John Auerbach, M.B.A.,† is the president and the chief executive officer of Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), where he oversees TFAH’s work to promote sound public health policy and make disease prevention a national priority. Over the course of a 30-year career he has held senior public health positions at the federal, state, and local levels. As the associate director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention he oversaw policy and the agency’s collaborative efforts with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, commercial payers, and large health systems. During his 6 years as the commissioner of public health for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, he developed innovative programs to promote health equity, combat chronic and infectious disease, and support the successful implementation of the state’s health care reform initiative. As Boston’s health commissioner for 9 years, he directed homeless, substance abuse, and emergency medical services for the city as well as a wide range of public health divisions. Mr. Auerbach was previously a professor of practice in health sciences and the director of the Institute on Urban Health Research and Practice at Northeastern University, the program director of one of the country’s first community health centers, and the director of a clinical training program at a tertiary care safety-net hospital.
Tina Cheng, M.D., M.P.H.,† is the Given Foundation Professor of Pediatrics, the director of the Department of Pediatrics for the School of Medicine
1 * Denotes planning committee member; † denotes speaker.
with joint appointment in the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the pediatrician-in-chief of Johns Hopkins Hospital. She is the 9th and first woman director of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. A 1986 graduate of the Brown University Program in Medicine, she completed her pediatrics residency and chief residency at the University of California, San Francisco, and San Francisco General Hospital. She received an M.P.H. in epidemiology and her preventive medicine residency from the University of California, Berkeley, followed by a fellowship in academic general pediatrics at the University of Massachusetts.
Her clinical work, teaching, and research focuses on child, adolescent, and family perspectives on improving health and community-integrated models to interrupt the intergenerational cycle of disadvantage. For 15 years she co-led the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded DC Baltimore Research Center on Child Health Disparities, which outlined a research action agenda on child health disparities. She led the establishment of two clinical and research innovation centers at Johns Hopkins: Centro SOL: Johns Hopkins Center for Salud/(Health) and Opportunity for Latinos and the Rales Center on the Integration of Health and Education. Both of these centers develop and evaluate community-integrated models of health promotion to address the needs of vulnerable children, adolescents, and families.
An author of more than 150 publications, she has been the principal investigator on numerous federal and foundation grants (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) and has conducted randomized trials of primary care and emergency department initiated interventions in partnership with community services (e.g., mentoring programs, legal advocacy, schools, home visitation) to promote positive youth development, behavioral health integration, and family health. She has written on the future of child and adolescent health needs and services, translating life-course theory to practice, health equity, and the importance of two-generation programs and a proposed three-generation approach.
A past president of the Academic Pediatric Association, she has held leadership roles in that organization and in the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). She is currently on the National Advisory Panel of the NIH All of Us Research Program and co-led the Child Enrollment Scientific Vision Working Group. She has received numerous recognitions, including the AAP Education Award and the Job Lewis Smith Award for Community Pediatrics, the Vice Dean’s Award for the Advancement of Women Faculty, and the Academic Pediatric Association’s Public Policy and Advocacy Award. She is an elected member in the National Academy of Medicine.
Kristofer Comeforo, M.Ed.,† is the principal at Stuart-Hobson Middle School, a public, Title I school in Washington, DC. During his tenure, Stuart-Hobson has undergone impressive improvement, not only academically, but also in terms of student and staff culture. By reinvigorating his staff, amplifying student voices, and connecting with aligned community partners, he has ensured that Stuart-Hobson is a place where people love to be.
As the son of two public school educators, he never planned to go into the “family business.” Instead, he earned a degree in biochemistry from Boston College, planning to work in the biotech industry. However, after volunteering at a school, he was reminded of how much fun it can be to work with kids. Ten years later, after teaching, coaching football, founding a robotics team, and serving as a school leader, he is committed to reshaping how schools can best serve children.
Nancy L. Deutsch, Ph.D.,† is a professor at the University of Virginia’s (UVA’s) Curry School of Education and the director of Youth-Nex: the UVA Center to Promote Effective Youth Development. Her research focuses on understanding the process of adolescent development as it unfolds within local environments with a goal of understanding how to create settings that better support youth, especially those at risk due to economic or sociocultural factors. She has also written about the use of mixed methods in developmental and educational research. She is the author of Pride in the Projects: Teens Building Identities in Urban Contexts and co-authored Youth Organizations and Positive Youth Development: Case Studies of Success and Failure. Dr. Deutsch is the editor of the Journal of Adolescent Research and sits on the editorial board for Qualitative Psychology. Dr. Deutsch engages in a variety of activities to help translate research to practice, including current membership on the National Mentoring Resource Center’s research advisory board. Her work has been funded by the William T. Grant Foundation, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Education, among others. In 2019, Dr. Deutsch received the American Psychological Association Division 5 award for Distinguished Contributions in Teaching and Mentoring in Qualitative Inquiry and in 2017 she received an All University Teaching Award from UVA. Dr. Deutsch received her B.A. in English from Vassar College and her Ph.D. in human development and social policy from Northwestern University.
