Meet Our Current and Past Fellows

The Bernstein Fellows Program identifies and supports the work of outstanding individuals already working in health services in these areas and share Jim’s commitment and passion for rural health. Learn more about the Jim Bernstein Health Leadership Fellows Program.

Incoming Fellows


Anne Carpenter

Anne CarpenterAnne Carpenter, MBA

Anne serves as a regional program manager for Community Care of Western North Carolina, where she designs and implements programming that increases access to coordinated health care for multiple populations of 15 western North Carolina counties. Alongside executive leadership, Anne evaluates business opportunities and sustainability for the agency, and innovates approaches to health care utilization and cost-savings through collaboration with health systems and social determinant programming. Anne convenes and facilitates project-specific steering committees for internal work teams, local, community-based collective efforts, and regional cross-sector initiatives. She is also responsible for the oversight of all direct service staff and the implementation of community-based programs.

Ji Lim, DMD

Ji Lim, DMD

Ji serves as General Dentist at Greene County Health Care, Inc., where she provides comprehensive dental care to primarily low-income, Spanish-speaking adults and children without insurance. Ji is also responsible for overseeing patient cases for residents and fourth year dental students. Ji earned her Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from the University of Pennsylvania. In the Fellowship, Ji hopes to develop a better understanding of public health issues outside of her practice, and for her project, Ji would like to create a referral-based program with the emergency department in the Greenville area to effectively connect patients with direct dental care.

Lisa McKeithan, MS, CRC

Lisa McKeithan, MS, CRC

Lisa is the Director of the Positive Life Program and NC REACH at CommWell Health. In this role, Lisa is responsible for successful management of the Ryan White B, C, & D program. Lisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and African American studies and with a Master of Science degree in rehabilitation counseling and psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill. During the Fellowship, she hopes to become better equipped with the skills needed to serve as a voice for rural NC. For her project, Lisa will focus on targeted community outreach for Hepatitis C, Human Immunodeficiency Virus, and Pre-exposure Prophylaxis in Harnett, Johnston, and Sampson counties, and establish a coalition to address the affects of HCV, HIV, and PrEP.

Tamra Shea, PhD, RN, CPH

Tamra Shea, PhD, RN, CPH

Tamra is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at Western Carolina University where she teaches, mentors, and advises undergraduate nursing students in the pre- and post-licensure BSN programs. Tamra earned her Master of Science degree in nursing from Western Carolina University, she achieved her PhD from the School of Nursing at UNC-Greensboro. In the Fellowship, Tamra wants to develop collaborations with community agencies that interact with rural women and to engage rural health leaders in addressing healthcare needs in western NC. For her project, Tamra will explore access to and participation in sexual and reproductive healthcare among rural women who use opioids in western NC.

Donia Simmons


Donia Simmons

Donia is a Community Health Worker with Edgecombe County Health Department. In her role, Donia serves as a liaison among clients, health professionals, and health and social service agencies and assists clients in obtaining services to support their immediate and long-term health goals. Donia is a graduate of NC Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount, where she studied psychology/leadership. During the Fellowship, Donia looks forward to learning how to more effectively and efficiently work with individuals and agencies to build and strengthen her community. For her project, Donia hopes to reduce food disparities in Edgecombe County.

Weyling White, MBA, CAPPM

 Weyling White, MBA, CAPPM

Weyling is the Practice Administrator at Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center in Ahoskie, NC. In this role, he is responsible for oversight of daily operations for all sites of RCCHC including managing staff, improving productivity and patient satisfaction, while implementing operational workflows to improve efficiency. Weyling holds a Master of Business Administration degree with a focus on healthcare management. In the Fellowship, Weyling hopes to gain knowledge and skills to build more effective relationships in rural communities, particularly communities in high distress. For his project, Weyling would like to scale and expand the TRIP program which is a patient-centered transportation model in rural NC.

Recent Graduating Fellows


Lance Goller, M.P.A.

Lance Goller, M.P.A.

Lance is the Grant Writer and Research Administrator at Mountain Area Health Education Center in Asheville. In this position, he develops funding and policies to improve health care research at MAHEC. Lance received a Master of Public Administration degree from Bernard Baruch College and has an extensive background in social justice for under-served populations, especially in the field of health care access.

