Monica Hobbs Vinluan, a senior program officer, joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in 2015. She is a passionate professional advocate for health promotion and has been a policy champion, on a variety of health and wellbeing issues, for more than two decades.
Throughout her varied and distinguished career, Monica has promoted justice and equity, and her work at RWJF supports policy strategies that help all families have the resources necessary to raise thriving children and achieve ideal health and wellbeing in their communities.
She views her role at RWJF, and previously, as advocating for those who, through structural racism and inequity, lack the power to create change for themselves and their community. In various roles she has worked on reproductive justice, disability rights, equity for those with chronic disease, environmental justice, youth development, childhood obesity prevention, and support for those who live in communities that limit successful health outcomes.
Monica’s career began on Capitol Hill and then she transitioned to a professional lobbyist and advocate. This experience expanded her insight into the role of governance and the nature of power, and how critical it is to restore an equilibrium between those who have power and those who do not. This imbalance can lead to silenced voices, diminished perspectives, and alternative narratives, and she strives to adjust that imbalance. She continues to learn about structural inequities and draw connections to systemic changes that are needed to improve and expand children and families’ access to opportunity.
Her current work focuses on supporting policy strategies, and power realignment, to ensure that all families have the resources necessary to raise thriving children and to create the conditions in communities to allow all residents to reach their best possible health and wellbeing. She has written on a host of related topics, including state policymaking to advance equity and strengthen families; the Child Care Tax Credit program; community programs to promote equity; and school nutrition standards for children.
Prior to joining RWJF, Monica directed YMCA of the USA’s Healthier Communities Initiatives, which catalyzed 250 community and state-level leadership teams to put in place strategies and policies that enabled people to make healthy choices. She also served as a senior policy associate with the National Recreation and Park Association. She was a regulatory counsel with Stateside Associates and a federal legislative counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights. She also worked with the National Women’s Law Center, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, and the National Association of Child Advocates.
She earned her Juris Doctorate at the American University Washington College of Law and was a first-generation college student when she received her BA in Political Science from Virginia Tech. She was the recipient of the Sandra P. Grasso Scholarship for her commitment to advancing social justice and feminism, and has also been honored for her work in opening the Women’s Center at Virginia Tech.
Born in Virginia, Monica currently resides there with her husband and two children. Growing up in different countries gave her an empathetic lens, inquisitive heart, and the emotional intelligence to better understand why some are afforded less opportunities than others. She loves being outside on the trail, at the park, or cheering on sporting events. She is passionate about her family, her community, and her work at RWJF.