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The Community Guide Staff
Community Guide staff provide scientific, technical, and administrative support to the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF). They are based at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and include epidemiologists, behavioral and social scientists, systematic review methodologists, statisticians, economists, clinicians, communication specialists, health educators, and policy experts. Community Guide staff members do the following:
- Coordinate systematic review teams
- Assure that each review is scientifically conducted according to approved methods
- Write and publish review findings
- Disseminate and participate in the translation of review findings to intended users including public health practitioners, policymakers, and researchers
- Create and maintain partnerships with representatives of intended user audiences
- Develop and refine systematic review methods
- Provide consultation and training about systematic reviews and developing evidence-based recommendations
CDC Community Guide Staff Members
Anil Thota, MD, MPH
Branch Chief (Acting)
Julie Racine-Parshall, BA
Deputy Branch Chief
Sajal K. Chattopadhyay, PhD
Anita Alston Ellis, PhD, MBA
Ramona Finnie, DrPH, MPH, CHES
Robert A. Hahn, PhD, MPH
David P. Hopkins, MD, MPH
Coordinating Scientist and Chief Medical Officer
Verughese Jacob, PhD, MPH
Senior Service Fellow
Yinan Peng, PhD, MPH
Onslow Smith, MA
Management and Program Analyst
Holly Wethington, PhD
Julie Zajac, MPH
Consultants and Contractors
Joe Bryce, BS
Leigh Ramsey Buchanan, PhD, MS
Krista Hopkins Cole, MPH
Health Communications Specialist
Jeff Reynolds, MPH
Danielle Ryan, BA
Health Communications Specialist
Jamaicia Cobb, MPH
Andrew Lahn, MPH
Anil Thota, MD, MPH, is the acting chief of the Community Guide Branch. He oversees processes related to the prioritization, production and communication of evidence-based systematic reviews on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of diverse public health and healthcare system-based programs, services, and other interventions.
Dr. Thota’s previous work at the Community Guide includes leading a group of experts prioritizing and evaluating the effectiveness of interventions aiming to reduce morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease and conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis of collaborative care to improve delivery of depression care.
Dr. Thota has a medical degree from Manipal University, India and a master’s degree in public health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Before coming to the Community Guide, he worked on evidence-based recommendations and decision-making at multiple organizations such as the World Bank, Cochrane South Asia, and Health Quality Ontario.
Ms. Racine-Parshall is the deputy chief of the Community Guide Branch where she oversees management and operations and leads the CPSTF Operations Team. As a public health analyst at CDC for more than 9 years, she served in public health policy, strategic planning, and project management roles for the CDC Office of Financial Resources and the National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Before CDC, Ms. Racine-Parshall spent nearly 20 years as a management consultant for an international consulting company, other private corporations, and independently. She supported both federal and private sector clients in strategic planning, business process engineering, and project management. She also served as the finance director for an air base redevelopment agency, where she secured and managed federal and state funding for interventions aimed at improving economic conditions within the community. Ms. Racine-Parshall holds a bachelor's degree in English from the State University of New York.
Dr. Chattopadhyay is the principal economic advisor for the Community Guide Branch. He directs the Community Guide's economic reviews. He previously served as a senior economist at CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control and as the chief of the Prevention Effectiveness Branch in the Epidemiology Program Office at CDC. Before joining CDC, he was a member of the economics faculty at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Chattopadhyay is a founding member of the International Health Economics Association. He coordinated the collaborative work between CDC and the Institute of Medicine on re-estimating health benefits of federal regulations with different health-related quality-of-life measures and, more recently, served as an economic advisor for the Purchaser's Guide to Clinical Preventive Services. Dr. Chattopadhyay received his doctorate in economics with a specialization in health economics.
