Subsite Page Title

Staff

Main page content

Sheena Abraham, MS
Program Manager

Nagla Elerian, MS
Director of Population Health Strategic Initiatives

Jon Gibson, MS CS
Data Architect and Developer

Em (Mohamad) Karimifar, MFA
Graphic Designer

Sheila Kuschke
Senior Administrative Associate

David Lakey, MD
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs

Dorothy Mandell, PhD
Assistant Professor

Lark Needham
Administrative Specialist

Eileen Nehme, PhD
Assistant Professor

Molly O'Neil, MS
Data Analyst

Daniel Oppenheimer, MFA
Director of Population Health Communication

Divya Patel, PhD
Associate Professor

Sarah Presti, MS
Outreach Education Coordinator

Natalie Poulous, PhD
Research Associate

Meliha Salahuddin, PhD, MBBS
Faculty Associate/Instructor

Arnold Spiers, MBA
Grant Writer

Amanda Wagner, DNP, WHNP-BC, CNE
Quality Improvement and Research Nurse

 

DAVID LAKEY, MD

Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer
The University of Texas System
Senior Adviser to the President, UT Health Science Center at Tyler

David Lakey is Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer for The University of Texas System. He is also Senior Adviser to the President at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler. He previously served on federal public health advisory committees for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Defense Health Board. Currently he serves on the March of Dimes Board of Trustees and the Trust for America’s Health Board of Directors.

Dr. Lakey served as Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services from January 2007 to February 2015. As Commissioner, Dr. Lakey led one of the state’s largest agencies with a staff of 12,000 and an annual budget of $3.3 billion and oversaw programs such as disease prevention and disaster preparedness, family and community health services, environmental and consumer safety, regulatory programs and mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment programs. During his tenure as Commissioner, Dr. Lakey served as president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) in 2011‐2012, and received several national awards including the AMCHP President’s Award, the March of Dimes President’s Public Health Leadership Award, and the Arthur T. McCormack Award. 

He earned a Bachelor of Science in chemistry, graduating with high honors from Rose‐Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana, and received his medical degree with honors from Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. Lakey was a resident in internal medicine and pediatric medicine and completed a fellowship in adult and pediatric infectious disease at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

 

 

NAGLA ELERIAN, MS

Director of Population Health Strategic Initiatives
University of Texas System
Email: 
nelerian@utsystem.edu

Nagla Elerian is the Director of Population Health Strategic Initiatives at the Office of Health Affairs at UT System.  Prior to joining the UT System, Nagla was the Director of the Center for Health Statistics at the Department of State Health Services. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Zoology and a Master of Science in Health Statistics with a minor in Geography.  She has 25 years of work experience in public health, health statistics and program management.  Nagla worked in the areas of maternal and child health, birth defects, mental health and substance abuse, Medicaid managed care, and healthcare quality.  In 1995, Nagla established the first electronic Birth Defects registry in Texas. In 1998, she established an evaluation program for Medicaid managed care where she initiated many improvements to the Medicaid managed care data and reporting.  In 2000, she joined the NorthSTAR program where she initiated many reporting mechanisms to allow the use and sharing of data for program improvements.  In 2007, Nagla joined the Decision Support unit at the Mental Health and Substance Abuse, where she developed through a multi-stakeholder collaboration the risk assessment tools to allow the state to evaluate and manage mental health centers and substance abuse providers using financial, access, quality and outcome indicators.  She provided information and recommendations to the Texas Resiliency Disease Management workgroup for migration of the mental health assessment tool and worked with various stakeholders as she developed the algorithms for placement of eligible children into mental health services using the newly adopted Children and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS). 

 

SHEENA ABRAHAM, MS

Program Manager
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of The University of Texas System
Email: sabraham@utsystem.edu

Sheena Abraham is the Program Manager for TCHMB. In her role she provides support to the Executive Committee as well as to the Subcommittee Chairs and the QI leads. Prior to joining population health, Sheena was a Training Strategist for the Texas Health & Human Services Commission State WIC Program. She has a long career in maternal and infant health, including work as the State Breastfeeding Coordinator and Public Health Nutrition Consultant for the Pennsylvania Department of Health with the Bureau of WIC. She earned her BS in Dietetics from Madonna University in Michigan and her MS in Food and Nutrition from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

 

JON GIBSON, MS CS

Data Architect and Developer
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of The University of Texas System
Email:
jgibson@utsystem.edu

Jon Gibson joined Population Health in 2016 in the role of Data Architect and Developer to support research needs with incoming and generated data as well as any IT system needs the group might have.  He also serves as the Population Health Information Security Administrator.  Jon earned a  BA in History as well as a BS and MS in Computer Science from The University of Texas at Austin.  Prior to Population Health, Jon spent seven years as a Software Developer/Software Engineer with the University of Texas Libraries helping develop large data repositories for digital collections such as the Guatemalan National Police Archive (ahpn.lib.utexas.edu) and the Latin American Digital Initiative (ladi.lib.utexas.edu) containing millions of objects and their associated metadata.  He has over 20 years of experience in IT in a variety of areas including user support, technical training, network administration, server support and SQL and web development.