As a Bernstein Fellow, Lance worked his first year on the initial development of a child abuse prevention plan at Smart Start of Transylvania County; including organizing a Child Abuse Prevention Community Cafe in partnership with Prevent Child Abuse NC. This work will continue with staff from the local Child Advocacy Center. However, due to a recent job change, he will be developing a second project relative to his position and resources at MAHEC.

Rebecca Grandy, Pharm.D.

Rebecca Grandy, Pharm. D.

Rebecca is a Clinical Pharmacist with MAHEC Family Medicine, an area health education center that provides high-quality, compassionate health care and training for health professionals. She is responsible for providing chronic disease state and comprehensive medication management, and also serves as an Assistant Clinical Professor for rural health curriculum with the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and as Residency Program Director in collaboration with Mission Health. Rebecca received a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy Asheville Campus. Rebecca is passionate about improving rural health, and becoming an effective leader in this field.

As a Bernstein Fellow, she is exploring the education and training of health care professionals and students on Hepatitis C. She hopes this will inform the feasibility of an inter-professional, teaching Hepatitis C clinic in a primary care setting.

Shelisa Howard-Martinez, M.P.A

Shelisa Howard-Martinez, M.P.A.

Shelisa is the Director of Community Engagement at Care Share Health Alliance, a statewide non-profit that helps communities coordinate care and other resources for underserved people.  In her role, she is responsible for directing the technical assistance program, serving as the lead staff to the Collaborative Network Community, providing direct support to communities primarily in eastern North Carolina. Shelisa received a Master in Public Administration at North Carolina Central University. She is an advocate for rural communities, and hopes to develop her position as one by seeking mentorship and increasing her knowledge of advanced payment models and peer-to-peer shared learning.

As a Bernstein Fellow, Shelisa is leading efforts to develop an evidence-based community-based care coordination system that improves health outcomes for individuals experiencing disparities in healthcare and health.”

Jennifer Layton, M.S.P.H.

Jennifer Layton, M.S.P.H.

Jennifer is a Human Services Program Specialist with the Stanly County Department of Public Health. As part of her responsibilities in this new role, she serves as a conduit for the health department to the community, supervises health education, conducts quality improvement analysis for both the health department and social services, serves as the emergency preparedness coordinator, and implements accreditation for the department.  She hopes to continue to refine her leadership and project implementation skills through this program. Jennifer received a Masters in Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

As a Bernstein Fellow, Jennifer is planning and implementing an overdose rapid response program in collaboration with Stanly County EMS and local peers in Recovery.  The primary goal of the program is to reduce overdoses overall and provide harm reduction education to individuals that may not have access to care immediately.  She hopes that this will also be a link individuals seeking support services and treatment.

Bridgett Luckey, M.H.A.

Bridgett LuckeyBridgett Luckey, M.H.A.

Bridgett is the Program Development Manager at Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) of Rocky Mount, an agency that provides comprehensive employment, business, and health services to the communities it serves.  In her role, she provides administrative and operations assistance to identify gaps in services and develop programs and initiatives to improve community health outcomes and quality of life. She is committed to continuing to form strategic partnerships and collaborations, addressing social determinants of health to achieve greater health literacy and outcomes. Bridgett received a Master of Healthcare Administration degree from Winston-Salem State University.

As a Bernstein Fellow, she is implementing programs of self-sufficiency that increase access to healthcare for identified homeless populations and those who are underserved in non-permanent housing.

Schell McCall

Schell McCall

Schell McCall

Schell is the Executive Director of Partners Aligned Toward Health (PATH), a non-profit that identifies collaborative opportunities to improve the health of children and families in Mitchell and Yancey counties, using Community Health Assessments and priorities as a guide. As Executive Director, Schell is responsible for coordination of community collaborations, planning, implementation and oversight of programs and initiatives, and management of the financial and administrative aspects of the organization. She is committed to making a lasting impact on the health of children and families in Yancey and Mitchell Counties, and seeks to expand successful local programs while building dynamic relationships with other effective professionals. Schell is a native of Yancey County, NC. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Appalachian State University, she has dedicated her career to the vitality of her home community.

As a Bernstein Fellow, Schell is coordinating a project where physicians in Mitchell and Yancey counties can prescribe free, weekly health education classes to prevent and reduce opioid use by promoting alternative pain management approaches, such as mindfulness, acupuncture, movement, and more. This project highlights successful intersection of traditional medicine with complementary approaches.”

Alice Pollard, M.S.W./M.S.P.H.

Alice Pollard, M.S.W./M.S.P.H.

