The ALIVE! Executive Team:
Elizabeth Lynch, PhD is one of the two primary investigators on the ALIVE! Project. Beth is an Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine at Rush University Medical Center. She is a behavioral scientist whose work focuses on the development of interventions to reduce health disparities in chronic illness. Her interest is in cultural and environmental factors related to health outcomes. She has done extensive work in diabetes self-management, cultural beliefs about health and food, and development of nutrition and physical activity interventions. Before joining Rush, Dr. Lynch worked in Mexico and Guatemala on research exploring environmental behaviors and health beliefs of different cultural groups, including indigenous Maya. Beth received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology at Northwestern in 2000 and subsequently completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Cardiovascular Epidemiology and Prevention in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. She joined the faculty of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Rush as an Assistant Professor of Community and Social Medicine in 2008. Elizabeth’s research focuses on the psychosocial factors associated with cardiovascular disease risk factors, as well as the development of behavioral interventions to improve health-related behavior in low-income African American adults and other high risk populations.
Rev. Dr. Alan V. Ragland is one of the two primary investigators on the ALIVE! Project. Rev. Ragland is the Senior Pastor of Third Baptist Church of Chicago (TBCoC). He completed his Master of Divinity degree at Colgate Rochester Divinity School. A strong advocate of higher education, Dr. Ragland has served on the trustee board of McCormick Theological Seminary; Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury, North Carolina; and Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York. Dr. Ragland is an ordained clergyman of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. and the American Baptist Churches, USA. Dr. Ragland’s tenure at TBCoC has been marked by extensive lay and ministerial development. The first female ministers and deacons at TBCoC were ordained under his leadership. More than 25 persons have responded to the call to ministry and have participated in the TBCoC Ministers in Training Program. Additionally, more than 600 persons have participated in the nine-month Disciple Bible Study program. Dr. Alan Ragland and the Joint Boards of Third Baptist Church have developed Quantum Faith and Heritage Community Development Corporation (HCDC) as corporate extensions of the congregation’s ministry.
Erin Emery-Tiburcio, PhD is a co-investigator on the ALIVE! Project. Erin is an assistant professor of Geriatric and Rehabilitation Psychology at Rush University Medical Center. She completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Bowling Green State University. She then completed her internship at Harvard Medical School/VA Boston and her fellowship in Clinical Geropsychology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. She is past-President of the Society for Clinical Geropsychology, within the American Psychological Association. She is the chair of the trans-organizational Post-licensure and e-learning Committee for both the Society for Clinical Geropsychology and the Council of Professional Geropsychology Training Programs (CoPGTP), spearheading a national effort to provide online interdisciplinary geriatric mental health training. Dr. Emery is also highly invested in minimizing health disparities, and leads multiple research projects and clinical programs in that effort.
Sheila Dugan, MD is an Associate Professor in the Rush departments of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Preventive Medicine, and Neurological Surgery. She is the Medical Director of University Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation where she sees patients with pain and musculoskeletal disorders and performs EMG/nerve conduction studies. She co-directs the Rush Program for Abdominal and Pelvic Health. She is board certified in PM&R, Electrodiagnostic Medicine, Pain Medicine and Sports Medicine. At Rush, she chairs the Provost Committee on Gender Issues and serves on the ADA Committee and Diversity Leadership Group. She currently serves on the board of the American College of Sports Medicine where she chairs the Strategic Health Initiative in Women, Sports and Physical Activity and sits on the Executive Committee of the Pronouncements Committee. She serves on the board of the Foundation for PM&R and the Women’s Health Foundation. Past positions included President of the Physiatric Association of Spine, Sports and Occupational Rehabilitation (PASSOR), the musculoskeletal section of the American Academy of PM&R. Her research interests include the health benefits of physical activity in diverse and underserved communities: pain, function and visceral fat in women at menopause; and pelvic floor function. She received bachelor’s degrees in Biology from the University of Chicago and Physical Therapy from Northwestern University and her MD from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Rev. Francine Stark-White is a co-investigator on the ALIVE! Project. Francine is an ordained American Baptist Churches, U.S.A. clergywoman and has the endorsement of the ABC, USA Committee on Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors. She has completed six years as the ABC, USA General Board representative for American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago and served as president of the Board of Directors for National Ministries of ABC, USA for the year 2006. Along with her Master of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary, she has a background in nursing, mental health, alcohol and chemical dependency treatment, four units of Clinical Pastoral Education and six years of chaplaincy, and pastoral care of survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Rev. Clayton L. Thomason, J.D., M.Div. is a co-investigator on the ALIVE! Project. Clayton holds the Bishop Anderson Endowed Chair of Religion and Ethics in Medicine and is Chairman of the Department of Religion, Health, and Human Values and Director of the Program in Healthcare Ethics at Rush University Medical Center. The Department provides spiritual care and ethics consultation services to the Medical Center, hosts one of the nation’s leading programs in Clinical Pastoral Education, and sponsors an innovative research program in spirituality and health, as well as offering education programs in Healthcare Ethics. He serves on the board of the Chicago End of Life Care Coalition, the POLST-Illinois Leadership Taskforce, is a trustee of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University, and was elected in 2011 a Fellow of the Institute of Medicine of Chicago.
LaDawne Jenkins is the Project Manager for the ALIVE! Project. LaDawne holds a Bachelor of Sciences in Business Administration from Southern University and A&M College at Baton Rouge, LA. She has over 25 years of corporate management and diverse professional leadership experiences. LaDawne’s passion is to help Church congregations, pastors and church laity become aware of health-disparities and bridging the gap within the African American communities of faith. Additionally, she develops and facilitates church leadership seminars, spiritual retreats and congregational-care workshops. LaDawne serves as an advisory board member of Annie’s Resale for the World, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to transform our personal abundance (through the sale of donated gentle used clothing and household goods) into support for the extreme poor around the world.
Deirdre Guthrie, Ph.D. is a medical anthropologist who was a consultant to the ALIVE project in our needs assessment and lead facilitator of the fieldwork team. She is also Director of YOGAglow studios and certified in Ayurvedic nutrition, drawn from a philosophy that supports healthy eating to support a balanced and sustainable life. Deirdre finds that “the African-American church is a place that simply vibrates with positive, vital energy. You can feel it emanating from the pastors and choir and congregation.”