The building signage for the Milken Institute School of Public Health

MCH Program

Whether you’re thinking about applying, are a current student, or are an MCH Program graduate, this Website is for you.

Our MCH Program is grounded in a life course perspective as an organizing framework that acknowledges distinct periods in human development and presents both risks and opportunities for interventions. Faculty and students work together to learn and make the world a healthier place for women and families across their lifespans.

Thinking about Applying?

You may have a number of reasons why you landed on our site and are checking out our MCH program. Could it be that you are. . .

  • Just beginning your search for an MCH program?
  • Looking for an MCH program that matches your interests?
  • Trying to choose between GW and other schools?
  • Interested in living and learning in Washington, D.C.?
  • Checking out our new GW Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health?
  • Wanting to know about our faculty and students?
  • Interested in honing your research skills?
  • Looking for opportunities to apply what you are learning?

While we don’t know for sure your reasons for stopping by, we are awfully glad you did.  To connect with our Admissions team, schedule an appointment.   Have a question for the MCH Center team? Send an email to [email protected].

 

For Current MCH Students

We want to make the GW Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health work hard for you. After all, you are why we exist. We succeed when you succeed.

Faculty and staff have fleshed out a number of projects and activities that we think are or could be beneficial, and they are described elsewhere on this site. But what do you think? What works and what doesn’t? Drop us a note at [email protected]. We are open to your thoughts and suggestions. 

  • You can write to us with your thoughts and ideas.
  • If you’d like to remain anonymous, you could take part in a survey.
  • You could join our MCH Network, GWMCHN, and follow them on social media. Click here to check out their Instagram page. 

 

For Alumni

If you are a graduate of our MCH program, we would love to hear from you! Drop us a line and let us know how you are doing. Send an email to [email protected]. If you might be interested in engaging with us, tell us that, too.  We have a number of ways that our current and future students could benefit from your involvement:

  • We could tell your story.  What’s it like to be working in MCH in public health? 
  • You could volunteer to be a mentor to a current GW MCH student. How did you land your first job? How have you moved on in your professional career or academic studies? What was it like to interview for a job? You are a very valuable source of information.
  • You could host a student for a practicum or provide a research project or concept for a CE project
  • You could join our MCH Network. It’s being designed and organized in early 2021, but let us know if you might be interested and we will have the Club President, or another Club officer contact you. Check out their Instagram page here. 

 

Can you think of other ways you could be involved?  We’d love to hear them. Write to us at [email protected]

 

Meet our Faculty and Staff 

avyasAmita Vyas, PhD, MHS

Title: Associate Professor, Department of Prevention and Community Health & Director, GW Center of Excellence in MCH

With GW since: 2004

Center Role: Director

Academic Adviser: Students in the MCH Program

Teaching: PubH 6501 Program Evaluation; PubH 6551 Maternal and Child Health II: Advanced Research; PubH 8432 Dissertation Proposal Development

Research Interests: Women's and adolescent health; reproductive health; gender attitudes, norms, and equity

Bragging Rights: GW Supervisor of the Year, 2019 (supervising/mentoring student employees); 2019 Northeast Region Student Supervisor of the Year, Northeast Association; 2012 Morton Bender Teaching Award, George Washington University

Hobbies/Personal Interests: Reading & Travelling; searching for a quiet place in my house to Zoom

People Might Be Surprised to Know That: Desmond Tutu asked me to read a passage from the Bible at his Sunday service in Cape Town South Africa.

 

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kamKaren McDonnell, PhD

Titles: Associate Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Prevention and Community Health

With GW since: 2002

Center Role: Co-Director of the iMCH Lab

Teaching: PubH 6550 Maternal and Child Health I: Foundations, PubH 6501: Program Evaluation; PubH 4140W: Senior Seminar in Public Health

Research Interests: Gender-Based Violence, Female Genital Mutilation, Program Implementation and Evaluation, MCH Research in Action

Bragging Rights: Working with the Congress and the Senate to design and draft the STOP FGM ACT of 2020, Excellence in Teaching Award, Milken Institute School of Public Health, ASPPH Early Career in Public Health Teaching Award, ASPPH Academy of Distinguished Teachers, Loretta P Lacey Academic Leadership Award from ATMCH

