CPHA Board

The CPHA Board is an all-volunteer organization. The Board comprises of CPHA's Officers, Directors and other Members who serve as the governing body of the Association and is supported by other organizations and individuals who provide administrative or lobbying services. The Board transacts the business of the Association at monthly meetings between Annual Association Meetings held at the Public Health in the Rockies conference and through its committees.

The CPHA Board Year runs from September through August.

Terms vary for each position as provided in the Bylaws.

Bylaws descriptions of each Board position


2022-2023 Board


Past President: Jason Vitello (2020 - 2023)






Jason Vitello is the Behavioral Health Coordinator at Denver Public Health, an adjunct professor at the University Of Denver Graduate School Of Social Work, and a community activist. He is also a national speaker on social justice, critical race theory, criminal justice reform, father engagement, male mental health, and collective liberation. In 2017, Jason founded the Colorado Public Health Association’s Health Equity Coalition and was elected as the first Health Equity Director. He presently serves as the Health Equity Officer. Prior to his career in public health, Jason was a social worker and therapist who provided advocacy, mentorship, case management and clinical services. It should be noted that before he was ever a provider of human services or family assistance - he was a recipient of them. His ultimate interest is in the betterment of the human condition through fierce compassion, difficult conversations, collaboration across struggles, the peaceful obliteration of structural inequalities and comprehensive paradigm transformation.

President: Wivine Ngongo (2022-2025)






Wivine’s professional background is in medical and public health research, health programs management, community engagement, and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. However, her passions and experiences center around addressing racial health disparities for Black/Indigenous/People of Color (BIPOC) populations. These include her work and collaborations with the Colorado Sickle Cell Treatment and Research Center, the Center for African American Health, the Colorado Public Health Association, the Denver Justice Project, and other local community-empowerment groups located in the Denver and Chicago areas. She has authored and co-authored publications centering health equity in medical education and has current interest in pursuing a PhD tract in psychology to offer non-readily available forms of therapy among populations experiencing systemically removed access to behavioral health resources. Her proudest achievement is leveraging her gained knowledge and privileges around sickle cell treatment and research to help get her sister cured from the invasive disease in 2020. When she is not building relationships and addressing disparities through public health work, Wivine indulges in painting (acrylic, watercolor), taking care of her many houseplants, going on night hikes and long walks, reading, and spending time with her chosen family.

Health Equity Officer: Robert Franklin II (2020 - 2023)






Robert Franklin, II, serves as the Diversity, Health Equity and Inclusion Programs Manager for Children’s Human Resources and within the Child Health Advocacy Institute.  The work of his position involves engaging the entire health system in considering difference and its impact on work and care in our community.  Guided by a coordinated strategy, Robert’s programs and initiatives engage care givers to learn and talk about, celebrate and take action in response to difference.

For nearly two decades, Robert has worked with youth serving organizations through throughout the nations in training, advocacy, program development, change leadership and management activities. Most recently, with Colorado State University, Robert co-chaired the Diversity Catalyst Team, and served as leader trainer and coach with Denver Public Schools and Parks and Recreation.

A youth developer by trade, education and passion, Robert has worked to positively impact the lives of young people, their families and communities through advocacy, ally-ship and educational programming. Focused on creating new and inclusive opportunities for learning and engaging, Robert and his wife, Melissa, built MNMR, LLC to further their passions, merging entertaining performances and opportunities to learn – the EduTainment Experience.  Each experience is designed to engage its audience, and in doing so, provide lasting, memorable, and tangible “ah-ha!” moments.

Treasurer: Sara Miller (2021-2024)






Through my work with Otowi Group (www.otowigroup.com), I am engaged in partnership with local, state and federal organizations to enhance and build their work and achieve their priorities. I am passionate about supporting communities, efforts and public health organizations to imagine and create new evidence-based programs. In my work, I have built organizations, created new programs, initiated community engagement initiatives, and advised local leaders to increase their effectiveness. Prior to my work in Otowi Group, I was CEO for Trailhead Institute, a Colorado public health institute.  I have held multiple positions in state government, with particular focus on leading chronic disease programs. I have worked in the private sector, managing retail stores.  I have extensive experience working in the field of developmental disabilities, where I served as program director for a community based housing effort. I spend my free time with my family, dabbling in art, hiking, volunteering for my local community and loving my dog. 

Affiliate Representative to the Governing Council (ARGC): Tara Thomas-Gale (2020 - 2023)






Tara has more than 15 years’ experience building collaborative relationships with health professionals, government, and community partners to implement initiatives in the areas of maternal child health, home visitation and health care delivery. She currently leads family planning and health education efforts for Denver Health, the region’s safety-net health system.

