Staff – Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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Health & Medicine maintains a small staff with broad policy and organizational development expertise (including part-time consultants working on our long-term care projects) as well as a group of diverse, highly qualified graduate students and committed volunteers – allowing us to remain focused and on mission while successfully stewarding operational resources.

Margie Schaps, MPH, Executive Director

Margie has been Health & Medicine Policy Research Group’s Executive Director since 1993. Prior to taking the position, she was a Health & Medicine board member and served as the organization’s vice president. While maintaining overall responsibility of all of Health & Medicine’s activities, her specific policy expertise is in public health systems development and women’s health. Prior to joining Health & Medicine, Margie, who holds a Masters Degree in Public Health from the University of Illinois and a Bachelors Degree from Washington University in St. Louis, served for eight years as the Director of the Women’s Health Resource Center at Illinois Masonic Medical Center, the nation’s first hospital-based comprehensive primary care center for women. She is passionate about creating a just health system that will improve the health of the public; speaks nationally and locally on a variety of health systems issues, and has published articles on women’s health issues, heath care safety net issues, health system reform, and public health policies. Margie teaches Public Health Policy and Advocacy at Northwestern University’s School of Public Health. She currently sits on several boards and committees including the Advisory Committee to the Northwestern University School of Public Health, the Policy committee of the Illinois Public Health Association, the Illinois Budgeting for Results Commission, and the Advisory Committee to the Chicago Department of Public Health’s Managed Care Program.

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Maya Bauer, Schweitzer Fellows Program Director

Maya joined Health & Medicine in January 2017 and is currently the Director of the Schweitzer Fellowship Program, an inter-disciplinary social justice service-learning program for graduate students. She has a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree from Hampshire College in Western Massachusetts. Previously, Maya worked on community educational programming, outreach, and food justice at Common Ground Food Co-op in Urbana, Illinois. She is passionate about her work with public arts, social justice, and community organizing. In her free time she writes letters, spends time with loved ones, makes art, cooks, and dances.

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Ann Duffy, Director of Finance and Operations

Ann, who joined Health & Medicine in December 2010, holds a Bachelors Degree in English from The University of Georgia. Prior to Health & Medicine, Ann worked for several years at a non-profit animal shelter in Colorado. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her daughters.

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Wesley Epplin, Policy Director

Wesley's work focuses on advancing health equity and public health, health reform and safety net research, and health workforce policy reform. Since joining Health & Medicine in July 2013, Wesley has been involved with several health policy efforts at the state and local levels, including reform in the areas of Affordable Care Act implementation, Medicaid, health workforce, and public health. He helped develop The Chicago Forum for Justice in Health Policy and the Quentin D. Young Equity Project, both of which seek cross-sector collaboration to advance equity. Locally, Wesley was a contributing author to Healthy Chicago 2.0, the City of Chicago’s community health improvement plan, for which he co-leads implementation for the Root Causes section. He is also on the steering committee for the Collaborative for Health Equity Cook County. Wesley earned a Master of Public Health degree in Community Health Sciences from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health (SPH) and a BA in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 2016, Wesley was selected for the inaugural cohort of the Culture of Health Leaders, a national leadership program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to create collaborative solutions that address health inequities and move communities and organizations toward a Culture of Health. Outside of his work at Health & Medicine, he is a co-founder of and facilitator for Radical Public Health, a group at the UIC SPH that works to expand the role of the field in identifying and eliminating the many forms of oppression, violence, and injustice that contribute to health inequities. In his spare time, Wesley enjoys gardening and cooking, writing, and travel.

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Madison Hammett, MPH, MSW, Senior Policy Analyst, Illinois ACEs Response Collaborative

Madison joined Health and Medicine in 2018. Most recently, she worked as a social worker for the Department of Trauma at Stroger Hospital of Cook County providing psychoeducation and support to adolescent survivors of trauma. Madison’s other experience includes assisting with Maternal Child Health in northern Uganda, and with the Jane Addams Center for Social Policy and Research at UIC. She is also a Fellow for Life with the Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program, for which she developed a trauma-informed support program for incarcerated mothers and their children, and a Volunteer Medical Advocate with Rape Victim Advocates. Madison has a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Tennessee, and a Masters of Public Health and Masters of Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, music, and experimenting with baking.

