Rachel Presslein Transitions to New Role at the Foundation

Rachel Presslein, a current employee of the Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation, has recently transitioned to a new role. Previously the Program and Development Manager for the Foundation, she will now be the Program Manager for the North Carolina Rural Health Leadership Alliance (NCRHLA).

In her role before the transition, Rachel worked closely with the Foundation’s Board of Directors and staff to establish and implement strategy for the Foundation’s fund development and communications activities. She was also responsible for managing general operations of the Bernstein Programs and the NCRHLA. In her new role, Rachel will focus the majority of her time on program development of the NCRHLA and will maintain responsibility for the Bernstein Programs, but she will transition out of responsibilities related to fund development and communications.

As program manager, Rachel will be working with the NCRHLA’s members and work groups to develop useful resources and meaningful partnerships to address rural health concerns in the state. In the upcoming months, she will also lead the NCRHLA through a strategic planning process to refine the direction and scope of our work, and with support, she will grow the membership and reach of the NCRHLA to maximize positive change on health outcomes in rural North Carolina.

“I am excited and grateful for this opportunity to take on a new role at the Foundation,” says Rachel. “I look forward to the new and strengthened relationships I will develop with people who are passionate and dedicated to serving rural North Carolina.”

Zulayka Santiago, Director of the North Carolina Oral Health Collaborative recently spoke at the Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) panel about health in childhood. The panel, which took place at NC State University, was a part of IEI’s kidoNomiCs kickoff Tuesday. It was moderated by Kathy Higgins, president of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation and vice president of BCBSNC Corporate Affairs.

Along with Zulayka, the panel included the following guests:

  • Michelle Hughesexecutive director, NC Child
  • Jamie Kilpatrick, associate manager, Public Consulting Group
  • David Reesepresident and CEO, East Durham Children’s Initiative

While discussion surrounded overall childhood health, Zulayka weighed in on the oral health sector. She discussed the importance of oral health care at a young age, noting that tooth decay is the most common chronic disease of early childhood,  and is two to three times more common than asthma or obesity. She also touched on the importance of health equity.

To view the full panel discussion, see below:



Brandy Bynum Dawson, Associate Director for Rural Forward NC, was selected last year as one of 16 Rural Health Policy Fellows to participate in a year-long, intensive program aimed at developing leaders who can articulate a clear and compelling vision for rural America. As her time in the program comes to an end, she recently presented her policy paper, entitled Rural Community Violence, an Untold Public Health Epidemic to the National Rural Health Association at the Rural Health Policy Institute.

You can view her presentation below:


ZulaykaWe are thrilled to announce that Zulayka Santiago, Director of the North Carolina Oral Health Collaborative, was recently selected as an inaugural fellow for the Leaders for Health Equity Fellowship program. The fellowship, offered by George Washington University’s Health Workforce Institute, honors health sector professionals with a commitment to health equity and demonstrated leadership potential. Zulayka was selected as one of 16 fellows from a competitive group of applicants from all over the United States and other countries.

The year-long program will begin in January, and is designed to provide fellows with the necessary skills and experience to identify disparities, combat inequities, strengthen individual leadership, and build a network of like-minded leaders from a wide array of institutions. In addition to online meetings and training, fellows will convene in-person a total of three times, with initial and final meetings in Washington D.C., and a mid-year convening in Rwin Kwavu, Rwanda.

With a career and passion centered around oral health, Zulayka will focus her fellowship on exploring health workforce options to increase access to oral health care and reduce oral health disparities.

[box] “I am delighted and honored to be a part of this phenomenal group of people. I look forward to deepening my knowledge about the intersections of health equity and particularly excited about gaining a global perspective to generating solutions to these complex problems.” [/box]

For more information about the Leaders for Health Equity Fellowship program, click here.

Some of us walked, some of us strolled and some of us offered moral support from home, but together the NCFAHP staff and board members participated in the Triangle Komen Race for the Cure this year.

The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is the largest breast cancer fund and awareness initiative in the world, gathering thousands of participants all over the country in state-by-state events. The Triangle event was held early on June 13 at Meredith College. A sea of white and pink runners and walkers started on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, and wound its way through tree-lined neighborhoods. Residents and supporters cheered on the participants, handed out water, and turned their sprinklers towards the road as the grateful crowd of runners passed by.

The NCFAHP participated as a team in support of former board member Laura Gerald, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2014. In her honor, the team raised close to $600. As of this month, we are happy to report that Laura’s cancer is in remission! All proceeds from the Komen Race for the Cure are used for breast health education, breast cancer screening and prevention, and associated grant programs.

Breast Cancer Fundraiser