Robert W. Dodd, Ph.D.,† has spent 25 years teaching and leading in the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). Originally trained as an elementary school teacher, Dr. Dodd has also served as a principal at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. In addition, Dr. Dodd spent
3 years as a consulting principal in MCPS, where he trained and assessed novice elementary and middle school principals. In 2014, while he was the principal of Argyle Magnet Middle School, Dr. Dodd was awarded the Distinguished Educational Leadership Award by The Washington Post. Dr. Dodd earned his doctorate in entrepreneurial leadership in education from Johns Hopkins University. His research focused on the impacts of various school organizational structures on achievement, engagement, and students’ perceptions of the classroom environment. He is currently the principal of Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland.
Phyllis L. Fagell, LCPC,† is the author of the best-selling Middle School Matters, which earned a starred review from Booklist. Ms. Fagell is the counselor at Sheridan School in Washington, DC, a psychotherapist in private practice, and a journalist who frequently contributes to The Washington Post and other national publications. She is also a regular columnist for Kappan and AMLE magazines, and she consults and speaks to parents and educators throughout the world on a range of topics impacting tweens. Her work and ideas have been featured in The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, NPR, Mindshift KQED, The Boston Globe, Working Mother, Psychology Today, Inc. magazine, and others. Ms. Fagell earned her B.A. from Dartmouth College, her master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School at Northwestern University, and her master’s degree in counseling from Johns Hopkins University.
Barbara Ferrer, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.Ed.,† is the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which protects health, prevents disease, and promotes equity and well-being among Los Angeles County’s 10 million residents. She oversees a $1.3 billion budget, directs a workforce of 5,000 staff, and works to integrate services with her colleagues at the Departments of Health Services and Mental Health. Dr. Ferrer is a nationally known leader with more than 30 years of experience as a philanthropic strategist, educational leader, researcher, community advocate, and public health director. Dr. Ferrer received her Ph.D. in social welfare from Brandeis University, an M.P.H. from Boston University, an M.Ed. from the University of Massachusetts, and a B.A. in community studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Evelyn Garcia, LCSW,† is a licensed clinical social worker with a Pupil Personnel School Credential. She currently works as a school site social worker and field instructor in a Will Rogers Middle School, which is part of the Lawndale Elementary School District (LESD) in Los Angeles, California. LESD is a teaching institue for M.S.W. and M.F.T. interns, which means that she manages a cohort of M.S.W./M.F.T. interns every school
year. Aside from this, her role entails ensuring the de-stigmatization of mental health; student access to mental health services; increase in parent engagement; improvement of student attendance; linkage to resources; positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) implementation; and staff professional development. In 2018, Ms. Garcia was awarded the Heart of Social Work award by the University of Southern California Suzzane Dworeck Peck School of Social Work in recognition of innovative and outstanding service in the field of social work.
Ta-Biti Gibson† is a restorative justice coordinator at the Edna Brewer Middle School. Mr. Gibson has ample experience in conflict resolution in the school grades involving teachers, students, and administrators. He has lent his expertise to different school-based programs, including Aim High, at different middle schools in the Oakland area.
Philip C. Harris, Ph.D., M.B.A.,† was appointed on May 7, 2019, to the Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) as the program manager, recovery, as a result of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) tragedy that impacted the district and the community on February 14, 2018. His resolute leadership, expertise, and passion immediately benefited the organization. Since his appointment he has established a recovery system of supports with emphasis on prevention to mitigate mental health issues, mental health treatment, therapy, training, and implementation of activities to restore social and emotional well-being and collective wellness for the students, staff, and families of BCPS. Dr. Harris has provided a clear vision of the resources needed to address the scale of need (demand) for recovery services and outlined an engagement model that encompasses BCPS and its community partners. He has marked a clear path to district-level support for recovery services to fully meet the needs of MSD/MSD Zone schools and the district. Dr. Harris immediately enhanced the recovery efforts to ensure they aligned with the District Recovery Strategic Plan and ensured the communication and coordination of mental, physical, and behavioral health activities of impacted students, families, and staff are met. He works diligently to develop and implement programs and services with internal and external stakeholders (i.e., Employee Assistance Program, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, elected officials, municipalities, and county government) to maximize the use of available community resources.