Hobbies/Personal Interests: Keeping up with 2 very active sons, running, skiing

People Might Be Surprised to Know That: I am a sucker for period dramas (such as Bridgerton) and Mystery-Crime Drama Series Podcasts

 

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mnapolitanoMelissa Napolitano, PhD

Titles: Professor, Department of Prevention and Community Health

Secondary Appointment, Department of Exercise Science

With GW since: 2012

Center Role: Professor; adviser for student individual research projects

Academic Adviser: Students in the MCH and DrPH/PhD Programs

Teaching: PubH 6500: Planning and Implementing Health Promotion Programs ; PubH 8434: Behavioral Medicine and Public Health (doctoral level course)

Research Interests: young adults, weight loss, physical activity, obesity, digital interventions 

Bragging Rights: Consultant to the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee, Physical Activity Promotion Subcommittee

Hobbies/Personal Interests: Yoga, jogging, indoor cycling, baking, spoiling our two dogs with homemade treats and long walks, musical theater

People Might Be Surprised to Know That: My grandfather had an amazing garden and took pride in cultivating it, especially his peach tree.  He inspired me: this year I am growing fig and lemon trees.

 

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msruizMonica Ruiz, PhD

Title: Associate Professor, Department of Prevention and Community Health

With GW since: 2008

Center Role: Co-Director of the iMCH Lab

Teaching: PH1102, PH6007, PH 6553, and occasionally PH 6500

Research Interests: substance use/addiction, HIV/AIDS, marginalized communities (including LGBTQ+, persons who use drugs, BIPOC), social and structural drivers of health disparities

Bragging Rights: I have a lot of medals from various races (half marathons, triathlons, etc.)

Hobbies/Personal Interests: Dogs, sports, cooking/baking, paper crafting, true crime documentaries

People Might Be Surprised to Know That: I'm an introvert. Yes, really.

 

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jerryJerry Franz, BA

Title: Instructor, Department of Prevention and Community Health

With GW since: 2007

Center Role: Project Manager

Academic Adviser: Students in the MCH and Public Health Communication & Marketing Programs

Teaching: Guest lecturer in PubH 6503, Introduction to Public Health Communication and Marketing, and PubH 6007, Social and Behavioral Approaches to Public Health

Research Interests: Diabetes prevention

Bragging Rights: Excellence in Teaching Award, Milken Institute School of Public Health 

Hobbies/Personal Interests: Working out, Godfathering, reading, theater, improvisational comedy, reality TV (lots of it)

People Might Be Surprised to Know That: Motown legend and superstar Gladys Knight once gave me a ride to my hotel in Las Vegas in her Bentley.

 

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dastrongDonald A. Strong, MBA, MPH

Titles: Director of Research Coordination and External Funding; Research Instructor

With GW since: 2013; received MPH from GW in 1999

Center Role: Director, Practice

Teaching: PubH 6514, Preventing Health Disparities

Research Interests: HIV, health disparities, FGM

Bragging Rights: FGM Educator of the Year (2020)

Hobbies/Personal Interests: Jazz, cancer survivor networking, working to eliminate health disparities

People Might Be Surprised to Know That: I once worked on a project led by Dr. Anthony Fa

 

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amarkusAnne Markus, PhD, MHS, JD

Titles: Professor and Chair, Department of Health Policy and Management

With GW since: 1993

Center Role: Co-Director, Policy Activities

Teaching: Maternal and Child Health Policy and Analysis (PubH 6561 in the Prevention and Community Health Department; PubH 6399 in the Health Policy and Management Department); PubH 6355 Comparative Health Policy; PubH 6012 Fundamental of Health Policy; PubH 8404 Doctoral Seminar on Health Systems and Health Policy Research

Research Interests: Health policy, particularly women’s preventive and maternal policy, child health policy, and Medicaid/CHIP policy; nonbinary and trans persons' health and well-being; translational and implementation research; health reform and comparative analysis, both domestic and international; social justice. 

Bragging Rights: I joined the anti-apartheid movement in the mid-to-late 80's, started law school when I was 17 years old, and learned to assimilate in a different culture from my own. (Not sure these are bragging rights, really.)

Hobbies/Personal Interests: Skiing, playing tennis, hiking, traveling, reading, cooking, getting more and more fascinated by American history as I keep revisiting it.

