Speakers, Panelists & Discussion Hosts

Keynote Presenter

Mary Schwarz, SA 
Managing Partner 
ICF Next

A digital strategist and marketing technologist with a comprehensive range of experience in direct marketing, web development, community outreach, and analytics, Mary leads our Government, federal digital and engagement practices. She brings over 20 years of experience providing strategic guidance for health, education, and social programs. 

Mary helps clients define their objectives and business goals; map user journeys; and develop incremental and iterative development plans. She also helps clients evaluate the impact and efficiency of their programs, and revise and optimize their digital programs for maximum impact.

 Mary has extensive experience crafting data-driven digital and engagement programs using a combination of on- and off-line tactics and strategies. Her work often calls upon deep data analytics to not only inform and tailor experiences, but to drive timing, frequency, and lasting behavior change.



Panel Speakers

jhmira Jhmira Alexander, MPA
President and Executive Director,
Public Narrative

Jhmira Latrice Alexander, MPA is a highly-rated professional speaker with 15+ years experience as a workshop facilitator. Jhmira works with individuals, groups and organizations to amplify their authentic voices and lived experiences. Jhmira Latrice Alexander, MPA is the president and executive director of Public Narrative, Chicago’s Premier Communications and Media Literacy Resource. She is also an adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. Jhmira has worked with the Chicago Police Department’s Youth District Advisory Council (YDAC), the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance (Chicago) and the Alliance for Research in Chicagoland Communities (ARCC) housed by Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. She is the board vice president of the Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS), board member of Global Girl Media Chicago and global member of the Project Management Institute (PMI).



jhmiraKhadijah Ameen, MPH
Co-Founder and Director of Policy & Research,

Khadijah Ameen, MPH (she/her) is a social scientist, critical health scholar, non-profit leader, and organizer currently based out of Atlanta, Georgia. She is the co-founder and Director of Policy & Research at BLKHLTH inc., a community-based organization located in Atlanta, Georgia with a mission to disrupt the pathways between racism and poor health outcomes in Black communities through education and action. Since the organization’s formation, Khadijah has led the development and implementation of community health activations, public health campaigns, anti-racism workshops, and digital health education designed to remove barriers that Black populations experience when seeking health-promoting education, resources, and services.

Khadijah is also a 3rd year PhD student at Georgia State University School of Public Health in the Health Policy and Behavioral Sciences Department, where she was awarded the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholars Program fellowship and Georgia State University Second Century Initiative Doctoral fellowship. Her doctoral research is focused on the impact of systemic racism and other intersecting forms of oppression on the health of Black people living in the Southern United States, and the strategies that Black Southerners deploy to create counter-spaces for wellbeing, healing, and care. Khadijah received a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology and Global Health and a Master of Public Health in Health Policy from Emory University.



Tawanna Berry, MA
Associate Director, Public Health

TaWanna Berry has 20+ years of expertise in strategic communications, social marketing, and health communications program development and implementation for federal and private sector initiatives.

TaWanna leads a team that supports national communications for the National Institutes of Health’s Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) and serves as senior advisor for National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Heart Health and Healthy Lifestyles Education program. She led the development and implementation of CDC’s Doing It campaign, an evidence-based social marketing campaign designed to encourage and normalize HIV testing. The campaign won a Berreth Award from the National Public Health Information Coalition for creative excellence, digital/social media innovation, and effective execution.



jhmira Melissa Pintor Carnagey
Founder and Lead Educator
Sex Positive Families

Melissa Pintor Carnagey, Founder and Lead Educator, Sex Positive Families, launched the organization in June 2017. Melissa is a Black, Puerto Rican, and Mexican Austin-based sexuality educator and licensed social worker who believes that all children deserve holistic, comprehensive, and shame-free sexuality education so they can live informed, empowered, and safer lives. Melissa is confident that the work starts in homes with families and caregivers. Her professional experience spans 15 years in the field of sexual health. She has taught comprehensive sexuality education in schools, authored curricula, trained youth-serving professionals, and worked with HIV/AIDS case management and prevention at both nonprofit and government levels. Melissa is the best-selling author of best-selling self-published book Sex Positive Talks to Have with Kids: A guide to raising sexually healthy, informed, empowered young people, which has sold over 10,000 copies worldwide since its release. Melissa’s most relevant experience comes from being a sex positive parent to three young people ages 23, 13 and 9. They are a constant inspiration for her work.




