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Vincent Lafronza, EdD, MS, President & CEO 

Vincent Lafronza, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI), provides leadership and direction on all NNPHI initiatives, and develops collaborative efforts with NNPHI’s numerous public health institutes and partners throughout the nation. Dedicated to the vision of improving the public’s health through innovation, NNPHI is the national membership network committed to helping public health institutes promote and sustain improved health and wellness for all. Beginning his career in health and human services in 1985, Dr. Lafronza has held health policy and programming positions in government, nonprofit, and university sectors to advance population health at multiple levels of intervention, including community, state, federal, national, and tribal spheres of influence. Prior to his current NNPHI appointment, Dr. Lafronza convened a winning team of colleagues to establish two nonprofit organizations, CommonHealth ACTION and the Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHi), a public health institute serving the Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia region. Previous appointments included a ten-year appointment with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) where he served as the program director for the Turning Point National Program Office and senior advisor to NACCHO programs, executing program portfolios in excess of $14 million. Before joining NACCHO, Dr. Lafronza held an appointment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry in Atlanta, Georgia that involved providing technical assistance to U.S. communities affected by hazardous waste. Dr. Lafronza’s background in the fields of gerontology, behavioral health, community environmental health intervention, and public health systems development in communities, states, and American Indian/Alaska Native nations inform his perspectives and approaches.

Dr. Lafronza holds a doctorate of adult education, master of science, and certificate of gerontology. He also completed an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Engineering Postgraduate Research Fellowship in Public Health, as well as two Salzburg Fellowships focused on the social and economic determinants of public health. He is an active member of the American Public Health Association (APHA), and serves on the board of directors for Education, Training, and Research Associates (ETR).


Contact Vincent at or 202.407.7092.

Office Location: Washington DC


Aaron Alford, PhD, MPH, PMP, Director, Research and Evaluation 

Aaron Alford serves as Director of Research and Evaluation for NNPHI’s research and evaluation initiatives. Dr. Alford collaborates with staff and leaders throughout the network to develop and advance a research agenda that aligns with NNPHI’s mission. Dr. Alford is a health research and evaluation scientist with 15 years of experience conducting and supporting research and evaluation efforts for public and private sector clients. Prior to joining NNPHI, Dr. Alford lead a research team designing an environmental scan process for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and was the project director for a series of commercial program evaluation projects with JASON Learning, a subsidiary of National Geographic. He also worked as a project manager and research scientist for Battelle Memorial Institute conducting health and analytics research for federal agencies and commercial enterprises.

Dr. Alford’s work in program evaluation has informed the program management of clients ranging from the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences to JASON Learning/National Geographic. He currently leads four contracts focused on helping JASON Learning/National Geographic empirically understand the nature and impact of their education and development portfolio in several states. Over the past six years, he has served as a project manager, methodologist and analyst on a variety of projects designed to create, test, implement and document evidence-based performance metrics and practices in medicine, public health and education. During this period he managed or supported large scale systematic reviews and meta-analyses for the Department of Education and Centers for Disease Control (CDC), most notably the Laboratory Medicine Best Practices (LMBP™) Initiative and the Guide to Community Preventive Services. Dr. Alford marries deep technical skills and the capacity to manage complex projects with a proven record of creating lasting client relationships in order to grow sales. An epidemiologist, Dr. Alford holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and an MPH from George Washington University.  

Contact Aaron:  

Office Location: Washington DC

Aliyah Ali, MPH, CDC Public Health Prevention Service Fellow

Aliyah Ali is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Prevention Service fellow currently assigned to NNPHI. Ms. Ali is spearheading NNPHI’s public health and health care collaboration efforts as they relate to defining the role and building capacity among NNPHI and member institutes to serve as resource partners in health system transformation. Prior to joining NNPHI, Ms. Ali completed rotations within CDC at the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity and the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. Additionally, her past experience includes coordinating and implementing several chronic disease prevention efforts at the City of Minneapolis Department of Health aimed at creating environments conducive to healthy behaviors. Ms. Ali holds an MPH in policy and administration from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and a BA in Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. 


