from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University (2008), where she graduated with a Certificate in Health Law and Order of the Barristers.