National Summit for Health Communication

Speakers, Panelists & Moderators



Terry Savage

Terry Savage
President, Society for Health Communication
Vice President, Westat

An expert in research-driven communication, Terry is a vice president and associate director at Westat, managing a team that focuses on social marketing, digital/social media, information dissemination, communications research, product and campaign development and implementation, partner/stakeholder engagement, multicultural communications, and website and application development projects.

Prior to her role at Westat, she served as vice president at Eagle Design and Management, Low and Associates, and Berns and Kay. She has served on the Society’s steering committee since 2017. Terry holds a Master’s degree in Communication from Johns Hopkins University and in Women’s Studies from George Washington University. She earned her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Virginia. 


Michael Grela

Michael Grela
Vice President, Society for Health Communication
Senior Vice President & Head of Marketing, Evoke KYNE

Michael serves as Senior Vice President, Head of Marketing at Evoke KYNE, a global healthcare communications agency dedicated to helping improve and save lives. He has more than 10 years’ experience working in the partnership and communications field with government, non-profits and corporations across multiple health categories.

He is responsible for the oversight and management of key client engagements in the public health and biopharmaceutical space with a focus on corporate social responsibility and patient advocacy. He is also responsible for leading Evoke KYNE’s global brand and marketing strategies including developing and evolving company positioning, branding and messaging, in addition to website, awards and social media content development and management. He works closely with office leads, new business team and HR to develop and execute activities that effectively support and drive new business, retain and recruit top industry talent and drive thought-leadership. Michael has experience working across multiple therapeutic areas including in Ebola, malaria, HIV/AIDS, oncology, hemophilia and tobacco control. He has overseen engagements in the U.S., Africa, and globally, including work with the CDC Foundation, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Nations, among others.


Shelly Spoeth Shelly Spoeth
Member-at-Large, Society for Health Communication

Shelly Spoeth has spent nearly 25 years in health marketing and communication having tackled issues including HPV vaccine, breast cancer, HIV, heart disease, diabetes, oral health, and tobacco cessation. She is currently the Managing Director, Marketing and Communication, Mission Initiatives at the American Cancer Society where she leads cancer prevention campaigns. Previously, she led the Health + Purpose Practice at Porter Novelli, a global communications firm, where she led the strategy, planning, and integrated marketing of multiple campaigns for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Shelly spent the first decade of her career working with private sector companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry while at PR firms including Ketchum, Fleishman-Hillard and Cohn & Wolfe. 

Shelly is a leader in social marketing (using marketing principles to change behavior) and has authored/co-authored multiple articles and presented at dozens of conferences on target audience segmentation, applying social marketing principles to campaign development, and digital strategy and measurement. 

Shelly is a founding member of the planning committee for the National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media and on the steering committee of the Society for Health Communication. Shelly holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Florida and graduated from Omnicom's Executive Management Master's Course in 2018. Also in 2018, she was selected as the PR News Healthcare Communicator of the Year and her team was named the PR News Healthcare Team of the Year.


Ashani Johnson-Turbes

Ashani Johnson-Turbes
Steering Committee Member, Society for Health Communication
Principal Scientist, NORC at the University of Chicago

Dr. Ashani Johnson-Turbes is an experienced research and evaluation scientist with over 17 years of experience conducting social and behavioral science research and evaluation studies.

Johnson-Turbes’ experience blends her academic background in political science, political behavior and public policy with years of work in health policy, public health, health marketing and communication and evaluation. She is skilled in conduct of formative, process and outcome evaluation of public health campaigns and interventions to improve public health and well-being, particularly for marginalized populations.

Johnson-Turbes has expertise in participatory and deliberative models for public engagement, research with vulnerable populations, health disparities, culturally responsive research and evaluation, and qualitative and mixed methods. She has presented her work at numerous national conferences and is published in peer reviewed journals.


 Chelsea Dade
Chelsea Dade
Social Media Manager, Society for Health Communication

Chelsea Dade, MS, is the Social Media Manager for the Society. In addition to this role, Chelsea leads as a Co-chair of the American Public Health Association (APHA)'s Health Communication Matter's Webinar team, works in youth development at Girls Inc of Chicago, and runs Communicate for Health Justice (CFHJ), a youth-driven health communication platform mixing health equity concepts into online healthcare content. 


