HEI is an inclusive organization that is built on the spirit of collaboration and partnership.  We welcome all different kinds of experiences, backgrounds and contributions. The work of HEI won't be possible without all the people behind our organization, and the support, time, and/or intellectual contribution of the professionals listed in this page and our other members. Thank you all!


Board of Directors

HEI's board of directors brings together a wide range of experiences in several fields-- including public health, healthcare, strategic planning, entrepreneurship, health communication, global health, research and evaluation, biological sciences,  organizational management, academic curriculum development, program management, teaching, consulting, professional training, and capacity building.  The board of directors includes founding board members and members who have been elected by HEI membership for a specific term.


Renata Schiavo, Founding President

Renata Schiavo, PhD, MA is a public health, healthcare, global health, and social innovation specialist with experience in a variety of settings, including the United States and several countries in Europe, Latin America and Africa. For over 20 years, she has worked at the interface of health systems, health equity, community health, community and patient engagement, strategy design, marketing/social marketing, risk communication, and communication for behavioral, social and organizational change to improve health outcomes and opportunities for socio-economic development among different populations. She founded Health Equity Initiative (see our History) and serves as Founding President, Board of Directors. As Founding President, Dr. Schiavo is involved in all aspects of HEI - from strategy, program, research and policy development to other key operational areas.

Dr. Schiavo is a Senior Lecturer at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, where her courses focus on topics at the intersection of society, health equity, and health communication; and an Adjunct Associate Professor at Long Island University, where she teaches a bi-annual course on global health. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed Journal of Communication in Healthcare: Strategies, Media, and Engagement in Global Health, which is published by Taylor & Francis. In addition she is Principal, Strategic Communication Resources, a global consulting practice she established in 2004, where her work has been focusing on building capacity on different strategic approaches to health and social issues, strategic counsel, communication strategy, qualitative research and review studies, participatory planning and human-centered design, and intervention design and/or evaluation as related to many health and social topics, including child health disparities, healthcare systems, cultural competence, infant mortality prevention, chronic malnutrition, immunization, oral health, immigrant health, epidemics and emerging diseases, and global handwashing. Her consulting experience includes leading organizations such as the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP); the Ministry of Health of Rwanda; New York University College of Dentistry; the Office of Minority Health Resource Center, HHS Office of Minority Health; Solving Kids’ Cancer; UNICEF; the World Bank; and the World Health Organization.  Spanning over 15+ years, her capacity building and training experience via her different affiliations includes hundreds of participants from 300+ U.S. and international organizations and communities.

An accomplished leader and well-published author, Dr. Schiavo has served on advisory/expert panels for the World Health Organization, U.S. National Institute of Health, International Red Cross/Red Crescent, and American Public Health Association. Among other international affiliations, Dr. Schiavo is a member of the UNICEF Communication for Development (C4D) Global Web Roster; the World Health Organization’s Global Technical Network for IMC/Communication for Behavioral Impact (COMBI); and the Italian group Salute-Cura- Societa' (SaCS - Health-Cure-Society). She is the author of the internationally acclaimed book, Health Communication: From Theory to Practice, (San Francisco: Jossey- Bass), now in its second edition, and 30+ publications in the public health, healthcare, health communication, and global health fields. Her very diverse background includes positions as Associate Professor and Director, Community Health/COMHE at the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College; Executive Vice President, Cooney Waters Group; and Head, Corporate and Marketing Communications and Social Responsibility Programs, Rhodia Farma-Brazil (now Sanofi-Aventis).

Throughout her career, Dr. Schiavo has designed and led numerous consensus-driven processes and multisectoral interventions for behavioral, social, organizational, and system change. She is a leading proponent of community-driven and multisectoral approaches to health, equity, and social issues, intervention design, and health communication. She brings to her work her in-depth understanding of multiple sectors, systems, and players; her extensive experience as a public health and healthcare practitioner, researcher, and entrepreneur; as well as her passion for making a difference in people's health and lives.

