School of Public Health

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Uab 1
Posted Date: March 1, 2021

By Sally Crocker

Uab 1

MHA students Brett Ironside, Kartika Ayyappan and Aminata Ka

Three diverse women from HSC’s Master of Health Administration (MHA) program are kicking off Women’s History Month 2021 with a bang, advancing for the first time in the program’s history to the semifinals category of a top North American student case competition.

Graduate scholar case competitions enable students to demonstrate their knowledge, problem-solving skills, business acumen and creativity by developing solutions to real-world health leadership challenges in real time.

HSC team members Kartika Ayyappan, Brett Ironside and Aminata Ka achieved this honor as participants in the recent University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Health Administration Case Competition for graduate students from CAHME-accredited (Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education) programs. The event is designed as a capstone experience for graduate students across the United States and Canada.

The program was held virtually this year, with 42 teams from various universities tasked with the challenge of reimagining and branding healthcare services for a pediatric hospital navigating its way in a new and different COVID-19 world.

Teams were charged with presenting their recommendations on strategy and marketing in a polished 20-minute segment to practicing healthcare executives who are recognized leaders in the field.

Presenting virtually was a new experience this year, successfully pulled off with assistance from the HSC University Studio and Rens Bais serving as videographer and audio engineer.

Safe social distancing was observed, with only one team member on screen at a time and on-screen exits/entrances carefully coordinated. Team members introduced and thanked each other as each one took the HSC “stage,” transitioning smoothly from person to person while following approved COVID-19 protocol.

“We wanted to keep everyone safe and set each other up for success,” Ka said.

Ultimately, HSC’s team would become one of 12 advancing to the semifinals. Judges commended the students on their presentation skills, poise and detailed knowledge of the case and their recommendations. The strong relationship between the team members was also noted by the judges.

“Because we know each other so well and trust each other, it makes presenting even under less-than-ideal circumstances so much easier,” Ayyappan said.

Ironside, who attended this case competition last year, served as this year’s HSC team leader.

“Having attended the UAB Case Competition as an observer last year, my experience this time around as a competitor was even more meaningful,” she said.

“With hard work and dedication, I’m proud that we were able to successfully deliver a presentation that was representative of our education and individual areas of interest.”

As one who “had the pleasure of being on the sidelines, watching as these three students prepared for multiple case competitions this academic year,” HSC MHA Program Director Dr. Stephan Davis said, “It has been amazing to see their growth, and I could not be more proud.”

Dr. Arthur Mora, HSC Chair of the Department of Health Behavior and Health Systems, also expressed appreciation for the team’s efforts during an especially challenging time in Texas.

“Despite the catastrophic impacts of a history-making winter storm in the days leading up to the competition, including a week of power outages and disruption of water services across many communities in our state, these young professionals showed such determination to compete and succeed at a highly competitive national event, representing HSC admirably,” he said.

All three students were also part of the HSC winning team in last October’s American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) North Texas Chapter Case Competition. Ironside and Ka also participated in the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE) Case Competition in September. They credit their success in subsequent case competitions in part to the rigorous preparation they went through with external judges during the fall semester, including one of the MHA program’s Executives in Residence, Ajith Pai, PharmD, MBA, FACHE, who serves as President of Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne.

“I knew right from the start that these MHA students were going places. I’m not surprised at all that they were semifinalists in the UAB Case Competition – they are so talented and hard-working,” Dr. Pai said.

All three students are on schedule to graduate in May 2021 and have met the criteria for induction into Upsilon Phi Delta, the honor society for health administration.

Posted Date: February 24, 2021

By Sally Crocker


Dr. Matt Richardson at Denton County’s Texas Motor Speedway COVID vaccine site. (Denton Record-Chronicle/ Jeff Woo)

Denton County Public Health has grabbed national headlines lately as being one of the most successful COVID-19 vaccination hubs in the U.S.

Led by HSC graduate Matt Richardson, DrPH, MPH, FACHE, the department’s service area covers more than 900,000 North Texas residents, although people have come from other states, as far away as Pennsylvania, to get their vaccines.

