Board of Directors

Gus Birkhead MD, MPH

Board Chair

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Dr. Birkhead is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Director of the Center for Collaborative HIV Research in Practice and Policy at the School of Public Health, University at Albany, in Albany, NY. Until 2015, he worked at the New York State Department of Health for 27 years in positions of increasing responsibility. From 2007 to 2015 he was Deputy Commissioner for all public health programs. He received his MD degree from the Yale School of Medicine and a Master of Public Health degree from Johns Hopkins University. He is a graduate of the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service and Preventive Medicine Residency programs and is board certified in internal medicine and preventive medicine.Gus was a member of the CSTE Executive Board in the late 1990s and was the President of CSTE in 1997-1998. He is a recipient of the 2006 CSTE Pump Handle Award. He has also been a CSTE consultant in recent years. Gus served on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)(2001-2005) at the CDC and was a member and chair of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC)(2006-2011) at the US Department of Health and Human Services. He is co-author of over 150 publications in the peer-reviewed literature, 2 public health textbooks and 8 book chapters. He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice and of Public Health Reports. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the EIS Alumni Association and its president during 2021-2022. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Public Health Association.

LaKesha M. Robinson MPH

Vice Chair

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LaKesha M. Robinson is an applied public health epidemiology professional with 20 years of experience in technical grant writing and development, special projects, recruiting and management. She is former Senior Deputy of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) and served in several roles for the organization from 2000-2019, including Acting Executive Director, Senior Deputy Director, Chief of Grants Management and Development, and Epidemiology Program Director. In her 20 years with CSTE, the organization experienced rapid growth in membership, national office staff, projects, and the size of its annual budget. LaKesha has also served on several professional boards and projects in her career, including the Rollins School of Public Health Mentorship Program, University of North Carolina Management Academy for Public Health, Council to Improve Foodborne Illness and Response (CIFOR), Clark Atlanta University National Alumni Fundraising Co-Chair, and the Woodward Academy Parent Community Executive Board. Her hobbies include volunteer service, helping others achieve healthy lifestyles, traveling and running. LaKesha and her husband live in the Metro Atlanta area and they have two children.

Verla S. Neslund JD

Secretary

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​Verla S. Neslund is retired from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) where she spent the majority of her career in CDC’s Office of the General Counsel and Office of the Director. She spent several years assigned by CDC to the CDC Foundation, a non‐profit organization created by Congress to support the life‐saving work of CDC through public‐private partnerships with individual donors and philanthropic organizations. Ms. Neslund is an attorney. She received her BA Degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota and her JD Degree from Emory University. She has published in peer reviewed legal, medical and public health journals.

Baoky Vu

Treasurer

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Baoky Vu is a principal of Silverberry Capital, an investment and strategic advisory firm based in Atlanta. Previously, he had served in capacities including director of research and portfolio manager with A. Montag & Associates from 1996 through 2008, and as policy advisor to former State Representative Bjay Pak. He holds degrees from Georgia Tech (BS’90) and Georgetown University (MBA’95). His affiliations include: Governor’s 4th Congressional District Board member of the Technical College System of Georgia, Leadership Georgia (Class of 2008), vice chair of DeKalb County Board of Voter Registration and Elections and most recently, treasurer of the DeKalb County Development Authority. In August 2001, Baoky was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.An active participant in the political process, he was on the Electoral College in the 2016 Presidential Elections and resigned after the 2016 Republican primary. He has appeared as political guest commentator on CNN, MSNBC and has been cited in local and national papers such as USA Today, Washington Times, POLITICO and the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. Baoky has lived in Atlanta for more than 40 years. In 1975, his family left Saigon prior to the collapse of South Vietnam to Communist North Vietnamese forces.

