Dr. Debra Joy Perez, PhD, MPA

Chief Equity Officer

United States Pharmacopeia

Dr. Debra Joy Perez is the Chief Equity Officer and Senior Advisor to CEO at USP (United States Pharmacopeia). Debra joined USP in 2021 when she launched USP’s inaugural Office of Equity, Organizational Culture and Inclusive Excellence. There she guides a 1,200-staff and 1,500 volunteer organization in implementing USP’s Diversity Equity Inclusion and Belonging strategy. As CEqO, Dr. Perez is responsible for the execution of cultural and development DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) strategies across the organization. Her primary duties include centering equity in existing and newly developed operational strategies and serving as a resource for advancing DEIB in business and performance goals, staff engagement, external relationships and inclusive people management. As CEqO, she provides input into USP’s five-year strategic plans for the broader organization, including identifying individual, group, and organizational development opportunities by defining, developing, implementing, and evaluating strategies and programs to drive diversity, equity and inclusive excellence practices in business goals and priorities.

Dr. Perez has led racial equity and inclusion initiatives for over 25 years. She describes her DEIB approach and core philosophy as “equity equals excellence” That is, she believe to improve organizational outcomes, attract and retain high-performing mission-drive talent and build leadership capabilities across an organization we must integrate equity in everything we do. From performance management to organizational strategy to business development. In this way, organizations can usefully shift organizational culture to meet business goals through DEIB tools. The work of the Equity Office includes working in a global context engaging in over 22 countries and providing training in difficult conversations, deep listening and learning, building collective awareness, examining biases, and striving to ensure that all employees and affiliate staff feel respected and engaged. Dr Perez ensures that the Office of Equity, Organizational Culture, and Inclusive Excellence utilizes data for analysis and employing accountability mechanisms to monitor DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion). She is an influencer, a thought leader, and an agent of change, and will have a passion for the mission of the USP.

Prior to USP, Dr. Debra Joy Pérez (she, her, hers) was Senior Philanthropic Advisor and Independent Executive Consultant to national foundations and federal grant making entities. In her practice she has facilitated the development of organization-wide equity and inclusion principles for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), an independent nonprofit, nongovernmental organization in Washington, DC, was authorized by Congress in 2010 to close that gap and reauthorized in 2020 for another ten years. Dr. Pérez also developed a “DEI Use Statement” to help operationalize the Equity & Inclusion Principles. In her work in philanthropy, Dr. Pérez led Research, Evaluation and Learning Units in three national and global foundations and designed programs to support academics and researchers from historically marginalized populations. She has also been instrumental in founding Public Health Systems Research as well as supporting national health services leadership programming for the development of a new leaders. In her role as consultant, Debra approaches her work as a partner with internal teams to turn DEI strategies to advance equity into results. This includes building staff capacity and skills in having the necessary yet difficult conversations on racism, ableism and homophobia and other forms of oppression.

Career Highlights:

  • USP, Chief Equity Officer, established a process for supporting DEIB goals among all 1,200 staff. Implement successful pilot to hire scientists from under-represented groups and exporting lessons to Volunteer Onboarding and Recruitment
  • Simmons University, Senior Vice President, Organizational Culture, Inclusion & Equity, Boston where Debra implemented inclusive hiring practices leading to substantial increase in historically under-represented staff hires from 27% in September 2018 to 42% in 18 months
  • Gordon Betty Moore Foundation, Chief Measurement/Monitoring Officer, Palo Alto, CA where Debra established the organization’s first unit specializing in measurement, evaluation and learning and integrating processes within program design, adaptive management, and continuous learning.
  • Vice President, Research, Evaluation and Learning; Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore Maryland where Debra worked with senior leaders to establish organization-wide performance and accountability including co-creating over 300 performance measures for 33 portfolios


  • PhD, Health Policy, Harvard University, Boston, MA
  • Master’s in Public Administration, City University New York
  • Master’s in social science/ Women’s Studies, University of Kent, Canterbury, England
  • BA in Communication; Rutgers University, New Jersey

Awards, Recognition, Admissions: (optional)

  • National Science Foundation, Education, Human Resources Scientific Advisory Committee- Broadening Participation Lead
  • Thomas Jefferson University, Honorary Doctorate & Commencement Speaker
  • Hispanic Inspiring Student Achievement – National Mentoring Award
  • YWCA Woman of Industry Award
  • Latino Trendsetter, Latino Trends Magazine
  • Center for Creative Leadership Training Program, Greensboro
  • Distinguished Alumnae, Douglass Society, Rutgers University
  • New Jersey Woman and Aids Network – Woman of Excellence Award
  • Critical Issues in Latino Mental Health, Princeton, Best Paper Award
  • K. Kellogg Fellowship in Health Policy Research at Harvard University

A Few Favorite Professional Achievements:

Throughout her career, Debra has been responsible for bringing inclusive management practices, leadership development and promoting under-represented and diverse perspectives to the table of research and policy decision-making. She has been responsible for developing many initiatives to foster multidisciplinary research and expanding various dimensions of equity, inclusion, and diversity: