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Our People

The Rales Center is directed by Tina Cheng and Sara Johnson from the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. Together, they oversee the center’s comprehensive research program.

Tina Cheng

Tina Cheng

Center Co-Director

Tina L. Cheng, MD, MPH is a pediatrician and Professor of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine with joint appointment in the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health.  She is Chair of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Vice Chair of Johns Hopkins Department of Pediatrics and Division Chief of General Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Her clinical work, teaching and research focuses on child, adolescent and family perspectives on improving health and community-integrated models to reduce child health disparities.

She graduated from Brown University with her undergraduate and medical degrees and completed a Master in Public Health degree and preventive medicine residency at the University of California at Berkeley.  Her pediatrics residency and chief residency was at the University of California, San Francisco and San Francisco General Hospital.  She completed postdoctoral training at the University of Massachusetts.

Sara Johnson

Sara Johnson

Center Co-Director

Sara Johnson, PhD, MPH is Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is a child health researcher who investigates ways to reduce socioeconomic disparities in health. Her work has focused on the influence of poverty and stress on children’s brain development, behavior, learning, and self-regulation. She also studies family-based strategies to promote health and academic achievement. She completed her undergraduate degree at UCLA, and her Master’s and Doctoral degrees in public health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Following her doctoral degree, she was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at the University of California, San Francisco and UC Berkeley. At Johns Hopkins,in addition to her research and teaching, she Directs the General Academic Pediatrics Fellowship program, which trains the next generation of physicians and scientists to understand and address health disparities.

 

Katherine Connor

Katherine Connor

Medical Director

Kate Connor MD, MSPH is medical director of the Rales Health Center at KIPP Baltimore and a member of the Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she received her medical degree from  the University of Maryland School of Medicine and completed her pediatric residency training and chief residency at the Ann and Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. At Johns Hopkins, she completed a fellowship in general academic pediatrics and earned a master’s degree in public health from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.  After her fellowship, Connor joined the faculty at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, practicing at Greenspring Pediatric Associates and training residents and medical students.   Her clinical work and research focus on making high quality pediatric primary care accessible to children and families.

Katherine Bissett

Katherine Bissett

School Nurse

Katherine Bissett is the school nurse of the Rales Health Center.  With a degree international relations and Spanish from the University of Richmond, she worked for non-profit organizations in Latin America providing pediatric surgical care, before returning to school for a   bachelor’s degree in nursing. She was graduated magna cum laude from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in 2012. Bissett continues her focus on public health nursing in underserved communities. Her professional interests include engaging children in nutrition and wellness education, addressing mental health needs, and supporting parents as they work to instill healthy habits in their homes.

Tresa Schumann

Tresa Schumann

Nurse Practitioner

Tresa Schumann graduated from Case Western Reserve University in 2007 with a bachelor’ degree in the Science of Nursing. During nursing school, she time work in Cleveland public schools and provided care on the Gila River Indian community in Phoenix, Az.  She then joined Johns Hopkins as a nurse in it the neonatal intensive care unit.

Schumann became a pediatric nurse practitioner in 2011, after received a master’s degree in nursing from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing She has worked at a pediatric walk-in clinic in Howard County where she provided both acute and primary care for patients up to the age of 21. She travels annually to a community in Haiti to help improve the health and well-being of women, children, and families.

Beth Marshall

Beth Marshall

Wellness Program Lead

Beth Marshall is the wellness program lead for the Rales Center. A 1998 graduate of Towson University, with a bachelor’s degree in school health, she received both a master’s degree in public health in 2003 and a Dr.P.H. in child and adolescent health in 2010 from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Since 2000, she has worked on various school health projects with the Center for Adolescent Health at Johns Hopkins, where she is the associate director for research and evaluation.  Marshall also serves on the School Health Working Group, through the Family League of Baltimore City and the Baltimore City Health Department, and has worked with city schools on its recently approved school wellness policy.   She is focused on working with schools to create safe, healthy, and supportive school environments for young people.

Vanya Jones

Vanya Jones

Parent Engagement Lead

Vanya Jones, PhD, MPH is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a core faculty member of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy. Jones received her BS in Health Education from Bowling Green State University, her MPH from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education and her PhD from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health from the Department of Health, Behavior and Society. After completing her degree she was an environmental health Fogarty fellow at the University of Cape town, in Cape Town South Africa. Through her training and research experiences, she has an understanding of the social environment’s impact on behaviors and developed skills to identify critical factors for positive behavior modification.

