June 12, 2019

Three students at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health were named recently as 2019 Winston Policy Scholars.

Allie Atkeson, Adrienne Lloyd and Laura Ellen Powis were among the 19 recipients of the David A. Winston Health Policy Scholarship. Atkeson and Powis are both master’s students in the maternal and child health department, and Lloyd is a master’s student in the health behavior department. As Winston Policy Scholars, they all have been recognized for their excellence and achievement as students of health administration, health policy and public health.

Laura Ellen Powis

Laura Ellen Powis

The scholarship commemorates the qualities and contributions of David A. Winston, who played a significant role for 20 years in shaping health policy in the United States. The award includes $10,000 and the opportunity to attend a two-day paid health policy symposium in Washington, D.C.

“I am honored to have been chosen for the Winston Health Policy Scholarship,” said Powis. “This opportunity will enhance my education here at UNC Gillings, and it will provide me with the opportunity to learn from health policy leaders in D.C. Looking forward, I aim to use what I have learned to advance policy-driven health systems change that will improve the lives of women and children by creating more equitable, comprehensive and accessible care systems.”

Allie Atkeson

Allie Atkeson

Atkeson’s interest in health policy began while working on implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Virginia: “I met too many Virginians without access to health insurance and, together, we advocated to expand the state Medicaid program. As the health policy landscape in the U.S. continues to shift, it will be crucial for public health professionals to have a deep understanding of the policy process.”

Currently, Atkeson and Powis both are participating in the Title V Internship Program, working with states on maternal and child health issues. Atkeson is in Vermont, while Powis works in North Carolina.

Carolyn Halpern, PhD, professor and chair of the Gillings School’s Department of Maternal and Child Health, congratulated Atkeson and Powis on their accomplishment: “I’m thrilled that these two exceptional students have been awarded the Winston Scholarship. Allie is passionate about advancing evidence-based policies to improve the health of women and children. Similarly, Laura has demonstrated deep commitment to improving the lives of women and families through state Title V health transformation initiatives. Both Allie and Laura are most deserving of this recognition, and I know they will be successful in all health policy efforts they pursue. They truly will make a difference.”

Adrienne Lloyd

Adrienne Lloyd

Lloyd also looks forward to increasing her policy expertise with the help of the scholarship. Her work in health behavior centers on applying a “Health-in-All-Policies” approach to policymaking, which means health impact is articulated and integrated across different sectors, including housing, education and environment. This summer, she will be working with the policy team at the Chatham County Public Health Department to apply a “Health-in-All Policies” approach to substance use disorder treatment.

“I am resolute in my belief that public policy, when community-led and integrated across systems and disciplines, is the ultimate upstream tool to address root sources of health disparities,” explained Lloyd. “I intend to pursue a career in systems-driven health policymaking so that, ultimately, health equity is more than a framework we discuss, but rather a reality that is felt.”

“The innovative work that Adrienne is doing exemplifies the ideals of the Winston Policy scholarship,” said Kurt Ribisl, PhD, professor and chair of the UNC Gillings Department of Health Behavior. “She is harnessing the power of policy using a health-in-all approach to eliminate iniquities in substance use. This promising strategy, if proven effective in Chatham County, could be a model for other health departments across North Carolina and the rest of the country.”

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