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).
Brittany Bickford, Evaluation Coordinator, 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.
Katie Dabdoub is a program coordinator at NNPHI for Member Services. She assists the program managers by coordinating and supporting all activities related to NNPHI’s Member Services portfolio , including educational opportunities for members, member communication, funding opportunities for members, interest groups, and other activities related to membership benefits. She plays a core role in the planning and coordination of the NNPHI Annual Conference. Ms. Dabdoub also supports NNPHI’s technical assistance program for emerging and established institutes, as well as programs/projects between NNPHI members and national funders such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Prior to joining NNPHI in 2010, Ms. Dabdoub worked at the Louisiana Public Health Institute as an intern for Healthy NOLA Neighborhoods. Ms. Dabdoub also served as both the policy/advocacy and youth initiative intern for the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living, a program of the Louisiana Public Health Institute, from 2008- 2010. Ms. Dabdoub holds an MPA, with an emphasis in nonprofit leadership, from the University of New Orleans and a BS in community health sciences, health promotion, from the University of Southern Mississippi.
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 fifteen years of administrative experience spanning across the aerospace, financial, insurance and real estate management industries. Currently, she is studying at Strayer University to obtain her BA in business administration. She has a 4.0 GPA and is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS).
Sarah Gillen, Vice President, works closely with NNPHI’s leadership, staff, and partners to establish and implement programs that align with the organization’s strategic directions and emerging public health priorities. Ms. Gillen leads national programs that leverage the expertise of public health institutes to improve health, which includes work in the areas of health equity, public health agency accreditation and quality improvement, public health systems and services research and evaluation, evidence-based public health practice, and health policy. Prior to joining NNPHI, Ms. Gillen established a community health program for women and children at Saint Damien Pediatric Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She also served as study coordinator for a joint research project on the biosocial determinants of tuberculosis with Haiti’s National Tuberculosis Program, Partners in Health, and the World Health Organization. She also served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. During her service, she supported community-based organizations in Baton Rouge with the development and distribution of resources to support vulnerable populations. Ms. Gillen received a BSin biology from Saint Mary’s College and an MPH from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. She is a graduate of the National Public Health Leadership Institute.
Erica Johnson serves as program manager for the Building Capacity to Conduct Effective HIV, STD, and Teen Pregnancy Prevention among American Indian and Alaska Native Youth project and as Deputy Director for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) Public Health Services and Systems Research (PHSSR) program. For the Native Youth Project, she coordinates with contractors and community-based organizations to support achievement of project milestones. For PHSSR, she works closely with staff at NNPHI, RWJF, and the National Coordinating Center for PHSSR to oversee the application and review process for several RWJF-funded solicitations and support management of grants. Prior to joining NNPHI, Ms. Johnson served as an AmeriCorps VISTA through Tulane University’s Center for Public Service and interned 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.
Liljana Johnson serves as a program manager in the areas of performance improvement and evidence-based public health. Working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Ms. Johnson supports the Strengthening the Community of Practice for Public Health Improvement (COPPHI) initiative, as well as the National Public Health Performance Standards efforts. Since 2010, Ms. Johnson has worked to increase adoption of the CDC Community Guide resource to support use of evidence-based public health among practitioners. In 2011, she became a national workgroup member of the Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) initiative, and has been involved with MAPP processes in several communities. 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. The training and education she provided focused on primary prevention of heart disease and other community issues. She also has professional experience in data management and analysis, community engagement, and spatial analysis 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.
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.
Mahelet Kebede, Primary Care and Public Health Intern, helps research the integration points of public health institutions and reimbursement programs with the Affordable Care Act, as well as community health workers. She also assists with the planning and coordination of NNPHI’s mid-year convening on Public Health and Health Care Collaboration: Defining Roles for Public Health Institutes in America’s Evolving Health Care Systems. 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 and analysis. Ms. Kebede is an MPH candidate in global community health and behavioral sciences at 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.
Christopher Kinabrew, Director of Government and External Affairs, 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.
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.
Whitney Magendie is a program coordinator 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.
