Shaquallah Shanks

Assistant Director, Office of Patient Care Advocacy Civil Money Penalty Director Tennessee Department of Health

“Health inequalities and the social determinants of health are not a footnote to the determinants of health. They are the main issue.”

Shaquallah Shanks is the Assistant Director for the Office of Patient Care Advocacy at the Tennessee Department of Health and serves as the Project Director for the federally funded Building our Largest Dementia Infrastructure grant, where her work focuses on leading statewide efforts to embed equity into policies and services, developing public health actions, addressing social determinants of health, and providing support for caregivers who take care of people with dementias. 

Shaquallah understands the importance of community-building and cross-sector partnership and collaborates with non-profits academia, state agencies, community organizations, and aging sector stakeholders to explore and expand the public health‘s role in healthy aging. Previously she served as the Director of the Nursing Home Civil Money Penalty (CMP) Reinvestment Program. Through her work she enhanced utilization of the multimillion-dollar Nursing Home CMP funds to improve the quality of care and quality of life of nursing home residents in Tennessee. She also co-hosted and facilitated quarterly National Network Calls for CMP programs across the U.S. 

She implemented cross-functional strategies and statewide initiatives to address COVID-19 and health disparities amongst older adults and served as a consultant for the Tennessee COVID-19 Long Term Care Taskforce. Shaquallah earned her Master’s Degree in Health and Human Performance with a concentration in Public and Community Health from Austin Peay State University. Throughout her Public Health career, she strengthened collaborative partnerships to mobilized communities and organizations to transform practices towards equity for all people. 

In addition to her work related to older adults she developed a statewide Child Safety Collaborative Innovation and Improvement Network (CoIIN) project around interpersonal violence and was selected to participate in the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HDPH) Maternal and Child Health Program Evaluation Practicum cohort. Shaquallah was inducted into the Young Leaders Council.



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.