Tara serves on the State & Local Strategies Advisory Group for Power to Decide, formerly the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, City Match’s Reproductive Justice Action Group, and volunteers with the CPHA Mentoring Program.  She holds an MPH in Global Health from George Washington University and completed a post-graduate fellowship in International Healthcare Management with Yale University in Ethiopia.


Communications Senior Director: Jessica Murison (2021-2023)






As a humanitarian, Jessica has traveled all over the world working in the global health sector evaluating hospitals and clinics to outfit them with medical equipment and conduct trainings, program management in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector, and promotes health for children in equitable access to nutritious foods here in Colorado. Her interest in the Colorado Public Health Association has grown over the last few years as her work has transitioned to more domestic public health. Jessica is passionate about public health issues, especially issues pertaining to women and children. She earned her Master’s degree from the prestigious Josef Korbel School of International Studies in International and Intercultural Communications, with a Graduate Certificate in Global Health Affairs. She is excited to be part of the CPHA team to communicate helpful information to the CPHA members and general community as Associate Director of Communications. Aside from her work, Jessica is the President of the Board of Directors for the United Nations Association of Denver, on the Board of Directors for Project Education South Sudan, is a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Children in Denver, Rotary International member, and can be found enthusiastically enjoying the Colorado outdoors with her dog Sahara.

Communications Associate Director: Montelle Tamez (2022-2024)


Membership Senior Director: Kelsey Robinson (2021-2023)






Kelsey Robinson is the Public Health Planner with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's (CDPHE) Office of Public Health Practice Planning and Local Partnerships. In this role, she provides support to local public health agencies for their community health improvement processes, including conducting community health assessments, capacity assessments, and writing improvement plans. She graduated from the University of Colorado Anschutz in December of 2019, with a Master’s degree in Public Health. During her time as a graduate student, she served as the Communications Chair for the Student Health Promotion Committee and as the Speaker Engagement Chair for the Annual Emerging Leaders Conference. As a graduate student, she also worked at CDPHE as a Research and Evaluation Coordinator with the Marijuana Health Monitoring and Research Program. Her involvement with CPHA began as a graduate student mentee with the Colorado Public Health Mentoring Program. She is excited to continue her work with CPHA as a current member of the Board.

Membership Associate Director: Lisa Peters (2022-2024)

Lisa Peters Headshot







Lisa is a new team member at Centura Health! She works on the reimbursement team, helping Centura hospitals with Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare cost reporting. She assists hospitals with Medicare bad debt and reimbursement analyses, wage index reviews, volume decline and geographic reclassification, and various low volume and disproportionate share hospital applications. Lisa is passionate to support Centura hospitals tackle their healthcare and reimbursement needs.
Prior to Centura, Lisa worked as a Senior Healthcare Consultant through BKD CPA's and Advisors, assisting clients with their reimbursement consulting. During her time there, she served two years as the Chair of the Foundation Committee, BKD’s charitable arm. 
Lisa is the Co-Chair of the Aspiring Leaders Committee through the Healthcare Financial Management Association Colorado Chapter. She, additionally, spends time as the Senior Director of Emerging Leaders through the Colorado Public Health Association’s Board of Directors.
In her free time, Lisa loves serving the community. She has served four years on the Young Professionals Board of Boys Hope Girls Hope, raising over $300,000 for Colorado high school students who overcame a challenging or disadvantaged background. 
Lisa is a 2019 graduate of Colorado Christian University, Denver, with bachelor’s degrees in Accounting and Business Administration. She is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health through Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and expects to graduate in 2024. 

Public Health Policy Director: Ellen Stern (2021-2023)

Ellen Stern serves as a Policy & Advocacy Specialist for Children’s Hospital Colorado. She has experience leading tobacco control and chronic disease initiatives for Jefferson County Public Health and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and she previously worked for four years as a congressional aide leading community outreach efforts across the state. Ellen has a bachelor's degree in social work from Colorado State University and a Master’s degree in political science from the University of Colorado-Denver. 

Public Health Policy Associate Director: Lorez Meinhold (2022-2024)

Lorez is the founding Executive Director of Caring for Denver Foundation, funded by Denver and created by voters in 2018 to help address Denver’s mental health and substance misuse needs.  The Caring for Denver Foundation funded opportunities totaling over $69 million since its inception to improve the mental of Denver’s youth, reduce their risk of substance misuse, create greater public visibility around those issues to reduce stigma, support initiatives to divert those struggling with mental health and substance misuse away from the justice system and increase access to and use of resources for those struggling with mental health and substance misuse issues. Lorez has more than 20 years of health care policy and fundraising experience as a director of multi-lateral initiatives involving the public, private, and civic sectors, working at the local, state, and national levels and experience with a broad range of stakeholder engagement formats to inform policy. Prior to joining Caring for Denver, Lorez has served as Senior Policy Director at Keystone Policy Center, Senior Policy Director for two Governors in Colorado, Deputy Director for the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, and Senior Program Officer for the Colorado Health Foundation as well as founder of a nonprofit.

