I am very pleased to announce the inaugural class of NASHP’s Emerging Leaders of Color Fellowship as a small step to achieve our goals of racial equity in state health policy. We were humbled to receive 108 applications for the three available fellowships and moved by the testimony of each fellow as they shared their lived experiences.
They spoke of the urgent and personal issues they confronted in the nation’s health care system: watching a parent visit the emergency room countless times for chronic health episodes, feeling helpless while siblings maneuvered a difficult and fragmented system, and witnessing the health of friends worsen as a result of discriminatory practices.
As a result of their experiences and dedicated work within the field, we are confident these emerging leaders will passionately drive the health policy solutions needed to advance health equity. Following a review of applications and interviews with finalists, we have selected these emerging leaders:
Abena Asare currently works as a program assistant at Prevention Institute (PI), a national public health nonprofit headquartered in Oakland, California. She helps coordinate prevention initiatives focused on collaborative and community-based approaches to addressing intimate partner violence and mental health and well-being as part of PI’s Safety and Wellbeing team. She has provided technical assistance to communities across California through a program called Safety Through Connection, supported cities across the country through the Making Connections for Mental Health and Wellbeing Among Men and Boys initiative, and helped facilitate PreventConnect web conferences focused on sexual and domestic violence prevention. She currently serves on the Community Engagement, Advocacy, and Policy committee of M.O.T.H.E.R. Lab, a lab focused on eradicating the inequities Black women face. She is passionate about health equity and addressing the determinants of health that impact the maternal and child health population in the United States. Abena is pursuing her MPH concentrating in Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health at University of California, Berkeley and graduated from Wellesley College in 2018 with a BA in psychology and health and society.
Ronique Taffe is a product development analyst for the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), working on the creation and iteration of population health-based accreditation and distinction products. Prior to joining NCQA in 2014, she interned at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where she was a research assistant and oversaw the implementation of health literacy interventions focusing on chronic conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. She also interned for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) where she collaborated with consumer safety officers to analyze and compile trends on the similarities and differences in how foreign pharmacies operate. Ronique now works on several NCQA enterprise-level projects focused on advancing health equity. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2019, where she was awarded an MPH and received her BA in health administration and policy, with a minor in sociology, from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2014.
Stacey Riddick is a motivated early career public health professional whose passion for eliminating health disparities serves as a driving force in both her educational and occupational pursuits. Stacey is an alumna of Spelman College, a historically black liberal arts school for women located in Atlanta. At Spelman, she majored in biology with a minor in public health. Before Spelman, Stacey attended St. Cecilia Academy in Nashville. Her active academic and extracurricular involvement transferred over to Spelman and the Atlanta Westside community, where she was a scholar and community health advocate. As a current ORISE Fellow in the Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Stacey continues to leverage her natural science background and passion for social justice. She is seeking new opportunities to use science and policy as a tool to advance public health for marginalized populations.
The three fellows will partner with a NASHP state health policy leader of color to take on a project they will develop with that leader. They will also be invited to participate in NASHP’s ongoing work and will present their own initiatives at NASHP’s annual conference. Each fellow will receive a $2,000 stipend and free travel and registration at NASHP’s annual conference.
NASHP is grateful to these state health policy leaders who have guided our work and took time to review applications and interview candidates:
- Ana Novais, Assistant Secretary, Rhode Island Executive Office of Department of Health and Human Services
- Icilda Dickerson, Chief, Ohio Department of Medicaid. Long-Term Services and Supports Bureau
- Rene Mollow, Deputy Director, Health Care Benefits and Eligibility, California Department of Health Care Services
- Cheryl Roberts, Deputy Director for Programs, Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services
- Dena Stoner, Director, Innovation Strategy, IDD/Behavioral Health Services,
Texas Health and Human Services
- Mary McIntyre, Chief Medical Officer, Alabama Department of Public Health
NASHP’s team lead Adney Rakotoniaina, will continue to coordinate the program, aided by Salom Teshale and Maureen Hensley Quinn.
NASHP looks forward to collaborating with these fellows and bringing their voices and knowledge to our work.