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Rachel Lackland, Chicago AHEC Program Coordinator

Rachel Lackland joined Health & Medicine as a Chicago AHEC intern in 2014 when she was pursuing her Associate in Arts in Health Science at Malcolm X College. Rachel went on to graduate from Malcolm X and finished her college education at Chicago State University, earning a Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice with Honors in 2018. Her choice of degree was inspired by her commitment to youth and reformation of the criminal justice system as well as her involvement with Health & Medicine’s Court-Involved Youth Project through Chicago AHEC. From 2014-2018 she served as Chicago AHEC Administrative Apprentice, Administrate Assistant, and, now, Program Coordinator. Her transitions within Chicago AHEC helped her gain experience in the work environment and in everyday society, illuminating barriers to healthcare and criminal justice issues through the City of Chicago.

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Claire Thatcher, Communications and Development Coordinator

Claire joined Health & Medicine in 2019. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cognitive Science from University of California, Berkeley. She previously worked on Communications at UC Berkeley’s student health center as well as served as Co-Editor in Chief of an arts and literature magazine. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and seeing live music.

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Angela Eastlund, Workforce Policy Analyst and Schweitzer Program Associate

Angela joined Health & Medicine in 2020. In 2019, she earned a master’s degree in Anthropology and Community and Economic Development from Illinois State University and completed a professional practice fellowship focused on anti-hunger and workforce development policy advocacy. Additional prior experience includes coordinating former First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move! Outside” initiative in Omaha, Nebraska and conducting medical anthropology research studies on mosquito-borne illnesses in Mexico. Angela is motivated by the power of community engagement to identify the intersections of social, cultural, and economic well-being and to push the needle forward on health equity. In her free time, Angela enjoys exploring new places in the city, reading mystery/thriller novels, and spending time with friends and family.

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Shannon Sweetnam, Director of Development and Communications

Shannon, who joined Health & Medicine in March 2020, holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Randolph College, a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Hollins University, and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Washington University in St. Louis. She also earned a certificate in non-profit resource development from The Kellogg Center for Nonprofit Management. Most recently, she worked in development and operations at a Chicago nonprofit supporting refugees and asylum-seekers. She also has past experience in higher education marketing and communications. In her spare time, she likes to play women’s hockey, tennis, and polo, and spend time being active with her family outdoors.

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Bridget Gavaghan, Director, Illinois ACEs Response Collaborative

Bridget Gavaghan joined Health & Medicine in September 2020. Most recently, Bridget led a national initiative to reframe the human services narrative in order to build stronger support for the sector’s programs and policy priorities. Previously, Bridget was director of Prevent Child Abuse America’s public policy program where she collaborated with national partners on several successful initiatives. She began her career at United Way of America, where she co-chaired national coalitions and engaged the United Way network in advocacy on behalf of the organization’s public policy priorities. Bridget graduated from the College of William and Mary, where she studied history and classical singing and also played for the college’s field hockey team. She has long-since traded in her cleats for running shoes and takes joy in running along Lake Michigan, rain, snow, or shine.

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Sheronda Kimbrough, Director, Workforce Programs

Sheronda was a Chicago AHEC Advisory Board member before joining the Health & Medicine team in February 2021. Prior to assuming her role at Health & Medicine, Sheronda launched Trinity Mobility Company, a non-emergency medical transportation provider for the state of Illinois. In addition, she served as an educator and in program management for the Chicago Public Schools for more than 15 years and worked as a health care workforce consultant with several Chicago area hospitals. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Health care Management and Masters of Education in Educational Leadership. Sheronda is committed to developing equitable health care workforce opportunities for traditionally marginalized populations.

