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Milwaukee Health Department Living Your Best Life, Milwaukee

Since 1867, the City of Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) has served the residents of the city of Milwaukee, seeking to improve and protect the health of all who live, work, and play within the city. Although most of the department’s programs and interventions have changed, over 150 years later the department remains steadfast in this mission.

Our Leadership Team

Commissioner of Health, Jeanette Kowalik, PhD, MPH, MCHES

Dr. Jeanette Kowalik has over a decade of progressive public health experience representing the life course. She began her career as an intern at the City of Milwaukee Health Department (MHD). Jeanette was drawn to public health, so she attended Northern Illinois University’s Master of Public Health (MPH) program while maintaining full-time employment in the field. Post completion of her MPH, Jeanette attended the Management Academy for Public Health at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; she began her doctorate in health sciences at the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Milwaukee shortly thereafter. Her initial focus was infant mortality disparities among African American and Latinx adolescents; this shifted after she realized the significant gap in research regarding recruitment and retention of the public health workforce. Jeanette completed her coursework and dissertation while working full time for the Wauwatosa Health Department, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, and the Chicago Department of Public Health. In the fall of 2014, Dr. Kowalik returned to Wisconsin and served as UW-Madison’s Director of Prevention and Campus Health Initiatives prior to her transition to the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) in Washington DC. Jeanette served as the Associate Director of Women’s and Infant Health at AMCHP, a professional membership organization for maternal and child health professionals nationwide. Dr. Kowalik left AMCHP in September of 2018 to return to her hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin to serve as the Commissioner of Health. She is inspired and motivated to move the MHD forward to maximize community impact. Dr. Kowalik’s diverse set of experiences continues to motivate her to advocate and represent those who are unable to “have a seat at the table.”

Mission

Advance the health and equity of Milwaukeeans through science, innovation, and leadership.

Chief of Staff for the City of Milwaukee Health Commissioner, Lilliann Paine, MPH

Prior to joining the Health Department Ms. Paine served in a variety of roles across the public health sector, where she has championed social justice and health equity. As a founding member of the Wisconsin Public Health Association’s (WPHA) Racial Equity Workgroup, Ms. Paine was lead author of the group’s resolution naming racism as a public health crisis. Ms. Paine was awarded the 2019 WPHA Presidential Citation for these outstanding contributions.

At the Milwaukee Health Department, Ms. Paine is responsible for representing the Health Commissioner’s office, upholding the mission and vision of the Department, and liaising with key internal and external constituents. To this role, she brings experience facilitating partnerships for public health solutions throughout the city and a commitment to health and well-being of urban families.

Ms. Paine received a Master of Public Health degree as a premier graduate of the UW-Milwaukee Zilber School of Public Health. She is a Milwaukee native and resident

Innovation: We believe in nurturing creativity and new ideas that challenge us to do our everyday work better.

Special Deputy Health Commissioner, Laboratory Director, Sanjib Bhattacharyya, PhD

Dr. Sanjib Bhattacharyya is the Laboratory Director and Special Deputy Health Commissioner of the City of Milwaukee. He serves as an Adjunct faculty at the UW-Milwaukee Zilber School of Public Health and Clinical Associate Professor at the College of Health Sciences. His professional interests extend beyond constituency to include public health laboratory systems in the US and globally. He works tirelessly to improve laboratory systems with innovative, science-based practices, improved connectivity with partners and integrated ‘One-Health’ practices.

Dr. Bhattacharyya has demonstrated outstanding public health leadership parctices for over 17 years and integrates Lean quality management in public health. He has records of accomplishments in laboratory science, management, outreach, education, applied research, workforce development and disease surveillance in the areas of infectious diseases, environmental health and in global health. All those are attributed to integrating science in public health practices, community engagement and health outcomes. He serves on advisory committees of governmental organizations, including the Wisconsin Division of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Environmental Protection Agency, and World Health Organization. His professional organizational involvements includes memberships of the Association of Public health Laboratories and American Society for Microbiology.

Dr. Bhattacharyya received his Master’s degree in Molecular Genetics from the University of Kolkata; PhD in Medical Microbiology from the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases, India; and post-doctorate at the Medical College of Wisconsin & VA Medical Center, Milwaukee. He has published over 40 peer-reviewed research articles and serves as a reviewer for multiple scientific journals- Journal of Clinical Microbiology, Epidemiology & Infection, Public Health Reports, PLoS ONE and Clinical Infectious Diseases journal. He is the recipient of multiple awards- Medical College of Wisconsin 2017 President’s ‘Community Engagement Award,’ the APHL ‘Emerging Leader Award’ (2013), the National Association of County and City Health Officials ‘2013 Model Practice Award’, the ‘Young Scientist Award’ at the International Workshop on Campylobacter, Helicobacter and Related Organisms in Freiburg, Germany and the American Gastroenterological Association ‘Distinguished Plenary Session Presentation Award’ in 2001.

