Deion S. Hawkins, Ph.D., is a community-engaged researcher and first-generation scholar/activist who teaches health advocacy and health & social change at Emerson College in Boston, MA. He is passionate about dismantling inequitable structures in public health and teaching the next generation how to fight for health equity. Deion has a background in health communication campaigns and Critical Race Theory (CRT), focusing on decreasing HIV acquisition rates in Black queer men. Additionally, he is leading the charge in documenting the frequent trauma and psychological distress that the Black community faces after acts of police brutality. Dr. Hawkins wholeheartedly believes police brutality is a public health issue. His research can be seen in American Behavioral Scientist, Health Communication & Social Media + Society. He is also Senior Editor for The Reckoning, a publication housed at the Counter Narrative Project, which focuses on policy and health narrative change for Black queer men. As a racial justice consultant and health equity expert, Deion has worked on health equity projects for AIDS United, MPACT Global Action Network, UNAIDS, PEPFAR, Maryland Department of Health, and Massachusetts Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coalition.
As a critical scholar, Dr. Hawkins is adamant about using his academic power and privilege for the greater good and social change. Thus, he remains rooted in the community and fighting for health equity. Dr. Hawkins serves as the Coalition Manager for HIV Racial Justice Now! (HRJN), a group founded by BIPOC leaders aiming for racial equity in the U.S. HIV response. HRJN! promotes racial equity in the HIV response by advancing political education, movement building, policy advocacy, narrative change, and resource allocation. Our work led to AIDS United’s Racial Justice Index in 2023 and Funders Concerned About AIDS (FCAA) Racial Justice Principles in HIV Philanthropy in 2021. Dr. Hawkins also serves on the Board of Directors for Boston Healthcare for The Homeless, a nonprofit dedicated to providing comprehensive and dignified healthcare for the unhoused community in Boston.
The inaugural 40 under 40 cohort represents the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, researchers, scientists, activists, intellectual provocateurs, authors, and directors who inspire and catalyze us all to a more just and equitable world.