Conference Speakers

Mary Ann Abrams, MD, MPH
GME Quality Improvement Medical Director
Nationwide Children's Hospital

Mary Ann Abrams, M.D., M.P.H. is an Assistant Professor and Primary Care Pediatrician at The Ohio State University College of Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics, Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Her interactions with children, families, and communities struggling with poverty, food insecurity, and other health challenges, and recognition of the vital clinical medicine - population/public health interface motivate her work centering on health literacy, medical education, social determinants of health, health equity, and quality improvement. She is co-investigator for an Office of Minority Health grant to build a health literate community for an equitable response to COVID, and leading development of an undergraduate medical school health literacy curriculum. She led Iowa Health System’s (now UnityPoint Health) health literacy quality initiative and developed health literacy-related interventions and resources including an Always Use Teach-back! Toolkit and a guidebook on Building Health Literate Organizations. She co-chaired the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Health Literacy Project Advisory Committee, and served as co-editor and contributing author to AAP Plain Language Pediatrics. She has published on implementing health literacy-based interventions, pediatric health literacy, and partnering with patients and adult learners. Dr. Abrams graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Harvard School of Public Health, and University of Dayton.

ahmed Reshma

Reshma Ahmed, RN, BSN, PhD, BVSc, AH
Nurse Educator/Veterans Health Education Coordinator
Veterans Health Administration Healthcare

Dr Reshma Ahmed is a Nurse Educator at the VA Portland Healthcare System (VAPORHCS). In her role as a Veterans Health Education & Information (VHEI) Coordinator and Program Manager she implements and oversees facility-wide patient and family education initiatives, communications, outreach, and strategic planning. Her role facilitates transformation to a Whole Health System of care that empowers and equips Veterans, caregivers, and employees to take charge of their health and well-being and live their lives to the fullest.

Dr Ahmed began her career as a veterinarian and then pursued biomedical research at the University of TN where she received her PhD in Comparative and Experimental Medicine. Diversifying her career, she trained and worked as a Mental Health facilitator for families of children with complex medical and developmental needs. Dr Ahmed went back to school and pursued an accelerated nursing degree at the GWU School of Nursing in Virginia. She has been a nurse with the Veterans Health Administration since 2019, serving in outpatient clinics, inpatient and now in program development and implementation.

What matters to her? Reshma is a life-long learner, passionate about whole health, mental health, health literacy and patient advocacy. She enjoys running, walking, hiking, gardening, mindfulness and is a budding botanist.

Anna Allen, MS

Anna Allen, MS
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Say Ah!

Anna Allen (she/her/hers) is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Say Ah!, Inc., a consumer-led health literacy nonprofit organization. Anna has been working to advance health literacy for more than 15 years through education, training and advocacy. She is an expert trainer in Plain Language, Universal Design and Teach-Back, and informs this expertise with nearly two decades of experience working in vulnerable communities to help people gain the health literacy skills needed to maintain and manage their health in the face of our complex health care system. She has created or co-created curricula for community-facing health literacy workshops to help people navigate the health care system and advocate for the care they need. These workshops include: Patient 101, Is Your Health Prepared for an Emergency?, Health Advocacy Academy, and ER 101, among many others. She has a strong track record of partnering with health and hospital systems, community centers, libraries, schools, government agencies, and community-based organizations to develop and deliver accurate and up-to-date health literacy programs, as well as working with community members to ensure these programs meet their needs and abilities. Anna is a graduate of Union College and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, and a recipient of a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship.


Kendra Auberry, MLS

Indian River State College

Educator focused on engaging students by offering authentic opportunities to learn and connect. Technology traner and researcher. Librarian and Assistant Professor at Indian River State College in Port St. Lucie, FL. Manager of The Studio, a digital creation space, on the Pruitt Campus. Leader of healther literacy projects inside and outside of the classroom. These include successful implementation of the Health Literacy Student Fellows Program, on-site lead for the Libraries with Heart initiative, and creator of the online resource. Master of Library Science degree obtained from Indiana University and Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University.

Sara E. Baumann, PhD, MPH

Sara E. Baumann, PhD, MPH

Professor and Director
Horowitz Center for Health Literacy

Sara Baumann is a global health, mixed methods researcher with primary research interests in 1) participatory, arts-based, and visual research methods, 2) women’s and adolescent reproductive health, and 3) mental health. She has over 14 years of experience conducting research and programming in health and development in South Asia, with a current focus on Nepal. Her research agenda embraces community-engaged methods and developing evidence-based approaches for improving social determinants of health. Her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including Qualitative Health Research, Global Public Health, Health Promotion Practice, Women’s Reproductive Health and more. Her work has been featured in diverse media outlets from NPR to Glamour Magazine, and her films have been screened at the Smithsonian Institute, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and United Nations Headquarters in New York. Sara’s work has been supported by a Fulbright Scholarship to Bangladesh, and a Boren Fellowship to Nepal.

Cynthia Baur, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health

Cynthia Baur, Ph.D., is Director of the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy, University of Maryland School of Public Health. Dr. Baur has been a national leader in health communication and health literacy for more than 20 years. Prior to directing the Horowitz Center, she led CDC's health literacy and plain language work and was the health communication lead in the federal Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. She was the lead editor of the U.S. National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy and drafted the original health communication objectives for Healthy People 2010 and 2020. With Dr. Christine Prue, Dr. Baur co-created the CDC Clear Communication Index, a set of research-based health literacy criteria for public health communication.

Kate Blackburn, MSW

Nemours Children's Health

Kate Burke Blackburn, MSW- Kate is Director of Practice & Prevention at Nemours Children’s Health. Kate has spent her career promoting adolescent, community, and population health with an emphasis on authentic community leadership and voice. Her interest in health care’s movement toward addressing root causes of health disparities as a mechanism for improving population health led her to join Nemours in 2014, where she is part of the National Office of Policy & Prevention. The National Office collaborates with partners across the country to spread and scale policies, programs, and practices that create healthier environments in the places children live, learn, and play—with a focus on strategies addressing non-medical determinants of health. Kate’s current portfolio includes work related to integrators in population health networks, hospitals as anchor institutions, and adolescent health literacy. Ms. Blackburn resides in the greater Philadelphia region.

Paula Braveman, MD, MPH

Paula Braveman, MD, MPH

Founding Director, Center for Health Equity
University of California, San Francisco

Paula Braveman, MD, MPH is Professor of Family and Community Medicine and Founding Director of the Center for Health Equity at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). For more than 25 years, Dr. Braveman has studied and published extensively on health equity and the social determinants of health and has worked to bring attention to these issues in the U.S. and internationally. Her research has focused on measuring, documenting, understanding, and addressing socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities, particularly in maternal and infant health. During the 1990s she collaborated with World Health Organization staff in Geneva to develop a global initiative on equity in health and health care. She has been the Research Director for a national commission on the social determinants of health in the U.S. supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Throughout her career, she has collaborated with local, state, federal, and international health agencies to see rigorous research translated into practice with the goal of achieving greater equity in health. She was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2002 and has served on the Advisory Council of the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities of NIH.

