About Renee Gross
Renee is a health policy consultant in the Institute for Health Policy at Kaiser Permanente. In her role, Renee co-leads the organization’s mental health initiative and provides content and strategy expertise on community health issues. She also conducts research, tracks policy developments, and facilities conversations among internal and experts in the field. Renee is currently focused on child trauma and resiliency, suicide prevention, mental health in schools, and access to healthy, affordable food. Other topics she tracks include health care workforce issues and Medicaid access and coverage.
Prior to joining Kaiser Permanente, Renee served as Public Policy Manager at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a nonprofit organization focused on ensuring that the environments that surround children provide and promote good health. In this role, she led the organization’s policy strategy and supported campaigns across the country aimed at passing legislation that reduced childhood obesity and diet-related chronic diseases. Before that, she worked at the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, conducting research on food and beverage marketing to children and sugary drink taxes.
Renee holds a bachelor’s degree from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and a J.D. from DePaul University College of Law.
Get to know Renee
What are your areas of policy expertise
Throughout my career, I have focused on improving children’s health through a variety of programs and policies at every level of government. The pandemic has shifted how health care is delivered, so I am tracking which flexibilities should remain in the future, such as simplifying the SNAP/WIC enrollment processes, responding to changing workforce needs, and improving telehealth options for mental health services.
Tell us about a few of your professional accomplishments
I bring over a decade of experience in the non-profit and private sectors. Prior to Kaiser Permanente, I led a policy initiative focused on passing childhood obesity prevention policies at the state and local level in collaboration with over 40 national public health partners. I also conducted research and worked on several reports outlining the prevalence of unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children: 2014 Sugary Drinks F.A.C.T.S. Report and a Report Detailing Food and Beverage Marketing to Communities of Color. A highlight of my career is testifying before the New York State Assembly on sugary drink warning labels and submitting public comments on a variety of public health topics, including school wellness policies and federal nutrition guidelines.
I currently serve as an advisor to the Healthy Food Policy Project, a USDA-funded collaboration between UConn Rudd Center, Vermont Law School, and the Public Health Law Center to identify and elevate local laws that promote access to healthy food while also contributing to strong local economies, an improved environment, and health equity.
What drives you in health policy?
Health equity has played an important role in my career. I’ve worked in legal aid to improve housing options for low-income families, researched and reported on unhealthful food and beverage marketing to children and youth, examined nutrition and food access policies, and highlighted emerging environmental issues. Currently, I am interested addressing health equity issues within behavioral and mental health care.
Outside of work, what interests you?
Outside of work, I enjoy cooking, hiking, and reading. After the pandemic, I am looking forward to spending time with my family and friends across the country.