Lerner Center Faculty and Staff
Sara Benjamin-Neelon, PhD, JD, MPH, RD
Sara Benjamin Neelon is a Professor in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society and the Director of the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion. She is also the inaugural Helaine and Sidney Lerner Professor in Public Health Promotion. As a public health researcher, her work focuses on policy and environmental approaches to chronic disease prevention in children and families. She completed her PhD at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, her JD at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, and her postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School. Her research focuses on policy and environmental approaches to obesity prevention in vulnerable populations.
Meghan Ames, MSPH, RD
Community Program Manager
Meghan Ames is the Community Program Manager at the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion. In this role, she oversees the Community Scholars Grant Program. She also manages education efforts for the Lerner Center and has created professional training tools, such as the massive open online course (MOOC), entitled The Monday Campaigns: Lessons in Public Health Promotion. She is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for health promotion and empowering others. She received her MSPH from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and completed her dietetic internship at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.
Tiange Liu, MHS, MBBS
Research Program Manager
Tiange Liu is the Research Program Manager at the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion. In this role, she oversees all aspects of research, including management of the Research Pilot Grant Program. She is a physician by training from Zhejiang University School of Medicine, China. Prior to joining the team, she gained a Master of Health Science degree in Epidemiology with a concentration on Cardiovascular and Clinical Epidemiology, and a certificate in Maternal and Child Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her research focuses on the effect of early-life exposures on maternal and child health and she was awarded the Charlotte Ferencz Fellowship from Department of Epidemiology in recognition of her master thesis research on this topic.
Policy and Advocacy Program Manager
Molly Mitchell is the Policy and Advocacy Program Manager at the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion. Molly has managed the Maryland Collaborative to Reduce College Drinking and Related Problems since its inception in 2012 and led efforts there to enact new local and statewide laws including a ban on grain alcohol and landmark host laws. She previously managed a public health training center, organized communities in Baltimore City and West Virginia, and was a legal aid attorney.
Amber-Ray Davidson, MS
Amber-Ray Davidson is a Program Coordinator at the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion. In this role, she helps coordinate Meatless Monday and Move It Monday at the Lerner Center. She also leads the Monday Mile each week. Before joining the Lerner Center, Amber-Ray managed nutrition education programming for low socioeconomic school communities with Maryland SNAP-Ed. She earned her MS in Nutrition Education from American University and her BS in Dietetics from the University of Maryland-College Park.
Byron Batchelor, MPH, RD
Byron Batchelor is a Program Coordinator at the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion. In this role, he coordinates research studies and conducts nutrient analysis on recipes for The Kids Cook Monday and Meatless Monday campaigns. Before joining the Lerner Center, he managed school meal programming for Early Head Start, Head Start, and charter schools in Houston, Texas with Baker-Ripley. He received an MPH from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and completed his BS and dietetic internship at Georgia Southern University.
Martha Ruffin is a Program Coordinator at the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion. In this role, she helps coordinate health promotion communications campaigns and is leading efforts related to Eat Less Monday. She is also working on our policy and advocacy projects. Martha has spent much of her professional life working on policy initiatives related to health and human services. During her tenure with the Annie E Casey Foundation, Martha worked closely with strategic partners to promote the development and adoption of family strengthening and family economic success policies.
Strategic Communications Consultant
Peter Tovar is a Strategic Communications Consultant with the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion. In this role, he leads efforts related to communications and marketing for all Center activities. Peter has over 30 years of experience leading branding and communications strategy at large companies including Legg Mason and Merrill Lynch. He received his BA with honors from Harvard University and then worked at the White House Speakers Bureau in the Carter Administration. During his early business career, he worked at three ad agencies including Ogilvy & Mather, where he once had the honor of a one-on-one ad campaign review with the legendary David Ogilvy.
Lerner Center Postdoctoral Fellows and Students
Postdoctoral fellows and students contribute to a variety of projects, some of which are directly affiliated with the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion projects and others contribute to Dr. Benjamin Neelon’s research.
Rachel Bleiweiss-Sande, PhD
Rachel Bleiweiss-Sande, PhD, conducts research on the role of processed foods in the diets of underserved children through the lens of food classification, consumer perceptions, and associations between processed food consumption and health outcomes. Dr. Bleiweiss-Sande holds a master’s degree in Nutrition Communication and a PhD in Nutrition Communication, Interventions & Behavior Change from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.
Elyse Grossman, PhD, JD
Elyse Grossman, JD, PhD, conducts research focusing on laws related to alcohol and drugs – especially those that target prevention and youth. Dr. Grossman has a JD from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, and a PhD in Public Policy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Katelin Hudak, PhD, MID
Katelin Hudak, PhD, MID, is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society, who studies how policies affect nutrition-related health outcomes and health disparities in children and other vulnerable populations. Dr. Hudak holds a master's degree in international development from the University of Pittsburgh and a PhD in Public Policy from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Lerner Center Advisors
Faculty and community advisors provide guidance and expertise to Lerner Center projects.
Janice V. Bowie, PhD
Professor, Department of Health, Behavior and Society
Joanna Cohen, PhD
Professor, Department of Health, Behavior and Society
Executive Director, Advance Family Planning, Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health
Executive Director, Center for Communication Programs