Maternal and Child Health alumni greetings

Alumna Andre Wilkinson, PhD, and doctoral student Amelia Mackenzie at 2017 MCH Family Reunion

Alumna Andre Wilkinson, PhD, and doctoral student Amelia Mackenzie at 2017 MCH Family Reunion

 Welcome MCH alumni

UNC’s Maternal and Child Health alumni serve the health needs of women, children, and families at the local, state, national, and international levels. We in the department are very proud of the accomplishments of our alumni and the important contributions you make to public health across the globe.

We thank you for the support you provide the department through your service and your gifts.

Healthfully Yours!
Meghan Shanahan, PhD (MCH 2010)

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Nominate an alum for Chipman Award – select ‘Awards’ tab

Alumni resources

Alumni Updates

Jessica Burroughs, MSW, MPH, (’98) partnership manager, Rural Forward NC, Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation.
Amanda Puckett BenDor MPH
(’11) technical advisor, digital health, IntraHealth International; co-chair Global Digital Health Network.
Samantha Charm, MPH (’14) public health analyst, RTI.
Sarah Davis, MPH (’09) senior technical advisor, SHIFT NC.
Sarah Fry, MPH (’81) independent consultant for integrated development, Washington, DC.
Mugdha Golwalkar, MPH (’14) vaccine-preventable disease epidemiologist, Indiana State Department of Health in Indianapolis, IN.
Amy Handler, MPH (13) program evaluation manager,  Provide, reproductive health care referrals in seven southern states and new program in Colorado.
Brenda T. Hussey-Gardner, PhD, MPH (’87) associate professor of pediatrics, University of Maryland.
Essete Kebede MPH (’11) epidemiologist/evaluator at North Carolina DHHS, Division of Public Health, Chronic Disease and Injury Section.
Julie Knaack, MPH (’07) healthcare consultant BCBSNC.
Jaimie Lea MPH (’15) research specialist,  UNC Center for Maternal & Infant Health.
Florence Masese-Amadi, MPH (’13) CHES, program manager – Africa, Curamericas Global.
Tara Nutley, MPH (’95), senior director of measurement and learning, Palladium Group.
Nancy Rudner, DrPH, MPH (’83) population health consultant, nurse coach, part-time faculty School of Nursing, George Washington University.
Lise Saffran, MPH (’90), MFA Director, master of public health program, University of Missouri, Columbia.
Megan Squires, MPH, MSW (’13) research specialist, The University of Chicago.
Kate Steber, MSW, MPH (’15) community coordinator, NC Youth Connected, Cumberland County, SHIFT NC.
Sally Swanson, MSPH, MSW (’05) chief programs officer, SHIFT NC.
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Where are they now?

Brett Nishikawa, MD, MPH (MCH’08) has been serving in various roles as a preventive medicine physician in the US Air Force since completing his Preventive Medicine residency at UNC in 2009.

He spent 4 years with the Epidemiology Consult Service at the US Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine first in San Antonio, TX, and later in Dayton, OH, eventually working as Deputy and Acting Chief of the Epidemiology Consult Service, analogous to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the Air Force. In this role he oversaw the public health and epidemiologic investigations of communicable disease outbreaks and disease and injury clusters throughout the Air Force and the Department of Defense, monitored Department of Defense influenza surveillance activities, and guided development of public health research initiatives. Dr. Nishikawa moved on to serve as a medical squadron commander in Grand Forks, ND, where he was responsible for the personnel, planning, and execution of all health care delivery on the installation, including partnering with local, state, and federal entities and organizations. Subsequently, he spent two years in Biloxi, MS as the program manager for Training Health and Human Performance. In this capacity he conducted surveillance and implemented systems-level interventions to protect and preserve the health of Airmen receiving their initial technical skills training. He also served as the Chief of Aerospace Medicine, taking responsibility for the health and medical readiness of all military assigned in and around the installation, environmental and occupational health, public health, and occupation-specific healthcare delivery; and as the Public Health Emergency Officer, ensuring preparedness of the installation for public health emergencies. He now works at the Air Force Medical Operations Agency in San Antonio, TX as Chief of Population Health, where he monitors population health trends throughout the Air Force, coordinates various stakeholders in the Air Force, Department of Defense, and outside agencies, and advises hospitals and clinics on population health issues ranging from delivery of clinical and community preventive health services to quality improvement in management of high-risk groups.

