Residential Master's Alumni Profiles

Residential Master’s Alumni Profiles
Alumni profiles are listed alphabetically by last name.

Elizabeth L. Ayers
MPH Class of 1986

Pharmacy Project Specialist, Novant Health Corporate Pharmacy
 
Career Highlights
 
  • Pharmacy Supervisor, Forsyth Memorial Hospital
  • Assistant Director of Pharmacy, Forsyth Medical Center
  • Director of Pharmacy, Forsyth Medical Center (approximately 20 years)

Describe your current position.

 
I have semi-retired. I work as a project specialist supporting current Pharmacy leaders in Novant Health. On fiscal matters, I support the 340B Drug Program and deal with reimbursement issues. Clinically, I provide system support on medication management policies and clinical pharmacy regulatory issues.

What has attending school at the Gillings School of Global Public Health helped you achieve?

 
Graduate school provided me with a broader perspective on healthcare systems and their interdependencies than the profession of pharmacy alone provided.
 
How has UNC impacted your leadership skills?
 
Not only have I been a leader within Forsyth Medical Center and Novant, but I was a regional Pharmacy leader for VHA-Novation, and I have served in numerous leadership roles in my church and it’s province. And, I’m fairly certain that my extensive education and leadership experiences resulted in a judge making me a grand jury foreman!
 
Why did you choose UNC?
 
At the time, UNC was the only provider of an off-campus program that allowed me the ability to pursue a graduate education and still work full-time.
 
What has UNC meant to your career?

My master’s degree enabled me to be considered for, and promoted to, the position of director of pharmacy at a large tertiary care hospital. I successfully completed 20 years in that role in a highly complex, cost-conscious, competitive environment.

Discuss your relationship with the faculty and/or staff during the program or after.

Dr. Schaeffer’s course work in systems theory has been invaluable to me. It helped me prepare for the continuous improvement philosophies that were integrated into healthcare systems in the 1990′s. I have repeatedly used the skills I learned in his course not only in healthcare, but other organizations with which I have been involved.
 
Discuss what you would consider to be your greatest achievement in your professional career and why.
 
I am proud to have led medication management team initiatives that resulted in Novant Health receiving the Ernest A. Codman Award in 2004 for our efforts in improving patient safety with warfarin anticoagulation. Today, a National Patient Safety Goal exists, originating in part from that multidisciplinary collaborative effort of Novant Pharmacy, Medicine, and Nursing in 2001-2004.

Jay Briley
MHA Class of 2003
President, Vidant Duplin Hospital


Career Highlights

  • President, Vidant Duplin Hospital
  • Vice President of Clinical Services, Albemarle Hospital
  • Administrator of Neurosciences, Pitt County Memorial Hospital

Describe your current position.

I am responsible for the operations, quality, and financial performance of Vidant Duplin Hospital. In addition to the hospital’s staff, I work with our medical staff, governing board, and community partners to ensure our patients receive the very best care while effectively planning for future growth and development of our organization.

How has the UNC network affected your career and what it has helped you achieve?

 
I connect with my classmates and other UNC HPM graduates working in other organizations on nearly a weekly basis. The UNC network allows me to widen my perspective, ideally becoming a more effective leader. Sharing experiences across the network exposes me to new ideas and approaches to introduce to my own organization.
 
Describe your overall experience at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Provide examples.

 
The School of Public Health provided me with a strong academic foundation to grow as a leader in healthcare, and it continues to support me. The exposure to expert faculty and real-time case studies at surrounding hospitals and universities allowed me to not only hear what it means to be a leader in healthcare, but also witness it on a regular basis.
 

What opportunities available to you while enrolled at UNC are/were the most valuable in school? Looking back, what opportunities do you wish you’d taken more advantage of?

The opportunities most valuable to me were those that introduced me to the first hand experiences of current leaders in field. This includes not only classes that brought in guest speakers, but also classes that took us out of the classroom to discuss opportunities and challenges that were being addressed in real time. Also, I was fortunate to have an internship in the Triangle (at Rex Hospital) that allowed me to maintain my relationship into my second year. That provided me with additional experience beyond the summer.
 
While we had good exposure to many guest expert lecturers, including alumni, I wish I would have maintained that communication and those relationships longer. Just as my fellow classmates/alumni support me now, I am confident that many of our guest speakers would do the same. Hopefully, I would be in a position to support them as well.
 
What are your words of wisdom to current students in HPM?
 
Build and foster as many relationships as possible. With these new relationships, consciously spend time with your professors connecting the dots between what you’re learning in the classroom with the experiences that alumni/speakers are sharing. Also, a few years after graduation, compare notes with your professors; you will have a brand new perspective that may surprise you.

Scott Broome

MHA Class of 2002
Service Line Director, Roper St. Francis Cancer Center

Career Highlights

  • Service Line Director, Roper St. Francis Cancer Center
  • Administrator, Roper St. Francis Medical Center – Berkeley
  • Business Manager, Roper St. Francis Surgical Services
  • Administrative Fellow, Carolinas Healthcare System

Describe your current position.

 
I have responsibility for clinical, administrative and supportive functions for the Cancer Center at Roper St. Francis Healthcare.

The Roper St. Francis Cancer Center is the Charleston, SC market leader for treatment of breast, prostate, lung and colorectal cancers, treating approximately 1,800 newly diagnosed cases per year. In my role, I oversee the operations, provide leadership with strategic plan development and represent the needs and causes of the Cancer Center to senior leadership and governance.

 
What has attending school at the Gillings School of Global Public Health helped you achieve?

 
UNC provided an excellent framework for skill development and comprehensive education. Specifically, the “tool kit” of analytics I left UNC with has been invaluable as I have approached each role. This “tool kit” combined with the attainment of other skills and attributes (ex confidence, general understanding of health care at U.S. level, understanding of balance between leadership and management) developed while at UNC has enabled me to be successful.
 
How has the UNC network affected your career?

 
UNC has a phenomenal reputation for excellent academics. Particularly, the SPH is nationally recognized for excellence. When people learn my preparation was at UNC, they automatically assume a level of credibility and expect a certain level of preparedness.
 
Describe your overall experience at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Provide examples.
 
Great experience. Really enjoyed the diversity, both ethnic and occupationally. For example, in my MHA class, we had MPH students from the School of Medicine, others with various professional degrees (e.g., law, dentistry, medicine), and active-duty military officers. All of these factors helped immeasurably by creating rich, experiential-laden discussions and by providing informal mentorship to those of us who were younger and a bit less developed.
 
What opportunities available to you while enrolled at UNC are/were the most valuable in school? Looking back, what opportunities do you wish you’d taken more advantage of?

 
As students, we had the opportunity to take courses from other schools within UNC. Elective hours can be used to broaden exposure or pursue interests. I took several courses in the School of Business and really enjoyed them. I wish I had sought more opportunities to work with professors or within UNC Hospitals on project-based work. The depth of the faculty provides an excellent opportunity for learning.
 
What are your words of wisdom to current students in Health Policy & Management programs?
 
1) Develop an efficient approach to work during work time but ensure family and personal time is not compromised 2) Develop the right balance between detail orientation and leadership mindset (big picture)
3) Interact with other classmates who are part of other professional disciplines (e.g., law, medicine)
4) Take courses at other schools within UNC, like business, law, etc… to help you understand how folks with different preparation have different approaches in the workplace
5) Take and apply yourself in the core SPH courses…they are not frivolous and you will draw on that knowledge, especially EPI. They distinguish you from a traditional MBA or other similar degrees
6) Spend time inside UNC Hospital doing project-based work… it’s good to get exposure to a large academic medical center
7) Enjoy being a student at UNC…it’s a great place!

