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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Alumni Spotlight: Where are they now?

Annie-Laurie McRee, DrPH, 2011

Widespread vaccination against human papillomavirus has the potential to prevent several types of cancer, yet many young people are not receiving it. Dr. Annie-Laurie McRee’s research centers on addressing this gap. She seeks to advance behavioral, public health, and health services approaches to increasing adolescent vaccination and improving adolescents’ receipt of preventive services, particularly around sexual and reproductive health. Her portfolio of research includes projects funded by the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB).

Annie-Laurie McRee

Annie-Laurie McRee

Annie-Laurie McRee received her DrPH in Maternal and Child Health (MCH) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) in 2011. Prior to enrolling in the MCH program, Annie-Laurie worked for over a decade in Title X family planning programs in Boulder, Colorado. She earned a master’s degree in Health Behavior and Health Education from the University of Michigan with a concentration in sexual and reproductive health.

In July 2019, Dr. McRee was promoted to Associate Professor of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health and named a McKnight Presidential Fellow at the University of Minnesota, which is a prestigious three-year award given to individuals “based on excellence in research and scholarship, leadership, potential to build top-tier programs, and ability to advance University of Minnesota priorities.”

Dr. McRee serves as the Associate Director of Training for the Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) Training Program at the University of Minnesota, one of several MCHB-funded projects across the country. The LEAH program seeks to develop the next generation of child and adolescent health leaders through training an interdisciplinary cadre of pre- and postdoctoral fellows in medicine, nursing, nutrition, psychology, public health, and social work, among other disciplines. She is also the Deputy Director of the Healthy Youth Development-Prevention Research Center, a CDC-funded center which conducts community-partnered research, provides technical assistance, and disseminates research on promoting healthy youth development and preventing youth risk behaviors.

Regarding her time at UNC-CH, Dr. McRee notes “I appreciated both the interdisciplinary and collaborative environment of the MCH program. No single discipline garners all the requisite knowledge and skills to promote the health of young people and families so I believe that learning to work with each other and across systems is critical.”

Annie-Laurie enjoys collaborating with colleagues across disciplines and institutions to improve the health of young people, particularly those most vulnerable to poor health outcomes. You can learn more about her work here: https://www.pediatrics.umn.edu/bio/pediatrics-a-z/annie-laurie-mcree. When not working, Annie-Laurie can be found volunteering as a Board member at a local teen clinic and exploring the Minnesota State Parks with her dog, Jackson Mistersippi. You are invited to contact Annie-Laurie at almcree@umn.edu.

Amy Handler, 2013

Amy Handler, MPH

Amy Handler, MPH

Amy has long had a passion for improving sexual and reproductive health by using evidence to inform action. Currently, Amy is Provide Inc.’s Program Evaluation Manager. In this role, Amy ensures essential data and information are available for program implementers to make strategic decisions that improve access to abortion services in the South. She has especially enjoyed her time working with the Title X systems in a couple southern states to implement research studies that explore abortion referral-making practices and client experiences.

Prior to joining Provide, Amy oversaw evaluation activities for two of SHIFT NC’s Office of Adolescent Health teen pregnancy and STI prevention initiatives, worked as a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for MEASURE Evaluation, coordinated the Rethinking Sexuality Education Project for the Population Council, and was a Legislative Aide in the Wisconsin State Senate. In each of these positions, Amy saw the critical role that evidence and data play in informing decision-making.

From her first jobs, which were in politics and advocacy, Amy saw how one newly enacted policy could make quick, sweeping changes that affected and improved the lives of millions of people. She loved the fast-paced environment and digging deeper into the evidence behind what makes policies effective and helpful to our most vulnerable communities. During this time, Amy had the opportunity to work on the Healthy Youth Act, a bill that made evidence-based sex education a requirement for all middle school and high school curricula in Wisconsin. Working on this sexual health bill sparked a desire in Amy to work in sexual and reproductive health fulltime.