A frequent speaker in a variety of U.S. and international settings, Dr. Schiavo is fluent in English, Italian, and Portuguese, and can read and understand Spanish and French. She was recognized as one of 300 Women Leaders in Global Health (2015), and is an elected Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine. For a full bio, visit

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Alka Mansukhani, Founding Treasurer & Co-Vice President

Alka Mansukhani, PhD is a scientist on the faculty at New York University School of Medicine, where she teaches and conducts research on the biology of cancer and bone development. She has over fifteen years of experience in designing, conducting and evaluating biomedical research programs, obtaining grant funding, and has published extensively in leading biomedical journals.  Alka was an undergraduate at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, India, and holds a PhD from Cornell University, Ithaca NY. Alka has served as a consultant in healthcare and biomedical communications and has worked on a range of topics from  Lyme disease to Hib vaccine development. She has also worked with not-for-profits, most recently as a scientific consultant for a biomedical research lung cancer foundation to streamline the grant review process and develop a results tracking system for evaluating research funding initiatives (2006-2010). From 2002-2005, Alka was president of the New York chapter of AWIS, a resource and networking organization for women in science with projects ranging from preventing dropout rates of school girls from science and math, to conducting career development, mentoring and networking workshops for young scientists.  She served on the New York Academy of Sciences committee that organized the science and technology platform for action during the UN Beijing +5 conference on women. Alka has been involved with Health Equity Initiative since its inception and is the organization's Founding Treasurer (see our History)


Lenore Cooney 2009

Lenore Cooney, Board Member (2015–2018)

Lenore Cooney has spent more than 35 years in the practice of public relations and public affairs. She was a co-founder of Cooney/Waters Group, communications specialists in the areas of health and science. Since 1992, the NYC-based agency, has served the strategic communications needs of clients in health care, nutrition, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and health advocacy in the U.S. and internationally.

She has directed crisis management programs around issues including animal research, biotechnology and food product safety and U.S. vaccine supply. Her product marketing work has encompassed nutrition policy issues and scientific support for food product healthfulness, cancer therapeutics and vaccines; infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases; immunization; urology; neurology; cardiovascular disease; gastrointestinal disease; and women’s health. Among her specialties is the design of strategy to stimulate consensus and coordinated action on a given issue among multiple sectors, including policy makers, medical opinion leaders, health care providers and consumers, at the national, state or international level.


Upal Basu Roy, Board Member (2015–2018) & Co-Vice President

Dr. Upal Basu Roy, PhD, MS, MPH is Director of Science Communications and Programs at the LUNGevity lung cancer researcher foundation. Dr. Basu Roy is also involved in the qualitative research component of a CBPR project aimed at increasing breast cancer awareness and screening among women in Queens, NYC. Recently, Dr. Basu Roy was a Children’s Cancer Research Fund Fellow/Assistant Research Scientist at the New York University School of Medicine, where he conducted research in the field of pediatric cancer. During his Doctoral and Master’s training, Dr. Basu Roy worked on several research studies that involved infectious and chronic disease intervention and management. Later, as a Junior Research Scientist at NYU, he worked on the development of qualitative interview training manuals for global HIV intervention research.

Upal has an MPH from the Global Public Health program (Health Policy and Management track) at New York University, an M.S. in Microbiology from Mumbai, India, and a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona, Tucson. His interest lie in community-based health intervention projects aimed at decreasing health disparities through policy-level changes.


Glenn Ellis, Board Member (2016–2018) & Board Secretary

Glenn Ellis is President/Founder of Strategies for Well-Being, LLC, a health education and consulting company headquartered in Philadelphia, where he consults on promoting health equity and providing health education for consumers and providers. He has earned a well-deserved reputation as an internationally respected health educator and,  following his Pre-Med studies at the University of Pennsylvania, he is currently enrolled in graduate studies in Health Care Ethics with plans to pursue a Doctorate in Bioethics.