 

Fred Brown
MPH Class of 1982
Group Senior Vice-President, Eastern Division, Carolinas HealthCare System, Charlotte, NC

Career Highlights

  • Principal, Pershing Yoakly and Associates, 2002-2005
  • Executive Vice President, Novant Health,1997-2002
  • President and CEO VHA Carolinas-Tennessee 1986-1997
  • Executive Vice President, Pitt County Memorial Hospital, Greenville, NC 1981-1986
  • Associate Director, Moses Cone Hospital, Greensboro, NC 1980-1981
  • CEO Davis Hospital, Statesville, NC 1979 -1980
  • CEO Chatham Hospital, Siler City, NC 1973-1979
Describe your current position.
Responsible for management of Carolinas HealthCare System’s managed hospitals.
Describe your overall experience at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, with specific examples.

 
Best investment of time and effort in my life. I wish I could do it all over again today with all the strides the School has made and the exciting role it will play in our future in every regard. I learned so much from other students and I also learned perspective. That healthcare was not as much about improving health as much as fixing health when it is broken…… something I realized at the time was unsustainable for even this great Nation.
 
Discuss what you would consider to be your greatest achievements in your professional career and why.

 
Each role I have had has been different and I think I have made a positive difference in every role I have had in the organizations and the communities they served. I did help to set up and operate the Aeromedical Evacuation System during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The new doctrine we developed is still the basis for the system that is being used to take care of our wounded and sick military in Iraq and Iran today.

 
What opportunities available to you while enrolled at UNC are/were the most valuable in school? Looking back, what opportunities do you wish you’d taken more advantage of?

 
I was married with a one year old son and could not spend much time on campus absorbing the good ideas and hard issues that were being discussed in the halls and snack shop every day. I wish I could have spent more time with other students and faculty. For maybe the first time in my life I truly realized that learning is life long and they call graduation “Commencement” for a good reason.

 
What are your words of wisdom to current students in Health Policy & Management programs?

 
Learn all you can from your professors and one another, have fun and be excited about your future… because it will be exciting. Us, older folk, sometimes wish for our youth back. I do too but mostly because Health Policy and Management graduates will face wonderful, exciting challenges that I believe will lead to better prepared healthcare leaders, healthier populations and ideas that will stagger the mind and improve the lives of my children, grandchildren and their children. What a legacy you all will leave!

 

Trey Crabb
MHA Class of 2001, MBA Class of 2000
Managing Principal, Stroudwater Associates
Nashville, Tennessee

Career Highlights

  • Managing Director, Co-Head of Healthcare Investment Banking, Avondale Partners, LLC
  • Vice President, Not-for-Profit Healthcare Mergers and Acquisitions, Merrill Lynch & Co.
  • Vice President, Healthcare Corporate and Investment Banking, Bank of America, N.A.

Describe your current position.

In my current position I help healthcare companies, both for profit and not-for-profit, achieve strategic and financial goals through mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures affiliations and the debt and equity related financing in pursuit of these activities. My work is generally focused at the board and executive officer levels.
 

What has attending school at the Gillings School of Global Public Health helped you achieve?

 
Attending the School, helped me tweak both my existing career (I had 8 years of experience prior to enrollment) and send a signal to the professional community I was targeting that I was serious about the “business of healthcare”. I continue to get a lot of positive feedback from clients about my degree combination and in addition I have a number of clients with degrees from either UNC and other schools of public health.
 
Why did you choose UNC?

I looked for the best mix of graduate business and public health programs. I chose UNC over several other prospective programs after a visit with the late Dr. Michael Hooker, who convinced me that UNC could help me further my career goals.
 
Describe how you balanced school, work, and family commitments during the program.
 
I was able to balance school, work and family due to a very supportive spouse. She worked full- time while I was in the three year program, and I helped plug the financial gap with summer employment. We had our second child, a son, during my last semester in school as well. I had a set schedule that I followed every week – drop off my daughter at pre-school before 8am, attend class/study until 6pm, family/dinner time from 6-8pm, study until midnight. Study one full day on the weekend, one day off. It worked for me!
 
Discuss your relationship with the faculty and/or staff during the program or after.
 
I come back twice a year and guest lecture at school. /hpm/professional-development-and-career-services/ That, plus my service on the SPH Foundation Board since 2006 allows me to interact quite a bit with faculty and staff at the School. It is very rewarding for me and I hope that the students to whom I speak, my colleagues on the Board and faculty members/staff appreciate the interaction.


 

Erin Diminick

MHA Class of 2007
Administrative Manager, North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System

 
Career Highlights

  • Administrative Manager, Department of Cardiology, North Shore University Hospital (New York)
  • Administrative Fellow, North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System (New York)

Describe your current position.

I currently manage the outpatient department of cardiology at a large teaching hospital. I am responsible for managing all day-to-day operations in the offices, i.e. scheduling of appointments, issues in the patient population, staffing, physician reporting, quality, complying with regulation, etc. I manage a staff of 25 non-clinical employees and 16 physicians (cardiologists, interventionalists, nuclear and echo cardiologists, and electro physiologists).

What has attending school at the Gillings School of Global Public Health helped you achieve?

The Gillings School of Global Public Health allowed me to secure a fellowship position and provided me the educational background needed to succeed and thrive in the position. The reputation of the program precedes it and afforded me the opportunity to be considered for a number of positions.
 
How has the UNC network affected your career?

Entering the fellowship program I was fortunate to find a mentor who was a UNC alumna and a previous fellow. She supported me throughout the program and helped to ensure that I succeeded. The network of classmates I have across the country provides me a strong basis for collaboration and idea exchange.
 
Why did you choose UNC?
I choose to apply to UNC because of the national reputation of the program and the professors. Upon visiting the campus for my interview, the atmosphere and positive energy of the School, the people, and the community was invigorating and I was instantly hooked.

Describe your overall experience at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Provide examples.
My experience at the Gillings School of Global Public Health was incredible in every way. My classmates and peers were some of the brightest and most dedicated students in the field. I learned an immeasurable amount from them. The professors were also top ranked and provided a challenging, but enjoyable environment to learn and explore the field.

 

Julie Forrest
BSPH Class of 1998 and MHA Class of 2000
Consultant, Scientific Communications, Talecris Center for Science and Education
Talecris Biotherapeutics
 

 

Career Highlights
  • Consultant, Talecris Biotherapeutics
  • Director of Operations, The Center for Health Care Education, LLC

Describe your current position.

 
I work with the Scientific Communications team at Talecris Biotherapeutics to publish manuscripts, posters, presentations and other publications. In addition, I provide all of the product teams with information regarding internal and external publications and press releases.

What has attending school at the Gillings School of Global Public Health helped you achieve?

 
The two most important things I learned in the BSPH and MHA programs are excellent communication skills and how to work with a team. Those two things have helped me in every position during my career.
 
How has UNC impacted your leadership skills?

 
Attending UNC helped develop my ability to work well with others and encourage my peers. UNC also gave me a desire to produce great work. All of these things are essential in leadership.
 
How has the UNC network affected your career?

