Nelba Márquez-Greene, a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in grief, loss, trauma, and their impact on individuals and systems, is the Yale School of Public Health’s new Activist in Residence.
Márquez-Greene joins the team in the Office of Public Health Practice led by Executive Director Susan Nappi, MPH ’01. She also will be working closely with Ijeoma Opara, associate professor of public health (social and behavioral sciences). Her duties will include teaching, advocacy, and community outreach in New Haven.
The appointment of Márquez-Greene, Nappi said, is part of Dean Megan L. Ranney, MD’s vision for growing firearm injury-prevention research, interventions, training, and communication at YSPH. Márquez-Greene brings into this work a focus on those impacted most: the survivors.
“This orientation to the work aligns with OPHP’s commitment to equitable partnership and deeply engaged, community-focused approaches to public health’s complex challenges,” Nappi said.
Said Ranney, “Nelba is an extraordinary human, practitioner, and activist. Her role at YSPH enhances our ability to work on the pervasive epidemic of violence in our country, while centering our efforts in community, caring, and lived experience. We will all learn from, and do better, through Ms. Márquez-Greene’s steady voice and commitment to change.”
“It is a great privilege to join the first independent dean of the Yale School of Public Health,” Márquez-Greene said. “Anyone who knows Dr. Ranney understands how deeply committed she is to firearm injury/gun violence prevention. It’s the real deal with her.”
“I am also thankful we are aligned in our knowing that it is sacred to be in New Haven,” she said. “Working in a city where people have been affected by gun violence for a long time, and often without a fraction of the resources or empathy given to highly covered mass-shooting communities, there are many, many advocates here who have dedicated their lives and practice to this. Learning and sharing on this holy ground and doing it with an equity lens will lead the work.”
While Márquez-Greene said she is thrilled to become an activist in residence at YSPH, she also said she wished her role as a grief and trauma expert specializing in gun violence and firearm injury did not have to exist.
Márquez-Greene’s daughter, Ana Grace, 6, was one of 20 students, and 6 administrators and teachers who were killed in a mass shooting at Sandy Hook School in Newtown. Connecticut on Dec. 14, 2012. Through her own practice, This Grieving Life, and through her Ana Grace Project, Márquez-Greene has channeled her grief into helping others who have experienced similar trauma.
Márquez-Greene has an MA in marriage and family therapy from the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut. She founded the Connecticut Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (CTAMFT) Diversity Committee and served on the CTAMFT Board of Directors. She is recipient of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy’s 2004 Minority Fellowship Award and the CTAMFT’s 2004 Distinguished Professional Service Award and 2013 Service to Families Award.
In 2018, Márquez-Greene received the YWCA (CT) Women’s Leadership Award. In 2019, she was featured in People magazine as one of Ten Women Changing the World and was also recognized by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Law ‘73, and Chelsea Clinton in their book “The Book of Gutsy Women.” She has testified and advocated at the state and federal levels on many different mental health initiatives, hosted TEDx talks, is a nationally sought-after speaker, and has written several op-ed pieces.
Márquez-Greene is the second Activist in Residence at YSPH. She joins Angelo Pinto, a longtime activist, attorney, and political strategist who became the first person to assume that position in February 2022.