In 2006, his book, Which Doctor?, was received with wide acclaim. His latest book, Information is the Best Medicine, was released in January of 2012. He is working on his third book, scheduled for release in 2015, on 100 years of Blacks and Medicine in Philadelphia. Ellis is a contributor to Real Health Magazine, Heart and Soul Magazine, The Black AIDS Institute Newsletter, as well as The National Medical Association’s, Healthy Living magazine. In addition to his columns which appear weekly in The Philadelphia Tribune, Ellis remains a regular radio guest and commentator on KJLH (Los Angeles), and in Philadelphia on WURD-AM, and WDAS-AM/FM. He is the Host of “Information is the Best Medicine” in Philadelphia on WURD Radio.

He maintains a busy lecture schedule in the U.S. and abroad, where he highlights health disparities and medical ethics. Ellis is well sought-after university guest lecturer, and has made scientific presentations in Belgium, Germany, Cuba, South Africa, Ukraine, and The Netherlands.



Friso van Reesema, Board Member (2016–2018)

Friso van Reesema, who has been serving as Co-chair of Health Equity Initiative’s Public Policy Member Committee, has been a healthcare executive for over 15 years. His experience is in the operations of healthcare technology and communications companies empowering individuals to take an active role in their health.

More recently, Friso served as the Director of Care Management supporting health plans with their population health strategies on behalf of Emmi Solutions, a patient engagement and health education company. Friso also worked in sales, marketing and business development for Avalere Health, a DC-based health advisory firm, for a Dutch-based health-risk assessment institute and for a Dutch pharmaceutical company in the United States. His focus has always been on the doctor-patient relationship and health literacy.

Friso serves as a Board Director for the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich and volunteers on the Patient Family Partnership for Stamford Health, a Planetree organization with patient-focused care, as well as for AmeriCares, a disaster recovery nonprofit with free clinics for the underserved throughout the country. Friso speaks Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch. He holds a European Business degree, a diploma for a Masters in Cultural Anthropology from Leiden University and a Master in Public Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.


Board Member Emeritus

Samantha Cranko

Samantha Cranko served as Founding Vice President, Board of Directors, of Health Equity Initiative from 2011 to 2016, and was also instrumental in getting the organization jump-started (see our History). She currently serves on our Advisory Council. See Samantha's bio there.


Advisory Council

The advisory council is comprised of senior professionals from a variety of public health and other related fields who act as a resource for the Health Equity Initiative staff and Board of Directors.   In addition to their advising role, advisory council members also act as ambassadors on behalf of the organization. The advisory council formally meet with HEI’s board of directors and staff at least twice per year to provide strategic input on HEI's core activities. HEI is thankful to its prestigious advisory council for its support and participation!


Everold Hosein

Everold Hosein, PhD, a Senior Communication Advisor-Consultant for the World Health Organization ­and UNICEF, is an international communication specialist (born in Trinidad and Tobago) with over 35 years of experience in strategic communication, integrated marketing communication, advocacy and public relations, communication for development (C4D), health education, and IEC (information-education-communication), related to social development issues and behavioral impact/behavior change. Dr. Hosein is also the Co-Director of the Global Health Communication Research and Resources Center at Indiana University, and an Adjunct Professor and Coordinator of the WHO-NYU Summer Institute on IMC Communication for Behavioral Impact in Health and Social Development at New York University. He is the founder of the strategic communication planning methodology called COMBI - Communication for Behavioral Impact, initiated at New York University in 1994 and refined and used at WHO since 2000 as well as by other international agencies and local governments, including UNICEF, the World Bank, and the German Government.  Dr. Hosein was the recipient of the prestigious 2010 Mayhew Derryberry Award of the Public Health Education and Health Promotion (PHEHP) section of the American Public Health Association (APHA).