Morgan Tackett, a UNC MHA alumni, served as my preceptor in my internship and was my first mentor. He also introduced me to a person at The Center for Health Care Education, where I worked the first 6 years of my career. That job lead to my current job… so thank you, Morgan, for helping guide my career path!
 
What has UNC meant to your career?

I love UNC and it is wonderful to have an undergraduate and graduate degree from the university on my resume. More importantly, the skills and information I learned at UNC have helped me throughout my career.
 
Discuss the culture at the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

My favorite thing about the culture was the small size of the HPM program. I knew my peers and found it very easy to speak with professors regarding assignments and projects.
 
Discuss your relationship with the faculty and/or staff during the program or after.

I have great respect for all of the faculty and staff. I got to work closely with many faculty while serving as an officer for ACHE. And, during my first year in the MHA program, I had the privilege of working closely with Dr. Bender to publish a book.
 
What are your words of wisdom to current students in Health Policy & Management programs?

After you complete the program, find a job that is a good fit for you. I truly enjoy both of my jobs – working for Talecris and being a mom!


Edward O. Holloway
MSPH Class of 1975
1999 total and permanent disabled veteran, Volunteer for Health & Human Services
 
Career Highlights

  • 1975-89: From Emergency Medical Services to Executive Director District IX Health Planning Council, Inc.
  • 1989-1999: Senior Health and Human Services Planning Board, County Commissioners, Palm Beach County Department of Community Services, West Palm Beach, FL

Describe your current position.

 
I am a disabled veteran who had to leave my career early because of my disabilities; however with medical permission so that I do not over-do, I still volunteer with the Health and Human Services Council of Palm Beach County.
Why did you choose UNC?

 
At the time, there were not many schools that offered an MSPH degree; however, it was the reputation of UNC that drew me there.

 
What has UNC meant to your career?

 
UNC is such a highly respected school and having an MSPH from UNC opens many doors.
 
Describe how you balanced school, work, and family commitments during the program.

 
My wife, Elizabeth, and I came to UNC in 1973 so that both of us could obtain our masters degrees at the same time. I used the GI Bill and savings. My wife’s MAT degree only took one year and she returned to Palm Beach County to teach and live with my parents while I finished my MSPH.
 
Discuss the culture at the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

 
At the time, the school name was different; however, my wife and I met people from all over the world there so the school was global in its perspective then.

 
Could you have gotten where you are today without your UNC degree? If no, please explain.

 
If it were not for my UNC graduate degree, I would not be alive today as I kept my local and nationwide network in place. Not only can I help my fellow veterans, some who are also disabled, I can provide input into local and national health programs.

 
Discuss your relationship with the faculty and/or staff during the program or after.
 
I still consider the faculty a major source of information and I continue to make donations to assist in continuing to improve the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

 
Discuss what you would consider to be your greatest achievement in your professional career and why.

 
That even though I am 100% disabled, I’m still able to assist in helping to solve personal, community and national health problems.

 
What are your words of wisdom to current students in Health Policy & Management programs?

 
My biggest regret is that I did not take political sciences courses to help me learn the full range of politics on health projects.

 

 
Nasreen Jessani

MSPH Class of 2004
DrPH student, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Career Highlights

  • Lead Program Officer of IDRC/SDC Research Matters, a program on evidence to policy and practice within developing country health systems (East African region – based in Kenya)
  • Collaborative Researcher/Writer for the European Observatory on Health Systems and policies (Belgium)
  • Member of WHO’s foodborne disease policy group: Knowledge Translation and Policy Task Force (Global)
  • Member of WHO EVIPnet’s Global Steering Group (Africa)
  • Research Officer with the International Development Research Center (IDRC) (Canada)
Describe your current position.

 
As a current doctoral student pursuing my DrPH at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH), I am able to enhance my learning as well as experience in international health systems. Prior to joining JHSPH, I worked as a program officer embedded within a development research funding institution. I was part of a highly accomplished and dedicated team that assessed health system research proposals, including conceptual, methodological, operational, evaluative, and financial aspects of research-policy-practice initiatives from institutions in developing countries. In addition, I spearheaded “Research Matters” – a research to policy and practice initiative – by creating and brokering links between researchers, media, networks and decision makers in the field of health systems strengthening and Knowledge Translation. My role required monitoring of projects and providing technical research and management support to grantees and affiliated institutions primarily in the east and southern Africa region. The initiatives we engaged with leveraged strategic partnerships with like-minded donors and institutions both nationally as well as globally.
 
Why did you choose UNC and what has it meant to your career?
 
I chose UNC as it offered superior training in HPM concepts and skills while encouraging a global health undercurrent throughout the school. The high caliber of faculty as well as its reputation as the number 1 HPM public health school at the time was certainly an advantage! The privilege of being offered a fellowship confirmed that the school not only valued international students but rewarded the variety of achievements among its students.
 
Describe your overall experience at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, with specific examples.

 
UNC (and the Gillings School of Globla Public Health in particular) entrusted me with positions that affected the experience of my peers. As chair of the Student Council Admissions Committee, appointed to HPM Academic Standards Committee & HPM Advisory Board and Graduate School Ambassador to N.C. State Legislature, I had the opportunity to be part of shaping the Department and in turn, the experiences of my colleagues and those to follow. As co-chair of the Global Health Committee, I had the opportunity to highlight the importance of global health in UNC curricula and experience…this was prior to UNC becoming a school of global public health. My activities earned me several scholarships as well as induction into the Alpha Epsilon Lambda Honor society. But more than that, it earned me a degree and a truly remarkable experience from a prestigious university that I would not ever wish to change.
Could you have gotten where you are today without your UNC degree? If no, please explain.

 
The MSPH from UNC equipped me with the tools to address key public health concerns. I learned how to think critically, to query a problem from multiple perspectives and to persevere. The high standards of education and the knowledge with which I left UNC quickly became apparent as I traversed the worlds of those much more experienced than myself. Being able to discuss, debate and collaborate with those more accomplished in public health than myself as a new graduate in 2004 was due to the confidence in the explicit as well as tacit skills that I gained from my education at UNC. The MSPH was the foundation for my public health education and I have been fortunate to be able to build upon it through global experiences as well as my current doctoral studies at Hopkins.
 
Discuss your relationship with the faculty and/or staff during the program or after.

 
The faculty has been an integral part of the support, encouragement and strength that have permitted me to have the confidence and faith in my abilities, in my potential and in my future. The UNC HPM faculty rode the waves of trials and tribulations with me not only as I debated my career choices as a student, but also as I weaved my way through my opportunities and challenges in the professional world. Without the mentorship and guidance of my UNC professors, my experience in the field of public health, to date, would most definitely not have been as exciting, as rewarding nor as promising!
 
Discuss what you would consider to be your greatest achievements in your professional career and why.
 
A s an academic, my most proud moments were twofold: my contribution to the WHO toolkit on voluntary testing and counseling while I was still a Masters student, and the recent publication of a book I co-edited: Knowledge translation: Bridging the know-do gap. However, as a young professional, my two greatest honors were to be asked to chair a session at the Global Forum for Health Research in Cuba in 2009, and to serve on WHO’s Foodborne Epidemiology Reference Group. What stands out the most though were my candid discussions on health systems research and priorities with ministers of health in countries such as Zambia, Malawi, and Kenya. There is no better learning of the world of policy than some instruction in the world of politics. Being able to assist these ministers in thinking about how to approach some of the challenges they were facing was a humbling as well as empowering experience. I am proud to have been part of the deliberations regarding evidence to policy and practice with respect to health systems strengthening.

