Current Fellows


Brutrinia Cain, JD, RN

Brutrinia Cain is a senior legislative analyst at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). She is responsible for overseeing, managing, and coordinating congressional inquiries, requests for briefings, meetings and technical assistance on draft legislation for HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau and the Office of Women’s Health. Before she assumed this role, she was a senior policy advisor at the Division of Commissioned Corps Personnel and Readiness in the Office of the Surgeon General, where she advised senior leadership on policy matters related to Commissioned Corps force management. She has also served as regulatory counsel at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, where her portfolio of projects included expedited drug approval programs for patients with serious conditions, interchangeable and biosimilar biological products, and abuse-deterrent formulations for opioid medications.

Cain began her career as a critical care nurse and officer in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. During law school, Cain developed an interest in health inequities and how the law can mitigate social determinants that negatively affect the health of vulnerable populations. As a University of Kansas School of Law medical-legal postgraduate fellow, she educated law and medical students, faculty, and public health stakeholders on the intersections of law and public health, and on the medical-legal partnership model. As a member of the transitional board at the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, Cain helped change the regulations that govern Federally Qualified Health Centers, which allowed them to offer legal services to the patients they serve.

Cain earned her bachelor of science in nursing from Texas Christian University and her JD from the University of Kansas School of Law.

Michelle Dennison, PhD, RD/LD

Michelle Dennison is the director of the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Department at the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic. She is responsible for developing effective and sustainable obesity-related chronic disease prevention programs for American Indians and their families.

Dennison is also the founder and director of the nonprofit Native Youth Preventing Diabetes Coalition. She coordinates the organization’s efforts to reduce the lifelong risks of obesity among at-risk children. Her research focus involves pediatric obesogenic behaviors and associations to obesity-related chronic disease prevention.

Dennison completed her undergraduate training at Oklahoma State University. She earned a master of science in nutrition from the University of Central Oklahoma and a doctorate in allied health from the University of Oklahoma. She is a previous awardee of the National Congress of American Indians Graduate Health Fellowship, the National Indian Health Board’s Area/Regional Impact Award, and the Indian Health Service’s award for Exceptional Performance for Health Promotion and Wellness.

Kirsten Johnson, MPH

Kirsten Johnson is the health officer of the newly merged Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department. In the merge efforts, Johnson worked to reorganize, align services, and modernize the joint department. She helped write the intergovernmental agreement and negotiated statutory changes to allow for a merged payment structure. She formed a new, independent board of health; broadened the department’s population health focus; and positioned the new department to act as the chief health strategist in both counties, while improving the efficiency and effectiveness of department programs.

Prior to merging the Washington and Ozaukee Public Health Departments, Johnson was the health officer of the Ozaukee County Public Health Department. She worked to expand the scope of the public health department and engage the broader community in improving the health of Ozaukee County residents. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali, Johnson worked with rural midwives on malaria prevention, nutrition, pre- and post-natal care, HIV/AIDS prevention, family planning, and women’s literacy programs. Other past experience includes working at the National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health in New Orleans on adolescent girl reproductive health issues and cardiovascular disease prevention in African American and Latino women. Johnson was also the coordinator of health education programs for Aurora Health Care.

Johnson received her undergraduate degree in anthropology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and her master of public health from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. The Wisconsin Public Policy Forum awarded Johnson the Intergovernmental Cooperation Award (2017). She has also been awarded the University of Wisconsin Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs Lloyd D. Gladfelter Award for Government Innovation (2016).

Ellen Kurtzman, PhD, RN, FAAN

Ellen Kurtzman is a health services researcher and an associate professor at The George Washington University School of Nursing, with secondary appointments in the university’s Milken Institute School of Public Health and Trachtenberg School of Public Policy & Public Administration. She teaches health policy, research, and statistics. Her investigator-initiated research explores the impact of federal, state, and institutional policies on health care quality and the role of the health care workforce in achieving higher value care. Her most recent work explores the quality of care and the services delivered by nurse practitioners and physician assistants, and the impact of occupational restrictions on these clinicians’ practice. She has led studies examining the effect of Medicaid expansion on community health centers, the role of team-based care in the quality of office-based physician practices, and the influence of performance-based payment programs on practitioner behavior.

Kurtzman has served in senior capacities for organizations such as the American Red Cross, National Quality Forum (NQF), American Health Care Association, National PACE Association, and the Partnership for Behavioral Healthcare. While at NQF, she worked to establish hospital and home health care quality and performance standards, and she formulated national voluntary consensus standards for measuring nursing’s contribution to quality.

Kurtzman received her PhD in public policy and administration from the Trachtenberg School, her MPH from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and her BSN from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2014, Kurtzman was named the National Center for Health Statistics/AcademyHealth Health Policy Fellow. She was inducted as a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 2009.