Daniela De Luca, MA
Graduate Research Assistant, UT Austin Center for Health Communication
PhD Candidate, UT Austin School fo Advertising and Public Relations

Daniela De Luca, MA, is a Ph.D. candidate at The University of Texas at Austin in the School of Advertising & Public Relations and a graduate research assistant at The University of Texas at Austin Center for Health Communication. Her research focuses on the role of identity in health behaviors and health communication, with most of her projects focusing on public health issues, such as exercise adherence and regime uptake, substance use and mental health




Dr. Lisa Fazio
Associate Professor of Psychology
Vanderbilt University

Dr. Lisa Fazio is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Vanderbilt University. Her research focuses on how children and adults learn true and false information from the world around them, and on how to correct errors in people’s knowledge. Her work spans multiple disciplines including cognitive, developmental, educational, and social psychology and informs basic theories about psychological processes, while also having clear applications for practitioners, such as journalists and teachers. She received the Early Career Impact Award from the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences in 2020 and the Frank Research Prize in Public Interest Communications in 2017. Her research is currently supported by major grants from both NSF and the Mercury Project focusing on why people believe false information and testing the effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing the spread of and belief in misinformation.




Michael Grela
President, Society for Health Communication; EVP, Head of Reputation & Social Impact, Evoke KYNE

Michael is a passionate and creative health communicator with more than 15 years’ experience working with government, non-profits and the private sector to create lasting impact in health. He currently oversees client engagements in global public health, corporate reputation and social impact, serving as the agency’s in-house social impact specialist. As part of his role, Michael is responsible for shaping the agency’s own reputation-driving initiatives including social impact and corporate giving strategies, goals and programs. He also leads the agency’s Reputation team, which manages all Evoke KYNE communications, positioning/branding, awards and publications, thought leadership, social media and related employee engagement. Following two years as VP, Michael was elected President of the Society in 2022.



Venice Haynes, PhD, MSPH
Director of Research and Community Engagement
United States of Care

Venice Haynes, PhD, MSPH is a social scientist with over 15 years of public health experience. She currently serves as the Director of Research and Community Engagement at United States of Care where she leads the people-centered research and listening approaches to drive state, federal, and private sector policy change. Her body of work is centered on elevating voices of populations marginalized by the health care system and addressing health inequities and health disparities using qualitative and community-based participatory approaches. She also has extensive experience in community capacity building, health communication, implementation science, and evaluation of public health programs, and brings these experiences to academia as an adjunct faculty instructor at Emory Rollins School of Public Health. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree from Tennessee State University, her Master of Science in Public Health from Meharry Medical College, and her PhD in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior from the University of South Carolina. 



Carrie James, PhD
Principal Investigator and Senior Research Associate
Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Dr. Carrie James is a sociologist and longtime researcher of young people’s experiences. Emphasizing qualitative methods, her work explores opportunities and dilemmas of digital life for adolescents’ well-being, social lives, and civic participation. James is a Principal Investigator and Senior Research Associate at Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She also oversees research on civics at The Democratic Knowledge Project at Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. James has long collaborated with Common Sense Media to bring research-based insights into their digital citizenship curriculum. 

In addition to Behind Their Screens, James is the author of the book, Disconnected: Youth, New Media, and the Ethics Gap (MIT Press, 2014). James and Weinstein are currently writing a book that details novel classroom approaches for supporting digital well-being and citizenship (under contract at Wiley/Jossey-Bass). Her perspectives have appeared in diverse outlets, including The Boston GlobeThe Chicago TribuneNPR’s MarketplaceTech Crunch, and The Washington Post. James has an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Sociology from NYU and is a parent to two technology-loving children, ages 12 and 17.



