Community Academic Leadership Committee

Tabia Henry Akintobi, PhD, MPH

Director, Community Engagement

Morehouse School of Medicine

Professor of Community Health and Preventive Medicine
Associate Dean of Community Engagement


Tabia Henry Akintobi, PhD, MPH is Professor of Community Health and Preventive Medicine, Associate Dean of Community Engagement and Director of Evaluation and Institutional Assessment at Morehouse School of Medicine. As Principal Investigator of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded Morehouse School of Medicine Prevention Research Center Dr. Henry Akintobi demonstrates leadership in local, national and global community-based participatory approaches and research addressing health disparities. She leads or collaborates in several federal and privately-funded initiatives that model community-driven research, including but not limited to the Georgia Clinical and Translational Science Alliance, The Georgia Center for Diabetes Translational Research and the Morehouse School of Medicine/ Tuskegee University / University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center Partnership. Her public health leadership is also evident through appointments to national taskforces designed to shape the science and practice of effective community-based participatory and translational research and collaborations bridging the gaps between basic, clinical and community-based stakeholders to address disparities and advance health equity. Among them include the National Institutes for Health National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences Collaboration and Engagement Taskforce Lead Team, designed to advance team science towards becoming a major academic model through more equitable community-academic partnership -from conceptualizing to dissemination. Her research and public health interests in maternal and child health, diabetes and cardiovascular risk reduction and HIV/AIDS prevention are guided by training in public health social epidemiology, social marketing and community based participatory research and evaluation.

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L. "Neicey" Johnson, RN, BSN, Esq.


Community Health Disparities in Elimination of Social Determinants of Health

Founder and Executive Director, VSNS, Inc.


L. Neicey Johnson, registered nurse and attorney, is the founder and executive director of VSNS, Inc. (Visions), a Georgia not-for-profit personal service and mentoring organization in metro Atlanta since 2003. Its purpose is to provide an environment where persons are empowered to improve their economic status through education and skills development by simply changing the way they think. Under her leadership, the organization seeks opportunities to ensure its program participants overcome barriers to success with adequate skills, education, and access to available resources; the basis for its corporate existence.

Neicey has over 25 years of varying administrative and clinical healthcare experience and is the founder of a healthcare consulting firm and served over 10 years as co-producer of a local public television show. She is an active volunteer and participant of several community-based business boards, including the Diversity Leadership Council of the American Heart Association, Southeast Region Health Equity Council, and lifetime member of the Association of Black Cardiologists.

Omer T. Inan, PhD

CE Collaborator

Community Engagement / Georgia Institute of Technology

Assistant Professor, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering


Omer T. Inan (S’06, M’09, SM’15) received the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University, Stanford, CA, in 2004, 2005, and 2009, respectively. He joined ALZA Corporation (A Johnson and Johnson Company) in 2006, where he designed micropower circuits for iontophoretic drug delivery. In 2007, he joined Countryman Associates, Inc., Menlo Park, CA where he was Chief Engineer, involved in designing and developing high-end professional audio circuits and systems. From 2009-2013, he was also a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University. Since 2013, Dr. Inan is an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering. His research focuses on non-invasive physiologic sensing and modulation for human health and performance, including for chronic disease management, acute musculoskeletal injury recovery, and pediatric care. Dr. Inan is an Associate Editor of the IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics, Associate Editor for the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Conference and the IEEE Biomedical and Health Informatics Conference, Invited Member of the IEEE Technical Committee on Translational Engineering for Healthcare Innovation and the IEEE Technical Committee on Cardiopulmonary Systems, and Technical Program Committee Member or Track Chair for several other major international biomedical engineering conferences. He has published more than 125 technical articles in peer-reviewed international journals and conferences, and has six issued patents. Dr. Inan received the Gerald J. Lieberman Fellowship in 2009, the Lockheed Dean’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 2016, the Sigma Xi Young Faculty Award in 2017, the IEEE Sensors Early Career Award in 2018, the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award in 2018, and the National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2018. He was a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) All-American in the discus throw for three consecutive years (2001-2003).