Jessica Burke, PhD, MHS

Vice Dean and a Professor
University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health

Jessica Burke, PhD, MHS is Vice Dean and a Professor in the department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health. She is passionate about using engaged, creative and systems-oriented methods to address determinants of health and methods that include visual components that facilitate dialogue and action. Her background is in anthropology, social epidemiology, and health promotion and her early work in health included serving as developer for the Changing Face of Women’s Health exhibit at the National Museum of Health and Medicine. Jessica’s scholarship uses innovative quantitative and qualitative methods to explore systems and the mechanisms linking context influences and health, engages communities in the process of research and its translation and develops tailored interventions. The book Methods for Community Public Health Research: Integrated and Engaged Approaches that she co-edited provides details about this agenda.

Nakeitra L. Burse, DrPH, CHES

Nakeitra L. Burse, DrPH, CHES

Owner/CEO at Six Dimensions, LLC

Dr. Nakeitra L. Burse, is the Owner/CEO of Six Dimensions, a certified woman owned, minority owned public health research, development and practice company. Dr. Burse has been a servant in the field of public health for over twelve years. Dr. Burse is the Executive Producer of the short documentary, Laboring with Hope. The film highlights the issues of maternal morbidity and mortality among Black women.


Gladys Carrillo

Director of Program Services
National Center for Farmworker Health

Gladys Carrillo is the Director of Program Services at the National Center for Farmworker Health. Ms. Carrillo provides oversight to Program services including training and technical assistance support, chronic care prevention and program services, and health education product development and dissemination. Her experience includes direct patient care as a therapist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker, clinical service coordination, community education, outreach, program development and management. Ms. Carrillo graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Liberal Arts degree from St. Edward's University and hold a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining NCFH, Ms. Carrillo provided direct therapeutic services to at-risk children and underserved families and conducted clinical consultation to providers in the non-profit and private sectors.

Kakali Bhattacharya Chakrabarti, MA, MS, PhD, CHES
Assistant Professor
Austin Peay State University

Dr. Kakali B Chakrabarti is an Assistant Professor, in the Department of Communication, and an affiliate faculty and advisor in the Master of Public Health Program at Austin Peay State University. She has an MA in Communication specializing in media, human rights and environment, a PhD in Communication specializing in environment/health/risk communication, an MS in Public Health Education, a Diploma in Financing Public Services for Environmental Sustainability, and currently certified as Health Education Specialist (CHES®).

Her research focuses on community-based participatory research to improve self-efficacy in decision-making pertaining to health and environmental behaviors. Before her PhD, she worked in India for eight years doing research, implementation and evaluation of community-based projects on maternal and child health, nutrition, environmental health, renewable energy, K12 education, teacher education and technology for development. Dr. Chakrabarti’s past and current work combines art and science of communication and social scientific theories. As an immigrant, she also brings international perspectives to her teaching and research.
In her free time, she loves traveling and hiking with her teenage son, read/watch crime thrillers and adventure books/movies, nature photography, and cooking.

Jessica Chevrolet, MS, MPA
Grant Coordinator
Nationwide Children's Hospital

Jessica Chevrolet is a Health Literacy Specialist, Grant Coordinator, and Senior Research Associate for Advancing Health Literacy Franklin County at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. She brings together her background in research, teaching, and public policy to help lead the development of resources, training, and tools to support organizational health literacy, focusing on creating sustainable health literacy capacity within Franklin County. This, in turn, supports patients, families, and clients in navigating the health system by increasing their ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and action. She earned a MS in Biological Anthropology from the University of Indianapolis, a MPA from The Ohio State University at The John Glenn College of Public Affairs.

Ashley Chitwood, MSN, RN, NE-BC

Ashley Chitwood, MSN, RN, NE-BC
Director, Digital Outpatient & Community Care
OSF HealthCare

Ashley Chitwood is the Director of Digital Outpatient and Community Care at OSF OnCall. She has served OSF Healthcare since 2008. She was a bedside RN in Neonatal Intensive Care and has held various leadership roles within the Children’s Hospital of IL at OSF Healthcare since 2012. Her accomplishments, within the OSF OnCall division, has been designing and implementing a triage chat to provide patients the option to chat with an RN Triage nurse, supporting and overseeing the teams who impact the innovative care that is provided to the Medicaid patient population, and implementation of a work from home strategy in various departments to positively impact nursing recruitment and retention. Ashley received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Methodist College of Nursing and her Master’s in Executive Leadership at Chamberlain College of Nursing. She is certified as a Nurse Executive. Ashley is married to Drew. They have three daughters Aubrey (10), Bailey (7), and Ellie (6). She enjoys watching her children participate in various activities and sports, traveling with her family, and reading.

Cliff Coleman, MD, MPH

Cliff Coleman, MD, MPH
Associate Professor
Oregon Health & Science University

Cliff Coleman, MD, MPH is an international health literacy expert whose work focuses on improving health literacy and clear communication training for healthcare professionals. Cliff is an Associate Professor of Family Medicine, and is the Doris and Mark Storms Chair in Compassionate Communication in the OHSU Center for Ethics in Health Care, as well as Clinical Thread Director for education on health communication, professionalism, and ethics in the OHSU School of Medicine.

Valerie J. Connor, MA CCC-SLP, MS CHES
Speech Language Pathologist
Quad Cities Rehab Institute

Valerie J Connor, MA CCC-SLP, MS CHES is a speech langauge pathologist at the Quad Cities Rehab Institute in Moline, IL, where she specializes in acute in-patient rehab care. She is also a professor at St. Joseph's College of Maine, where she teaches a variety of courses related to public health and healthcare administration. Her research focuses on ethical care for patients, and she is the co-author of Applied Law and Ethics for Health Professionals. Ms. Connor resides outside of Davenport, IA.

Melinda Cooling, DNP, MBA, APRN
Chief Clinician Executive
OSF HealthCare

Dr. Melinda Cooling serves as the Senior Vice President of Advanced Practice and the Chief Clinician Executive OSF OnCall at OSF HealthCare.  Melinda is a family nurse practitioner and practiced within an Internal Medicine/Pediatrics practice as well as modern urgent care. In her role within OSF OnCall, she works with operational and clinical leaders to design and implement new digital solutions to provide care for patients and communities.

Susan Cosgrove, MPA, CPHQ

Susan Cosgrove, MPA, CPHQ
Senior Director, Community Impact
Health Care Improvement Foundation

Susan Cosgrove currently oversees the population health portfolio at Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF), a Philadelphia-based nonprofit dedicated to driving superior health care through shared learning and collaboration. Since joining HCIF in 2013, Susan has led or supported initiatives focused on health literacy, chronic disease management and prevention, opioid surgical stewardship, and community health needs assessment.