Ashani Johnson-Turbes, PhD
Vice President and Director of the Center on Equity Research, NORC at the University of Chicago

Dr. Ashani Johnson-Turbes is the Vice President and Director of the Center on Equity Research in NORC’s Academic Research Centers. She is an experienced and award-winning social scientist with over 20 years conducting communication, social marketing, public health, and public policy research. She blends her academic background in political science focused on participatory democracy, stakeholder engagement, and democratic deliberation with years of work in public health, health communication, and evaluation. Johnson-Turbes expertise includes conducting equitable and inclusive research, Culturally Responsive Evaluation (CRE), and health equity promotion. Johnson-Turbes also serves as Vice President of the Society for Health Communication.





Merve Lapus
Vice President of Outreach and National Partnerships
Common Sense Education

Merve Lapus is Vice President of Outreach and National Partnerships, Common Sense Education, at Common Sense Media. He is responsible for the overall outreach strategy and national partnerships for Common Sense Education and oversees a team that works directly with leadership to impact communities using technology for learning and life. Collaborating with school networks, state-level organizations, community leaders, and national partners, Merve is committed to fostering a whole-community approach to digital well-being, and establishing supportive learning spaces for all children and families to thrive in a world with media and technology. Merve has over 17 years of experience driving education technology initiatives across school programs, and building educator confidence through professional development and strategic implementation. Merve continues to keynote education-based events across the United States and delivers professional development to school networks, districts, and major conferences. He sits on a number of steering committees addressing school climate and state policy initiatives within his local counties and currently sits on the Marketing and Communications Board for the University of San Francisco.




Matthew K

Matthew Kreuter
Member of the Faculty Advisory Council
Institute for Public Health at Washington University

Matthew Kreuter is a leading national public health expert in the field of health communications. He currently serves as a member of the Faculty Advisory Council of the Institute for Public Health at Washington University, and he holds a secondary appointment at Washington University's School of Medicine. As founder and senior scientist of the Health Communication Research Laboratory, Kreuter has developed and evaluated a wide range of health communications programs to promote health, modify behavior, and prevent and manage disease. His book "Tailoring Health Messages" is the first comprehensive book on tailored health communication. Kreuter currently serves on the Institute of Medicine's Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice. Other funders of his work include the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, National Institute of Nursing Research, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.



Edward Maibach PhD
Co-Director, Climate Change in the American Mind Polling Project
Director, Center for Climate Change Communication
George Mason University

Dr. Edward Maibach is a distinguished University Professor and Director of George Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication. Ed co-directs the Climate Change in the American Mind polling project (with Yale’s Anthony Leiserowitz), is principal investigator of Climate Matters—a climate reporting resources program that supports TV weathercasters as local climate educators, and he helps direct the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health—an educational initiative in partnership with 45 medical societies.

In 2020, Ed and Anthony Leiserowitz were jointly awarded the Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication. Ed is also a Member of the National Academy of Medicine, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2021, Thompson Reuters identified Ed as one of the world’s 10 most influential scientists working on climate change.

Ed earned his PhD in communication science at Stanford University (1990), his MPH at San Diego State University (1983), and his BA at University of California, San Diego (1980.)




Matthew McCurdyMatthew McCurdy
Co-Founder, BLKHLTH Inc.

Matthew McCurdy, MPH (he/him), is a public health practitioner passionate about employing social science theory, health equity frameworks, and design to develop creative solutions that improve health outcomes for marginalized communities. He co-founded BLKHLTH, a non-profit that develops public health interventions to overcome the boundaries created by racism and improve health outcomes for Black people. He has a strong track record of designing and implementing public health solutions for complex problems in academic, nonprofit, and government sectors. 

