Our Advisory Board

The formation of an Advisory Board is a crucial step for VtPHI as it embarks on its journey to independence. VtPHI started the process to recruit members to the Advisory Board in early 2024.  By providing expert advice and strategic insights, the board members can help VtPHI navigate the challenges and opportunities that arise during this period of growth. Furthermore, the board members bring their diverse backgrounds, skills, relationships, and experiences, which can prove invaluable for VtPHI as it seeks to establish itself as a standalone organization.

 

Sally Kerschner, RN, MSN, Vermont Public Health Institute Advisor

Richard Amore PLA/AICP
Advisor

Richard Amore is the Manager of Placemaking and Community Partnerships, VT Department of Housing and Community Development.

Richard is a landscape architect, urban planner, and community development leader (and educator) with 20+ years of experience in place-based community planning and development, active transportation and recreation, healthy community design and public spaces, and community-led placemaking.  Richard serves as the Manager of Placemaking and Community Partnerships for the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development where he work with communities across Vermont and help them plan and build prosperous, resilient, healthy, and inclusive communities.  He serves on the executive board of the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Council, is a cohost of the Small Towns, Healthy Places podcast, and is a part-time lecturer at the University of Vermont teaching ecological landscape design. Richard holds a B.S. in Environmental Design, a Master of Landscape Architecture, and Master of Community Planning from Auburn University.  Richard lives with his family in Montpelier

 

Sally Kerschner, RN, MSN, Vermont Public Health Institute Advisor

Belan Antensaye
Advisor

Belan Antensaye has dedicated herself to community development, health equity, and leveraging government to foster resilient communities. As co-founder and Programs Director of the Vermont Health Equity Initiative, she addresses health disparities through community partnerships and advocacy. Currently, her focus is on building equity in public emergency response efforts. She previously served as the Strategy & Innovation Manager for the City of Burlington’s Racial Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging Department. In this position, she led the development of the City’s inaugural Racial Equity Strategic Roadmap and played a key role in shaping municipal COVID-19 response and recovery strategies.

Originally from Addis Ababa and raised in Vermont, Belan’s professional and academic journey spans Hungary, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Ithaca, NY, where she received her B.A. in Biology & Society from Cornell University. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Vermont Professionals of Color Network, and previously held the same role at Community Health Centers and Up for Learning.

 

Sally Kerschner, RN, MSN, Vermont Public Health Institute Advisor

Joanne Crawford
Advisor

Joanne Crawford has worked for many years to address health equity challenges within the Vermont Abenaki community. She is a former member of the Maquam Bay Board of Directors for the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi as well as a former Chief of the tribe. She is currently a member of the Health Disparities Cultural Competency group and a Schweitzer Mentor within the UVM Larner College of Medicine. Within her role with the Department of Mental Health, she Chairs the Agency of Human Services Abenaki Equity Workgroup which seeks to ensure equity and inclusion for the Abenaki people within State programs and resources. For the last two years, she has been a member of the Health Equity Advisory Commission which is an advisory to the Vermont Department of Health and the Vermont General Assembly. She is currently on the Board of Directors for Wobanaki, Inc. whose work includes improving the health and wellness of the Abenaki people.

 

Sally Kerschner, RN, MSN, Vermont Public Health Institute Advisor

Erin Creley, MBA
Advisor

Erin Creley (she/her) is the Public Health Services District Director for the St Albans Office of Local Health, part of the Vermont Department of Health. Erin leads and supports the District Office team in delivering an array of services to the people and communities of Franklin and Grand Isle counties, including WIC nutrition benefits, immunizations, and supports for workplaces, schools, healthcare providers and municipalities working to meet public health goals.

Erin’s career in Vermont has spanned diverse health and human service settings, including HowardCenter’s buprenorphine-based medication-assisted treatment program, quality improvement roles with BlueCross and BlueShield of Vermont and OneCare Vermont, and graduate internships with UVM Medical Center and the Green Mountain Care Board. Erin has a passion for working with community partners to identify barriers to health access and developing solutions to reduce or eliminate those barriers. In 2013, Erin earned her Master’s in Business Administration and Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Management from UVM.