Highlights of his experiences have included supporting Operation TOMODACHI, the US response to the 2011 Japan earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster; coordinating local preparedness and ensuring personnel support to West Africa during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, and especially developing other medical and public health professionals. When he isn’t busy working or mentoring others, he loves spending time with his wife and two children. He can be reached at

Nickel receives Chipman Alumni Award

Nathan Nickel, PhD is impressed by how well the Department of Maternal and Child Health trained him to make an impact on the world and is truly thankful for that. The 2017 recipient of the Sidney S. Chipman Alumni Award credits the work of faculty, staff, students and alumni with inspiration for continuing to work towards providing evidence and support that promotes population health.

Nathan Nickel, PhD

Nathan Nickel, PhD

Based on three criteria for this award – dedication to work for human welfare, effectiveness in working with people and getting the job done, and sensitivity to the needs, feelings and ideas of others – Nickel’s nomination cited his work with MCH section of APHA and leadership for the Breastfeeding Forum while focusing his research and focus on health inequities and how social determinants influence the distribution of maternal and child health outcomes. He also is known for his organizational and interpersonal skills that engage and incorporate collaboration with professionals and stakeholders of varied backgrounds in various settings to strengthen research and service projects. Keenly aware of public health equity issues, Nickel dedicates his work to dismantling systemic and institutional barriers that affect the most vulnerable populations.

A 2011 doctoral graduate of maternal and child health at the UNC GIllings School of Global Public Health, Nickel currently is a research scientist at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy and an assistant professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences of the University of Manitoba and sees first-hand the need for advancing the health of women and children and working toward social justice and health equity particularly in marginalized populations. An advisee of the late Dr. Miriam Labbok, he credits her influence and dedication to advancing women’s rights and promoting the health and well-being of women and children around the world with providing continued inspiration.

He explains that as a PhD student, he believed the Department set the bar high for its students, but it also equipped them with the skills and knowledge necessary to not just meet expectations but to exceed them.

“Now that I live in Canada, I’m seeing first hand that we have a lot of work ahead of us in terms of advancing the health of women and children and working toward social justice and health equity. The gap in health between privileged families and those living in marginalized situations continues to expand and deepen and I am so fortunate to be able to work in a field that focuses on reversing this trend,” said Nickel.

Upon presentation of the award, he said, “I am blown away by receiving the Chipman Award. Many incredible alumni have been given this award and I am not sure I count myself ready to walk among them; but, it provides me something to aspire to…. To live up to and continue to meet, and to exceed the bar set by this Department. Because we what we do is not easy. We want to change the world. I can’t say enough about how fortunate I am to have been trained here, by the champions who walk these halls and to do just that – change the world. Thank you so much! I am so honored and humbled and I aim to represent our school and Department well as an alumnus. Thank you!”

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The MCH Alumni Committee is a group of volunteer graduates of the Department of Maternal and Child Health of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health who work to enhance learning and networking opportunities for graduates and students. Our mission is to:

  • Strengthen alumni network
  • Support current students
  • Build MCH community and support departmental efforts

The committee meets four times a year in the Chapel Hill-Raleigh-Durham area and is open to all graduates and especially welcomes current students.

If you would like information about any MCH alumni activities or have questions about how you can become involved, please contact us.

MCH Alumni Committee Members

Julie DeClerque, co-facilitator,
Sharon Epstein, co-facilitator,
Sandra Cianciolo, secretary,
Jennifer Cole, career development director
Kathy Biancardi, department communications liaison,
Susan Charamut, department staff liaison,
Meghan Shanahan, faculty representative,
Joseph Lee, member,
Jonathan Kotch, member
Marcia Roth, member
Katie Cretin, member
Rebecca Greenleaf, member
Priscilla Guild, member
Gerri Mattson, member
Nathan Nickel, member
Lucy Wilson, member
Nancy Williamson, member,
Katelyn Bryant-Comstock, member
Hannah Spector, member
Christina Chauvenet, student member

Funding Policy and Procedure


Caroline Chandler, MCH Alumni Committee Travel Stipend awardee, presented poster at NC PHA meeting.

Maternal and Child Health Travel Stipend – Supporting Work in NC Public Health Service Sites

The Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Alumni Committee is pleased to announce student travel stipends for the current academic school year and summer based on availability of funds. The maximum award amount is $250.00 per request.