 

EM KARIMIFAR, MFA

Graphic Designer
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of The University of Texas System
Email:
mkarimifar@utsystem.edu

Mohamad "Em" Karimifar received his MFA in design from The University of Texas at Austin. His design practice spans both 2D and 3D design, including the fields of interaction design, typography, architectural design, and instructional design. As a part of his works with Population Health team, he develops websites and redesigns the user experience with the Population Heath's digital media outlets.

 

SHEILA KUSCHKE

Senior Administrative Associate
University of Texas System
Email: 
skuschke@utsystem.edu
Phone: 512-499-4529

Sheila Kuschke is the Senior Administrative Assistant at the Office of Health Affairs at UT System. Prior to joining UT System, Sheila was the Executive Assistant to the Commissioner of the Department of State Health Services. She has over 30 years of high level administrative experience at the state and federal levels as well as with non-profit and for-profit organizations.

 

DOROTHY MANDELL, PHD

Assistant Professor
Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies
Safe Babies Research Initiative
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of The University of Texas System
Email: dmandell@utsystem.edu

Dr. Mandell received her PhD from the University of Washington, Seattle in Developmental Psychology and her BA from The University of Texas at Austin. She also served as a post-doctoral fellow at the Wake Forest School of Medicine and the University of Amsterdam. Her research has spanned multiple topics in maternal and child health including understanding long-term effects of a variety of perinatal and post-natal insults and intergenerational transfer of traits. She has also conducted analyses and research on a variety of public health topics, including work that has supported the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force, Healthy Texas Babies, and the strategic plan to align prevention resources between the Department of Family Protective Services and the Department of State Health Services in Texas. She served as the primary investigator for the Texas Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) and is currently a research consultant for Texas PRAMS. She is currently an Assistant Professor at UT Health Science Center at Tyler and supports the Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies and is the Primary Investigator for the Safe Babies project in Population Health.

 

LARK NEEDHAM

Administrative Specialist for Population Health
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of the University of Texas System
Email:
hneedham@utsystem.edu
Phone: (512) 852-3245

Haley "Lark" Needham is an accomplished, versatile procurement and planning coordinator with more than 20 years experience with a global/public company. Her experience includes procurement and planning, management of purchases of over $20 million in inventory annually, supply chain management, vendor relations, public relations, commodity driven market analysis, process improvements, and administrative support.

 

EILEEN NEHME, PHD

Program Director, Texas Health Improvement Network
Assistant Professor for Population Health
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of the University of Texas System
Email:
enehme@utsystem.edu

Eileen Nehme holds an MPH in health behavior/health education from the University of Michigan and PhD in epidemiology from UT Health Science Center in Houston, Austin Campus. Between degrees, she worked in violence and injury prevention and healthy youth development in local government and non-profit organizations. Her current work focuses on creating environments and policies that support health, diffusion and implementation science, and cross-sector collaboration. In her role with UT System Population Health she serves as the program director for the Texas Health Improvement Network. Dr. Nehme also serves as an adjunct associate professor at the UT School of Nursing, and has taught both undergraduate and graduate-level courses in epidemiology and population health.

 

MOLLY O'NEIL, MS

Data Analyst
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of the University of Texas System
Email:
moneil@utsystem.edu

Molly O’Neil earned her MS in Epidemiology at The University of Texas School of Public Health and her BS in Biology at The University of Texas in Austin. Her research interests focus in spatial epidemiology and understanding disparities in access to care in Texas.  She joined Population Health to assist with geospatial and visualization projects, including community health indicator mapping. She currently works as a data analyst with the Safe Babies initiative, which includes multiple projects investigating and informing prevention efforts aimed at improving infant health, safety, and wellbeing.

 

DANIEL OPPENHEIMER, MFA

Director of Population Health Communication
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of the University of Texas System
Email:
doppenheimer@utsystem.edu
Phone: (512) 852-3269

Daniel Oppenheimer joined population health in 2016 to oversee communications. He received his MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and is the author of Exit Right: The People Who Left the Left and Reshaped the American Century (Simon & Schuster 2016). Before coming over to UT System he was Director of Strategic Communications for the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at The University of Texas at Austin. As a freelance writer and short documentary filmmaker, his articles and videos have been featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Tablet Magazine, the History News Network, and Salon.com. Dan oversees the communications track of the Population Health Scholars program.

