Announcing the 2021 Bloomberg Fellows
June 3, 2021
The Bloomberg American Health Initiative is pleased to announce the 2021 MPH and DrPH Bloomberg Fellows.
Fellows receive a full scholarship to earn a Master of Public Health or Doctor of Public Health degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The Bloomberg Fellows program represents an innovative way to train the next generation of public health leaders, as it requires not only a commitment to public health practice from the students, but also a commitment of collaboration from the organizations for which they already work. Applicants must apply to the program with support from their organizations. Fellows can study full-time or part-time and, upon completion of the program, they agree to work for their organization for at least one additional year. Learn more about the Bloomberg Fellows program.
This year’s fellows come from a wide array of organizations including tribal, community-based organizations, schools, advocacy organizations, a national health news service, and community health clinics. Fifty have been awarded full scholarships to earn a Master of Public Health degree, and eight individuals have been selected to pursue a Doctor of Public Health degree. Read the announcement of the 2021 Fellows and view one-pager image here.
MPH Bloomberg Fellows:
Addiction and Overdose
Jennifer Black – U.S. Food and Drug Administration – Washington, D.C.
At the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Legislation, Jennifer Black plays a role in managing FDA’s engagement with Congress. She contributes to a wide range of activities with FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, such as serving as a focal point for overall legislative liaison activities with and between the FDA, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and other agencies. Jennifer analyzes the legislative needs of FDA and develops legislative proposals, position papers, and departmental reports on proposed legislation for approval by the Commissioner and HHS. She advises and assists Members of Congress and congressional committees and staff in consultation with the Office of the Secretary on agency actions, policies, and issues related to legislation which may affect FDA. Jennifer also advises FDA officials, from wide-ranging expertise areas, concerning legislation that may affect FDA and prepares officials for engagement with Congress.
The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices; and by ensuring the safety of our nation's food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation. FDA also has responsibility for regulating the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of tobacco products to protect the public health and to reduce tobacco use by minors. FDA is responsible for advancing public health by helping to speed innovations that make medical products more effective, safer, and more affordable and by helping the public get the accurate, science based information they need to use medical products and foods to maintain and improve their health. FDA also plays a significant role in the Nation's counterterrorism capability. FDA fulfills this by ensuring the security of the food supply and by fostering development of medical products to respond to deliberate and naturally emerging public health threats.
Illaria Dana – Tapestry – Springfield, MA
Illaria Dana began working with Tapestry in 2019, providing syringe access and safer use support, HIV/HCV and STI counseling and testing, naloxone and overdose prevention training, and harm reduction education for program participants and community members. Since then, Illaria now serves as the Greenfield Syringe Access Program Manager, where she works to expand rural outreach, secondary syringe exchange, and delivery services. Illaria believes that good public health policy is born out of community demands and initiatives. Illaria supports organizing efforts led by individuals who are sex workers, and those who have been impacted by toxic drug supply, criminalization, systemic racism, and the deadly effects of the War on Drugs.
Tapestry meets urgent community health needs related to sexual and reproductive health, drug use, and childhood nutrition in Western Massachusetts. By combining compassionate health care with the most recent advances in medical practice, Tapestry ensures that people can get the care that they deserve, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or income. Founded in 1973, Tapestry serves over 17,000 residents at 12 locations across Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties in Massachusetts.
Michelle Gaffaney – Denver Health Center for Addiction Medicine – Denver, CO
Michelle Gaffaney is a Physician Assistant at the Denver Health Center for Addiction Medicine, where she works to provide outpatient addiction care. In addition to her clinical work, Michelle participates in several multidisciplinary work groups to improve delivery of addiction treatment across health care. Those efforts include transitioning patients with a history of IV drug use needing long-term IV antibiotics from the hospital to a community residential treatment program, providing medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to incarcerated pregnant women, and integrating addiction and psychiatric services in a community residential treatment program. She is also an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado, and is the co-founder and program director of the Behavioral Health Physician Assistant fellowship – a 12-month postgraduate training program for physician assistants interested in advancing their careers in psychiatry and addiction medicine.
The Center for Addiction Medicine (CAM) has been an agency-wide strategic initiative for Denver Health since 2018. The goal of CAM is to coordinate the essential health services for persons with substance use disorders. The vision is to be a compassionate model for the prevention and treatment of substance misuse, to transform lives and to educate all. CAM has successfully implemented a hub-and-spoke model of addiction medicine that identifies, treats, and links patients to the appropriate level of care, regardless of where patients enter our system. CAM includes coordinated addiction services from Denver Health’s hospital and emergency departments, community-based clinics, specialized outpatient treatment and residential services, as well as partnerships with community programs.
Augusta Gribetz – Charm City Care Connection – Baltimore, MD
Augusta Gribetz is the Operations Manager at Charm City Care Connection (CCCC), a harm reduction drop-in center in East Baltimore that provides services to people with substance use disorders. In 2018, Augusta helped shift the organization from a health resource center to a harm reduction drop-in center where she developed CCCC’s first advisory board, a community-based syringe service program, and a daily hot lunch program. As the organization has grown, Augusta’s role has shifted to oversee all operations including, data collection and management of all direct service programs, grant administration, the development of leadership among participants, and the daily logistics of the center.
Charm City Care Connection (CCCC) is a low-barrier, harm reduction-based drop-in center located in East Baltimore and provides comprehensive case management, safer drug use supplies, street-based outreach, a Housing First program, and drop-in services. Founded in 2009, CCCC uses a community-based perspective to create healthcare connections for people systematically denied access to care. All of the work is rooted in dignity, justice, and respect and centers members of affected communities in the planning and programming of the organization.
Wahji Kasten – Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe - Klallam Counseling Service – Port Angeles, WA
Wahji Kasten is Denesuline and a member of the English River First Nations. She currently works at Klallam Counseling Services as a licensed Naturopathic Physician and Acupuncturist. Dr. Kasten has been an integral component to the KCS mission of providing whole person care. She works with patients on improving physical health by addressing acute and chronic medical issues. Wahji works to remove barriers to standard medical care, integrative medicine and traditional treatment modalities, such as herbal medicine and acupuncture. With the disproportionate impact of substance use disorder in Native American communities, Wahji’s mission is to improve the health and wellness of Indigenous peoples everywhere.
Klallam Counseling Service (KCS) is an outpatient substance use disorder (SUD) treatment program operated by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. KCS provides culturally competent and trauma informed SUD services to native and non-native clients in a rural community. Treatment at KCS focuses on whole person wellness by providing clients with the structure and support to make the lifestyle choices and changes that empowers them to improve their quality of life. This is done through incorporating traditional, evidence-based and cultural practices into their comprehensive treatment. KCS strives to improve access to treatment, provide community outreach and integrate services to support people in their recovery journey.
Dionna King – Vital Strategies – New York, NY
Dionna King is the Program Manager for Vital Strategies Overdose Prevention Program. Since joining the OPP team, Dionna has established partnerships that have led to the development of innovative projects, such as harm reduction delivery units using medical vending machines, mobile outreach vehicle that will provide naloxone and other harm reduction supplies, and a toolkit for healthcare workers who support parenting and pregnant people with substance use disorders. Dionna has worked in the realms of public health and criminal justice reform policy and advocacy for several years. Before joining Vital Strategies, she worked at the Drug Policy Alliance where she developed the foundation of their race and mass criminalization campaign.
Vital Strategies helps governments strengthen their public health systems to contend with the most important and difficult health challenges. Vital Strategies brings the best of public health thinking to design solutions that can scale rapidly and improve the lives of millions of people. The Overdose Prevention initiative is helping up to ten states implement solutions over three years to strengthen and scale up evidence-based, data-driven interventions to reduce risks of overdose and save lives.
Alyssa Kitlas – North Carolina Division of Public Health – Raleigh, NC
Alyssa Kitlas is the Community Overdose Prevention Coordinator for the North Carolina Division of Public Health’s Injury and Violence Prevention Branch. Alyssa leads the North Carolina Safer Syringe Initiative, supports North Carolina’s registered syringe services programs and coordinates technical assistance provided to community-based organizations and local health departments related to overdose prevention and harm reduction. Alyssa also convenes the Opioid Action Plan Syringe Services Programs’ Advisory Group, a group of individuals with lived experience with drug use and/or who work at syringe services programs in North Carolina that informs the priorities of the Division. Alyssa is passionate about working to end stigma towards people who use drugs, integrating trauma informed care into our response to the overdose crisis, and centering the voices of people with lived experience.