Susan previously worked as a Project Assistant with the Population Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she collaborated with faculty and community partners to implement and evaluate a program designed to increase rural residents’ access to mental health and substance abuse services. During that time, she also provided consulting services to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Department of Children and Families, assessing health disparities in the foster care population and making programmatic recommendations for the Foster Care Medical Home initiative.  Previously, she engaged in health care advocacy in Chicago with the Illinois Campaign for Better HealthCare. Susan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Urban and Ethnic Studies from The College of New Jersey and Master in Public Affairs from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Nancy M. Crider, DrPH, MS, RN
Assistant Professor Department of Graduate Studies
Cizik School Of Nursing UTHealth Houston

Dr. Nancy Crider holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Nursing, a Diploma in Accounting and Finance, and a Doctorate in Public Health. As full-time faculty at the University of Texas at Houston, Cizik School of Nursing, Department of Graduate Studies she teaches leadership, business, and health policy. She has held numerous healthcare leadership positions and is active in many professional organizations, Prior to joining the Cizik School of Nursing, Dr. Crider was the program manager of the HRSA-funded Texas Public Health Training Center at the University of Texas School of Public Health. Crider is certified by the Texas Department of State Health Services as a Community Health Worker Instructor and has served as a trainer and consultant for the National Healthy Homes Training Center since 2007. Using evidenced-based healthy homes principles and integrated pest management strategies, she has worked closely with local and state health departments, school districts, and Head Start programs to address poor indoor air quality, pest management, and other housing hazards. Her clinical and research interests include the prevention and management of chronic disease, the impact of housing and indoor environmental hazards on health, healthcare policy, health literacy, emergency preparedness, and healthcare information technology.

Carolyn Cutilli, PhD RN NPD-BC
Patient Education Specialist
Penn Medicine

Dr. Carolyn Cutilli is a patient education specialist at Penn Medicine and past president of the Health Care Education Association (HCEA) and co-chair of the HCEA’s patient education guidelines work group.  Her scholarly work focuses on geriatric health literacy and she has obtained grants in health literacy and communication. Carolyn has published extensively and speaks nationally/internationally.

Joyvina Evans, PhD, MSPH, MSA
Assistant Professor

Howard University

Dr. Joyvina Evans is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Management at Howard University in Washington D.C. She has over thirteen years of clinical and academic research experience. She has worked on Quality improvement studies (Cancer research) and industry-sponsored trials focused on Asthma, Soft-skin and tissue infections, Ventral hernia repair, Diabetes, Migraine, and Cardiovascular disease. Dr. Evans was the Project Lead and Research Manager in Cardiovascular Research at University of Michigan, where she was responsible for all phases of development and recruitment for an Aortic biobank-storing and studying blood and tissue of patients with aortic diseases.

Dr. Evans earned a PhD in Public Health with a specialization in Community Health Promotion and Education, Masters in Public Health, Masters in Administration, and Bachelors of Business in Management. She successfully completed the Strategies for Higher Education Teaching and Learning program and Women in Education Leadership program at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. Additionally, Dr. Evans completed the Executive Leadership certificate and High-Performance certificate from Cornell University (online).

Her research interests include health literacy, health disparities, health inequities, and women's health.


Haley Fuller, M.Ed, CHES
Patient Education Specialist
Penn Medicine

Haley Fuller, M.Ed., CHES is a patient engagement professional who's passionate about changing the healthcare landscape for patients and support people. She currently leads patient engagement and education efforts at a large health system, where she optimizes workflows, communications and policies to ensure that the patient and care team can seamlessly collaborate to achieve optimal health outcomes. She leverages her personal experience as a mother of a child with a congenital heart disease to advocate for the incorporation of the voice of the patient and/or support person into the clinical landscape. Haley is a Certified Health Education Specialist and holds as masters in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning from The Pennsylvania State University.

Kandyce Garcia, MS
Health Sciences Research Specialist
UNM Center for Native American Health

Kandyce is a health sciences research specialist at the center for native American health. She is responsible for implementing several NIH funded grants involving American Indian communities. She is a health education scholar and has gained experience in American Indian health research. Kandyce is also a member of the Kewa pueblo.

Health Literacy Education Director – Conference Chair

Diana Peña Gonzalez, MPH, CHES® (She/Her)
Health Literacy Education Director
Institute for Healthcare Advancement

Diana is the Health Literacy Education Director at the Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHA). She has implemented programs nationally surrounding topics such as health insurance literacy, asthma, teen health, and oral health. She has provided training on health literacy best practices for community-based organizations through web-based or in-person settings. As the Health Literacy Education Director, Gonzalez leads content development for IHA’s Annual Health Literacy Conference and the Health Literacy in Action Conference. She oversees the rewrite and redesign consulting services offered at IHA and supervises membership engagement on the Health Literacy Solutions Center.


Robert Goodman, BA, MBA
Penn Medicine

Robert has been a member for more than 8 years of the Patient & Family Advisory Council at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania where he had his heart transplant in 2013.

He is a former hospital CEO and has worked his entire career in the healthcare industry. As a volunteer, he is also a current board member of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) and the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), as well as member of the board and former board chair of the Central/Southern NJ region of the American Heart Association.

Dayna Gowan

Dayna Gowan, CHES
Keenan and Associates

Dayna Gowan is a Senior Health and Wellness Manager and Consultant at Keenan and Associates in California where she helps school district and municipality clients plan, implement, and evaluate their employee wellness programs. Dayna holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science and a Master of Public Health degree from the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).

Dayna is also a speaker, workshop facilitator, improviser, Distinguished Toastmaster, and host of the Improvly Speaking Podcast, which focuses on improv, public speaking, communication, performance, and creativity. Learning public speaking and improvisation skills have changed her life and made her a more confident speaker, colleague, and friend. Her mission is to make all meetings and workshops – whether online or in-person – fun and engaging for all attendees!

Dayna uses the tools of applied improvisation to create a unique and memorable experience for attendees. Her presentations will help attendees get to know each other, share some laughs, flex their creativity muscles, and learn practical skills and lessons that they can apply to their personal and professional lives!

Alexis Guild is the Vice President of Strategy and Programs at Farmworker Justice

Alexis Guild
VP, Strategy and Programs
Farmworker Justice

Alexis Guild is the Vice President of Strategy and Programs at Farmworker Justice, a national farmworker advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. She has been at FJ since 2011 and currently lives in Oakland, CA. In her role, she coordinates FJ’s policy advocacy and programmatic work. She works with advocacy organizations, community health centers, farmworker community-based organizations, and legal services organizations to improve the living and working conditions of farmworkers and their families across the U.S. Alexis has extensive experience in public health and community organizing. Prior to graduate school, she served as a Health Education Volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps in Guatemala. She has a B.A. from Wellesley College and a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Michigan.