Eligibility: The applicant must currently be enrolled as a student in the Department of Maternal and Child Health. Funds are for travel-related expenses incurred while either:

(a) traveling to a practicum at a NC public health service delivery site;

(b) conducting research/programs at a North Carolina public health-related site; or

(c) presenting follow-up information/evaluation/data findings regarding a NC service agency practicum to a NC-based audience.

Applicants must justify the requested amount. The MCH Alumni Committee reserves the right to provide stipends that are less than the requested amount.

Application: Application form is available here. Interested students may direct questions to: the MCH Alumni Committee.  Please contact the current President:

Awards Given to Alumni

The Harriett Hylton Barr Award

This award is offered annually by the School of Public Health Alumni Association to recognize achievements by alumni and their contributions to Public Health. For more information about this award and how to nominate an alumna or alumnus, please read more.

Previous MCH alumni recipients of the Harriett Hylton Barr Award are:
2006 Allen J. Wilcox
1999 C. Earl Fox
1986 Sarah Morrow
1985 Verna Barefoot

The Sidney S. Chipman Award

Selection Process:
This award is presented annually to a graduate of the Department of Maternal and Child Health who has shown outstanding promise to the field of maternal and child health. Graduation should have occurred within the past five to 10 years. The recipient should be dedicated to work for human welfare; effective in working with people and getting the job done; and be sensitive to the needs, feelings, and ideas of others.

Nominations should be limited to one paragraph and must include specific examples of how the nominee reflects the attributes of the award. Nominations without the supporting paragraph cannot be considered. Nominations should be submitted by email to facilitate distribution to the Chipman committee. Please email your nomination(s) to Gail Plaisance by February 14, 2018. See list of MCH 2008-2013 graduates.

Previous recipients of the Sidney S. Chipman Award:
2017 Nathan Nickel
2016 Joseph Lee
2015 Anisha Patel
2014 Emily Taylor
2013 Chisara Asomugha
2012 Bronwyn Glenn Lucas
2011 Mark Piehl
2010 Ameena Batada
2009 Roland Edgar “Eddie” Mhlang
2008 Diane Hedgecock
2007 Martha Coulter
2006 Millie Jones
2005 Joseph degraft-Johnson
2004 Mary Patterson
2003 Mary Rose Tully
2002 Martha Valiant
2001 Porapan Punyaratabandhu
2000 Andrèa Bazan Manson
1999 Renee Schwalberg
1998 Kevin Ryan
1997 Vijaya Hogan
1996 Arden Handler
1995 Marjorie Sable
1994 Richard Aronson
1993 Mike Durfee
1992 Susan Spalt
1991 Jamie Bayer
1990 Amy Fine
1989 Kay Johnson
1988 Richard R. Nugent
1987 Susan Rumsey Givins
1986 Henry C. Heins
1985 Kathryn A. Johnson
1984 Isa Grant
1983 Pouru Bhiwandiwala and Sam X. Charles
1982 Jonathan Kotch
1981 Claude E. Fox, III
1980 Joseph I. Holliday
1979 Jimmie Rhyne and Lynn Knauff
1978 Lois D. Isler
1977 Verna Barefoot
1975 Russell H. Richardson
1974 Robert S. McCurdy
1973 R. W. Penick
1972 Sarah T. Morrow
1971 Sister Joan Conway
1970 Peter Dawson

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Awards Given by Alumni

Jimmie Lee Rhyne Scholarship Fund
Established in 2009 by friends and family to honor the memory of Jimmie Lee Rhyne, a pediatrician and 1959 MCH graduate, it was first awarded in 2013. The scholarship may support any MCH student in a domestic child or adolescent health practicum placement.

Sarah Taylor Morrow Scholarship Fund
Established in 2013 by the children of Sarah Taylor Morrow, a 1960 MCH alumna, to honor her devotion as a physician and as a pioneer in public health leadership, the scholarship may support expenses related to a practicum placement within the state of North Carolina.

See additional awards: Departmental Awards

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MCH doctoral graduates served as panelists forl: Career advice for non-academic and academic jobs

MCH doctoral graduates served as panelists for: Career advice for non-academic and academic jobs

Career Planning Support for Students:
The MCH Alumni Committee provides new and graduating students with MCH career resources as they anticipate their next steps. We invite all students to attend our Career Roundtable programs through which they can network with MCH graduates to discuss career choices and learn about possible job opportunities. Alumni interested in sharing their experience with current students are invited to join us for this program, which has become a popular annual event with students.

