LA CaTS Cores & Resources

Community Advisory Boards


Baton Rouge

Lorri Burgess, BS

Lorri has served Sickle Cell Association of South Louisiana for 18 years. Prior to the reorganization of the agency the name was Baton Rouge Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation. A native of Baton Rouge Lorri has work and served in many capacities to improve not only the health care and individuals with sickle cell but improvements in social services, local government, and state services included but not limited to sickle cell disease. Lorri has served the City of Baton Rouge/ Parish of East Baton Rouge as a Metro Councilwoman / Mayor Pro Tempore. Serving the community has included: As a member of the Capital Area Alliance for the Homeless, Community Board Member for Wise Guys, and Chairman of the Louisiana Sickle Cell Commission. She currently serves as a member of two Sickle Cell PCORI projects with LPHI and Johns Hopkins Medical Center. Past memberships include: Chairman of the Greater Baton Rouge Port Commission, Louisiana Technology Park, YWCA, Metro Heath Education, and Capital Area Transportation. Lorri has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree from Louisiana State University as well as a Paralegal certification from Louisiana State University Paralegal Studies Program.

Eugene Collins, B.Soc.Sci

Mr. Collins began his work in the community at the early age of sixteen years old. At sixteen, he volunteered to clear vacant lots on the weekends. By the age of eighteen, he served on district 6 school improvement team. Through this effort, Mr. Collins worked with various underprivileged kids and saw a need for improvement in neighborhood schools. As a result, he served as the neighborhood’s basketball team coach and mentor to local kids.

Mr. Collins’ professional career began at The Baton Rouge AIDS Society, and was later promoted to the position of Education and Prevention Coordinator. After a year of service, he was promoted to Director of Education and Prevention. He transitioned to the position of The Region 2 STD/HIV Prevention Monitor within the Public Health Sector. Mr. Collins served in this position for nearly a decade. During his time in Public Health, Mr. Collins chaired the Mayor’s Advisory Council on AIDS.

Mr. Collins is a member of The 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge. In less than a year, he became Chair of the Health and Wellness Committee. As a member of The 100, he has organized several efforts to reach youth in our community, and has become a certified youth mentor.

He served as a volunteer football coach for the Baton Rouge Raptors for almost a decade. With the Raptors, Mr. Collins worked to keep at-risk youth off the streets by giving them a positive outlet. In addition, he serves as Assistant Pastor at Real Life Ministries. In addition to being a loving Father and devoted Husband, Mr. Collins co-host Da Next Move on WXOK’s Heaven 1460AM radio, and serves as the Director of Prevention for The HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two (HAART).

Myra Collins, LPN

Myra Collins is the Executive Director at Oakwood Village Assisted Living Facility. Her specialty areas are community outreach, resource development, program management, and public relations. Prior to this position, she was the business development and community outreach specialist for the Baton Rouge General. While there, she wasa key contributor to the increase in medical, senior, and community outreach initiatives, resulting in greater visibility, programming, and recruitment for the Baton Rouge General. In addition, Myra has an extensive background in a variety of healthcare roles including Earl K. Long Hospital nurse, Medicaid Prior-Authorization Nurse at Unisys Corporation, and Physician Liaison at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital. She was appointed by Governor Jindal to the State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners, elected chairman, and presently serves as hearing officer directing all regulatory and disciplinary matters. Myra is an active volunteer in numerous community organizations including American Heart Association, Together Baton Rouge, MDA, Mid-City Merchants Board, and AARP Advisory Transportation Committee.

Twanda Lewis, M.Ed.

Twanda Lewis is the owner of Laurant-Lewis Consultancy LLC, a consultant firm that is is committed to utilizing best practices and a collective impact framework to work with various organizations, investors and communities to assist them in delivering results and improving the quality of their outcomes. Twanda has over 20 years of experience working in the area of human services, project/program management, grantmaking and organizational capacity building, locally and internationally. Utilizing her capacity building skills, she has engaged diverse groups of local, state and regional organizations and advised them on developing sustainable programs that are beneficial and impactful, as well as, facilitated the development of strategic partnerships and collaboratives. She has lived and worked with government, private and nonprofit agencies in Africa and Europe that addressed the needs of expatriates, permanent residents and citizens of foreign countries. She is a graduate of Southern University, where she earned a MEd in Behavioral Studies.