Taylor M. Gwinn

Howard University

Taylor Gwinn is a senior student enrolled in the Health Management program at Howard University. During her time at Howard University, Taylor has served as the Vice-President of the Society of Health Management Students and a Deputy Director within the Howard University Student Association. She completed an internship at a local healthcare firm in Atlanta, Georgia and looks forward to starting law school in Fall 2023.

Taylor Hogan

Taylor Hogan

Howard University

Taylor Hogan is a senior health management major and political science minor at Howard University. During her time at Howard, she has interned with Congressman Jim Cooper and the DC Department of Health. Upon graduation, she plans to stay in DC and work in local health, specifically regarding adolescents and prenatal women.

Sunil Iyengar

Suni Iyengar

Director | Office of Research & Analysis
National Endowment for the Arts

Sunil Iyengar directs the Office of Research & Analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts. Under his leadership, the office has produced dozens of research reports, hosted periodic research events and webinars, and established research and data partnerships with the U.S Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. His office also leads strategic planning, program evaluations, and performance measurement for the agency. Iyengar and his team have created and pursued a long-term research agenda (based partly on an arts “system map” his office helped to design), founded a national data repository for the arts, and launched two awards programs for arts researchers, including the NEA Research Labs initiative. He chairs a federal Interagency Task Force on the Arts and Human Development. His office provides research support to Creative Forces: NEA Military Arts Healing Network. Iyengar also leads a research funding partnership with the National Institutes of Health as part of Sound Health, an initiative of the Kennedy Center and NIH in association with the Arts Endowment. Guided by that initiative, Iyengar’s office supports the Sound Health Network, in partnership with the University of California San Francisco. Prior to joining the agency, Iyengar worked as a reporter, managing editor, and senior editor for a host of news publications covering the biomedical research, medical device, and pharmaceutical industries.

Karina Jackson

Karina Jackson

Howard University

Karina Jackson is a graduating senior enrolled in the Health Management Program at Howard University from Northern Virginia. During her time at Howard University, Karina enjoyed participating in community service events like Alternative Spring Break and community clean up events. Karina also serves as a chapel assistant and a Howard University student mentor at a local community center in Washington, D.C. She completed an internship at a local healthcare agency in Fairfax, Virginia and will be attending Virginia Commonwealth University nursing school upon graduation. With a strong passion and love for serving marginalized communities, Karina has over eight years of healthcare experience while aiming to resolve healthcare disparities.

Brittani Jean-Philippe, MPH, MCHES

Tulane University

Brittani Jean-Philippe is a Community Impact Director with the American Heart Association. In this role she support sustianble change initatives in clinical and community settings related to blood pressure control, nutriton secruity, ending e-cigarette and tobacco use, women's cardiovascular disease risk, and cardiac emergency response. She graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans with her Masters of Public Health. She also holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Health Education from the University of Florida and is a Master Certified Health Education Specialist.

Eskarlethe Juarez, MPH, CHES

Digital Content Manager and Program Coordinator
Institute for Healthcare Advancement

Eskarlethe Juarez is a Digital Content Manager and Program Coordinator at the Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHA). She received her Masters of Public Health degree at the California State University, Northridge. She holds a B.S. degree in Health Science with a concentration in Community Health. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist from the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. For Ms. Juarez, improving others health status is not just an exercise in health science, it is a mission.

David Kelly, MEd
Red Clay

David Kelly knows language. Education trained him to teach it. Profession required he refine it. Experience proved the potent punch of plain.

It’s this coherence that colors David’s perspective. It reinforces his conviction that communication be brief … and clear.

And if he has learned anything, it’s simply this:
Plain language is harder than it looks. Much depends upon it. We must get it right.

Karen Komondor, BSN, RN, CCRN
Ohio Health Literacy Partners

Karen Komondor, RN, BSN, CCRN is the Founder and President of Health Literacy 360, LLC where she provides health literacy training/workshops for consumers, providers, and organizations. She previously served as the Director of Organizational Development and the Health Literacy Institute at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, an urban teaching hospital in downtown Cleveland, Ohio until its closing in November 2022.

She has been chair of Healthy Cleveland’s Health Literacy Committee since 2017 and is the immediate past president and co-founder of OHLP. She is most recently chair of the National Council to Improve Patient Safety through Health Literacy.

Emma Kougell
Patient Education Program Coordinator
Free Hutchinson Cancer Center

Emma Kouguell works in patient education at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. There, she collaborates with subject matter experts and applies plain language and health literacy best practices to patient education videos and handouts. Emma recently completed the IHA Health Literacy Specialist ceritificate program. She also has her MFA in Film and Electronic Media. She's worked with a range of organizations on video content, including the Smithsonian Digital Studio, PBS, and the Humane Society of the United States.

Denise LaMarra, MS CHSE

Denise LaMarra, MS, CHSE, is Director of the Standardized Patient (SP) Program, at Pereleman School of the University of Pennsylvania, a position she has held since 2006. The SP Program serves thousands of learners across professions and at all levels of learning at Penn Medicine. Through the program, SPs assist in the training and assessment of medical students, residents, practicing physicians, frontline staff, and other professionals. Ms. LaMarra is currently serving as Vice President of Operations for the Association of SP Educators (ASPE). She has a special interest in creative applications of SP methodology, and has presented on a range of topics related to SP education, including case development, SP feedback and program administration.

Genelle Lamont, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor
University of Minnesota, School of Medicine

Genelle R. S. Lamont, PhD, MPH Dr. Genelle Lamont is an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Biobehavioral Health at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Duluth Campus, Memory Keepers, Medical Discovery Team. She holds a doctorate in occupational health research and policy from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Her primary research interests include Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias, chronic disease, American Indian/Alaska Native health, rural health, health literacy, health equity, cultural competency, and geographic information systems. She has trained over 300 dental health professionals in health literacy through a HRSA funded training program with Normandale Community College and has been involved in several health literacy projects with the Minnesota Health Literacy Partnership, the Health Literacy Regional Network, and the National Council to Improve Patient Safety through Health Literacy.

Carol S. Lemus, MPH
Say Ah!

Carol Lemus, MPH, is the CEO of Carol Lemus Consulting Corportation, and serves as the Assistant Vice President of Health for Lantern Community Services, a New York City-based organization that provides both supportive housing and shelter to chronically homeless individuals and families facing such challenges as HIV, mental health disorders, substance use, social isolation and histories of trauma. With more than 30 years in the area of community health, focusing primarily in the area of health equity programming, Carol has worked both nationally and internationally to improve quality of life for underserved populations. Carol is a subject matter expert in peer-delivered programming, as well as community-based program design and evaluation. She is currently working as a consultant to Say Ah!, a national organization that helps people make good choices about their health and manage their care in the face of today’s overwhelming complex health care system by educating and empowering patients and consumers through health literacy workshops, curricula and materials; partnering with health and community service professionals to make health information and services easier to access, use and understand; and by advocating on behalf of the nearly nine out of ten Americans who lack the basic skills needed to function effectively in our health care system. For close to twenty years, Carol has developed, delivered and evaluated training manuals for professionals and paraprofessionals in the areas of substance use, infectious diseases, behavioral interventions and reproductive health, both in English and Spanish. Ms. Lemus has a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College and an M.P.H. from New York University.