People Might Be Surprised to Know That: I was born and raised in Switzerland, but spent three years in San Francisco where I went to preschool and kindergarten. Promptly forgot English when we resettled first in Vevey (famous in the U.S. because of Charlie Chaplin and his family's residence there, now a museum worth visiting), then Lausanne (known for being the HQ for the International Olympic Committee, which also has a museum that is also worth visiting).

 

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sfwoodSusan F. Wood, PhD

Titles: Research Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management and Department of Environmental and Occupational Health; Director, Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health

With GW since: 2006

Center Role: Co-Director, Policy Activities
Teaching: Women's Health  PubH 6552

Research Interests: Women's health across the life span, family planning, FDA policy, science based policy making

Hobbies/Personal Interests: Hiking, travel, good films

People Might Be Surprised to Know That: I am based in the UK and have been working remotely for several years (pre COVID)

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lizbowrkowskiElizabeth Borkowski, MPH

Title: Senior Research Scientist, Department of Health Policy and Management

With GW since: 2006

Center Role: Adviser and Coach for Research Writing Skills

Teaching: Guest lecturer in PubH 6550, Maternal and Child Health I: Foundations, and PubH 6551, Maternal and Child Health II: Advanced MCH Research 

Research Interests: Sexual and reproductive health, scientific integrity

Hobbies/Personal Interests: Reading (especially mystery novels), brunching, swimming

People Might Be Surprised to Know That: Like Joe Biden, I'm a graduate of the University of Delaware.

 

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Gabby RuizGabby Ruiz, MPH (in progress)

Title: Current MCH Program student

With GW since: Fall 2020

Center Role: Graduate Research Assistant for the Maternal and Child Health Program 

I Chose GW Because: I loved the program description for the MCH program as well as the faculty profiles!

Bragging Rights: I am a founding member of the M.O.T.H.E.R Lab, which was created by the amazing GW MCH Alum Dr. Ndidi Amutah-Onukhaga

Hobbies/Personal Interests: I love to cook, sing (bad) karaoke, go for walks, hang out with my sisters, and watch comedies with my partner. 

People Might Be Surprised to Know That: I ran into Post Malone at the mall in Vegas (there's photo evidence) 

 

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Ajara CeesayAjara Sompo Ceesay, MPH (in progress)

Title: Current MCH Program student

With GW since: Spring 2020

Center Role: Graduate Research Assistant for MCH Student Interest Group

I Chose GW Because of: The extraordinary faculty who are passionate and have years of expertise in advocating for both domestic and international MCH issues. In addition, GW is the perfect location as the only school of Public Health in Washington, D.C., and proximity to public health agencies and international agencies. 

Bragging Rights: I am a great cook! 

Hobbies/Personal Interests: Reading, traveling, brunching, and shopping!

People Might Be Surprised to Know That: I spontaneously decided to go and live in The Gambia, West Africa for 10 months, three weeks after graduating from the University of Georgia. 

 

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Mercedes McMahonMercedes McMahon, MPH (in progress)

Title: Current MCH Program student

With GW since: Fall 2019

Center Role: Graduate Research Assistant for iMCH Lab

I Chose GW Because: I wanted to get a solid grasp on policy even though it’s not my area of expertise

Bragging Rights: Guest spoke at a midwifery course in the UK on pre and postnatal care in the United States

Hobbies/Personal Interests: Baking, language learning (French and Russian), knitting, art, costume design, ice hockey, figure skating (watching and doing) 

People Might Be Surprised to Know That: I was a competitive Irish step dancer for 8 years

 

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Lauren SayahLauren Sayah, MPH (in progress)

Title: Current MCH program student

With GW Since: Fall 2020 

Center Role: MCH Graduate Research Assistant 

I chose GW because: I love the location and the curriculum's focus on public health program planning and evaluation! 

Bragging Rights: My public health career started with recruiting for HIV biomedical prevention studies and my legacy includes a safer-sex/HIV/research-themed jeopardy event, aptly titled "Sexpardy" 

Hobbies/Personal Interests: I love exploring new cities, libraries, public transportation, and playing mini-golf 

People Might Be Surprised to Know That: I once traveled to four continents in one month