 

What are your words of wisdom to current students in Health Policy & Management programs?
 
Health Policy and Management is a fascinating area of inquiry. Moreover, global health policy can be exciting and challenging, as well as frustrating and perplexing. However, the skills gained through training in HPM can help you navigate this colorful kaleidoscope. There will be situations where your technical skills will be necessary but more often than not, it will be your critical thinking and diplomacy skills that will be required. Ensure that you pay attention to soft skills in addition to theoretical pursuits as these are where you will have the opportunity to take on leadership roles – both in the U.S. as well as globally. Carve out your own unique niche within this field. Use your education to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Be ethical in your endeavors and embrace varied perspectives.

 

Austin Johnson
MHA Class of 2009
Product Manager, Respiratory

GlaxoSmithKline
 
 
Describe your current position.
I am part of a newly launched marketing rotational program at GSK. The program will include rotations through sales, marketing and an international assignment. Upon completion of the program, I will be prepared to fill a general management position for one of GSK’s products.
 
How has UNC impacted your leadership skills?

My graduate studies at UNC have permitted me to develop the leadership skills that recruiters and employers are looking for. Although the curriculum allows for critical leadership skill development, the optional seminars, practicums, club leadership and internship proved equally important in developing leadership qualities.

 
Describe how you balanced school, work and family commitments during the program.
For many students, a commitment to full-time, residential graduate studies involve more than academic studies alone. In my case, I had to balance the academic rigor of two graduate programs, a part-time job and the responsibilities of a father of two children. It dawns on me, now that I have moved on to my post-graduate career that life doesn’t get less busy after graduation no matter how busy we may have been during school. As such, push yourself to participate in as many meaningful academic and professional endeavors while you are in school. This was my approach and it helped teach me time management, accountability to my classmates and the ability to prioritize my activities in order of importance.

Could you have gotten where you are today without your UNC degree? If no, please explain.

I certainly would not have obtained the professional opportunity I enjoy today without my UNC graduate degrees. UNC carries with it a great deal of respect in the marketplace and a degree from UNC carries with it instant credibility.

What are your words of wisdom to current students in Health Policy & Management programs?

I would advise graduate students to carefully consider the concentration they select and make a very calculated decision about what internship to pursue. Recruiters want to be able to see a logical progression between your professional activities and your graduate studies. Work hard to identify what you are professionally passionate about and then customize your HPM studies to match. Don’t concern yourself about studying what is “typical” of other students. Find a path that allows you to pursue your passion and what will allow you to stand out and differentiate yourself from those who will be pursuing the same job opportunities as you.


 

Trisha L. Long
MSPH Class of 2007

Program Officer, John Snow Inc. (JSI)
 
Describe your current position.
 
I coordinate and review the forecasting and quantification for a variety of health commodities in developing countries. I collect, manage and analyze stock status data from 15 countries to report to an international donor group. In addition, I support users of our most widely used software product and collaborate with the software development team to manage the upgrade project.
 
Discuss the culture at the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

 
Professional and collegial. There is a big emphasis on preparing you for your career. There are definitely a number of groups who seek to give back to the community, as well. If you involve yourself in these groups, you will build your network even more.

 

Discuss what you would consider to be your greatest achievement in your professional career and why.

 
Successfully combining my interests in public health and information management in my job. I have carved out a niche for myself which was not a typical one, but it allowed me to pursue the things I am passionate about, and partly as a result, I’m very happy in my work.
 
What are your words of wisdom to current students in Health Policy & Management programs?
 
Know the job market you intend to apply to (and be aware that it might change while you’re in school!). If you are footloose and can move anywhere, that’s easier, but if you have a specific geographical location in mind for whatever reason, do not wait until your final semester to start networking there. Do it now, and start making the contacts you will need. Be sure your intended career path is possible there.

 

How has UNC impacted your leadership skills?
 
I learned many new concepts about leadership, especially from my classmates, who I can truly say are some of the most dynamic and intelligent people I’ve ever met. The most important lesson was what my current supervisor calls “managing up” – don’t wait until the person you need to speak to invites you to talk. Go and talk to them – make an appointment.
 
Describe how you balanced school, work and family commitments during the program.
 
My husband worked two jobs full-time while I attended the masters program (I was simultaneously completing the Master of Information Science at the School of Library and Information Science, SILS). I also did paid consulting jobs on the side. We lived frugally for three years and saved everything we could. That has meant, however, that we paid off our car, paid my tuition in cash (no student loans) and had enough money saved that we bought a house this year in Washington, DC.

 

 
Jean F. Martin

MSPH Class of 1971
 
Retired
Member of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee, Member of the Swiss National Commission on Biomedical Ethics
 

Career Highlights

  • Chief Cantonal Medical Officer, Public Health Service, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Lecturer in Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Member of the Vaud Cantonal Parliament (Lausanne)
  • Honor Member, Swiss Public Health Association
  • Honor Member, Swiss Society for Health Policy (former Vice-President)
  • President, Vaud Section of the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism
  • Corresponding Member, Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Montpellier (France)
  • Editorial Board of several medical and public health journals
  • Board Member of a number of foundations and associations
  • Columnist, 24 Heures (Lausanne daily newspaper), occasional contributor, Le Temps (Geneva daily newspaper)

Describe your current position.

 
After spending eight years (1968-1976) overseas at the beginning of my career (bush hospital doctor in Peru, study at UNC, WHO assignment in India and UNC Carolina Population Center assignment in Tropical Africa), I entered the Public Health Service of the Canton of Vaud (Lausanne, Switzerland), where I worked 27 years, as the Medical Adviser to the Cantonal Minister of Health. Job touching many dimensions of public health, health promotion and health system surveillance (including disciplinary aspects). I developed a strong interest in bioethics out of need in order to carry out my duties and out of personal interest. I retired in 2003 and presently maintain a major interest and activity in this field (UNESCO International Bioethics Committee, Swiss National Commission).
 
What has attending school at the Gillings School of Global Public Health helped you achieve?
 
It brought much to the young Swiss M.D. I solidified my commitment to public health and significantly enlarged my vision of health, conceptually and practically, with important inputs in the social sciences. I learned much through contact with other professionals with diverse experiences and was enriched through substantial interactions with teachers and colleagues.
 
What has UNC meant to your career?

A lot. Also, the discovery of the U.S. academic system and milieu, rather different for the European ones I knew, was most interesting.
 
Discuss the culture at the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Wide scope, very interdisciplinary, open to the world, friendly.

Discuss your relationship with the faculty and/or staff during the program or after.

It was just excellent. Later, over the last thirty years, I had few formal contacts with faculty and staff. Yet, I corresponded regularly with a number of friends and colleagues I met in Chapel Hill and in international work.
 
What are your words of wisdom to current students in Health Policy & Management programs?

Public health is first social justice. Try hard to be cross-culturally sensitive and tolerant. Never give up.


 

Erin Conger McElwain

MHA Class of 2005
Process Excellence Manager, Surgical Services
University of Virginia Health System
 
Career Highlights

  • Administrative Fellow, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
  • Strategic Marketing Liaison, University of Virginia Health System
  • Internal Supply Chain Consultant, OR at University of Virginia Health System

Describe your current position.

 

I perform and carry out major projects in the Department of Surgical Services at the University of Virginia Health System. Project areas include finance, quality, patient satisfaction, employee engagement, and process improvement. Some days I wear a suit; other days I am in scrubs and working with clinicians. There is a lot of variety from day to day, and I love that.

