Susan L. Polan, PhD, is associate executive director for public affairs and advocacy with the American Public Health Association. She oversees the Association’s departments of government relations and affiliate affairs, communications and membership. She is responsible for planning and directing APHA’s legislative, regulatory and legal activities, communicating those initiatives and Association news to members and the public, and overseeing membership recruitment and retention and Affiliate, Caucus and Section relations.
Prior to joining APHA, Polan worked as the director of government relations at the Trust for America’s Health, a public health advocacy organization. There, she served as lead staff lobbyist to Congress, federal agencies and the administration on priority issues, including public health infrastructure development, chronic disease prevention and where she advocated for new funding for a nationwide health tracking network.
Polan has almost three decades of experience in public health, government relations and associations. She has drafted legislation for Senate consideration on tobacco control and Safe and Drug Free Schools as an American Association for Advancement of Science Congressional science and technology fellow for the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee. She served as director of federal government relations at the American Cancer Society and as president and senior advisor of Partnership for Prevention, where she represented the nonprofit to government officials, congressional offices, the Congressional Prevention Coalition and other partners. She has also worked as a health policy consultant whose projects included encouraging an increase in funding for environmental health concerns and grant writing for several health clients.
Polan earned her bachelor of science degree in psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She later earned a master’s of science degree in health psychology from San Diego State University and a doctorate in social ecology from the University of California, Irvine.