The Role of Health Communication in a Public Health Crisis


Jay Bernhardt

Jay Bernhardt
Dean, Moody College of Communication, University of Texas at Austin Founder, Society for Health Communication

Dr. Jay Bernhardt is the Dean of the Moody College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin, one of the largest and highest ranked colleges of communication in the country. Jay was the Founding Director of the UT Center for Health Communication and he holds the Walter Cronkite Regents Chair and the DeWitt Carter Reddick Regents Chair in Communication. Before UT, Jay served as Chair, Professor, and Center Director at the University of Florida in Gainesville, and he previously served on the faculty of Emory University in Atlanta and the University of Georgia in Athens. From 2005 to 2010, Dr. Bernhardt served as Director of the National Center for Health Marketing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, managing a staff of more than 500 and a budget of more than $100 million. He received his PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He serves on numerous national boards and editorial board, is a member of six honor societies, and has received numerous awards for his scholarship and leadership.


COVID-19 Communications Navigating the Response


Severa Lynch

Severa Lynch
Sr. Director, Marketing & Member Communications Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic

Severa Lynch, senior director of marketing and member communications for Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States, has nearly 20 years of experience in health policy research and health care communications, including 11 years at Kaiser Permanente in marketing, product and member communications.

As a strategic lead for COVID-19 communications, Severa works with national and regional stakeholders to keep up-to-date information flowing to brokers, customers, members and the public. She has been instrumental in helping to maintain positive relationships with Kaiser Permanente’s priority audiences during this public health crisis, communicating what the organization is doing to prepare for the pandemic and sharing critical information to get members the care they need.


Glen Nowak

Glen Nowak
Director of Center for Health & Risk Communication
Professor, Advertising, University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Glen Nowak, Ph.D., is a Professor of Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and Director of the Grady College’s Center for Health and Risk Communication. In the past five years, he has been actively involved in communication research related to vaccination acceptance and decision making, including by parents and adults. 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. He was CDC’s Director of Media Relations during the 2009 H1N1A influenza pandemic.

For over 20 years, Professor Nowak has provided senior-level leadership in infectious disease, vaccine and immunization-related communications programs, projects, and research, including to U.S. CDC, the U.S. National Vaccine Program Office (NVPO), the Task Force for Global Health, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI). He is an author or co-author of over 45 peer-reviewed journal articles.  Dr. Nowak received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1982 from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, with majors in both economics and communications. He has an MA degree in journalism (1987) and a Ph.D. in the field of mass communications (1990) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Claudia Parvanta
Claudia Parvanta
Professor & Director
Florida Prevention Research Center College of Public Health, University of South Florida

Claudia Parvanta, PhD, is a Professor in the College of Public Health and Director of the Florida Prevention Research Center at the University of South Florida. Before joining USF, she served as Chair, Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, after nearly 12 years. There she researched and contributed to projects to improve health literacy in the city’s public health centers, increase colorectal cancer screening among minorities, and train health professions students in culturally competent communication. (Philly is also her hometown.)  

From 2000 to 2005, Dr. Parvanta headed the Division of Health Communication at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and helped the agency expand its emergency communication capacity to respond to the 9/11 attacks, anthrax, and SARS. When not in government or academia, Dr. Parvanta has designed, managed, or evaluated health and nutrition social marketing programs in more than 20 countries. Her early days were spent working with the Los Angeles Public Health Foundation WIC program as their ‘consulting anthropologist’ and with Porter/Novelli, a leading social marketing company.  

Dr. Parvanta has received grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation, HRSA, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, among others. Her publications have appeared in peer-reviewed journals, and she is currently working on a revision of her popular textbook, entitled Essentials of Public Health Communication (2011). Dr. Parvanta received her PhD in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1986.  


Scott Ratzan

Scott Ratzan
Distinguished Lecturer, Community Health and Social Sciences, The City University of New York
Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Health Communication

Scott C. Ratzan, MD, MPA, MA is the first Distinguished Lecturer at CUNY SPH bringing three decades of pioneering accomplishments domestically and globally in health communication, health literacy and strategic diplomacy. He is the founding Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives, established in 1995. At CUNY, he is teaching in the fully on-line “Health Communication for Social Change” program and leading the CUNY COVID-19 Tracking survey which began in the early phase of the pandemic.

