Ninez A. Ponce, PhD, MPP, is the director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, and Professor and Fred W. & Pamela K. Wasserman Endowed Chair in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. She leads the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the nation’s largest state health survey, recognized as a national model for data collection on race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) and immigrant health.
CHIS is the only large-scale population survey that includes Tagalog, Vietnamese, Korean, Cantonese, and Mandarin, in addition to Spanish and English in administering the survey to a representative sample of California’s adults, adolescents, and young children. It is considered a gold standard for other state-level efforts on meaningful inclusion of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders through oversampling or special samples, and by developing culturally and linguistically appropriate instruments. This approach has resulted in one of the richest datasets with sufficient subsample of the SOGI population, mixed immigrant status (citizen children with noncitizen parents) families, and several major Asian ethnic groups. CHIS is one of the few population datasets that collects information on American Indian/Alaska Native tribal enrollment and whether the tribe is state or federally-recognized.

Ponce is an elected member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and has served on the Board of Scientific Counselors, National Center for Health Statistics. She has participated in committees for the National Academy of Medicine and the National Quality Forum, where her expertise has focused on setting guidance for health systems in the measurement and use of social determinants of health as tools to monitor health equity.  She has received numerous awards from community organizations recognizing her work in community-engaged research. In 2019 Dr. Ponce and her team received the AcademyHealth Impact award for their contributions to population health measurement to inform public policies.

Ponce serves on the Data Disaggregation workgroup for the White House Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Commission. Currently, she is an Associate Editor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at JAMA Health Forum. Her portfolio includes a mixture of scholarly work and real-time knowledge diffusion studies, with over 140 peer-reviewed publications, over 60 policy reports, and various creative data access tools to democratize health data.

Ponce champions better data, especially for people from marginalized racial and ethnic, sexual orientation and gender identity, and immigrant populations.  She firmly believes that equity-centered data will lead to more meaningful program and policy inferences and better care for overlooked groups.

Ponce earned her bachelor’s degree in science at UC Berkeley, her master’s degree in public policy at Harvard University, and her PhD in health services at UCLA.