• Staff Retreat DC 2014
Vincent Lafronza, EdD, 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.

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



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

Katie Dabdoub, MPA, Associate Manager, Member Services

Katie Dabdoub, Associate Manager, Member Services, helps coordinate and support 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. 

Contact Katie at



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

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 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).

Contact LaShandra at

Sarah Gillen, MPH, Vice President

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.  

Contact Sarah at

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 .

Erica Johnson, MA, Program Manager

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.

Contact Erica at

Liljana Johnson, MPH, Program Manager

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. 

Contact Liljana at

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

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 .

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


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 .


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  

Erin Marziale, MPH, Associate Director, Member Services

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.

Contact Erin at

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

Jennifer McKeever, MSW, MPH, Associate Director, Public Health Improvement

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.

Contact Jennifer at .

An Nguyen, MHA, Program Manager

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.

Contact An at .  

Jennifer Renjel, MPH, Research and Evaluation Intern

Jennifer Renjel, Research and Evaluation Intern, supports the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Public Health Services and Systems Research (PHSSR) program. She also assists with various other projects in the office.  Before joining NNPHI, Ms. Renjel developed a nutrition and physical activity curriculum for a literacy based summer camp for a Washington D.C. non-profit. She gained significant policy experience while serving on the staff of two U.S. Senators for three years as a Legislative Aide on foreign relations and telecommunications.  Ms. Renjel recently graduated with her MPH from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana and holds a BA in international relations (business/economics) from Randolph-Macon College.

Contact Jennifer at 

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 .




Melissa Schigoda, MS, Program Analyst

Melissa Schigoda is a program analyst at NNPHI. She collaborates with NNPHI staff and network members to gather, summarize and synthesize information to inform programs and initiatives that create the conditions for health.  Ms. Schigoda supports the development of internal content expertise as well as the development of external communications that express NNPHI’s thought leadership on public health issues of interest to the network. 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.

Contact Melissa at .

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 .

Built with Apostrophe