Dr. Ellis is a health scientist on the Dissemination and Implementation Team in the Community Guide Branch. Her primary roles include developing evaluation proposals and/or protocols that reflect an understanding of program goals and objectives. Dr. Ellis is also responsible for survey design and analysis activities. Dr. Ellis serves as the Community Guide Branch Liaison to 31 CPSTF Liaisons (TFL) Organizations. She supports the team by assisting with dissemination of CPSTF findings via TFL organizations. She has worked at CDC in various public health positions since 2001. Prior to joining the Community Guide Branch, she served as a public health consultant (contractor) in CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. In this role, she served as a data management subject management expert for CDC's National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System and Medical Monitoring Project surveys. Dr. Ellis holds a doctorate in public health and a master's degree in healthcare management.
Dr. Finnie is a service fellow in the Community Guide Branch where she has worked on systematic reviews for intervention approaches to prevent cardiovascular disease, childhood obesity, health equity and intimate partner and sexual violence. As an ORISE fellow with the Community Guide, she worked on the review team evaluating effectiveness of mental health benefits legislation. Prior to joining the Branch, Dr. Finnie was a visiting faculty member at Arizona State University, working in the Department of African and African-American Studies on a qualitative study of African American's experiences with colorectal cancer screening. Before that, she was a research analyst for Special Populations Research [now Underserved Populations Research] at the Behavioral Research Center within the American Cancer Society. Dr. Finnie holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Public Health. She attained a doctor of public health (DrPH) degree with a global health concentration and field research related to delayed care-seeking and diagnosis for tuberculosis (TB) and non-adherence to TB treatment in Limpopo Province, South Africa.
Dr. Hahn is a coordinating scientist for the Community Guide Branch. He has led reviews on juvenile violence and excessive alcohol consumption and is currently heading systematic reviews of interventions to promote health equity. Dr. Hahn has served as an epidemiologist for CDC since 1986 and is a member of the Senior Biomedical Research Service. Dr. Hahn holds a doctorate in anthropology and a master's degree in public health in epidemiology. During 1998-1999, he worked as a Capitol Hill fellow in the House of Representatives Committee on Veterans' Affairs and in the office of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter.
Dr. Hopkins joined the Community Guide Branch in 1997. He now serves as medical officer while continuing to coordinate and conduct systematic reviews on a wide variety of topics. Dr. Hopkins is board certified in Internal Medicine and has a master's degree in public health. In 1995, after two years practicing clinical medicine in California, Dr. Hopkins joined CDC as an EIS officer and spent two years assigned to the New York State Tuberculosis Control Bureau in Albany, New York.
Dr. Jacob is a senior service fellow on the economics team at the Community Guide Branch. Prior to this fellowship, Dr. Jacob consulted as an economist on a health disparity project with the CDC and the feasibility of a national twin registry with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Dr. Jacob has a doctorate in economics and a master's degree in public health.
Dr. Peng is a service fellow in the Community Guide Branch, leading reviews to evaluate the effectiveness of tobacco control interventions and motorcycle helmet laws. Dr. Peng was an ORISE fellow with the Community Guide Branch for several years and worked on review teams evaluating effectiveness of various tobacco control interventions and school dismissal to reduce the spread of influenza virus during pandemics. Prior to joining the Community Guide Branch, Dr. Peng served two years with the U.S. Peace Corps in Kenya and Botswana, where she worked on HIV/AIDS related issues, and assisted in planning, coordinating, monitoring and evaluating HIV/AIDS activities. Dr. Peng holds a doctorate in molecular and cellular pharmacology and a master's degree in public health.
Mr. Smith is a management and program analyst on the Operations Team of the Community Guide Branch. His primary roles include management of the ORISE Fellowship Program and Community Preventive Services Task Force meeting. Prior to joining the Community Guide, Mr. Smith served as a program specialist with the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. He has an undergraduate degree in psychology and sociology and a Master of Arts in business.
Dr. Wethington is a coordinating scientist in the Community Guide Branch. Prior to joining the Community Guide, Dr. Wethington worked with CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity conducting research and evaluation of behaviors associated with obesity. She also worked with the Community Guide Branch from 2006-2007 as an ORISE research fellow. She received her doctorate in social psychology.