 

DIVYA PATEL, PHD

Associate Professor
Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of the University of Texas System
email: 
dpatel@utsystem.edu

Divya Patel joined the Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies (TCHMB) in November 2015 as Assistant Professor.  She is an epidemiologist (Ph.D., 2003, University of Michigan) with a broad interest in women’s health research.  Previously, she served on the faculty in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Michigan (2004-2010) and in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Yale University (2010-2012).  She received a 5-year career development award from the National Cancer Institute for her research focused on the prevention and early detection of human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated cancers in women.  She has also worked at the Texas Department of State Health Services and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on population-level maternal and child health projects.  Dr. Patel holds an adjunct position at the University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston - Austin Regional Campus, has taught several graduate-level courses in Epidemiology, and has provided research mentorship to students ranging from undergraduates to medical residents and fellows.

 

Sarah Presti, MS

Outreach Education Coordinator
Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of the University of Texas System
email: spresti@utsystem.edu

Sarah Presti joined the UT System Population Health team in 2020 as the Outreach Education Coordinator. Sarah is an occupational therapist whose career experience has focused on pediatrics. In 2018 she achieved her certification in Autism Movement Therapy.  Sarah received both her BS in Occupational Science and MS in Occupational Therapy from Keuka College in Upstate NY. Most recently, Sarah was the Training Director for a non profit in Austin, serving individuals with disabilities. 

NATALIE POULOS, PHD

Postdoctoral Research Associate Senior
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of the University of Texas System
email: npoulos@utsystem.edu

Natalie Poulos received her PHD in Health Behavior and Health Education (2015), MS in Health Education (2012), and BS in Nutritional Sciences (2008) from the University of Texas at Austin.  She is also a Registered Dietitian.  Her research focus on the food environment of youth, family and community nutrition, and nutrition behavior change.  Natalie also has over 4 years of experience teaching undergraduate and graduate-level courses in nutrition and dietetics at the University of Texas at Austin.  She is currently the Postdoctoral Research Associate Senior working on Safe Babies in the Office of Population Health.

 

MELIHA SALAHUDDIN, PHD, MBBS

Faculty Associate/Instructor
Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of the University of Texas System
email: msalahuddin@utsystem.edu

Meliha Salahuddin is a trained epidemiologist with a clinical background. She earned her Ph.D in Epidemiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in Austin in December 2016. Prior to that, she earned her M.P.H. from the same institution in 2013, and completed medical school and internship in Bangladesh in 2009 (M.B.B.S.). Her research interests mainly focus on epidemiology of maternal and child health and childhood obesity. She joined the UT System Population Health group as a PhD candidate in June 2016, and completed her postdoctoral training with the same group in June 2018. She currently works as a Faculty Associate/Instructor, appointed through UT Health Science Center at Tyler, mainly supporting the Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies and Healthy Families initiatives. Dr. Salahuddin is an Adjunct Assistant Professor with the UTHealth School of Public Health in Austin.

 

ARNIE SPIERS, MBA

Grant Writer
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of the University of Texas System
email: aspiers@utsystem.edu

Arnie Spiers started with Health Affairs / Population Health on January 6, 2020. Arnie comes from east Texas with over 20 years’ experience in Healthcare. The past 8 years Arnie served as the Chief Operations Officer with Champion EMS as the Day to Day oversight of 40 plus Ambulances and Helicopters throughout east Texas. Before that Arnie work for 15 years as the Program Director for transportation services at Trinity Mother Frances Hospital and Clinics in Tyler and 10 plus years working as Paramedic on an Ambulance and Helicopter. Arnie has also served for 20 plus years with the Regional Advisory Council (RAC) in various positions with 4 years as the RAC Chair. Arnie has handled all aspects of Operations to include Budgeting, Financial performance, Contract writing and Grant performance over his career.

 

AMANDA WAGNER, DNP, WHNP-BC, CPHQ, CNE

Quality Improvement and Research Nurse
Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies
UT Health Science Center at Tyler
Affiliate of the University of Texas System
email:
awagner@utsystem.edu

Amanda Wagner is a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and Certified Nurse Educator whose nursing experience has focused around women’s healthcare. After earning her MSN in maternity nursing from The University of Texas at Austin in 2015, she completed her post-master’s certificate to become a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner from Vanderbilt University in 2017. In 2019, she completed the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Vanderbilt University where her capstone project was called: Development of a ClinicalOnboarding Program for an Ambulatory Care Setting.

As part of her WHNP coursework, Amanda was part of a team that presented to women in recovery regarding HPV and the HPV vaccine. She's worked in nursing education as a clinical teaching assistant and guest lecturer for pre-licensure nursing students in their OB rotation. She also has experience in healthcare simulation having been involved in creating the new maternity simulation currently being used at UT-Austin’s School of Nursing. She joined Population Health in 2018 to work as a quality improvement and research nurse for the Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies initiatives.