EPRC Staff Team

April Hermstad April Hermstad, MPH , Lead Public Health Program Associate. Ms. Hermstad holds a Master of Public Health from Emory University and she joined the EPRC in 2007. She has more than 10 years of experience coordinating research and evaluation projects focused on policy, system, and environmental improvements related to heathy eating and physical activity behaviors, cancer screening, and access to health care and health-supporting environments. Notable current and past projects include evaluating Healthcare Georgia Foundation’s The Two Georgias Initiative to achieve greater health equity among rural Georgians; coordinating a clinical trial in Emory Healthcare breast centers to increase genetic counseling referral for women at risk for hereditary breast/ovarian cancer; evaluating colorectal cancer screening programs throughout Georgia; and numerous research studies and evaluations of socio-environmental health promotion programs. Her professional interests include evaluating health promotion programs, understanding the role of lifestyle factors in preventing and reversing chronic diseases, and reducing health disparities e‑mail: ahermst@emory.edu 

Erin Lebow-Skelley Erin Lebow-Skelley, MPH, Lead Public Health Program Associate and Community Engagement Manager. Ms. Lebow-Skelley earned her Master of Public Health degree in Health Behavior at the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. Since joining the EPRC, Ms. Lebow-Skelley has managed the smoke-free multi-unit housing initiatives and the community engagement activities for the HERCULES Exposome Research Center. Before joining the EPRC in 2015, Ms. Lebow-Skelley worked on the Evaluation Team of the Prevention Research Centers Program at the CDC, where she and a team designed and implemented the evaluation of the Prevention Research Centers network. While in North Carolina, she worked on a variety of chronic disease prevention projects, including a smoke-free multi-unit housing communication initiative with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and several local food systems projects with UNC’s Prevention Research Center. Ms. Lebow-Skelley also has a background in early childhood development, pre-and post-natal care, and home visiting. Her interests include community engagement, program evaluation, and social ecological approaches to preventing chronic disease and improving health equity. e‑mail: erin.lebow-skelley@emory.edu

Shadé OwolabiShadé Owolabi, MS, Intervention Coordinator.Ms. Owolabi completed her degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Penfield College, Mercer University. Since joining the EPRC in 2012, she has worked on multiple research and evaluation projects to address secondhand smoke exposure, weight gain prevention, and health equity. These projects have included the EPRC’s signature projects, the NCI funded Smoke-Free Home’s project, Healthy Homes/Healthy Families, as well as Healthcare Georgia Foundation’s The Two Georgias Initiative. Prior to joining the EPRC team, Ms. Owolabi trained in applied behavioral science and worked as a behavior data analyst at the Marcus Center. Her research interests include addiction and chronic disease health education, as well as the intersection between mental health and public health; her clinical interests include substance abuse, mental health disparities in low-income and minority communities, and risky health behaviors. e‑mail: shade.o.owolabi@emory.edu

Deborah StephensonDeborah Stephenson, EdM, Center Coordinator. Ms. Stephenson is responsible for coordinating administration and selected communications activities for the EPRC. She has a background in project management, communications, process improvement, training, and organizational change management. Before coming to Emory, Ms. Stephenson worked as Marketing and Operations Manager for a small business and spent 20 years working in Fortune 500 corporations providing consulting services in a wide variety of business functions. She holds a Master of Education from the University of Georgia. e‑mail: deborah.stephenson@emory.edu

Shaheen Rana Shaheen Rana, MA , Associate Director of Research Projects. Ms. Rana earned her Master of Art in Psychology from the Clinical/Community Psychology division at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her focus in graduate school was the use of unique and mixed methods analysis for evaluating large-scale service delivery programs. She has over ten years of experience coordinating and leading research and evaluation projects in various fields, including public health, mental health, and education, and has served as an expert on culturally responsive evaluation and the use of social network analysis in social sciences. She has worked in a variety of settings, including serving as an external evaluator for a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration systems of care grant serving 15 counties in Northwest Georgia and serving as an internal evaluator for a STEM outreach program by a university. Her research interests include systems change to address well-being and culturally responsive evaluation to address inequities in various outcomes. e‑mail: shaheen.rana@emory.edu

Clarisa HernandezClarisa Hernandez, MPH, Public Health Program Associate. Ms. Hernandez received her Master of Public Health degree from Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health in 2019. After graduation, she joined the EPRC team as a Public Health Program Associate for the EPRC Core Research Project, Healthy Homes/Healthy Families. As an MPH candidate, Ms. Hernandez worked as a Study Coordinator for a soccer-based adaptation of the Diabetes Prevention Program - a one-year type 2 diabetes prevention program among Latino men in Georgia. She is interested in physical activity and nutrition, and how these can be used as preventive mechanisms for chronic diseases. e‑mail: clarisa.isabel.hernandez@emory.edu

Ja’Shondra PouncyJa’Shondra Pouncy, MPH, CHES®, Public Health Program Associate. Ms. Pouncy is a Certified Health Education Specialist and holds a Master of Public Health degree from Emory University (May 2019). Upon completion of her studies, she began work supporting projects focused on promoting health equity through community engaged public health research and practice under the direction of Dr. Briana Woods-Jaeger’s THRIVE Research Lab in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education at the Rollins School of Public Health. Ms. Pouncy later served as a contractor within the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she assisted with the evaluation of a lifestyle interventions summary report and with survey development to better understand the role and effectiveness of community health workers in addressing social determinants of health related to chronic disease prevention. Ms. Pouncy has rejoined Emory University with the EPRC team as the Project Coordinator for an adapted Smoke-Free Homes intervention project. e‑mail: ja'shondra.pouncy@emory.edu