The North Carolina (NC) Injury and Violence Prevention Branch (IVPB) works to prevent injury and violence within the state by collecting and analyzing data to understand the scope of the problem, implementing programs to prevent injuries and violence, and coordinating the work happening across the state. As a branch within the NC Division of Public Health, the IVPB’s ultimate goal is to promote and contribute to the highest level of health for the people of NC. The Overdose Prevention Team oversees the implementation of the North Carolina Safer Syringe Initiative, funds local health departments and other partners to implement overdose prevention strategies within their communities, and provides technical assistance to a variety of community-based organizations. Centering lived experience is essential in IVPB’s response to the overdose crisis.
Crister Moynahan – Rebel Recovery – Fort Lauderdale, FL
In March 2019, Crista Moynahan joined Rebel Recovery Florida to expand capacity and provide harm reduction and recovery-supportive services. As the Director of Community Services, he coordinates daily programs with volunteers and stakeholders to encourage societal-level engagement through the county’s first recovery community center. Crister has worked in collaboration with the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office and providers to launch an innovative 12-week medication-assisted treatment program, and helped develop a peer-supported recovery community for in-custody participants. Currently, Crister supervises the forensic peer teams’ direct services, supports participant recovery and re-entry plans, and provides harm reduction education and advocacy. Crister believes that everyone should be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their relationship to substances, and uses his experience with substance use, mental health, and recovery resilience to inform his support for others as they work to make positive changes to their lives.
Rebel Recovery Florida is a low barrier recovery community organization (RCO) that provides free recovery support services, overdose prevention and response, education, advocacy, and love to people impacted by drug use and to those living with or at risk of HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne pathogens. Established in Palm Beach County, Rebel Recovery has been improving wellness for Floridians since 2016 and continues to involve participants and community stakeholders in agency operations and development. Rebel Recovery is the state’s first RCO to integrate harm reduction principles and trauma-informed care into all aspects of service delivery and the first to establish a syringe access and health services exchange after syringe exchange programs were legalized in 2019. Rebel Recovery strives to heal communities, address health inequity and combat stigma for people who use drugs (PWUD), and broaden the reach of recovery-supportive services across health, dependency court, and justice systems.
Jason Piotrowski – New Jersey State Police – Trenton, NJ
Lieutenant Jason Piotrowski began his career in law enforcement in 1995 serving as a local police officer before joining the New Jersey State Police in 2001. Jason was an original member of the New Jersey Fusion Center and has supervised the Intelligence Watch and Warning Unit, and Crime and Terrorism Threat Units. During his tenure in fusion centers, Jason represented the New Jersey State Police at the National Operations Center, in Washington D.C., serving multiple tours. In 2014, Jason was selected to help develop the New Jersey Drug Monitoring Initiative, where he currently serves as the Unit Head of the Office of Drug Monitoring and Analysis. In this position, he oversees the collection, analysis, intelligence production, and training and outreach efforts specifically focused on the overdose epidemic and reducing community drug harm.
The New Jersey State Police has served the citizens of New Jersey since 1921. Recognizing the widespread impact to the citizens of the state due to the overdose epidemic, the New Jersey State Police committed personnel and resources to understand and mitigate community drug harms and formed the Drug Monitoring Initiative (DMI). Currently, the DMI is tasked with developing situational awareness of evolving community drug harms at the state, county, and local level, mitigating emerging drug threats in real-time, and most importantly providing support for the people, populations, and areas that are most at risk.
Daniel Schwartz – U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services – Washington, D.C.
Daniel Schwartz is a Behavioral Health Policy Analyst at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE). In this role, Daniel designs, manages, and conducts analyses on topics such as the opioid crisis, substance use disorder treatment delivery, and behavioral healthcare financing. Prior to joining ASPE, Daniel worked at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Daniel received his Bachelor of Science in Public Health from The George Washington University.
ASPE is the principal advisor to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on policy development and is responsible for major activities in policy coordination, legislation development, strategic planning, policy research, evaluation, and economic analysis. Within ASPE, the Office of Behavioral Health, Disability, and Aging Policy is the focal point for policy development and analysis related to the financing, delivery, organization, and quality of services for people with mental and substance use disorders, people with disabilities, and older adults.
Zion Shekinah – Downtown Emergency Service Center – Seattle, WA
Zion Shekinah began working with the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) in 2014 where she assisted in providing mental health services at the 24-hour Crisis Center. By joining the Bloomberg Fellows Program, Zion’s work will transition to working with the Medication-Assisted Treatment Team (MAT) where she will focus on the administration of prescribed Suboxone and Narcan, and patient education on overdose prevention and deaths related to substance use. In addition, Zion will refer clients to immediate detoxification and other substance use treatment services and facilities, as well as coordinating specialty care for patients with drug use disorders who may be impacted with health issues. Zion will also work with the agency's harm reduction programs on reducing drug related deaths among low income and homeless populations.
The Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) was founded with the intentions of providing emergency shelter for people living in a state of chronic homelessness and who, due to their severe and persistent mental illnesses and substance use disorders, did not have access to appropriate and very scarce (if any) services. at the time. DESC clients live with severe and often untreated mental illness, substance use disorders, and a host of other physical and developmental disabilities that have caused or contributed to their chronic homelessness. By addressing each client’s unique needs through a structured and comprehensive recovery plan, staff are able to help clients stabilize and reclaim their lives. Engagement in highly effective, state-licensed mental health and substance use disorder treatment programs contribute to each client’s success in housing.
Elisha Sneddy – Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board – Albuquerque, NM
Elisha Sneddy is a proud member of the Navajo Nation and is originally from Nahodishgish, New Mexico, a small community on the Navajo Nation reservation. Elisha currently serves as the Program Coordinator for two programs, the Substance Abuse program and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) prevention program. Both programs are in partnership with several tribal communities and work to prevent and reduce suicidal behavior, substance misuse, and promote mental health among Native youth up to age twenty-four. Elisha’s passion for Native health stems from the love she has for her family, community, and the future generation. She is committed to helping alleviate societal-health burdens through research, education, and culturally grounded programs to achieve long-term wellness.
The Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board, Inc. (AAIHB) is a tribal owned and operated nonprofit organization that represents and serves six consortium Tribes: Ramah Band of Navajos, Tóhajiilee Band of Navajos, Mescalero Apache Tribe, Jicarilla Apache Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and Southern Ute Indian Tribe. The mission of AAIHB is to advocate on behalf of American Indians through delivery of quality health care services by enhancing wellness, respecting spiritual and cultural values. The vision of AAIHB is to lead and advocate for American Indians health care services through self-determination by upholding the sovereignty of the Indian Tribes. The organization offers diverse health promotion and prevention education programs, as well as specialized public health services to positively impact the health and well-being of the communities they serve.
Sarah Windels – California Bridge Program, Public Health Institute – Oakland, CA
As the Special Advisor for the California Bridge Program (CA Bridge), Sarah Windels' work focuses on integrating addiction treatment into the standard healthcare system across the United States. Sarah shares lessons learned from working with expert addiction and emergency medicine physicians in the
development of CA Bridge – integrating low-barrier substance use treatment into over 200 hospitals and emergency departments in California to date. In her previous role as Deputy Program Director, she developed trainings and provided technical assistance for hospital and emergency department physicians to offer medication for addiction treatment. Sarah also worked to underscore the essential role of substance use navigators by encouraging rapid and easily accessed human-centered treatment, resources, and services.
The California Bridge Program (CA Bridge) is leading a transformation in addiction treatment by making treatment for opioid use disorder available 24/7 in every hospital emergency department by 2023. The program is also piloting solutions to address the nation's growing challenges around the use of stimulants. The CA Bridge model emphasizes low-barrier treatment, connection to ongoing care in the community through a substance use navigator, and a culture of harm reduction free of stigma. CA Bridge works with acute care hospitals to train prescribers, nurses, and navigators and to raise awareness of equity issues in substance use treatment. CA Bridge is a program of the Public Health Institute (PHI), working around the globe to strengthen the work and collaboration across some of the most pressing issues in public health.
Anthony Betori – Healthy Futures of Texas – San Antonio, TX
Anthony Betori is a Program Director at Healthy Futures of Texas. In this role, Anthony’s work specializes in involving young people in advocacy and sex education curriculum development. He directs the Youth Advocacy Council, which advocates for sex education, and the San Antonio and Rio Grande Valley regions of Texas Foster Youth Health Initiative, an inter-agency, state-wide partnership. Anthony also directs the Big Decisions sex education curriculum, which is approved for use in more than 40 Texas school districts, along with several curriculum development pilots. Anthony was awarded the 2020 Rising Star award by the Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. He studied English at Loyola University Chicago and founded the Community Health Apprenticeship Program at Chicago House and Social Service Agency.