Erin grew up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, but is grateful she gets to call the Green Mountains home. She lives and works in St Albans, Vermont, where she is a Rotary member and serves on Northwestern Medical Center’s Board of Directors.

Sally Kerschner, RN, MSN, Vermont Public Health Institute Advisor

Ron Dendas
Advisor

Ron Dendas is a consultant and advisor, with a focus on improving overall community health and well-being.  He works with non-profit organizations on strategic planning, reorganizing, building capacity, creating organizational culture, using data to drive discovery, and implementing innovative, strategic initiatives.  He served as the first Director of Health Improvement for the Leonard Parker Pool Institute for Health, where he implemented innovative ways to create cross-sector partnerships, authentically engage and empower community members, identify and address vital conditions for well-being, and increase access to and actionability of local data. 

He also served as a Program Officer for The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust, managing grants that focus on community health, access to primary health, cradle to career education, safe and healthy housing, economic mobility, behavioral health, and maternal-child care. He was also involved in expansion of local public health services, establishment of community health centers, improved behavioral health services, and assessing the health needs of communities. 

 

Heidi Klein, Vermont Public Health Institute Advisor

Ruben R. Garza
Advisor

Ruben (he/him/his) is the Executive Director of United Way of Windam County.  Ruben believes that a healthy community is one that delivers on its promise to support, enrich, and provide opportunity to the lives of all its members, regardless of race, gender identity or sexual orientation. He believes that active participation is required by all community members to uphold and protect its shared values. Ruben strives to lead by example; he employs his use of free time volunteering and engaging the community as a board member and supporting local arts and artists. 

 Ruben moved to Brattleboro, Vermont from Laredo, Texas in 2015. Ruben’s favorite Vermont past times are swimming in the Summer, generally being terrified of winter driving, and leaf peeping in the Autumn. You may catch Ruben walking around the downtown area shopping and walking his dog, playing basketball in the Parks and Rec league, and attending theatre performances throughout the year.

 

Heidi Klein, Vermont Public Health Institute Advisor

Heidi Klein, MPH
Advisor

Heidi Klein is the Managing Director of Healthy and Equitable Communities at Health Resources in Action (HRiA).  She brings over 30 years of public health practice, public engagement, and collaborative planning. She worked with leaders at the national, state and local level, to design programs and policies which recognize the interconnection between public health, environmental protection and economically vibrant communities. She is past-president of VtPHA and has served in multiple capacities for the American Public Health Association.

Heidi Klein, Vermont Public Health Institute Advisor

Molly Lawrence, MPH
Advisor

Molly Lawrence (she/her) currently serves at Supervisor, Community Health Strategy and Impact at the University of Vermont Health Network, working collaboratively to advance community-driven health priorities in the region. She is the incoming Board President of the Vermont Public Health Association.

Molly’s 15 years of professional experience spans the non-profit and healthcare sector, focused primarily on researching, developing and implementing programs that address the social drivers of health. Molly highly values formative public service experiences, including as an Initiative on Cities Fellow with the Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, and serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Areas of interest include facilitating authentic community engagement, environmental justice, and food sovereignty.

Molly earned her Master’s Degree in Public Health from Boston University School of Public Health with a concentration in Social and Behavioral Health Sciences and focus area in Health Disparities. She lives in Burlington with her husband and two children.

 

Heidi Klein, Vermont Public Health Institute Advisor

Heidi Westermann, MPH
Advisor

Heidi Westermann (she/her) is a Director of Public Health Data Modernization and Informatics at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) where she oversees ASTHO’s data modernization portfolio of learning communities, capacity building, and technical assistance projects in support of data sharing, systems improvement, and effective data-driven decision making. Prior to joining ASTHO in 2019, Heidi worked with the Vermont Department of Health and NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in tobacco, HIV, epidemiology, workforce development, and performance improvement. Since 2012, she has taught part-time in the University of Vermont public health program, designing, teaching, and adapting an online course in Public Health Surveillance. Heidi’s love and commitment to data stem from her training in chronic disease epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health and the interdisciplinary study of science, technology, and society at Vassar College. Heidi is a Vermont native who loves travel and any size, shape, or type of national park to balance her small state roots.

 

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