He recently was Senior Fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard Kennedy School where he published “Guiding Principles for Multisector Engagement for Sustainable Health (MESH) and a series of published articles related to vaccine communication in the Washington Post, Financial Times, JAMA and Lancet Infectious Disease. He currently serves on the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Board on Global Health, the RAND Health Advisory Board, and Vice Chair of World Information Transfer, a UN accredited NGO.  He also has served on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Board of Scientific Counselors for the Office of Infectious Disease.

Scott has an M.D. from the University of Southern California, an M.P.A. from the Harvard Kennedy School, and an M.A. in Communication from Emerson College. His academic appointments include Adjunct Professor at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, Tufts University School of Medicine, George Washington University School of Public Health and University of St Andrews School of Medicine.

Tara Sell

Tara Kirk Sell
Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Health and Engineering Senior Scholar
Center for Health Security Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Dr. Sell is a Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. At the Center, she conducts, manages, and leads research projects to develop a greater understanding of potentially large-scale health events. She also serves as an Associate Editor of the peerreviewed journal Health Security (formerly Biosecurity and Bioterrorism).

Dr. Sell’s work focuses on improving public health policy and practice in order to reduce the health impacts of disasters and terrorism. Her primary research interests focus on health security: the broad intersection of public health and national security. She studies past responses to public health emergencies to discover ways to improve future preparedness and response. From terrorism to pandemics and natural disasters, she employs mixed methods and multidisciplinary approaches to examine how the public, practitioners, and policymakers prepare for and respond to public health emergencies. In turn, she works to build the evidence base to advance policies and practices to minimize impacts of emergent threats. Though seemingly distinct, these topics are all linked by crosscutting preparedness and response needs critical to the improvement of the field of health security.

A hallmark of her work is the discovery of scientifically rigorous results while simultaneously interfacing with policymakers, public health practitioners, and the general public to translate research findings into actionable and evidence-based practices. She works collaboratively and purposefully to translate and disseminate findings and recommendations to target audiences in meaningful ways, such as engaging in collaborative work with the CDC to improve public communication or co-developing Event 201, an immersive pandemic scenario to engage new stakeholders such as the private sector in pandemic preparedness. 


Building News, Health, and Science Literacy in Today's World


Peter Adams

 Peter Adams
Senior Vice President Education News Literacy Project

Peter Adams is the News Literacy Project’s senior vice president of education. He began his career as a classroom teacher in the New York City schools through Teach For America. He has also taught in the Chicago public schools, at Roosevelt University and at Chicago City Colleges’ Wilbur Wright campus. In addition, he has worked with the NYC Teaching Fellows program, with After School Matters and as an independent education consultant.

Since joining NLP in 2009, he has coordinated classroom and after-school programs, served as Chicago program manager, worked on organizational strategy and developed NLP’s digital program. He has also provided news literacy training and workshops to educators and others throughout the area. He was promoted to his current position in January 2014 and oversees NLP’s education team, which develops resources and training for teachers. He and the other team members are based in Chicago.

Peter is a graduate of Indiana University, where he majored in English and African American studies and co-founded an independent monthly student newspaper, and has a master’s degree in the humanities from the University of Chicago.


Stacy Robison

Stacy Robison
President and Co-Founder CommunicateHealth, Inc.

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 the age of 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.



Laura Van Eperen
Founder & CEO Van Eperen
Laura Van Eperen

Laura Van Eperen, founder and CEO of Van Eperen,, has 25+ years of experience as a strategic communications consultant and broadcast journalist. As CEO of Van Eperen, she manages a team of highly skilled communicators who work with a cross section of clients who plan and execute strategic communication programs. She founded the firm 15 years ago in Greater Washington, D.C. with a fierce commitment to providing exceptional communication services to clients. Today, the firm’s top leaders hold steadfast to that original client commitment as it offers expertise in PR, marketing, branding, and advertising services.

One of Van Eperen’s key practice areas is health and science communication. The firm has dedicated practitioners who support associations, government agencies and corporations with critical public education and outreach programs. Van Eperen’s individual expertise is rooted in journalism and crisis communications. She regularly trains and advises top leaders at NIH and other organizations with media/speaker/on-camera training workshops. 