Amy holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Political Science and Sociology and completed her Master’s in Public Health in Maternal and Child Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2013. In her spare time, Amy is the Curriculum and Board Chair for the New Leaders Council, a progressive nonprofit helping millennials run for office and start progressive businesses and nonprofits in North Carolina. She volunteers for the Carolina Abortion Fund, manages a beehive with her friends at SEEDS in Durham, and enjoys running and biking the trails in North Carolina.  Feel free to contact Amy at ah@providecare.org.

Virginia Guidry, MPH, 2003

Virginia Guidry, MPH

Virginia Guidry, MPH

Virginia Guidry, or Ginger as she is known by many, came to the Department of Maternal and Child Health at the Gillings school after spending a year working with young women coming out of juvenile detention. This work opened Virginia’s eyes to the numerous, deep-rooted social determinants of health, and she wanted to learn more.

While in the master’s program in the Department of Maternal and Child Health, Virginia took a course from Dr. Jack Leiss and discovered a new passion: children’s environmental health. A lifelong environmentalist, she learned that environmental conditions can have substantial impacts on human health, especially during childhood. The complex processes of growth and development, starting in the womb, are extremely sensitive to environmental pollutants, and the burdens of pollution are often heavier on populations that already have other disadvantages, such as lower income or racial discrimination.

Virginia went on to earn a PhD from the Gillings school in epidemiology , working with the late Dr. Steve Wing, who was a staunch advocate for environmental health and social justice. Together with community partners, they studied the health impacts of large-scale livestock operations in eastern North Carolina. Virginia’s dissertation research showed that nearby livestock operations, during certain atmospheric conditions, were associated with measured air pollutants at middle schools.

In January 2019, Virginia became the branch head for Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology in the North Carolina Division of Public Health. She returned to epidemiology after several years gaining invaluable experience in the Office of Communications at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

When not at work she loves being outdoors as much as possible with her husband and three young boys. Feel free to contact Virginia at virginia.guidry@dhhs.nc.gov and 919-707-5920.

Joy Noel Baumgartner, PhD, 2004

Joy Noel Baumgartner, PhD

Joy Noel Baumgartner, PhD

Joy Noel Baumgartner, PhD, is a public health practitioner and health services researcher with broad experience working in low-resource settings to strengthen the delivery of maternal & child health (MCH), HIV, reproductive health, and mental health services. She has been working in both academic and international development research institutions since completing her doctoral degree in maternal and child health in 2004 from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to this, Joy Noel worked for two years in Arusha, Tanzania as a volunteer with a local NGO serving vulnerable child and earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a concentration in mental health.

Upon receiving her PhD, Joy Noel was eager to dive into applied research to inform programming in low-resource settings. For the next 10 years, she worked for FHI 360 as a research scientist leading projects that collaborated with local partners and Ministries of Health across sub-Saharan Africa to develop and test reproductive health and HIV-related health service interventions with a focus on services integration and meeting the health needs of adolescents. During this time, she also completed a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) postdoctoral fellowship in psychiatric epidemiology at Columbia University focused on global mental health.

Currently, Joy Noel is an assistant research professor of Global Health at the Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) where she also serves as Director of the DGHI Evidence Lab whose mission is to conduct objective and high-quality evaluations of global health programs, interventions, and technologies in order to provide evidence of impact. Her portfolio of work is funded by NIMH, USAID, foundations, and international NGOs and spans East, West and Central Africa. She enjoys working closely with partners to evaluate and improve MCH programming such as quality of care interventions to reduce neonatal mortality and early childhood development programs for HIV-exposed children.

“What I really appreciated about the MCH doctoral program was the emphasis on interdisciplinary training. I left the program with a range of skills—from econometric methods to ethnography which has served me well professionally—it is a rare public health research project that does not benefit from utilizing both quantitative and qualitative methods.”

Joy Noel can be reached at joy.baumgartner@duke.edu.

Mattson to be NC Medical Society Foundation board president

Dr. Gerri Mattson

Dr. Gerri Mattson

Gerri L. Mattson, MD, MSPH, has been named the new president of the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) Foundation board of trustees.