Dr. Richardson completed both his doctoral and master’s degrees through the HSC School of Public Health in 2011 and 1999, respectively. He credits a good amount of Denton County Public Health’s success to COVID response planning that started in January 2020, coupled with community partnerships and enhanced by the department’s experience in preparing for widespread emergencies dating back two decades ago to September 11, 2001.

Since then, the department has advised Denton County through the national anthrax alerts of the early 2000s, the global SARS and H1N1 flu epidemic warnings, Ebola discovery and response in Dallas six years ago, West Nile and chikungunya mosquito virus monitoring each year, and other potential threats to the community’s health and safety.

“We started working closely after 9-11 with local school districts, universities, hospitals, emergency responders, state and national health agencies and other partners to prepare for potential emergencies that our region might face at any moment,” Dr. Richardson said. “We have two decades of experience in planning for mass vaccinations, mass dispensing of antibiotics, and getting medicines and treatment to the public in disaster situations.”

Response to the COVID-19 virus in the early months of 2020 was all about epidemiology, Dr. Richardson said. Public health departments were focused on tracking the disease and analyzing how it was spread, an important first learning step necessary for developing interventions to fight it.

“It’s always that way with a new disease discovery, with the tail wagging the response plan that will come,” he said.

Testing, mask and social distancing recommendations, quarantining positive cases, contact tracing, herd immunity estimations and analyzing, analyzing … all those steps have taken place as the country has raced toward COVID-19 solutions.

Vaccine breakthroughs were announced by the fall, and like other public health departments around the U.S., Denton County knew as the end of 2020 approached that any available vaccines would be scarce at first.

Dr. Richardson’s team – 150 on staff, with 100 who could be dedicated to COVID response – was ready to roll with the support of well-prepared community partners when the first batch of vaccines arrived in January.

30,000 doses followed in February.

By late February, with a week’s unexpected pause due to the Texas winter storm and resulting outages, Denton County had administered over 83,000 first doses of the vaccine and was beginning to schedule second dose appointments. Plans to connect thousands of others with their first doses were underway for March, pending updated vaccine availability.

Denton County purchased a sophisticated data management system on New Year’s Day that Dr. Richardson calls the “real linchpin” of their success. The system provides a secure QR code for anyone who registers that can only be used by that individual. It tracks lot numbers and different scheduling requirements among vaccine manufacturers, following and keeping people updated through their first, then their second doses.

Denton’s “VIP,” or Vaccine Interest Portal, sends automatic appointment notifications that allow people to reschedule if need be, or to take their name off the wait list if they’ve received a vaccine elsewhere.

“It’s like solving the Rubik’s Cube early,” Dr. Richardson said, “especially when you consider that changes and cancellation rates among public health departments can run as high as 30%.”

Other work has continued all these months at the public health department too, like TB control efforts, HIV/STD clinics, seasonal flu shots, routine children’s immunizations, environmental health operations, medical operations for the county jail, primary care and chronic disease management clinics for thousands in the local area, supplemental nutrition (WIC) programs for women and children, and more.

“A lot of plates are spinning all at once,” he said. “None of us in public health here or around the country could have prepared for such an extended emergency response.”

A lot has been learned over the last year, much has been accomplished, and along the way there have been many missed birthdays, family events, vacations and personal time off as the staff has remained dedicated and on track.

People have gotten sick, their families and friends have been impacted by COVID, there have been good days and bad, but regardless, Dr. Richardson said, “you just keep swimming.”

“People use the word unprecedented a lot, but we have never seen a vaccine so safe and effective as those being administered right now,” he said. “Our staff’s commitment and performance over this last year is true public health mission work, and I hope that when they finally put their heads on their pillows at night, they know how much they are making a difference.”

Stephan Davis Hsc
Posted Date: February 10, 2021

By Sally Crocker

Stephan Davis HscAsk successful people what drives them forward and you’re likely to hear “giving back to others” as a key inspiration. Indeed, an important part of making things happen in career and life has to do with not just what’s personal but also with impacting others in a positive way.