 Prior to founding Van Eperen, Laura served as a senior leader in communication consultancies in Washington, DC and Milwaukee, WI. She also served as a broadcast journalist in Colorado and Florida where she reported, anchored and managed local and statewide news operations. Laura graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a B.A. in Communications and a minor in Journalism. She is currently in her second term as an appointee of Governor Larry Hogan as Vice Chair of the Maryland Public-Private Partnership Marketing Corporation.





Reports from the Field: Evaluation During a Crisis


Tesfa Alexandar Tesfa Alexandar 
Director, Division of Research & Evaluation Food and Drug Administration


Tesfa N. Alexander, PhD is the Director of the Division of Research and Evaluation in the Office of Health Communication and Education at the Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In this role, Dr. Alexander leads a team of social and health scientists who are responsible for developing the scientific foundation for CTP’s public education campaigns and other health communication initiatives. The Division of Research and Evaluation is also responsible for measuring the public health impact of CTP’s health communication activities. Dr. Alexander has extensive experience designing and conducting research studies that draw on theories and methods from multiple disciplines, including social science and marketing, to develop innovative public education and behavior change programs. Before joining FDA, he held positions at well-known non-profit organizations and marketing/advertising agencies where he provided thought leadership in analyzing qualitative and quantitative data, generating insights, and developing comprehensive reports of findings for use by senior officials, analysts and marketing specialists in the development of national public health programs and effective behavior change marketing tools. Dr. Alexander also currently serves as an adjunct professor at George Washington University.


Tom Chapel

 Thomas J. Chapel 
Former Chief Evaluation Officer Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Tom Chapel has just retired from CDC where he was the agency’s center go-to evaluation resource and champion since 2001, most recently as CDC’s first Chief Evaluation Officer. Before joining CDC he was a VP with Macro International (now ICF), managing most of their CDC and public health work. Nationally, Tom recently finished his term on the Board of the American Evaluation Association, where he won the Myrdal Government Evaluation Award in 2013, and is currently a member of their Evaluation Policy Task Force. A New Jersey native, he received his BA from Johns Hopkins University and his MBA and Master of Public Policy degrees from the University of Minnesota.




Tony Foleno

 Tony Foleno
Senior Vice President, Strategy & Evaluation Ad Council


 Tony Foleno is Senior Vice President of Strategy and Evaluation for the Ad Council, the national nonprofit that mobilizes the energy and talents of the marketing, media, and technology industries to make a measurable impact on today’s most critical social and health issues. Tony advises strategic planning and leads evaluation for the Ad Council’s 30+ public service campaigns, leveraging research-based insights into action and helping to ensure that the Ad Council operates as a results-driven organization.

Through Tony’s leadership, the Ad Council has developed sophisticated research capabilities and methodologies to help campaigns better reach and connect with audiences, while establishing and tracking key performance indicators to assess and optimize campaigns. In addition, he leads analyses that inform best practices in public service communications and social marketing.

Tony is a founding member of Ad Council Edge, a strategic consultancy advising companies and nonprofit organizations on strategies to inspire and engage the public on important causes. Tony also chairs the Ad Council’s Research Committee, a pro-bono advisory group comprised of thought leaders in marketing, research, and academia.

In 2019, Tony served as President of the Society for Health Communication and he currently serves on the Society’s steering committee. He serves as an advisory board member for several other organizations, including the Blackbaud Institute, Cause & Social Influence, Agents of Change, the Fishlinger Center for Public Policy Research, and the Market Research Council.

Tony recently won honors as Researcher of the Year at the 2019 Quirk’s Marketing Research & Insight Excellence Awards. In 2015, he was honored as a QRCA Luminary by the Qualitative Research Consultants Association. Tony has been a key member on dozens of public service campaigns that have garnered industry-wide awards and accolades. 


Shelly Hovick

Shelly Hovick
Assistant Professor, School of Communication The Ohio State University


Dr. Hovick is an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at Ohio State University. Her research focuses on the factors that shape perceptions of risk and the extent to which individuals to risks with information seeking and the adoption of health behavior.






Mike Mackert

Michael Mackert
Director, Center for Health Communication Professor, Department of Population Health Dell Medical School University of Texas at Austin


Michael Mackert, Ph.D., is the Director of The University of Texas at Austin Center for Health Communication and Professor in the Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations and Department of Population Health. His research focuses primarily on the strategies that can be used in traditional and new digital media to provide effective health communication to low health literate audiences. He leads projects on a variety of public health issues – including tobacco cessation, opioid overdose prevention, and men's role in prenatal health – that generate evidence-based health communication strategies for Center for Health Communication partners and contribute to health communication scholarship. 