Fatemeh Malekian, PhD

Dr. Malekian serves as Program Leader in the area of Food and Nutrition, and Director of newly formed "Southern Institute of Food Science, Nutrition and Wellness" at Southern University Agricultural Land-Grant Campus. Throughout her professional career she has made substantial contributions to the profession of food science and technology through her innovative research, teaching and extension/outreach programs. Her research expertise focuses on chemical analysis, stability, processing, packaging and safety of foods. Dr. Malekian has made great contributions to the cooperative extension programs at Southern University Agricultural Land Grant Campus. Her vibrant personality and ability to work well with others enables her to reach diverse audiences to help make healthy changes in their lives. Her ongoing presentations, trainings, and workshops in the areas of food safety, new dietary guidelines (MyPlate), nutrition and health, obesity, childhood obesity, hunger, diabetes, hypertension, etc., at local and state churches, community centers, health fairs, earth days, Catholic Charities Diocese of Baton Rouge, wellness days and other events are widely known in the region. She has been presenting such scientific information in a language that everybody can understand through web sites, radio, TV, publications such as fact sheets, handouts, and videotapes. Prior to Southern University, Dr. Malekian was employed by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center (PBRC). At PBRC she supervised food analysis laboratory for 12 years. She chemically analyzed diets and the results were compared to the nutrient data base to achieve accurate and repeatable diets for numerous clinical trials.

Walter “Geno” McLaughlin, Jr.

Mr. McLaughlin, Jr. is Director of Community Engagement for the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority where he utilizes his extensive background in outreach and organizing to build coalitions to affect communities suffering from blight and disinvestment. In addition, he is Principal Strategist at Abstract Concepts, LLC. (Community Outreach, Project Management, & Consulting Firm).

He is the founder of Starving Artist (an arts based professional mentorship & empowerment initiative), curator of Black Restaurant Week Baton Rouge, Cofounder of Thin Redline Project (an online photojournalism platform), member of the Baton Rouge Multicultural Advisory Council for the Department of Justice, on the board of the Butterfly Society & Humanities Amped program, and Co-Chair of Arts & Culture for Mayor Sharon Weston Broome.

Additionally, he serves as a mentor and resource for several different youth groups including LA Youth Connect, Baton Rouge Youth Coalition, and Kappa League Guide Right Program. It is his willingness to step out in recent times that have seen him recognized as an effective advocate and influencer for change in the region. He has managed to balance efforts to mobilize and organize concerned citizens while working to change policy and build influence in the political realm. At the heart of it all, he remains the same. A man who hopes his work and his passion for people will leave an indelible mark on communities in which he serves.

Sidni Lloyd-Shorter, PsyD

Sidni Lloyd-Shorter is the Deputy Director of the Louisiana Housing Alliance. A Baton Rouge native, has over her 30 year career held positions with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Georgia and as Station Chairman for the largest American Red Cross in the world, located at Ft. Bragg, NC - including Camp Sinai in the Middle East, Pope Air Force Base and Camp Lejuene, NC. Sidni has served as Project Manager for a large faith-based organization in North Carolina for several community development projects. She has also spent time in Washington, DC as a government contractor in grant and contract administration, project management and human resources. Shortly after returning to Baton Rouge, Sidni joined Hurricane Katrina relief efforts working with the City of Baton Rouge in the National Emergency Grant program. Later she entered Louisiana's newly formed digital media industry as Director of Business Development and Human Resources with Nerjyzed Entertainment. After completion of her education at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Sidni also earned a certification in Grant Writing and Administration from Virginia Union University.