Dr. Hosein also served from 2008 to 2010 on the U.S. Government’s Health Secretary’s 13-person Advisory Committee established to recommend national health promotion and disease prevention objectives for “Healthy People 2020”. Formerly, Dr. Hosein was Senior Counselor for Social Development at Burson-Marsteller (the  largest global public relations and communication consulting company), and before then he worked at the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Dr. Hosein's global professional experience extends from Africa and Asia to the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and North America. He  has been a consultant to several United Nations agencies (UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO/PAHO,FAO, UNDP, UNESCO, UNDCP), the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, Asia Development Bank, USAID, the German Government, national and international non-governmental organizations, and governments in developing countries.


Gustavo D. Cruz, Chair, Advisory Council

Gustavo D. Cruz, D.M.D., M.P.H., is Commissioner, Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC); Resident Advisor, Dental Public Health Residency Program at Lutheran Medical Center; and Adjunct Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Health Promotion at the NYU College of Dentistry. He recently served as Senior Consultant, Pan American Health Organization, and member of the oral health workforce intervention expert panel at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.   Dr. Cruz was Chief of the Oral Health Branch, Division of Medicine and Dentistry at HRSA’s Bureau of Health Professions where he oversaw HRSA's Pre and Postdoctoral Oral Health Training Programs, as well as the Faculty Development Loan Repayment and the State Oral Health Workforce Grants Programs. During 2009-2010 he was a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow working at the office of the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius. With funding from the NIH and the New York State Department of Health, Dr. Cruz has conducted numerous research studies on the oral health of immigrants to the US, factors associated with oral health disparities, oral and pharyngeal cancers and access to oral health care among underserved populations, as well as the effect of race/ethnicity, acculturation and culturally influenced behaviors on oral health outcomes and health services utilization.

During 1997-2001, Dr. Cruz was Associate Director of the NIH funded Northeast Research Center for Minority Oral Health where he was also the Principal Investigator of one of the projects within the Center. With funding from the NIH and the New York State Department of Health, Dr. Cruz has conducted numerous research studies on the prevention and control of oral and pharyngeal cancer, oral health of immigrants to the US, factors associated with oral health disparities and access to oral health care among underserved populations, as well as the effect of race/ethnicity, acculturation and culturally influenced behaviors on oral health outcomes and health services utilization. Dr. Cruz received his D.M.D. degree from the University of Puerto Rico and his M.P.H. from Columbia University School of Public Health.  He was the recipient of a National Research Fellowship Award during which he also completed a Residency in Oral Public Health at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine and the New York City Department of Health.  He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Public Health.


Jahanara Ali

Jahan Ali, PhD is Founder and President of Octane Ventures. Previously, she served as Senior Vice President at the New York City Investment Fund (NYCIF) and managed the Fund's investments in the health care sector, including the BioAccelerate NYC Prize competition (

Jahan also runs her own technology commercialization consulting business, Longitude Venture Consulting, where she works with entrepreneurs and not for profit research and product development partnerships. Prior to that, Jahan was the Director of Technology Transfer at the Hospital for Special Surgery, where she focused on creating partnerships and licensing in the orthopedic sector. Before that, Jahan was with Mojave Therapeutics, a biotechnology company developing therapeutic vaccines with heat shock protein delivery technology. At Mojave, she successfully identified synergistic partnership opportunities, research collaborations and competitor market research. Prior to that, Jahan was at Mount Sinai School of Medicine's Office of Industrial Liaison. Jahan has a Ph.D. from New York University School of Medicine.


Kenneth Olden

Kenneth Olden

Kenneth Olden, Ph.D., Sc.D., L.H.D, is the Director, National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) and the Human Health Risk Assessment Program (HHRA) of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIHES). Dr. Olden is also a professor and the former Founding and Acting Dean of the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College, as well as the former Acting Dean of the School of Health Sciences at Hunter College. Previously, Dr. Olden was named as the third director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the second director of the National Toxicology Program (NTP) by Louis Sullivan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and served until 2005. Dr. Olden was awarded four of the most prestigious awards in public health: The Calver Award in 2002; the Sedwick Medal and Lautenberg Award in 2004, and the Julius B. Richmond Award in 2005. Finally, he was awarded the highly prestigious Princess Takamatsu Cancer Medal by the Japanese Royal Family in 2004.

