Tuesday, June 14th: Speakers, Panelists & Discussion Hosts


Amy McGeady Amy McGeady, PhD
Chief Executive Officer,
It's Time Texas


Amy McGeady is the Chief Executive Officer of It’s Time Texas − a statewide nonprofit empowering Texans to lead healthier lives and build healthier communities. It’s Time Texas is on a mission to make health and wellness a way of life and to build a Texas where everyone has the opportunity to prioritize health and lead their best life. Amy joined It’s Time Texas in 2016 as the organization’s Chief Strategy Officer and succeeded the organization’s founder to become Chief Executive Officer in 2019. She works with partners, supporters, funders, and community leaders throughout the state to develop and implement strategies that improve the health status of Texans and advance health equity. Under her leadership, It’s Time Texas has secured $24M to expand its presence and impact across the state. She leads the organization’s efforts to engage a diverse board of directors and to attract and retain diverse staff to lead the organization’s growth and evolution. Prior to joining It’s Time Texas, Amy led a successful career in proposal management and business development, earning recognition as both a thought leader and key contributor to this global industry and as the co-owner of one of Austin’s fastest growing startups. Over 15 years, she won dozens of multi-million dollar contracts and helped companies across diverse industries secure billions of dollars in business. Amy has facilitated strategy sessions and delivered presentations and training to proposal professionals worldwide. Amy holds doctorate and master’s degrees in political science/public policy from Purdue University, and a bachelor’s degree in government from the University of Texas at Austin. She has served on several nonprofit boards of directors and accidentally become somewhat of an expert on founder transitions – leading two founder transitions as a board member and succeeding a founder herself at It’s Time Texas. Amy and her husband John have two nearly-grown children and love to travel, swim, camp, and play board games and cards with family and friends.




Bisma Anwar
Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Bisma Anwar is a Licensed Mental Health counselor. She has a Master of Education and a Master of Arts degree in Psychological Counseling from Teachers College at Columbia University. She is a therapist at Talkspace and has a private practice. Her areas of expertise include anxiety, cognitive behavioral, dialectical behavioral therapy, depression and stress management. She has a decade of experience counseling adults, children, and teens from diverse backgrounds and helping them deal with life issues.Bisma addresses various mental health issues on her podcast Therappuccino and on her Instagram page, providing psychoeducation and coping strategies. She serves on the board of a non-profit organization based in NYC called The Heal Collective which promotes advocacy and awareness of mental health issues in BIPOC communities. Bisma's work has been featured on New York Times, Buzzfeed, Well + Good, Bustle and Self magazine. 





Tanya Balsky, MPP
Senior Manager, Government & Public Services, Deloitte

Tanya Balsky is a Senior Manager at Deloitte who supports federal, state, and commercial healthcare organizers in their data-driven decision-making efforts, both directly and by improving organizational capacity around data collection, data governance, and analytical techniques. She leads a portfolio of health analytics projects, bringing an equity lens to topics such as healthcare quality, access, cost, and utilization. She works with interdisciplinary teams, including clinicians, actuaries, and human-centered design experts, to design analyses and reporting whose insights are actionable in the real world and can be communicated clearly to diverse audiences, including policy makers, healthcare providers, and the public. Tanya is a leader in Deloitte’s Trustworthy AI efforts, particularly focusing on identifying and mitigating bias-related risks within the healthcare space. She trains and mentors data science teams both within Deloitte and within government/ industry on applying techniques to promote responsible AI/ML development, including mitigating risks around explainability, fairness, robustness, privacy, security, and accountability. She holds a M.P.P. in International Policy and Development from Georgetown University and a B.A. in Urban Studies from Rutgers University.  




Jennifer Berktold, PhD
Principal Research Scientist, NORC at the University of Chicago

Dr. Jennifer Berktold is a principal research scientist in the Public Health Department at NORC at the University of Chicago. Jennifer has more than 20 years of experience in qualitative methods and survey research for federal and nonprofit clients such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Her primary areas of focus are health communication message development and materials testing, social marketing campaign evaluation, and program evaluation. She led the evaluation for How Right Now/Qué Hacer Ahora, CDC’s communication campaign designed to promote and strengthen the emotional well-being and resiliency of populations adversely affected by the COVID-19-related stress, grief, and loss. Jennifer holds doctorate and masters degrees in sociology from the University of Chicago and bachelors degrees in sociology and mass communication from University of California at Berkeley. 



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. 



Jennifer Anne Bishop

Jennifer Anne Bishop, ScD, MPH
Director of the Health Promotion and Communication Division, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Jennifer Anne Bishop currently serves as the Director of the Health Promotion and Communication Division, within the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Dr. Bishop has over 20 years of experience working in health communication, health policy development, and program evaluation in the federal government. She has experience promoting women’s health, designing and evaluating health promotion materials for the National Cancer Institute and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Previously, she served as the multicultural program director for the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign at the Office of the National Drug Control Policy, where she oversaw multicultural advertising and outreach, new media initiatives, and partnership building. Dr. Bishop is a graduate of Cornell University and has a masters of public health from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. She earned her doctorate of science in health communication and social policy from the Harvard School of Public Health. Her research explores the role of health communication in the production and elimination of health disparities.  