Silje Lier, MPH
Vice President, Social Strategy
Evoke Kyne

Silje has more than a decade of experience in digital health communications, delivering numerous social media programs for a mix of healthcare clients, from federal government agencies to pharmaceutical companies. With a sharp focus on digital trends and social listening insights, her leadership at Evoke Kyne has been pivotal in guiding teams in social media strategy, content development and creative storytelling. Armed with experience in the public health field, Silje appreciates the role of education in driving healthy behaviors and the social determinants that impact people’s health and wellbeing. She has a passion for health literacy, and champions positive user experiences, plain language information and how to make social content accessible to all audiences. Silje earned a bachelor of arts degree in communications with a minor in English from the University of Delaware, and a master’s of public health from The George Washington University.

Michele Lopez, DHED, MA, RN, CNE, CDE, CHES
Assistant Professor-Nursing
Pace University

Michele Lopez is a life-long health education practitioner and learner, earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Pace University and a Master of Arts in Nursing Administration, Leadership and Organization from Columbia University, Teacher’s College and a Doctorate of Health Education from A.T. Still University, College of Graduate Health Studies. Michele has completed research on incivility and bullying in nursing academia.

Michele has been a nurse educator for more than 19 years, teaching LPN, ADN-RN, BS-RN and graduate degree nursing programs in traditional classroom settings and online environments, clinical, and nursing labs. In addition to her years spent as an educator, she has more than 28 years nursing experience in various specialty areas including medical-surgical nursing, mental health nursing, pediatrics, and community health nursing.

Michele has completed course work or holds certificates for clinical simulator education, diabetes management, and nurse education. She has received work study grants for curriculum development, medical math, and infection control.

Michele has helped many students succeed in nursing programs. She has dedicated her career to sharing her learning experiences with others. She is a trained member of the LGBTQ Ally program, and a trained Stephens Minister. Michele serves as a mentor to new teachers and graduate students, and is a graduate of Pace University’s Come Teach with Us Academy for math and science.

Michele has developed and delivered review courses for NCLEX license exam preparation RN and PN. She has been called upon to review content material for nursing and health textbooks. Michele was also selected from a group of nurse educators by Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI) to perform NCLEX exam item writing and video series script writing.

Michele is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Pace University, and serves in the Medical Reserve Corp. 

Kajua B. Lor, PharmD, BCACP
Founding Chair/Associate Professor
MCW School of Pharmacy

Kajua Lor, PharmD, BCACP is Founding Chair and an Associate Professor of the Clinical Sciences Department at the Medical College of Wisconsin School of Pharmacy in Milwaukee, WI. Dr. Lor earned her Doctorate of Pharmacy from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2009, after which she completed an ambulatory care residency at the University of Minnesota. She is a board-certified ambulatory care pharmacist. Dr. Lor was the first Hmong pharmacist to obtain a pharmacy academia position in the nation. Dr. Lor has over 13 years of experience as a clinical pharmacist with Spanish-speaking patients and currently is a clinical pharmacist 1 day per week at Sixteenth Street Clinic, a federally qualified health care center in Milwaukee, WI. She has several peer-reviewed publications and is co-author of ‘Getting in: a practical guide to pharmacy admission’. Dr. Lor’s research interests involve the intersections of social determinants of health with chronic care management & herbal medicine use. She is a community engaged health disparities researcher. Dr. Lor was selected and graduated as a fellow of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program and is collaborating with leaders across various sectors, disciplines, and lived experiences to create healthier, more equitable communities.

Katherine MacKay, MPH, MA
Project Manager

Katie MacKay, MPH, is a Project Manager and Business Development Specialist at CommunicateHealth, Inc., a health communication and research company that takes an equity-centered approach to create health information and digital tools that are easy for audiences to understand and use. Katie has a background in gender studies, queer theory, and public health — and is passionate about using audience research, communication strategy, and human-centered design to create accessible information and resources for all.

Colleen A. Manning, MSN, APRN, FNP-C
DNP Candidate
Cizik School Of Nursing at UTHealth Houston

Colleen holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Nursing. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Nursing Practice at UTHealth Cizik School of Nursing. She works as a family nurse practitioner in a large private practice outside of Houston. Prior to becoming a nurse practitioner in 2014, her bedside nursing career spanned 10 years working in adult medical-surgical and critical care units. As an FNP, she is passionate about helping patients optimize their health through primary prevention, management of chronic conditions, and empowering them to achieve health goals through education.

Her first language as a child was sign language because both of her parents are Deaf. She has a great appreciation for the Deaf community. Her future goals are to work within nursing education and serve as clinician/advocator for the Deaf community. She is enthusiastic about working with health care and technology systems on ways to improve and ensure full access to care and information for the Deaf community. Her doctoral project will be focusing on development of a video in American sign language about advance care planning and use of health literate material and resources to improve engagement within the Deaf community.

Terri Y. McGuire, MPH, MHS, PA-C
Physician Assistant/Health Literacy Consultant
eVolve Health and Wellness Community

Terri Y. McGuire has been practicing as a Physician Assistant for nearly 10 years. She received her medical training at the Duke University Physician Assistant Program and Master of Public Health Degree in Community Health Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She completed her undergraduate studies at Wake Forest University with a major in Health and Exercise Science and Pre-Medicine.

She is the Founder and CEO of eVolve Health and Wellness Community, which provides health literacy coaching and training to patients and healthcare organizations. She started eVolve after recognizing gaps in personal and organizational health literacy and wanting to make a difference through education and advocacy in order to improve health outcomes for people with marginalized identities and advance health equity

Julie McKinney
Director of Product Content
Health Literacy Specialist at Exceptional Lives, Inc

Julie McKinney has been involved in health literacy work for the past 20+ years. (This interest may have started in the Peace Corps in Papua New Guinea when she taught both literacy and health...) She has done extensive work for World Education, Inc., the Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHA), and other health and literacy organizations. She has moderated the Health Literacy Discussion List since 2004, written health literacy curricula, resource guides, and plain language educational materials; and conducted health literacy trainings.

In addition to moderating this List, Julie now works with Exceptional Lives, Inc., a not-for-profit in Boston, MA. She develops and writes easy-to-read tools to help parents of children with disabilities navigate complicated processes and get the benefits, services and support they need.

Julie lives in Cambridge, MA with her husband, youngest son, cats and guinea pig. She's a fan of music and theater, the outdoors and science fiction.

Tracy Mehan, MA
Director of Research Translation and Communication
Nationwide Children's Hospital

Tracy Mehan is the Director of Research Translation and Communication for the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital. In this position, she takes the research generated by the principal investigators at the center “out of the journal and into the community.” She also trains scientists and health educators on how to effectively talk about their science to audiences of all types. Her research interests are in health communication and dissemination science. In addition to her role at the Center for Injury Research and Policy, she also serves as the executive director for the Child Injury Prevention Alliance.