Equity: We acknowledge historic and current injustices in our community and strive to cultivate an environment where everyone in our community has equal opportunity to be healthy.

Deputy Commissioner of Medical Services, Heather Paradis, MD, MPH

Dr. Heather Paradis is a pediatrician and public health professional whose career has focused on preventive services and community-based connections for children and families. Dr. Paradis is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School. She completed pediatric residency training and a 3-year fellowship in General Academic Pediatrics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in Rochester, NY, obtaining a Masters of Public Health Degree. Dr. Paradis’ health services research has focused on preventive service delivery for vulnerable children and families, including maternal-child home visiting and community-based services.

Since 2015, Dr. Paradis has been a medical director at Children’s Wisconsin. During that time, she has championed trauma-informed care, led system-wide efforts around social determinants of health, and advanced concepts of health equity. She has been recognized as an advocate for pediatric health, in particular pediatric lead poisoning. Dr. Paradis is currently a board member of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and COA Youth and Family Centers.

Collaboration: We convene community members, partners, and elected officials to meet the needs of our community.

Deputy Commissioner Policy, Innovation, & Engagement, Griselle Torres, DrPH, MPH, MSW

Griselle Torres comes from the University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health (UIC SPH) where she served as the founding Director for the Coordinating Center for Public Health Practice, a new endeavor in bridging academia and public health practice through community engaged co-collaborations in teaching, service, and research. Under her leadership, she established: 1) the first Academic Health Department in Illinois; 2) the first Academic Practice Network, a conceptual and operational framework expansion, consisting of local health departments, non-profit advocacy organizations, coalitions, and a hospital research center; and 3) increased student scholarships, paid

internships and fellowships by $300K+. She is also co-founder of the Public Health Woke Coalition, Chicago Chapter of the Public Health Awakened nation group sponsored by Human Impact Partners. She maintains interests in the areas of systems practice, community-based participatory work, academic-practice partnerships, workforce development, capacity building, public health accreditation, performance management, and quality improvement.

Prior to UIC, she spent 16+ years as a Lead Public Health Administrator for the Chicago Department of Public Health, Division of STI/HIV. Dr. Torres provided capacity building, training and technical assistance services in the areas of program planning and implementation, prevention interventions, evaluation, budgeting, organizational development, strategy planning and personnel management to public health partners. Additionally, she served as the

1) Jurisdictional Monitoring & Evaluation Manager; 2) Department-wide performance and quality improvement liaison trained in Lean Six Sigma-Black Belt; 3) Global Administrator for the learning management system; 4) Bureau-wide portfolio manager of $56M+in resource allocation; and 5) Department-wide public health accreditation team member and lead in workforce development.

Dr. Torres obtained both her Master of Social Work (MSW), child and family concentration in 1994, and Master of Public Health (MPH), Health Policy & Administration, Informatics in 2006 from the UIC's Jane Addams School of Social Work and School of Public Health, respectively. Additionally, she holds a certificate in non-profit management from Roosevelt University. In 2014, she obtained her Doctorate in Public Health (DrPH) degree from the UIC's SPH.

Born in Puerto Rico, Dr. Torres is bilingual (native speaking), bicultural, first generation to come to the U.S., and graduate from college. She spends most of her spare time “raising wildlife”-- her boys !

Courage: We take strategic risk and bold initiative to advocate for and prioritize the needs of our community.

Deputy Commissioner of Environmental Health, Claire Evers, R.S.

Claire Evers’ interest in public health was ignited with an undergraduate course, Health and the Environment. She was always a very science minded person, loving the environment and the idea of a public health as a career took off. She earned her undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and Geology and is pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health focused in Disaster Management from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Claire has had a successful career with the City of Milwaukee Health Department for the last 9 years in the roles of Environmental Health Specialist, Consumer Environmental Health Supervisor, and Consumer Environmental Health Division Director. She is a Registered Sanitarian and has experience developing, implementing and evaluating cost-effective and outcome based strategies for the department’s regulatory food and consumer protection programs. She has received national recognition for her work in developing an innovative program to reduce the occurrences of retail food violation in the City of Milwaukee and is experienced in navigating federal, state and local regulations. She has a passion not only to serve the community but also to see those around her succeed though integrity, hard work and dedication. She strives to positively impact the health and wellbeing of those she interacts with on a daily basis and will inspire and encourage others to improve and advance community environmental health.

Accountability: We act with transparency and integrity to advance the health of Milwaukee.

Deputy Commissioner of Community Health, Marlaina Jackson

Marlaina Jackson is originally from Milwaukee and began her career working for Aurora Family Services as a Prenatal Care Coordination home visitor. She holds a Bachelor's Degree from Florida A&M University in Health Care Administration and a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Marquette University.

For the past 15 years, Marlaina has worked for Froedtert Hospital in various leadership roles. Beginning at Froedtert as an Administrative Fellow, Marlaina has extensive experience in Patient Rights and Responsibility, Organizational Change Management and had led various operational projects and teams. Marlaina describes herself as a servant leader, who loves working with people and is excited to return to community-based work. In her free time, Marlaina enjoys any outdoor activity and spending time with her husband and two sons.