Contact Aliyah at

Office Location: Washington DC


Brittany Bickford, MPH, Research & Evaluation Analyst

Brittany Bickford, Research and Evaluation Analyst, helps coordinate evaluation activities for national evaluations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Public Health Improvement Initiative (NPHII) and the Strengthening the Community of Practice for Public Health Improvement Initiative (COPPHI). Additionally, Ms. Bickford provides evaluation support internally at NNPHI. Before joining NNPHI, she served as a qualitative Research Assistant at the Louisiana Public Health Institute. Ms. Bickford also served as a Community Health HIV/AIDS Educator in the U.S. Peace Corps stationed in Swaziland from 2008-2010. Ms. Bickford began her career in public health in Detroit, MI, where she volunteered at the AIDS Partnership of Michigan. She has an MPH from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and BA from Michigan State University.


Contact Brittany at .

Office Location: Washington DC


Breonne DeDecker, MA, Program Associate 

Breonne DeDecker is a program associate at NNPHI. Ms. DeDecker supports various research and evaluation initiatives, including the Gaining Ground program, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) Public Health Services and Systems Research (PHSSR) program, and the Pipeline to Proposal Awards, which supports patient centered outcomes research. Prior to joining NNPHI, Ms. DeDecker served as Program Manager with the New Orleans Citizen Participation Project, which is a resident driven initiative to create formalized structure for public input in government decision making processes. She also interned with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Community Innovators Lab on the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative, an economic justice project. Ms. DeDecker is passionate about community engagement and public participation processes, as well as expanding social equity in regards to economic and health outcomes for populations. Ms. DeDecker holds an MA in Sustainable Development from Brandeis University, and a BA in International Relations and a BFA in Photography from the University of Georgia.


Contact Breonne at .

Office Location: New Orleans, LA


Neville DePass, Grants and Contracts Officer 


Contact Neville:

Office Location: Washington DC


LaShandra Ellis, Office Administrator

LaShandra Ellis, Office Administrator, performs a variety of higher level administrative functions in support of NNPHI’s leadership and staff.  Prior to joining NNPHI, Ms. Ellis worked for Jones Lang LaSalle on the T-Mobile account as an assistant facility manager, performing day-to-day oversight/monitoring of work order completion and invoice validation. She ensured service delivery standards were met or exceeded at all times. She has over twenty years of administrative experience spanning across the aerospace, financial, insurance and real estate management industries. Ms. Ellis holds an AA with honors in Business Administration from Strayer University. She is also a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS), Golden Key International Honour Society (GK), and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK).


Contact LaShandra at .

Office Location: New Orleans, LA


Kelly Hughes, MPH, RD, CHES, Associate Director, Program Strategy 


Kelly Hughes serves as an Associate Director for Program Strategy at NNPHI. Based in Atlanta, GA, she serves as a liaison to CDC, providing project and relational support for CDC-funded initiatives. Prior to joining NNPHI, Ms. Hughes worked as a Public Health Analyst in CDC's Division of Community Health to conduct policy analysis, partnership engagement, budget formulation, issues management, community health investment tracking and Prevention and Public Health Fund reporting for DCH programs and awardees, such as the Community Transformation Grant and Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health programs. Additionally, she is a graduate of CDC's Public Health Prevention Service fellowship, class of 2009. As a PHPS fellow, she was field assigned to the Minnesota Department of Health to support the Statewide Health Improvement Program. Ms. Hughes also completed rotations within CDC in the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response in Atlanta and the Office of Global Health Affairs in the HHS Office of the Secretary in Washington DC. Ms. Hughes has a MPH in Behavioral Sciences and Health Education from Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health and a BS degree in Dietetics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). She is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Health Education Specialist.


Contact Kelly at .

Office Location: Atlanta, GA


Erica Johnson, MA, Manager, Program Administration and Special Projects

Erica Johnson serves as Manager, Program Administration and Special Projects, for NNPHI. She also supports administration of a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and works closely with all staff to support operations and business development activities. Prior to joining NNPHI, Ms. Johnson served as an AmeriCorps VISTA through Tulane University’s Center for Public Service and worked with Population Services International and the World Health Organization. She has an MA in international relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and a BA in anthropology and American studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Contact Erica at .

