The photo above was chosen with care, as it reflects where my story begins.
I grew up in rural Southern Illinois and am the first and only woman in my family to graduate from college. Where I am from - and where my family still lives today - drives my interest in improving health care in rural areas.
I moved away from my hometown to attend college in St. Louis, Missouri where I graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism. I worked as a newspaper reporter before making the career change to academia and, similar to my upbringing, I would not trade my journalism training or experience. They provided me with a skill set that I think is invaluable and one that I try to teach others in academia and policy.
I left journalism in 2007 and began a career in research, which led me to obtain my Master's of Social Work from the George Warren Brown School of Social at Washington University in St. Louis. It was during my master's program that I became interested in older adults' health care after completing a practicum at a geriatric-psychiatric hospital. I also became interested in research translation, also known as dissemination and implementation science, around this time. After working in research for a number of years already at the time, I was beginning to wonder if the research was truly making a difference in people's lives.
These interests led me to pursue my PhD in Social Work, also from the Brown School. There I was privileged to work with true leaders and mentors in the fields of social work, public health, and dissemination and implementation science, including my chair, Dr. Enola Proctor, as well as Drs. Doug Luke and Ross Brownson and many others. I was also grateful to receive funding for my doctoral studies from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Association of Social Work, and the Council on Social Work Education. The latter two funders selected me as a Social Work HEALS Scholar. This fellowship - Social Work Healthcare Education And Leadership Scholars - was provided to select doctoral students whose dissertation research was related to health care social work education, policy or practice.
After completing my PhD, I completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Halfway through my two-year postdoc, I was thrilled to be elected Secretary of the Society for Implementation Research Collaboration (SIRC). Comprised of over 400 international members, SIRC is the only professional society dedicated to dissemination and implementation science and I am proud to serve in a leadership role for such a great organization.
Also during this time, I was accepted into the Health and Aging Policy Fellows program and the American Political Science Congressional Fellows Program. You can find more information about these amazing policy fellowships on the Policy page above.
After my postdoctoral fellowship I was absolutely thrilled to return to St. Louis and begin as faculty at Washington University School of Medicine in the Institute for Informatics and the Center for Population Health Informatics. I joined a brilliant team led by Dr. Philip Payne and Dr. Randi Foraker working on improving health care systems and the health of communities by using existing clinical and administrative health data.
I strive for a good work-life balance, so when I'm not focused on the work side, I focus on the life side, which includes spending time with my husband, our 70-pound rescue dog, and our two old cats. I enjoy going to traditional hot yoga, hunting for mid-century furniture, and eating at the same restaurants I know and love.