Emerging Leaders Senior Director: Samantha Bertomen (2021-2023)


Samantha (she/her/hers) is the Community-Based Organizations Coordinator at Tri-County Health Department. Through this position, she builds community partnerships, manages funding, and provides resources to support long-term recovery from COVID-19. As a Master of Public Health student and Student Senator at the Colorado School of Public Health, Samantha represents her peers and assists in coordinating the university’s annual Emerging Leaders Conference. She serves on several Colorado Public Health Association committees, including the Public Health in the Rockies Conference Committee, the Communications and Membership Committee, and the Public Health Policy Committee. 

Samantha previously worked at a non-profit health insurance company, Blue Shield of California, where she organized biometric screenings and flu shot events, implemented virtual wellness programs for clients and their employees, and served as a panelist at large nutrition and fitness events. Applying her undergraduate degree in nutrition, Samantha represented Blue Shield of California as a nutrition expert at events such as Wellvolution, ¡Unidos!, and California Schools Employee Benefits Association.
Samantha aspires to one day apply her skills and experience to supporting foreign health systems and work abroad - she plans to carry out her Master of Public Health student practicum overseas.

Emerging Leaders Associate Director: Jeni Mitchell (2022-2024)

Jeni currently serves as the Communications Specialist with the Healthy Jeffco Alliance at Jefferson County Public Health. In her role, Jeni helps with contact relationship management, organization of communications within the Alliance, and more. With a background in human nutrition and digital marketing, Jeni brings a collaborative approach to her work within public health operations and communications. While working with the Healthy Jeffco Alliance and serving as the Associate Director of the Emerging Leaders Committee with the Colorado Public Health Association, Jeni is finishing her Master's in Public Health at the Colorado School of Public Health. Jeni is excited to be a part of CPHA's vision of creating the healthiest Colorado for everyone and is passionate about engaging emerging leaders within Colorado's public health workforce. 

Public Health in the Rockies Senior Director: Carol Schmitt (2021-2023) 

Carol Schmitt is a chief scientist in RTI International’s Community Health Research Division and moved from the Washington, DC metro area to Fort Collins in 2018 to live near her sister and bike to work. She has spent over 2 decades leading public health research and evaluation projects at the community, state, federal, and international levels. One of her most life-changing projects was developing evaluation plans for the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi, where her experiences with the talented, passionate, and well-educated Emirati women implementing these programs were completely counter to the negative media stereotypes of Muslim women in this region. She is currently examining the impact of climate change and severe weather events on public health infrastructure and population health in the coastal Gulf of Mexico region.  

On her path to public health, Carol loaded chairlifts in Breckenridge, served in the Air Force, was a hospice volunteer, married a USAF fighter pilot, had 2 boys, and practiced the piano. She was on the leadership committee of APHA’s Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs section for more than 20 years.

Public Health in the Rockies Associate Director: Theo Abbey (2022-2024) 





Theo Abbey (He/him/his) currently works as a Disease Intervention Specialist with the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment. Through this position, I conduct interviews with individuals diagnosed with any reportable condition, notifying contacts, offering health education, and responding to outbreak situations within Denver County as assigned. He is passionate about public health and health equity with close to 15 years’ experience working with underserved populations. Theo has previously worked as an educational pro-tech, disease intervention specialist, and HIV Care Manager with Denver Public Schools, Colorado Department of Public Health, and Environment (CDPHE), Kaiser Permanente and most recently with CDPHE as a workforce and Health Equity Specialist. I enjoy playing/coaching kid’s soccer on volunteer basis, meeting new people and visiting the hot springs when the opportunity arises. Theo was born in Ghana and moved to the US in 2003 after spending some time in England. Theo holds an MPH from the Colorado School of Public Health. I am very excited to be joining CPHA board and excited to bring my lived experience plus passion about community inclusion and targeted outreach to communities of color. 

Culture of Data Senior Director: Allison Rosenthal (2021-2023)







Allison Rosenthal is a proud public servant with a passion for substance use prevention and epidemiology. She currently serves as an analyst at the Colorado Department of Public Safety, specializing in traffic safety and impaired driving monitoring. In her prior position, Allison worked at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment as an epidemiologist and evaluator for the Opioid Overdose Prevention Program. Allison received her MPH from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health in Community Health Sciences and a Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists' Applied Epidemiology Fellowship in behavioral health epidemiology. 