Alice is the Program Manager for Health Access at the North Carolina Community Health Center Association, a membership organization focused on the success of NC community health centers. In her role, Alice provides training and technical assistance, for community health centers, with a focus on social drivers of health, behavioral health, and health insurance outreach and enrollment. She is dedicated to bringing the community voice to health care policy and programs, and hopes to develop leadership skills to address change in rural areas. Alice received a Master of Social Work degree and a Master of Science in Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

As a Bernstein Fellow, she is developing a project to address development, retention, and burnout of front-line workers at community health centers. This will allow her to explore how community health centers can help effective front-line workers grow into health center and community leaders.

Past Fellows


Jamie Cousins, MPA

Jamie Cousins, MPAJamie Cousins, MPA

During her time as a Bernstein Fellow, Jamie was the Program Manager for the Catalyst for Health Eating and Active Living (Catalyst), a program of the Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation in collaboration with the North Carolina Division of Public Health and funded by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.

For her project, Jamie worked to bring together small teams of local public health and economic development practitioners to explore the intersection of their work in rural communities.

Erin Hultgren, MPH

Erin Hultgren, MPHErin Hultgren, MPH

During her time as a Bernstein Fellow, Erin was the Program Manager at Gaston Family Health Services, Inc. where she manages multiple disease-specific programs.

For her project, Erin reviewed the capacity to integrate and normalize HIV/HCV testing into standard clinic flow as well as the ability to provide Hepatitis C treatment within an integrated primary care office.

Rod Jenkins, MHA

Rod Jenkins, MHA

During his time as a Bernstein Fellow, Rod served as the Interim Public Health Director for Cumberland County, North Carolina where he is proud to prevent, promote, and protect the public’s health.

For his project, Rod co-chaired the Health Insurance and Safety Net work group of the NC Rural Health Leadership Alliance, and created talking points and tools for supporting uninsured and underinsured rural residents.

Pete McQuiston

Pete McQuistonPete McQuiston

During his time as Bernstein Fellow, Pete served as the Food Service Manager at Mission Health. Compass Group of North America has named Pete the Southeast Chair of the Regional Diversity and Inclusion Action Team.

For his project, Pete built on the Feed the Fields program in rural western NC, a program that delivers nutritious meals and provides health education to migrant farm workers.

Catherine Parker, MA

Catherine Parker, MACatherine Parker, MA

During her time as a Bernstein Fellow, Catherine served as the Director of Hertford County Student Wellness Center, a division of Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center.

For her project, Catherine worked to fully implement the Farm to School to Healthcare Initiative in Hertford County, a program that engages youth to design build, and maintain school gardens from which the produce will be sold at discount to low-income patients of local community health centers.


Marian Arledge, MPH

Marian Arledge, MPHMarian Arledge, MPH

During her time as a Bernstein Fellow, Marian Arledge served as a Community Development Specialist at the Buncombe County Department of Health. In this position, Marian was responsible for supervising the Community Health Improvement Process.

For her project, Marian partnered with health departments and hospitals in Western NC to build capacity for the implementation of collaborative and comprehensive Community Health Improvement Processes to address identified community health needs. Watch her project presentation.

Jill Boesel, MPH

Jill Boesel, MPHJill Boesel, MPH

During her time as a Bernstein Fellow, Jill Boesel served as the Project Coordinator for Physician Practice Services with Community Care of North Carolina. In her position, she supported the continued development and rollout of the North Carolina Health Information Exchange (NC HIE)—North Carolina’s statewide secure, standardized electronic system that allows health information to be shared across multiple systems and entities, improving quality, outcomes and costs of care.

For her project, Jill evaluated the use of Direct Secure Messaging (DSM) in hospitals, ambulatory practices, and long-term care facilities in Halifax County, and identified resources to support future DSM implementation. Watch her project presentation.

Amelia Mahan, MSW, LCSW

Amelia Mahan, MSW, LCSWAmelia Mahan, MSW, LCSW

During her time as a Bernstein Fellow, Amelia Mahan was the Behavioral Health Program Manager at Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC). In addition to supporting the 14 Network Behavioral Health Coordinators and Chronic Pain Coordinators, she coordinated the Motivational Interviewing program, and facilitated various workgroups and special projects, collaborating closely with state agencies, behavioral health providers, Medicaid recipients, and other community stakeholders.