D'Andra Bradford Odom, MPA

D'Andra Bradford Odom is the Minority Outreach Director for the Southeast Louisiana Health Education Center. She also serves as the liaison for the Louisiana Bureau of Minority Health Access. D'Andra has worked in public health for over six years and has over ten years of public policy experience. Mrs. Odom's primary focus is in chronic disease, health disparities, and food access. Her research interests are in the areas of food tourism, childhood obesity, and minority health. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems from Grambling State University in Grambling, LA and a Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in Public Policy from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, LA. Mrs. Odom has a strong passion for policy and social justice and welcomes the opportunity to share her passion with others. When she is not working in public health and policy she enjoys spending time with her husband (Brandon) and children (Josiah and Corrinne), traveling, dining, reading, entertaining family and friends, and running the family catering business.

Jamie Milano Roques, MPA, MPH, APRN

Jamie Milano Roques is the Director of Behavioral Health and Primary Care Integration and the Project Director for a Primary Behavioral Health Care Integration SAMHSA grant. She received a Bachelor Degree in Nursing from Louisiana State University School of Nursing in 1979, a Master Degree in Public Health from Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and attended the University of Texas Health Science Center where she obtained her training as a Nurse Practitioner and became certified by NCC. Most of her career has been spent in public service working with those who have great needs and few resources. Throughout her career, she has developed programs and services at the local level working with governmental authorities and communities. More specifically, Roques worked as a Nurse Practitioner with the Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals (DHH) Capital Area Human Services District for 6 years, providing service for mental health, addictive disorders, and developmental disabilities. Also with the DHH, Roques served 27 years with the Office of Public Health and served on the Board of Family Road for 10 years with 2 years as the Chair. She has served in numerous positions with the Louisiana Public Health Association and currently serves as the Area Representative to the Governing Council of the American Public Health Association, the Council of Affiliates Chair representing Federal Region VI (AK, LA, TX, OK, NM), and is an active member of the Executive Committee.

Daisy Franklin Slan, EdD

Dr. Slan has worked in Education for over 40 years. She is currently a facilitator with the East Baton Rouge School District’s Instructional Leadership Program, where educators are selected through a rigorous process to become eligible for a school leadership position. She began as an elementary teacher, both in a self-contained classroom and Title I reading pull-out program. After working several years as a classroom teacher, she was employed at the State level with the Louisiana Department of Education in a Special Program to Upgrade Reading and the Bureau of Personnel Evaluation at Louisiana State University in Research and Development, working on the Teacher Evaluation System. She has worked in a school District’s Central Office as Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction and retired as Superintendent of Schools. After retirement, she worked with a National Non-Profit Organization, Rural Schools and Community Trust based in Washington, DC. Years later, she was asked and returned to a local school district as Superintendent of Schools for three years. Dr. Slan was educated in the East Baton Rouge Public Schools. She received a BS degree in Child Development from Southern University A & M in Baton Rouge; later certified in Education through a federal program called Teacher Corp earning a Masters in Elementary Education; and holds a Doctorate in Education Leadership from George Peabody College of Vanderbilt in Nashville, TN. Her most cherished position is that of a mother, grandmother, and friend to education. Her goal is to make a difference in the lives of as many children, youths and adults as possible, so that they will be safe, healthy, and educated.

Thomas Smith, CASA Volunteer

Mr. Thomas Smith is a 21 year Air Force Veteran, and a retiree of the VA Medical Center—Alexandria-Pineville, Louisiana. Mr. Smith is a former board member of the Charles F. Smith Community Development Corporation. He is very familiar with some of the problems affecting our communities today. Currently, he volunteers with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) which helps children navigate the foster system. In addition, he volunteers for Hospice. Mr. Smith is a member of the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, serves as a Deacon, is active in several other ministries within the church, and spends his “free” time with family and friends.