Since 2006, Healthy Futures of Texas has worked to reduce teen and unplanned pregnancy in San Antonio and Texas in order to support the development of strong families and positively impact the future of Texas communities. It has four major departments: Health Education, which develops and disseminates curriculum and trainings, the Youth Advocacy Council, which amplifies youth voice on issues related to sex ed, the Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition, where Healthy Futures collaborates with statewide partners to promote and preserve access to and quality of funding related to women’s healthcare, and BAE-B-SAFE, a groundbreaking educational and clinical referral program for community colleges. Emphasizing deep collaboration with partners around Texas, their programs represent an ambitious, comprehensive strategy to make Texas a leader in public health outcomes for youth, women, and families.
Armonte Butler – Advocates for Youth – Washington, D.C.
Armonte Butler is the LGBTQ Health & Rights Senior Program Manager at Advocates for Youth. In this role, he supports a national cohort of youth activists who lead sexual and reproductive health campaigns in their communities. Armonte spearheads the Queer and Gender Equity Project, which supports youth-serving organizations in increasing their capacity to support LGBTQ youth of color and youth living HIV through technical assistance. Armonte also manages the All Students Count Coalition and the National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) campaign. Prior to joining Advocates for Youth, Armonte was the Health & Aging Program Coordinator at the Human Rights Campaign, where his work focused on ensuring healthcare organizations fostered LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices. Armonte has interned in the Division of Adolescent and School Health at the Center for Diseases Control (CDC), and has conducted LGBTQ health research in Argentina and the Dominican Republic.
Advocates for Youth partners with youth leaders, adult allies, and youth-serving organizations to advocate for policies and champion programs that recognize young people’s rights to honest sexual health information; accessible, confidential, and affordable sexual health services; and the resources and opportunities necessary to create sexual health equity for all youth. Advocates for Youth believes it can best serve the field, and ultimately have the largest impact on improving youth sexual health and rights, by working in partnership with youth and their adult allies, including youth-serving institutions. The organization seeks to redress social determinants by working in coalition with economic and social justice organizations and by mobilizing young people from marginalized communities to serve as activists and leaders in the field of sexual health.
Emma Fay – Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County – San Luis Obispo, CA
Emma Fay is the Teen Wellness Coordinator for the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County (CAPSLO). In this role, Emma is responsible for the implementation of multiple grants serving teens ages 13-19 with health education, coaching and development opportunities, including the Teen Monologues Theater Project. She is committed to elevating youth voices to the forefront of the work, and also serves as a curriculum trainer for health professionals and educators.
CAPSLO helps individuals and families achieve self-sufficiency and economic stability through community-based collaborations and programs. The Teen Wellness Program inspires young people to learn how to take care of themselves, their bodies, and their communities. For nearly 30 years,
staff has led comprehensive sexual health, nutrition, fitness, and mindfulness education for communities throughout California’s central coast.
Stacia Friedman- Hill – National Institute of Mental Health – Bethesda, MD
Stacia Friedman-Hill is a Program Director in the Division of Translational Research at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Stacia is responsible for the development and oversight of two research portfolios, one that is focused on mood lability and dysregulation in children and adolescents, and the other focused on early onset and risk for psychosis spectrum disorders. As a member of the Suicide Research Team, Stacia is one of the lead organizers of a series of roundtables on preteen suicide. Stacia serves as co-lead of the Mental Health Disparities Research Team and is a member of the trans-NIH Resilience Workgroup. Stacia has a doctorate in neuroscience and has taught courses in human neuroscience and developmental psychology at the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences and Montgomery College.
NIMH is the lead federal agency for research on mental disorders. NIMH is one of the 27 Institutes and Centers that make up the National Institutes of Health, the largest biomedical research agency in the world, and part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Through its extramural program, NIMH supports more than 3,000 research grants and contracts annually at universities, academic health centers, and other research institutions.
Sarah-Michael Gaston – Youth Forward – Sacramento, CA
Sarah-Michael Gaston serves as a Policy Advocate with Youth Forward. In this role, she is responsible for informing and engaging individuals and community groups in California to advocate for policies in support of racial justice and health equity. Sarah-Michael develops broad coalitions and policy recommendations to influence the allocation of cannabis tax revenues and other state funding sources that assist vulnerable youth. She has helped leverage over $100 million in Proposition 64 grant programs to support youth development, prevention, and healing in communities of color impacted by the War on Drugs. Sarah-Michael also leads advocacy in support of youth mental health. She is working to increase access to culturally grounded and youth-led mental health services for youth of color and vulnerable youth. Her work in cannabis policy and youth mental health converge as her organization seeks to win regulations that will eliminate cannabis advertising targeted at young people, and to limit high potency cannabis products that increase risk for youth mental illness.
Youth Forward is a Sacramento based nonprofit dedicated to creating smart solutions to improve the health, education and well-being of the most vulnerable children and youth in California. The organization advocates for policy and systems changes that increase public investments in children and youth and that reduce the criminalization of young people. Youth Forward promotes youth voice and leadership in the policymaking process and support other organizations with youth organizing, policy research, and organizational development.
Monica Huang – Transition Ready Agency Collaborative Initiative (TRAC) – Chapel Hill, NC
Monica Huang is an Occupational Therapist on the Transition Ready Agency Collaborative (TRAC) within Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools. She works with disabled, transition-aged high schoolers (ages 14-22) to achieve post-secondary outcomes of employment, education and daily living. Monica is committed to ensuring disabled adolescents’ access to communication, self-advocacy and identity affirmation as essential representations of diversity to be valued and visible within communities. As an autistic self-advocate and member of the disability community herself, Monica is passionate about dismantling social stigmas and confronting identity discrimination (especially at the intersections of race and disability). She is justly devoted to her students’ agency in creating meaningful lives of their choice, their belonging and their leadership in society. Since joining the team, she has worked hard to innovate a curriculum inspired by her background in community mental health and focus on student perspectives of disability identity, disclosure and social justice.
The TRAC initiative is a unique, multidisciplinary secondary transition program. The first of its kind in North Carolina, TRAC was developed to equitably and comprehensively distribute transition services to all students with disabilities as a means of promoting quality of life beyond high school and into adulthood. TRAC blends the domains of Vocational Rehabilitation with the NC Dept of Public Instruction. The program, rooted in school and community-based instruction, educates, empowers and supports students’ self-determination and life goals through learning experiences focused on post-secondary education, career counseling, employment, and life.
Eean Logan Thomas – No Boundaries Coalition – Baltimore, MD
Eean Logan Thomas serves as the Director of Civic Culture at No Boundaries Coalition. In this role, Eean has led three programs; No Boundaries Youth Organizers, Block Captains Boot Camp, and Get Out The Vote Efforts. Over the past three years, Eean has worked to expand the youth program to offer five to six days a week for youth to develop soft skills, lead projects, and earn volunteer experiences centered around social justice issues. Through this program, Eean works to motivate youth to pursue secondary education focused on civic careers. Using his skills and interest in program management, curriculum development, and collaboration, Eean has built a network of partners that support youth in achieving both short and long term goals.
No Boundaries Coalition (NBC) is a resident-led advocacy organization building a unified and empowered Central West Baltimore (CWB) across the boundaries of race, class and neighborhoods. NBC mobilizes residents from seven different neighborhoods in Baltimore City to challenge the culture of, and the issues created by, segregation. NBC’s cross-neighborhood relationships build political capital and mobilize residents to address issues together. Efforts include advocating for increased police accountability, safer streets, more opportunities for young people, increased voter turnout and census participation, and healthier food options in the community.
Edward McWilliams – Center for Court Innovation – New York, NY
Edward McWilliams currently serves as the Youth Program Coordinator of the Neighbors In Action (NIA) Youth Center, an innovative hub for youth-led social change in Central Brooklyn. In this role, Edward oversees the youth programs' team, including supporting the department vision, program planning, systems implementation, project oversight, and grant reporting. During his time at CCI, Edward developed the NIA Youth Center media lab, a program model and space designed for Brooklyn youth to learn creative labor skills using technology.
The Center for Court Innovation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a more effective and humane justice system. To accomplish this goal, the Center conceives, plans, and operates programs that seek to test new ideas, solve difficult problems, and achieve systemic change. Projects include community-based violence prevention projects, reentry initiatives, and court-based programs that reduce the use of unnecessary incarceration. The organization’s efforts have produced tangible results like safer streets, reduced incarceration, and improved neighborhood perceptions of justice.
