North Africa Community Health Initiative has selected its US Delegation for  the Outbound Trip to Morocco, traveling March 3-9, 2012.  Outbound Trip to Egypt, Feb 21 -28, 2013.

Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP(E), Hon FRSPH

Executive Director of the American Public Health Association (APHA), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of public health professionals. He previously was the secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, from 1999 – 2002 following four years as its deputy secretary for public health services. For the last 20 years he has been actively practicing public health at the local, state, and national level with expertise in the areas of emergency preparedness, administration and infectious diseases. Dr. Benjamin serves as publisher of the field’s premier journal, the American Journal of Public Health, The Nation’s Health Newspaper and the APHA’s timeless publication on infectious diseases, the Communicable Disease Manual.

Dr. Benjamin is a graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois, College of Medicine. He is board-certified in internal medicine and a fellow of the American College of Physicians; he also is a Fellow Emeritus of the American College of Emergency Physicians; an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Public Health; a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

Dr. Leonard Cohen

A Board-certified Family Physician and member of the American Academy of Family Physicians since 1977. Until 1990, his practice included delivering over 900 babies in Bedford, VA. For the past six years, he has had an office in a rural section of Bedford County which, until he moved there, did not have a doctor for over 30 years. This practice includes taking care of the entire family from the very youngest to the very oldest members.

Dr Cohen has also always been interested in emergency medicine. For six years, he worked in the Emergency Department of Lynchburg General Hospital as an Emergency Room Physician. After going back to private practice, he remained connected to EMS (emergency medical services) on the regional, county and local level. He is currently on the Blue Ridge EMS Board and serves as the Operational Medical Doctor (OMD) for Bedford County and various local rescue squads.

Sarah Higginbotham

Earned her B.A. in Social Work from Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina in May 2000 and her MSW from East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina in May 2001, with a concentration in direct and indirect services and a specialization in School Social Work. Ms. Higginbotham began specializing in intimate partner violence prevention, including domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking prevention, as a volunteer during her college career. She has served as a hotline coordinator, an education and outreach coordinator, a volunteer coordinator and an advocate and counselor for victims/survivors of intimate partner violence during her 10 years of service in the field. Ms. Higginbotham strives to serve victim/survivors, promote coordinated community responses, and educate and train students, faculty, staff, and administration on intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and stalking prevention issues. Sarah provides the following services: safety planning, accompaniment to police departments, medical centers, and court, advocacy for victim/survivor rights, and referrals to appropriate campus and local resources. Ms. Higginbotham serves as the Chair for the VOICE Task Force, the Co-Chair of the Family Violence Coordinating Council, and a board member of SARA (Sexual Assault Response and Awareness), Inc.. She also serves as Title IX Coordinator and an instructor and Clinical Coordinator for the Health Psychology Department at Jefferson College of Health Sciences.

Ann Jewell MS, CGC

Currently a senior genetic counselor in the department of Maternal Fetal Medicine with Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, VA. Ms. Jewell has worked as a genetic counselor with Carilion since 1990. Her current responsibilities include prenatal and preconception genetic counseling for a variety of indications including family history concerns, advanced maternal age, maternal conditions, teratogen exposures, ultrasound findings, abnormal screening results, etc. with attention to the psychosocial and medical issues of patients in southwest Virginia and West Virginia area. She is also an Assistant Professor with the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine where she has been involved in designing and teaching the Medical Genetics curriculum. Prior to Carilion, Ms Jewell worked as a genetic counselor and research associate with the Neurogenetics Department at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Ms Jewell obtained her undergraduate degree in Biology and Chemistry at the University of Richmond in Virginia and her Masters of Science in Human Genetics from Sarah Lawrence College in New York. She is board certified as a genetic counselor through the American Board of Medical Genetics.

Karen Mc Donnell, PhD

Associate Professor in the Department of Prevention and Community Health at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services and Director of the Doctor in Public Health Program in Health Behavior. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hamilton College and a PhD from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Professor McDonnell is a trained public health psychologist whose interest lies in applying innovative and responsive methods to better the health and well-being of women, children and communities. Her areas of expertise include gender based violence, program planning and evaluation, quality of life with a particular emphasis on those experiencing poverty, immigration, cultural persecution, or other forms of social injustices.

Dr. McDonnell currently conducts research on issues related to culture and gender based violence, community health, health behavior and Maternal and Child Health. She works with a number of local, national and international groups to investigate and develop programs towards the prevention and cessation of gender based violence with an emphasis on taking a community based participatory approach to ‘meeting women where they are, not where we think they should be.”

Dr McDonnell is the recipient of the 2009 Association of Schools of Public Health Early Career in Public Health Teaching Award, ASPH Academy of Distinguished Teachers, the 2011 SPHHS Excellence in Teaching Award and the 2011 Loretta Lacey Award for Excellence in MCH Leadership.

