Trainee Ambassador Group

Interested in applying for the 2022 TAG cohort?

Applications are now open!

In 2015, the Maternal & Child Health Bureau’s (MCHB) Division of MCH Workforce Development (DMCHWD) established an ongoing vehicle for working collaboratively with trainees of the MCH Training Program through the Trainee Ambassador Group (TAG).


The goals of the TAG are to foster connections between trainees across the MCH Training Program, provide trainees with leadership development opportunities, and strengthen the link between trainees and MCHB.

Through the TAG, MCHB is:

  • Strengthening the link between trainees and MCHB
  • Increasing current trainee awareness/knowledge about the full range of training programs
  • Improving communication and collaboration among trainees within and across training programs
  • Facilitating connections between current and former trainees
  • Providing trainees with additional leadership development opportunities

The TAG provides trainees with the opportunity to conceptualize, develop, and lead efforts to facilitate trainee connections via activities such as a mentoring program, trainee forums, and collaborative research projects.

Ambassadors attend monthly virtual meetings and work collaboratively to create trainee-focused products. The 2020 Ambassadors are supporting continued implementation of the virtual MCH article club and are shaping a new phase of the TAG that includes social media initiatives to engage trainees virtually.


Ambassadors are trainee representatives from a range of the DMCHWD's graduate and undergraduate education programs including:

  • Centers of Excellence in MCH (CoE)
  • Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics (DBP)
  • Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH)
  • Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND)
  • MCH Catalyst
  • MCH Nutrition
  • MCH Pipeline
  • Pediatric Pulmonary Centers (PPC)
2021 Trainee Ambassadors

Alana Cordeiro

MCH Public Health Catalyst

Alana Cordeiro graduated from Drexel University in 2016 with her Master of Public Health in Community Health and Prevention with an emphasis on Maternal and Child Health. Her research focus includes improving health outcomes for disadvantaged populations, reducing health disparities, learning how environment and stress affect health outcomes, and finding ways to optimize women's resiliency and empowerment. Alana is a public health professional and researcher with more than 10 years of health programming, health research, health education, and health clinic experience. Her breadth of knowledge covers a variety of topics including health disparities, maternal and child health, racial/social inequities, nutrition, violence prevention, and neighborhood factors. She is the Lead Clinical Research Coordinator for the ECHO-TIDES Study and SEED Study at UCSF's Center for Health & Community investigating the effects of social contexts and stressful life circumstances on development and health outcomes in mothers and children. Alana hopes to attain her DrPH focusing on maternal and child health and looks forward to working with her MCH colleagues to become leaders in the field.

Bevyn Mannke

MCH Public Health Catalyst

Bevyn Mannke is a second-year MPH student at the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University, concentrating in Community Health and Prevention with a minor in Maternal and Child Health. Her research interests include global maternal health disparities, and she is currently contributing to a qualitative research study of midwife-led prenatal care and immunization counseling practices in Pennsylvania. Before pursuing her MPH, she gained international MCH experience in partnership with a Philadelphia based nonprofit organization dedicated to improving global healthcare for vulnerable families. Last year, she served as the President of Dornsife's Maternal and Child Health Student Organization, a program that provides leadership and public health information essential in promoting, improving, and maintaining the overall health status of women, children, infants, and families.

Osmari Novoa

MCH Public Health Catalyst

Osmari Beatriz Novoa is a second year MPH student at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work at Florida International University in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Osmari is dedicated to researching Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and their correlation to Diabetes and Obesity among the Afro Latinx population. As a requirement for her MPH program, Osmari completed her practicum at Healthy Start Coalition of Miami-Dade (HSCMD) in Miami, Florida. She worked on a collaborative research project between HSCMD and Florida International University. The study looked at implementing "Count the Kicks" (CTK), an app-based tool to prevent poor pregnancy outcomes among at-risk mothers in Miami-Dade County. Upon completion of her MPH program, Osmari hopes to pursue a PhD program to continue her research on ACEs. Currently, Osmari serves at the president of Leaders in Maternal and Child Health at Florida International University. She hopes to develop her leadership skills as well as collaborate with other TAG members.

Valerie Aalo

Originally from South Florida, Valerie is a public health professional and aspiring physician who attended Florida Atlantic University, where she received a B.S. in Neuroscience and Behavior with a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Following graduation, Valerie worked as a research assistant and lab supervisor at the FAU Infant Cognition Lab where she measured infants' attention to visual events to better understand how the infant brain is organized and how infants learn about their world. Valerie is currently a second-year MPH student at Boston University School of Public Health. Her concentrations are in Health Policy and Law and Maternal and Child Health. In Fall 2020, Valerie joined Boston Medical Center's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology to conduct research that explores women's perspectives on anticipated pain management during and after childbirth. Her goals include combining her knowledge of MCH frameworks and health policy to provide a multidisciplinary approach to advocate and shape future health policy around women's health. Her interests include centering black women and community-based doula care to address current disparities in birth experiences and outcomes among women and families of color.

