Maisha Simmons is a senior program officer focusing on strengthening vulnerable children and families. She is responsible for coordinating a variety of programs working toward violence prevention and healthy equity, including Forward Promise, the Foundation’s $9.5 million initiative that aims to improve the health of middle school- and high school-aged boys and young men of color, as well as their opportunities for success in school, work and life.
Simmons joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2008 as a program associate working to support advocacy efforts to combat childhood obesity. She then became a program officer focusing on creating opportunities for better health by investing in health where it starts—in our homes, schools and jobs. Throughout her work at the Foundation, her aim has always been to “keeps communities in the picture.”
Previously, Simmons was a grant writer and manager with United Way of Essex and West Hudson in Newark, N.J. In addition to managing existing grants, she developed new grant prospects and secured funding for community impact initiatives. She was a National Urban Fellow with the Community Development Law Center (CDLC) and the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center (INRC), Indianapolis, Ind. She also served in various positions at Cathedral Community Development Corporation, Perth Amboy, N.J., including director of Community Development, director of Human Services, and development coordinator. In addition, to what she calls her first experience in public health, she served as an inspector with the Union County Division of Public Works, Bureau of Mosquito Control, during an outbreak of West Nile virus.
Simmons holds an MPA from CUNY/Baruch College, School of Public Affairs, and master certificate in public administration from Kean University, and a BA from Douglass College, Rutgers University.
Simmons resides in N.J., the state where she was born, with her son and husband.