Previously, Dr. Harris served as the Broward County human services administrator and managed the Children’s Services Administration Section of the Broward County Human Services Department, Community Partnerships Division. In this capacity, he was responsible for nearly $15 million in contracted services for children, youth, and their families in
the areas of juvenile justice system, behavioral health, special needs, child care, social services systems, child welfare services, LGBTQ (social services), and independent living. He closely coordinated with stakeholders, children’s services funders, children’s services advisory board, and the community board in ensuring a responsive and inclusive system of care.
In addition to Dr. Harris’s extensive 16 years of professional career experience in the field of public administration, he still takes the time to personally give back to his community. He is faithful to community building and improvement. Some of his community and industry organizational activities to name a few are as follows: president, National Forum for Black Public Administrators South Florida Chapter; Board of Directors, National Sigma Beta Club Foundation, Inc.; regional cluster coordinator, Florida Conference Seventh-Day Adventist Church Children’s Adventurer Clubs; Florida Association for Volunteer Resource Management; social action chair, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. Delray Beach Alumni Chapter; and ambassador father, March of Dimes.
He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of South Florida. He also holds an M.B.A. with an emphasis in public administration and doctorate in business administration with a concentration in management from Argosy University.
Joey N. Jones, Ph.D.,† a native of Reidsville, North Carolina, has served as an award-winning educator for more than 30 years, focusing on the development of youth as a middle school principal, high school administrator, technology education teacher, curriculum writer, mentor, minister, coach, tutor, motivational speaker, and author. Currently, he serves as the principal of Robert Frost Middle School, a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. He earned undergraduate degrees in industrial arts/technology education from North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, and a Ph.D. in school administration and supervision from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Among numerous awards and recognitions, he was selected as the 2019–2020, State of Maryland Principal of the Year; 2013 Mark Mann Excellence and Harmony Award as the school system’s Principal of the Year; selected to participate in The Washington Post’s Vincent E. Reed Principals Leadership Institute; and serves as a principal developer and a mentor. His book, 100 Percent: The Power of Giving Your All, is an Amazon best-seller and has motivated adults and youth throughout the United States and China.
Michelle A. Larkin, J.D., M.S.,† associate executive vice president, joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in 1999. With more than 27 years as a leader in health policy and practice, and as an attorney com-
mitted to using law and policy to improve health, she provides leadership to the executive vice president, senior management team, and staff on strategy and program policy, communications, research, evaluation, and learning activities. In this role, she helps shape RWJF’s vision to build a Culture of Health in America, where everyone has a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. Ms. Larkin’s path to RWJF began with a career in nursing. Inspired by her maternal aunt, a nurse, she realized her dream when she earned a B.S.N. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.S. in nursing/health policy from the University of Maryland. As an oncology nurse at the University of Maryland Medical System in Baltimore, she experienced firsthand the opportunities, challenges, and rewards of bedside nursing.
Her experiences in Baltimore led her from direct care nursing to a concentration in health policy. As a presidential management fellow, she worked at the Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and as a legislative fellow for the U.S. Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee. She then served as a health policy analyst at the Office on Smoking and Health at CDC in Washington, DC. Ms. Larkin joined RWJF as a program associate, continuing her commitment to tackling some of the nation’s toughest health and health care problems, and fulfilling a promise she made to herself early in her career “to create a positive impact on the lives of many and make it easier for people to live healthier lives.” Her earliest focus at RWJF involved promoting increased tobacco excise taxes, state and local smoke-free air laws, and funding for tobacco prevention and treatment. With a growing portfolio of responsibilities at RWJF, and her keen interest in exploring areas where the mission of public health intersects with the practice of the law, Ms. Larkin expanded her policy and program expertise by earning a J.D. from the Seton Hall University School of Law. She is a member of the American Public Health Association, the American Bar Association, and the New Jersey Bar. She serves on the Grantmakers in Health Board, the National Board of Public Health Examiners, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Roundtable on Population Health Improvement.
To date, she has served in many roles at RWJF. She has been the director of the public health team, the assistant vice president for program portfolios, the assistant vice president, the associate vice president–program, and the associate chief of staff. In each of these roles, she has employed her nursing and legal expertise to help shape RWJF’s vison, strategies, policies, and programs to ensure that everyone in America can make healthy choices, no matter where they live or how much they earn.
Erica Louison† is a nonprofit professional with more than 20 years of experience in the social services and education sectors. She has coordinated the administrative, operational, and financial activities of grant-supported programs in both Washington, DC, and Baltimore, Maryland. At the school district level, Ms. Louison has led cohorts of school and community stakeholders in developing strategies that improved student attendance, school culture and climate, and family engagement. In her current role at the United Way of the National Capital Area, she is responsible for refining and implementing United Way’s education priorities, strategies, and initiatives. Ms. Louison earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s degree in nonprofit administration from Trinity University in Washington, DC.