Dana Vidrine, MSN, RNC-MNN

Dana Vidrine began her nursing career in 1980 and received her master’s of science degree in Nursing Leadership and Management in 2017. She is a nursing director at Woman’s Hospital, the 17th largest delivery service in the nation and the largest in Louisiana. She is responsible for the fiscal oversight and management/supervision of an 84-bed Mother/Baby unit, well-baby and transitional care nurseries, lactation department, and newborn photography service MOM365.

Ms. Vidrine leads several health care initiatives to improve perinatal and neonatal outcomes. Throughout her career, she has led several patient rights and cultural diversity initiatives including care of the incarcerated obstetrical patient. Most recently, Ms. Vidrine implemented in-house breastfeeding peer counselor, telehealth breastfeeding consults, and proactive telephone call backs. In addition, led a multidisciplinary team to achieve the global designation of Baby-Friendly© by Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. (BFUSA), the accrediting body and national authority in the United States.

Ms. Vidrine is a member of the national association of her primary profession, Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics, and Neonatal Nursing; American Nurses Association; Louisiana State Nurses Association; and Baton Rouge District Nurses Association. She is certified as a maternal newborn nurse through National Certification Corporation (NCC).

Ms. Vidrine has been active in several volunteer opportunities including the ALS association and St. Vincent DePaul Men’s shelter.

 

New Orleans

Dorian-Gray Alexander, BA

Dorian has been living with HIV/AIDS since 2006 and is a Policy Fellow and member of CHANGE, a Coalition of HIV/AIDS NonProfits and Governmental Entities. He has served on the New Orleans Regional AIDS Planning Council on several committees demonstrating his service to the local HIV community consistent with engagement and involvement in the local Ryan White planning body and other ASO's. Dorian networks with both RW and non-RW agencies, non-profits and CBO's in addition to governmental representatives on local, state, and national levels. He is Chair-elect of LAAN [Louisiana AIDS Advocacy Network]. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of CrescentCare, a new FQHC serving the New Orleans community. He serves as chair of the Primary Medical Care Consumer Advisory Council for the NO/AIDS Task Force, a division of CrescentCare, where he is a client. Dorian values his participation in advocacy, training and education regarding HIV at events, forums, and conferences by sharing ideas for treatment, linkage to care and retention in care for HIV. He is an ad hoc staff Standardized Patient Trainer with Tulane University School of Medicine in its Training and Assessment of Professional Skills (TAPS) Program and received a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of New Orleans.

Dana Feist, MEd, CHES

Dana Rae Feist is the Patient Care Coordinator and Regional Implementation Coordinator for Louisiana Cancer Prevention & Control Program at LSUHSC- School of Public Health. She chairs the regional Healthy Communities Coalition (HCC) Region 1 whose mission is to improve the health and quality of life of Louisianans by mobilizing communities through implementing policy, systems and environmental changes in order to build healthy communities. Ms. Feist has over fifteen years of experience working with underserved populations in the areas of comprehensive cancer control, clinical trials, community outreach and patient navigation. Ms. Feist also is a Certified Health Educational Specialist (CHES).

