Local Team Participates in Public Health Leadership Program

Team Miami-Dade Health Action Network (MDHAN): Health Access Initiative (HIA) has been selected to participate in the National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health (NLAPH) program, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). NLAPH is a national program focused on improving population health by working with multi-sector leadership teams and training the teams through an applied, team-based collaborative leadership development model. The program is implemented by the Center for Health Leadership and Practice (CHLP), a center of the Public Health Institute (PHI), and will provide training and support for a period of one year.

“This program will impart population health teams with the skills to lead across sectors and collaboratively solve complex population health problems in innovative ways,” said Carmen Rita Nevarez MD, MPH, Vice President for External Relations and CHLP’s Director. “These are the types of leaders who will ultimately be able to drive critical efforts, such as the adoption of evidence-based policies and practices at the community level, which can have a tangible impact on health outcomes.”

The MD-HAN HIA team will work on an applied health leadership project that tackles an important population health issue with the goal of improving public health outcomes. Miami-Dade County currently ranks 56th in Clinical Care and 40th in Social & Economic Factors among all counties in the State of Florida according to the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, which is designed to help communities create solutions addressing specific factors that are known to affect health.

The MDHAN HIA aims to improve health outcomes of the community by leveraging collaborative partnerships between multi-disciplinary resources to prevent redundant efforts. The goals of this initiative are to improve overall health indicators of the community; improve patient engagement in health promotion and disease prevention; improve access to care and services; improve coordination through the continuum of care; and increase employment opportunities and economic vitality for the community.

The team assembled to undertake this critical issue includes representation from a non-profit health system, public health sector and academia:

As a healthcare leader in the community with more than three decades of experience, Marisel Losa, MHSA, is the President and CEO of the Health Council of South Florida, Inc., a private non-profit organization whose mission is to be the source of unbiased health and quality of life data and analysis; the preferred partner for quality program planning, management, evaluation, and community services; the facilitator of collaboration and partnerships in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties; and the trusted champion for ethical and targeted healthcare policy at the local, state, and national levels.

She is the Founder and current Board Chair of the Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (FAFCC), and of Miami Matters, an online interactive data warehouse which boasts over 170 indicators reporting on well-being of Miami-Dade and Monroe County residents. She is also Co-Founder, Steering Committee Member and Facilitator for the Health Action Network which brings together over 2300 members and stakeholders to facilitate collaborations that maximize and leverage resources for optimal impact and reach in addressing issues limiting health care access in our community.

Jill Szymanski, MSN, RN, MBA, FACHE, CPHQ, currently serves as the Assistant Vice President of Performance Improvement for Baptist Hospital of Miami, which is part of Baptist Health South Florida. She is responsible for performance improvement, accreditation activities, patient experience and value based purchasing initiatives for the hospital. In addition, she also partners with the corporate Center for Performance Excellence in providing leadership and support for innovation, population health management and the data governance program for the health system.

Her background includes 28 years in nursing, encompassing both patient care and executive positions. She has served in various positions as a healthcare consultant, clinical expert and is a former Navy Nurse Corps officer who resigned her commission at the rank of lieutenant commander after almost 13 years of service.

With expertise in clinical, academic and professional settings, Thao Tran, MD, MPH, strategically aims to improve overall health and wellness on a local, state and national scale. Dr. Tran earned her degree in Chemical Engineering from California Polytechnic University, holds a Medical Degree from University of Minnesota, and completed a Masters of Public Health from Loyola University. She has practiced medicine in an academic setting for over 15 years. Dr. Tran has held numerous leadership roles and has assisted healthcare entities with federal and state regulatory compliance, legal issues, revenue cycle management, patient safety and quality outcomes. Dr. Tran has devoted the last few years to working in the public sector to enhance population health outcomes and align local stakeholders with the nation’s health policy agenda.

Karen Weller, RN, BSN, MBA-HSM, is the Director of the Office of Community Health and Planning at the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County. Ms. Weller is a graduate of Florida State University and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing and a Master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Health Services Management from Keiser University.

As Director, she is responsible for the oversight and supervision of the following programs: Chronic Disease Prevention, Community Health Planning, the Consortium for a Healthier Miami-Dade, Healthy Start, Tobacco Prevention and Worksite Wellness. Ms. Weller is a Certified Worksite Wellness Specialist and Program Manager, a Case Management Specialist, Certified Childbirth Educator and has received a certificate from the School of Public Health Management Academy, at the University of North Carolina. She is the Co-Chair of the Executive Board of the Consortium for A Healthier Miami-Dade and she is a member of the Florida Nurses Association, the Florida Association of Public Health Nursing, and the Department of Health Community Assessment Technical Advisory Group. She also serves on the Health Council of South Florida’s Policy, Planning & Advisory Committee and the National Association of County and City Health Officials Chronic Disease Collaborative.

Team lead Losa states, “The team is honored and humbled to have been selected to participate in the 4th cohort of the National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health. Our rapidly changing health system presents ongoing challenges to achieving healthy communities and underscores the need for innovative and collaborative leaders. We look forward to advancing as well as embracing new innovative leadership approaches.”

NLAPH will provide training and support to assist the team in successfully addressing important population health issues with the goal of improving public health outcomes. Training and support will focus on two tracks. The first is the development of leadership skills, including personal and collaborative leadership in a multi-sector environment. The second emphasizes growth from team-based collaborative work to policy and systems change. NLAPH is provided at no cost to the participants or the community.


For more information, contact: Marisel Losa, MHSA, President & CEO Health Council of South Florida mlosa@healthcouncil.org 305-592-1452