Jake Nelson

In his current role as Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy & Research for AAA, Jake is an influential communicator who provides thought leadership on issues related to traffic injury prevention. From interpreting fatal crash statistics to assessing solutions to keeping drivers safe, Jake excels at translating complex research into evidence-based policies, research-validated interventions, and easy-to-understand language for the media. Jake has been featured in a variety of national media outlets, from USA Today and the New York Times to appearances on NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s World News Tonight, and The Dr. Oz Show.

As an epidemiologist, Jake considers traffic injuries and deaths an overlooked public health threat to Americans. He applies rigorous research and the sciences of public health to AAA’s public policy development, governmental advocacy and consumer education activities. Jake has developed nationwide advocacy strategies, brokered national partnerships and negotiated strategic alliances to influence consumers and policymakers in an effort to protect those who travel U.S. roads each day.

As the Association’s chief safety expert, Jake regularly works with transportation stakeholder groups, public health practitioners and elected officials at all levels of government. He frequently represents the AAA federation before state policy audiences, Congress and U.S. federal agencies, to persuasively state the case for AAA’s public policy recommendations and evidence-based interventions.

Inducted into the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health, Jake is a Mid-American Public Health Leadership Fellow alumnus and a member of the National Public Health Leadership Society. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, completed his graduate studies in public health at the George Washington University, and in public policy at the University of Chicago. While in Chicago, he was named a McCormick Tribune Leadership Fellow. Jake also holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University and has completed the Leadership Development Program through Eckerd College and the Center for Creative Leadership- the largest and most respected global program of its kind.

Prior to joining AAA, Jake managed a state-certified health department in the Chicago area where he directed public health education campaigns, a portfolio of governmental grant work, health-focused research and public health policy support for state and local policymakers. He advised on a wide range of issues from HIV prevention and childhood obesity, to the prevention of substance abuse and heart disease.

Though he began his career as a researcher in the medical field, Jake shifted his focus to applying research to policy development, and honed his skills in the real-world application of data and rigorous academic research to protect and improve the public’s health, and to help people reach their full potential.