Ms. Zajac serves as the lead for policy in the Community Guide Branch. Before joining the Community Guide, Ms. Zajac conducted program planning, performance measurement, and evaluation through the policy office for the public health surveillance and informatics program. She also worked in CDC's Financial Management Office (now Office of Financial Resources) as the lead for Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) and the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART). In this position, she worked with programs across CDC on strategic planning, performance measurement, and program evaluation. Before coming to CDC, Ms. Zajac worked as an orthopedic physical therapist and also as an occupational safety and health specialist. In the latter role, she conducted industrial ergonomic studies and provided OSHA health and safety trainings for numerous manufacturing and service-oriented businesses across the southeast region of the U.S.
Ms. Zajac obtained her master's degree in public health from Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health, with a focus on environmental and occupational health. She earned a bachelor's degree in physical therapy from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, GA, and a bachelor's degree in sports medicine/wellness from Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA.
Consultants and Contractors
Mr. Bryce (Cherokee Nation Assurance, LLC) serves as web developer on the Dissemination and Implementation Team of the Community Guide Branch and is responsible for the design and maintenance of the Community Guide website. Mr. Bryce has more than fifteen years experience in web development and design and has managed sites for a wide range of clients, including CDC's Public Health Library. Mr. Bryce holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration and information systems management.
Dr. Ramsey Buchanan (Cherokee Nation Assurance, LLC) is a health scientist with the Community Guide Branch, working on the effectiveness review teams for obesity and women’s health. Dr. Ramsey Buchanan began working with the Community Guide Branch in 2000 as a research fellow. In 2002, she joined CDC as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officer assigned to the New Hampshire State Health Department and went on to work with CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. Dr. Ramsey Buchanan holds a doctorate in physiology and a master's degree in exercise physiology.
Ms. Cole (Cherokee Nation Assurance, LLC) is a health communications specialist on the Dissemination and Implementation Team of the Community Guide Branch. In this role, she manages and develops content for The Community Guide website and disseminates information about CPSTF findings. Before joining the Community Guide, Ms. Cole served as a health communication specialist for CDC's Injury Center where she led communication activities for the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention and worked to promote the application of behavioral sciences to injury prevention. She has lead health communication activities for state and county agencies and nonprofit organizations. Ms. Cole has a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and a master's degree in public health with an emphasis in health behavior, health education.
Mr. Reynolds (Cherokee Nation Assurance, LLC) is a health scientist with the Community Guide Branch, working on the effectiveness review teams for cardiovascular disease and physical activity. Mr. Reynolds was an ORISE research fellow with the Community Guide Branch from 2011-2015 and contributed to systematic reviews on topics including excessive alcohol use, mental health, motor vehicle injury, and tobacco control. He holds a bachelor of science degree in cellular biology and microbiology and a master’s degree in public health with a concentration in epidemiology.
Ms. Ryan (Cherokee Nation Assurance, LLC) is a health communications specialist with the Community Guide Branch, focusing on the creation and maintenance of Community Guide in Action stories. These stories are used by the Community Guide team to inform a variety of audiences on successes in communities where CPSTF recommendations were implemented. Prior to working for the Community Guide Branch, Ms. Ryan worked for CNN’s medical unit under the direction of Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Ms. Cobb is an ORISE research fellow at the Community Guide Branch. Prior to this position, Ms. Cobb worked for the Florida Department of Health in the HIV/AIDS section and the Division of Community Health Promotion. While at the Florida Department of Health Ms. Cobb was tasked with special projects in policy, health communication, health equity, and data analysis.
Andrew Lahn is an ORISE fellow at the Community Guide Branch. Prior to working at the Community Guide, he worked at NACCHO on multiple projects covering public health infrastructure, informatics, accreditation and performance improvement. He also held an internship with the Baltimore County Department of Health as he completed his Master in Public Health degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. As an undergraduate student, Mr. Lahn participated at a study abroad program at Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy, where he learned painting, etching and sculpting.