Heather Cole-Lewis, PhD
Clinical Scientist, Health Equity, Google

Dr. Heather Cole-Lewis is an accomplished leader with deep cross-sector experience, a strong scientific background in digital and non-digital evidence-based solutions, and a proven ability to develop, drive, and measure the impact of systematic business processes that enhance health outcomes and critical business outcomes. She brings her analytical lens to crafting solutions to complex public health and healthcare issues that often require coordination across multiple stakeholders. Her deep experience in researching, engaging, and communicating with community partners has given Dr. Cole-Lewis the necessary skillset to address systemic issues related to health equity. Dr. Cole-Lewis believes the key to achieving health equity lies in honoring diversity in gender, race, ethnicity, and orientation and amplifying community voices and efforts. 



Thomas Dang

Thomas Dang
Deans Scholar, Global Researcher, The University of Texas at Austin, Class of 2023

Thomas Dang (he/him) is a third-year Dean’s Scholar at The University of Texas at Austin studying how neuroscience intersects with mental health policy. Thomas' personal lived experiences have motivated his interests in expanding access to behavioral health services for young adults, and he has performed research with the goal of protecting students' mental health in the U.S. and Mexico. Thomas has also worked in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Public Health Association and is an awardee of the Bill Archer Fellowship for Public Policy, President's Award for Global Learning, and the Freeman Scholarship. He hopes to earn an MD/PhD to collaboratively improve, and deliver, mental health care to all young people. 




Tarun Galagali, MBA
Founder, Mandala; formerly Talkspace and Google

Tarun Galagali is the founder and CEO of Mandala, a company that's dedicated to improving the well-being of BIPOC. Prior, he worked as the Director of Strategy at Talkspace, Product Marketer at Google, and a Senior Political Advisor to Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17). He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.A. from Dartmouth College.




Tamara Gallman
Founder and Executive Director, Disability Partnerships

Tamara has a long career in public health with extensive experience in the areas of partnership development, engagement, health communication, marketing strategy and strategic planning. Her public health career began at the National Cancer Institute as a health communications fellow. In 2004, she graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a Master of Science in Marketing and was accepted into the prestigious Presidential Management Fellowship program. She accepted a position as a CDC fellow and over seven years held various health communication positions including launching the agency’s first partnership communication office in the CDC’s Division of Strategic Partnerships. In 2011, she joined the FDA’s Center of Tobacco Products and is currently a Health Communications Specialist in the Office of Health Communication and Education. She provides leadership and management on stakeholder engagement and communication efforts. After a devastating accident in 2011, Tamara became paralyzed and embraced life as a staunch advocate of disability rights. In 2016, she launched a 501c3c3 co community-based nonprofit organization, Disability Partnerships. The organization’s mission is to improve the quality of life for persons with physical disabilities. The organization has a focus on health and wellness, affordable and accessible housing and economic empowerment.




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

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





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

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






Anjum Khurshid, MD, PhD
Co-Chief, Health Informatics, Data Science and Epidemiology Division, Department of Population Health, Dell Medical School, University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Anjum Khurshid is the Co-Chief, Health Informatics, Data Science and Epidemiology Division, Department of Population Health and the inaugural Director of Data Integration at Dell Medical School, The University of Texas at Austin. He is the principal investigator on community-wide projects for integrating social determinants of health in electronic health records and developing patient engagement platforms for health data. He received the Health Informatics Innovator Award in 2013, as the principal investigator of the $13.5 million Crescent City Beacon Community Program in New Orleans. He also established the Louisiana Clinical Data Research Network (now REACHnet) as part of PCORnet. Dr. Khurshid is a pioneer in research on blockchain applications for healthcare and was voted by peers to receive the University Blockchain Research Institute’s Visionary Award, 2021. He has served on the Federal Advisory Committee for Health Information Technology, a congressionally mandated advisory body, and as a patient engagement advisor to the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Washington DC. Dr. Khurshid earned his medical degree from King Edward Medical University, Lahore and his Masters in Public Affairs and PhD in Public Policy from the University of Texas at Austin. 



Matthew McCurdyMatthew McCurdy
Co-Founder, BLKHLTH Inc.

Matthew McCurdy (he/him) is passionate about employing social science theory, health equity frameworks, and design to develop creative solutions that improve health outcomes for marginalized communities. He is a Co-founder of BLKHLTH Inc, a non-profit that engages the public and health professionals on the impact of racism on the health of Black people and then equips them to do something about it. Matthew has a variety of public health and healthcare experiences across Federal government, academic medical centers, and non-profit organizations. Matthew has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Georgia State University and a Master of Public Health from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health.





Darcy SawatzkiDarcy Sawatski
Executive Vice President, Evoke KYNE

Darcy Sawatzki, MA, heads the public health function and Los Angeles team as Executive Vice President at Evoke KYNE. A seasoned expert in behavior change, communications and social marketing, Darcy runs the Behavior Change Workgroup for the Pandemic Action Network, an organization she helped set up and launch in April 2020. Her award-winning campaign work includes World Mask Week (on behalf of the Pandemic Action Network), Together Against Zika (on behalf of CDC) and Best Bones Forever! (for the HHS Office on Women’s Health). In 2020, Darcy was named a Top Woman in PR and is an editorial board member for Social Marketing Quarterly. Her volunteer work is central to her life: she’s a sponsor for Generation Hope, the head of philanthropy for her PEO chapter (a philanthropic education organization) and is active year-round in civic and political campaign volunteering. Darcy earned her undergraduate degree at American University and master’s in Communications from Johns Hopkins University. Born in Florida, Darcy spent the first 20 years of career in Washington, DC, until moving with her husband and daughter to Burbank, CA in 2017. Her personal and professional mantra is: “Don’t be boring.”

Shelly Spoeth
Shelly Spoeth
Member-at-Large, Society for Health Communication
Principal Associate, Abt Associates

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

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