Erin Marziale, Associate Director, Member Services, 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.
Sarah McKasson, Evaluation Coordinator, 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.
Jennifer McKeever, Associate Director for Public Health Improvement, collaborates with funders, national public health organizations, and NNPHI members to implement national programs in the following areas: evidenced-based public health, public health accreditation, quality improvement, and community health improvement. In 2008, Ms. McKeever moved from the organization’s office in New Orleans to open a new branch in Washington, DC. Prior to joining NNPHI, she oversaw HIV testing and counseling with the Louisiana Office of Public Health, a program that conducted 75,000 HIV tests and trained 200 HIV counselors annually. She also managed community-based programs providing HIV services across the state. Earlier in her career, Ms. McKeever worked as a program 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 received a MSW and MPH from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.
An Nguyen, Program Manager, is the lead NNPHI staff of workforce and leadership development projects and initiatives and manages NNPHI’s emerging health disparities programming. NNPHI programs and projects that Ms. Nguyen manages include the Public Health Leadership Society (PHLS), Toolkit for Health and Resilience in Vulnerable Environments (THRIVE), Bristol-Myers Squibb Together on Diabetes initiative, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation project on public health nursing, and CDC Scientific Education and Professional Development Program Office workforce development project. Prior to joining NNPHI, Ms. Nguyen worked for the Louisiana Public Health Institute as a policy analyst, conducting research and policy analysis for post- Katrina health systems redevelopment and recovery efforts. She also served as the project coordinator for the Louisiana Public Health Information Exchange, a project that developed a network among public health care system providers and local health departments to improve timeliness of disease reporting and access to care and treatment for persons with HIV, syphilis, and tuberculosis.
Ms. Nguyen holds an MHA from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana and a BS in biology from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California. She is the recipient of the 2011 Balderson Award for Support of Leadership Development.
Melissa Schigoda is a program coordinator at NNPHI. She leads the development of communication products and website content for the NNPHI Public Health Improvement Team. Additionally, Ms. Schigoda supports the design and implementation of numerous trainings and meetings that support capacity- building related to public health improvement initiatives. Before joining NNPHI, she worked as a research associate/information designer at the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, a New Orleans nonprofit that gathers, analyzes, and disseminates data to help nonprofit and civic leaders work smarter and more strategically. Prior to that, she served as a research associate for PolicyLink, a mayoral fellow for the City of New Orleans Division of Housing Renewal and Office of Public Advocacy, and a service learning program coordinator for Tulane University Center for Public Service. She has also worked internationally through internships at community development organizations in Argentina and Peru. Melissa has an MS in international development and a BA in political science and international development, both from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Dorothy Sekowski is a project assistant at NNPHI. She primarily assists the Member Services team with the implementation and coordination of several components of the membership services offered to NNPHI members and emerging institutes, including the Advancing Public Health Institutes project. Previously, Ms. Sekowski supported workforce assessment, training, and accreditation initiatives as a research assistant at the Wisconsin Center for Public Health Education and Training. She also has experience in electronic medical record training and implementation projects in clinical settings. Prior to entering public health, she worked as a teacher in rural Oahu, Hawaii. She holds an MPH from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and an MEd and BA in anthropology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Aaron Zubler, Senior Contracts and Operations Manager, is responsible for all aspects of NNPHI’s contracting processes, from the procurement of contractors to the drafting, execution, implementation, and closeout of contracts. Additionally, Mr. Zubler assists in the review and monitoring of program budgets and helps ensure that NNPHI remains compliant with the requirements of its funding sources. Before joining NNPHI, he served as a project manager for the City of New Orleans, managing the implementation of multiple federal Community Development Block Grant funded projects targeted to aid in the city’s rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Zubler also served as a city planner for the New Orleans City Planning Commission, gaining a professional competency in administering zoning and land use regulations impacting the city’s built environment. Mr. Zubler has a JD from Tulane University’s School of Law, an MSc in international development from Tulane University’s Payson Center, and a BA in philosophy from Indiana University.