A bold vision

Jake Maxon
Photo by Chris Dang, Minnesota Daily (repurposed with permission).

School of Public Health (SPH) student Jake Maxon (Burnsville, MN) became interested in policy while working among microscopes and petri dishes. After getting his neuroscience degree from Brown University, Maxon researched spinal cord injuries, which involved stem cell research.

“Policy around stem cells brought a different kind of challenge to our research, and I wanted to know more about how policies are created and implemented,” he says.

So Maxon enrolled in SPH’s Public Health Administration and Policy program, where he’s been able to work with many Twin Cities policy organizations, including as a grant reviewer for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and as a policy intern for Hennepin County.

But he wanted to understand policy on a federal level. So he applied to the White House Internship Program. After a six-month selection and vetting process, he was assigned to work alongside the three-person team in the Office of National AIDS Policy, which works to create an integrated approach to the prevention, care, and treatment of HIV/AIDS.

“We’ve advanced medical care for HIV/AIDS patients, so many people in our country forget that HIV is still an epidemic and it’s still a public health crisis,” says Maxon. More than 4,300 residents in Hennepin County alone are currently living with HIV/AIDS.

While in Washington, D.C., Maxon continued working on his degree and now, nearly finished, finds himself in a new role as coordinator for Hennepin County’s HIV “Positively Hennepin” strategy—based off of the national strategy he helped implement at the White House.

“The vision is to create a county where all residents living with HIV/AIDS have healthy, vibrant lives, where there is equitable access to HIV prevention and care, and where there are no new HIV infections.”