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Herman A. Taylor, Jr. MD, MPH, FACC, FAHA


Community Engagement / Morehouse School of Medicine

Endowed Professor and Director, Cardiovascular Research Institute


Herman Taylor is an endowed professor and director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine, and a nationally recognized cardiologist with broad experience in invasive practice/research. His current research predominantly focuses on preventive cardiology, and his teaching is aimed at building research capacity at minority-serving institutions and enhancing the health of minority communities through research and health activism at the community level. Over the past decade, Taylor held the position of principal investigator and director of the landmark Jackson Heart Study, the largest community-based study of cardiovascular disease among African Americans, funded by National Institute of Health’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. His extensive experience in epidemiological observation has led him to a deeper appreciation of the urgency of community-level intervention as a priority, as well as a keen interest in broadening the diversity of disciplines and scientists focused on the problem of health disparities nationally and globally. A graduate of Princeton University, Taylor earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, trained in internal medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and completed a cardiology fellowship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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Tandeca King Gordon, EdD, MEd

Committee Member

Community Engagement / Morehouse School of Medicine

Associate Director, Prevention Research Center


Tandeca King Gordon is Associate Director at Morehouse School of Medicine Prevention Research Center. She is an educator by trade and brings over 10 years of teaching experience in the classroom. Overseeing the administrative and programmatic operations, Dr. King Gordon is responsible for assisting the Center in setting policies, defining research programs, and developing strategies to achieve program objectives and goals. She also leads the administrative hub, which provides oversight in communication and dissemination of effective, culturally appropriate health information and research. In addition, she represents the Center on national committees, collaborating across institutions and with community partners.

Priscilla E. Pemu, MD, MS, FACP

Liaison, Community Clinicians Network

Community Engagement / Morehouse School of Medicine

Professor, Department of Medicine
Medical Director, Clinical Research Center
Medical Director, Community Physicians' Network


Priscilla E. Pemu is the medical director of the Community Physicians' Network, an academic-community partnership that is recognized by the AHRQ as a Practice Based Research Network. She is engaged in direct patient care, research, undergraduate, graduate, and resident preceptorship and didactic teaching. Her research enquiry is broadly aimed at improving health outcomes of African-American women and other underserved populations.

She serves as Principal Investigator (PI) of the Morehouse School of Medicine's R-Center Community Based Research Core; Co-PI of the Health Information Technology Implementation arm of the Transdisciplinary Collaborative Center on health disparities; and Chair of the Research and Education Committee of the Morehouse Choice Accountable Care Organization-Educational System (MCACO-ES), a participant in the Medicare Shared Savings Program.

Her efforts are designed to improve care and outcomes for patients with chronic disease by addressing the gaps between primary care and population health. The development and testing of patient facing technologies that enhance health literacy and the interaction between patient and primary care provider is aligned with this overall goal. Developing and testing approaches that enhance care coordination to improve chronic disease outcomes also aligns with her goals. She has demonstrated sustained collaboration with institutional, local, and national leaders seeking to facilitate effective translation of research between academic institutions and real world clinical practice.

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Peter Baltrus, PhD

Member, Epidemiologist

Community Engagement / Morehouse School of Medicine

Associate Professor of Community Health and Preventive Medicine National Center for Primary Care


Dr. Baltrus is an Associate Professor in the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) and a researcher with the National Center for Primary Care in Atlanta, GA. He trained in Social Epidemiology at the University of Michigan, where he received his doctorate.  Dr. Baltrus has developed expertise in the use of advanced statistical methods (including multilevel modeling and group based trajectory analysis) and the computer applications necessary for the analysis of the requisite data. Currently, Dr. Baltrus is the project PI for the population project of the Morehouse Emory cardiovascular (MECA) study examining geographic disparities in census tracts in Metro Atlanta with an emphasis on resilience in cardiovascular outcomes among Black adults in Metropolitan Atlanta at both the individual and neighborhood level.  

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Latrice Rollins, PhD, MSW

Committee Member, Evaluator

Community Engagement / Morehouse School of Medicine

Assistant Director of Evaluation and Institutional Assessment
Prevention Research Center


Latrice Rollins is the Assistant Director of Evaluation and Institutional Assessment at Morehouse School of Medicine Prevention Research Center. She is a social worker and evaluation generalist.  She provides evaluation plan development and management for academic and community-based programs focused on strengthening the research infrastructure of minority institutions, public health workforce development programs, and reducing health disparities in various areas, including behavioral health, sexual health, and chronic disease.  Dr. Rollins is also an Instructor in the Morehouse School of Medicine Department of Community Health & Preventive Medicine. Her research focuses on father engagement and fatherhood programs. She is a member of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leaders cohort. Latrice received a bachelor’s in sociology from Spelman College and a master’s and doctorate in social work from the University of Georgia.