Joyce Afueh

Centers of Excellence in Maternal & Child Health (CoE)

Joyce is a programmatic and analytic public health professional dedicated to ensuring positive health outcomes through addressing social determinants of health and health equity for maternal and child (MCH) populations. Originally from Maryland, she received her BS in Family Science from the University of Maryland in 2015. Following graduation, she worked with various organizations that focused on topics such as childhood obesity in school environments, policy and advocacy to improve community health, and behavioral health. In 2018, Joyce attended the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University to pursue her MPH. While at Emory, she continued her public health work through interning for the Association for Maternal and Child Health Programs, the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power and Potential, and the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System team with the CDC. In 2020, she graduated with an MPH in Behavioral, Social, and Health Education Sciences with a certificate in Maternal and Child Health. Currently, Joyce is a research analyst, working to evaluate programs that address pediatric and maternal mental health care access and early childhood wellness. Maternal and child health is Joyce's public health passion, and she strives to continue supporting and working for this population however possible.

Nichole Waltrich

Centers of Excellence in Maternal & Child Health (CoE)

Nikki Waltrich (she/her) earned her MPH from the University of IL-Chicago, School of Public Health, Community Health Sciences Division in 2019 and is a former trainee of UIC's Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health. Her major academic and advocacy interests include trauma-informed systems development, addressing barriers to accessing mental health services, and holistic wellness interventions that promote healing and resiliency. She roots her work in health equity, leveraging community assets, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Nikki presently works for a Medicaid Managed Care Organization on maternal child health, behavioral health, and workforce development initiatives. She is a registered yoga teacher and volunteers with YogaCare, a Chicago-based non profit organization that brings yoga to under-resourced communities to promote health.

Jessica Garcia

Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH)

Jessica Garcia graduated from Samford University in December of 2019 earning her degree of a Master of Public Health, simultaneously, completing her Dietetic Internship program at Samford University. She is now a credentialed and licensed Registered Dietitian Nutritionist within the state of Alabama. She works at Alsana, an Eating Disorder Treatment facility, and hopes to continue her education and growth as she tackles the challenge of becoming a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. Ms. Garcia radiates a passion for teaching and inspiring others how to make lasting behavior changes that resonate into leading healthy, joyous and more fulfilling lives.

Alexandra Vohs

Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND)

Alexandra Vohs is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Developmental Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine. She is a licensed psychologist in the state of Tennessee. Alexandra earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Mississippi College and her Doctorate in Psychology from the University of Colorado Denver. She completed a postdoctoral Fellowship in Developmental Disabilities at the Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities that provided intensive training in the early identification and treatment of individuals with developmental disabilities (e.g., Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Intellectual Disability), with a heavy emphasis on ASD. As part of her training, she participated in the LEND program. Her research and clinical interests center on providing evidence-based assessments and interventions for young children with neurodevelopmental disabilities, specifically ASD. Alexandra is looking forward to developing her leadership skills and learning from and collaborating with the other TAG members.

Sa'Nealdra Wiggins

MCH Nutrition

Sa'Nealdra Wiggins is an MCH Nutrition Trainee, Tennessee Doctoral Scholar's Fellow and 5th year doctoral candidate, pursuing a degree in Community Nutrition at the University of Tennessee. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Education – Public Health from Middle Tennessee State University in May 2012. Her passion is to create equitable health-related opportunities for the Black community and her research has focused on nutrition education specifically with Black women. She is also interested in parental modeling, as it relates to mothers and daughters. She has hands-on experience in obesity prevention research with adolescents and has been involved with other opportunities throughout her graduate career to sharpen and further craft her research skills. Sa'Nealdra completed her dietetic internship in Spring of 2020 and is looking forward to fully utilizing the training she has obtained to make positive impacts and further progress in nutrition programming within the government sector.

Karissa Avignon

MCH Pipeline

Karissa Avignon graduated from Johns Hopkins University in May 2019 with a BA in Public Health Studies. During college, she worked as a health educator at Johns Hopkins Hospital's Children's Safety Center (CSC) on an initiative to improve child infant mortality rates. She is a current PHAP fellow at the Centers for Disease Control, hosted at The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). She is engaged in research and evaluation projects within local health departments. She is interested in promoting trauma-informed care (TIC) and was awarded a Fulbright grant in 2020 for a comparative research project on trauma-informed care use in the United States and Canada. Karissa enjoys mentorship and building inclusive programming and support systems for traditional and non-traditional students underrepresented in STEM and Public Health fields. She hopes to attain an MD/MPH to contribute to meaningful conversations regarding health inequities in vulnerable populations. She is excited to connect and engage with MCH trainees!.

  • Current or former MCH trainees that have graduated within the last 5 years
  • Applicants should demonstrate initiative and strong time-management, communication, and leadership skills
  • Strong candidates have a proven record of collaboration, teamwork, and understanding of cultural competence
  • Experience spearheading activities or programs is preferred
  • A 14-month commitment is required (December 2021-January 2023).
  • Participation is estimated to be 2-4 hours per month.

Please review the TAG Overview and Highlights document for more detail on roles, responsibilities, and leadership opportunities.


Applications for the 2022 TAG cohort are now being accepted. Email to obtain current application materials. Applications are due at 11:59 pm ET on Sunday September 26, 2021.


If you have questions or need further information, please contact Molly Carmody at the MCH Training & Research Resource Center.


Video: An Introduction to the MCH Training Program for Trainees by Trainees Exit Disclaimer


Webinar: MCH Connects - Facilitating Connections in MCH Exit Disclaimer


PDF "Links to PDF "TAG plenary session at MLC 18"
Presentation: TAG plenary session
at MLC 2018
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