For Immediate Release | April 28, 2022


Devin Cowens at or (202) 243-7283

Shekinah A. Fashaw-Walters, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, is the recipient of the National Academy of Social Insurance’s 2022 John Heinz Dissertation Award. Fashaw-Walters’ dissertation, “Inequities in Home Health Access, Outcomes, and the Impact of Public Reporting,” was submitted for her doctorate in Health Services Research at Brown University. Kali Thomas, an associate professor at Brown University, nominated Fashaw-Walters’ dissertation, which examines the nuanced ways in which access to high-quality home care differs by class, race and ethnicity, and neighborhood. Fashaw-Walters will receive a $4,000 prize, and she joins a prestigious network of previous Heinz Dissertation Award recipients who are now top scholars in social insurance and closely related fields.   

“I am very proud of this accomplishment,” said Fashaw-Walters. “Many times, throughout the dissertation I would think – ‘a good dissertation is a done dissertation – just get it done’ but there were many other moments when I would think – ‘no, this work has true potential to make a real difference.’ Receiving this award truly reflects the latter thought, it’s a reminder that not only can and does this dissertation make a difference, but I as a researcher and my work as a whole, can and will make a difference.” 

“Dr. Fashaw-Walters has produced a beautifully written and highly consequential dissertation,” said Jennifer Erkulwater, Chair of the 2022 Heinz Dissertation Award Committee, Professor of Political Science at the University of Richmond and winner of the 2003 Heinz Dissertation Award. She notes: “The selection committee was impressed with the sophistication and relevance of her research on the rating system Medicare uses to evaluate the quality of home health care services. Dr. Fashaw-Walters’ findings on how the ratings affect the behavior of providers and users are truly innovative and advance our understanding of why access to high quality health care is so deeply inequitable across communities, racial groups, and socioeconomic class.”  

Issued annually with support from Teresa Heinz and the Heinz Family Foundation, the John Heinz Dissertation Award honors the legacy of Senator John Heinz, a founding advisor of the Academy and an advocate for healthcare reform and social insurance. The 2022 Heinz Dissertation Award Selection Committee (see list below) also gave honorable mentions to Daniel Prinz and Derek Wu.  

“The Academy is thrilled to recognize and support the work of Academy Member Fashaw-Walters with our 2022 Heinz Dissertation Award program,” said William J. Arnone, Chief Executive Officer. “She has established herself as a major thought leader with a focus on racial equity in health care. We congratulate her and are inspired by her winning dissertation. We also congratulate Daniel Prinz and Derek Wu on their honorable mentions.” 

Daniel Prinz graduated from the Harvard University Health Policy and Economics PhD program in 2021 and is now a research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies. His dissertation, “Essays on Social Insurance,” included a groundbreaking chapter on Netherland’s use of experience rating in its disability program for temporary workers. “I was surprised to receive the honorable mention for the Heinz Dissertation Award!” Prinz commented. “It’s a great honor, particularly looking at the distinguished set of researchers who received the award and the honorable mention in previous years. I look forward to continuing my research on equity and efficiency in social insurance programs around the world.” 

Derek Wu earned his PhD in Public Policy from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy in 2021. He is now a post-doctoral scholar at the University of Chicago working on a Comprehensive Income Dataset Project. Wu will be starting this fall as an assistant professor of Public Policy and Economics at the University of Virginia’s Batten School. His dissertation, “Essays on Poverty and Safety-Net Programs,” detailed an innovative empirical analysis of automation in SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid. “I am so humbled by this recognition, in part because my research interests have been directly inspired by the work of many prior Heinz scholars,” Wu shared. “This honor further affirms my passion for conducting research on the design and effectiveness of safety net programs, with an eye towards informing policymakers and stakeholders with actionable results.” 

About the John Heinz Dissertation Award 

The annual John Heinz Dissertation Award recognizes and promotes outstanding doctoral research by new scholars focusing on policy questions in social insurance and related areas, including health, aging, and economic security. These are all areas that were important to Senator John Heinz, who is also remembered as a champion of the elderly. His long list of political activities included: Chairmanship of the Special Committee on Aging; Chairmanship of the Republican Conference Task Force on Job Training and Education; membership in the National Commission on Social Security Reform, and the National Commission on Health Care Reform. Teresa Heinz Kerry, chair of the Heinz Family Foundation, said of Senator Heinz: “In the performance of his duties, both as a public servant and as a philanthropist, he was not merely tireless, he was joyfully ferocious, himself the embodiment of radiant living.” Senator Heinz died in a tragic airline accident in 1991.  

Nominations are reviewed by a national, multi-disciplinary selection committee chaired by Jennifer Erkulwater, Professor of Political Science at the University of Richmond and winner of the 2003 Heinz Dissertation Award. Other members of the selection committee are: Ezra Golberstein, Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health; Monica Galizzi, Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts – Lowell; Lauren Hersch Nicholas, Assistant Professor, Departments of Health Policy & Management and Surgery, John Hopkins University and winner of the 2009 Heinz Dissertation Award; and Fernando Torres-Gil, Associate Dean and Professor, University of California – Los Angeles, School of Public Policy. In addition to members of the selection committee, each nomination is reviewed by Members of the National Academy of Social Insurance with particular expertise in the topic of the dissertation.   

The Academy will be accepting nominations for the 2023 John Heinz Dissertation Award in the late summer/early autumn of 2022. To obtain application forms and additional information, please visit the Academy’s website: 

Since the National Academy of Social Insurance was founded in 1986, it has provided rigorous inquiry and insights into the functioning of our nation’s social insurance programs – Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, and Workers’ Compensation. Now comprised of over 1,200 of the nation’s top experts in social insurance and related policies and programs, the Academy studies how social insurance will meet the changing needs of American families, employees, and employers. The Academy also looks at new frontiers for social insurance, including areas of uninsured or underinsured economic risks. To learn more about the Academy’s work, please visit, or follow @socialinsuranceon Twitter. 

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