Christina Welter, DrPH, MPH


Dr. Welter was previously the Deputy Director of the Prevention Services Unit at the Cook County Department of Public Health, a large local health department located in suburban Cook County just outside the City of Chicago that serves 2.4 million residents within 125 municipalities. Dr. Welter’s expertise is to facilitate systems-oriented change by partnering with others to design, execute, and evaluate strategic and asset-based improvement initiatives. Under her leadership at CCDPH, she catalyzed the establishment of several ongoing and award-winning countywide leadership collaboratives and secured over 25 million dollars in funding to implement policy, systems and environmental changes initiatives.

Dr. Welter was also a part of a research team that received the 2013 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Active Living Research Award for Translating Research to Policy. Dr. Welter is currently a member of the Illinois Governor’s State Health Improvement Plan Implementation Coordination Council. She is a Public Health Accreditation Board Site Team Chair and helped to evaluate the first round of health departments seeking voluntary accreditation. In addition, Dr. Welter is Principal Investigator of the HRSA-funded Region V Public Health Training Collaborative (PHTC).

She previously served as a member of the Public Health Accreditation Board’s Standards and Measures Workgroup who developed the first set of accreditation standards for state and local public health departments. She also worked on a consultant team to develop the Operational Definition of a Local Health Department Prototype Metrics and served on NACCHO’s Project Public Health Ready Workgroup, a project dedicated to developing the first national standards in public health preparedness.

Michael Fagen, PhD, MPH

Dr. Michael Fagen has close to 20 years of public health experience that emphasizes assessment, evaluation, and applied research. Currently, Michael directs the multiple case study, competency assessment, and training evaluation components of the Suburban Cook County Communities Putting Prevention to Work obesity prevention initiative. Michael is also a member of the Illinois Community Transformation Grant evaluation team, where he focuses on evaluating chronic disease prevention initiatives.

Michael has a B.A. in International Relations from Stanford University, an M.P.H. in Applied Health Sciences from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and a Ph.D. in Community Health Sciences from the UIC SPH.

Louis Rowitz, PhD
Director Emeritus

Dr. Louis Rowitz has built a unique career in public health academia via public health practice issues and initiatives. Serving as the School’s Deputy Director of its Center for Public Health Practice since it began, he was also the first director of a regional leadership institute funded by the Centers for Disease Control. Since 1992, that Institute (originally, the Illinois Public Health Leadership Institute) has encompassed as many as seven states and is now called the MidAmerica Regional Public Health Leadership Institute (MARPHLI), with teams from the partnering state of Indiana and the participating states of Wisconsin and Michigan, in addition to Illinois. In 2001, Dr. Rowitz became the Director of the MidAmerica Public Health Training Center with its mission to improve public health infrastructure through training of the public health workforce. Dr. Rowitz has published two texts on leadership in public health based upon his experience in developing the institutes. The first is Public Health Leadership: Putting Principles Into Practice (Aspen, 2008, 2nd edition) which is now the premier text in leadership courses and institutes across the country. In 2005, he published Public Health in the 21st Century: The Prepared Leader. The Center also publishes the Leadership in Public Health journal, and Public Health Practice in Illinois, and the Illinois Board of Health Manual, all of which are edited by Dr. Rowitz.

Bernard Turnock, MD, MPH

Dr. Bernard Turnock is a Professor and Chair of the Division of Community Health Sciences at the UIC School of Public Health. As a former Director of the Illinois State Department of Health, he brings a strong practice orientation to MARPHLI. Dr. Turnock authored the book, “Public Health: What It Is and How It Works,” now in its fifth edition, which defines public health concepts for new students and experienced practitioners. He is also the first Professor at the School to offer his course, CHSC 400, “Public Health Concepts and Practice,” entirely on-line. Dr. Turnock was also the Principle Investigator for the Illinois Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center, housed at the MidAmerica Center for Public Health Practice.

Devangna “Guddi” Kapadia, MS, MPH
Assistant Director


Guddi Kapadia has been working in public health workforce education and development for over 10 years within the MidAmerica Center for Public Health Practice. She has led multiple training projects including the CDC funded Illinois Public Health Preparedness Center and the Illinois Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center (IPERLC). Guddi has years of experience planning, building, and delivering online/distance-based, blended, and in-person training and has consistently worked with local and state health departments to meet their training needs. She has done work supporting the Cook County Department of Public Health with the CDC funded Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grant, an initiative designed to change policies and environments so that health eating and active living is the norm for Cook County residents. Additionally, she has worked with the Illinois Department of Public Health and the CDC funded Community Transformation Grants (CTG) which encouraged and supported the implementation of proactive health programs throughout the state.