What has attending school at the Gillings School of Global Public Health helped you achieve?

 
By attending UNC-Chapel Hill for graduate school, I was able to achieve a higher-level position than I would have with only my bachelor’s degree in biology. And I am doing what I love–working with clinical care providers to improve the care we give our patients each day.
 
How has UNC impacted your leadership skills?

 
Peers take you seriously when they learn you attended UNC. Additionally, I have met many other people in my occupation who also attended the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health in particular, and UNC in general. This network of alumni has proved invaluable in developing further my communication and leadership skills. Regardless of which program we graduated from, we always share a special bond when basketball season arrives.
 
Why did you choose UNC?
 
The tuition was the lowest, the program was the highest ranked at the time of my application, and, of all the schools I visited, the people were the friendliest. In addition, I was impressed with every aspect of my interview day. The HPM department is filled with genuine professors who truly care about your learning experience.
 
Discuss the culture at the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

The culture is fun and non-stressful, yet demanding and challenging. I made long-lasting friendships at UNC with people who have inspired me in more ways than they might know. I unexpectedly lost my father during my last semester and got very behind in my class work. But each of my professors and many of my classmates spent extra time with me when I returned to help me get back on track. It was during this time that I knew I had made the right choice in coming to UNC.
 
Describe your overall experience at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Provide examples.
 
Many of my professors welcomed their students into their homes for dinner as a way of celebrating the end of a semester. One professor even organized a bridal shower for those of us who were newly engaged. These are just of a couple of the many ways in which the faculty members make you feel a part of the UNC family.
 
Discuss what you would consider to be your greatest achievement in your professional career and why.
 
To date, my greatest achievement is having worked on a project that saved our organization over $11 million in supply costs over one year. This accomplishment meant that we were able to keep a subset of jobs because the financial cuts occurred in areas of nonhuman capital.
 
What are your words of wisdom to current students in Health Policy & Management programs?

 
Consider a nursing degree if you are interested in clinical operations management, clinical consulting, quality improvement, or community health. There are so many jobs out there, but many require clinical experience even though the actual job may not be clinical. Your career opportunities will be enhanced by spending the extra year to complete the accelerated BSN program at UNC–or a similar program–after a few years of work experience. Furthermore, a fellowship was a great option for me. It opened many doors and opportunities for someone who was new to health care management.

 

Winjie Tang Miao
MHA Class of 2000
President, Texas Health Harris Methodist Azle, Texas Health Resources
Career Highlights:
  • President, Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Azle
  • Administrative Director – Oncology, Clinics & Facilities Development, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas
  • Various roles at Presbyterian Hospital Dallas starting from Administrative Resident in 2000.

Describe your current position.

 

I am president of Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Azle, a 36-bed facility in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. Azle is a growing community and primary goals are to provide a high-quality patient experience and grow services to meet the needs of a fast-growing community.

How has UNC impacted your leadership skills?

 
While at UNC, I had the opportunity to develop leadership and management skills both within and outside the Gillings School of Global Public Health. As an assistant area director for Residential Life, I learned mediation, listening and teambuilding skills that I use to this day. As a THEF member, I enjoyed the professional development offerings and chairing the annual dinner – organizational and social skills that still serve me well. These are just two small examples of how my time at UNC was extremely valuable.
 
How has the UNC network affected your career?

 
Through Dr. Bill Zelman, I was able to meet Mark Merrill, an MHA grad who, at the time, was the president of Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas. After interviewing with several Texas Health Resources executives, I was offered the administrative residency. This initial placement is one of the biggest reasons that I have been able to advance quickly in my career — a combination of having a mentor who was willing to give me opportunities and being in the right place at the right time.

 

Why did you choose UNC?

 
I chose UNC because while I knew that I wanted a career in healthcare administration, I wanted a well-rounded public health education. Some MHA programs are not housed within a public health school, and I appreciate the perspective that the UNC program provided me.
 
Discuss what you would consider to be your greatest achievement in your professional career and why.

 
Two achievements: 1. Being part of a team that improved the patient experience, staff efficiency and physician satisfaction through new building and hospital process design. 2. Becoming the president of a hospital (albeit a small one!) at the age of 29 and being recognized as an Up and Comer by Modern Healthcare magazine and the DFW Hospital Council Young Executive of the Year.
 
What are your words of wisdom to current students in Health Policy & Management programs?
 
There are so many things I would take advantage of now if I had the chance to go back … Instead of focusing on a career track, focus on skill growth and passion …

 

Cathy Nielson
MPH Class of 1982
Grants Manager, Mountain BizWorks, Asheville, NC

Career Highlights

My current position has taken me out of health care and into microeconomics and community economic development. I find that my background in understanding systems and health care from a population perspective, particularly low-income populations, has been not only transferable but adds a new dimension to the work we do in microenterprise development. In some ways I feel that I have a stronger identification with my public health background now than in my previous position. In 2007, I retired as a professor emeritus in the division of occupational science, department of allied health at UNC-CH School of Medicine. I was on the faculty for 23 years, serving as director of the program for 15 of those years and also serving in other leadership positions within the Department. Currently, I am involved in a mentoring program with the American Occupational Therapy Foundation, Bethesda MD and The Mentoring Company, Denver CO to develop leadership skills in occupational therapy academicians. The program is unique in that as the catalyst mentor I have written stories from my own leadership experience that I share with 17 colleagues across the country in twice a month conference calls. As a result of the project, I am co-authoring a book on the use of stories to mentor leaders.


Describe your current position
.

I write and manage grants at Mountain BizWorks, a microenterprise development fund in Asheville, NC. This is a second career for me and has been a remarkable journey over the past year to transition out of health care and academia and into the real world of a community non-profit. In microenterprise development, we work with owners of very small businesses and provide education, coaching and funding to support new and existing small businesses in the 12 westernmost counties of North Carolina. I write grants ranging in size from $1500 to $1.5 million and to agencies as diverse as local arts councils to the Treasury Department. I am amazed everyday at how my public health education comes into play in this position. My public health skills are foundational to my success….from developing a systematic approach to monitoring and reporting on grant outcomes to encouraging an inclusive approach to grant writing and program planning.

What has attending school at the Gillings School of Global Public Health helped you achieve?

Concretely, in 1984 when I first took a faculty position at UNC-CH, I had to have a master’s degree. More importantly, I learned to teach by being taught by excellent faculty in the School. I also grew in my understanding of a leader and willingly assumed the responsibilities of leadership in paid and volunteer positions. My ability to think through complex situations matured which was enhanced by my graduate education.

How has UNC impacted your leadership skills?

I had been in leadership positions prior to attending UNC. My education gave me technical skills and a conceptual understanding of leadership that I have been able to translate into a personal approach to leadership which I have used throughout my career.

Describe how you balanced school, work, and family commitments during the program.

I was in one of the Regional Degree Programs partially funded by the Kellogg Foundation in the 1980′s. In order to be in the program, you had to be a full-time working administrator. I finished the program in two years, working full-time. How did I balance things? I made intentional decisions about what I could and would not give up. I had incredible support from my husband and employer. I reminded myself all the time that this was time-limited and would be worth it. I pushed myself but was also forgiving when I just couldn’t do anymore and needed to let go of unrealistic expectations.

Could you have gotten where you are today without your UNC degree? If no, please explain.

No. My graduate education changed the way I saw the world and gave me a vocabulary and a set of concepts to share that view with others.