Daphne Pajeaud Ferdinand, PhD, RN

Dr. Daphne Ferdinand is the Executive Director of the Healthy Heart Community Prevention Project (HHCPP), a non-profit corporation whose mission is to promote heart health and to eliminate disparities associated with CVD in vulnerable communities.  She is the co-founder Heartbeats Life Center, formerly a cardiovascular diagnostic testing center and clinical cardiology consultation practice having served for 22 years as a practice administrator, clinical nurse specialist, and clinical trials coordinator.  In addition to serving on Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science (LA CaTS) Community Advisory Board (CAB), she holds membership on other CABs such as the LSU Ag Center Extension in New Orleans and the Tulane University PRC.  Dr. Ferdinand has over 30 years of community service advocating for cardiovascular health with the provision of heart healthy educational programs in the greater New Orleans area, specifically in vulnerable communities.  The HHCPP is a community site for the NHLBI We Can! Program, targeting parents and caregivers to educate their families about maintaining a healthy weight. She also serves on the Association of Black Cardiologists' (ABC), Community Programs Advisory Committee, coordinating ABC's Community Health Advocate Training Program, which utilizes the NHLBI/NIH CHW model to train lay-persons to implement strategies to educate community members to reduce CVD risks.  As a backyard gardener for over 30 years and Master Gardener with the LSU Ag Center, she is poised to assist schools, community based organizations, and individuals with horticulture activities to promote the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, and in addition to educating community members of the health benefits to reduce CVD and other chronic conditions. Dr. Ferdinand has co-authored publications focusing on topics such as cardiovascular disparities, management of hypertension in diabetes and the metabolic syndrome, fast food consumption in the U.S., and community-based approaches to cardiovascular disease prevention. Dr. Ferdinand received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Dillard University and Master of Nursing degree from LSU Health Science Center.  She received her PhD in Nursing from Southern University and A & M College School of Nursing in Baton Rouge, LA.  She is a community advocate who believes in "Helping People to Help Themselves."

Torrie Harris, DrPH, MPH

Torrie T. Harris, DrP.H. MPH is a public health professional with over 15 years of experience in health disparities research and practice. She previously served as the Director of Health Equity for the state of KY where the state conducted the first cultural and linguistic competency assessments of all local health departments. Dr. Harris has also developed the Louisiana Statewide Healthy Communities Coalition with a focus on grass roots community health initiatives to close gaps in health disparities related to obesity, smoking, and physical activity. Dr. Harris has dedicated her career to health equity through health system quality improvement by providing technical assistance to community health centers and other health service organizations.

Catherine Haywood, BSW

Catherine Gray Haywood, Community Service Program Manager for Tulane's Prevention Research Center and the current chair for Louisiana Community Health Outreach Network.   Catherine received her BSW from Southern University at New Orleans. Catherine has worked for the last 25 years advocating for individuals living below the poverty levels, also, working to educated communities around health disparities such as HIV/AIDS, breast and cervical cancers, and other cancers, obesity and active living. She's one of the founding member of Women with a Vision's, a non- profit organization that has been in existence for the last 22 years. She provides structured mentoring process for community members about the PRC's activities.  She also implements training programs for community residents, barbers, stylists and health care providers around health issues.  Catherine provide information on webinars that presents CBPR  for organizations and neighborhood associations. In the past she has worked with ex-offenders in the pre-release program through Community Service Center. She is the Co-Regional Director for the South region for the National Community Committee (NCC), on the Executive Board of the Louisiana Cancer Control Partnership, and the leadership committee for the American Cancer Society's Coffee Program.

Veronica Magee, MEd

Veronica Magee is a native of New Orleans and a retiree from the New Orleans Public Schools. She worked in the field of education for over 20 years holding a variety of positions such as  teacher, Staff Developer, Curriculum Coordinator, Assistant Principal, Principal and as the NCLB Federal Programs Director for the Algiers Charter Schools System.  She earned her Bachelor's Degree in Secondary Education from Dillard University, a Masters' Degree in Social Studies from the Ohio State University and a Masters' Degree in Education Administration from the University of New Orleans. She is currently employed as the Deputy Director for Brotherhood, Incorporated in New Orleans, where she works in the HIV/AIDS  field to develop and implement programs that address the needs of at-risk and under-served populations.  Ms. Magee oversees all HIV/STI Prevention programs, maintains oversight for all  HIV testing initiatives, serves as manager for Trinity House, coordinates staff development and agency outreach efforts, supervises site personnel  and  serves as the principal grant writer  for the agency.  Ms. Magee has been employed by Brotherhood, Incorporated since 2012.

