Staff – Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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Staff

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.

Contact Margie Schaps
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.

Contact Maya Bauer
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.

Contact Ann Duffy
Wesley Epplin, Director, Health Equity

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.

Contact Wesley Epplin
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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Melissa Martin, MPH, Director, Chicago AHEC

Melissa Martin joined Health and Medicine in January 2019 as the Director of Chicago AHEC. Melissa has several years of experience working in public health workforce development. Most recently Melissa worked as a training and technical assistance (T/TA) specialist at a national T/TA center, building the capacity of the public health workforce to address substance misuse priorities. Melissa graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a Masters of Public Health. In her spare time Melissa enjoys running, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.

Contact Melissa Martin, MPH
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.

Contact Angela Eastlund
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.

Contact Shannon Sweetnam
Anabelen Diaz, MSW/MPH Candidate, Summer Equity Intern

Anabelen joined Health & Medicine in June 2020 as a Summer Equity Intern. She is enrolled at UIC Jane Addams College of Social Work and the School of Public Health where she will be completing the MSW/MPH joint degree program in May 2021. She is specializing in mental health and health policy. Anabelen has served as a fellow for the Chicago Gun Violence Research Collaborative (CGVRC) and as a committee member in Minority Students for the Advancement of Public Health (MSAPH) and the Chancellor’s Committee for the Status of Latinos. She has an interest in gerontology and universal healthcare and would like to continue working with communities of color and low income communities. Anabelen’s long-term goal includes obtaining the LCSW licensure to work in behavioral health in a clinical setting and in a health department.

Contact Anabelen Diaz, MSW/MPH Candidate
Meredith Hollender, MPP Candidate, Summer Equity Intern

Meredith joined Health & Medicine in June 2020 as a Summer Equity Intern. She is enrolled at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy as a candidate for a Master of Public Policy. She is also a part of their Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy through the School of Social Service Administration. After graduating with a degree in neuroscience and poverty studies from the University of Notre Dame, Meredith spent a year as the Volker Blankenstein Service Fellow at the Saint Joseph Family Medicine Center. Later, as a graduate student, she assisted the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office with data analysis on Cook County’s opioid epidemic. She writes for the Chicago Policy Review. She has an interest in women’s health, social determinants of health, and Medicaid policy. She plans to matriculate to medical school after she completes her graduate degree. Her long-term goal is to become a physician involved in city and state policy who is a fierce advocate for her patients and for health equity.

Contact Meredith Hollender, MPP Candidate
Mary Cleary, MPH Candidate, Summer Equity Intern

Mary joined Health & Medicine in June 2020 as a Summer Equity Intern. She is a 2nd year MPH student at University of Illinois Chicago School of Public Health in the Division of Health Policy and Administration. Her policy interests include health equity, access to care, and behavioral health decision-making, specifically related to nutrition, physical activity, and healthcare utilization. In 2018, she graduated from Marquette University College of Health Sciences with a degree in Exercise Physiology and spent a gap year working in clinical research evaluating the physiology of aging. She currently works on school health policy and evaluation as a Research Assistant at the Policy, Practice, and Prevention Research Center at UIC.

Contact Mary Cleary, MPH Candidate

Consultants

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