Joshua Ogburn – Nemours Children’s Health System – Washington, D.C.
Joshua Ogburn is the Manager of Policy for the Nemours Children’s Health System within the National Office of Policy and Prevention, Office of Child Health Policy and Advocacy. Joshua's focus areas include federal policy development related to pediatric delivery and payment models, federal government leadership for children and youth, health equity, social and emotional development, and pooled financing mechanisms. Joshua is also a founding member of the Nemours DRIVE (Diversity, anti-Racism, Inclusion, Value and Equity) Taskforce. Joshua previously served as Project Director for the RVA Childhood Asthma Collaborative, founding Director of the University of Virginia Pay for Success Lab, and a staffer for U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner. Joshua holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of Virginia, a Bachelor of Arts in Public and Urban Affairs from Virginia Tech, and an Associate of Arts from Colorado Mountain College.
Entirely focused on the unique needs of children, Nemours directly cares for 250,000 children annually through family-centered care in children’s hospitals and clinics in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida, and is the only children’s health system in the nation with two free-standing children’s hospitals. Established in 2008 and co-located in Washington, D.C. and Delaware, the Nemours National Office of Policy and Prevention, Office of Child Health Policy and Advocacy, promotes optimal health and well-being for all children through federal government thought leadership, policy development, and advocacy. Since 2020, the Office has led a landmark initiative advocating for the development of a White House Office on Children and Youth to elevate an agenda for our nation’s young people.
Aneri Pattani – Kaiser Health News – Washington, D.C.
Aneri Pattani is a national correspondent with Kaiser Health News (KHN), where she reports on a broad range of public health topics, including mental health, substance use, and the health of adolescents and young adults. Her previous reporting in Pennsylvania highlighted ethnic disparities in adolescent suicide attempts and exposed a community college’s plan to eliminate mental health services, sparking student protest and a partial policy reversal. Pattani was a 2019 recipient of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism, and covered the impact of racism on college students’ academic success and mental health as part of her fellowship project.
KHN is a nonprofit news service committed to in-depth coverage of healthcare policy and politics. The newsroom reports on how the healthcare system works – from hospitals and medical providers to insurers and government – and aims to convey that in a way that’s accessible and demystifies the system for average Americans. Founded in 2009, KHN is an editorially independent program of KFF, a nonprofit organization based in California that is focused on national health issues. All of KHN’s original content is available to other news organizations and the public free of charge.
Terry Yau – MERIT Health Leadership Academy – Baltimore, MD
Terry Yau joined the MERIT Health Leadership Academy in 2019 as a College Access Coordinator, where she helped prepare and support students in their college application journey by overseeing volunteers, teaching college application curriculum, and providing hands-on application support. Since then, her role has evolved to Program Operations Manager. Her responsibilities include overseeing MERIT’s programmatic operations to ensure that all school year and summer programming is successfully implemented. In addition, Terry supervises the organization of data systems and data collection to aid in program evaluation, staff accountability, and MERIT’s development. In addition, Terry has worked to synthesize and codify operations to assist in strategic growth for the organization.
The MERIT Health Leadership Academy is a nonprofit organization that supports Baltimore City high school students who aspire for careers in healthcare. Through comprehensive academic and career mentorship, MERIT seeks to empower students from underrepresented backgrounds in becoming healthcare leaders and change agents who advance equity. MERIT’s programming includes college preparatory courses, college admissions guidance, and professional summer internships. The organization aims to build networks between Baltimore City’s health communities and its youth, helping to connect scholars with professionals who serve as mentors, advocates, and career consultants. Currently, the program serves over 200 active scholars and alumni, many who are taking the next steps towards helping the health workforce reflect the diversity of the communities it serves.
Julia Zigman – National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) – Washington, D.C.
Julia Zigman is a Program Analyst on the HIV, STI, and Viral Hepatitis team at NACCHO, the National Association of County and City Health Officials. Working alongside federal and community partners through the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative, Julia supports local health departments (LHDs) in cities with high HIV burdens to collaborate with and serve communities most impacted by HIV, including adolescents and young adults. Julia convenes subject matter expert advisory workgroups and communities of practice for LHD staff to facilitate peer-to-peer learning in HIV, STIs, and viral hepatitis prevention and care. She supports NACCHO’s mission by helping to advocate for LHDs, implement programs that meet their needs, and advance their ability to center health equity in their work.
NACCHO is the membership association for the nation’s nearly 3,000 local health departments (LHDs) in the United States. NACCHO’s vision is health, equity, and security for all people in their communities, and its mission is to be a leader, partner, catalyst, and voice for change for LHDs around the nation. NACCHO implements this vision and mission by advancing policy and practice in program areas devoted to community health, environmental health, public health infrastructure and systems, and public health preparedness.
Mae Hanzlik – Smart Growth America – Washington, D.C.
Mae Hanzlik serves as the Program Manager at Smart Growth America. In this role, she provides technical assistance, conducts research, and organizes advocacy initiatives for the National Complete Streets Coalition, Transportation for America, and the Arts & Culture programs. Mae has authored various reports, including The State of Transportation and Health Equity and COVID-19 and the Curb, evaluated hundreds of Complete Streets policies, and managed the Smart Cities Collaborative and the Arts & Transportation Rapid Response programs. Her expertise and interests are focused on the built environment and creating a just transportation system that ensures people can safely and easily get to where they need to go—whether walking, rolling, bicycling, driving, or taking public transit.
Smart Growth America (SGA) is a nonprofit organization based in Washington D.C. that empowers communities around the country to revitalize and grow, while promoting healthier living and shared prosperity. SGA envisions a country where no matter where you live, you can enjoy living in a city, town, or neighborhood that is prosperous, equitable, healthy, and resilient.
Kathleen Hetrick – Buro Happold – Los Angeles, CA
Kathleen Hetrick is a Senior Sustainability Engineer at Buro Happold and a WELL AP and LEED AP accredited professional. Kathleen combines her passion for environmental justice, with a technical background in architectural engineering to improve health and environmental outcomes across engineering projects and their supply chains. Kathleen leads the sustainable design process for a wide range of cutting-edge projects including LEED Platinum, Zero Carbon and Living Building Challenge projects, historical adaptive reuse, and university sustainability plans. She is also heavily involved in Buro Happold’s Diversity and Inclusion Forum, spearheading the outreach initiatives to encourage local K-12 students to pursue sustainability-focused careers in STEM. She is currently a board member of the U.S. Green Building Council and co-founder of the Carbon Leadership Forum – both located in Los Angeles.
Buro Happold is an international consultancy of engineers, consultants and advisers operating in 25 locations worldwide, with 72 partners and over 1,900 employees. Over 40 years Buro Happold has built a world-class reputation for delivering creative, value led solutions for an ever challenging world and improving sustainability in the built environment, from infrastructure to city planning and building operations.
Judy Olsen – Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department – Tacoma, WA
Judy Olsen leads the Environmental Conditions for Health team at the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. Her work includes housing policy and healthy housing standards, Healthy Homes and asthma, lead poisoning prevention, and active transportation and walkability. In addition, it includes air quality and wildfire smoke response, and environmental justice. Judy champions health equity and community engagement strategies to influence policy, systems, and environmental change. Judy supports climate and health initiatives and serves as wildfire smoke response Incident Commander.
Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County, Washington. Part of that mission includes an emphasis on healthy, resilient families and communities and policy, systems, and environmental change strategies. Among the agency’s other public health priorities: address natural and manmade environmental challenges through healthy community planning, air quality, healthy housing, pollution and contamination, and public health emergency preparedness and response.
Paula Torrado Plazas – Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles, CA
Paula Torrado Plazas is the Air and Toxics Policy Analyst at Physicians for Social Responsibility - Los Angeles (PSR-LA). In her role, Paula leads PSR-LA’s Community Air Protection Grant from the California Air Resources Board. In addition, she works to address the pollution burden in South Central Los Angeles where she authored the 2019 South LA Air Quality Assessment Report. Through this work, Paula led policy advocacy efforts to ensure South Los Angeles was selected for an air improvement plan. She also coordinates the Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy (CHANGE) coalition and supports policy efforts that address the impacts of legacy toxic chemicals in frontline communities from extraction to disposal. Paula is from Colombia and brings her experience as a Latina immigrant and a broad understanding of social justice to her environmental justice work.