Olden is a cell biologist and biochemist by training, and has been active in cancer research for almost three decades. He was director of the Howard University Cancer Center and professor and chairman of the Department of Oncology at Howard University Medical School (1985-–1991) in Washington, D.C. He is the author of more than 200 publications. He published two of the "One Hundred Most Cited" papers in 1978-–1979, and one on the subject of cancer cell biology is now deemed a "Citation Classic" by Science Citation Index.

Because of his extraordinary contribution to the field, Olden was named by President George H. W. Bush to the National Cancer Advisory Board in January 1991. Among other honors, Olden was elected as a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences (1994); received the DHHS secretary's Distinguished Service Award (1995); and is the recipient of the City of Medicine Award from the city of Durham, North Carolina (1996), the Presidential Meritorious Executive Rank Award (1996) and the Presidential Distinguished Executive Rank Award (1997). In 2003, he was also presented with an honorary doctorate of science degree by the University of Rochester and an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree by the College of Charleston.


Marie-Noelle Vieu

Marie-Noelle Vieu, MD, DLSHTM, FFPH, is a Public Health Specialist for the National Health Service in London and leads health equity audits and health inequalities programming. Dr. Vieu has experience in local planning for reducing health inequalities and conducting health impact assessments in London. Dr. Vieu is also a part-time consultant on health protection. Previously, Dr. Vieu worked for UNICEF as a programme officer for health and nutrition in Southern Africa. She has also worked as a medical doctor with various non-governmental organizations and has dedicated significant time in her career to working in developing countries and countries with war conflict, such as Angola, Pakistan/Afghanistan, Mozambique, and Togo. Dr. Vieu has worked in food security and nutritional surveillance with NGOs, the Mozambican Ministry of Health and UN organisations (FAO, UNICEF).

Dr. Vieu is a member of the General Medical Council in the UK, and the Equality Trust-London Group as well as a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health in the UK. Marie- Noelle has a medical degree from University Cochin Port Royal in France, a diploma in Tropical Medicine from The Institute for Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium. She also studied Human Nutrition at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and has a Master’s in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Nutrition.


Michelle S. Davis

Michelle S. Davis

Michelle S. Davis is the Virgin Islands' Commissioner of Health.  An epidemiologist by training, Dr. Davis previously served as Regional Health Administrator (RHA) with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) New York Regional office. The RHA serves as the principal federal public health authority for the Secretary of DHHS and the Assistant Secretary for Health. The RHA also assures collaborative promotion of the Surgeon General's initiatives. Previously, she served as the Deputy RHA for the Mid Atlantic region (DC, DE, MD, PA, VA, WVA)  as the health liaison between DHHS and state/local agencies, coordinated regional/national programs, recommended policies and served on the federal emergency preparedness, response and recovery team. Michelle S. Davis has worked as a public health professional in a variety of positions at the federal, state and municipal levels.  This included the Deputy Secretary for Health for the Pennsylvania Department of Health.  She was responsible for oversight of over 600 staff and a budget of $250 million.

Before working with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania she held positions as Deputy Health Commissioner for Policy and Planning with the City of Philadelphia and Senior Epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  She has also held positions with the states of South Carolina, Indiana and New York and at the local level with the City of Detroit and with the District of Columbia as a CDC federal assignee. Michelle S. Davis has held several elected positions within professional organizations including; President and Chair of the Board of the Pennsylvania Public Health Association (PPHA), National Representative for the Alpha Gamma Chapter of the Delta Omega Honorary Public Health Society, President and Vice-President of the Black Caucus of Health Workers of the American Public Health Association (APHA) and Governing Councilor for the Epidemiology Section of APHA.