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Alison Berg, PhD, RDN, LD

Community Engagement / University of Georgia

Assistant Professor and Extension Nutrition and Health Specialist


Alison Berg is an Assistant Professor and Extension Nutrition and Health Specialist at the University of Georgia.  Dr. Berg is also a registered and licensed dietitian. As the State Extension Nutrition and Health Specialist, she leads educational programming delivered by Extension agents in Georgia in the areas of chronic disease prevention and health maintenance throughout the lifespan. Her current research interests include the effectiveness of Extension programs to improve health behaviors and enhancing research and evaluation capacity among county faculty in Georgia Extension.

Allisen Penn, Ed.D, M.Ed


Community Engagement / University of Georgia

College of Family and Consumer Sciences


Allisen Penn is the Associate Dean and State Program Leader for Extension and outreach in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences for the University of Georgia.  She leads the college to fulfill the land-grant university mission to provide Georgia's residents, businesses, and communities access to quality educational experiences and the institution's knowledge base.  Dr. Penn works with leaders of the other UGA colleges and units to successfully apply research to meet the state's priority needs through Extension faculty located in all 159 counties.  She also serves as the co-chair of the Georgia Clinical Translational Science Alliance Community Engagement function to address health and wellness needs, particularly in rural and underserved populations, by strengthening and expanding research collaboration with faculty from various disciplines.

Dr. Penn has over 30 years of experience in the Land-Grant University Cooperative Extension System. Before accepting her current position on August 1, 2019, Dr. Penn was a regional program leader for the University of Tennessee (UT) Extension with responsibilities for family and consumer sciences and 4-H in 31 counties in middle Tennessee. She began her career with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.  D Over a 22-year career, she served as an Extension Agent in four counties; Associate District Director with leadership and administrative responsibilities for Extension agents and programs in the Ouachita District; and as a Leadership Specialist and Associate Professor directing a division-wide faculty leadership program.

Dr. Penn received her doctorate in higher education from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and holds a master's degree in counseling and a bachelor's degree in home economics from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. 

Rowena Elliott, PhD, RN


Community Engagement / Emory University


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Sharon Sliggett, MA

Archway Program Liaison

Community Engagement / Archway Partnership / University of Georgia

Operations Coordinator


Sharon Liggett serves as an Operations Coordinator for the Archway Partnership, a UGA Public Service and Outreach unit created to connect communities with UGA and other resources to address community-identified needs. In her role as Operations Coordinator, Ms. Liggett supervises faculty in communities across Georgia to deliver resources from UGA’s various colleges, schools, and departments directly to the communities she serves.  The Archway Partnership routinely supports faculty research projects and provides students with experiential learning opportunities on health and wellness issues, as well as numerous other community-identified priorities.

In addition to coordinating the delivery of UGA resources, she networks with regional partners, state agencies, USG, TCSG, and private higher education institutions, business/industry, and others to leverage assets and build collaborative community and economic development opportunities. 

Community partnerships with UGA related to health and wellness have included, among others: Telemedicine, Community Health Needs Assessments, Opioid Focus Groups, Childhood Obesity Research, Federally Qualified Health Center Expansion, Public Health Leadership Academy, Georgia Rural Medical Scholar Program, RN Bridge Program, Healthcare Resource Directories, Teen Pregnancy Prevention Evidence-Based Curriculum, Drug Treatment Asset Mapping, Farm Worker Family Health Program, and Health Fairs.

Ms. Liggett earned her BA in International Relations from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida and a MPA from The Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.

Rakale C. Quarells, PhD

Committee Member

Community Engagement / Morehouse School of Medicine

Associate Professor of Community Health and Preventive Medicine


Dr. Rakale Collins Quarells is a Behavioral Scientist and an Associate Professor of Community Health and Preventive Medicine at the Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) and an adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Behavioral Science and Health Education in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.  She also served as the Associate Director of the MSM Cardiovascular Research Institute, overseeing population science research. Dr. Quarells also serves as course director for the MSM, Emory, GA Tech, and UGA’s joint course titled:  Community Engagement and Health Disparities in Clinical and Translational Research

Dr. Quarells joined MSM in July 2000 following the completion of a two-year Postdoctoral Fellowship in Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Prevention at the Stanford Prevention Research Center in the Stanford University School of Medicine.  Dr. Quarells received her Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in personality psychology from Howard University in Washington, D.C.  Dr. Quarells’ primary research focuses on utilizing community engagement to enhance the prevention and self-management of chronic diseases (including cardiovascular diseases and epilepsy) among African Americans.   