 

Seema Pahariya
MPH under the EPDC
Class of 1999
Senior Program Officer-Health, Aga Khan Foundation, Delhi (India)

 
Career Highlights
  • Sr. Program Officer-Health at Aga Khan Foundation
  • India Program Specialist at Plan International
  • India Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Health Management Research, Jaipur, India
  • Sr. Research Officer, Indian Institute of Health Management Research, Jaipur, India

Describe your current position.

 

I am the public health lead at the Aga Khan Foundation India office. I provide strategic direction to the health portfolio, technical oversight, design and develop projects/ programmes, develop proposals, generate resources, manage partnerships and network in the sector, monitor and evaluate programmes.


What has attending school at the Gillings School of Global Public Health helped you achieve?

I gained professional knowledge in the area of public health, an area which was not so developed in India. I developed a confidence to work in this sector. I broadened my perspective and understanding of the larger public health domain worldwide and expanded my network in the professional sector.
 
How has the UNC network affected your career?

After completing the master of public health from the UNC, I started my career in the area of public health. Post this, I also completed a doctoral programme focusing on research in EmOC and referrals.
 
Why did you choose UNC?
UNC offered a quality master’s programme that was tailor made and relevant in developing countries context. UNC as a university and the Gillings School of Global Public Health is a credible program among public health schools that has been consistently rated for its quality standards in education. The dean/ director of the EPDC program was also a great motivator.
 
Describe how you balanced school, work, and family commitments during the program.

The program was very demanding from the student’s perspective and was very rigorous given that the two years were compressed into one year with equivalent credits. It did mean extra efforts and input. I took study leave from my employer and was also granted partial scholarship.
 
What are your words of wisdom to current students in Health Policy & Management programs?
India and developing countries offer opportunities to work on critical issues in public health and graduates should explore working in this part of the world besides the developed countries where the issues are very different.

 


Michael D. Petty

MPH Class of 1987
VP, Drug Development and Regulatory Law, Amgen

Career Highlights

  • Associate Chief Counsel for Enforcement, FDA
  • Partner, Ropes & Gray, LLP
  • VP, Drug Development and Regulatory Law, Amgen
Describe your current position.
I lead a team of lawyers in the areas of biotech drug research and development, drug safety, and regulatory compliance. We deal with health policy issues at all levels, from working with our legislative group to interfacing with FDA and other regulatory agencies on human research protections, and myriad other issues of public concern.
 
How has UNC impacted your leadership skills?
 
Many of the UNC values, such as community, integrity, and respect for diversity — have served as touchstones in my own path to a leadership position. Many leaders at UNC modeled those behaviors and influenced me and my generation of students.

Why did you chose UNC?

 

UNC was, and still is, a high-quality, diverse and well-resourced institution offering outstanding academic and recreational opportunities in a comfortable environment. The mild climate and excellent value made the choice even easier.

 
Describe how you balanced school, work, and family commitments during the program.
 
Well, I laugh a bit here, as I largely found my balance by working like a maniac for a few years to meet my obligations. But the only real casualty was my sleep calendar, and what I invested of myself was more than amply rewarded.

What are your words of wisdom to current students in Health Policy & Management programs?

 
In a year of “health care reform” it is easy to see the importance of the field, but it is just as important every year in the lives of millions. You are choosing a career in one of the most dynamic and challenging areas possible!

richards_chelsey

Chelsey Richards
MPH Class of 1997
Deputy Director Public Health Scientific Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia

Career Highlights

  • Director of Immunization Services Division and Office of Prevention through Healthcare at CDC
  • Deputy Director, Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, CDC

 

 

Describe your current position.

I am the Deputy Director for Public Health Scientific Services at CDC, as well as the Director of the Office of Public Health Scientific Services. In these two roles, I advise the CDC Director and oversee the National Center for Health Statistics, the MMWR and Vital Signs publications, the Epidemic Intelligence Service and other scientific training programs, the Guide to Community Preventive Services, and a broad range of cross cutting epidemiology, public health surveillance, and laboratory services. OPHSS has approximately 1,000 staff and campuses in Atlanta, Hyattsville, and Research Triangle Park.

What has attending school at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health helped you achieve?

  • Broad understanding of public health issues, principles and practices
  • Specific skills in management and an understanding of health policy
  • How health care system and public health system are integrated and collaborate
  • An understanding of the social ecological model and methods to assess health behavior
  • Specific scientific skills necessary to do public health work

 

How has UNC impacted your leadership skills?

  • Provided key informants, colleagues and mentors who helped me understand the role of leadership and the skills needed
  • Provided a long term professional well from which to draw as I faced leadership challenges
  • Broad understanding of public health and the specific knowledge to understanding health issues

 

Describe what you consider to be your greatest achievement in your professional career and why.

Providing leadership within CDC and public health on fostering stronger collaboration and understanding between the public health system and healthcare system.

What are your words of wisdom to current students in Health Policy & Management department?

Enjoy your time in school, and look at it as the first step in a long-term relationship with HPM. I have found the ongoing relationships that I have had with folks who were at or are at UNC to be an enormously helpful support as I have moved forward with my career.


Amita Sanghvi
MHA Class of 2005

Health Law Associate
Morris, Manning, & Martin

 

Describe your current position.
 
I am an associate in the law firm’s Healthcare and Healthcare Information Technology Practice.
My work concentrates in representing healthcare providers and companies in various business and regulatory matters.
My experience includes advising providers and companies in the following areas: federal and state regulatory compliance, including the federal Anti-Kickback Statute, Stark II, EMTALA and HIPAA, physician employment matters, licensing and Certificate of Need, and Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, fraud and abuse investigations, audits and appeals.

 

What has attending school at the Gillings School of Global Public Health helped you achieve?

 
 
The classes I took at UNC provided me with the foundation necessary to understand the basic policy and management issues facing the healthcare industry. Beyond coursework, my internship at a healthcare information technology company provided me with real world exposure to a then budding industry. As the healthcare information technology industry is rapidly growing, I am able to transfer the skill set gained from my externship into marketing to potential clients.

 
How has UNC impacted your leadership skills?

 
UNC provided me with the opportunity to have leadership roles in many student organizations. I was part of a core group of students in our program that founded the UNC Chapter of Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS). Being part of the development of this chapter, greatly increased my ability to network, delegate and become resourceful. Also as a Teaching Assistant for the Operations Research in Healthcare class, I was able to build effective communication skills. Finally, I was able to develop effective teambuilding and collaboration skills thanks to the team work aspect of many of the classes.
 
How has the UNC network affected your career?

 
UNC’s alumni network was instrumental in my career. By providing me with instant links to a vast number of mid-to large size law firms in the southeast, I was able to effectively find a job post graduation.
 
Why did you choose UNC?
 
I chose UNC for the price and quality of education, which no other institution could match.
 
Describe how you balanced school, work, and family commitments during the program.
 
The HPM Department is very flexible and encourages students to balance work, school and family. With HPM, I was able to get program credit by working a paid internship in the health information technology field. I was also able to work in the Department as a paid teaching and research assistant, which had the added benefit of providing me with a wonderful learning opportunity.