Michelle S. Davis matriculated at the University of Michigan majoring in biology and psychology at the undergraduate level. She continued her education at the University of South Carolina, Johns Hopkins and the University of North Carolina where she majored in epidemiology for her graduate degrees.


Samantha Cranko

Samantha Cranko is a public relations professional focused on developing science-based, emotionally compelling communications that inspire healthy behavioral change. Throughout more than 15 years in healthcare public relations and advocacy, Samantha has developed award-winning campaigns to reach professional and patient communities, created innovative disease awareness strategies, raised the profile of patient groups, and managed national media initiatives to clarify complex medical issues. Her experience encompasses a wide variety of health areas including diabetes, pediatric vaccines, severe and persistent mental illness, sleep and wake disorders, cancer pain, migraine, and HIV.

Samantha’s work in promoting healthy change, including disease prevention, has strengthened her belief that the health of our communities influences the health of each individual. She was Health Equity Initiative's Founding Vice President and joined the organization to contribute her management and health communication skills to HEI’s mission of building community, capacity and communication resources for health equity.

An accomplished senior manager who has held executive leadership positions at three leading healthcare communications and public affairs firms, Samantha is currently executive director and leader of the NYC healthcare practice at Golin. She is a graduate of Wesleyan University.


Teresa Stuart

Teresa Stuart, PhD, a Global Health and Communication for Development Specialist, has over 30 years of professional experience in development work, the last 16 years of which were spent with the United Nations Children¹s Fund (UNICEF) where she retired in May 2011 as Communication for Development (C4D) Specialist from its headquarters in New York. She served as UNICEF Regional Adviser for C4D in South Asia covering 8 countries, and as Chief of Communication in Thailand and the Philippines. She worked with many country teams in the design and implementation of results-based plans, research, monitoring and evaluation protocols, and training in participatory behaviour and social change communication components of country programmes focused on meeting the Millennium Development Goals, – in particular, those addressing maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition, emerging diseases, gender mainstreaming, basic education, child protection and adolescent participation.

Dr. Stuart specializes in identifying research gaps and in designing and coordinating research, monitoring and evaluation methodologies as applied in communication for development in the different phases of the programming cycle. Within this framework, she focuses on the design and implementation of need-based training and learning tools for different thematic groups to narrow capacity gaps in formative research, policy development and programme planning, process and behaviour monitoring, evaluation and reporting. Prior to UNICEF, she was Director of Extension and Associate Professor of Development Communication at the University of the Philippines Los Banos, and was former Director of the Applied Communication Division at the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), Department of Science and Technology. She also served as communication and evaluation consultant in health, family planning, agriculture, food and nutrition programmes for UNDP, FAO and UNFPA as well as for many governmental and non governmental organizations in Southeast Asia since the 1980¹s. She earned a PhD (1985) in Development Communication from the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB), and the Florida State University, USA.


HEI Member Committee Chairs



Manik Bhat, Co-chair, Public Policy Member Committee

Manik Bhat is the CEO and cofounder of Healthify. After spending time connecting patients to social services in the Baltimore community and dealing with the poor state of affairs in managing a patient's social needs, he decided to start Healthify to improve the status quo. Manik hopes to change the way we coordinate around an individuals social needs and prove that addressing social determinants is not only the morally just thing to do but is also the fiscally responsible thing to do. His work has been featured by TEDMED, the Center for Healthcare Strategies, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, HHS, and Forbes. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University.

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Upal Basu Roy, Co-chair of Ad hoc Programs Member Committee, Co-chair of Communication Committee

Upal is also a member of the 2015–2018 Board of Directors of Health Equity Initiative. See his bio above.



Friso van Reesema, Chair of Membership Committee, Co-chair of Public Policy Committee

Friso is also a member of the 2016–2018 Board of Directors of Health Equity Initiative. See his bio above.


Glenn Ellis, Co-chair of Communication Committee

Glenn is also a member of the 2016–2018 Board of Directors of Health Equity Initiative. See his bio above.