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Kirstin Williams Smith, Senior Policy Analyst, Workforce

Kirstin Williams Smith is a public policy professional, writer, and community advocate. Over the course of her career, she has helped to create social impact programs with the civic community of the city, managed state-level initiatives, worked to fund community based not-for-profits, and helped to craft plans for the creation of educational institutions and programs within Chicago’s most underserved communities. Kirstin is a proud graduate of the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and Spelman College. In her spare time, she continues to volunteer with community organizations and causes that hold deep meaning for her. Kirstin resides in the North Kenwood neighborhood of Chicago with her husband and two sons, dog, and fish.

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Sandy Pastore, MSW, Health and Aging Policy Organizer

Sandy joined Health and Medicine in March 2021. Most recently, Sandy spearheaded an ongoing initiative to create a High School Gerontology program to support the needs of the older adult population through a better prepared upcoming labor force. Previously, Sandy was the Executive Director of Oswego Senior Center, which she helped develop from a grass-roots initiative. With over two decades of professional experience in social services and the aging network, she is a systems thinker who understands how theory, policy, and practice intersect with trends, needs, and the desires of diverse populations to create meaningful initiatives and develop sustainable programs that promote health equity. Sandra received her bachelor’s degree from University of Illinois at Chicago in Sociology with a minor in Women’s Studies and she received her Master of Social Work with a specialization in Gerontology from Aurora University. She is a member of the Kendall County 708 Mental Health Board, Oswegoland Park Foundation Board, and 100 Women Who Care: OMY. She enjoys cooking, art, woodworking, the outdoors, travel, and spending time with family and friends.

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Mariam Siddiqui, MPH, MBA, Health Policy Analyst

Mariam joined Health & Medicine in February 2021. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a Master's in Public Health and Business Administration. She also holds concentrations in Management and Global Health as well as a certification in Project Management from the University of California, Berkeley. Outside of Health & Medicine, Mariam works with a nonprofit in Chicago dedicated to enhancing opportunities for adolescent refugee girls. In her free time, she loves baking and trying out new coffee shops across the Chicagoland area.

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Leandra Carlyle, Administrative Assistant

Leandra joined Health & Medicine in June 2021 and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Policy from Northwestern University. Prior to Health & Medicine, Leandra worked with a variety of nonprofits, including UNSILENCE, Taproot Foundation, and Rainbows for All Children, and participated in various fundraising efforts, including Northwestern’s annual Dance Marathon. Outside of her passion for social justice, she loves exploring coffee shops across Chicago, going to concerts, and searching for the world’s greatest veggie burger.

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Brigitte Dietz, MPH, Health and Aging Policy Analyst

Brigitte joined Health & Medicine in July 2021 because of her passion for public policy and equitable public health practices. She holds a Master’s in Public Health with concentrations in Health Management and Public Policy from Saint Louis University and a Bachelor of Science in Community Health Promotion from Illinois State University. Previously, Brigitte has worked with a variety of public health and healthcare organizations on COVID-19 related emergency interventions and communications. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering with animal rescues, reading, and hiking with her dog.

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Havisha Pedamallu, Summer 2021 Equity Intern

Havisha will be a medical student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in the Fall. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2021 with a degree in Computational Biology and Healthcare Management. Havisha is passionate about using a culturally competent approach to addressing racial and income-derived preventative care disparities and has studied health disparities and food insecurity as a research intern at the NIH and MD Anderson Cancer Center.

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Phylicia Abraham, Summer 2021 Equity Intern

Phylicia Abraham was born and raised in Chicago. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) with a degree in psychology and is currently a first-year medical student at the UIC College of Medicine. Phylicia is passionate about promoting health equity, trauma-informed care, and diversity in her medical career. In her free time, Phylicia uses social media as a platform to promote self-love and to raise awareness regarding social inequalities.

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Scott Hulver, Summer 2021 Equity Intern

Scott is a rising third-year at Loyola Law School, where they have been focusing on the intersections between health justice and human rights. Scott is most passionate about access to medicines and prescription drug cost issues, which they’ve researched last summer while interning at Public Citizen and while serving as a research assistant at Loyola. In their free time, Scott can be found playing board games and experimenting in the kitchen.

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* Martha Holstein, PhD; Long-Term Care
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* Phyllis Mitzen, MSW; Long-Term Care
Contact Phyllis Mitzen