Embracing a New Narrative: Destigmatizing Communications


Julia Blumenstyk

Julia Blumenstyk
Director, Strategy & Evaluation Ad Council


 Julia is a Director of Strategy and Evaluation at the Ad Council, the national nonprofit that mobilizes the energy and talents of the communications industry to make a measurable impact on the most critical social issues of today. In her role, she directs the formative research, strategy development, and evaluation for several communication campaigns on topics including diversity and inclusion, bullying prevention and teen suicide prevention.

Before joining the strategy and evaluation team, Julia worked as a campaign manager, serving as the day-to-day contact for non-profits, government agencies, and advertising agencies. Julia holds a Certificate in Social Impact Strategy from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. from Colby College in Psychology and Global Studies.


Don Mullins

Don Mullins Jr.
Vice President American Institutes for Research


Don Mullins Jr. is a Vice President at American Institutes for Research and has more than 40 years of experience in managing, developing, coordinating, and operating science and health information dissemination programs. He provides strategic direction, problem solving, and recommendations for operational enhancements to major federal health communication projects and technology systems. Mr. Mullins has designed response centers, including information center setup, operations, and maintenance. He has expertise in Web site and materials design, testing, and development. He currently leads a project supporting the development and publication of the Surgeon General’s report on Community Health and Economic Prosperity.



Zachary Siegel
Zachary Siegel
Writer and Reporter 


Zachary Siegel is a freelance journalist who covers public health and the criminal-legal system. He’s currently a journalism fellow at Northeastern University’s Health in Justice Action Lab, where he co-developed Changing the Narrative, a media toolkit to counter stigma and misinformation in the field of substance use and drug policy. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, The Atlantic and Wired, among other outlets. 





Stephen Thomas

Stephen B. Thomas
Professor, Health Policy and Management Director,
Maryland Center for Health Equity University of Maryland School of Public Health


One of the nation's leading scholars in the effort to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities, Dr. Stephen B. Thomas has applied his expertise to address a variety of conditions from which minorities generally face far poorer outcomes, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and HIV/AIDS.  He is the Principal Investigator (with Dr. Sandra C. Quinn) on the Center of Excellence in Race, Ethnicity and Health Disparities Research, funded by the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD).

Dr. Thomas has received numerous awards for his professional accomplishments, and over the years, his work has become recognized as one of the scholarly contributions leading to the 1997 Presidential Apology to Survivors of the Syphilis Study Done at Tuskegee.  His current research focuses on the translation of evidence-based science on chronic disease into community-based interventions designed to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care. More specifically, he has focused on understanding how social context shapes attitudes and behaviors of underserved, poorly served, and never-served segments of our society toward participation in health promotion and disease prevention activities. Dr. Thomas is particularly interested in how the legacy of the Syphilis Study at Tuskegee (1932–72) has impacted trust and influenced the willingness of African Americans to participate in medical and public health research.


Uniting to Fight a Global Pandemic


David Kyne

 David Kyne


David Kyne is the CEO of Evoke KYNE, a health communications and public relations agency dedicated to helping improve and save lives.

David started KYNE in 2009 with the goal of connecting public and private organizations to help address unmet health needs, believing that targeted, strategic and creative communications can be a powerful health intervention. Now as Evoke KYNE, David leads a rapidly growing team that works with biopharmaceutical; philanthropic foundations; public health bodies; UN agencies and NGOs. David has more than 20 years of communications experience leading large agency practices, working across the healthcare landscape from biopharmaceutical to non-profit organizations. Under David’s strategic direction, Evoke KYNE has earned multiple industry awards including the Holmes Report Global Healthcare Agency of the Year, PRWeek’s Boutique Agency of the Year, Holmes EMEA Health Agency of the Year, PR News Top Places to Work and PRWeek Global Campaign of the Year for United Against Malaria. In 2018, the Holmes Report named David to its EMEA Innovator 25 list. Prior to founding the company, David led the New York Healthcare practice at the global public relations firm Hill+Knowlton Strategies.