Office Location: New Orleans, LA


Liljana Johnson, MPH, Senior Manager, Training and Workforce Development

Liljana Johnson serves as Senior Manager for Training and Workforce Development.   Working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Ms. Johnson is part of the National Center for Public Health Training, supporting Regional Public Health Training Centers efforts to advance and prepare the public health workforce today and tomorrow. Through the Public Health Improvement Training, Ms. Johnson supports training efforts in performance improvement.  Over the years, Ms. Johnson has served on the NACCHO National Performance Improvement Workgroup, as a National Partner Liaison to the CDC Community Guide Task Force, and as a Board Member of the International High School of New Orleans, and always an avid dog rescue supporter in New Orleans.  Prior to joining NNPHI, Ms. Johnson managed a community health worker training and health education program with Urban Strategies in a public-housing-turned-mixed-income neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana.  She also has professional experience in spatial analysis and community engagement, from her employment with the Louisiana Public Health Institute and the Tulane University Urban Studies Department.   She earned her MPH from the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. 


Contact Liljana at .

Office Location: New Orleans, LA


Merilee Jones, Finance Coordinator

Merilee Jones, Finance Coordinator, is responsible for coordinating the activities of NNPHI’s payables and receivables.  She is also involved in NNPHI's contracts processes and is instrumental in developing and maintaining the databases used for tracking and reporting purposes across the organization.  Ms. Jones has more than fifteen years’ experience contributing to all levels of administrative support.


Contact Merilee at .

Office Location: New Orleans, LA


Mahelet Kebede, MPH, Program Associate

Mahelet Kebede is as a program associate at NNPHI. She supports the research, planning and implementation of strategies and programs focused on health equity, community health improvement and initiatives that bridge public health and health care. Ms. Kebede also works to coordinate and align projects and activities that are cross-cutting various NNPHI program areas. Prior to this role, she served as an intern at NNPHI, assisting with the planning and coordination of NNPHI’s mid-year convening on public health and health care collaboration, and the Tool for Health and Resilience in Vulnerable Environments (THRIVE). Before joining NNPHI, Ms. Kebede served as a research assistant on the Adolescent Study on Human Papillomavirus (HPV) at the Adolescent Health Center of Mount Sinai Hospital, focusing on clinical coordination, patient advocacy, and data analysis. Ms. Kebede has a MPH in global community health and behavioral sciences from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana and holds a BA in sociology from the University of Maryland, College Park.


Contact Mahelet at .

Office Location: Washington DC


Christopher Kinabrew, MPH, MSW, Chief Strategy Officer

Christopher Kinabrew, Chief Strategy Officer, is responsible for enhancing awareness of NNPHI and its member public health institutes among national, state, and local partners.  Mr. Kinabrew helps manage NNPHI’s overall communications and new business development.  He also leads several NNPHI projects with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and private foundations, providing support and oversight to NNPHI staff and contractors. He was Esri’s Public Health Specialist from 2005-2010, linking public health geographic information systems (GIS) users worldwide as a liaison to the public health sector. He worked with NNPHI in its early years, beginning his public health career as an intern assisting the Louisiana Public Health Institute with proposal writing and policy research, with an emphasis on tobacco control and prevention.  Prior to entering public health, Mr. Kinabrew worked in music and publishing.  He graduated from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and Tulane School of Social Work in New Orleans, Louisiana and Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. 