Emily Mickley-Doyle

Emily Mickley-Doyle has lived in New Orleans since 2005 and earned her B.A. in Sociology at Loyola University New Orleans in 2008. Upon graduation, she moved to Upstate New York to work in community health and HIV care. During her advocacy work, she noticed a lack of access for many to affordable, fresh, healthy food. In 2011, she returned to New Orleans to pursue her new career in urban farming. Emily cofounded SPROUT NOLA, an interactive urban farming organization that spreads the love of growing fresh, healthy food through community engagement and outreach, partnerships with local food vendors and food justice organizations, hands-on training programs, and advocacy. SPROUT NOLA grows market gardens throughout New Orleans, leads backyard and community garden builds, and publicly advocates for sustainable agriculture. SPROUT NOLA currently coordinates the ReFresh Community Farm, a teaching garden that will be located at the new innovative community health hub The ReFresh Project. The project will offer education to community members about gardening basics, assistance and education opportunities for individuals interested in starting a backyard garden, and tools to learn how to harvest and prepare fresh fruits and vegetables. Emily is a member of the ReFresh NOLA Coalition, a collaborative group of health-, wellness-, and food access-focused organizations that develop and manage the ReFresh Project's health and community programming, use data to monitor and evaluate the project and manage its impact, and share lessons learned and best practices. Emily is a Parkway Partners community gardener, a Louisiana Master Gardener, and a member of the Friends of Lafitte Corridor  (FOLC) and New Orleans Food and Farm Network (NOFFN).

 

Shreveport

Connie L. Arnold, PhD

Connie L. Arnold, Ph.D. is a medical sociologist and Professor of Medicine at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport (LSUHSC-S) and the Feist-Weiller Cancer Center. She has over twenty-five years’ experience conducting Health Literacy (HL) research and has 53 publications on health literacy, health communication and behavior, and preventive medicine. Dr. Arnold has a productive record of federally-funded research developing and implementing low literacy interventions to improve health outcomes of vulnerable populations. Her wide-ranging work focuses on improving cancer screening in rural Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), self-management of diabetes in safety-net settings, and use of health coaches to facilitate weight loss in community clinics. Dr. Arnold is the Health Literacy Principal Investigator on an NIH grant for the Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science Center (LA CaTS), an unprecedented collaborative effort among ten academic institutions in Louisiana and co-leads the North LA Community Advisory Board.

Larry C. Daniels, MD

Dr. Larry C. Daniels, of Keithville, is a graduate of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, and completed his Family Practice Residency at Louisiana State University Medical Center in Shreveport, now University Health. He is a family practice physician at David Raines Community Health Centers in Bossier City and at Harmony Life Hospice in Shreveport. He previously served as Medical Director at Daniels Family Medical Center, Shreveport Family Medicine and Shreveport Kid Med. Dr. Daniels’ research interests are community and preventative medicine, and healthcare disparities and equity. He is licensed to practice medicine in Louisiana, and is President – Louisiana Medical Association.

Terry C. Davis, PhD

Terry C. Davis Ph.D. is a Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics, and the Feist Weiller Cancer Center at the LSU Health Science Center at Shreveport where she serves as teacher for medical students, residents, fellows and allied health students. For the past 35 years, has led an interdisciplinary team investigating the impact of patient literacy on health and healthcare. Dr Davis has more than 140 scientific publications related to health communication and her patient education and training materials are used nationally. Dr. Davis has a productive record of federally funded research developing and implementing low literacy interventions to improve health outcomes of vulnerable populations. Her wide-ranging work focuses on improving cancer screening in rural Federally Qualified Health Centers, self-management of diabetes in safety net settings and use of health coaches to facilitate weight loss in community clinics as well as developing strategies to improve medication adherence. She is the Health Literacy Principal Investigator for the Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science Center, where she trains investigators and clinicians in ten academic institutions and co-leads the North LA Community Advisory Board.

Connie Hale, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC

Connie Hale, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, is a family nurse practitioner, associate professor, and Director of Graduate Studies and Research in Nursing at Northwestern State University of Louisiana where she has experience with graduate nursing education, program development, and accreditation. She has been in nursing since 1993, with highest degree as Doctor of Nursing Practice from The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, 2010. Her practice background is in cardiology and primary care; she currently practices once a week in primary care, and runs a nurse-led cardiology clinic for an underserved population. She has served as a board member for Louisiana Association of Nurse Practitioners, and continues work with nurse practitioner education, advocacy and research in her state. She is an editor for the Journal of Comprehensive Nursing Research and Care and a board member for the Louisiana Nurse Practitioner Foundation.

