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Nia Johnson

Emerson Collective Fellowship

Nia Johnson’s work is revealing essential truths about how health care systems harm Black Americans.

Nia Johnson is a current health-policy doctoral candidate at Harvard University. She is a graduate of Oakwood University, with a master’s degree in bioethics from the University of Pennsylvania and a Juris Doctor degree from Boston University School of Law. Johnson is a former editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Law & Medicine, and the founder and CEO of the Mazingira Bioethics Group, a bioethics consultancy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed—and exacerbated—historic, systemic health inequalities in communities of color. This is especially true in Flint, Michigan, where thousands of families still live without access to clean running water for hand washing, and where many suffer from illnesses caused by the water crisis that are known comorbidities with COVID-19.

As an Emerson Collective Fellow, Johnson is producing a scholarly study that quantifies the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Flint, Michigan, and reveals how it has compounded the harms of the water crisis. She will use this study to propose a solution to a problem that has yet to be fully addressed by academic literature and by the courts: How to compensate residents for the combined devastation of two historic public-health crises.