SOPHIA LEADERSHIP

Executive Leadership Team

Sandra Whitehead, President 

Professor and Program Director, George Washington University Sustainable Urban Planning Program.

Sandra has worked on over ten HIAs on a range of topics including climate change, food access, transportation, and brownfield redevelopment. She has trained over 300 public health and planning professionals to conduct HIAs and has worked extensively with communities to implement Health in All Policies (HiAP). At George Washington, Sandra teaches applied courses including the Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) class, HIA and health assessment methods.

Contact Sandra by e-mail sandra@hiasociety.org

Katie Hirono, Past President

PhD Candidate, Global Public Health Unit, School of Social and Political Policy, University of Edinburgh.

Katie Hirono is a PhD candidate in the Global Public Health Unit at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on the role of participatory engagement in citizens’ juries and health impact assessment for improving policymaking and health equity.  She is a former research associate at the Centre for Health Equity Training, Research and Evaluation at the University of New South Wales, Australia where she specialized in conducting, training and teaching HIA. She has contributed to 30 HIAs throughout her career. Before joining CHETRE, Katie worked at the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to increase the use of health impact assessment in the U.S. Katie also has a long-standing record of helping to support underserved communities. She served on the board of directors for a health clinic in Maryland that serviced undocumented Latino populations, and volunteered as a Spanish medical translator at a free health clinic in Virginia. She has worked as a consultant to the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization in the department of Gender, Diversity and Human Rights. She is also a certified hatha yoga teacher.

Emily Bever, Vice President Member Services 

Senior Associate, Health Impact Project

The Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, encourages state, local, and national level organizations to include health considerations in policy decisions across multiple sectors, such as housing, transportation, and education. Research shows that the conditions in which people live, learn, work, and play influence their health, so the Project works to create cross-sector partnerships that include communities. In her role, Emily provides technical assistance to national grantee partners, collaborates with partners to plan and execute convenings, and coordinates with Pew communications staff to create content for the Project website. Emily also participates in an interdepartmental working group to improve grantmaking processes, procedures, and software at Pew.

Prior to joining the Health Impact Project, Emily was the assistant for the Center for Military Health Policy Research at RAND Corporation.

Emily received her Bachelor of Science in International Affairs from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Contact Emily by e-mail members@hiasociety.org

Prasanthi Persad, Vice President Development


Prasanthi has been in the field of public health for the past 6 years. She works at the intersection of health, policy and social justice on issues that improve health and quality of life through encouraging policy change. At present, Prasanthi is working as an independent consultant in health policy research and HIAs. She previously worked at the local health department in Louisville, KY focusing primarily on Health Impact Assessments (HIAs). Prasanthi earned a Masters of Public Health (MPH) from Boston University School of Public Health, a law degree (JD), and a M.S. in Biology from New York University.

Amy Meehan, Treasurer

Research Associate, Palo Alto Medical Foundation

Amy is a research associate and project manager at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute (PAMFRI), a non-profit medical foundation in Northern California.  Her work has always focused on helping people live active and healthy lives. At PAMFRI, she works on multiple health services research projects, randomized controlled trials and evaluations from the proposal stage to dissemination.  The projects range from improving communication between patients and physicians, encouraging the organizational prioritization of physician wellbeing, testing an online tool designed to help Medicare beneficiaries choose a Medicare Part D plan, to integrating teen behavioral health into primary care and preventing suicide.  In an effort to glean how health impact assessments could be utilized in her current work and stay connected to the inspirational work of other SOPHIA members, Amy became a member of SOPHIA in 2015. She has contributed to the development of the Peer Exchange manual used for the Peer Exchange program that was launched in 2016.  Amy earned her Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology with a minor in Business from the University of Rhode Island and her Masters of Public Health in Health Policy and Management with a concentration in Food Policy from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. 


Audrey Boerner, Secretary

Project Manager, Eau Claire City-County Health Department

Audrey is a project manager at the Eau Claire City-County Health Department (Wisconsin) and is part of a diverse team that is working to increase the use of health impact assessment and promote health in all policies in the Eau Claire Community. She previously worked for the Institute for Wisconsin’s Health as an HIA Specialist and led a team on the state’s first regional HIA, which was awarded the Wisconsin Public Health Association Excellence in Public Health Research award. Audrey’s HIA experience has centered on natural resources and built environment issues. Her work also includes developing and supporting community health coalitions, supporting the use of data in decision making, environmental public health initiatives, and grant writing. She has conducted trainings locally on community health data, health impact assessment, and built environment issues.