For her project, Amelia created a network in Pinehurst to connect pregnancy care providers with substance abuse resources, created tools for OB providers to screen for and address substance use, and implemented training for health workers to discuss family planning with substance abuse patients. Watch her project presentation.

Joanne Rinker, MS, RD, CDE, LDN

Joanne Rinker, MS, RD, CDE, LDNJoanne Rinker, MS, RD, CDE, LDN

During her time as a Bernstein Fellow, Joanne Rinker worked as the Director of Training and Technical Assistance at the Center for Healthy North Carolina. In her role, she worked to increase community coalitions and assists them in identifying sustainable evidence based strategies to reach the Healthy North Carolina 2020 goals and objectives.

For her project, Joanne conducted a needs assessment of community health coalitions, and developed facilitator-led webinars to meet their needs for education and training. Watch her project presentation.

Sarah Thach, MPH

Sarah Thach, MPHSarah Thach, MPH

During her time as a Bernstein Fellow, Sarah Thach worked at the Mountain Area Health Education Center, in the Center for Healthy Aging, on a variety of regional health initiatives affecting older adults.

For her project, Sarah piloted models for primary care and public health collaborations to address environmental factors affecting the health of the aging population in Western NC. Watch her project presentation.


Melanie Batchelor, MHS, RD, LDN, CDE

Melanie Batchelor, MHS, RD, LDN, CDEMelanie Batchelor, MHS, RD, LDN, CDE

During her time as a Bernstein Fellow, Melanie Batchelor was a Wellness Coordinator and Diabetes Educator and worked for for MedWest Health System in Sylva, North Carolina. In this position, she managed the health management programs including, Diabetes Self-Management Training, Medical Nutrition Therapy and Worksite Wellness.

For her project, Melanie implemented an evidenced-based obesity prevention program for children that included the creation of community partnerships to provide consistent health messaging to families. Watch her project presentation.

Allison Lipscomb, MPH

Allison Lipscomb, MPHAllison Lipscomb, MPH

During her time as a Bernstein Fellow, Allison Lipscomb was the Chief Operating Officer at High Country Community Health.

For her project, Allison developed best practices for behavioral health service integration at new, fledgling community health center (CHC), and established an internship program at the CHC to ensure ongoing graduate and undergraduate student support for behavioral health services. Watch her project presentation.

Peter Rives

Peter RivesPeter Rives

During his time as a Bernstein Fellow, Peter Rives, born in New Hampshire, was the Manager of Behavioral Health at the Northwest Community Care Network in Winston-Salem.

For his project, Peter developed INSIGHT tool (Integration Needs Survey for Innovative Growth in Health Treatment) for evaluating and improving case- by-case integration of behavioral health services in care practices. Watch his project presentation.

Tim Smith, MPA

Tim Smith, MPATim Smith, MPA

During his time as a Bernstein Fellow, Tim Smith, was a Project Research Associate at Carolina HealthNet (CHN) helping the uninsured understand the benefits of medical homes.

For his project, Tim established community health assessment partnerships, and provided training for the use of geo-mapping tools to inform program and policy decisions. Watch his project presentation.


Randy Barrington, MBA

Randy Barrington, MBARandy Barrington, MBA

During his time as a Bernstein Fellow, Randy Barrington was the Quality Improvement Coordinator with Community Care of Lower Cape Fear in Wilmington, one of 14 networks that make up Community Care of North Carolina.

For his project, Randle worked with primary care providers to assure comfort in assessing online claims data, and trained providers to use data to implement quality improvement activities to improve care quality in Columbus and Bladen counties. Watch his project presentation.

Ron Gaskins, MBA, MPA

Ron Gaskins, MBA, MPARon Gaskins, MBA, MPA

During his time as a Bernstein Fellow, Ron Gaskins was the Network Support Manager with Northwest Community Care Network in Winston-Salem, one of 14 networks that make up Community Care of North Carolina.

For his project, Ron made and piloted a toolkit to standardize post-partum visits which included educational materials for the patient, clinical tools for the provider, and operational tools for the practice addressing medical and behavioral post-partum topics. Watch his project presentation.

Laura Owens, PharmD

Laura Owens, PharmDLaura Owens, PharmD

During her time as a Bernstein Fellow, Laura Owens was Chief of Pharmacy Services at Carolina Family Health Centers, Inc., which operates three Federally Qualified Health Centers in eastern North Carolina.