She is also currently working on a PhD in Health Behavior, Health Promotion through the School of Public Health at The Ohio State University. She has an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Princeton University and master's degree in Communications from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. This combination of psychology, communications, and public health training informs her efforts to develop evidenced-based public health communications materials that acknowledge where people are and what information they need to make informed decisions about their health. 

MaryAnn Nicolay, MEd, NDTR
Ohio Health Literacy Partners

MaryAnn Horst Nicolay, M.Ed., NDTR, has years of experience working with people who have chronic health conditions. Using her background in health education and community outreach, adult learning and development, and health literacy, she has helped people through innovative educational programs and materials. Her work has been recognized by Crain’s Cleveland Business, the American, Ohio and Cleveland Association for Nutrition and Dietetics, the Hispanic Senior Center and El Centro de Servicios Sociales, and Diabetes Partnership of Cleveland. MaryAnn is a Registered Dietetic Technician and received her Master’s Degree in Adult Learning and Development from Cleveland State University. She is the current the president of Ohio Health Literacy Partners.

Olivia Olson, MPH
Research Associate

Olivia Olson, MPH, is a Research Associate at CommunicateHealth, Inc., a health communication and research company that takes an equity-centered approach to create health information and digital tools that are easy for audiences to understand and use. With a background in global health and nutritional science, Olivia has worked with international non-governmental organizations to employ community-based participatory research methods to improve public health programs. Olivia is passionate about advancing health equity and using audience research and human-centered design to make health information accessible to historically underrepresented audiences in public health.

Greg O'Neill, MSN, APRN, AGNS-BC
Director of Patient and Family Health Education

As Director of Patient & Family Health Education, Greg leads the strategic plan for patient education and health literacy initiatives at ChristianaCare. After moving on from direct patient care as a trauma/surgical ICU nurse 7 years ago, Greg has developed a team of Nursing Professional Development Specialists who champion health literacy best practices systemwide and support all manner of patient education initiatives and vendor relationships. Greg has been with ChristianaCare for 14 years and received his MSN as a CNS from the University of Delaware. 


Omobola A. Oyeleye, EdD, JD, MSN, M.ED,RN
Associate Professor of Nursing
University of Texas at Houston

Dr. Oyeleye, EdD, JD, MSN, M.Ed, B.A., BSN, RN, CNE, is an associate professor at the Cizik School of Nursing at the University of Texas at Houston. Her professional career includes K-12 education, mediation, law, and medical surgical nursing. Her scholarship interests focus on preparing nurses to provide nursing care to special populations.


Michael K. Paasche-Orlow, MD, MA, MPH
HLRP: Health Literacy Research and Practice

As a primary care clinician and a nationally recognized expert in the field of health literacy, I have dedicated my career to improving the care of vulnerable populations. I am currently a PI on seven clinical studies that examine health literacy and doctor-patient communication, various modes of patient education, and empowerment. I have been the lead designer of nine patient-oriented interactive behavioral informatics programs and have helped create and evaluate a range of patient empowerment and decision support tools. With over 200 peer-reviewed papers, my work has brought attention to the role that health literacy plays in racial and ethnic disparities, improving informed consent, and improving advanced care planning, as well as to the fact that appropriately designed information technologies can be empowering for patients with low health literacy. I serve as the Editor-in-Chief for Health Literacy Research & Practice and as the Director of the HARC.

Helda Pinzon-Perez, Ph.D., RN, FNP, MPH
California State University, Fresno

Dr. Helda Pinzon-Perez is a professor in the Community Health and MPH programs in the Department of Public Health. She is also a professor in the Doctoral (DNP) program in the School of Nursing at California State University, Fresno. Her research interests are Holistic Health/Integrative Health and the health issues of vulnerable populations.

Falen Petros

Falen Petros, MS
Public Health Education and Promotion

Falen Petros is skilled at health promotion, education, and community relations. Falen has a passion for health equity and social marketing. Prior to joining CURA, Falen worked at Child Care Aware of America to support Child Care Resource and Referral agencies across the country. Falen’s professional experiences also include serving as a Health Educator at Inova Health Systems. Falen received her Masters of Science in Public Health Education and Promotion from Marymount University.


Erin Poole, MS
Research Instructor
University of Colorado

Erin is a Research Scientist and Associate Director of the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, where she supports the Center’s mission of promoting the health and well-being of American Indians and Alaska Natives, of all ages, through research, training, continuing education, technical assistance, and information dissemination. Erin manages several large multi-site Center grants focused on research covering a variety of health disparities including suicide prevention in young adults, Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias, and substance use disorder. In her role at CU Anschutz, Erin supports field research to address complex systemic barriers to health literacy, access to care, and long-term treatment. She is a passionate advocate for community-based and community-lead research.

Alyssia Potts

Howard University

Alyssia Potts is a senior Health Management student at Howard University. During her time at Howard University, Alyssia has joined clubs such as the New Jersey Club and the Society of Health Management students. She has participated in numerous community clean up events and became a licensed realtor for the state of NJ. Alyssia also completed an internship at a biopharmaceutical company in New Jersey and looks forward to graduating this May.

Doris Ravotas, PhD
Coordinator, Michigan Health Literacy Collaborative
Western Michigan University

Doris Ravotas, PhD is a Master Faculty Specialist Emeritx at Western Michigan University. She teaches health literacy techniques to future and present health providers and she leads the Michigan Health Literacy Collaborative. She also coordinates a health literacy program for refugees and other English language learners and teaches tutors to incorporates health into tutoring adults. She recently conducted a series on CoVid-19 for literacy and English learners. Her PhD in Communications included specializations in literacy, linguistics, and usability testing applied to health communications. She is presently on the Fulbright Specialist roster.


Allison Riggle, MSW, EdD
Project Manager
Nationwide Children's Hospital

Allison Riggle is a Project Manager in the Community Wellness Department at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. In addition to providing support to health literacy, school readiness, and high school graduation initiatives, she coordinates Reach Out and Read and Imagination Library. Prior to working in health care, she directed student services programming at community colleges and universities in Arkansas, Indiana, and Florida. She has a master’s degree in social work from Indiana University and a doctoral degree in education curriculum and instruction from the University of West Florida.