HSC’s Dr. Stephan Davis is being recognized this month with a national Distinguished Service Award from the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). The local North Texas ACHE chapter recently presented the award during a virtual membership meeting.

“ACHE of North Texas is dedicated to advancing healthcare management excellence. We fulfill that vision in many ways – and through their volunteer activities, our chapter members play a critical role in helping to strengthen the profession,” said Amanda Thrash, FACHE, ACHE of North Texas Chapter President. “The ACHE Recognition Program: Distinguished Service Award [] celebrates and shows appreciation for our members’ extensive volunteer involvement, and we are very pleased to extend this award for 2020 to Dr. Davis.”

Dr. Davis is an Assistant Professor with the HSC School of Public Health and Director of the school’s Master of Health Administration (MHA) program. He joined HSC in May 2020. This month he is involved in a variety of HSC Black History Month events and initiatives. Receiving this national award during Black History Month feels especially significant to Dr. Davis

“Black History Month is a good time to remind ourselves of the potential all of us have to make a difference in the lives of others, both professionally and personally,” he said.

“What Black history has taught us over time, and especially this last year, is to employ our grace, passions, energy, inspirations, voices and talents to lift each other up and help empower others.”

Part of thriving as a Black leader is giving back to your profession by investing in professional organizations, Dr. Davis said.

“We talk about this in our HSC courses,” he said. “Networking and building relationships in healthcare leadership or your chosen profession can make a difference and is also very rewarding. You truly do gain as much as you give.”

During his career, Dr. Davis has engaged in national committee work for ACHE, served as a chapter leader and as a Board member-at-large. He has written newsletter articles and been a resume reviewer for student early careerists. He has presented at the annual Congress on Healthcare Leadership, with his third presentation scheduled virtually for March this year. An ACHE Fellow, he currently chairs the organization’s national LGBTQ committee and soon moves into a new role as a Regent for the organization. A big piece of his ACHE work involves increasing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the healthcare administration profession and in higher education.

This month, he is helping coordinate two School of Public Health Black History Month events – a virtual panel discussion for students, “Thriving as a Black Leader: Influencing the Future of Health,” on February 22, and “Black at HSC: Past. Present. Future,” on February 24, featuring keynote speaker Daniel Dawes, JD, Executive Director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute, joined by HSC voices representing faculty, staff, students and alumni.

“Being a part of these Black History Month events to inspire students in their own lives and along their career paths means so much to me,” he said. “For all healthcare leaders of the future, especially young Black professionals and those who are underrepresented, there are no limits to what we can do in our careers and to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Thriving As A Black Leader Cheruku1
Posted Date: February 3, 2021

By Sally Crocker

Cheruku1The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a definite toll on healthcare providers. Months of working long hours under endless challenges to protect patients and comfort their families while looking after their own health and the health of their loves ones at home has not been easy.

HSC alumnus Sreekanth R. Cheruku, MD, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Management at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, has worked on the front lines since the pandemic first hit Texas last March.

Dr. Cheruku specializes in cardiothoracic anesthesiology and critical care medicine and serves as Principal Investigator of the UT Southwestern site of the VIRUS study, an international, multi-center study of COVID-19 patients. He completed his MPH through the HSC School of Public Health in December 2020. His research focuses on identifying and mitigating risk factors for adverse outcomes after cardiac surgery, and his special interests include global health, economics, health politics and policy, and finance.

The balance of career and graduate school has been an up and down journey, he said, especially during the pandemic.

Dr. Cheruku was assigned to Southwestern’s COVID-19 ICU at the beginning of March. Along with 11 other intensive care physicians, both anesthesiologists and pulmonologists, he treated patients suffering from the most severe effects of the disease, often requiring mechanical ventilation or an emergency procedure called ECMO, which serves as an artificial lung, pumping blood through an oxygenator to sustain a critically ill patient.

“While this was a departure from my normal work with post-cardiothoracic surgical patients, I have been able to adapt some of the tools from previous clinical experiences to take care of COVID-19 patients,” he said.

