Leslie Hsu Oh
Ms. Leslie Hsu Oh (BS, MPH, MFA candidate) was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, and raised in Southern California. Ursula Knoki-Wilson adopted her to Táchii'nii, Navajo Red Running into Water Clan. Her birth parents, Auxilia and John Hsu, came to the United States from Taiwan to pursue their graduate studies. Her brother, John, was named a “miracle baby” due to birth complications which nearly ended his life. Each summer, the family travelled throughout Native lands and close to 50 national parks in the United States and Canada.
When John was eighteen years old, he suddenly experienced severe pain in his abdomen. John was diagnosed with liver cancer caused by hepatitis B and passed away one year later. A week after his death, Auxilia was also diagnosed with liver cancer caused by hepatitis B. She died the following year when Leslie was a junior at UCLA, receiving a degree in Biology.
Learning that their deaths could’ve been easiily prevented by a safe and effective vaccine, Leslie channeled her grief towards raising awareness about hepatitis B by empowering communities to take action in health prevention, developing culturally responsive campaigns, and providing access to free screenings and vaccinations. While she received a Masters degree in Health Communications from Harvard School of Public Health, she founded The Hepatitis B Initiative and consulted for the Navajo Nation’s Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility on partnering traditional Navajo medicine and Western medicine.
She graduated as an Albert Schweitzer Fellow and received the first Julius B. Richmond Young Leader in Public Health Award for outstanding dedication to the health and well-being of the community and demonstration of initiative and advocacy in public health. In addition, she also received the first National Award for Excellence in Public Health Leadership, the Sun Memorial Award for exemplifying a commitment to improving the health and well being of people in underserved populations, and the Schweitzer Award for reverence for life.
From 1999-2004, Leslie worked at the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion with the Secretary of Health and Surgeon General’s staff of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and served as Federal Liaison to the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. She developed an expertise on designing user-centered web sites, specifically for special populations; winning awards such as “innovate community engagement in improving healthfinder.gov for special populations,” “outstanding service in leading the evaluation of healthfinder.gov,” and “outstanding Surgeon General’s web site.” Leslie worked with multiple Native organizations (the ones in Alaska were Alaska Native Medical Center, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Alaska Native Science Commission, Southcentral Foundation) across the United States to develop healthfinder®'s American Indian and Alaska Native health information. She also worked with organizations across the United States to develop healthfinder®'s Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders health information. During this time, she and her husband, Thomas Oh, expanded The Hepatitis B Initiative to the Washington, D.C. area, and launched the first bilingual materials for raising awareness about hepatitis B among faith-based organizations.
She joined the Alaska Native Science Commission in 2004. She also served as Program Chair, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian Caucus of the American Public Health Association and Membership Chair, Asian Pacific Islander Caucus of the American Public Health Association. She is a Fellow for Life with the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. She is co-author of The Strategic Application of Information Technology in Health Care Organizations along with chapters in other books, journals, and reports.