 David also serves on the Board of hemophilia charity Save-One-Life, advises the CDC Foundation Corporate Roundtable and is a co-founder of the Pandemic Action Network, a recently established global advocacy initiative working to ignite a global movement to help accelerate an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and stop future pandemics.

 David earned a bachelor of arts degree in history and politics from University College Dublin and a master’s degree in public relations from the Dublin Institute of Technology.




Best Practices for Evaluating Digital Media


Amelia Burke-Garcia

Amelia Burke-Garcia 
Director of Digital Strategy and Outreach Public Health Department, NORC at the University of Chicago


Dr. ​Amelia Burke-Garcia is the program area director of digital strategy and outreach in the Public Health Department at NORC at the University of Chicago where she leads the design, implementation, and evaluation of digital and social media communication and intervention-based research. Burke-Garcia is a seasoned communications professional with nearly 20 years of experience in digital, social, and mobile media, with specific expertise in developing and evaluating digital health communications campaigns and intervention studies.

Dr. Burke-Garcia has spearheaded some of the most innovative communication programs and studies on a variety of health topics, specifically in the areas of non-vaccinating online influencers, designing a targeted social media intervention with mommy bloggers to help social media users lower their risk for breast cancer, and leveraging MeetUp groups and the Waze mobile application to move people to action around flu vaccination and HIV testing, respectively. Her new book entitled, Influencing Health: A Comprehensive Guide to Working with Online Influencers, was released in August 2019 by Routledge Press.

She is active in the Society for Health Communication where she holds two co-chair positions on innovation in research and digital media. She is also a member of the American College of Preventative Medicine’s social media committee, the editorial board of Social Marketing Quarterly, the board of ShiftCon, a health and wellness online influencer network, and the scientific committee for BigSurv20, the leading conference on big data and survey science. She has been named to’s list of 10 Modern Female Innovators Shaking Up Health Care and was recently named as Diverse Health Hub's Woman of the Week. She holds a PhD in Communication from George Mason University, a Master’s degree in Communication, Culture, and Technology from Georgetown University, and a joint honours Bachelor’s degree in International Development Studies and Humanistic Studies from McGill University.


Sherry Emery

Sherry Emery
Senior Fellow, Public Health Group Director, Social Data Collaboratory
NORC at the University of Chicago


Sherry Emery is a Senior Fellow in the Public Health Group, and Director of the Social Data Collaboratory at NORC.  She is a nationally recognized expert in tobacco control, media and public health policy research. Over the past 20 years, she has conducted numerous studies supporting the development of new and innovative data collection protocols, as well as studies employing and adapting secondary data sources. In the past 15 years, her work has focused on evaluating the amount and content of smoking-related advertising on television, and the relationship of such advertising with smoking-related attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. In the past ten years, her focus has expanded to include analyzing the role of digital and social media on health behavior. She is the Principal Investigator of several NIH and foundation research awards.




Health Literacy in Practice


Corinne Berry Corinne Berry
Research Director, CommunicateHealth, Inc. 

Corinne Berry is the Director of Research at CommunicateHealth and a passionate social scientist and project director. Corinne has more than a decade of experience in health communication research and consulting, and her scholarship focuses on health information processing, health decision-making, and messaging for behavior change. Corinne oversees a multimillion-dollar portfolio of user-experience and mixed-methods audience research to inform communication campaigns, digital products, and interventions with both private- and public-sector clients. She expertly maintains a high level of rigor in applied research and ensures health literacy best practices are followed throughout the study life cycle. Corinne specializes in community-based participatory research methods as well as rapid message and material testing, and she is a RIVA-trained moderator.


Sandy Hilfiker


Sandy Hilfiker
Chief Operating Offcer & Principal, CommunicateHealth, Inc


Sandy is a leading expert in the design and development of consumer health campaigns and digital tools for audiences with limited health literacy skills. She’s a passionate advocate for human-centered design with extensive experience overseeing and conducting formative and usability research with diverse audiences. Sandy delivers value to clients like NIH, CMS, and VHA — and simplifies the user experience for millions of health care consumers. As Chief Operating Officer at CommunicateHealth, she sets strategy and provides corporate-level oversight across more than $15 million in communication consulting contracts.




