Scientific Team

Meet the team that helps you make a bigger impact.

Marci Sontag, PhD


A Littleton, Colorado native, Dr. Sontag was chosen to lead CPHI because of her proven record of success in public health and higher education. She has a Masters in biostatistics and a PhD in epidemiology from the University of Colorado. She brings knowledge and experience in epidemiology, data analysis, program development, facilitation, and program evaluation, just to name a few of her skills.

Among her passions are improving public health systems, and she is currently focused on newborn screening, genetic services, and health information technology. She has spent much of her career studying the epidemiology of cystic fibrosis, the airway microbiome, and other pediatric genetic disorders.

Following a Bear and Leading the World

When asked what books every person can learn from, Dr. Sontag points to a surprising tome: Winnie The Pooh: "He teaches us to be patient, think of others' needs, and to live in the moment. In today's world of divisiveness and anger, a little walk through the Hundred Acre Woods could help us all."

She says she would love to lead the World Health Organization. "The WHO works to improve health around the globe by using data to identify needs and opportunities," she says, "and then provides recommendations and helps countries implement the recommendations. On a smaller stage, that is our vision for CPHI."

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Joshua Miller, PhD

Senior Consultant

A native of Colorado Springs, Mr. Miller is a core member of our team at the Center for Public Health Innovation, applying his knowledge as an expert in bioinformatics to help client agencies better organize, analyze, and visualize their data. He comes to us from the Department of Epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health, where he served as a Research Instructor.

Honing Skills

In fact, Mr. Miller credits his instructor position with helping him develop skills that are crucial for helping our public health clients. "It was there that I honed my skills in properly developing and managing health databases, and querying the data to develop useful and meaningful reports," he says. "Most importantly, I learned how to communicate complex data topics in an understandable manner, and sharpened my public speaking skills to deliver meaningful and entertaining presentations to a wide variety of audiences."

Yvonne Kellar-Guenther

Senior Research Scientist

Dr. Kellar-Guenther holds advanced degrees in Communication Theory (Illinois State University) and Interpersonal Communication (Arizona State University). She has used the resulting skills to teach and consult in the public health arena with the University of Colorado for almost two decades. She is an expert at helping public health stakeholders identify and clarify their goals, continually improve their programs, identify important measures, and make use of proven collaboration processes and skills.

Teaching teaches the teacher

Dr. Kellar-Guenther identifies her experience as an Associate Professor at CU as crucial preparation for her position at CPHI: "I have learned a lot teaching program evaluation and research methods to students and doing research with community agencies. It’s given me experience adjusting the message/reporting of findings/program evaluation to the audience and helped me understand the importance of getting input from multiple perspectives. I’ve also learned the importance of considering how to deliver information in an engaging way, so the learner is part of the education process, rather than a passive observer," she says.

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Sarah McKasson, MPH

Research Partner

Ms. McKasson hails from Indianapolis and earned a degree in Anthropology and Statistics from Miami University in Ohio before moving on to Tulane to earn her Master of Public Health in Epidemiology in 2012. Sarah served as a Research and Evaluation Analyst at the National Network of Public Health Institutes, working on multiple CDC funded-programs, including the National Public Health Improvement Initiative. Since 2015, Ms. McKasson has worked in newborn screening and genetic services where she supports quality improvement practices and facilitates problem-solving with cross-functional teams to generate strategic solutions to challenges.

Sarah places priority on the practical application of data and applies her skills for using data-driven processes to enhance the accountability and effectiveness of programs. Her favorite aspect is translating findings into actionable recommendations for clients and other key stakeholders through various data visualization techniques, such as Tableau infographics. In her own words, she finds that “evidence is not the strategy, but is the input into organizational learning and development. Therefore, as an evaluator, my role is to bridge evidence and science with real-life strategies to support clients or the community to make informed decisions.”

Embracing the Team Approach

Sarah says the best part of her work with CPHI is “Working with a team that inspires innovation, encourages professional and personal growth, and genuinely cares about helping others.” She believes strongly in the need for teams, and says an important piece of advice she took to heart was “You can’t be perfect at everything. To make change, it’s important to surround yourself with others that have different strengths than you.” She notes that reading about the efforts of Dr. Paul Farmer and his Partners in Health organization in Mountains Beyond Mountains inspired her to pursue a career in public health.

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