Mattson, a public health pediatrician with over ten years of experience working for the state Title V agency in the North Carolina Division of Public Health,  received her MSPH in 2004 and also currently serves as an adjunct assistant professor of maternal and child health at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Read more.


Francis Likis, DrPH 1996

Dr. Frances Likis

Dr. Frances Likis

The Frontier Nursing University awarded on Oct. 5 the Distinguished Service to Society Award to Francis Likis, DrPH, a 1996 alumna in maternal and child health of the UNC School of Public Health.

Likis is an assistant professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University and a certified nurse-midwife and nurse practitioner. The award recognizes nationally advancing evidence-based practice in women’s health and bringing gynecologic and reproductive health further into mainstream nursing and midwifery practice. [Read more] [December 2018]

Tully hopes to serve mothers, infants with innovative new bassinet

Dr. Kristin Tully

Dr. Kristin Tully

Years ago, Kristin Tully, PhD, began her research into mother-infant interactions. Her first study on nighttime infant care found that “side-car” bassinets, which attach to the side of a hospital bed, greatly improved the mother-newborn experience during postpartum hospitalization and reduced safety risks for infants. While some hospitals around the globe have adopted these innovative bassinets in their maternity wards, there is limited capacity to better serve new families in United States postnatal units.

That is about to change, however. By 2020, Tully and colleagues expect to have a fully tested, federally approved version available for the U.S. market.

Tully, a research associate with the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute in the Department of Maternal and Child Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, explained that some new mothers initially are physically unable to get out of bed without assistance, while others have difficulty handling their baby due to the high walls of existing bassinets.

In 2016, she applied for funding from the North Carolina Translational & Clinical Sciences Institute (NC TRaCS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; the bassinet team received the highest level of NC TRaCS support in the form of an Improving Human Health Award. The award funded a project to design and develop infant bassinets specifically for use in hospital postnatal units.

Tully said she expects that the bassinet will be licensed and on the market in the near term. The Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute already is being contacted by U.S. and foreign hospitals who are interested in the innovative product.

For more information please visit the full article on the CBGI website.

The original version of this article was written by Phillip Ramati of North Carolina State University.

The Sidney S. Chipman Award

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.

The 2018 Sidney S. Chipman Award winner was Anna Freeman.

Select to see a list previous winners.

2018 Anna Freeman
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

Alumni Committee

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.  We have the ability to provide conference call-in options for non-local alumni.

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

Katelyn Bryant-Comstock, incoming co-facilitator, katelynbc@gmail.com
Macon Lowman, incoming co-facilitator, maconelizabeth@gmail.com
Erin Magee, incoming secretary/communications coordinator, erin.magee1@gmail.com
Julie DeClerque, outgoing co-facilitator, julie_declerque@unc.edu
Sharon Epstein, outgoing co-facilitator, epsteinse@gmail.com
Sandra Cianciolo, outgoing secretary, sandra_cianciolo@unc.edu
Anita Farel, transition captain, anita_farel@unc.edu
Jennifer Cole, career development director, jmcole@email.unc.edu
Julie Theriault, department staff/communications liaison, jther@email.unc.edu
Meghan Shanahan, faculty representative, shanahan@unc.edu
Joseph Lee, member, leejose14@ecu.edu
Jonathan Kotch, member, jonathan_kotch@unc.edu
Marcia Roth, member, marcia_roth@unc.edu
Katie Cretin, member, kcretin@fhi360.org
Rebecca Greenleaf, member, rebecca_greenleaf@unc.edu
Priscilla Guild, member, priscilla_guild@unc.edu
Gerri Mattson, member, gerri.mattson@dhhs.nc.gov
Nathan Nickel, member, nathan_nickel@cpe.umanitoba.ca
Lucy Wilson, member, lwilson@fhi360.org
Nancy Williamson, member, nwilliamson@msn.com
Hannah Spector, member, spector.hannah@gmail.com
Christina Chauvenet, student member chauca4@live.unc.edu

Funding Policy and Procedure

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