Kara Roat, MSN, BSN, RN
Digital Patient Care Manager
OSF HealthCare

Kara Roat is a manager of Digital Patient Care for OSF OnCall. She has served OSF Healthcare since 2015 and has served in a variety of roles within adult and pediatric bedside care, clinical education scholar, and leadership within Digital Care. Kara’s accomplishments within the digital care space include operationally overseeing the pandemic healthcare worker program that served over 10K patients, decreased re-hospitalizations for our healthcare system through our discharge loop, and transform the way we care for Medicaid recipients through remote patient monitoring and pregnancy and post-partum support. Kara received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Illinois and her Master’s in Nursing Leadership at Capella University. Kara is married to Zach. They have two little boys, Charlie, 3, and Max, 1. In her spare time, she enjoys being a mom and wife, spending time with extended family, and exploring the outdoors.

rachel roberts IHA

Rachel Roberts, MPH, CHES
Manager, Community Health Engagement and Strategy

Rachel Roberts is the Community Health Engagement & Strategy Manager at the Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHA). Rachel attended California State University, Long Beach where she received a Bachelor of Science in Health Science and Master of Public Health with an emphasis in community health education.

Rachel’s public health career includes collaborating with healthcare professions and clinicians to design programs that improve community health and well-being. In addition to program planning, Rachel has taught programs related to women’s health, heart health, and diabetes in clinical and community-based settings including the Orange County Health Care Agency, Mission Hospital’s Camino Health Center, and the American Diabetes Association.

At IHA, Rachel’s primary focus is improving low health literacy through professional development opportunities and community engagement efforts. She manages the Health Literacy Specialist Certificate that encompasses seven domains and leads an older adult community-based initiative to address the needs of the most vulnerable and isolated residents. In addition to her work at IHA, Rachel has been a faculty member at California State University, Fullerton since 2005 where she teaches in the Public Health and Kinesiology departments.

Amy Hedman-Robertson, PhD, MCHES
University of St. Thomas

Amy Hedman-Robertson holds a PhD in Health Education from the University of Kansas and a MS in Community Health for Minnesota State University Mankato. Currently, she is Professor in Public Health at the University of St. Thomas where she teaches courses in public health, health education program planning and health communications. Her research interests include health literacy and suicide prevention. She is a Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES).


Diana Rodriguez, MS
Vice President of Programs & Strategy

Diana helps set the vision for EveryoneOn’s programming and organization-wide strategy, and provides guidance to the frontline team that leads and supports digital inclusion programming in cities across the country.

Previously, Diana served as the Director of Youth Workforce and Education at New Avenues for Youth, an organization dedicated to the prevention and intervention of youth homelessness. Having joined New Avenues at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when youth, especially those experiencing houslessness, were finding themselves even more disconnected from basic services, Diana created and rolled out a multi-pronged approach to troubleshoot and brainstorm solutions for continuing to provide services to youth who were working toward their education and employment goals.
In her prior role at Youth Policy Institute, Diana spent nine years working to close the digital divide in Los Angeles. She coordinated direct service and led a group of digital inclusion experts who delivered programming and helped inform broadband-related legislation in California. One of her most notable accomplishments in that role was the coordination and deployment of 1,750 computers across 83 newly established computer labs, while simultaneously launching digital literacy programming that delivered over 800,000 hours of instruction to youth and adults throughout Los Angeles.

Diana has dedicated 20+ years to working in the nonprofit sector and especially enjoys engaging in work related to community organizing, nonprofit management, education technology and business development. She is community-oriented with a Master of Business Administration focused in Leadership and Management from Loyola Marymount University. Diana currently resides in South East Portland with her husband and three dogs. When she’s not working or consulting, you can find her kayaking or playing fetch with her pups at their favorite dog-friendly river.

Juviza Rodriguez, MS
Sr. Director, Consumer Health
March of Dimes

My professional background is rooted in community health, advocacy, and research. I began my career in public health in 2007 through the national service program AmeriCorps, where I helped identify gaps in access to health education for marginalized communities. I then moved on to work at Columbia University Medical Center where I managed various studies, including a Phase 4 clinical trial. These roles provided an opportunity to work with individuals with limited health literacy and health fluency. In 2015 I transitioned into the non-profit sector where I have worked across teams to disseminate culturally responsive health messaging for ethnically diverse communities. Currently, I serve as the Sr. Director for consumer health at March of Dimes (MOD), where I lead the development of print and digital health education content and MOD's consumer education strategy. I have a Master of Science in Community Health Education from Columbia University and am pursuing my PhD in Community Health and Health Policy at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Healthy Policy, located in NYC.

Maria Ross
Speaker, Author, Leadership Trainer, Empathy Advocate
Red Slice

Maria Ross is a keynote speaker, author, strategist, and empathy advocate who believes cash flow, creativity and compassion are not mutually exclusive. She is the founder of Red Slice and advises forward-thinking on how to leverage empathy to better engage and connect. Maria has authored multiple books, including her most recent, The Empathy Edge and hosts The Empathy Edge podcast. A dynamic speaker, she has delighted audiences at leading conferences and organizations such as TEDx, The 3% Conference, The New York Times Small Business Summit, and Salesforce and her insights have appeared in many media outlets, including MSNBC, NPR, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Newsweek, Huffington Post, and Thrive Global. Connect with Maria on Instagram @redslicemaria or on LinkedIn.

Katherine Sacks, PhD

Associate Director Research
Milken Institute

Katherine Sacks is an Associate Director in health economics within the Research Department at the Milken Institute. Her work focuses on the social determinants of health and observed disparities in health outcomes. Particular areas of focus include county-level demographics and public health, health literacy, and reproductive rights and access. Prior to joining the Milken Institute in May 2021, she served as an adjunct professor of public policy at North Dakota State University and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was also a founding vice-president of the Triangle Abortion Access Coalition in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina.

Dr. Sacks received her PhD and MA in public policy from UNC, where her dissertation focused on the quantification of social safety net policies across states and the effect of the relative generosity of a state’s assistance climate on maternal health outcomes. This builds on work she carried out as part of the team creating a State Safety-net Generosity Index, working to quantify the regulations governing social assistance programs in the United States across all states since the advent of welfare reform in the 1990s. Dr. Sacks also received an MSc in political science and political economy from the London School of Economics, and a BA in political economics and French literature from Barnard College.

Krista Schaefer, MPH

Krista Schaefer, MPH
Southcentral Foundation

Krista SChaefer is a dedicated, passionate and analytical public health advocate with experience in Alzheimer’s disease research, pharmacogenomics, and chronic disease. Her expertise is in survey design, data analysis, and epidemiology methodology and interpretation. At Southcentral Foundation, Ms. Schaefer's research career has centered on public health in Alaska Native communities.

Janel Schuh, PhD
Senior Methodologist, Research and Evaluation

Janel S. Schuh, PhD, is a Senior Methodologist of Research and Evaluation at CommunicateHealth, Inc., a health communication and research company that takes an equity-centered approach to create health information and digital tools that are easy for audiences to understand and use. With more than a dozen years of applied research and strategic communication experience, Janel is passionate about using research to help clients create communication-based solutions to challenging health issues. Drawing upon her extensive experience leading research based on health literacy, communication, and behavior change theoretical frameworks as well as human-centered design principles, she provides expert consult to government, for-profit, and nonprofit clients.

