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."
Joshua Miller, PhD
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.
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."
Stacey Quesada, MS, Public Health
Ms. Quesada is a Colorado native who graduated from high school in Evergreen and earned her BA at UC Boulder and Masters at UC Denver. She is an expert facilitator, and is skilled in project management, data analysis and visualization, and program evaluation. Prior to CI, she worked as a program manager of the statewide Emergency Medical Services for Children program, and as an evaluation team lead. In these positions, she handled truly complex tasks such as facilitating large strategic planning meetings and building consensus among diverse stakeholders from across the state, ensuring the programs teams were building and evaluating would provide utility for their communities.
A Curious Listener
Ms. Quesada has a strong love of the outdoors and takes full advantage of Colorado’s natural beauty. She describes herself as “forever curious,” and gives credit for that to advice she received from her father. “He told me to always stay curious and reminded me that there's always more to learn - even about something or someone we think we know everything about.”
She offers some advice of her own to those in leadership: “Take the time to listen and listen well. In all of my positions in public health, I've learned that the importance of listening to your stakeholders/clients/communities can never be overstated. If you don't truly know what your client wants and needs, you're going to end up giving them what you think they want.”
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.
Rhonda West, MS
Ms. West is originally from Virginia, graduating from St. Anne's Belfield School in Charlottesville and earning a Biology degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. She then joined the Virginia State Public Health Laboratory as an Informatics Scientist, serving as the manager of the Laboratory Information Management System and data analyst for the Newborn Screening Program. This particular job experience motivated her to seek out additional training and challenges in data analytics. It also made her an excellent fit at CPHI, where newborn screening has been one of our greatest success stories.
“These two roles required differing skill sets,” she says, “but ultimately complimented each other in a way that helped me understand the challenges faced by public health organizations at every step in the data lifecycle. This experience motivated me to pursue my master's degree in analytics, and develop a toolkit of skills that allow me to meet public health data challenges with effective solutions.”
Working With Her Hands Exercises Scientific Muscles
In her off time, West enjoys projects that allow her to work with her hands, and finds that it benefits her work. “Craftwork involves so much more than can be summed up in the word ‘creativity’”, she says. “It takes focus, perseverance, innovation, resourcefulness, and problem-solving—just like working with data. In fact, I've found that exercising those muscles during the analytics process has benefited my creative process, and the opposite is true as well.”