Contact Chris at

Office Location: New Orleans, LA


Whitney Magendie, MPH, Convening Specialist

Whitney Magendie is a convening specialist at NNPHI. She works with the Strengthening the Community of Practice for Public Health Improvement (COPPHI) project, supporting quality improvement and accreditation work. Ms. Magendie also assists in coordinating the biannual COPPHI Open Forums for Quality Improvement in Public Health, hosted by NNPHI and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Before joining NNPHI, Ms. Magendie worked as a development coordinator at Ipas, a global health nonprofit focused on women’s health and rights based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She has also interned in the Research Utilization Unit of FHI 360, and served as the student coordinator of Tulane University’s Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship, a program funded by the State Department that brings mid-career professionals from developing countries to the U.S. for study and immersion. A native Louisianan, Ms. Magendie has an MPH in international health from Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana and a BA in political science and romance languages from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Contact Whitney at .

Office Location: New Orleans, LA


Carmelita Marrow, Convening Strategist

Carmelita Marrow is the convening strategist at NNPHI.  Ms. Marrow brings strategic meeting management expertise spanning over twenty (20) years. Before joining NNPHI, Ms. Marrow led a stellar team as Vice President of Meeting Services at EMCVenues for (8) years. While at EMCVenues, Ms. Marrow provided management, leadership and support for all Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded meetings. She has proven abilities in strategic sourcing, contract negotiations, savings/cost-avoidance and return on investment reporting.  She provides expert level execution in key areas of strategic meeting and event planning; attendee technologies, risk mitigation, project and budget oversight, as well as supplier and client relationship management. Ms. Marrow attended the University of North Carolina, Asheville.


Contact Carmelita at 

Office Location: Atlanta, GA


Erin Marziale, MPH, Director, Network Engagement

Erin Marziale, Director, Network Engagement, provides direction and support for a portfolio of services to NNPHI members, including educational opportunities like the NNPHI Annual Conference, communications and funding opportunities, and the management of projects between NNPHI members and national funders such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  She develops and provides tailored technical assistance to pre-emerging, emerging, and established public health institutes through one-on-one coaching, group learning activities, and connectivity to relationship-based mentoring from institute leaders.  Before joining NNPHI, Mrs. Marziale was team lead at the Louisiana Public Health Institute for the 2006 Louisiana Health and Population Survey, a rapid population estimate in selected hurricane-effected parishes of Louisiana.  Mrs. Marziale also developed and managed a community recovery center in the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans for families returning to their homes after Hurricane Katrina. She is a returned Peace Corps volunteer, Guyana 1999-2001. She holds an MPH from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and a BA in anthropology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


Contact Erin at .

Office Location: New Orleans, LA


Sarah McKasson, MPH, Research & Evaluation Analyst

Sarah McKasson, Research and Evaluation Analyst, helps coordinate activities for national evaluations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Public Health Improvement Initiative (NPHII).  She also provides evaluation support internally at NNPHI.  Before joining NNPHI, Ms. McKasson served as a graduate research assistant at the Mary Amelia Women’s Health Education Center and primarily focused on quantitative analysis for a multitude of maternal and childhood health research projects.  Ms. McKasson studied epidemiology at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana and received her MPH in 2012. She has a BA from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.


Contact Sarah at .

Office Location: New Orleans, LA


Jennifer McKeever, MSW, MPH, Director, Public Health Practice and Training

As Director of Public Health Practice and Training, Jennifer McKeever supports staff, consultants, and network members in the implementation of initiatives that improve the nation’s public health performance. Most recently, Jennifer is supporting the creation and launch of the National Coordinating Center for Public Health Training, working with ten regional training centers to co-create, standardize, and modernize a best-in-class public health training system that is easily accessible to all communities and Tribes across the country. In her tenure with NNPHI, Jennifer has led the design and execution of national trainings and conferences that reach over 1,000 public health professionals per year and learning communities that test innovations to advance public health practice. Her work is driven by a deep belief that achieving health in the U.S and everywhere will be found through the pursuit of justice. Prior to joining NNPHI, Jennifer oversaw HIV testing and counseling with the Louisiana Office of Public Health, a program that conducted 75,000 tests and trained over 200 HIV counselors annually. She also managed and provided training for community-based programs providing HIV services across the state. Earlier in her career, Ms. McKeever worked as a social services director for a residential facility for persons living with AIDS, as an ESL teacher and caregiver for children in Honduras, and as an employment coach for persons with developmental disabilities. She earned a MSW and MPH from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Contact Jennifer at .

