Board of Directors

Patrick J. McConnon MPH

Board Chair

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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).

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


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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.

Kenneth R. Stachler CPA


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Kenneth R. Stachler is a certified public account with over 45 years of experience in finance, accounting, and treasury management. Ken started his career in public accounting with the Los Angeles office of Deloitte (formerly Haskins & Sells) and then transitioned into the private sector as the Chief Financial Officer for Injury Management and Rehabilitation (IMARC) in Pasadena, California. Ken and his family relocated to Atlanta, Georgia in 1985 when IMARC was acquired by Crawford & Company. Ken held the position of Vice President and Treasurer for Crawford & Company for 20 years and was a key member of the Board of Director’s Audit Committee. After leaving Crawford & Company, Ken has had a highly successful consulting career providing treasury and finance services to a wide range of companies that included, Southern Company, Graphic Packaging, Genuine Parts Company, InComm and AXIS Capital. Ken is a member of the Georgia Society of CPAs and the Association of Financial Professionals. Ken is a graduate from the University of Southern California-BS Accounting with honors. Ken and his wife live in Atlanta.      

Marcelle (Marci) Layton MD


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Dr. Layton has served on the Executive Board of the CSTE since 2012. She is also now the Subcommittee Chair for the Public Health Law Subcommittee. She has been the Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of Communicable Disease at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) since 1994. Dr. Layton has been involved in a wide range of prominent outbreak investigations over the years. She played a key role in New York City’s public health response to the first appearance of West Nile virus in 1999 when it was first introduced to the Western Hemisphere, and following the attacks on the World Trade Center and intentional anthrax release in 2001. She led the surveillance response to the emergence of the 2009 pandemic influenza H1N1 outbreak, the threat of imported Ebola viral disease during the outbreaks in West Africa, the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Bronx in 2015, and the impact of Zika virus in NYC. Dr. Layton has been recognized for her contributions to public health and has been the recipient of the 1999 Public Health Association of New York City Special Merit Award, the 2000 Sloan Public Service Award and the 2002 CSTE Pumphandle Award. Dr. Layton has participated as a member in the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Forum on Emerging Infections, the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Civilian Biosecurity (now at Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health); the Executive Session on Domestic Preparedness of John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; the IOM Committee on Effectiveness of National Biosurveillance Systems: Biowatch and the Public Health System; the H1N1 Subcommittee to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology; the CDC’s Board of Scientific Counselors and the NIH’s National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity. She is a frequent lecturer at local, national, and international conferences on topics related to bioterrorism and pandemic preparedness, as well as a range of emerging infectious disease issues. She received her medical degree at Duke University and completed residency training in internal medicine at State University of New York Health Sciences Center in Syracuse, NY. She has also completed fellowship training in infectious disease at Yale University School of Medicine and was an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where she was stationed at the NYC DOHMH.

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.

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