Paula Hickman, JD

Paula serves as the executive director of The Community Foundation of North Louisiana. In this capacity, she is responsible for the Foundation’s leadership, management, strategic planning and development. She also serves as a convener of citizens, nonprofit organizations and governmental entities around issues affecting our community.

Prior to coming to the Foundation, Paula practiced law in the area of trusts and estate planning. She served as chairman of the Louisiana State Bar Association’s section on Trusts, Estates, Probate and Immovable Property Law. She continues to serve on the Board of Directors for the Estate and Tax Planning Council.

Christopher G. Kevil, PhD

Vice Chancellor for Research, Christopher G. Kevil PhD, assumed leadership for research development and management of the LSU Health Sciences Center at Shreveport in December 2016. Dr. Kevil has established an internationally recognized cardiovascular research program through federally funded grant awards and leadership as the Director for the Center of Cardiovascular Diseases and Sciences at LSU Health Shreveport. Dr. Kevil is a member of the American Physiological Society and a Fellow of the Cardiovascular Section, a Fellow for the Society for Redox Biology and Medicine, a member of the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association, is a Distinguished Eagle Scout and the recipient of numerous research and teaching awards. Dr. Kevil serves on numerous editorial boards including the American Journal of Physiology, Cardiovascular Research journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine journal, Nitric Oxide journal, and Frontiers in Oxidant Physiology journal.

Elaine T. King, BA, Consultant

A Louisiana native with a keen interest in healthcare policy and the role of public higher education in healthcare, Elaine T. King is a consultant whose primary focus is the intersection of those two interests and associated public financing for them. She has previously worked as a newspaper reporter and retired from LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport after serving as director of governmental and public relations for 33 years. During her tenure, she became familiar with the pioneering health literacy work at LSUHSC-S as well as the establishment of the LA CaTS Center at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, and has watched how these two novel initiatives have complemented each other in expanding access to healthcare in Louisiana.

Janet Mentesane, MSW

Janet Mentesane has been the Executive Director of the Martin Luther King Health Center & Pharmacy since 2003. MLK works with community partners to provide direct clinical & pharmacy care and to implement innovative strategies to improve the health of northwest Louisiana. Janet is responsible for the overall operation of the center and has over 30 years-experience in non-profit management. Janet completed her graduate education in social work through the University of Oklahoma. Janet also completed The Arnold School of Public Health – Leadership Institute through the University of South Carolina. In 2012, Janet was named outstanding fundraising professional by the Northwest Louisiana Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Rev. Robert Payne, MS, BS

Rev. Payne graduated from the University of South Alabama in 1991 with his Bachelor's degree in Mathematics. He entered the Air Force upon graduation and served on active duty for 24 years, retiring in 2015. Rev. Payne graduated from the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) with a Master’s of Science degree in Operations Research in the spring of 1996. In July 1998 Rev. Payne entered the ministry while attending Historic St. John's African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Montgomery, AL. He served as the pastor of Union Bethel AME Church in Great Falls, MT from 2000-2004 and was ordained an Elder in the church in August 2002. He pastored the Minot Air Force Base Gospel Service from 2008-2009 and now serves as the pastor of St Mary AME Church in Shreveport, LA. In addition to his pastoral duties, Rev Payne works at Barksdale Air Force Base, LA for Booz Allen Hamilton corporation supporting Air Force acquisition efforts.