Dr. Penny Muelenaer

Holds her undergraduate degree, BS biology, from Virginia Tech in 1974, and worked as a research assistant in ophthalmology at Georgetown University until 1976. She graduated with an MD degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School in 1979. Following a pediatric residency at William Beaumont Army Medical Center, El Paso, Texas from 1979-1982, she served as a US Army general pediatrician for three years in Germany and North Carolina. After a fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill from 1985-1987, she served as Clinical Pediatrician, Medical Research Department, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill until the birth of her third child in 1989. From 1988-1991 she also participated in the Masters Program in Epidemiology, School of Public Health, UNC Chapel Hill. She was clinical associate professor, Department of Pediatrics at Duke University Medical Center before moving to Roanoke in 1991. She was the director of pediatric infectious diseases at the Carilion Clinic Children’s Hospital, and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Virginia from 1992-2004. During that time she initiated the first HIV/AIDS program for infants and children in southwest Virginia. She served as co-director of the Ryan White Title II Grant- Carilion comprehensive HIV services, Carilion Roanoke Community Hospital, and as Director of the NIH Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trials Group Satellite Site, Roanoke, Virginia, in collaboration with Duke University. As part of her infectious disease practice she provided services for infants and children related to travel medicine and international adoption. Dr. Muelenaer has published medical and scientific articles on respiratory syncitial virus, antiretroviral therapy, complications of antiretroviral therapy, management of HIV – positive pregnant women and exposed infants, and management of HIV infection in children and adolescents

Dr. Muelenaer gained broad experience in international medical challenges through her military training and international deployments. As a consulting pediatrician at the Frankfurt Army Regional Medical Center, Germany, she evaluated and treated children from throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. She continued to see children from all over the world as a general pediatrician and infectious disease consultant at Womack Army Hospital, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as an active duty & reserve medical officer from 1984 to1990, and as infectious disease consultant with various assignments until resigning from the Army Reserves in 2002 after 26 years of service.

She has continued her international medical experience with multiple trips to Malawi, beginning in 2004. Her first consulting mission for CitiHope International was to perform a needs assessment for HIV/AIDS care for infants and children, and food distribution, for northern Malawi. Funded by the Christian Children’s Fund, this was followed by an extended stay in Mzuzu, Malawi, where she worked with the medical staff and administration at Mzuzu Central Hospital to initiate a pediatric HIV/AIDS evaluation and treatment program. She traveled throughout northern Malawi, visiting clinics, hospitals, schools, prisons, orphanages, and other facilities. During this time, she established relationships, critical to successful sustained programs, with the Presbyterian Synod of Livingstonia, governmental officials in the capitol, Lilongwe, and with other NGOs. Subsequently, she has returned to Malawi several more times to provide educational programs and additional assessments related to child health in Embangweni, Malawi. She is currently on the faculty of the new Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine as assistant professor of pediatrics. In this role she worked as a facilitator to a medical student team for case based learning.

Blaine Parrish

Assistant Professor and Interim Director of the Community-Oriented Primary Care Program and Director of the Graduate Certificate Program in Community-Based Program Management in the Department of Prevention and Community Health and an Assistant Professor and Vice-Chair for Administration in the Department of Health Policy, at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.

An expert in the field of leadership, organization, and management, Dr. Parrish’s scholarly interests focus on community-based organizations that provide public health services to vulnerable and underserved populations. Dr. Parrish is vice chair for finance and administration in the Department of Health Policy, where he has an appointment as assistant professor. He joined SPHHS in 2002 as program manager at the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research, which is affiliated with the Department of Prevention and Community Health. The Forum is a public-private partnership that facilitates discussion on emerging issues in HIV clinical research and works to transfer research results into care. In earlier positions, Dr. Parrish served as a public health analyst in the HIV/AIDS Bureau at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), where he provided guidance to community organizations seeking to enhance primary medical services for HIV-infected individuals. He was twice awarded a Special Citation from the HRSA Administrator, for his work both in developing a community dental partnership and for mapping the Ryan White CARE Act funds. Dr. Parrish has also been executive director of AIDS Resources of Rural Texas, the largest rural-based AIDS service organization in the United States.

Current research is focused on community engagement through sentiment analysis of social media platforms; reduction of childhood obesity through physical activity; reduction of HIV through prevention, education, and testing in the clinical setting; implementation of best practices in childhood asthma in the community health center setting; paradigm shift from social services to social enterprise to encourage sustainability and self-sufficiency in community public health programs; among others.

On October 31, 2011, Dr. Parrish and Dr. Vyas were awarded the Delta Omega Honorary Society for Public Health’s 2011 Innovative Curriculum Award for their work in social entrepreneurship and their newly developed class, as part of the Community-Based Program Management Graduate Certificate in the School of Public Health, Department of Prevention and Community Health.

Kimberly Robertson RN, MSN

Has worked as a nurse at Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, Va for 20 years. Her past experience includes the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Emergency Room, Neonatal/Pediatric Transport and Outpatient Pediatrics. She is currently the Practice Director for General Pediatrics, Adolescent Health and the Roanoke City School Nurse program. Kimberly is a member of the Society for Pediatric Nurse and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Her focus and interest revolve around improving the health of children through advocacy and program development.