Eddy A. Bresnitz MD, MSCE

Director-at-Large

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Eddy A. Bresnitz, MD, CM, MSCE, FACP is a board-certified internist, pulmonary and preventive medicine physician. From 2008-2020 he was the Executive Director for Adult Vaccines, Global Vaccines Medical Affairs, Merck Vaccines. Prior to that, he served as the Deputy Commissioner for the Public Health Services Branch (2005-2008) and State Epidemiologist in the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (1999-2008). He returned to public service in the NJ Department of Health from 2020-2021 as Special Advisor to the NJ Government on the COVID-19 response, chairing the statewide COVID-19 Professional Advisory Committee. Prior to joining NJ State Government in 1999, Dr. Bresnitz was a faculty member from 1983-1999 at the MCP Hahnemann (now Drexel University) School of Medicine in Philadelphia, serving for many of those years as Professor and Chairman of the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine. He is currently Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology in the Rutgers University School of Public Health in New Jersey.

Dr. Bresnitz received his MD, CM degree from McGill University in Montreal, Canada in 1974, followed by an internship and residency in internal medicine at Montefiore Hospital in New York City. He then served as Director of Emergency Services at the Brooklyn Hospital from 1977-1980. He subsequently completed fellowships in pulmonary medicine and clinical epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania where he received a Masters of Science in Clinical Epidemiology. During his career in academia, public health and the private sector he has published extensively and made many presentations on clinical and public health issues, and has served on many advisory committees to local, state and national organizations. He is a past president of the US Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists and was a member of the Infectious Disease Committee of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. He is a long-time resident of Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and since 2009 has been a member, and past chair, of its Health Advisory Council.

In his previous position at Merck, he led the Global Adult Vaccines Medical Affairs team. He served as the principal liaison for adult immunizations (herpes zoster, pneumococcal disease, influenza, adult hepatitis B) to the US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and other professional organizations. In his role, he has also made presentations to governmental and professional vaccine and clinician groups around the world.

Melissa Hines-Lowe

Director-at-Large

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Melissa Hines Lowe is a senior marketing research consultant with over 40 years of experience in global advertising and marketing. Her primary focus has been in the development of creative and innovative approaches to consumer marketing. Throughout her consulting career, Melissa has enjoyed being part of global teams and conducting primary research to advance her clients’ understanding of all types of target populations: general consumers, doctors, nurses and other health care professionals, voters, and others. With a base in consumer packaged goods, Melissa has advanced consumer learning for Fortune 100 companies in pharma, food, beverage, tech, politics and more. Her work is valued for positioning, branding, advertising and strategic consumer insights. Close to home, for over ten years, Melissa has been on the Advisory Board and then Board of Directors at Skyland Trail in Atlanta, Georgia. She is co-founder and past president of Ribbons of Hope, a non-profit in Atlanta, Georgia committed to improving the lives of women. Melissa is also chairwoman of the Dean’s Council for the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. She has a passion for learning about and promoting education and the cause of public health. Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. She is married to Willis Lowe and has two daughters.

Michael Landen MD, MPH

Director-at-Large

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Michael Landen, MD, MPH currently serves as a medical epidemiologist consultant with the Virginia Department of Health. Prior to this he was state epidemiologist and Epidemiology and Response Division director with the New Mexico Department of Health.  Michael Landen has also worked as a family physician and clinical director for the Indian Health Service in Arizona and New Mexico, a volunteer physician in Belize, and a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service officer assigned to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.   He has been actively involved with CSTE as an executive board member, tribal epidemiology subcommittee chair and substance use and mental health epidemiology subcommittee chair.

Patrick J. McConnon MPH

Director-at-Large

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Patrick McConnon worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1967-2002. He undertook challenging international assignments in refugee health, smallpox eradication, Guinea worm eradication, and domestic and international outbreak coordination. His work included long term domestic assignments in 3 states, and assignments in Thailand, Nigeria, and CDC Headquarters. He completed his career as the CDC Senior Management Official responsible for the Emerging and Reemerging Infectious Disease Program from 1994-02. This effort targeted core infrastructure needs and use of new technologies to support programs at the Federal, state and local level. Mr. McConnon was the recipient of many awards with CDC including the William C. Watson Medal of Excellence, the Order of the Bifurcated Needle (Smallpox Eradication), and a Chieftaincy in Nigeria for his work in Guinea worm eradication. From 2002-12, he served as the Executive Director for the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, promoting the use of epidemiology to guide public practice at the state and local level. His work included supporting public health surveillance and epidemiologic practice through training, fellowships, capacity development, developing standards of practice, and advocating for scientifically based policy. From 2013-15, he worked with the CDC Foundation where he developed a public health management training program for less developed public health agencies in Africa and Asia. Mr. McConnon is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (BS-1967) and Emory University (MPH-1988).

