Tori Lee, MBA/MS GHPM’22

Tori Lee with two people during her Peace Corps service in a town in front of a mountain
Lee with her host family in San Miguel Duenas, Guatemala, in front of the Easter alfombra, or colorful carpet, they made out of colored sawdust, flowers and vegetables.
Tori Lee with a woman holding maternal and infant health certificates in Spanish
Lee with her Peace Corps work partner, Modesta, in Panajachel, Guatemala after successfully completing a training on community health groups, holding diplomas of completion.
Tori Lee and a Peace Corps colleague speaking to locals in a courtyard
Lee presenting a health talk with a fellow Peace Corps volunteer on exclusive breastfeeding to a group of mothers and their families at a nonprofit in Leon, Nicaragua.
Tori Lee and three colleagues smiling
Lee in Cleveland, Ohio, with a colleague and two neighborhood constituents after presenting a grant proposal on an event to bring racial equality back into the community.

“I want to work for a health care organization with a social justice platform,” says Tori Lee, MBA/MS GHPM’22. That’s what led her to the Heller School to pursue dual MS in Global Health Policy and Management and Social Impact MBA degrees, to prepare her for a career addressing health equity.

One of the most urgent issues she hopes to tackle is human capital—recruiting and retaining diverse individuals in health care organizations.

“Black and Brown individuals who come from the populations that these health care organizations want to help face a lack of funding and professional support. These systems don’t enable them to have voices. Where are all the Black executive directors?” she says. “I want to make these organizations more equitable, to bring in people who didn’t come from a top school, and give people who have never had a voice, a voice.”

Throughout her career so far, Lee has straddled the nonprofit and service worlds. She worked as a program manager for an education reform startup in Detroit, as well as a community organizer and marketing manager for a grassroots organization focused on social inclusion in her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. She’s served in Central America as a Peace Corps volunteer twice—though her service was cut short both times, first because of political instability in Nicaragua, then because of COVID-19 while serving in Guatemala.

Tori Lee, MBA/MS GHPM’22
Tori Lee

When she returned to the U.S. in March 2020 at the height of the first wave of the pandemic, “I saw how public health was being undercut and how certain populations were being hurt,” she says. That’s when she decided to apply to graduate school.

“Heller is one of the few institutions where I saw an equal marriage of hard, corporate skills but also social justice values,” she says. “I could learn to manage people and practice health equity in the same school.”

After years of learning on the job and creating ad hoc budgets, she’s especially excited about her quantitative courses. Focusing on health care in the middle of a global pandemic has also led her to think about new career pathways, such as focusing on health data strategy or pursuing health care consulting.

Lee is also optimistic about changes to the U.S. health care system under the new Biden administration.

“I’m really interested in expanding what health care as a human right looks like in the United States, and for all people,” she says, referencing ideas such as Medicare for All. She hopes to help unite different institutions to create policy, “marrying my organizing background with more of the strategic project management that I'm learning here at Heller. I think that could be a really interesting opportunity.”