Daniel O'Neill, MA, MS

Daniel O’Neill is an executive in the digital health and health care technology industry. Most recently, he served as a senior vice president with Change Healthcare Inc. (CHC), managing a $350 million business unit focused on connecting hospitals, physicians, and other care providers with health plans to streamline care delivery and administration.

Prior to joining CHC, O’Neill was a vice president with a venture capital–backed firm providing a cloud-based electronic health record for physicians’ practices. O’Neill led the launch and growth of several products to facilitate care coordination and population health initiatives for primary care practitioners, accountable care organizations, hospitals, health plans, and other clinicians. In addition, he has worked on the development and commercialization of decision support tools to implement clinical pathways and avoid medical errors, and on predictive analytics using early versions of artificial intelligence. O’Neill also spent three years with The Boston Consulting Group, working in the United States and Brazil.

O’Neill completed his undergraduate study at Claremont McKenna College. He earned a master of arts from Johns Hopkins University and a master of science from the Stanford School of Engineering, where he focused on health care operations management and clinical informatics.

Kristin Paulson, JD, MPH

Kristin Paulson is the vice president for research and innovation at the Center for Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC). She works with health care facilities and providers, community leaders, and advocacy groups to design ways for organizations to improve care, improve quality of life, and reduce health care costs. Her work has involved using an All Payer Claims Database in collaboration with community data to study palliative care provision, access, and reimbursement; care transitions and improved cross-facility communication and outcomes; demonstrating the return on investment from social, nonmedical interventions; and finding new opportunities to translate available data into information to transform care.

Prior to her position at CIVHC, Paulson worked for the University of Minnesota in the Department of Medicine and Center for Bioethics, evaluating and informing the evidence base for thoracic organ transplantation policy in collaboration with the United Network for Organ Sharing. She has worked on studies examining organ allocation and access, informed consent protocols, and equitable access to organ transplants for individuals with behavioral health diagnoses.

Paulson has a BA in population, organismic, and evolutionary biology from the University of Colorado Boulder. She graduated from the joint degree program in health, law, and the life sciences at the University of Minnesota with an MPH and a JD with a certificate in health law and bioethics. Paulson was a multiyear recipient of the Stone Scholarship and a 2010 recipient of a human rights fellowship to examine seasonal disease and care migration patterns in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Samuel Stebbins, MD, MPH

Samuel Stebbins is a physician epidemiologist with experience in community and population health. His work is focused on improving the systems that support children’s growth and development.

He most recently served as public health and school health physician in Arlington, Virginia. Stebbins linked health to improved educational outcomes and worked to reduce both childhood obesity and barriers to mental health services for children and adolescents. He partnered with leaders and community groups to implement the Whole School, Whole Child, Whole Community model to integrate health services and programs into schools. Stebbins served as director and principal investigator (PI) of the Center for Public Health Preparedness at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health from 2005 to 2011. As co-PI of the Pittsburgh Influenza Prevention Project, he measured how influenza spreads in populations. He also partnered with the National Association of County and City Health Officials to assess how health departments nationwide could strengthen their capacity, adaptation, and response to pandemics and other emergencies.

Stebbins graduated from Yale University with an undergraduate degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, received a combined MD/MPH degree from Tufts University School of Medicine, and completed residencies in family medicine and public health and preventive medicine at Oregon Health and Science University.

Carlos Williams, MD, MBA, MPH

Carlos Williams is an active duty officer in the U.S. Navy and the immediate past director of the Office of Global Health Engagement for the Department of the Navy. He holds an appointment as assistant professor at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

In 2015, Williams was selected as an inaugural U.S. Presidential Leadership Scholar, where his scholarly activities focused on social change, community development, and servant leadership. In 2012, Williams was appointed the U.S. health affairs attaché to the Pacific Islands, serving as a senior US advisor for health assistance. He deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, has served as the former deputy director of the Military Enteric Diseases Program at the Naval Medical Research Center, where he also was the principle investigator for several first-in-human enteric vaccine trials. Williams was the principal agent for a hallmark U.S. Agency for International Development and U.S. Africa Command–funded program that focused on crisis responses to public health emergencies in African nations. He is also a past executive committee member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Internal Medicine-Pediatrics.

Williams graduated from Albany State University with a bachelor of science in biology and a minor in chemistry. He earned his doctor of medicine from Morehouse School of Medicine and completed his internship and residencies in internal medicine and pediatrics at Wayne State University. Williams earned his master of public health in international health and humanitarian assistance and disaster response and master of business administration in health leadership and management from Johns Hopkins University. He also holds an International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance from Fordham University and has completed a faculty development program in health disparities and medical education for the National Center for Primary Care at Morehouse School of Medicine. Williams' awards and honors include the Department of Defense Meritorious Service Medal, U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Presidential Unit Citation, and the National Medical Association’s 2011 Presidential Citation.