Connecting with Classmates:
The committee works to educate alumni about ways in which you can reconnect with former classmates and discuss career opportunities with graduates from any class. You can link to the alumni directory. Make sure your address and email contact information are current so you can receive all the latest information about MCH activities.

Honoring MCH Alumni:
Many MCH graduates have made significant contributions to the field of public health, but your help is needed in making sure that the department and the school become aware of those achievements. The committee invites your help in identifying nominees for these important alumni awards: the Harriet Hylton Barr Distinguished Alumnus Award offered by the School of Public Health Alumni Association and the Sidney S. Chipman Award offered by the Department of Maternal and Child Health.

Identifying Alumni Interests:
The committee assists the school’s alumni affairs staff in identifying interests of our MCH alumni. We plan to conduct short email surveys to ensure that the services and activities provided by the MCH Alumni Committee, the MCH Department, and the SPH Alumni Association are meeting your needs.

Your Involvement:
MCH alumni around the country and the world can get involved! You can help by hosting alumni networking meetings in your home city, participating in the Career Roundtables, nominating colleagues for alumni awards, keeping the Alumni Committee informed of job openings in your organization or MCH related news, and making an annual gift to support the Department of Maternal and Child Health. And, of course, you can join the MCH Alumni Committee!

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Revised September 24, 1997
The name of the organization shall be the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Public Health Alumni Association, Maternal and Child Health Section, hereafter referred to as MCHS.

The purpose of MCHS shall be:

To promote the advancement of knowledge and competence in the field of Maternal and Child Health (MCH);
To encourage and assist in the training, placement and promotion of qualified people in the field of Maternal and Child Health;
To strengthen the network among MCHS members through collaboration, understanding and mentorship;
To promote and support the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) Department of Maternal and Child Health;
To promote alumni involvement in the School of Public Health Alumni Conference.


SECTION 1. ACTIVE MEMBERSHIP shall include all individuals who have satisfactorily completed the academic requirements of the UNC-CH Department of Maternal and Child Health, and who have been awarded degrees pursuant thereto.

SECTION 2. HONORARY MEMBERSHIP may be conferred upon any individual (including MCH faculty) who has evidenced unusual interest in the UNC-CH Department of Maternal and Child Health or who has made a substantial contribution in the field of MCH. Such membership shall be nominated by the Department Chair, or any active MCHS member, and approved by a majority of the votes cast by the members attending the annual meeting.


SECTION 1. The ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING will be held in conjunction with the UNC-CH School of Public Health Alumni Conference. Announcement of this Annual Membership Meeting as part of the School’s mailing for the Alumni Conference will constitute sufficient notice of the Annual Membership Meeting to the MCHS membership.

SECTION 2. SPECIAL MEETINGS of MCHS may be called by the President or any two other officers elected by the membership at large. The Secretary of MCHS shall notify all members of the time, place and agenda of such special meetings, not less than two weeks prior to the time of the meeting.

SECTION 3. Those in attendance at the annual meetings, special meetings, or committee meetings shall constitute a quorum, provided that the meeting has been officially called and the members have been duly and adequately notified. A simple majority of those active members present and voting shall suffice for the purpose of passing motions and resolutions.


The officers of MCHS shall be:
1. President
2. President-elect
3. Secretary and Chair of Membership

The President-elect of MCHS shall be elected for a two-year term, which is to be followed immediately by a two-year term as President. The Secretary also shall be elected for a two-year term.

A Nominating Committee consisting of the officers and the Chair of the Department of Maternal and Child Health or his or her departmental designee shall present a slate of nominees at the Annual Membership Meeting. Nominations from the floor will also be accepted. Election will be confirmed by a simple majority of active members attending the same Annual Membership Meeting.

The President of MCHS shall preside at all meetings of MCHS. The President shall appoint all committees and s/he shall be an ex officio member with a vote on all committees. She or he shall perform such other duties as pertain to the office. The President-elect shall assume the duties of the President in his or her absence or disability. The President-elect shall assume responsibility for the program at the Annual Membership Meeting.The Secretary shall keep minutes of the proceedings of all meetings of MCHS and make an accurate and proper record of same. She or he shall be responsible for seeing that all notices and other written communications of MCHS are sent out in a timely fashion.

The officers and the MCH representatives to the Governing Board of the SPH Alumni Association shall constitute the Executive Committee.


These bylaws may be changed as recommended by the Executive Committee and approved by two-thirds of those MCHS members present and voting at the Annual Meeting.

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