Tough conversations with family members have been part of the journey as well.

“For our patients and families, the biggest challenge has been not being able to see each other during COVID isolation, adding significant hardship to what is already a difficult experience,” he said. “We were fortunate though, in that we already had video conferencing capabilities in the ICU, which helped them stay connected.”

Along the way, there have also been the types of conversations no one wants to have, regarding healthcare wishes of the patient and end-of-life decisions. Pain, grief and saying goodbye are heavy burdens to manage through those very sad times.

“In our COVID-19 ICU, every single provider – physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, physical therapists and other professionals – managed their job admirably despite the personal risks and possible exposures to their families. The hospital system was well prepared with medical supplies as well as resources for counseling and other provider support,” he said.

As with other communities around the world, Dr. Cheruku said, North Texas pandemic experiences have been greatly affected by health disparities and access to care among disproportionately represented populations.

“COVID’s impact on communities has significantly differed based on socioeconomic factors. Among those able to work from home and isolate effectively, the impact may be psychological, but within communities where members have jobs that cannot be performed remotely, people have faced the choice between exposing themselves to the disease or losing their livelihood.”

For individuals in these populations with chronic health conditions like diabetes, hypertension and others, Dr. Cheruku said, effects of the virus have been considerably more severe.

“It will take comprehensive changes to reduce these disparities for future infectious epidemics,” he added. “It should be expected that other novel viruses will arise over time, and preparedness is very important for all communities,” he said.

Adding the MPH degree to his credentials was important to Dr. Cheruku for several reasons. He was inspired by his mentor, Dr. Amanda Fox, a fellow cardiothoracic anesthesiologist with an MPH who leads an NIH-funded study involving cardiac surgery patients. He hopes to lead similar studies in the future.

The skills he gained through HSC’s curriculum – in epidemiology, biostatistics, ethics and informatics – are leading the physician toward “the kind of future” he sees for himself. Already, he has applied learnings from the Public Health Ethics course toward a recently-published paper on “Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation in ICU patients with COVID-19.”

“Now more than ever, I think every physician should at least have a basic understanding of public health practice, to better educate patients and provide optimal care,” he said.

“The perceived distance between medical practice and public health has vanished as a result of the pandemic. Those of us on the front lines of COVID-19 have relied daily on public health tools including testing, surveillance, isolation and community outreach to contain spread of the virus, manage patient care and address prevention.”

Black At Hsc Hina Ajaz
Posted Date: January 20, 2021

By Sally Crocker

Hina AjazIn an election year like no other, UNTHSC Master of Health Administration (MHA) student Hina Ajaz stepped up in a major way to help get out the vote and advocate for state and local initiatives supporting public health and health equity.

Ajaz plans to work in health policy after graduation, perhaps as a legislative health advisor or in another role where she can make a difference on behalf of healthier communities.

An Arlington resident working toward graduation and the launch of her professional career later this spring, Ajaz was elected as one of the youngest Tarrant County precinct chairs in her district one year ago at age 24.

Last summer, she became one of the youngest Delegates to attend the Texas State Convention, virtual in 2020, where she engaged with legislators, candidates, other leaders and influencers on important issues like COVID-19 response and prevention, addressing infant mortality in Tarrant County, Medicaid expansion, rural healthcare needs and the impact of certain laws and policies on the health of diverse and minority populations both in her district and beyond.

Running for Delegate usually involves campaign expenses for flyers, website development and other materials, but as a student with limited resources, Ajaz found support from the Young Democratic Caucus of Tarrant County, giving the boost she needed to enter the race.

Ajaz is a Pakistani American second-generation college student who is active in the Texas Muslim Caucus and the Texas Asian American Pacific Islander Caucus. Her work as a graduate student has also included a health policy internship with Emgage USA, the country’s leading Muslim American voter engagement organization.

In 2020, she volunteered for local and U.S. Presidential campaign phone banks to support her chosen candidates.

She collaborated with others to connect with voters in new ways during the pandemic, when visiting door-to-door wasn’t always advisable and digital communications seemed the better way to go.

