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Trainee Ambassador Group 2018

From January to December 2018, the TAG cohort attended monthly virtual meetings and collaborated to develop trainee-focused products. At the start of the year, the TAG continued dissemination of information about MCH Connects Exit Disclaimer and collected feedback (via a short web-based survey) from members of MCH Connects on their utilization of the site and recommendations for improvement. In the spring, the TAG developed an interactive plenary session on incorporating personal and professional values into mentoring relationships. This plenary session Exit Disclaimer was facilitated by three Ambassadors at the Making Lifelong Connections annual meeting in Tampa, Florida in April. In the second half of the year, Ambassadors organized themselves into subcommittees to collaborate in small groups on the development of three trainee engagement products: 1) an infographic highlighting options for trainees that are interested in using social media to connect with one another, 2) a Trainee Starter Kit that provides an overview of several trainee engagement opportunities and resources, and 3) a new trainee volunteer role called the Connection and Engagement Leader (CEL). The social media infographic was shared through various MCH-focused social media pages and at a trainee networking event. In 2019, TAG CELs will begin sharing the Trainee Starter Kit and will help connect trainees in their local university’s training programs to MCH and TAG-related initiatives, news, and opportunities.

Thank you to the 2018
Trainee Ambassadors

Alyssa Bosold

Centers of Excellence in Maternal & Child Health (CoE)

Alyssa Bosold is in the second year of her Master’s program in Public Health at the University of Washington. Prior to joining UW, Alyssa was part of CDC’s Public Health Associate Program. She also served with AmeriCorps on the Blackfeet Reservation, where she concentrated on capacity building for a teen pregnancy/parenting organization. Alyssa volunteered with Planned Parenthood for three years through the health center advocacy program, and she currently works with the SOARING project at the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice. Within MCH, Alyssa is passionate about reproductive justice and health equity and hopes to focus on related work in the policy realm after graduating.


Erika Dennis

MCH Pipeline

Erika Dennis is currently the Healthcare Administrator at Montgomery Heart and Wellness, a cardiologist clinic that uses a comprehensive approach to living a healthy lifestyle. A recent graduate from Texas Southern University, she managed to complete her Bachelor of Science in Health Administration with the highest academic honor, Summa Cum Laude. As an apprentice, she completed 3 prestigious fellowship programs, including Bioinformatics Summer Institute at Mississippi Valley State University, M.D. Anderson: Cancer Prevention Research Training at UT Health, and the MCH STARS Program a collaboration between Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Southern University. Erika is also the founder of a nursing non-profit organization that seeks to increase the health equity of pre and post-natal care of women living in underserved or impoverished communities. Erika will begin to work toward her second degree at Duke University School of Nursing in the fall of 2018. Erika’s participation in the MCH STARS Program influences her determination to make a lasting impact on the health care community by implementing new innovations to the community via research.


Christina Gebel

Centers of Excellence in Maternal & Child Health (CoE)

Christina Gebel graduated from the Boston University School of Public Health with an MPH concentration in Maternal and Child Health in 2014. Since then, she has engaged in MCH research and currently works as the MCH Director for Massachusetts with the March of Dimes Foundation. Christina has held a number of leadership roles within the MCH world including being an MCH Section Fellow for APHA as well as a fellow under Dr. Gene Declerq and his work on Birth by the Numbers. She is co-Founder of MCH in Action (MCHiA), a nation-wide effort to connect MCH minded students and alums, which plans active MCH programming on campuses. Christina is a doula, childbirth educator, and has co-authored numerous academic articles and book chapters.


Kiana Hardy

MCH Public Health Catalyst

Kiana Hardy has been working to improve the lives of others through healthcare since she began her undergraduate career at Spelman College in 2010. She has since received a BA from Spelman College and MPH from the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health with a concentration in Health Management and Policy in June 2016. She has worked in research and project management addressing the needs of both women/children’s health at Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania and the St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, while also serving as a section fellow for the MCH section of the American Public Health Association. Kiana is currently a fellow at the healthcare startup Aledade in Bethesda, Maryland working with primary care physicians in accountable care organizations (ACOs) to acquire shared savings. Her research and professional interests include healthcare access and quality, maternal and child health, health management and healthcare policy.


Samantha Hill

Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH)

Samantha Hill is a board certified pediatrician who is a LEAH trainee currently in her second year of an adolescent medicine fellowship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).  She is also working on her Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in MCH Policy and Leadership.   Her research centers around reproductive and sexual health among adolescents with a specific focus on HIV positive adolescents and access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as well as use of long acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) among adolescents.  She also co-coordinates a mentoring program for local high school students interested in the field of health professions.   She plans on continuing to further research and discussion surrounding disparities in sexual health and HIV, engaging in policy development and implementation regarding sexual health and HIV, and continuing her clinical roles as an adolescent medicine physician.


