Policy Change Advocate and Mental Health Expert Dr. Zainab Okolo Joins The Jed Foundation As Inaugural Senior Vice President of Policy, Advocacy, and Government Relations

Policy Change Advocate and Mental Health Expert Dr. Zainab Okolo
Joins The Jed Foundation As Inaugural Senior Vice President of Policy,
Advocacy, and Government Relations

Okolo will lead efforts to collaborate with federal, state, and local government policymakers on substantive actions to support youth mental health and suicide prevention initiatives.

Dr. Okolo headshot[May 1, 2023, New York City] — The Jed Foundation (JED) announces that Zainab Okolo, Ed.D., LCMFT, has been named Senior Vice President of Policy, Advocacy, and Government Relations. 

Dr. Okolo will lead JED’s growing Advocacy and Government Relations function, leveraging key relationships with external networks to strengthen the organization’s national and state-level presence as a trusted resource in advocating for new federal, state, and local support for a comprehensive approach to mental health and suicide prevention. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Okolo to JED. Her deep knowledge of mental health and education policy and lifelong commitment to equity and access make her an ideal choice to lead JED’s advocacy and public policy priorities to promote emotional well-being and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults,” said JED CEO John MacPhee. “As more youth struggle emotionally, we want to ensure that JED strengthens our policy, advocacy, and government relations efforts in order to help protect the mental health of young people.”

With more than a decade of practice, policy, and advocacy experience, Dr. Okolo comes to JED after most recently serving as Strategy Officer at Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. She led efforts focused on holistic student supports, including mental health, student parents, and proactive advising. Dr. Okolo designed and established the foundation’s mental health partnerships and investments while advising key stakeholders, including the U.S. Department of Education (ED), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO), the American Council on Education (ACE), and the Steve Fund. In her role, she ensured an equity lens underpinned all strategic conceptualization, design, and management while collaborating with colleagues across the foundation in piloting new investments. 

Dr. Okolo is a licensed clinical marriage and family therapist, higher-education scholar, adjunct professor, published author, public speaker, and equity advocate. She received her Bachelor of Science in family/consumer sciences from the University of Maryland, her Master of Arts in marriage and family therapy from Syracuse University, and her Doctor of Education from George Washington University.

“The Jed Foundation’s ability to foster equitable and systemic change around mental health and suicide prevention is both pivotal and transformational to millions of young people across the country,” said Dr. Okolo. “I am thrilled to be joining this impactful team, and I look forward to offering my experience and expertise within these spaces to further position JED as a pioneer and invaluable resource in addressing the nation’s mental health crisis.”

About The Jed Foundation (JED)

JED is a nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. We’re partnering with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance misuse, and suicide prevention programs and systems. We’re equipping teens and young adults with the skills and knowledge to help themselves and each other. We’re encouraging community awareness, understanding, and action for young adult mental health.

Connect with JED:  Email | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | LinkedIn | Snapchat | Pinterest 

Media Contact

Justin Barbo

Director of Public Relations, The Jed Foundation


(914) 844-4611

Get Help Now

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone right now, text, call, or chat 988 for a free confidential conversation with a trained counselor 24/7. 

You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.

If this is a medical emergency or if there is immediate danger of harm, call 911 and explain that you need support for a mental health crisis.