She worked for the U.S. Census in an effort to get every resident counted.

She took on an international affairs research project for a state legislative proposal.

Her energy and commitment are reflective of a growing number of young voices at HSC and elsewhere leading change in their communities today.

“I really felt like this was my calling, my way of stepping up to leadership,” she said. “Between classes, my internship and volunteer efforts, there were a lot of long nights, but this is exactly where I want to be and what I want to do.”

Her work at HSC, Ajaz says, has gone a long way in inspiring her and offering a greater perspective on “how important it is to be a good leader.”

“HSC has given me a strong background in how policies are implemented and how people can be affected, especially populations that may be disproportionately impacted in achieving their healthiest life possible,” she said.

HSC’s MHA program, within the School of Public Health, prepares students for healthcare leadership roles with a focus on the social determinants of health related to how people live, learn, work and play. Health is influenced by many elements, including genetics, behavior, environmental and physical influences, medical care and social factors. All of these categories, according to the CDC, are interconnected. These determinants have a major impact on people’s health, quality of life and life expectancy.

During the pandemic, Ajaz said she has been inspired by her MHA cohorts, the strengths and bonds that have been forged between her fellow students “building each other up and growing together,” and by HSC faculty, her program directors and advisors, who “have led by example, demonstrating how important it is to be a good leader.”

“One of the most important things I’ve learned in public health and the MHA program so far,” she said, “is that everyone’s voice is important, that we shouldn’t be afraid to weigh in, take a position and stand up for the programs and causes that are critical to our communities’ good health and well-being. This is what I plan to continue doing in the future.”

Case Student Winners 1
Posted Date: January 6, 2021

By Sally Crocker

Case Student Winners 1

Case competition winners Lauren Horton,   Dr. Dhvani Derasari, Lydia “Brett” Ironside, Kartika Ayyappan and Aminata Ka


In a traditionally male dominated field, a team of diverse women from HSC’s Master of Health Administration (MHA) program, developing future healthcare leaders, has won this year’s student case competition of the American College of Healthcare Executives North Texas Chapter (ACHENTX).

The problem was important and complex. Solutions were needed quickly, much like the real challenges that healthcare executives face daily.

The assignment was to develop new solutions for Kaiser Permanente’s obesity management program, to help enrollees reach their weight loss goals, achieve a healthier lifestyle and improve their long-term health outcomes.

The clock was ticking as the HSC student team and competitors from other North Texas-area MHA and MBA programs approached the two-week deadline for developing recommendations that could be presented to judges in an executive summary format. From there, selected finalists would have an additional two weeks to prepare their closing presentation for the round that would determine the winners.

The ACHENTX annual competition is based on authentic case studies, enabling students to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom and through their community practice experiences toward a real-world, problem-solving approach. These are the types of tests they will face in their future careers.

“It was exciting to see our students meet the challenge and come away as North Texas winners, showcasing their strengths and ingenuity,” said Dr. Stephan Davis, MHA Program Director. “All of us at HSC are very proud of their achievement.”

HSC’s team included Kartika Ayyappan, Dr. Dhvani Derasari, Lauren Horton, Lydia “Brett” Ironside and Aminata Ka.

Second-year MHA students Ayyappan, Ka and Ironside had all worked together before in their cohort courses and were familiar with each other’s strengths and background. As a first-year MHA student, Horton brought a psychology and behavioral health perspective to the team, based on her undergraduate work. MHA Online student Derasari, who holds a PharmD degree from HSC, added a different aspect to the team. Ironside and Ka were just coming from a previous case competition on a national level, through the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE), with ideas and success strategies to share. In all, their different experiences came together perfectly for the winning mix.

Making recommendations for an industry giant like Kaiser was no easy feat for the team, since the organization already had a solid obesity management program in place. After much study and a lot of late night strategizing, HSC’s team proposed ways to extend the brand through new ventures and partnerships. A mental health component was also recommended. Importantly, they proposed an overarching public health focus to support participants at each step along the way.