Radhika Ramesh, Senior Project Manager

Radhika Ramesh, MA, currently provides project management support at Health Equity Initiative, attends to e-communications and maintains the organization's website. Radhika has experience in Information Technology, having worked on all phases of software development life cycles, at a major Information Solutions provider. Since then, she has worked at the intersection of public health, and communication and research, on topics including preconception health, infant mortality, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Radhika is also Senior Editorial Assistant of the peer-reviewed Journal of Communication in Healthcare: Strategies, Media, and Engagement in Global Health.

Radhika earned her Bachelor's degree in Electronics and Instrumentation engineering from the University of Madras, India. She then received her Masters of Arts in Media, Culture, and Communication, from New York University, where she focused on health communication.


Naomi Oledibe, Project Coordinator

Naomi Oledibe currently provides project coordination and event planning support at Health Equity Initiative (HEI). With a keen passion and commitment to the impartial delivery and accessibility of healthcare, she brings background knowledge in global health, public health and healthcare. Naomi has experience in both global and public health, to assist HEI, from her time at International Food Policy Research Institute, where she was involved in various independent and self-motivated projects concerning maternal and child health conditions relating to education in developing countries, as well ask her recent work with International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Naomi Oledibe is a Health Science graduate from Boston University.


Aimee Lusty, Webmaster

Aimee Lusty is the webmaster at Health Equity Initiative, providing regular updates, support, quality control and copyediting for the website Aimee is an independent administrator, additionally providing support to individual artists and non-profit arts organizations dedicated to education and social engagement. Aimee Lusty holds a degree in Art History from SUNY Purchase College. 



Health Equity Initiative's volunteers contribute to a variety of organizational and program-related efforts. We acknowledge here your contribution and thank you for your help!


Lalitha Ramanathapuram

Lalitha Ramanathapuram, PhD, MPH is Program Manager-Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and Stand Up 2 Cancer Lung Cancer Dream Team at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Her background spans cancer immunology research, public health and project/grants management. Prior to joining MSK she worked at New York University as Program Coordinator for the Center for the Study of Complex Malaria in India, one of ten International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research in malaria- endemic settings funded by the NIH. She played an active role in establishing the study’s three field sites in India and conducting the epidemiology study at these sites to estimate the true burden of malaria in India. She has also been involved with community-based research projects in non-communicable diseases among immigrant communities of NYC. Lalitha has a PhD in Cancer Immunology from the University of Arizona and an MPH in Global Health Policy and Management from New York University. Her interests are in chronic and neglected tropical diseases and bridging the gap between the ‘bench, bedside and community’ for effective management and treatment of these diseases. Lalitha is a HEI member volunteer and has served on the organizing committee for HEI 2016 Summit.


Jennifer Weiss

Jennifer Weiss has a background in public health education, advocacy and policy. She most recently served as the Health Literacy Coordinator for Literacy Partners, a New York nonprofit.  Previously she was policy director for the Medicare Rights Center, a national, nonprofit consumer services and advocacy organization. She is the co-author of Brooklyn by Name: How the Streets, Neighborhoods, Parks, Bridges and More Got their Names (NYU Press, 2006), and Citizen-In Chief: The Second Lives of the American Presidents (Harper, 2010). Jennifer has a Master’s Degree in Public Health Education from Teacher’s College, Columbia University. Jennifer is a consultant to several organizations in the public health field.