Physicians for Social Responsibility - Los Angeles (PSR-LA) is an environmental health organization whose mission is to advocate for policies and practices that improve public health, eliminate nuclear and environmental threats, and address health disparities. PSR-LA is guided by the precautionary principle to foresee and forestall environmental challenges that damage human health such as air pollution, climate change, exposure to toxic chemicals, incompatible land use, and nuclear threats. For the last 30 years, PSR-LA has been a leader in addressing the social and environmental determinants of health through a justice, equity, and health lens. PSR-LA brings the strength and credibility of health professionals to the environmental justice movement, local organizing efforts, and policy advocacy to build collective power to protect public health and the environment.
Katherine Uhde – University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension – San Jose, CA
Katherine is a Master Gardener Program Coordinator at the University of California (UC), based in the South Bay Area. UC Master Gardeners are highly trained volunteers who extend research-based information about home horticulture and pest management to the public statewide. They are front line detectors and information providers on critical issues related to home yards and landscapes. Practices such as invasive species management, fire and flood prevention, soil restoration, protection of native plants and beneficial insects, water conservation and green waste reduction are all passed on to county residents through UC Master Gardeners. In her role, Katherine manages the certification and continuing education of 300 Master Gardeners in the region. She oversees program administration, directs the development and dissemination of mission-driven public education projects, and leverages community partnerships to maximize program impacts.
The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) and Cooperative Extension (UCCE) system is a statewide network of researchers and educators dedicated to the development and application of knowledge to address local agricultural, environmental and health issues. Its mission is to engage UC with the people of California to achieve innovation in fundamental and applied research and education that supports: sustainable, safe, and nutritious food production and delivery; economic success in a global economy; a sustainable, healthy, and productive environment; science literacy and youth development programs. For over 100 years, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) has been delivering the power of UC research to Californians in their own communities to improve lives and livelihoods for all.
Rebecca Wolf – Food & Water Watch – Washington, D.C.
Rebecca Wolf serves as the Senior Organizer with Food & Water Watch, where she leads organizing efforts on key national campaigns. Campaigns include advancing federal legislation aimed to overhaul food and farm systems, and building a national movement against factory farm gas infrastructure. Rebecca also works to build strategic advocacy campaigns and coalitions, and contributes to lobbying efforts. In addition, Rebecca supports campaigns across the country taking on industrial agriculture – from statewide legislative campaigns to local electoral races.
Food & Water Watch is a national non-profit organization that mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time. The organization utilizes research, legal expertise, education, advocacy and grassroots organizing to protect people’s health, communities, and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests. Food & Water Watch is a leader in the environmental movement that takes principled, informed positions to create a better world by curbing climate change, adopting clean renewable energy, eliminating industrial-scale livestock production, promoting food safety and protecting public water infrastructure.
Obesity and the Food System
Matthew Feltrop-Herron – Patachou Foundation – Indianapolis, IN
Matthew Feltrop-Herron is the Executive Director of the Patachou Foundation, an Indianapolis nonprofit whose mission is to cultivate an equitable future for youth by amplifying the value and power of food. Since its inception in 2013, Matthew has led their disruptive nonprofit model, growing their meal service footprint by 800 percent and annual funding by 400 percent. He also led the effort to launch a coffee shop social enterprise to fund the work of the Foundation.
The Patachou Foundation is an Indianapolis nonprofit that breaks the cycle of childhood food insecurity and low food access in Indianapolis while addressing the systemic causes of hunger. The Foundation makes a direct impact on childhood food insecurity through scratch-made meals, hands-on food literacy lessons, and youth career training in the food system.
Erin Franey – San Francisco Department of Public Health, Food as Medicine Collaborative – San Francisco, CA
Erin Franey is the Program Manager of the Food as Medicine Collaborative at the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Erin oversees all aspects of strategic planning, communications, development, program evaluation, and dissemination of the Collaborative’s work. Erin cultivates partnerships across clinics, nonprofits, and food businesses to launch and sustain programs to address patient food insecurity. She works closely with medical directors and health systems leaders to align these initiatives with system-wide efforts to eliminate racial health disparities. Erin also co-facilitates a policy steering committee, where she advocates for the adoption of food support as covered medical benefits. Erin is driven by boundless curiosity and a commitment to build more just, healthy, and resilient food systems.
The Food as Medicine Collaborative at the San Francisco Department of Public Health is a multi-sector coalition bridging healthcare and food systems to address food insecurity and advance health equity. The Collaborative emerged in 2014 as a coalition implementing Food Pharmacies in clinics, pairing culturally relevant groceries with cooking demonstrations, nutrition education, health coaching, and resource referrals as part of patients’ medical care. The model now reaches sixteen clinics across five health systems with plans to scale to additional clinics. In 2019, the Collaborative initiated a policy campaign to include medically-supportive food and nutrition services as covered medical benefits. They have successfully advocated for the inclusion of a spectrum of food as medicine interventions in California’s Medicaid waiver and are now supporting statewide implementation.
Chloe Green – American Public Human Services Association – Arlington, VA
Chloe Green is the Policy Associate of Food and Nutrition Services at the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA), where she leads the nutrition support portfolio. In this role, Chloe supports and analyzes Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and nutrition policy by building strategic partnerships, managing research and demonstration projects to distill nutrition policy recommendations, and facilitating peer exchange and the advancement of federal policy recommendations on behalf of state SNAP administrators. Chloe first began at APHSA as a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow in early 2020, and continues to support state SNAP administrators in uplifting lessons learned during the pandemic and utilizing insights to increase access to nutrition support programs for families and communities. Chloe also plays an integral role on APHSA’s race equity team.
The American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) is a bipartisan national membership association representing state and local health and human services agencies and the subject matter experts that help execute their mission to improve outcomes for people nationwide. Building on their long-standing relationships with health and human services leaders, APHSA focuses on generating pragmatic solutions that advance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities.
Tiffany Ingram – American Diabetes Association – Arlington, VA
Tiffany brings 15 years of experience in leading initiatives in the areas of diabetes care and advocacy, community health education, and health equity platforms. Her focus has been addressing strategic priorities and cultivating key partnerships to make a difference in public health, and eliminating inequities in the healthcare system. Currently, she is the Chief of Staff for the American Diabetes Association, where she drives strategy to impact the 122 million Americans living with diabetes and pre-diabetes. Her interest in addressing the many components and needs of people living with diabetes, include obesity, diabetes related comorbidities, and access to quality healthcare.
The American Diabetes Association is the nation’s largest voluntary health organization and a global authority on diabetes. They seek to educate the public about diabetes and to help those affected by it through funding research to manage, cure and prevent diabetes. Additionally, they deliver services to hundreds of communities, provide objective and credible information, and continue to give a voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. For 80 years the American Diabetes Association has led the fight against the deadly consequences of diabetes and has fought tirelessly to fulfill its mission “to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes”.
Denerale Jones – Penn Center for Community Health Workers – Philadelphia, PA
Denerale Jones is an Assistant Director at the Penn Center for Community Health Workers (PCCHW). In this role, Denerale supervises a team of community health workers (CHWs) at four Penn Medicine clinics and the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. The team of CHW’s focuses on issues affecting health caused by social determinants. Denerale also oversees the PCCHW’s Healthy Living Group. His past efforts include, managing a partnership with a local nutrition education and food access organization, developing a combined curriculum that resulted in client education – including, sustained lifestyle changes, and improving health outcomes such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. Denerale leads clinical integration efforts to expand PCCHW’s work within Penn Medicine and the community. He works with clinic directors to create an integrated curriculum that provides on-going training to resident physicians.
The Penn Center for Community Health Workers (PCCHW) is a national center of excellence focused on improving population health through effective community health worker (CHW) programs. PCCHW developed IMPaCT, a standardized, scalable program that leverages CHWs - trusted laypeople from local communities - to improve health.
Jordan Smith – Hawaii Department of Health, Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division – Honolulu, HI
Jordan Smith is the Child and Youth Program Specialist for the Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division (CDPHPD), at the Hawaii Department of Health. In this role, Jordan develops population-based prevention strategies in the areas of nutrition and physical activity aimed to provide and promote opportunities for healthy eating and active living for young children. Jordan also provides up-to-date information, technical expertise, and consultation on the prevention and risk reduction of obesity and associated chronic disease in early care and education (ECE) settings. Jordan works to implement CDPHPD’s mission through innovative programming, partnership development, and strategic planning with a strong intersectional perspective.
The Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion Division of the Hawaii Department of Health (CDPHPD) strives to promote wellness and improve the quality and years of life for Hawaii's people through effective prevention, detection and management of chronic diseases. With over 15 years of experience providing leadership and management of CDC cooperative agreements, CDPHPD proposes to develop organizational capacity and leverage collaborations with external partners, including public and private partners from multiple sectors, to develop a sustainable approach to improve nutrition, increase physical activity, and reduce obesity across Hawaii. Collectively, programs in the CDPHPD work to promote health and reduce the burden of chronic disease by empowering the community, influencing social norms, and supporting and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices.
Jeffrey Wells – Chickasaw Nation – Ada, OK
Dr. Jeffrey Wells is a proud Chickasaw citizen. In his professional role, he is a licensed physical therapist and serves the Chickasaw Nation as the Health Promotion Manager within the Department of Research and Public Health. He acts as a specialty clinician addressing pediatric obesity in a stage 3 weight management clinic called Empowered Living. He also oversees the planning and implementation of tribal health promotion activities and a substance abuse prevention program, called Define Your Direction. Dr. Wells has a passion for helping those in tribal communities improve health, and exhibits strong leadership characteristics. He is directly involved in education concerning obesity and diabetes, and has facilitated efforts to improve health messaging consistency across several programs and clinics of the Chickasaw Nation.
The Chickasaw Nation’s mission is to improve the overall quality of life for the Chickasaw people. In the pursuit of achieving this mission, the Chickasaw Nation is devoted to improving the health of their community. Within the last 20 years, an emphasis has been placed on preventing and managing obesity and obesity related illnesses, which severely impacts the health of First Americans. The Chickasaw Nation is actively involved in the development, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of evidence-based strategies to address the needs of First Americans. The Chickasaw Nation’s vision of leadership, and its commitment to public health will contribute to reducing health disparities and galvanizing resilience in tribal communities.
Alison Wohlgemuth – Bay Area Community Resources – San Rafael, CA
Ali Wohlgemuth is a Director at Bay Area Community Resources, where she leads a team that partners with communities to advance health advocacy and policy. The team works to dismantle structural race-based barriers to health by engaging communities in participatory action research and advocacy in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2020, Ali and her team, along with youth advocates and the Berkeley community, passed the nation’s first Healthy Checkout Ordinance. The Berkeley ordinance established minimum nutrition standards for foods and beverages stocked at checkout. Ali continues this work with her team in other cities, building knowledge and power within communities to decrease the placement, marketing, and promotion of sugary beverages and foods, and overhauling the retail environment to increase access to healthy foods for families across the Bay Area.
Bay Area Community Resources’ (BACR) mission is to promote the healthy development of individuals and families, encourage service and volunteerism, and help build community. For more than four decades, BACR has been delivering a wide range of services to schools and other community settings throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Services are clustered in program areas that include expanded learning, behavioral and mental health, healthy communities, youth workforce and re-entry, and national service. Each year BACR partners with dozens of communities around the Bay Area to build healthy lived environments and provides strengths-based, trauma-informed services to tens of thousands of people.
Sinmidele Badero – Baltimore City Health Department – Baltimore, MD
Sinmidele Badero serves as the Child Fatality Review and Fetal Infant Mortality Review Coordinator for the Bureau of Maternal, and Child Health within the Baltimore City Health Department. In her role, Sinmidele coordinates action oriented community processes that continually assess, monitor, and work to improve health and social service systems and community resources for women, infants, children, and families in Baltimore City. A major part of the bureau’s work to reduce infant and child mortality, is addressing trauma and community violence. In her work, Sinmidele and members of her team collaborate with partners to implement trauma informed recommendations in order to reduce community violence.
The Baltimore City Health Department’s mission is to protect health, eliminate disparities, and ensure the well-being of every Baltimore resident through education, advocacy, and direct service delivery. In collaboration with Baltimore communities, the Baltimore City Health Department aims to prevent harm, promote resilience, and encourage healing from the effects of trauma and violence through a public health approach.
Erin Boguski – Maryland Department of Health – Baltimore, MD
Since 2017, Erin Boguski has worked with the Prevention and Health Promotion Administration as the Rape and Sexual Assault Prevention Program Coordinator. Erin works with partners throughout Maryland to establish statewide priorities, implement prevention initiatives, provide training and technical assistance, and track data. Erin focuses primarily on upstream, primary prevention initiatives that address community and societal-level risk and protective factors that impact sexual violence and related forms of violence. Erin leads a coalition-building initiative called RISEMD, which brings partners together for networking, state planning, and capacity-building.
The Rape and Sexual Assault Prevention Program (RSAPP) at the Maryland Department of Health is a program of the Center for Injury and Violence Prevention within the Environmental Health Bureau (EHB). EHB also includes Centers focused on food protection, epidemiology, and healthy homes and communities (captures lead, asthma, climate change, pools, and youth camps). The Bureau is one unit within the Prevention and Health Promotion Administration (PHPA) along with bureaus dedicated to infectious disease prevention and health services, infectious disease outbreak response, maternal and child health, and cancer and chronic disease. PHPA is under the Maryland Department of Health Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services.
Wendy Calderóne-Payne – Urban Youth Alliance (BronxConnect) – New York, NY
Rev. Wendy Calderón-Payne has been a leader and innovator in the juvenile justice spaces for the past two decades. As Executive Director of Urban Youth Alliance, Rev. Wendy has developed initiatives to reduce incarceration and violence through community-driven solutions. In 1999, she founded the Connect programs in the Bronx to provide alternative community-based pathways for youth and young adults who have committed serious crimes. Under Rev. Wendy’s leadership, the organization has scaled its approach to Manhattan and Philadelphia, as well as launched additional programs in New York City that address gun violence, re-entry, and workforce development. Rev. Wendy has demonstrated the life-affirming value of hiring and uplifting the leadership of incarceration survivors. Wendy graduated with honors from Brown University with an AB in Latin American Studies.
The mission of Urban Youth Alliance (BronxConnect) is to keep youth out of jail for life. Urban Youth Alliance (UYA), the parent organization, was founded in 1970 to foster the leadership of South Bronx and Harlem residents. In 1999, UYA established BronxConnect to address the youth incarceration epidemic. Instead of incarcerating youth, staff from the community equips youth and their families with the life skills and support networks needed to thrive and avoid future justice system involvement. BronxConnect has served over 2,500 youth. In recent years, we have expanded in geography and scope. The Connect programs have a presence in Manhattan and Philadelphia, and the organization has launched additional initiatives in the Bronx, including violence prevention, reentry, workforce, and advocacy and organizing. The approach that guides our work is based on a strengths-based model that recognizes the assets of each individual and community, and includes a spectrum of supports, ranging from cognitive behavioral therapeutic interventions to mentorship and employment support.
William Freeman – From Prison Cells to PhD – Baltimore, MD
William Freeman works as the Program Coordinator and Research Assistant with From Prison Cells to PhD, where he oversees community recruitment efforts aimed to support P2P Scholars in their transition back into the community post-incarceration. After an applicant is accepted into the program, William facilitates administrative tasks that include creating communication systems between the scholars and program facilitators. In his role as a research assistant, William is working to examine the performance of P2P scholars majoring in STEM studies against scholar majoring in humanities studies. William plans to submit his research findings for publication to the Urban Education Journal.
P2P is a national 501c(3) nonprofit organization based in Baltimore, that provides mentoring and educational counseling to help people obtain their educational goals. The program provides college readiness workshops, supports individuals in navigating college admissions and loan application process, and provides SAT/GRE prep/tests. P2P’s mission is to help inspire others with similar backgrounds (criminal justice involvement) to excel beyond what society and life circumstances have set to be the norm. P2P provides mentoring and educational counseling to current and former incarcerated individuals to aid in temporary employment and build their careers.
Yaniris Gomez – Center for Court Innovation – New York, NY
Yaniris Gomez is the Clinical Coordinator for Newark Community Solutions, at the Center for Court Innovation. Newark Community Solutions is an alternative to incarceration (ATI) program that serves low level offenders in the Newark Municipal Court of New Jersey. In this role, Yaniris oversees daily clinic operations and coordinates communication with partners. Yaniris represents the organization in local coalitions that address systemic issues in the Newark community and strengthens her program's ties to the community.
Newark Community Solutions (NCS) is an operating program of the Center for Court Innovation. Center for Court Innovation is a criminal justice non-profit that oversees similar programs in New York City and upstate New York. Besides the ATI in the municipal court, NCS also operates a youth court, victim services office, and a hospital-based violence intervention program. The goal of these services is to re-imagine how people interact with the criminal justice system and offer early intervention to prevent incarceration.