Office Location: Washington DC


Mikhaila Richards, MS, Communications Strategist

Mikhaila Richards, Communications Strategist, helps to plan and implement NNPHI’s communications strategies in addition to overseeing development of NNPHI publications and marketing material. Additionally, Ms. Richards helps to plan and develop digital strategies and tools as well as marketing plans for the National Coordinating Center for Public Health Training. Before joining NNPHI, she served as a Content Strategist at Blue State Digital and as Senior Program Analyst for the National Association of County and City Health Officials's (NACCHO) Health Equity and Social Justice Initiatives. She led website strategy development, content creation and web content project management for “Roots of Health Inequity: A Web-Based Course for the Public Health Workforce” (rootsofhealthinequity.org).  Ms. Richards earned a B.A. in Government from Smith College and a M.S. in Society, Human Development and Health from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Contact Mikhaila at

Office Location: Washington DC


Nikki Lawhorn Rider, ScD, MPP, Associate Director, Research & Evaluation

Nikki Rider, Associate Director, Research and Evaluation, collaborates with colleagues on national evaluations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Public Health Improvement Initiative (NPHII).  Additionally, she is Project Director for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Public Health Services and Systems Research (PHSSR) solicitation, which is managed by NNPHI.  Dr. Rider has over ten years of experience in conducting applied research and evaluation studies in a wide range of settings with study designs that include both quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis.  She has also worked with colleagues to apply innovative analysis techniques that translate study findings into useable strategies for practitioners and policymakers.  Dr. Rider has an ScD in biostatistics from the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and an MPP from the University of Chicago.


Contact Nikki at .


Jenn Rudiger, MSA, Executive Assistant

Jenn Rudiger, Executive Assistant, supports NNPHI's senior leadership team, board of directors, and external clients in a wide range of capacities. Prior to joining NNPHI, Ms. Rudiger was an officer in the U.S. Air Force.  As a ten-year veteran, she provided an array of human resource management, executive support services, and project management to senior-level staff.  She has a Master of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University and a BA in philosophy from Tulane University.


Contact Jenn at .

Office Location: Washington DC


Dorthy Sekowski, MPH, MEd, Program Associate

 Dorothy Sekowski is a program associate and currently supports the work of the National Coordinating Center for Public Health Training housed within NNPHI.  Ms. Sekowski has returned to the NNPHI team after working for Project Laulima, a System of Care Expansion Initiative for the State of Hawai’i Department of Health, where she focused on workforce development.  She has also worked on electronic medical record implementation projects in the greater New Orleans area.  Prior to her career in public health, Ms. Sekowski was an elementary school teacher. Her interests in public health include workforce training and professional development, behavioral health, and disabilities.   Ms. Sekowski received her MPH from the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine and Public Health, an MEd from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a BA in Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  Although consumed by wanderlust, she is overjoyed to call New Orleans her permanent home.

Contact Dorothy at 

Office Location: New Orleans 


Jessica Wehle, MPH,  Senior Manager, Performance Improvement Initiatives

Jessica Wehle serves as Senior Manager for Performance Improvement Initiatives.  Ms. Wehle works closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation managing a variety of quality improvement and performance management projects. Prior to joining NNPHI, Ms. Wehle was a project specialist in the Health System Innovations division of the American Institutes for Research’s. In this role she provided project management for a federal contract providing technical assistance to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) on health care reform demonstration projects. Ms. Wehle earned her MPH from the University of Kentucky College of Public Health in 2011 with a focus on quality improvement (QI) efforts as it pertains to public health and accreditation.

Contact Jessica at 

Office Location: Washington DC 

Contact Us 
NNPHI (New Orleans Office)
1515 Poydras Street, Suite 1490
New Orleans, LA 70112
(P)888.996.6744 (888.99.NNPHI)  / (F)504.301.9820
NNPHI (Washington, DC Office)
1300 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 510
Washington, DC 20036

For more information, please contact Christopher Kinabrew, Chief Strategy Officer, at .

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