Accountability: We act with transparency and integrity to advance the health of Milwaukee.

Director of the Office of Violence Prevention, Reggie Moore

Reggie Moore currently serves as the Injury and Violence Prevention Director for the City of Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention, a division of the Milwaukee Health Department. Appointed by Mayor Tom Barrett in 2016, Reggie leads the city’s efforts to prevent and decrease incidents of structural and community violence. The Office of Violence Prevention advances its mission through partnerships that strengthen youth, families, and neighborhoods. In 2017, Reggie facilitated the development and launch of Milwaukee’s first comprehensive violence prevention plan known as the Blueprint for Peace. The Blueprint is a community-centered plan that takes a public health approach to addressing the root causes of violence and trauma in Milwaukee.

Prior to joining the city, Reggie has supported local and national efforts at the Center for Youth Engagement, Public Allies, Urban Underground, Movement Strategy Center in Oakland, California and The Truth Initiative in Washington, DC. He has provided training and support for youth engagement efforts in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. He has also volunteered his time with several local and national organizations including the Milwaukee Public Schools Foundation, the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing, Milwaukee Succeeds, Scaling Wellness in Milwaukee and the Prevention Institute. In 2019, he was selected to serve as a national Ambassador for Health Equity by Policy Link and FSG for innovative public health leadership. An organizer at his core, Reggie has dedicated his life to being a catalyst for social change and public health.

Quality: We continuously improve and adapt to create sustainable and positive health outcomes.

Health Budget and Administration Manager, Mark R. Yatchak, MPA

Mr. Yatchak has brought over six years of technical, analytical, and financial expertise from his work with the state, counties, and local municipalities. This includes work with a Aaa-bond rated county and development of budgets recognized by the Government Finance Officers Association - Distinguished Budget Presentation Award.

As the Health Budget and Administration Manager, it is more important to be able to work with a variety of people, both within and outside the public sector. This requires the ability to provide integral information to public officials that make complex choices and implement programs and policies within difficult financial, legal, political, and organizational constraints.

Mr. Yatchak received his Master’s of Public Administration from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, concentrated on public finance and municipal management. He additionally has an academic background in Urban Studies centering on urban and metropolitan areas and their connections to criminal justice, educational policy, community studies, non-profit organization, public health, and urban planning.

He volunteers with numerous non-profit organizations in the Milwaukee area addressing social inequity, homelessness, feeding the hungry, and providing aid to veterans. He is a proud member of the Son’s of the American Legion.

Human Resources Director, Rocio Serna

Rocio Serna has nearly a decade of Human Resources experience with most of that time serving in the public sector. While completing her undergraduate degree from Marquette University, she began her career as the first City of Milwaukee Human Resources Intern in the Department of Employee Relations (DER) where she researched the effects of Act 10 on comparable cities to the City of Milwaukee. Her research led her to discover her passion in public service work and subsequently decided to pursue a Master’s in Human Resources and Labor Relations (MHRLR) from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee while working in the private sector. After completing her graduate degree, she moved to Madison to work for the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services in a Human Resource support role for a center with individuals with intellectual disabilities. As a Milwaukee native, it was important to her that her work continue in her home city while continuing to work with an organization that worked closely with the community and underrepresented populations. This desire eventually led her to work with the Department of Children and Families where she served as the Lead Human Resources representative for the Milwaukee area.

Rocio prides herself in understanding an organization from many perspectives while creating collaborative partnerships, and looks forward to returning to the City of Milwaukee where she began her professional career.

Communications Officer, Shawn Benjamin

Shawn demonstrates highly effective leadership and communication qualities. In her past employment and as a volunteer with several non-profit and state-wide initiatives she demonstrated a solid work ethic while mentoring fellow employees and youth in the community to explore and achieve their personal and professional goals. She is a proponent of creative problem solving, creative thinking, and teamwork. Shawn is adept in networking and establishing productive relationships to foster collaborative efforts throughout both professional and community based partnerships.

Shawn holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Public Safety and Emergency Management. Has served as a Community Relations Manager/Public Information Officer and a Law Enforcement Officer. She worked in a variety of challenging and rewarding assignments. These assignments included; Patrol, Training, background investigations, Explorer Advisor and School Resource Officer (SRO). She attained multiple certifications to include; Arizona Police Officer Standards and Training Board (AZPOST) General Instructor, Defensive Tactics Instructor, Background Investigator, an Arizona Foundation of Legal Services and Education - Law Related Education (LRE) Instructor and a NASRO certified School Resource Officer. She was the state representative for the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #53, was an active member of the Oro Valley Optimist Club and served on several non-profit boards in her community in addition to being a former member of the Carrington College Public Safety Advisory Board.

Living Your Best Life, Milwaukee

Credits:

Created with images by Tom Barrett - "Milwaukee Sunrise"