Maisha Simmons is a director with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, dedicated to helping New Jersey be a healthier place to live, work, and play. She joined the Foundation in 2008 as a program associate working to support advocacy efforts to combat childhood obesity. Since that time, she has been responsible for coordinating a variety of programs working to improve healthy eating and active living, violence prevention, family supportive policies, and healthy equity. Throughout her work at the Foundation, her aim has always been to “keeps communities in the picture.”
Simmons has been recognized for her work in philanthropy through various leadership and advisory roles, including with the Executives’ Alliance for Boys and Men of Color and as an Association for Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) Fellow. In 2015 Simmons received the Emerging Leader Award from ABFE.
Prior to her current position with the Foundation, Simmons served as the senior director of foundation relations with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where she managed and facilitated relationships with foundations and other key partners to implement core NAACP programming. Prior to joining the Foundation, she 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. Simmons was a National Urban Fellow with the Community Development Law Center (CDLC) and the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center (INRC) in Indianapolis, Ind. She also served in various positions at Cathedral Community Development Corporation in Perth Amboy, N.J., including director of Community Development, director of Human Services, and development coordinator. In addition, in what she calls her first experience in public health, she served as an inspector with the Union County (N.J.) 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, a master certificate in public administration from Kean University, and a BA from Douglass College, Rutgers University.
Simmons resides in New Jersey, the state where she was born, with her son and husband.