Nargus Harounzadeh – NYC Health & Hospitals – New York, NY
Nargus Harounzadeh joined Correctional Health Services (CHS) in 2019, providing direct clinical care to patients on the Clinical Alternative to Punitive Segregation (CAPS) Units – areas dedicated to treating individuals with serious mental illness and a history of significant violence. In addition to her clinical responsibilities, Dr. Harounzadeh has developed several educational initiatives for staff and trainees including formal clinical rotations for doctoral nurse practitioner (DNP) students, and was named Director of DNP/NP Education. In 2020, Dr. Harounzadeh transitioned to CAPS Clinical Supervisor – where she develops interventions aimed at improving treatment and reducing violence risk on the CAPS units. She also leads a multidisciplinary clinical team, and liaises with the Department of Corrections to ensure strong partnerships for an informed anti-violence response.
In 2016, as a new division of NYC Health & Hospitals, New York City’s public health care organization, CHS became the direct provider of health care for the New York City jail system. Since the transition, CHS has leveraged the resources of the nation’s largest municipal public health care organization and changed the culture of service to individuals in the custody of the city. CHS has become one of the nation’s leading correctional health care systems in quality of and innovations to care and access from pre-arraignment through compassionate release, and are a pivotal partner in New York City’s criminal justice reform efforts, ranging from alternatives to incarceration to support of successful reentry into the community.
Lynnsey O’Rourke – Polaris – Washington, D.C.
Lynnsey O’Rourke is a Hotline Supervisor at the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH), operated by Polaris. Lynnsey acts as a primary decision-maker on incoming cases and directs the hotline responses to crisis cases. Lynnsey manages a team of victim advocates that respond to trafficking cases through the hotline and supports the ongoing training and development of staff. She uses her expertise in anti-trafficking work to contribute to policies and protocols that improve the NHTH’s case response. Lynnsey has also served as a member of the Gender, Romantic, and Sexual Minorities working group which focuses on improving the organization’s capacity to support LGBTQIA-identifying staff members and trafficking survivors.
Named after the North Star, an historical symbol of freedom, Polaris works to reshape the systems that make sex and labor trafficking possible and profitable in North America. For more than a decade, Polaris has assisted thousands of victims and survivors through the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline and built the largest known U.S. data set on the crime. With the guidance of survivors, and working with public and private-sector partners, Polaris uses data to understand and improve the way trafficking is identified, how victims and survivors are assisted, and how the organization can prevent abuse at the scale of the problem.
Caroline Palmer – Minnesota Department of Health – Minneapolis, MN
As the Safe Harbor Director in the Violence Prevention Unit at the Minnesota Department of Health, Caroline Palmer focuses on the statewide response to human trafficking and exploitation (sex and labor), with a focus on the needs of sexually exploited and trafficked youth ages 24 and under. Caroline’s responsibilities include oversight of nearly 50 grants to nonprofit organizations and tribal governments, as well as coordination with public safety and human services partners. In addition, she is involved with the cross-integration of information and interventions within MDH’s Injury and Violence Prevention Section, including responses to sexual and domestic violence. Prior to joining MDH, Caroline was the Law and Policy Manager at the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault where she served as staff attorney and advocated for passage of several state laws.
The mission of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is protecting, maintaining, and improving the health of all Minnesotans. The MDH vision is for health equity in Minnesota, where all communities are thriving and all people have what they need to be healthy. MDH’s department-wide values include integrity, collaboration, respect, science, and accountability. As a state agency, MDH is committed to transparency in its work, continuous quality improvement, building capacity through partnerships, evidence-based strategies, evaluation, and prioritizing the lived experiences of Minnesotans in program development. MDH’s Injury and Violence Prevention Section provides data, resources, and consultation to assist in the development of community intervention and prevention programs in response to both unintentional and violent injuries.
Carley Pysher – Task Force on Domestic Violence: HOPE Inc. – Fairmont, WV
Carley Pysher is the Prevention Education Specialist at Task Force on Domestic Violence: HOPE, Inc. In this role, Carley initiates sexual assault and domestic violence prevention programs in schools and community organizations, including training others to teach prevention. Strengthening relationships and networking with community groups is an essential component of having successful prevention services within the communities Carley serves. In addition, Carley works closely with the Children’s Case Manager to expand and coordinate activities for the Children’s Program at the shelter. She provides on-going assessments of the programs through the maintenance of records and reports to meet agency and grant timelines. Carley also provides case management and responds to hotline calls.
HOPE, Inc. is a dual domestic violence and sexual assault program that serves victims of sexual violence, domestic violence, human trafficking, stalking, harassment/sexual harassment, and dating violence. HOPE, Inc. serves adults who were victims as children and provides services to family and friends of victims who have been affected by these types of victimizations. HOPE, Inc. provides emergency shelter to 5 counties in West Virginia, and offers medical, civil legal, and criminal advocacy assistance. In addition, the HOPE Inc. provides referrals to alternative programs including legal aid, crime victims compensation fund, addiction and mental health programming, and more. HOPE Inc. also provides support in professional trauma counseling along with community education and prevention programming.
Kristina Singleton – Center for Court Innovation – New York, NY
Kristina Singleton serves as a Coordinator on the Diversion and Transformative Initiatives Team at the Midtown Community Court. The Midtown Community Court is an operating Project of the Center for Court Innovation. In her current role, she assists with planning and implementing new initiatives at the Midtown Community Court. In addition to other projects, Kristina is working to implement a pre-filing diversion intervention for youth arrested in connection to weapons-related offenses in NYC. Kristina is the first point of contact after an arrest for a pre-arraignment diversion program, Project Reset. In her role, she manages outreach to potential clients, facilitates the young adult Project Reset groups, and connects clients to community referrals. In collaboration with the Project Reset team, Kristina spearheaded a partnership with the New Museum to provide art-based programming for young adults.
Center for Court Innovation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a more effective and humane justice system. The Center generates original research and conceives, plans, and operates programs that seek to test new ideas, solve complex problems, and achieve system change to accomplish this goal. The Center's projects include: Community-based violence prevention projects, re-entry initiatives, and court-based programs reduce the use of unnecessary incarceration. The Center’s efforts have produced tangible results like safer streets, reduced incarceration, and improved neighborhood perceptions of justice.
Jennifer Styles – International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) – Alexandria, VA
Jennifer Styles is a Program Manager at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). Jennifer has played a substantive role in shaping IACP’s community-police engagement strategy and resources. In addition, Jennifer was integral in standing up programming to support field implementation of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommendations in 2015. She led the re-envisioning of these resources into a new community-police engagement hub in 2020 in the wake of civil unrest. Jennifer oversees IACP’s officer safety and wellness portfolio, including the National Consortium on Preventing Law Enforcement Suicide, Officer Safety and Wellness Symposium, Law Enforcement Resilience Training Program, and family wellness initiatives. Jennifer has a strong commitment to supporting tribal and rural communities and continues to expand IACP’s services for these often under-resourced agencies.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) is the world’s largest and most influential professional association for police leaders, with more than 30,000 members. The IACP’s mission is to advance the policing profession through advocacy, research, outreach, and education to provide for safer communities. In the modern era of policing, cross-disciplinary and collaborative partnerships, evidence-based policies and practices, and meaningful community engagement are all critical to achieving this mission. The IACP has developed and launched numerous training programs, tools, and resources to help police and their multidisciplinary partners work within communities to address critical public health-related challenges such as violent crime, traffic and road safety, behavioral health and substance use disorders, gender-based violence, human trafficking, officer safety and wellness, vulnerable populations, and children exposed to violence.
DrPH Bloomberg Fellows
Addiction and Overdose
Melanie Racine – Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program – Boston, MA
Melanie Racine is the Director of Special Projects at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP). In this role, she is responsible for strategic planning, grants management, program implementation and evaluation for a range of initiatives that improve community health, confront stigma, and advance social justice. Drug overdose is the leading cause of death among people experiencing homelessness in Boston. Through legislative testimony, narrative essays, and research, Melanie has shaped BHCHP’s policy advocacy at a city, state, and federal level in support of supervised consumption, expanded syringe access, and removal of barriers to medication for addiction treatment. Her interests are in mental health, addiction, and the practice, history, and power of community health.