For her project, Laura Implemented a readiness program including a patient assessment tool, utilization of pharmacy classes, and follow-up services to empower HIV/AIDS patients to make informed decisions about their treatment plans. Watch her project presentation.

Rebecca Whitaker, MPH

Rebecca Whitaker, MPHRebecca Whitaker, MPH

During her time as a Bernstein Fellow, Rebecca Whitaker served as the Policy and Program Analyst at the North Carolina Community Health Center Association in Morrisville.

For her project, she conducted an assessment of unmet legal needs among patients in five federally qualified health centers and developed formal medical-legal partnerships to integrate legal services into health care delivery systems. Watch her project presentation.


Susan Clifford, MSW, MPH

Susan Clifford, MSW, MPHSusan Clifford, MSW, MPH

During her time as a Bernstein Fellow, Susan Clifford, worked at the Orange County Health Department as the Immigrant and Refugee Health Program Manager.

For her project, Susan improved cultural and linguistic services in the Immigrant and Refugee Health program of Orange County.

Fiorella Horna-Guerra

Fiorella Horna-GuerraFiorella Horna-Guerra

During her time as a Bernstein Fellow, Fiorella Horna-Guerra was a Program Consultant at the NC Office of Rural Health and Community Care, providing technical assistance to health centers providing direct care to migrant and seasonal farmworker families.

For her project, she designed tools and training for communities to expand health care access to uninsured, rural residents, and outlined methods for rural providers to finance and sustain their services.

Sharon K. West, RN, MHS

Sharon K. West, RN, MHSSharon K. West, RN, MHS

During her time as a Bernstein Fellow, Sharon West was the Women Veterans Program Manager at the Asheville VA Medical Center, Asheville, NC.

For her project, she developed IMPACT (Interdenominational Minority Pastor/Parishioner Advance Care Training) curriculum to train lay faith leaders to educate faith communities regarding the importance of making health and medical decisions.


Anthony Emekalam, PharmD

Anthony Emekalam, PharmDAnthony Emekalam, PharmD

During his time as a Bernstein Fellow, Anthony Emekalam was assistant professor of Clinical Pharmacy at Elizabeth City State University.

For his project, Anthony expanded a community-based initiative to provide health risk assessment, education, and advocacy in rural Northeastern NC.

Kenneth W. Phelps, Ph.D.

Kenneth W. Phelps, Ph.D.Kenneth W. Phelps, Ph.D.

During his time as a Bernstein Fellow, Kenneth Phelps was a Medical Family Therapist and Assistant Professor of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of South Carolina.

For his project, Kenneth implemented a community outreach project focusing on education, holistic health, and biopsychosocial care for the medically underserved population in Eastern NC.


Linda McDaniel, MSN, RN

Linda McDaniel, MSN, RNLinda McDaniel, MSN, RN

During her time as a Bernstein Fellow, Linda McDaniel worked for Community Care Plan of Eastern Carolina.

For her project, Linda developed a curriculum of communication, self-awareness, and boundary-setting tools to train front-line health workers to navigate complex medical and behavioral health services for Medicaid clients in rural Eastern NC.

Steve North, MD

Steve North, MDSteve North, MD

During his time a Bernstein Fellow, Steve North practiced family and adolescent medicine at Bakersville Medical Clinic.

For his project, Steve launched a school-based telemedicine program for students in Mitchell and Yancey counties.

Roy Savage, MD

Roy Savage, MDRoy Savage, MD

During her time as a Bernstein Fellow, Roy Savage spearheaded TAMAS, Teenage Mothers Achieving Success, a teen mother support group, based in local high schools.

For her project, she organized teen mother support groups based in high schools.


Aimee Donaton, MPH, RD, CDE

Amiee DonatonAimee Donaton, MPH, RD, CDE

During her time as a Bernstein Fellow, Aimee Donaton was a Program Director with Community Care of the Lower Cape Fear (CCLCF)

For her project, she led efforts to train primary care practices on the use of the Group Medical Visit model, and studied the efficacy of the model to address common barriers in implementation.

Jennifer Polo, RN

Jennifer Polo PortraitJennifer Polo, RN

During her time as a Bernstein Fellow, Jennifer Polo worked as the Assistant Director for Community Care Plan of Eastern Carolina, one of the CCNC Networks.

For her project, she Founded Healthy Craven Now, an initiative in to promote walking and exercise for weight management, and developed a healthy weight toolkit for pediatric offices in Craven, Jones, and Pamlico counties.