Matthew served as the Director of Programs of Health DesignED: The Acute Care Design + Innovation Center in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Emory University, where he led the development and implementation of innovative solutions that improved patient outcomes. As a Presidential Management Fellow at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Matthew supported federal teams in developing and implementing strategic and management plans that strengthened health, public health, and human services. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Matthew is a graduate of Georgia State University and Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health.




Mark MillerMark Miller
Vice President of Communications
Beaumont Foundation

Mark Miller leads strategic communications to support the de Beaumont Foundation’s mission, initiatives, and partners, applying his experience in philanthropy, health care, politics, and policymaking to improve the health of communities and people. Throughout his career, Mark has advanced political, nonprofit, and corporate missions in leadership positions at the Case Foundation, the White House, Children’s National Health System, the National Governors Association, and the Corporation for National Service. He was also a senior vice president at Powell Tate, the Washington office of global PR agency Weber Shandwick. He combines traditional communications skills with an expertise in digital strategies and creates integrated, innovative solutions that deliver measurable results and spark social change. Mark was a senior writer and editor in the Clinton White House, where managed a team of policy writers. Also during the Clinton Administration, he helped launch and shape the AmeriCorps national service program. Mark has been invited to speak about effective communications and social impact to organizations including Human Rights First, the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, the Children’s Hospital Association, the Child Health Corporation of America, and National Capital Healthcare Executives. His writing has appeared in numerous blogs, websites, and publications, and for several years he was the reggae reporter for The Washington Post.  



Mark MillerAndrea Mongler, MPH
Senior Content Strategist, Content Team Lead

Andrea is a talented writer and editor with a passion for public health and a knack for translating complicated medical research into plain language. She’s dedicated to making even the toughest health topics understandable and approachable. Andrea crafts clear, concise, and engaging health content that’s accessible to audiences with limited literacy skills — and a pleasure to read for everyone else. Andrea holds a Master of Public Health and has extensive experience leading trainings that build participants’ capacity to create clear, inclusive health communication products. 



Jessica Otero Machuca, CHES
Associate Clinical Research Coordinator
Health Education Specialist 
Mayo Clinic 


Jessica Otero Machuca is passionate about partnering with communities to address the various socio- and structural- determinants that contribute to health disparities through innovative community-based methods. She is especially interested in advancing health equity by applying concepts of social innovation to public health research, such as social marketing, human-centered design, crowd sourcing, and systems mapping.  She supports various projects, but currently focuses on the FL- NIH Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) Against COVID-19 Disparities and serves as part of the national NIH CEAL Health Communication Workgroup. In this role, she coordinates accurate health information dissemination through community partnerships. As part of this, she has worked with over fifty organizations within Florida and the United States to strengthen information shared through trusted messengers, reaching over six thousand community members during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

She is currently a Master of Public Health student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Health Equity, Social Justice, and Human Rights. As a student, she supports various projects, such as North Carolina CEAL and NCI’s Geographic Management of Cancer Health Disparities. She also serves as a Design Thinking Fellow with Innovate Carolina where she partners with organizations to apply innovative solutions to complex issues. She will begin doctoral training in Fall of 2023 and looks forward to refining her skills in community-based research. 



Glen Nowak, PhD
Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies
University of Georgia Grady Colelge of Journalism and Mass Communication 

Glen Nowak, Ph.D., is Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies at the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and co-director of the College’s Center for Health and Risk Communication. He is a national and internationally known expert in health and risk communication research and training related to infectious and vaccine-preventable diseases, crisis, and emergency risk communication and vaccination acceptance and decision making. Prior to re-joining the University of Georgia (UGA) faculty in January 2013, Dr. Nowak spent 14 years at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including six years as the Communications Director for the National Immunization Program and six years as the agency’s Director of Media Relations. 



Mark MillerRachel Pryzby, MPH, CHES
Vice President

As a Vice President at CommunicateHealth, Rachel leads interdisciplinary teams through an equity-centered communication process to create sharp and impactful health education tools. She oversees the development of plain language health education materials for people with limited literacy skills. Rachel is a Certified Health Education Specialist and holds a Master of Public Health with an emphasis in health promotion. Rachel serves on the Society for Health Communication Steering Committee and the Advisory Board for Donate Life Georgia.