Founded in 1985, Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program is a federally qualified health center whose mission is to ensure unconditionally equitable and dignified access to the highest quality health care for all individuals and families experiencing homelessness in the greater Boston area. The program operates an extensive network of clinics within homeless shelters, soup kitchens, hospitals, the street, and other settings where people are trying to meet basic survival needs. Over half of patients at BHCHP have a diagnosed substance use disorder. BHCHP seeks to expand on-demand access to all types of addiction treatment and harm reduction services, with overarching aims to stop overdose deaths and end stigma.
Lindsey Sizemore – Tennessee Department of Health – Nashville, TN
For the last decade, Lindesy has built capacity to address the downstream infectious consequences of the opioid crisis by developing services focused on groups experiencing a disproportionate impact. She provides oversight of all aspects of the Tennessee Department of Health Viral Hepatitis Program, which consists of over 30 employees statewide that conduct surveillance, offer prevention services, and provide linkage to treatment and harm reduction resources. Lindsey developed and manages numerous
initiatives, including the Viral Hepatitis Case Navigators, Harm Reduction Resource Team, and the Perinatal Hepatitis C program. Lindsey is currently working with a core research team to update the Tennessee HIV and Hepatitis C Vulnerability Assessment, as well as with a multidisciplinary group on the End the Syndemic (HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections, Viral Hepatitis, and Substance Use Disorder) Tennessee movement.
The Tennessee Department of Health’s mission is to protect, promote, and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee, and has a vision of Healthy People, Healthy Communities, and Healthy Tennessee. Their values of collaboration, excellence, integrity, compassion, respect, and health equity help support the strategic priorities of prevention and access.
Avanthi Jayasuriya – Cardea – Pocatello, ID
Avanthi Jayasuriya is an Evaluation and Program Manager with Cardea Services (Cardea). Her work includes mixed-methods evaluation, evaluation capacity building, and strategic facilitation support with a variety of community-based partners, public and private funders, associations, and system support organizations. Focusing on early childhood and adolescent social service supports provided through community-based initiatives to advance equity and well-being, Avanthi finds the most exciting aspect of this work to be the opportunity to build relationships with incredible community partners and support evaluations that help communicate their impact.
Cardea is a national, women of color-led organization with offices in Oakland, California; Austin, Texas; and Seattle, Washington; and the Washington DC area. Cardea envisions a world in which optimal health and well-being, equity, and justice are realities for all communities and is committed to addressing complex program, policy, and systems issues by co-creating solutions that center community strengths and wisdom. Guided by a belief that organizations thrive by integrating principles of equity and justice into all aspects of their work, Cardea grounds these principles in its four strategic approaches: social impact evaluation, policy advancement, capacity development, and professional learning.
Obesity and the Food System
Camille Grant Valentine – Duke Raleigh Hospital – Raleigh, NC
Camille Grant Valentine is the Director of Community Affairs for Duke Raleigh Hospital. In this role, Camille is responsible for creating and executing an annual plan to achieve the hospital’s strategic goals for community needs and partnerships. Camille oversees community collaborations– including utilizing systems thinking to expand discrete food and diabetes initiatives. Camille represents the hospital and Duke Health in the Wake County Community Health Needs Assessment as a Steering Committee member, and works to establish the hospital’s response and plans to various health priorities. Camille is a member of Duke Health’s Food Insecurity Committee; Advancing Health Equity Committee; the Duke Raleigh Hospital and the One Duke Health Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion steering committees. She currently represents Duke Raleigh Hospital as a Board Member for Meals on Wheels of Wake County and The Alexander YMCA.
Duke Raleigh Hospital is one of three Duke hospitals and more than 200 clinics in the Duke University Health System. As a 186 inpatient bed hospital, Duke Raleigh Hospital offers a comprehensive array of services, including cardiovascular services, neurosciences, advanced digestive care, disease management and prevention, wound healing, outpatient imaging, same-day surgery, emergency care and community outreach and education programs. Duke Raleigh Hospital is proud to be a part of Wake County and to collaborate with our community partners to invest our time, talents and energy to improve the health and well-being of the people we serve. Duke Raleigh Hospital lives by its mission to improve health, advance knowledge, and inspire hope.
Regis Whaley – Three Square Food Bank – Las Vegas, NV
Regis Whaley is the Director of Business Support at Three Square Food Bank. In this role, he is responsible for coordinating data, research, and strategy within the food bank as well as collaborating with external organizations on research about food insecurity in Southern Nevada. One of the ongoing external collaborations includes his role as Vice Chair of the Southern Nevada Food Council, a volunteer-led organization that provides advocacy, education, and collaboration in support of equitable access to healthy food for all Southern Nevadans. Regis also serves as a co-facilitator of the Network Data User Group, a community of data analysts throughout the Feeding America network of food banks.
Three Square Food Bank is Southern Nevada’s only food bank and largest hunger relief organization, serving four counties – Clark, Lincoln, Esmeralda and Nye. The organization engages in food sourcing, fundraising, and advocacy outreach to provide the most complete food solution in the valley. Three Square works with a service network of community partners to reach struggling individuals and families at risk of hunger. In response to COVID-19, Three Square implemented a disaster response plan to answer sudden school and business closures, drastic declines in retail food donations, social distancing limitations on volunteer efforts, reduced on-site staff support, and the need for low-contact food distributions. In 2020, Three Square distributed more than 56 million meals, the equivalent of more than 68 million pounds of food and grocery products. The food bank is more committed than ever to its mission of providing wholesome food to hungry people, while passionately pursuing a hunger-free community.
Loren Adams – Philadelphia Department of Health, Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention – Philadelphia, PA
Loren Adams is the Injury Prevention Epidemiology Manager at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. As an inaugural member of the Injury Prevention Program, she has been vital in establishing the Department as a stakeholder in violence prevention. Loren is dedicated to creating safer environments for all Philadelphians. She takes a public health approach to prevent gun injuries and deaths, applies quantitative methods to analyze community gun violence trends, and studies structural racism and social determinants of health as root causes of violence. Loren collaborates with city agencies and community organizations to support policies and interventions that reduce violence and promote community healing. In all her work, Loren is committed to challenging the systems that create inequities in health outcomes and is a leader on the Division’s health justice team.
The Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health is an innovative multidisciplinary collaboration of public health, academic institutions,
community-based organizations, and the private sector that works to tackle the underlying risk factors driving the epidemic of chronic disease and injuries in Philadelphia.
Alyzza Hudson – DC Department of Health – Washington, D.C.
Alyzza Hudson serves as the DC Healthy People analyst in the Center for Policy, Planning and Evaluation at the DC Department of Health. In this position, she plays a key role in population health and policy planning for the District’s public health priorities. Alyzza contributes to the mission of DC Healthy People by monitoring population health outcomes; analyzing, researching and recommending evidence-based strategies to improve health equity; and supporting usage of shared population health data to drive city-wide policy and programmatic decision-making. She works to strengthen engagement with community members and organizations across the District to democratize community health priorities and improve population health and safety through collective impact planning.
The DC Department of Health promotes health, wellness and equity across the District, and protects the safety of residents, visitors and those doing business in our nation’s capital. DC Healthy People serves as the city’s shared agenda and Community Health Improvement Plan, which collaboratively sets goals and measurable public health objectives and monitors progress toward achieving targets for priority population health outcomes.
Sarah Shewbrooks – Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health Board – Rapid City, SD
Sarah Shewbrooks serves as an Epidemiologist and Data Products Manager at the Great Plains Tribal
Epidemiology Center within the larger Great Plains Tribal Leaders’ Health Board in Rapid City, South Dakota. Sarah has both participated in and led efforts responding to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Transgendered, and Two Spirit (MMIWGT2) crisis and suicide prevention for the 18 tribal communities she serves within North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska. She also serves on her organization’s Intimate Partner Violence and MMIWGT2 task force.
The Great Plains Tribal Epidemiology Center (GPTEC) was founded in 2003 as a core component of the Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health Board. GPTEC’s mission is to provide leadership, technical assistance, support, and advocacy to achieve our vision of eliminating the disparities in health that currently exist for tribal peoples within the four-state region. Great Plains Tribal Leaders’ Health Board provides quality public health support and health care advocacy utilizing effective and culturally credible approaches to the 18 tribal communities within the four states that comprise the Great Plains Area. The goals of the Health Board are to provide access to the highest quality, most comprehensive and up-to-date health resources available in the areas of research, education, assistance, prevention, and outreach.
Applications for the 2022 cohort opens in August!
Stay Connected to the Initiative
Receive all the latest news from the Initiative by following us on Twitter, signing up for the American Health Dispatch newsletter, subscribing to the American Health Podcast, and subscribing to our YouTube channel.Contact Us