Networking Sessions & Moderators


CommunicateHealth Room

Rachel Pryzby

Moderator: Rachel Pryzby
Executive Vice President

As an Executive Vice President at CommunicateHealth, Rachel leads interdisciplinary teams through a human-centered design process to create sharp and impactful health tools for clients such as CDC and NIH. She oversees the development of web and print products, including plain language health education materials for people with limited literacy skills. As a member of CommunicateHealth's Executive Team, Rachel also oversees the training and supervision of 30+ health communicators. Prior to joining CommunicateHealth, she worked in vaccine safety and STD prevention communication at CDC.



Fors Marsh Group Room

Ronne Otsby

Facilitator: Ronne Otsby
Vice President, Communication Research, Strategy & Outreach


Ronne Ostby is an experienced social marketing and health communication professional with more than 19 years in the field. She has proven expertise in applying communication and marketing principles to consumer campaigns on a range of health concerns, including illicit drug and alcohol use, tobacco use, prescription drug misuse and abuse, suicide prevention, youth violence prevention, and adult immunization. Her skill set includes primary and secondary research, situational analyses, strategy development, creative planning and oversight, campaign execution, and project leadership. She has worked with a range of public and private clients, including the National Institutes of Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Currently, she is Vice President of Communication and Research at Fors Marsh Group, where she oversees behavior change and social marketing research and strategy. Prior to joining FMG, she led social marketing strategy design, formative audience-based research, program planning, and integrated communication efforts at ICF. Before that, she led the strategy development of the White House National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, using in-depth consumer research.



ICF Next Room

Alicia Eberl-LefkoAlicia Eberl-Lefko
Partner, ICF Next 

Ms. Eberl-Lefko, M.H.S., CHES, is a Partner at ICF Next who has led award-winning, national health behavior change and communication initiatives across the spectrum of public health for over 25 years. She is a skilled communications professional who understands how to strategically apply a broad range of communication strategies and tactics, including the latest in social and digital media. Her areas of expertise include project management, strategic communication planning, behavior change communication, campaign development and implementation, and crisis and emergency risk communication. Currently, Ms. Eberl-Lefko is managing projects for the National Eye Institute and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as well as serving as a senior advisor on projects for the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ms. Eberl-Lefko’s past experience spans across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in topics areas including HIV/AIDS, infectious diseases, public health preparedness and response, pandemic influenza, cancer, and environmental health. Ms. Eberl-Lefko holds a B.A. in Psychology from Smith College and earned a Master’s in Health Science in Behavioral Sciences and Health Education at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist.


Palladian Partners Room

Rose Hooks

Moderator: Rose Hooks
Senior Project Manager, Palladian Partners, Inc.


Roseline Hooks is a Senior Project Manager at Palladian Partners, Inc., focused on strategic health communications and project management. Her background includes over 13 years of experience in public health marketing and education efforts for a variety of CDC, NIH, HHS, and DoD campaigns and programs. Her work has focused on the development public health education content, implementation of digital strategies, and supporting local-level partnership engagement. She is currently providing strategic communications support for a safe infant sleep campaign. Roseline received an M.A. in health communication from Johns Hopkins University. 



Van Eperen Room

HIllarie Turner
Moderator: Hillarie Turner
Vice President, Van Eperen


Hillarie’s 20+ years of strategic communications experience has made her an industry expert in reaching professional and consumer audiences. Over the course of her career, she has worked in-house and with association clients. Her specialties include consumer education and awareness campaigns, crisis communications, leadership media and presentation training, and international meeting press operations. She is on the Washington Women in Public Relations 2020 Board where she served as president for two years and is a member of the Society for Health Communication and the D.C. Science Writers Association.



Westat Room

Tawanna Berry

Moderator: TaWanna Berry
Senior Director, Westat


TaWanna Berry is a Westat Senior Director with more than 20 years of experience in all aspects of program/strategic planning, management, and social marketing. She has an extensive background in health communications and campaign development for public and private industry clients, including CDC, NIH, 3M, AstraZeneca, the American Public Health Association, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck & Co. Ms. Berry has been instrumental in launching several national health campaigns for the Federal Government, including the nation’s first diabetes prevention campaign, Small Steps. Big Rewards, and CDC’s latest HIV testing campaign, Doing It. She is currently working with NHLBI on its seminal cardiovascular health program, The Heart Truth. She excels at detail-oriented management of concurrent projects, problem resolution, and follow through. She has a demonstrated ability to recruit, motivate, and build cohesive and productive teams.