Mark MillerStacy Robison
President and Co-Founder

Stacy is the President and Co-Founder of CommunicateHealth. A self-proclaimed health literacy geek and an expert in clear communication, Stacy is responsible for leading CommunicateHealth’s content and creative excellence. Since co-founding the company at age 30, Stacy has been recognized as an innovative business leader by the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce. She has appeared in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Healthcare News, among other media outlets, discussing a variety of issues from entrepreneurship to health behavior change. Stacy is a founding member of the Society and previously served in roles on its Steering Committee and Advisory Board.  



Eduardo Salinas, PhD
Research Scientist
NORC Center on Equity Research

Eduardo Salinas, PhD, currently serves as Research Scientist within NORC's Center on Equity Research. Dr. Salinas received his doctorate in political science from the University of Illinois at Chicago, specializing in the study of Latino politics and policy attitudes. He has published a variety of academic articles and research reports via avenues such as the Journal of Politics in Latin America, Community Development, The Routledge Companion to Race and Ethnicity, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the American Political Science Association. Dr. Salinas is fluent in English and Spanish and proficient in Portuguese. He currently resides in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago.  

Shelly Spoeth
Shelly Spoeth
Principal Associate, Abt Associates

Shelly Spoeth has more than 25 years of strategic communication and social marketing experience tackling complex health and social issues. While at major public relations firms, she worked for a decade with pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients. She then worked as a consultant for government and nonprofit clients, including the CDC, on challenges ranging from HIV/AIDS to COVID-19. Spoeth has implemented, evaluated, and managed dozens of projects that improved health outcomes.

Currently, Shelly is a Principal Associate at Abt Associates, a global research and evaluation firm. Prior to that, she led strategic marketing and communication planning at the American Cancer Society; served as a senior vice president at Porter Novelli, leading the Health & Social Impact practice managing large CDC communications contracts; and Hager Sharp, where she contributed to two major government public health initiatives – HPV is Cancer Prevention and Million Hearts.


Shelly Spoeth
Carmen R. Valdez, PhD
Associate Professor, Chief of the Division of Community Engagement and Health Equity and Faculty Director of the Community-Driven Initiatives, Department of Population Health, University of Texas at Austin Steve Hicks School of Social Work

Carmen R. Valdez, Ph.D., is an associate professor, chief of the Division of Community Engagement and Health Equity and faculty director of Community-Driven Initiatives in the Department of Population Health. She is also an associate professor in The University of Texas at Austin Steve Hicks School of Social Work. Valdez is a community-based participatory researcher with a special interest in mental health promotion and intervention with Latinx immigrant families. She is also interested in understanding the role of social policy, neighborhood and family factors on immigrant health. She aims to address health equity through partnerships, community-grounded research and mentoring of health equity scholars. She has collaborated with local residents, community organizations, binational organizations and city offices to improve health equity. Prior to 2018, she was associate professor in the Department of Counseling Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. AAt UW she was the academic lead of the Latino Equity Collaborative, an advisory board of community and academic partners that leverages social capital, community experience and university research and resources to address educational and health equity for latinos in Madison and across the state. 


Diana Yassanye
Parasol Health Consulting

Diana began practicing public health 27 years ago. She spent 13 years at CDC including 7 years in the Office of the Director as the only Public-Private Partnerships Lead, overseeing ~$47 million annually in gifts. Her other 6 years at CDC were in policy, partnership, and training roles for preparedness and response. Diana is especially proud of leading the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, managing 21 pharmacy organizations to place covid vaccine in 41,000 pharmacies, thus offering covid vaccine within 5 miles of 90% of the population. She is experienced in formulating scalable partner strategies and directly engaging partners in public health, academia, and healthcare. She is a trainer, educator, partnership-builder, and strategist. Diana’s Masters is in Health Education from Columbia University Teachers College.