Dr. Harold Robles

Known for his international humanitarian work, became a devotee of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Albert Schweitzer at the age of eight. In 1973, Robles founded the Albert Schweitzer Center in the Netherlands. Two years later, he was appointed Secretary General of the International Schweitzer Organization (ASIL), an organization founded by Dr. Schweitzer in the 1930’s in Strasbourg, France. In 1981, Robles immigrated to the United States where he founded together with Rhena Schweitzer Miller, the daughter of Dr. Schweitzer, the Albert Schweitzer Institute for the Humanities (ASIH); an organization dedicated to the philosophy of Albert Schweitzer. Over the years, the Institute has organized international events under the dynamic leadership of Dr. Robles while advocating for human rights, the environment, world peace and public health. In 1998, at the age of fifty, he retired from the Institute and was given the title President Emeritus.

In 1999, Dr. Robles founded the Medical Knowledge Institute (MKI), an International non-profit organization that focuses on education and providing information from the conviction that healthcare is a human right. Under the motto “Prevention through Education” the MKI focuses with full conviction on its objective to improve the living conditions of the population in southern Africa by giving medically related trainings and workshops to local healthcare workers but also to local people.

For his work, Robles received numerous awards such as an Honorary Professorship of the Polish Academy of Medicine, School of Public Health in Warsaw, Poland, honorary doctorates and in 2003 he was inducted in the International Who’s Who for a life dedicated to outstanding humanitarian services in international healthcare. In 2004, he was elected Member of the Executive Committee of the Club of Rome. At the American Public Health Association convention in 2008, the Robert Wood Johnson foundation extended an award to Dr. Robles for his work in advancing public health systems. Dr. Robles was also nominated for the Bill and Melinda Gates Global Health Award in 2008.

On the 29th of April 2009 Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands granted Dr. Robles a Knighthood, “Ridder in de Orde van Oranje Nassau”, and on the 29th of September 2009 the American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts appointed him Distinguished Visiting Professor of Public Health, Education and the Humanities.

Amita N. Vyas, PhD, MHS

At the age of 20, Professor Vyas journeyed to Calcutta to work alongside Mother Teresa in the Missionaries of Charity. In one eye-opening summer, she saw what the social determinants of health and well-being really mean to vulnerable populations, and from that extraordinary experience decided to pursue a career in public health. Today, her work focuses on women’s and adolescent’s reproductive health. Dr. Amita Vyas is an Assistant Professor & Director of the Maternal & Child Health Masters in Public Health program in the Department of Prevention and Community Health at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, and holds an adjunct appointment with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Vyas received both her Masters in Demography and a Doctorate in Population and Family Health from Johns Hopkins University where she earned awards for outstanding academic achievement and scholarship. At George Washington University, Dr. Vyas teaches Reproductive Health: US and Global Perspectives; Maternal and Child Health; Social and Behavioral Approaches to Public Health; and Social Entrepreneurship. Dr. Vyas mentors dozens of students each year, some of whom have received awards. Currently, Dr. Vyas is conducting research on teen pregnancy prevention; nutrition and physical activity; coping and risk behaviors among HIV positive urban youth; and health care access and behaviors among South Asians living in the Washington DC metropolitan area. Dr. Vyas has given lectures and speeches around the country including the Aspen Institute and Capitol Hill. Dr. Vyas served as President of the Network of South Asian Professionals; Dr. Vyas was a founding board member of the South Asian Public Health Association, where she edited the first ever “Brown Paper”–a literature review on the state of South Asian American health issues with the purpose of establishing an agenda for future research and policy; and Dr. Vyas served on the Board of Directors for the Indian-American Leadership Incubator. Dr. Vyas is currently on the Board of Directors for the D.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy a local non-profit organization engaged in improving the health and well being of District teens by cutting the teen pregnancy rate in half by 2015. In 2007, Dr. Vyas founded the Global India Fund, a non-profit organization committed to inspiring global philanthropy by providing secure and transparent giving options to individual and corporate donors. GIF showcases the work of credible non-profit organizations in India and empowers donors to choose which organizations to support.

Terri Wright , MPH

Director of the newly established Center for School, Health & Education, Division of Public Health Policy and Practice at the American Public Health Association. She will provide leadership to the strategic development and integration of public health in school-based health care and education.

She recently retired from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, MI where she served for 12 years as a program director for health policy. In that capacity Terri developed and reviewed the Foundation’s health programming priorities and initiatives, evaluated and recommended proposals for funding, and administered projects and initiatives. She also assisted in public policy analysis and related policy program development, as well as provided leadership to the Foundation’s school-based health care policy program.

Previously, Terri was maternal and child health director and bureau chief for Child and Family Services at the Michigan Department of Community Health in Lansing, Michigan. In that role, she managed policy, programs and resources with the goal of reducing preventable maternal, infant, and child morbidity and mortality through policy and programming.

She is currently a doctoral candidate in public health at the University of Michigan.

Terri takes an active leadership role in several professional associations and community organizations including the American Public Health Association and the Institute of Medicine’s Roundtable on the Promotion of Health Equity and the Elimination of Health Disparities.