 

Janet Southerland, DDS, MPH, PhD

MPH Class of 1993
Chair, Hospital Dentistry
Chief, Oral Medicine
Director, Hospital Dental Clinic, UNC School of Dentistry
 
Career Highlights
  • Associate Clinical Professor
  • Chair, Hospital Dentistry/Chief Oral Medicine, UNCH
  • Director, Hospital Dental Clinic, UNCH
  • Director, Dental Assistant On-Call Program, UNC School of Dentistry
  • Director, General Practice Residency Program (200-2002), UNC School of Dentistry/UNCH
  • Director Patient Care Conference (200-2002), UNC School of Dentistry
  • Appointed to the Governor’s Task Force on Diabetes for North Carolina
  • Member NC, Advisory Committee on Cancer Coordination and Control
Describe your current position.

My current position is that of administrator, faculty/teacher, and researcher. I currently chair the department of dentistry, am chief of oral medicine at UNC Hospitals and direct the dental clinic. My role involves policy and procedures, supervision of staff, faculty, and residents, and credentialing of dentists at UNC Hospitals. In addition, I am actively involved in teaching in the classroom, mentoring, and providing continuing education to practitioners throughout the state, nationally and internationally. I am also actively involved in research that focuses on diabetes and periodontal disease, HIV and oral cancer.
 
What has attending school at the Gillings School of Global Public Health helped you achieve?

Attending graduate school at the Gillings School of Global Public Health prepared me with skills that have helped me to be an effective administrator, teacher and reseacher. I have been able to combine my love of dentistry and public health to make a positive impact in my career on my trainees, patients and the community at large.
 

How has UNC impacted your leadership skills?

I came to UNC as a 17-year-old freshman and have received all of my training at this institution. It is my opinion that there are few places in the country or world that can provide the stellar educational experience obtained at UNC.

How has the UNC network affected your career?

The network at UNC has helped me to be able to stay connected at all levels of the university and I am able to interact with colleagues, students and alumni from all over.

 
Why did you choose UNC?
I chose UNC because I did not want to go out of state and knew the reputation of the university.
What has UNC meant to your career?

I believe that UNC has meant everything to my career. The training that I have received at UNC is recognized around the country and world and this has helped me gain recognition within my field.
 
Describe how you balanced school, work, and family commitments during the program.

I had 4 children who all came along at some point during my training. I had a very understanding husband who was willing to step in and fill the gaps at home. It was important that I made sure to discuss decisions to pursue my career choices with my husband before I committed to them. In addition, I also made sure he understood the time commitment that would be involved and what my availability would be as it related to the family. We worked these things out ahead of time and it made everything fairly seamless.

Describe your overall experience at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Provide examples.

My overall experience was outstanding and to this day I am still in awe of the breadth and depth of the programs offered in the School of Public Health.

Could you have gotten where you are today without your UNC degree? If no, please explain.

I doubt very seriously if I would be as confident and effective as I have been without my graduate degrees and residency training.

 
Discuss your relationship with the faculty and/or staff during the program or after.

My relationship with faculty and staff at the time was great. I believe that they challenged me to be the best that I could be. Dr. Gary Rozier was my faculty advisor and we still have the opportunity to collaborate from time to time.
 
Discuss what you would consider to be your greatest achievement in your professional career and why.

My greatest achievement in my professional career has been the opportunity to take all of my combined degrees and training and use all that I have learned to improve the health of those I encounter. I absolutely love what I do and could not think of anything else that I would rather be doing.

 
What are your words of wisdom to current students in Health Policy & Management programs?

I advise you to learn all that you can while you are in the program, it is outstanding. Your charge as a graduate of the program is to look for ways to improve health for us all. I would urge you to always look for opportunities that will allow you to improve the condition of those who have the greatest need, as their health will have a significant impact on all of our lives globally.


Erin Taylor
MSPH Class of 2005
PhD Student, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business

Career Highlights

  • PhD Student in Health Economics, Department of Health Care Management, Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Health Insurance Specialist, Office of Legislation, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Describe your current position.

 
I am currently starting my second year as a doctoral student in the department of health care management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. I am pursuing research interests related to pharmaceutical policy – pricing, access and coverage.

Why did you choose UNC?

I chose UNC because I felt very strongly that the program closely matched what I was looking for, i.e., that the classes would provide me with a strong foundation in health policy research, and that the summer internship experience would further hone my professional skills. I felt that when I left UNC I would have the training and skills necessary to pursue the positions in health policy that most interested me. And, it didn’t hurt that Chapel Hill is gorgeous! .

Describe your overall experience at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Provide examples.

My overall experience at the Gillings School of Global Public Health was extremely positive. I felt the faculty was very supportive and accessible to students and that the classes we were required to take were well-designed. In addition, my fellow students were collegial, welcoming and willing to work together to get the job done.

Could you have gotten where you are today without your UNC degree? If no, please explain.
 
I could not have gotten where I am today without my UNC graduate degree. The degree helped me obtain exactly the type of position I was seeking – a job that would allow me to work on health policy-related issues in the DC health care environment. In addition, my degree from UNC gave me the research background necessary to apply to the PhD program at the University of Pennsylvania.
 
Discuss your relationship with the faculty and/or staff during the program or after.
 
I had a terrific relationship with the faculty at UNC. I felt extremely comfortable seeking out my professors for help and advice in relation to both my class work and my professional life. Without their help and encouragement I would not have gotten where I am today.

Diamanta Tornatore
MSPH Class of 2001

Senior Policy Analyst, Washington State Department of Social & Health Services, Health & Recovery Services Administration (Medicaid)
 

 

Career Highlights:
  • Staff Attorney with Washington State Medicaid
  • Children’s Health Insurance System Project Manager

Describe your current position.

 
My duties and responsibilities as senior policy analyst include acting as the Health & Recovery Services Administration (HRSA) (1) internal legislative coordinator, (2) policy analyst, (3) government management accountability and performance (GMAP) coordinator and (4) waiver and state plan amendment development support and consultant. These functions contribute to HRSA’s achievement of its mission, goals and objectives by providing senior-level technical analysis, evaluation and consultation to HRSA executive management regarding policy development, implementation processes and legal and fiscal impacts of current and proposed legislation; performing policy and legal analyses and outlining policy and legal implications, reviewing fiscal analyses and developing recommendations in consultation and coordination with the legislative & policy analysis director; and providing technical assistance for various policy issues.
 
How has the UNC network affected your career?
 
I met some of my best friends as well as my husband (Bert Wilkins, HPM 2002) while at UNC, both in the school of public health and at the law school. While this did not directly impact my professional career, it provided a strong personal support network. Also, my first job out of grad school, at RTI International as a health analyst, was obtained with the guidance of and through the contacts of my HPM assigned mentor (and HPM alum), Donna Rabiner, who worked at RTI at the time. I then went to law school at UNC, in large part, based on the advice and experience of a HPM classmate (Beth Hodshon, HPM 2000) who was a dual MPH/JD degrees candidate.
 
Describe how you balanced school, work, and family commitments during the program.
 
I worked as an RA/TA at the School, which helped maintain continuity and establish a knowledge base with my course of study. It also enabled me to get to know the faculty better and build relationships with other RAs and TAs. The convenience of working and studying in the same place, with a very flexible work schedule and a relatively generous stipend, was well appreciated.
 
Describe your overall experience at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Provide examples.
 
It is difficult to aptly describe being surrounded on a daily basis by folks who have many of the same core values regarding health care and who have so much knowledge and wisdom to share. That they were all so willing to do so, in an open and inviting and reciprocal way, was truly a gift.
 
Could you have gotten where you are today without your UNC degree? If no, please explain.
 