Linda Pulido-Esquivel is a network partner/director of school operations working to support middle school leaders in Oakland, California. She has a B.A. in management from Saint Mary’s College of California. Ms. Pulido-Esquivel has worked in several different roles at the Oakland Unified School District since 2006. The focus of her work since 2016 has been to support middle school leaders and staff. She has been working on implementing the Measure G1 Parcel Tax: Middle School Electives and Educator Retention since January 2017. Ms. Pulido-Esquivel has supported the process by creating systems from allocation through accountability for both district and charter schools. An underlying principle in her work is that allocations are not just numbers, but rather access to opportunities in the pivotal years of middle school that have a direct impact on the future success of youth.
Mayor Libby Schaaf, J.D.,† was born and raised in Oakland, which she proudly describes as “The most unapologetic Sanctuary City in America.” During her tenure, Oakland has undergone an economic revitalization and building boom, as well as cut gun violence in half.
Her “17K/17K Housing Plan” has helped increase Oakland’s affordable housing production, stabilize rents, and decrease evictions. Her innovative public–private partnerships Keep Oakland Housed and Cabin Communities are credited with preventing 1,800 families per year from losing their housing, while resolving some of Oakland’s most unsafe street encampments. In 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Mayor Schaaf to California’s first Council of Regional Homeless Advisors. She created Oakland’s first Department of Transportation, whose equity-based paving plan is the first of its kind in the nation and will make previously underserved neighborhoods safer, while addressing the city’s decades-old infrastructure backlog. Mayor Schaaf is most proud of launching the Oakland Promise, a bold cradle-to-career initiative to send more low--
income Oakland kids to preschool and college. The Oakland Promise has sent more than 1,400 Oakland students (and counting) to college with scholarships and mentors, and will give every baby born into poverty a $500 college savings account at birth.
Joshua M. Sharfstein, M.D., is the vice dean for public health practice and community engagement and a professor of the practice in health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is also the director of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative. Previously, Dr. Sharfstein served as the secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, as the principal deputy commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and as the health commissioner of Baltimore City. In these positions, he pursued creative solutions to long-standing challenges, including drug overdose deaths, infant mortality, unsafe consumer products, and school failure. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Public Administration.
Jeffrey Sullivan, Ph.D.,† is currently the director of system-wide athletics for the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), located in Maryland, administering the interscholastic athletics program comprised of 25 high schools and 40 middle schools. The mission of the MCPS athletics program is to ensure that every student will attain the mental, moral, physical, and social-emotional skills to excel in the classroom, community, and the realm of competition. As the director, Dr. Sullivan has collaborated with a variety of stakeholders to administer a leadership development program for athletic directors, implement online registration for student-athletes, create a Student-Athlete Leadership Council, and engage athletics department staff in activities promoting equity and access. Additionally, during his tenure, the MCPS athletics program has debuted a vision, mission, purpose, and its R.A.I.S.E. core values—Respect and sportsmanship; Academic excellence; Integrity and honesty, Spirited, safe competition; and Equity and access.
In his more than 20 years with MCPS, Dr. Sullivan has also served as the athletics specialist, the athletic director at Paint Branch and Clarksburg High Schools, a physical education/health teacher, and a coach for multiple sports. He is also active at the state level, serving the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association as a member of the Executive Council, Classification Committee, Appeals Committee, and is the director for the state boys’ basketball tournament. Dr. Sullivan earned a B.S. in physical education from the University of Maryland, College Park; an M.S. in educational leadership from Hood College; and a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy studies from Howard University.
He is also a Certified Master Athletic Administrator through the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. Dr. Sullivan is a two-time recipient of the District Athletic Director of the Year Award from the Maryland State Athletic Directors Association (2012 and 2007) and currently serves on the executive boards for the Montgomery Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and the Montgomery County Sports Hall of Fame.
Joaquin Tamayo, M.P.A.,* is a former high school teacher, principal, and federal policy maker; a senior policy advisor at EducationCounsel, leading projects related to advancing the science of learning and development to drive equity, improvement, and excellence in U.S. public education. Previously, Mr. Tamayo co-founded and was the national director of the Middle School Kindness Challenge at Stand for Children, designed to improve school climate and social-emotional learning, as well as reduce unnecessary suspensions by making the intentional teaching and fostering of kindness commonplace in America’s middle schools. Mr. Tamayo holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Columbia University, an M.P.A. in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and is a graduate of the New Leaders for New Schools urban principal residency program.
