University of South Florida


outside view of usf college of public health building

New year, new roles, new faces

The USF College of Public Health (COPH) is welcoming both veteran administrators and fresh faces to new roles in 2024. 

The Lawton and Rhea Chiles Center 

Dr. Ellen Daley, the college’s senior associate dean for research and practice, will take over as director of the Chiles Center. Through research, education and practice, the center works to promote optimal health and well-being across the life-course of women, children, families and communities both locally and globally.

Dr. Daley assumes her new role after the retirement of the center’s former director Dr. Bill Sappenfield.

outside view of building

Outside view of the Lawton and Rhea Chiles Center for Women, Children and Families on the USF COPH campus. (Photo by                                                                                              Caitlin Keough)

“The University of South Florida and the College of Public Health have been so fortunate to have the Lawton and Rhea Chiles Center as one of its premier assets,” Daley said. “More important than the center’s beautiful building is its mission. Lawton and Rhea Chiles were champions for assuring that mothers and children were a priority in the health care system. Consequently, I’m honored to be named its director. My commitment is to carry forward their legacy."

Dr. Steve Freedman, an associate professor of health policy and pediatrics, has also joined the leadership team at the Chiles Center. His new title is associate director for policy development. Freedman is also a professor emeritus in pediatrics and political science at the University of Florida.

“It is an honor to help fulfill the dream of my friend, Lawton Chiles,” Freedman said. “His commitment to turning sound science into sound policy still inspires me. I’m grateful to be put a position in his namesake center to further those ends[NP1] .” 

DrPH Program

Dr. Fiona Lewis will be taking over DrPH director duties from Dr. Janice Zgibor. She will also be the concentration lead for the Advanced Practice Leadership track in the DrPH program. Lewis earned a DrPH from Loma Linda University, is a registered dietitian and has served in health care and hospitality in higher education settings.

The Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program emphasizes advanced public health education and training designed to prepare individuals for leadership roles in practice-based settings such as health departments, non-profit organizations, health service, international agencies and community-based organizations. 

“I believe well leaders lead well; leadership begins with self-leadership,” said Lewis, who has served in health care and hospitality setting in higher education settings. “With a strong academic foundation already in place, my vision is to focus on the holistic development of our students beyond their academic experience. This means collaborating with and leveraging the resources within the COPH and beyond to facilitate the greater transformation and elevation for our students who have already proven to be excellent in their organizations and networks, as well as providing development opportunities for emerging leaders.”

Community Hub

Dr. Ronee Wilson has been named the inaugural director of the college’s new Community Hub. Wilson is an assistant professor at the college who specializes in maternal and child health and community-engaged research.

paper cut out people holding hands in circle

                                                                                                Photo source: Canva

“The Community Hub is intended to fulfill a promise made at the creation of this college—that we would be a resource to the community, providing technical assistance, consultation and expertise and serve as a true collaborative partner,” Wilson, an alum of the college, explained. “As the inaugural director of our Community Hub, I will lead the plan for how we will realize this promise across all our areas of distinction: education, research and practice. The origin of the word ‘community’ has Latin roots that encompass terms such as ‘together,’ ‘shared by all or many’ and ‘ready to be of service.’ Hub can be defined as a ‘central part’ or the ‘effective center’ of a network. My goal is to create a dynamic entity that will encompass all these characteristics. I envision a hub that allows us to partner effectively with all our communities and for our communities to partner effectively with us.”

Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative

Lori Reeves takes on the role of executive director of the college’s Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative (FPQC), housed within the Chiles Center. The FPQC is a consortium of professionals dedicated to the advancement of perinatal care[NP1] . Reeves specializes in maternal and child health and has worked with the Florida Department of Health on opioid-use disorder in pregnant and postpartum women.

“The Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative has seen a lot of change in our little team over the past year,” Reeves noted. “With Bill Sappenfield’s retirement, we entered a new era for the FPQC, and it rests on our shoulders to build an organization that can withstand the challenges of the future. I have no doubt that we can do this, as we have an incredible team of people, all of them brilliant and passionate. It is a privilege for me to be part of this team, and part of the COPH. We are now serving every maternity hospital in the state of Florida!”  

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