Sandhyaa Iyengar

Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics (DBP) & Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND)

Sandhyaa Iyengar M.D. is a fellow in Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Her research investigates the effect of adverse childhood experiences, such as poverty and violence, on developmental, emotional, and physical health. She has also been involved in improving the transition to adulthood for individuals with Down syndrome and tackling childhood obesity through exercise and nutrition programming in urban food deserts. Sandhyaa also founded a successful program targeting early literacy through teaching parents the techniques of dialogic reading. Her other career passions are global health for children’s mental health and legislative advocacy. She is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Pennsylvania to help advance these interests. Sandhyaa’s hobbies include world travel, learning martial arts, knitting, and volunteering at an animal sanctuary.


Natasha Ludwig

Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND)

Natasha Ludwig received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Georgia State University. During graduate school, Natasha received specialized clinical and research training in neuropsychology and the assessment of toddlers at risk for autism spectrum disorder and other neurodevelopmental conditions. Dr. Ludwig completed her doctoral internship at the Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI) in neuropsychology and pediatric psychology. Natasha is currently a pediatric neuropsychology fellow at KKI/Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where she continues to strengthen her clinical and research skills in providing neuropsychology services for youth with a broad range of medical and neurodevelopmental conditions. As both a clinician and the older sibling of an adult with autism and intellectual disability, Natasha is passionate about the importance of coordinated and family-centered care for individuals with complex health needs throughout the lifespan. Natasha’s training experiences through LEND at Georgia State University and KKI further cultivated her interest and skills in advocacy and leadership. She is excited to continue to learn from and collaborate with her colleagues within the Maternal and Child Health Training Program through her involvement in the Trainee Ambassador Group.


Marissa McElrone

MCH Nutrition

Marissa McElrone is a third year Nutritional Sciences doctoral candidate at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a concentration in community nutrition. She will also complete the dietetic internship required for Registered Dietitian credentials at the end of her program. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences from Penn State University, Marissa worked as a Minority Health Promotion Coordinator and later as a WIC Nutritionist with various non-profits. She also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania, East Africa for two years focusing on MCH nutrition, HIV/AIDS and malaria prevention, water safety and sanitation, and girls’ empowerment. She has worked with other diverse, domestic and international MCH populations in research, programmatic, consulting, and capacity building contexts. Marissa has been a MCH Nutrition Leadership Trainee since January 2016. Her dissertation research focuses on the impacts of dietary acculturation on the food security status of refugee families, and community based participatory research approaches to develop, implement, and evaluate culturally and linguistically relevant programming for this population.


Sabrin Rizk

MCH Pipeline & Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND)

Sabrin Rizk is a current doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences PhD program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UW-Milwaukee). Her research interests include secondary data analysis with an emphasis in children with special healthcare needs (CSHCN), specifically, children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and the medical home. In addition, she has been a practicing school-based occupational therapist working with children with disabilities and their families for 8 years. Sabrin completed the MCH Pipeline program as an undergraduate at UW-Milwaukee in 2006-2007. She later participated in the Wisconsin LEND program as a fellow during her 1st training year in 2013-2014 and a doctoral student during her 2nd training year in 2014-2015. Sabrin credits her experience in the MCH Pipeline training program as the platform which began all of her work in MCH; this most formative, singular experience shaped her research interests and publications, her career trajectory working with children with disabilities and their families in the school setting, LEND, and now her doctoral work.  As a member of the Trainee Ambassador Group, Sabrin hopes to continue to remain active in MCH initiatives while expanding her MCH training and leadership skills to the national level.


Suzanne Stern-Brant

Pediatric Pulmonary Center (PPC)

Suzanne Stern-Brant is a second-year clinical social work MSW student at New Mexico Highlands University.  Prior to entering the Master’s program, she was a professional artist, technical writer and educator.  Suzanne completed her Pediatric Pulmonary Center traineeship in 2017, at the University of New Mexico.  Her capstone project focused on best practices for transitioning adolescents from pediatric to adult care.  She developed a patient centric art intervention to facilitate the transition process for cystic fibrosis patients.  The results of her research were presented at the Mountain West CF Consortium Conference.  Suzanne is committed to issues of social justice, and is interested in serving minority children through developing research based mental health interventions specific to New Mexico’s unique population.  She is currently a clinical intern at the New Mexico Office of the Medical investigator, Grief Services.  Suzanne focuses on supporting adolescents and young adults who have lost loved ones to suicide.

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