Archna PatelArchna Patel, MPH, CHES, Public Health Program Associate. Ms. Patel is a Certified Health Education Specialist and holds a Master of Public Health degree from Emory University. Immediately upon graduation in 2010, she began work on several research projects in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education at the Rollins School of Public Health including implementing Project UPLIFT, a mindfulness-based intervention for people with epilepsy developed by Dr. Nancy Thompson. Ms. Patel served as a fellow for the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) before joining their Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support (CSTLTS) where she developed and created online training materials for the Public Health Associates Program (PHAP). She has rejoined Emory University and is the project coordinator for the Managing Epilepsy Well (MEW) Network where she will help coordinate and disseminate epilepsy self-management programs. e‑mail: mailto:archna.patel@emory.edu

Christine Agnone, MPH Christine Agnone, MPH, Public Health Program Associate. Ms. Agnone began her career in the Emory Healthcare transplant department, occupying diverse roles from those patient-facing tasks to those data and reporting driven. She then moved to the Emory University Brain Health Center working as a Program and Project Coordinator, and supported initiatives for all 5 departments. Upon earning her Master of Public Health at the Rollins School of Public Health, specializing in Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, she began her role at the EPRC working on a qualitative study focused on knowledge and opinions of the HPV Vaccination among populations in southwest Georgia. Her research interests include chronic disease management, substance abuse and addictive behaviors, metrics to assess overall brain health, and mental health stigma, particularly in workplace settings. e‑mail: cagnone@emory.edu

De’Coshia ChambersDe’Coshia Chambers, MS, Health Educator. Mrs. Chambers received her Master of Science in Applied Exercise and Health Science at Kennesaw State University. While earning her degree she worked as a Graduate Research Assistant in their exercise physiology lab where she assisted with numerous research studies that included body composition measurements and focus on healthy eating practices. Upon completion of her studies, she worked as a Clinical Exercise Specialist who created tailored exercise programs to specific age ranges and fitness levels while working alongside licensed physical therapist and other healthcare professionals. Mrs. Chambers later served as a community Wellness Coach at her local YMCA where she was able to utilize her expertise in healthy behavior change and exercise adherence practices through one on one wellness consultations. Her research interest includes physical activity and promoting healthy behavioral changes to help decrease the prevalence of chronic diseases in low-income and minority communities. Mrs. Chambers has joined Emory University as a Health Educator for the EPRC research project, Healthy Homes/Healthy Families. e‑mail: decoshia.chambers@emory.edu

Victoria KraussVictoria Krauss, MPH, Public Health Program Associate. Mrs. Krauss earned her Master of Public Health degree from Emory University in 2019. Upon graduation, she became the Program Coordinator for the Ventanilla de Salud (Window to Health) Atlanta, a preventative community health program for individuals visiting the Consulate General of Mexico in Altanta. There, she implemented a personalized behavioral health intervention which increased healthy behaviors among participants, and improved the quality of health services provided by the program. Before Emory, she served in the Peace Corps in Guatemala as a Maternal and Child Health Facilitator collaborating with the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance of Guatemala. She joined the Emory Prevention Research Center as a Project Coordinator for SurvivorLink, a patient-controlled digital health platform that was created to increase follow-up care among pediatric cancer survivors. Currently, she coordinates the implementation and evaluation of the SurvivorLink project with cancer clinics across the nation. e-mail: vkrauss@emory.edu

Ayeesha SayyaAyeesha Sayya, BA, Senior Research Interviewer. Ms. Sayyad received her Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis in 2018. After graduating, she joined Emory University as a Research Interviewer in the Psychiatry department working on the Genomic Psychiatry Cohort study. Ms. Sayyad is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Health Promotion and Behavior at Georgia State University. As a Senior Research Interviewer at EPRC, she is part of the data collection team on the Smoke-Free Homes study. Her research interests include maternal healthcare disparities affecting African American women. e‑mail: ayeesha.sayyad@emory.edu

Helen Harber SingerHelen Harber Singer, MPH, Senior Research Interviewer. Ms. Singer earned her graduate degree at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education. She spent many years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Division of Violence Prevention (DVP), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Her work focused on the intersection of research and practice and knowledge translation methodologies. Ms. Singer developed translation products across a range of subject matter including suicide prevention, child maltreatment prevention, the relationship between bullying and suicide, and the intersection of social determinants of health and violence prevention. She and her colleagues developed DVP’s guidance on expanding the definition of “evidence-based practice” to include research evidence, contextual evidence and experiential evidence and created an interactive online training tool based on this work, VetoViolence/Understanding Evidence. In 2016, Ms. Singer took a position in the CDC’s Office of the Associate Director for Policy as a Health Scientist/Policy Analyst. Her work remained focused on knowledge translation while her focus shifted to how best available evidence is used to develop and implement policy across the public health landscape. Ms. Singer is pleased to return to Emory and join the ERPC. As a Senior Research Interviewer, she is part of the data collection team on the Smoke-Free Homes and the Healthy Homes/Healthy Families projects. e‑mail: helen.singer@emory.edu

Rickey LeachmanRickey Leachman, MA, LMHCA, Health Educator. Mr. Leachman earned his Master of Art in Psychology from Seattle University’s clinical Essential-Phenomenology program. Mr. Leachman is a veteran of the United States Navy and has a background in STD/HIV testing and outreach. Mr. Leachman has worked on various research projects, most recently with Seattle-King County Department of Public Health (SKPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the first National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS) project cycle focused on the trans-identifying population. Mr. Leachman has joined Emory University as a Health Educator for the EPRC research project, Smoke-Free Home’s. His research interests include the intersection between mental health and public health. e‑mail: rleachm@emory.edu