Laurene Mascola MD, MPH

Director-at-Large

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Dr. Mascola is currently the Health Officer for the City of Vernon, California, part-time consultant at the Los Angeles County (LAC) Department of Public Health, and an adjunct Research Professor of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine and Epidemiology. Until 2016, she was the Chief of the Acute Communicable Disease Control Program for the LAC Department of Public Health. Her program focused on disease surveillance, investigation and control for more than 80 diseases and syndromes in an area of over 4,000 square miles with over 10 million people. She attended St. Louis University Medical School and earned her Masters of Public Health from UCLA. She completed her pediatric residency at CHLA. She is a pediatrician and a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society and Infectious Disease Society of America. She served as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer in the Division of Venereal Disease Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was a field officer in LAC and completed a CDC-sponsored Preventive Medicine Fellowship. She worked internationally for the WHO in Ethiopia, and provided consultations in Brazil, Nepal and Mongolia. Dr. Mascola has extensive experience in epidemiology and infectious disease prevention and control, publishing more than 100 articles, abstracts and book chapters. Dr. Mascola is a recipient of many honors and awards, including CDC’s Charles C. Shepard Science Awards, a Certificate of Appreciation from the FDA and the AAP’s Outstanding Achievement Award from the Council on Community Pediatrics and the Section on Epidemiology in 2009. She has served as Chair of the Section of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology for the America Academy of Pediatrics. She has been a member of Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) since 2008. In the summer of 2009, she was elected by CSTE to be the Infectious Disease Chair, President-elect and Vice President, respectively. She was the first CSTE President from a local health department. She received the CSTE National Epidemiology Pump Handle Award for outstanding achievement in the field of applied epidemiology in 2016. She was also a member of the CDC Board of Scientific Counselors, Office of Infectious Diseases, and an executive board member of the EIS Alumni Association.

Patricia Quinlisk MD, MPH

Director-at-Large

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Dr. Quinlisk was the Medical Director and State Epidemiologist at the Iowa Department of Public Health for 24 years. She is now semi-retired; continuing to teach at various universities and working on projects such as how to change behaviors to prevent dementia (Saving Your Brain with Broadlawns Hospital and the Des Moines YMCA). Her background includes training as a clinical microbiologist, training microbiologists while a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal, a Masters of Public Health from Johns Hopkins, a medical degree from the University of Wisconsin, and training as a field epidemiologist in the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service. For twelve years she conducted epidemiologic training courses in Europe, and is a professor at the University of Iowa, the University of Wisconsin, Des Moines University, and Iowa State University. For several years she was an Editorial Board Member for CDC’s MMWR and on CDC’s Board of Scientific Advisors, served on the Gilmore Commission and the National Vaccine Advisory Committee, and as President of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE). She was on the Institute of Medicine’s committees on Microbial Threats to Health in the 21st Century, Animal Health at the Crossroads, Preparing for the Psychological consequences of Terrorism, and Antivirals for Pandemic Influenza. In 2009 she received an honorary Doctorate of Science from Iowa State University, and served for 5 years as the Chair for the National Biodefense Science Board.

Heather A. Christopherson CFRE, MPA

Executive Director

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For over 20 years, Heather Christopherson has been working with nonprofit organizations to advance their goals in fundraising, donor communications and volunteerism. She earned her BA in Sociology and Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh, as well as a master’s in public administration with a specialization in nonprofit management and fundraising. She has been a Certified Fund Raising Executive since 2003 and is a 2015 alum of the James P. Shannon Leadership Institute at the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation. Heather is a past president of the Minnesota Chapter of Association of Fundraising Professionals.

New CSTE Report Highlights Factors Impacting the Availability of Race & Ethnicity Data for COVID-19 (CSTE, April 2022).