Theresa E. Sladek, MA
Strategic Partnerships and Northstar Business Development Manager
Literacy Minnesota

Theresa Sladek, MA, National Partnerships and Northstar New Business Specialist at Literacy Minnesota, works with organizations to ascertain and implement digital literacy skills for constituents. Prior to this, she developed statewide Navigation training for adult education. Theresa has a BS in Biology from Lewis and Clark College and a MA in Counseling Psychology from the University of St. Thomas. She worked as a counselor, project manager and corporate trainer before joining the field of education.

Dr. Jill Sonke

Jill Sonke, PhD (she, her)

Research Director, Center for Arts in Medicine
University of Florida College of the Arts

Jill Sonke, PhD, is Research Director in the Center for Arts in Medicine at the University of Florida (UF), Director of National Research and Impact for the One Nation/One Project initiative, and US Director of the EpiArts Lab, a National Endowment for the Arts Research Lab in partnership with University College London. She serves on the steering committee for the World Health Organization’s Healing Arts Lab and served during the COVID-19 pandemic as a senior advisor to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She an affiliated faculty member in the UF School of Theatre & Dance, the Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases, and the Center for African Studies, as well as an editorial board member for Health Promotion Practice journal. Dr. Sonke is a dancer and a musician, a mixed methods researcher, and has 28 years of leadership in the field of arts in health. She is the recipient of numerous awards and over 350 grants for her programs and research in the arts and public health.

Nathania Tsosie
Associate Director
UNM Center for Native American Health

Nathania Tsosie is Associate Director for the UNM Center for Native American Health (CNAH), an academic program that partners with AIAN students and tribes to promote Indigenous health and well-being. At CNAH, Nathania co-leads the implementation of nine NIH-funded research grants and delivers educational curricula on cultural humility and indigenous data justice. Nathania is a Lecturer in the UNM School of Medicine Department of Family and Community Medicine and a Ph.D. candidate in Health Communication (ABD). She is a member of the Navajo Nation and belongs to the Big Water Clan (Tótsohnii) from Burnt Corn, Arizona.

Michael Villaire, MSLM

Michael Villaire, MSLM
Institute for Healthcare Advancement

Michael Villaire, MSLM, is President and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Advancement, a healthcare nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charity dedicated to empowering people to better health, with a major mission emphasis on health literacy and health equity.

Mr. Villaire has written numerous articles on various aspects of health literacy, and lectures nationally on health literacy. He is co-author of the textbook, Health Literacy in Primary Care- A Clinicians Guide, published by Springer in 2007, and the self-help health book, What To Do When Your Child Is Heavy, published by IHA in 2009.

As its CEO, Mr. Villaire leads IHAs health literacy initiatives:

  • The IHA Health Literacy Solutions Center
  • The Health Literacy Specialist Certificate Program
  • Two national, annual, continuing education conferences: Operational Solutions to Improve Health Literacy, and the co-sponsored Health Literacy in Action conference
  • IHAs self-help health book series, What To Do For Health, and the micro-pub series on mental health, and one on managing chronic illnesses
  • Health Literacy Research and Practice, an online, peer-reviewed, open access journal in health literacy.

Teresa Wagner, DrPH, MS, CPH, ED/LD
Interim Director/Assistant Professor
Safercare Texash

Dr. Wagner serves as the Interim Director and Clinical Executive for Health Literacy at SaferCare Texas as well as an Assistant Professor in Lifestyle Health Sciences and Public Health at the University of North Texas Health Science Center. She is a registered dietitian who holds a doctorate in public health. She is additionally certified in patient safety and as a Community Health Worker (CHW) Instructor. Dr. Wagner has delivered multiple programs, speaking engagements and trainings on health literacy issues. Her research focuses on alleviating health disparities in underserved communities through health literacy to improve population health. Much of her work has centered around buidling capacity in those areas by recruiting and educating individuals within those communities to become CHWs. Additionally, she established both a multi-stakeholder health literacy collaborative with the DFW Hospital Council Foundation focusing on organizational health literacy and Health Literacy Texas, a statewide nonprofit to build community around health literacy efforts in Texas. As a result of her dedication to the field, she's received the 2018 Texas Health Literacy Hero Award and the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award from Texas Christian University as well as being selected by the NIH as an inaugural 2022 AIM AHEAD Leadership Fellow.

Mattew Weinburke, DrPH, MPH, MCHES, REHS

Mattew Weinburke, DrPH, MPH, MCHES, REHS
Independent Public Health Consultant
Fresno State University & Independent Consultant

Dr. Matthew Weinburke, DrPH, MPH, MCHESR, REHS. Dr. Weinburke retired from the US Public Health Service (USPHS) in 2020. His last position was as the USPHS Director of Training located in Rockville Maryland. During his time with the USPHS Training Branch, he spearheaded the development and implementation of a cultural awareness training program for Public Health Officers. He currently works as an independent public health instructor and consultant. He teaches a variety of topics including community health, cultural awareness, health equity, environmental health, and climate change topics, and health equity. He has taught public health courses at Arizona State University, Marymount University, University of California at Merced and several community colleges. He also works part time for Fresno State University conducting COVID response activities. He serves on several committees and is a section councilor for the American Public Health Association’s (APHA), Public Health Education and Health Promotion section and is an active member of the Society of Public Health Education (SOPHE). Matt is an avid outdoor enthusiast who enjoys backpacking, hiking, and bicycling with family, friends, and groups.

Jamie Williams, M.Ed

Nemours Children's Health

Jamie Williams is the Manager of Intellectual Property and Curriculum Design for Nemours Children’s Reading BrightStart! in Jacksonville Florida. With over twenty years of early childhood experience, she is instrumental in her ability to improve educator and child outcomes. She has an extensive educational background in early childhood development, with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master's degree in Elementary Education from the University of North Florida. Jamie’s expertise in early learning, assessment, and early intervention, along with her background as an Instructional Designer, is evident in her presentations on early childhood and education topics.

Shiloh A.Williams, PhD, RN, NPD-BC, CNE

Shiloh A.Williams, PhD, RN, NPD-BC, CNE
Assistant Professor
San Diego State University

Dr. Shiloh Williams, PhD, MSN, NPD-BC, CNE, an Imperial Valley, California native, is an Assistant Professor and Concentration Chair for the MS in Nursing Leadership program in the School of Nursing at SDSU-IV. Dr. Williams has an extensive background in nursing care delivery, nursing and healthcare leadership and administration, nursing education and clinical trial management. Hoping to reduce healthcare disparities and support equitable distribution of health care in her community, Dr. Williams focuses her research efforts on understanding the health literacy needs of a predominantly Hispanic and underserved population living on the US/Mexico border with the goal of developing educational interventions and materials for people who possess low health literacy and English as a second language. Dr. Williams has also successfully developed an organizational research oversight council and a fully integrated multidisciplinary clinical research department in a small rural border hospital. Other interests include strategies for student success in diverse student populations, rural healthcare policy development and leadership.