Christine Thielen,* an educator for almost 20 years, is a middle school math teacher at Lincoln Middle School in Park Ridge, Illinois. She currently serves as the chair of the Board of Trustees for the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE; see www.AMLE.org). Ms. Thielen also serves as an adjunct instructor of middle level education classes and she has presented at the AMLE annual conference and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference.
Tanya Thompson, M.Ed.,† originally from the Bronx, New York, Ms. Thompson received her B.S. with a double major in elementary education and Spanish from the University of Miami in 1997. She then proceeded to obtain her master’s degree from Florida Atlantic University in educational leadership in 2006. She also earned additional certifications in mathematics, grades 5–9. Ms. Thompson has a diverse background in education. She has been an elementary school and sixth grade math teacher, a middle school assistant principal, and an evaluations coordinator at the district level, overseeing the evaluation systems in the district. Coming full circle, she has “returned back home” to the world of middle school, serving in the capacity of project coordinator for the Reimagining Middle Grades initiative. This initiative officially kicked off in Broward County in June 2018. Her strengths in organizational skills, long-term planning,
and attention to detail are instrumental to capturing the progress of this transformational and ground-breaking initiative.
Maryam Toloui, LCSW, PPSC,† is a licensed clinical social worker and has a California Credential in Pupil Personnel Services. She is in her fourth year as the director of wellness services for Unity Schools, a pair of public charter schools in East Oakland. Before joining Unity, Ms. Toloui spent 12 years working with youth and families involved in the foster care system. She holds bachelor’s degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.S.W. from New York University.
Lisa Warhuus, Ph.D.,† has a Ph.D. in psychology with 20 years of experience managing programs in health and human services, education, social justice, and systems reform. She has administered health care services for 10 years with the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency. As the director of children and youth initiatives, she leads and provides strategic direction for a county-wide school health initiative that seeks to reduce the effects of economic and racial disparities in Alameda County schools and create opportunities for all youth to cultivate their strengths, resiliency, and promise. In this capacity, she is responsible for the administration and oversight of 28 school health centers; mental health services in more than 200 Alameda County schools; family resource centers in school districts; REACH Ashland Youth Center; and mental health and youth development programs that support unaccompanied immigrant youth, justice-involved youth, and boys and men of color. Over the course of her career, Dr. Warhuus has led organizational planning processes; managed organizational change through team development, conflict resolution, and strategic visioning; created and implemented strategic plans to improve services and service access; grown health and education service systems through partnership and team development, smart financing, public advocacy, and grant management; and facilitated effective, cross-sector initiatives to achieve positive outcomes for youth, families, and their communities.
Joanna Lee Williams, Ph.D., M.S.Ed.,* is an associate professor in the Curry School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia (UVA). She is a faculty affiliate with Youth-Nex: the UVA Center to Promote Effective Youth Development, and with the Center for Race and Public Education in the South. She earned her M.S.Ed. in human development from the University of Pennsylvania and her Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Temple University. Dr. Williams studies race and ethnicity as social contexts for youth development. With support from the William T. Grant Foundation she is investigating issues of social
network equity in racially diverse middle schools. She has also studied ethnic identity as a form of positive youth development and previously served as the associate director of research for the Young Women Leaders Program, a mentoring program for middle school girls. Dr. Williams is a member of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on Neurobiological and Socio-behavioral Science of Adolescent Development and Its Applications and is a contributor to the Youth-Nex Re-making Middle School initiative.
Hanh Cao Yu, Ph.D.,† is the chief learning officer at The California Endowment (TCE) where she oversees learning, strategic development, evaluation, and impact activities and ensures that local and state grantees, boards, and staff understand the results and lessons of TCE’s investments in its 10-year Building Healthy Communities (BHC) initiative. BHC focuses on social determinants of health and policy systems change through a community-driven and power building approach.
Dr. Yu’s 25-year career spans the research, evaluation, and philanthropic sectors. Prior to joining TCE, she served as the vice president at Social Policy Research Associates, where she oversaw much of the research and evaluation work in education, philanthropy, and adolescent development. Dr. Yu has more than 20 years of experience in qualitative and quantitative research in the areas of health and racial equity social change philanthropy, leadership development, organizational effectiveness, policy advocacy evaluation, community organizing, and vulnerable populations. As a researcher at Stanford University, Dr. Yu is the author of numerous publications, including Adolescent World: Navigating the Multiple Worlds of Family, Peers, and School (Teachers College Press, 1998) and The Handbook on Leadership Development Evaluation (Jossey-Bass, 2006), and served on the RISE for Boys and Men of Color Advisory Group in 2016.