Dr. Quarells has been the recipient of National Institutes Health funding, including her Career Development Award (K-01) from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute as well as funding from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health.  These two awards funded her Families Implementing Good Health Traditions for Life (F.I.G.H.T. for Life) study.  This pilot intervention resulted in reductions in cardiovascular risk among Black families through the increase in physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption.  Building on that study, Dr. Quarells was funded to conduct the FIGHT Against MetS study, another family study to address metabolic syndrome among Black families.  In 2012, Dr. Quarells served as the principal investigator of the Minority Health Genomics and Translational Research Bio-Repository Database Network (Minority Health-GRID), a $13 million NIH funded, multi-site research study with multiple aims designed to create a minority focused research network, link health information with genetic data, and assess genetic, personal, and environmental factors associated with severe hypertension.  Dr. Quarells recently expanded her research interests to explore the self-management in epilepsy when she received funding from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention for the Adapting Evidence-Based Epilepsy Self-Management Programs for Blacks in Georgia study.  Using a community-engaged approach, this project adapted and replicated the Project UPLIFT, a mindfulness-based cognitive therapy program for depression, among African Americans with epilepsy.  Taking the lessons learned from that project, Dr. Quarells recently received funding to also adapt the Project UPLIFT intervention for Black men with heart failure and depression.

Adrianne Proeller

Community Health Worker

Community Engagement / Morehouse School of Medicine


Adrianne Serrano Proeller is a Community Health Worker (CHW) with Morehouse School of Medicine Prevention Research Center (PRC) and Community Engagement Coordinator for The Center for Translational Research in Health Disparities at MSM. Her role as a CHW at Morehouse School of Medicine has included community outreach and education on a number of projects, including the REACH Healthy Corner Stores and Safe Routes to School initiatives, as well as the PRC’s Community Health Needs and Assets Assessment.  She is also the community health worker for the Georgia Clinical and Translational Science Alliance, where she works on capacity-building projects for CHWs across the state.

Adrianne currently serves as the Georgia Ambassador to the National Association of Community Health Workers (NACHW).  She is a graduate of Loyola University of New Orleans and her background includes 6 years as a senior writer in Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and 8 years as Senior Manager of Corporate Communications for Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.  She is actively involved in many community-based organizations in SW Atlanta, where she has lived for 10 years.  

Gail McCray, MA, MCHES

Health Educator/Capacity Building Liaison

Community Engagement / Morehouse School of Medicine

Community Health Educator and Faculty member


Gail McCray serves the Georgia CTSA as part of the training and capacity-building team and as a long term champion of Community Health Workers (CHW). Since 2016, there has been a renewed effort to have CHWs recognized as essential members of the healthcare team. She serves on the statewide Advisory Council and on national committees to advocate for appropriate credentialing of this workforce. Additionally since 2016, she has worked to develop an innovative high school CHW program – and has been working on an online curriculum for this program. Her research interests include cancer prevention and control (especially multiple myeloma), hypertension, bioethics, and health literacy.  She also co-teaches a Community Health Course for first-year medical students. Her professional foci are to help develop innovative ways to improve the quality and satisfaction of the patient experience and of the many areas of overall community health promotion.

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Breanna Blaess Greteman, MPH

Committee Member

Community Engagement / Morehouse School of Medicine

Graduate Research Assistant at Morehouse School of Medicine Prevention Research Center

Breanna received her Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in May 2020 and is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Philosophy in Epidemiology at the University of Iowa College of Public Health. Her research interests include epidemiologic methods, prevention and treatment of cancer, and chronic disease treatment disparities. She is currently working as a Graduate Research Assistant with the Georgia CTSA, and Tx™ and Kessler projects within the Morehouse School of Medicine Prevention Research Center.

Erena Reese

Committee Member

Community Engagement / Morehouse School of Medicine

Research Assistant I


Erena is a graduate from Spelman College where she majored in health science and minored in Spanish.  She has been working toward her personal and professional goals in the health science and medicine prevention fields. Through the years she has dedicated efforts in striving for high academic achievement and serving the community. Being adaptable and driven, she aligns her education and experiences for greater opportunities for success. Through experience and travel have taught her that we may impact health and wellness, as well as positive self-image with; healthy food access, strategic products sourcing, and evidence-based preventions.