“Obesity management is very much a population health issue,” Ayyappan said. “So many aspects of expanding a program like this are important from a health administration perspective – operational strategies, logistics, the bottom line – but to address a chronic disease like obesity, you also need firm roots in public health.”

The public health aspect went far in capturing the judges’ attention.

It was also unique that rather than responding to the competition questions like one might approach an assignment, the group reinvented itself as a “consulting company,” offering a formal business pitch to a potential client.

Their imagined business name, Panacea Consulting, derives from the mythical Greek goddess of health and the resulting, modern-day word for a “best solution” or remedy. They designed their company’s logo, graphics, colors, letterhead and presentation materials around the image of Panacea herself.

The result was a striking way to showcase the business acumen and creativity of rising female leaders in a traditionally male-dominated field.

“As an all-female team, we were very focused on the perspectives that women bring to healthcare leadership, especially those of diverse backgrounds,” Ayyappan said. “In this industry, like many others, women have to work a lot harder to be recognized as an equal.”

For women of color especially, Ka noted, moving up the career ladder to increasingly higher-level positions can be very challenging.

Networking is important, and in winning the competition, HSC’s team will receive free admission to all 2021 ACHENTX meetings and the upcoming national Congress on Healthcare Leadership conference, gaining valuable connections with leaders in the field.

One such leader was their case competition mentor and is 2021 ACHENTX President-Elect, Dustin Anthamatten, MBA, MA, CPA, FACHE, Vice President of Operations for Methodist Charlton Medical Center, Dallas.

“The opportunity to work with HSC’s team was a wonderful experience,” he said. “They were knowledgeable, prepared and motivated to deliver a robust case study analysis in a short timeline, and I had no doubt they would win the competition. I am confident that with their skill set and what they are learning in HSC’s MHA program, they will have successful careers and touch the lives of the patients their organizations care for.”

Covid Vaccine
Posted Date: December 18, 2020

By Sally Crocker

Covid VaccineAlmost one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the world stands poised and hopeful for a safe return to everyday life. New vaccines are rolling out across the country to speed solutions to communities in Texas and other states, reaching front-line healthcare workers, residents of long-term care facilities and other priority groups first.

Over 300,000 Americans have died from complications of coronavirus and millions more have been impacted. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 60-70% of the population rolling up their sleeves could help achieve the needed levels for herd immunity to stop the spread of this disease.

“The Pfizer vaccine now being administered across the U.S. has been shown in clinical trials to be more than 94% effective at stopping or slowing coronavirus,” said HSC epidemiologist Erika Thompson, PhD. Dr. Thompson is a faculty member in the HSC School of Public Health with a background in vaccines research and advocacy.

The key to fighting COVID will be widespread vaccine adoption over the coming months, as well as continuing to wear masks and practice safe social distancing.

“Keep the mask and continue to physically distance for now,” Dr. Thompson said, “it could take a while as vaccines are delivered and administered in phased rollouts across each state. Most people will probably have to wait months for vaccinations to become widely available to the public, as those with the most urgent risk factors are being prioritized first. We’ve already seen the first doses shipped to Fort Worth area hospitals for administration, which is great news.”

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines each require two doses at timed intervals weeks apart. What’s still to be determined is the level of effectiveness at each step along the way. For some people, that may mean symptoms are reduced if they do get sick, but they might still be contagious to others. It might mean annual boosters could be needed. Public health experts caution that the coronavirus may never entirely be stamped out and might become one of the many seasonal viruses we prepare for each year.

Are there side effects?
Vaccine manufacturers have advised that possible, mild side effects could include muscle aches, fatigue, fever, chills and headache. There’s a chance that other side effects may turn up over time as more people are vaccinated.

“Any vaccine may have side effects,” Dr. Thompson said, “but the most important consideration is that the lifesaving prevention generally far outweighs the risks for the individual and the broader community.”

Research has shown that people tend to fall into one of three categories when it comes to vaccinations: those who receive all recommended vaccines, those who never will and those who approach vaccines with some hesitancy. Some people may forego vaccinations that aren’t required, thinking they may not be as important, while others may fear getting sick with the very disease vaccines are designed to prevent.