No. I developed some of my most important relationships, both personally and professionally, while at UNC. All have been instrumental in providing me with the confidence and support needed to achieve my goals.
 
Discuss your relationship with the faculty and/or staff during the program or after.
 
All of the faculty and staff with whom I had regular dealings were extremely kind, attentive and supportive, both during my tenure in HPM and afterwards. I worked in HPM while I was in law school and I still keep in regular contact with some current and former faculty and staff. My husband and I joined a couple HPM professors for dinner when they were out here in Seattle for the Academy Health conference a couple years ago.
 
Discuss what you would consider to be your greatest achievement in your professional career and why.
 
Working for the Medicaid program. This was part of a life-long goal to give back through public service and to help ensure access to quality health care for the poor, the elderly, the young and the disabled.

 


Robert D. Verhalen
MPH (HPM) Class of 1965
DrPH (EPID) Class of 1972
CEO & Principal Scientist, Verhalen & Associates
 
Career Highlights

  • CEO & Principal Scientist, Verhalen & Associates
  • Associate Executive Director, Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • Assistant Director, Bureau of Product Safety, FDA
  • Task Force Chief, President’s Commission on Product Safety
  • Instructor, HPM, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
  • Safety Management Consultant, GA Department Public Health

Describe your current position

 
I am responsible for research and consultation, specializing in epidemiology, statistics and management of multidisciplinary data analysis enterprises. I provide leadership to research teams of corporate clients involved in creation of product-related risk analysis systems for their national operations. Using epidemiologic models, I develop and populate large-scale data, information and surveillance systems for clients requiring real-time operating intelligence to provide guidance for operations and planning. I manage outcomes analyses, comparative risk analyses, liability, health and safety analyses, human factors analyses and cost-benefit analyses for clients on a contract basis. I provide expert reports, case preparation assistance and expert testimony on litigation involving consumer product-related injuries and illness. Lastly, I manage the design and train client employees in the use of complex analytical and prediction models employing tools to address convoluted issues and solve multi-dimensional problems or questions for clients.
 

Describe your overall experience at the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

As a student and as an alumnus, I have always shared my ideas with my colleagues and mentors. Delighted when they agreed with me about any particular approach, I was also challenged and became even more committed to making a new idea work if they were less than enthusiastic

Could you have gotten where you are today without your UNC degree?

Highly unlikely! My MPH allowed me to move through three showcase jobs in rapid order, doing creative things I would never have thought of without my UNC education. These opportunities, and the visibility they afforded me, led directly to selection as Task Force Chief on a Presidential Study Commission, during which time, I continued work on my doctorate. The Commission’s recommendation established the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and I was fortunate enough to be selected for a top career slot: Director of Epidemiology and Associate Executive Director of the Agency.
 
Discuss what you would consider to be your greatest achievement in your professional career and why.

There are actually two achievements competing for my consideration as the most worthwhile. First, I had an instrumental role in developing and justifying the need for creation of a permanent federal agency, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, now in its 36th year of productivity. The second achievement of which I am most proud is the creation of the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. This system is he first real-time, continuous source of immediately useable injury and illness surveillance data in history, now in its 37th year of continuous operation, and serving seven federal agencies and departments.

What are your words of wisdom to current students in Health Policy & Management programs? It sounds trite, but always approach every problem, even the old ones, by looking at it from “outside the box.” And, drop such phrases as “I can’t” and “It won’t work” from your lexicon.


Michelle Sonia Wilkinson

MSPH Class of 2009
Senior Consultant, ECG Management Consultants

Career Highlights

  • Senior Consultant at ECG Management Consultants
  • Administrative Fellow at UNC Health Care
  • Administrative Intern at the Durham VA Medical Center
Describe your current position.
I am currently a senior consultant within ECG Management Consultants’ Academic Healthcare Division. ECG provides specialized management consulting services exclusively to healthcare clients. I have the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, including developing strategic affiliations, assessing the feasibility of establishing new graduate medical education programs (i.e., medical residencies) and conducting department operating reviews, among others.

 

This position has challenged me to continue to learn and develop my skills by allowing me to be exposed to multiple clients facing complex strategic and operational issues.
 
What has attending school at the Gillings School of Global Public Health helped you achieve?

 
Attending the UNC Gillings School and the Health Policy and Management Department has been instrumental in my early career. In my time in HPM, I was able to hone many leadership skills including developing and making clear presentations, confidently conveying information and working in teams effectively. One very special achievement was being part of the team representing UNC at the UAB Case Competition in 2009 and winning first place. When the judges announced our names as the winners, I was proud of our accomplishment, and the first thing that we did was immediately call our professors at home to tell them the good news. It was their support and guidance as well as the skills we developed in our courses that allowed us to win this competition. Attending the UNC Gillings School helped me to develop my personal network of mentors and prepared me extremely well for my position as an Administrative Fellow at UNC Hospitals and my current role as a healthcare management consultant. Finally, attending the UNC Gillings School also allowed me to develop friendships I think will last for many years.
Why did you chose UNC?

It goes without saying that the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health has a fantastic reputation for being among the top schools of public health in the country. That prompted me to learn more about the school. However, when I think back to why I ultimately chose to attend UNC, I fondly remember my first visit to the campus. The current students and faculty made such an impression on me. I can honestly say that every person I met went above and beyond to make me feel welcome – from suggesting places for dinner to showing my Mom around the campus for a tour. The faculty and students are what make our department and school more than an academic building, but a home away from home for me. And, the weather is pretty great too!

 
Describe how you balanced school, work, and family commitments during the program.
 
Graduate school is challenging, and the faculty in HPM demands high quality work from students. When I began the program, I made a commitment to myself to be a person upon whom nothing is wasted. By this I mean take advantage of every opportunity and fully appreciate all of the learning and new experiences. Since I moved to Chapel Hill from Boston, this not only meant academic opportunities, but cultural ones as well. In order to balance my school, work and family commitments and still have time to explore my new home, I focused on time management. I tried to schedule my days at school to mimic a full-time job. I tended to be on campus for most the day Monday through Friday to work on school projects, extracurricular activities and group work. In the evenings, I tried to set aside time to spend with my husband; we have a rule that we always try to eat dinner together and have a fun conversation. This was extremely important to me during the program. During the weekend, we also set aside time to do something fun. Flexibility was key throughout the program as well to accommodate for group projects. Finally, I had a relationship with my supervisor at the Durham VA Medical Center that allowed me to be honest with him and negotiate my schedule around my academics. All of these things allowed me to succeed academically and be happy.

Discuss your relationship with the faculty and/or staff during the program or after.

 
I have a great deal of respect for the faculty and staff in the Health Policy and Management Department. I found the faculty to be very dedicated to the students, approachable and willing to help me master the material. The tone was always very collegial, with many professors on a first-name basis with students. My professors went above and beyond to help me with projects, including meeting with my team for the UAB Case Competition in the evening and weekend, celebrating our victory by taking us out to dinner and helping me polish my research poster to present at the American Public Health Association Conference. The same holds for the department staff, who I have known to respond to emails in the evenings and weekends, offer a helping hand or friendly word. Even after graduation, I feel I still remain close to my mentors within the department. Since relocating back to Boston, I continue to remain involved with the department by participating in HESA events, offering advice to current students and attending UNC alumni events. I believe that my relationships with the faculty and staff within HPM will remain strong for many years to come.

Content for this page provided by the Department of Health Policy and Management. Please contact the webmaster with any questions or comments on content.

Last updated March 27, 2013