Culture of Data Associate Director: Lindsey Wyatt (2022-2024) 

Lindsey obtained her B.S. in Psychology from Colorado State University in 2020  and is a recent graduate from the Colorado School of Public Health’s MPH program in 2022. She has a diverse range of educational, professional, and volunteer experiences that range from clinical patient care, public health, research, and policy. As a Certified Nurse Aide in a Long-term Care Facility, Contact Tracer, and Volunteer Victims’ Advocate, she gained direct, hands-on experience on how the Social Determinants of Health impact overall health and well-being. She believes that health is a fundamental human right that should be fought for. As a result, she is extremely passionate about ensuring that individuals have the capacity to achieve the healthiest version of themselves.

For her MPH Capstone project, she worked as a Policy Intern and Advocate for Mental Health Colorado. During this time, she acted as support staff to the Policy Team where she engaged in quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, as well as attended various stakeholder meetings, webinars, advocacy events, and bill hearings. Her time with Mental Health Colorado gave her a firsthand look into one of the most transformational legislative sessions regarding Behavioral Health policy. Finally, the most impactful advice her preceptor had given her was that, “There are many things beyond our control in this world. All we can do is strive to make our little piece of this world a better place for ourselves and others.” Lindsey is committed to this statement and uses it as her guiding light when engaging in this work. In her free time she enjoys being the most extroverted person in her friend group, going to concerts, and being in the sun.


PHN Section Senior Director: Dawn James (2021-2023) 

Dawn James received her undergraduate nursing degree in 1997 and her Master’s Degree in Nursing in 2006 from the University of Northern Colorado.  She is an alumnus of the Regional Institute for Health and Environmental Leadership, completing the fellowship in 2009.  Dawn has served as the Public Health Director in Kit Carson County; Regional Emergency Preparedness and Response Planner in the northeast region of Colorado; Nurse Consultant for the Office of Local Liaison at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and Director of Emergency Medical Services in Kit Carson County.  In addition to her current term as the Colorado Public Health Association Nursing Section Director, Dawn has served on various boards and committees including as the President of the Public Health Nurses Association of Colorado, President of the Emergency Medical Services Association of Colorado, and was appointed to the Cancer, Cardiovascular and Chronic Pulmonary Disease (CCPD) Review Committee by the Colorado State Board of Health for two terms representing rural public health. Dawn is an advocate for equality and equity for all people, and has particular interest in rural health.  She continues her work in chronic disease management as an advanced practice nurse and CertifiedDiabetes Care and Education Specialist and is currently employed as a nurse consultant at CDPHE in the Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response.

At-Large: Alexia Eslan (2022-2023)


Alexia Eslan (she, her, ella) is a native Spanish speaker with over twenty years of experience working with both public and private health entities at all levels and bringing together diverse groups to understand shared needs and wants. She has extensive expertise working with executive leadership, and clinical and non-clinical teams at community health centers, rural health clinics and other healthcare organizations to achieve the quintuple aim – better health, better patient experience, lower costs, joy in practice, and equity. Her experience at JSI as the Director of the Colorado Regional Office and a Senior Consultant and prior to JSI as Business Operations Director at Kaiser Permanente and Manager of Market Strategy at Colorado Access, have provided Ms. Eslan with a keen understanding of the operations of healthy systems and their strong link to community. 

At JSI, Ms. Eslan directs a group of initiatives funded by the Colorado Health Foundation that focus on transforming safety-net health centers and clinics throughout the state into high performing primary care sites utilizing the principles of team based care. Technical assistance provided includes, running a collaborative of over 150 clinic team members, virtual and in-person learning sessions, webinars, coaching and peer site visits. Alexia also oversaw the provision of TA to practices through the Colorado State Innovation Model (SIM) on the integration of behavioral and physical health; through Transforming Clinical Practices Initiative preparing primary care and specialty, urban and rural, practices for value-based payment; and, through EvidenceNOW Southwest on cardiovascular health and quality improvement.                                     

Ms. Eslan also led the Practice Transformation Coaching for HRSA’s Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Technical Assistance, working closely with a team of practice facilitators to support health centers across the country to implement and strengthen high quality integrative models of care. In addition, she has worked with community health centers throughout the country for the last 10 years supporting them to earn patient-centered medical home recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and the Joint Commission. Through her work at Kaiser Permanente and JSI, she has also supported health organizations on addressing social determinants of health, workforce development, compensation, retention and recruitment, and on leadership development strategies. 

Ms. Eslan has extensive expertise with leadership development, project management, facilitation and strategic planning, providing technical assistance and training as well as formative research and evaluation. She has led dozens of projects at JSI focusing on these components and working with multiple stakeholders at a local, state and national level. Her passion is to help communities and clients thrive through tailored and innovative approaches that involve all voices. She is certified in the Institute of Cultural Affairs Techniques of Participation (ToP) Facilitation Methods and Strategic Planning, NCQA’s Accountable Care Organization (ACO) and Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH), as well as in LEAN and Six Sigma.


Government Relations Consultant

Amy Pitlik, Mendez. Barkis and Associates