Grace Peterson, PhD

Grace Peterson, Ph.D. is an Extension Agent with the LSU AgCenter. She has established an innovative program that facilitates garden-based nutrition education in low-income neighborhoods. She is a founding member of the Red River Coalition of Community Gardeners and offers programs, training, and support for school and community gardens. Using a “systems approach to healthy community,” Grace is working with a wide range of collaborators to address the complex issue of access to nutritious food in northwest Louisiana. She is a founding member of the EatWell-LiveLocal Taskforce which has launched the We Grow Together! Campaign. We Grow Together! encourages collaborations among individuals and organizations to increase farmer profitability and community access to healthful food choices.

Jo Ann Stewart, RN BSN

Ms. Stewart is a Registered Nurse with more than 40 years of nursing experience in various areas of concentration. She loves volunteering with community organizations. She is a member of several non-profit service organizations: Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and The Links, Incorporated, Shreveport` Chapter; member of the Feist- Weiller Cancer Center Board of Directors; Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco –Free Living; and Northwest Louisiana Chapter of Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation.

Jeff Toms

Mr. Toms has 15 years with the Office of Public Health – Region 8 Assistant Regional Administrator; 3 Years as Parish Manager of the Ouachita Parish Health Unit; 5 years as Parish Manager of the health units of Jackson, Caldwell, Franklin, and Lincoln; 2 years as the Region 8 Public Health Emergency Response Coordinator; The last 5 years as the Assistant Regional Administrator.

John A. Vanchiere, MD, PhD

Dr. Vanchiere is Vice-Chair for Pediatric Research at LSUHSC—Shreveport. He is a second-generation Louisiana pediatrician specializing in Pediatric Infectious Diseases. He attended Emory University for medical and graduate school. Approximately 70% of his time is spent in research, including NIH-funded translational research at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and PHARMA-sponsored clinical trials at LSUHSC-S. He is the Director of the Children’s Clinical Research Center at LSU Health Shreveport, and mentors about a dozen medical students on various research projects related to infectious diseases. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and woodworking.

Vernon Varnell

Mr. Varnell is a retired pastry chef. He is president of the local AARP—Rose City Chapter for the past 8 years, on the board of Southern Hills Homeowners Association, Vice president of Southern Hills Homemakers Club. He is an event organizer, and has a core of over 100 volunteers for local Arts in Shreveport-Bossier.

Willie C. White III, MPH, BS

Willie C. White III, M. P. H., is the Chief Executive Officer of David Raines Community Health Centers, and he is a Health Care Management Consultant. Mr. White has over 37 years of experience in the health care industry, in both profit and non-profit organizations. He has served as President/Chief Executive Officer, Northwest Family Hospital, Gary, IN; Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director, Belmont Community Hospital, Chicago, IL; Assistant to the President, AV-MED Health Plan, Gainesville, FL; and, Assistant Administrator, Alachua General Hospital, Gainesville, FL. Mr. White is a consultant to the Federal Bureau of Primary Health Care in the areas of administration, governance, finance, and health center operation. Mr. White is also a member of The Rotary Club of Shreveport Chartered 1914.

J. Russell Willis, PhD

During the last 20 years, Dr. Willis has served as the Region VIII HIV/AIDS Community Planning Group Co-Chair in North Louisiana. In addition, he served on the Governor’s Commission on HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. He was initially appointed during the administration of Governor Blanco and reappointed during the Jindal administration. In 2008, 2009, and 2010, he served as the local consultant to a research study examining “Poverty In the Mississippi Delta” conducted by researchers from Louisiana State University, Texas A & M, and Mississippi State.

Monica H. Wright, BS

Caddo Council on Aging, Executive Director, July 2017 – present; Caddo Council on Aging, Financial Officer, May 2000 – July 2017; Goodwill Industries, Staff Accountant, June 1998 - May 2000; Volunteers of America, Staff Accountant/HUD Supervisor, August 1994 - June 1998 C & H Truck Service, Full Charge Bookkeeper/Office Manager, November 1993 - August 1994 Caddo Council on Aging, Bookkeeper, June 1988 – November 1993; L. J. Earnest, Inc., Office Clerk, June 1986 - June 1988; Member of Toastmasters.