Guddi received her Master of Public Health from the University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health. She also has a Master of Science from Roosevelt University in Biotechnology and received her undergraduate degree from Washington University, St. Louis, MO in Biology and Religious Studies.

Liz Fisher
Program Coordinator / Evaluation Coordinator

Elizabeth Fisher is an eager new addition to the public health workforce. She graduated from Ohio University in 2014 with a Bachelor in Science in Community Health Sciences. As a student at Ohio University, Elizabeth was awarded with Ohio Female Student Leader 2014 and Outstanding Graduate in Community Health Sciences 2014. After completing her degree, Elizabeth became a Certified Health Education Specialist. She went on to work for Custom Medical Stock Photo as a Health Education Content Developer. In this role, she created educational public health infographics, aimed at a variety of audiences, by conducting comprehensive research on diseases and conditions.

Since the beginning of 2015, Elizabeth has served as a Project Coordinator for the MidAmerica Center for Public Health Practice. As Project Coordinator, she has worked to coordinate and facilitate meetings, conferences, and trainings. Additional tasks include; promotional content development, evaluation, and data analysis. Elizabeth’s interest areas include; health communications, health promotion, global health, and infectious disease.

Elizabeth Jarpe-Ratner, MPH
Evaluation Director / Research Specialist

Elizabeth Jarpe-Ratner is a research specialist at the MidAmerica Center for Public Health Practice at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In this position, she plays a lead role on multiple projects. She is the Evaluation Director of the Great Lakes Public Health Training Collaborative, a HRSA-funded center providing distance-training to public health practitioners throughout 6 states. Elizabeth is also the Principal Investigator of the STI/HIV Prevention Initiative with Chicago Public Schools through which she evaluates teacher adoption of strategies to support safe and supportive environments for LGBTQ students. Elizabeth also leads action learning and research projects to build program evaluation capacity within the University of Illinois Extension Community Health Education team providing Cook County adolescents with sexual health education.

From 2009 through 2015, Elizabeth previously held research positions at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. In those roles she engaged in program and process evaluation work, as well as strategic program planning and comprehensive needs assessment work, in the areas of child, adolescent, and maternal health, education, and child welfare. Prior to her work at Chapin Hall, Elizabeth managed school-based health programs with the Harlem Children’s Zone and was also a former Teach For America teacher. Elizabeth holds a BA degree in Spanish Language and Literature from University of Michigan, a MST in Bilingual/Bicultural Education from Pace University, and a MPH degree from Columbia University. She is currently completing doctoral work in the Division of Community Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Sophie Naji
Program Manager


Sophie Naji has been working in Public Health Workforce development since 2001.  She is the main point of contact for training opportunities as the manager of the HRSA funded MidAmerica Public Health Training Center at the UIC School of Public Health.  Sophie works as the liaison to public health professionals in Illinois and Indiana to assist in determining their training priorities.  On the national level, she assists key administration partners at the Health Resources and Services Administration and Association of Schools of Public Health to maintain and hopefully increase the level of funding dedicated to training the public health workforce.

Manjusha “Rani” Saxena, MPH
Program Manager


Rani Saxena has been a member of the professional staff at the MidAmerica Center for Public Health Practice (MCPHP) since August 2001. She started her career at MCPHP as a Research Assistant in August 2001 working on projects associated with the Illinois Institute of Maternal and Child Health Leadership and Maternal and Child Health Data Use Academy. In June 2003, she became a Project Manager for the Illinois Advanced Executive Public Health Leadership Institute, Maternal and Child Health Emerging Leaders Institute and Maternal and Child Health Management Academy.  Currently she manages various projects for the MidAmerica Public Health Training Center (MAPHTC) and Communities Putting to Prevention to Work (CPPW) initiative. She also handles all aspects of conference planning and coordination for trainings sponsored by the center.  Ms. Saxena holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Purdue University; A Master’s in Public Health from University of Illinois at Chicago.

Michael Yen, MS
IT Manager / Program Coordinator


Michael Yen has been engineering IT solutions within the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) since 2004. As the IT Manager for the MidAmerica Center for Public Health Practice, Michael oversees the development and deployment of online training and also provides technical and multimedia support for various projects within the Center. He also provides instructional design guidance for the Great Lakes Public Health Training Collaborative and is the IT & Distance Learning Coordinator for the DrPH in Leadership at the UIC School of Public Health. Michael previously worked at the Center for the Advancement of Distance Education with roles in systems and network administration. He holds a BS in Computer Engineering and a MS in Management Information Systems from UIC.