The University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions recognized seven graduates with 2023 Outstanding Alumni Awards at a celebration November 4 during PHHP Reunion Tailgate weekend. This year, the college made important changes to the alumni awards program, including soliciting nominations and creating award categories that reflect various areas of impact where alumni are making a difference in their profession and community. Meet the honorees:
Stephen “Brint” Carlton is the executive director of the Texas Medical Board in Austin, Texas, where he is responsible for protecting public safety through the licensure and regulation of Texas physicians, physician assistants, acupuncturists, medical radiologic technicians and respiratory care professionals. He manages a $14 million budget and 240 state employees. He previously held positions as the county judge of Orange County, Texas, and a juvenile prosecutor. He was responsible for employee policies for 400 county employees and services to 82,000 citizens. He presided over the five-member Orange County Commissioners’ Court and was responsible for the creation of a $46 million annual county budget. He is also a traditional reservist serving as Commander of the 94th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia, and is responsible for providing aeromedical evacuation capability in training, exercise and deployed settings. He was selected as the 2008 Air Force Medical Service Group Practice Manager of the Year.
Marnie Danielson opened her first private pediatric practice in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2004 providing P.T., O.T. and speech therapy services. During that time, she co-founded a children’s video company, The TV Teacher, LLC, which is dedicated to teaching a neurodiverse population handwriting and prewriting skills using a therapeutic approach. She went on to co-write and star in six award-winning educational children’s videos that are now streamed around the country in classrooms, homes and therapy clinics. She attends and lectures at national conventions representing the TV Teacher curriculum, as well as various pediatric topics. She sold her clinic in Atlanta when she moved to Dallas, Texas in 2009, where she currently owns a private practice serving preschools and elementary schools. She consults with schools and lectures to teachers, parents and colleagues around the country. She is a year away from receiving her post-professional doctorate from the University of St. Augustine.
Joseph Dzierzewski is the vice president of research and scientific affairs at the National Sleep Foundation. In this role, he is charged with leading NSF’s scientific platform, which includes overseeing the development of NSF’s sleep health guidelines and sleep health research activities. He also serves as an NSF sleep expert for media and industry partnerships and engages in national advocacy efforts. He is both a well-funded (more than $6 million in total research support) and widely-published investigator, with more than 300 publications, including more than 175 conference presentations and more than 130 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters. A recent peer-reviewed publication (Liu et al., 2023) reported that Dzierzewski is the most published author in the area of sleep in older adults. He has served on numerous scientific review committees for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and National Institutes of Health, as well as serving as an associate editor for several academic journals.
Charles Ellis Jr. is a professor and chair of the department of speech, language, and hearing sciences at the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions. His academic concentration focuses on adult neurogenic disorders, and he teaches courses related to aphasia and cognitive disorders. His research is designed to understand outcomes associated with adult neurologically based disorders of communication and factors that contribute to the lack of equity in service provision and outcome disparities that exist among African Americans and other underrepresented minority groups. He has authored or co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed journal articles, six book chapters and has more than 200 presentations to his credit. He served as a language editor for the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research from 2017-2018. He was awarded the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Certificate of Recognition for Special Contribution in Multicultural Affairs in 2011. In 2014, he was awarded Fellowship of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Bobbi Pineda is on the faculty of the University of Southern California, where she leads work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Therapy Lab and studies the NICU sensory environment. She is an author of the Supporting and Enhancing NICU Sensory Experiences, or SENSE, program, which translates the scientific evidence into a practical resource that health care professionals can use to engage parents in developmentally appropriate and evidence-based interventions with their infants each day of NICU hospitalization. The goal is to improve parent participation in the NICU while optimizing infant sensory experiences, improving infant outcomes and increasing parental confidence and competence. She is the principal investigator on a National Institutes of Health RO1 funded study investigating the impact of SENSE programming. More than 400 hospitals in the U.S. and abroad are working toward implementation of the SENSE program to improve the NICU sensory environment in order to optimize outcomes of high-risk infants.
Michelle Rubin founded the non-profit Autism After 21, and has been successfully working with young adults on the autism spectrum. She collaborates with the State of Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation to serve clients needing transition services to join the workplace and learn independence. Autism After 21 offers the Summer Opportunity for Adult Readiness, or SOAR, a summer college campus residential program and employment services as part of giving young adults the foundation for successful employment. She is growing this program, which is based on college campuses around the state of Florida, while retaining a very personal connection to people with disabilities through her son, Scott. Autism After 21 prides itself on the work of providing a foundation for the future.
Nathan D. L. Smith is the founding executive director of Kindbridge Research Institute, a nationally recognized scientist and science communicator, and a leader in the field of behavioral addiction research and theory. His work reflects a belief in the power of simple, direct methodological approaches to understand complicated human phenomena, and an unwavering focus on producing practical solutions to real-world problems. Each year, he travels throughout the U.S. to give scientific and public talks on mental health and addiction, meet with leaders on the science and politics of mental health, and oversee the many Kindbridge Research Institute projects taking place throughout the United States. He makes a special effort to balance his time between meeting with scientific experts and experts with lived experience of addiction.