Oma McLaughlin, Coordinator

Oma is the SOPHIA Coordinator and works out of Seattle. She has worked at the community level providing evaluation services to local nonprofits and has worked at an NGO focused on women's health issues in developing countries. She currently facilitates peer support groups for an agency that supports new parents. Oma received her MPH from the University of Washington.

Contact Oma by e-mail at coordinator@hiasociety.org


Steering Committee Members

Jimmy Dills

Research Associate, Georgia Health Policy Center, Georgia State University

At the GHPC, Jimmy works to improve public health by advancing a health in all policies perspective of decision making. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Atlanta Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism and as an instructor for the Public Health and Built Environment course offered jointly through Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health and Georgia Tech’s School of City and Regional Planning. His areas of expertise are health impact assessment (HIA) and healthy community design. Before joining the GHPC, Jimmy facilitated collaboration between a local public health department and community stakeholders as HIA Coordinator in Nashville. He also worked as a Research Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity focusing specifically on HIA and physical activity promotion through environmental interventions.

Fiona Haigh

Deputy Director and Program Manager, Centre for Health Equity Training Research and Evaluation (CHETRE)

Fiona is Deputy Director and Program Manager at the Centre for Health Equity, Training, Research and Evaluation (CHETRE) at the University of New South Wales, Australia. She is an applied public health researcher specialising in Health Impact Assessment (HIA) who has worked across Australia and internationally with the health sector and other sectors to improve considerations of health and health equity in decision-making. Fiona has led or contributed to over 30 HIAs on policies, programmes and projects at local, regional, national and international levels. Fiona has worked as HIA advisor to the World Health Organisation and is a member of the International Union of Health Promotion Global Working Group on HIA.


Ukaegbu Kingsley O.E

Health Impact Assessment Inspector, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria

Kingsley is a young professional with over 3 years of HIA-related working experience in the Upstream Oil and Gas Industry with specialties in the use of geospatial intelligence in environmental pollution control with keen skills in geospatial intelligence. He was one of the winners of 2015 Emerging Space Leaders of the International Astronautical Federation and has been the project coordinator for He Space Children Foundation where he developed a STEM program called “Take Space to Grassroots” Nigeria. His professional and research areas are in the use of Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing techniques in developing logic models for HIA in diverse host communities of Niger Delta Oil-Producing and host communities in Nigeria, with focus in Environmental Impact Assessment of development projects and environmental evaluation studies where he coordinates the scoping workshop for stakeholders, community engagements, field data gathering, reporting and mitigation monitoring exercise. Kingsley has led over 20 HIAs and is currently pursuing an advanced degree in Environmental & Public Health. He holds a B.Tech in Environmental Pollution Control and a Masters in Environmental Management.

Cynthia Stone

Professor, Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health

Cynthia has a background in Community Health Nursing, viewing the world through a public health lens.  Her funded research includes The Use of a Health Impact Assessment in the Development of a Full Service Grocery Store within a Food Desert (Indiana Minority Health Coalition - 2012/2013), a Community Health Assessment for Parkview Health (2016), and most recently, the Inter-professional Education IU Grand Challenge (2018-2021). 

Kerry Wyss

Director, Environmental Health, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO)

Kerry leads ASTHO’s program implementation and policy development and analysis on environmental health issues such as health in all policies (HiAP), HIA, safe water, and food safety. Since 2008, Kerry has managed ASTHO’s grants to state and local health departments to conduct HIA capacity building activities, collaborated with a broad spectrum of HIA partners across the country, and participated in many HIA and HiAP projects and presentations as a result. Together with her team, Kerry has developed numerous resources related to HIA and HiAP, including policy guides, program reports, and research briefs. Kerry currently leads ASTHO’s monthly HIA practitioner calls and ASTHO’s HiAP advisory groups. Kerry received her Masters of Environmental Management from Duke University where she focused on children’s environmental health and health policy.


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