Carmelo Cruz Reyes

Carmelo Cruz Reyes, MPH, previously served as 2015-2016 member of HEI board of directors as well as the Chair of HEI membership committee, with responsibilities for member recruitment and relations (November 2014 to May 2016). He is a member of Health Equity Initiative and has also served on the organizing committee of HEI 2016 summit. Carmelo is a Senior Contract Administrator at EmblemHealth as well as a Senior Contract Manager at Contracting and Management Services, a division of Public Health Solutions, where he works closely with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDOHMH) to manage a portfolio of federally-funded HIV care and prevention contracts worth over five million dollars. He also works with the NYCDOHMH to field High Risk Behavior Surveillance studies targeting men who have sex with men in New York City. During his Master’s training, Carmelo took on the role of Principal Investigator for a cross-sectional research study fielded in Chiang Mai, Thailand that aimed to evaluate HIV infection risk factors among Burmese ethnic migrant (Shan) male sex workers. The findings of this study were shared with key public health and community-based organization leaders in Thailand in an effort to inform best practices specific to the implementation of HIV prevention programs targeting Shan male sex workers in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Carmelo earned a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from the Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and an MPH in Health Policy and Management from the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College. As a Southeast Asianist in public health, Carmelo is particularly passionate about fostering a public-private multi-sectoral approach to addressing health disparities among vulnerable populations throughout Southeast Asia.


Senior Associates

HEI’s senior associates include professionals from public health and other fields who provide knowledge and expertise for special projects and needs.  Senior associates participate as subcontractors or consultants in select HEI projects (on as-needed basis) and/or partner with HEI in writing grants and securing funds on topics of mutual interest. Below are the bios of some of the professionals in HEI's extensive network.


May May Leung

May May Leung, PhD, RD is an assistant professor at the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College.  Her research expertise includes the development and evaluation of innovative health communication and community-based interventions to prevent childhood obesity and other diseases areas through the engagement and empowerment of communities.  In addition, she focuses on the translation and dissemination of evidence-based interventions and policies to promote health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.  May May’s work also extends internationally as she has worked with the World Health Organization, Shanghai Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.  She currently consults with the University of North Carolina’s Center of Excellence for Training and Research Translation, which has a mission of enhancing the public health impact of community practitioners through translation initiatives (including training and interventions). She completed her doctoral degree in Public Health Nutrition at the Universityof North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health.  She earned her BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and her MS in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.  Prior to her time at UNC, May May was an adjunct faculty member and project manager at the University of Pennsylvania-School of Nursing and held a successful private practice for several years.



Health Equity Initiative takes pride in helping young professionals develop core  skills and competencies via a comprehensive internship/practicum program.

Kimia Sophie Ahmadi

B.A. Candidate, University of Pennsylvania (Summer 2016, Membership and Event Planing Intern)

Vandana Venugopal

B.A. Candidate, Stony Brook University (Summer 2016, Communication and Social Media Intern)

Michelle Kaufman

MD/MPH Candidate, New York College of Podiatric Medicine/Mt. Sinai School of Medicine (Summer 2015, Development, Membership, and Event Planning Intern)

Kathryn Beck

MPH, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (Spring/Summer 2015, Communication and Media)

Cheryl Lamptey

MPH, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (Fall 2014, Membership Support, Development, and Event Planning Intern)

Mannat Sharma

BS Health Sciences Candidate, Western University (Summer and Fall 2014, Communication and Social Media Intern)

Amanda Riley

MD/MPH Candidate, New York College of Podiatric Medicine/Mt. Sinai School of Medicine (Summer 2014, Membership Support/Recruitment, Development and Event Planning Intern)

Moria Byrne

MPH Candidate, New York University (Spring 2014, Communication and Social Media Intern)

Divya Padgaonkar

BA, The College of New Jersey (Summer 2013, Communication and Social Media Intern)

Asha Mattai

BA, Rutgers University (Fall 2012 Development and Communications Intern)

Lartif Thornton

MPH, Brooklyn College (Fall 2012 Social Media and Communications Intern)

Ameet Narwal

MPH Candidate, New York University  (Summer 2012 Development Intern)

Brandy Watts

MPH Candidate, Long Island University  (Spring 2012 Communications and Social Media Intern)

Kayla Pinto

Emerson College (Fall 2011 Development and Social Media Intern)


Past Contributors

Health Equity Initiative wishes to thank its founding staff and past board members who have contributed to the evolution of the organization: Mario Aieta, Ohemaaa Boahemaa, Elena Hoeppner, and Divya Padgaonkar.

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