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Arnold School hosts panel discussion during USC Leadership Week

The Office of the Provost's Carolina Leadership Initiative will host USC Leadership Week January 29-February 3 and invites participation in the week-long celebration highlighting leadership for all USC students, faculty and staff. Colleges, schools, the University Libraries, the Living/Learning Communities (Capstone, Maxcy, Green Quad and Preston), Center of Teaching Excellence, USC Connect, University Advising, On Your Time, Continuing Education and Conferences and the Office of Undergraduate Research have all joined together to promote leadership for the student body. Activities include seminars, panel discussions, and live performances.

Join the Arnold School of Public Health for the 2nd Annual Arnold School of Public Health Voices in Leadership Panel Discussion on Friday, February 2 from 3-4 p.m. in the Public Health Research Center Auditorium (#114). This year's discussion will focus on “Improving the Health of South Carolinians: Issues of Public Health Concern.” 

 

Panelist Biographies

Ms. Erika Kirby, RD, MBA
Executive Director of the BlueCross BlueShield of SC Foundation

Ms. Kirby is a graduate of the University of Dayton and holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of South Carolina. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Dayton, in Dayton Ohio, in nutrition/pre-medicine, and completed a dietetic internship at the Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland Ohio.

Ms. Kirby joined the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation in 2013 as a Senior Research Analyst and Grants Manager. She supported the development and execution of the Foundation’s vision and mission of improving the health of South Carolinians, particularly for the economically disadvantaged, by developing partnerships and collaborations with local and state-wide health organizations and managing and evaluating grant projects. She previously worked as a division director at the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, providing strategic direction and leadership of a program to address nutrition and physical activity and related chronic health conditions in South Carolina. During this time, she built partnerships and collaborations to create spaces and places supporting healthy eating and active living.

She is a member of the 2018 class of Leadership South Carolina. Ms. Kirby is involved with local, state and national efforts on health issues such as mental health, adolescent health, safety net provider networks and childhood obesity; and contributes to advancing strategic grant-making and partnerships to improve health. 

Ms. Melinda A. Merrell, MPH
Senior Program Director, SC Office of Rural Health

Ms. Merrell serves as Senior Program Director for the SC Office of Rural Health (SCORH), providing oversight and guidance for all programmatic activities of the office.  In addition, her area of programmatic focus is South Carolina’s rural hospitals through coordination of the activities of the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program.  Through this federal program, rural communities receive training and technical assistance for quality improvement, financial and operational improvement, and health systems development in their organizations. Ms. Merrell works with providers and staff to ascertain needs and facilitate solutions in these areas.

Prior to joining SCORH in 2010, Ms. Merrell was the Director of the Northeastern Rural Health Network located in rural Chesterfield, Dillon, and Marlboro Counties, South Carolina.

Ms. Merrell is currently pursuing a PhD in the Department of Health Services Policy and Management in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. She received Master of Public Health and Bachelor of Science degrees from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  She is also a National Committee for Quality Assurance Patient Centered Medical Home Certified Content Expert.

Dr. Megan Weis, MPH, MCHES
Co-director, SC Institute of Medicine and Public Health

Dr. Weis is a Master Certified Health Education Specialist who brings close to 15 years of experience in planning, implementing and evaluation of public health initiatives and surveillance programs to IMPH. A graduate of Furman University and the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, Dr. Weis’s diverse experience ranges from serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer working in Maternal and Child Health in Malawi, Africa; implementing and managing surveillance systems at the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC); and report writing, grant writing, strategic planning, organization and coalition development, management of multi-stakeholder workgroups and evaluation and communications for IMPH.

In all her roles, she has successfully worked to unite non-traditional partners from various disciplines and organizations to jointly address public health challenges. Currently, she serves on the board of Eat Smart Move More South Carolina. She has previously served in numerous leadership positions within the South Carolina Public Health Association (SCPHA), including as the SCPHA Affiliate Representative to the American Public Health Association (APHA) Governing Council, Health Education Section Chair and as a Member-at-Large and Secretary of the Governing Council. In 2013, she received the Lucinda Thomas Award for outstanding contributions in the area of community health. For her efforts in establishing the Student Forum (now Student Section) of SCPHA, she was recognized with the President’s Award in 2010, and in 2017 she was recognized with the Michael D. Jarrett Excellence in Customer Service Award. Dr. Weis was also recognized as the 2007 Health Education Professional of Year by the South Carolina Association for the Advancement of Health Education.

Her doctoral studies in Health Promotion, Education and Behavior at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health focused on structural approaches to public health interventions, particularly in relation to evaluation of social and organizational influences on health, capacity development initiatives, and the effectiveness of collaborations and partnerships.