Krishna Upadhya

Krishna Upadhya

Krishna Upadhya, MD, MPH is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and holds active board certifications in Adolescent Medicine and General Pediatrics. She received her MD with honors from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Master of Public Health from Boston University with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health. She completed her residency and fellowship training in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Upadhya has provided care to adolescents in school based settings throughout Baltimore and Washington DC since her fellowship training. She is a member of the Baltimore City Health Department’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, the Advocacy committee of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine and serves as Chair of the Adolescent Health Working Group (AHWG) for the DC Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Gabriela Calderon Velazquez

Gabriela Calderon Velazquez

Project Coordinator

Gabriela “Gaby” Calderon Velazquez holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the Autonomous University of Morelos State (UAEM) in Cuernavaca, Mexico and a master’s degree in educational science from the Johns Hopkins School of Education. Her research focuses on how children learn and how social experiences shape child development. At Johns Hopkins, she has worked on projects related to language development, developmental screening and adolescent health, as well as projects focused on providing better access to health care for the Hispanic community in Baltimore.

Maria Trent

Maria Trent

Maria Trent MD, MPH is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and in the Department of Population, Family & Reproductive Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is the Director of Interdisciplinary Training for the Johns Hopkins Leadership in Education in Adolescent Health Training Program, Director of the Adolescent Medicine Fellowship Program, Director of Training for the DC-Baltimore Research Center on Child Health Disparities, and a medical consultant for the Baltimore City Health Department School-Based Health Program. She provides primary and subspecialty consultation services in the Harriet Lane Adolescent and Young Adult Practice and the Adolescent Medicine consultation service within the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. Trent is an active member of the Society for Adolescent Health & Medicine for which she serves on the Nominations Committee and co-directs the Research Mentoring Forum. She is a graduate of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, Yale University, the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Ryan Connor

Ryan Connor

Wellness Program Director

Ryan Connor is the Wellness Program Director for the Rales Clinic. Connor graduated from Hamilton College in 2005 with a degree in Public Policy and Education. After graduation Connor taught History and Math in Price George’s county, until his interest in and passion for youth sports drew him to Kampala, Uganda. While in Kampala, he interned with the Kids League, Uganda, a non-profit that uses soccer and netball to spread health and education messages to children throughout the country, and volunteered at the Missionaries of the Poor orphanage. He returned to the States and earned an masters from the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley and his Single Subject Teaching Credential in Social Studies from St. Mary’s College. Connor then returned to the classroom to teach 7th and 9th grade History at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School in Washington, DC.
His academic and professional experiences have shaped his interest in how to increase students achievement and engagement using non-curricular means
Alicia Spitznagel

Alicia Spitznagel

Senior Associate Director of Development

Alicia Spitznagel is the associate director of development for the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and is leading the fundraising efforts for the Rales Center for the Integration of Health and Education at KIPP Baltimore. As a development officer, Alicia works with grateful patients, family foundations and community members across the country to raise awareness and support for key priorities in the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins. Alicia found the calling for philanthropy early in her career as a student fundraiser, development intern and staff member at the University of Michigan, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Systems of Global Change in 2009. Joining Johns Hopkins in early 2014 from Lehigh University, Alicia brings with her a dedication to improving our health and education systems through philanthropy and a devotion to reaching our $6 million fundraising goal. Outside of the office, she is also pursuing a Graduate Certificate in the Business of Healthcare at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.

Nasreen Bahreman

Nasreen Bahreman

School Nurse

Nasreen Bahreman is the school nurse of the Rales Health Center. She has been a nurse for over 24 years and has worked in many pediatric settings and is a board certified Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist. She was most recently a faculty at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing who developed and implemented innovative ways of incorporating diversity and inclusion in the curriculum. She is passionate about promoting child and family wellness in the area of chronic illness management with a focus on supporting positive family interactions. She is currently a PhD student with an interest in determining the impact of family interactions, parental monitoring and support of adolescents with chronic illnesses such as diabetes on self-management.

Wilnett Dawodu

Wilnett Dawodu

Family Advocate

Wilnett Dawodu is the Family Advocate at the Rales Health Center. She graduated of Virginia Commonwealth University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and additional studies at Old Dominion University in Special Education.   She is also a Certified Nursing Assistant.

In Richmond, VA, she worked as a community organizer developing jobs for “at risk” individuals , connecting clients to community services, and enrolling community members in adult education/GED programs as well as other training programs.

Wilnett lived in Nigeria, West Africa and worked as a social worker and teacher.  In Baltimore, Wilnett worked at Baltimore Lab School as a Teacher, Social Worker, Internship Coordinator and Business Manager.

Teresa Bailey

Teresa Bailey

Medical Office Assistant

Teresa Bailey attended Fortis Institute Towson and graduated majoring in Medical Assisting. She  joined the Rales Health Center team in 2016.

Paul Spin

Paul Spin

Senior Research Data Analyst

Paul Spin is a Senior Research Data Analyst at the Rales Center. After graduating with his Master’s in Economics from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Paul worked as a Policy Analyst with the Federal Government of Canada. Through this position he fostered an interest in research and returned to academia to pursue a PhD in Economics at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he specialized in Health Economics. Paul’s research pursuits include a variety of topics, including the educational impacts of fetal exposure to influenza pandemics, and the cost of asthma care in emergency departments. Paul is particularly interested in how health and access-to-care in early-life influence educational and economic outcomes over the life course.


Our Research