For those who fear catching the flu from an annual flu shot, as an example, it’s just not the case, Dr. Thompson said.

“The timing is more likely coincidental – maybe you’ve been exposed to a cold or the flu around the same time as receiving your immunization, but you’re not going to get the flu from the flu shot,” she said. “Public confidence in the COVID vaccine program will be important if we really want to beat this disease. We need to make COVID vaccination the norm. I’m personally looking forward to getting the vaccine when the time comes.”

Reaching those most impacted by COVID
Populations of color have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, yet the African American, Latino and Native American communities who most need the vaccine may be hesitant to get it. Past harm done to Black communities by medical research injustices in historical cases like the Tuskegee Study of decades ago have created layers of distrust that may be hard to break through. Today, systems are in place to protect people, from Institutional Review Board (IRB) regulations on research to the FDA protocols required before any vaccine ever reaches the market.

HSC is involved in efforts across Texas to reassure these communities that the COVID vaccines are safe and effective, and to encourage their participation, through a National Institutes of Health (NIH) program called Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) Against COVID-19 Disparities. The Texas CEAL Consortium is led by Dr. Jamboor K. Vishwanatha, Regents Professor and Founding Director for the HSC Texas Center for Health Disparities.

Researchers across HSC like Dr. Thompson are involved in the project, including Dr. Erica Spears, Dr. Teresa Wagner, Dr. Usha Sambamoorthi and Dr. Emily Spence, who are focusing on populations in 12 Tarrant County zip codes of highest priority. Using a community-based participatory research approach, various organizations and community leaders have partnered with HSC in this effort. The United Way of Tarrant County, DFW Community Health Worker Association, Tarrant County Public Health and the YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth are working with HSC faculty to design and implement the Tarrant County CEAL projects.

The outlook for 2021
“A lot of the work being done now involves building public confidence in the vaccines,” Dr. Thompson said, “to help everyone across the state and the U.S. get answers to their questions, to dispel myths and any misinformation being shared, and to help people feel comfortable and ready as each state follows its distribution plan for a phased rollout over the coming months.”

“This is quite an undertaking, and it’s not going to happen overnight, so it will involve some patience from all of us, and an acknowledgement that what we know now may change as more vaccines are administered to more people and we monitor results. This is how science works and how breakthroughs are accomplished, as we respond, learn, adjust and beat the virus together,” she said.

Mha Execs In Residence
Posted Date: December 15, 2020

By Sally Crocker

Mha Execs In Residence

One of the best ways to prepare for a career is to learn firsthand from experts in the field. HSC Master of Health Administration (MHA) students now have that opportunity, through a new Executives in Residence program, putting them in touch with seasoned healthcare executives, thought leaders and authors recognized for their achievements and unique perspectives.

“We are thrilled to introduce this new initiative,” said MHA Program Director Stephan Davis, DNP, MHSA, FACHE. “We view Executives in Residence as key partners in helping to prepare HSC students for their important leadership roles of the future.”

Executives in Residence can be involved in a variety of ways, from guest lecturing in MHA courses; providing exclusive talks for faculty, preceptors and alumni; serving as expert judges on program case studies and competitions; mentoring select students; offering insight into industry trends and career preparation; and partnering in other ways related to advancing the profession of healthcare management.

The inaugural Executives in Residence class includes:

  • Cie Armstead, DBA, Director of Diversity & Inclusion, American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). Armstead is a nationally-recognized innovative leader in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). With more than 28 years’ experience as an association management professional, she previously led DEI strategy for the American Bar Association (ABA), providing consulting services to both internal ABA entities and bar associations across the country. She has also served as ABA President’s Senior Staff Advisor, and as Director of Litigation Section Periodicals. She is a frequent presenter, writer and consultant on DEI and association management topics, specializing in evidence-based practices and creating collaborative initiatives to achieve DEI objectives.
  • Jennifer Brown, Founder, President and CEO of Jennifer Brown Consulting. Brown is an award-winning entrepreneur, speaker, diversity consultant and author of the bestselling book “Inclusion: Diversity, The New Workplace and The Will to Change.” Her new book, “How to Be an Inclusive Leader: Your Role in Creating Cultures of Belonging Where Everyone Can Thrive,” was released in 2019. Brown’s workplace strategies have been employed by some of the world’s top Fortune 500 companies and nonprofits, including Walmart, Microsoft, Starbucks, Toyota Financial Services and T-Mobile.
  • Joy D. Calloway, MHSA, MBA, Executive Consultant and Board Member, National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE) and Founder & Principal of Joy D. Calloway. Calloway has been an integral leader and board member with NAHSE, the professional association dedicated to Black healthcare executives. A consultant and public speaker, Calloway heads her own firm, specializing in strategic planning and group process consultative services to businesses in various industries. Calloway has 27 years of professional healthcare and non-profit leadership experience.
  • Robyn Diaz, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Diaz oversees the legal affairs, technology transfer, compliance, internal audit and government affairs departments and manages outside counsel relationships. Before joining St. Jude, she was an in-house legal team member at MedStar Health, served as Adjunct Instructor and Academic Preceptor at Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, and was an attorney with Crowell & Moring, LLP. She is Chair of the University of Memphis School of Law Institute for Health Law & Policy, and Vice Chair of both the American Bar Association Health Care Facility Operations Interest Group and Health Law Section Student Writing Competition. She is Board Counsel and serves on the Board of Directors Executive Committee of Memphis Child Advocacy Center.
  • Michael E. Frisina, PhD, founder and President, The Frisina Group, LLC. and The Center for Influential Leadership. Frisina is author of the bestseller, “Leading Yourself to a Higher Level of Performance,” published by the Center for Influential Leadership, 2014, and “Influential Leadership – Change Your Behavior, Change Your Organization, Change Health Care,” published by Health Forum, American Hospital Association Press, 2011, reprint 2014, Health Administration Press. He is a retired U.S. Army career officer and civilian healthcare executive who has achieved numerous professional honors and published over 50 papers and articles on leadership and organizational effectiveness. Dr. Frisina is Chairman of the Health Administration Advisory Council for American Public University/American Military University.
  • Ajith Pai, PharmD, MBA, FACHE, President, Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne. Pai oversees day-to-day operations, advancing physician engagement and promoting effective employee, governance and community relations. He is responsible for ensuring achievement of the hospital’s goals for patient safety, clinical and non-clinical quality, operational performance and patient, physician and employee engagement. Dr. Pai is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) and is 2020 chairperson of the ACHE Asian Healthcare Leaders Forum.
  • Monica C. Vargas-Mahar, MHA, FACHE, Market Chief Operating Officer for The Hospitals of Providence, and Chief Executive Officer for the East Campus in El Paso, Texas. Vargas-Mahar provides strategic and operational leadership for the East campus and outpatient locations, with responsibility for four acute-care facilities and micro-hospitals in The Hospitals of Providence network. She has more than 15 years’ experience in healthcare administration and is active in her community and across the state, having served as Chair Elect for the National Association of Latino Healthcare Executives; Board Chair of United Way of Greater El Paso; and on the boards of Texas Lyceum, Texas Hospital Association Council on Policy Development, and El Paso Community College Foundation. Vargas-Mahar was named a Modern Healthcare magazine “Up & Comer” in 2012.
  • Kenneth R. White, PhD, RN, FACHE, FAAN, author and UVA Health Professor Emeritus, University of Virginia School of Nursing. White is professor emeritus at University of Virginia School of Nursing and Professor Emeritus of Health Administration at Virginia Commonwealth University. He has more than 45 years’ experience in healthcare organizations, working in clinical, administrative, governance and consulting capacities. He is a board-certified acute care nurse practitioner with specialty board certification in palliative care. He has authored nine books on healthcare management and nursing leadership. He is president-elect of the American Academy of Nursing and founding chair of the American College of Healthcare Executives LGBTQ Forum. Dr. White was honored with the ACHE Gold Medal Award for healthcare leadership excellence in 2019.