About Us


The Lupus Initiative® (TLI) is a program of the American College of Rheumatology’s Collaborative Initiatives (COIN) Department. COIN staff members include the following:

Sheryl McCalla, JD
Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives

Sheryl brings two decades of expertise in creating and managing programs that increase diversity and raise awareness of disparities. Prior to beginning her work in the nonprofit sector, Sheryl was a practicing attorney representing a primary-care-focused medical school, individual physicians, and a hospital. Most recently, she has earned a significant and measurably successful track record leading results-driven projects related to health disparities in lupus. Sheryl holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Minnesota and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law where she was a Robert Woodruff Fellow.

Starla Hairston Blanks, MBA, MPH, CPHP
Director, Collaborative Initiatives

Starla Blanks serves as the Director of Collaborative Initiatives for the American College of Rheumatology. Starla brings experience from working in academic, association and community settings on chronic disease management, help-seeking behavior, community health workers, public health practice and health policy to her current position. She is a nationally recognized trainer with certifications in public health practice, adult learning, community organizing, smoking cessation and chronic disease who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science, Master’s degree in Business Administration with a specialization in non-profit leadership and a graduate degree in public health.

Stacey Boyd, MS
Senior Communications Manager, Collaborative Initiatives

Before joining our team, Stacey worked in the education department at the American College of Rheumatology where she served as Senior Specialist, Annual Meeting Abstracts and Marketing. Prior to beginning her work in the nonprofit sector, Stacey established a long record of accomplishment in creating and leading integrated marketing campaigns in the corporate space. Stacey holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville; and is a member of the American Society of Association Executives.

Kate Chiseri, MPH, CHES
Senior Specialist, Project Manager

Kate is brand new to the COIN team, and brings a wealth of program planning, education, and community coalition development experience. Prior to starting at ACR, Kate served as Assistant Director in the Office of Health Promotion at Emory University, where she specialized in prevention programming for students in the areas of sexual health and mental well-being. Prior to working at Emory, Kate was a Program Coordinator for Safe Kids Georgia, an injury prevention non-profit organization housed within Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA). She has her Master of Public Health (MPH) Degree from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, and an Honors Bachelor’s Degree with Distinction from the University of Delaware.

L.B. Morris
Coordinator, Collaborative Initiatives

L. Beaman Morris joined the ACR in the role of Administrative Assistant for the Practice, Advocacy, & Quality Department in 2016. In her current role she provides our department with project and administrative support, meeting logistics, research, and database management. Before joining the ACR she served as a legislative and project coordinator in the Atlanta City Council, where she lead several projects, provided meeting and legislative support and coordinated constituent services. Among her other past roles she has also provided administrative support, research, database management, constituent case reconciliation and meeting staff support for a Georgia state senator. She holds her B.A. degree in Political Science from Clark Atlanta University. L. Beaman is currently a certified Health Coach and is in the process of completing her Masters of Nutrition and Wellness.

Markay Russell, MPH
Specialist, Collaborative Initiatives

Markay Russell joined the ACR in 2019 as a contract Research Assistant. Markay has permanently joined the COIN team as a Specialist and she now manages data collection and analysis, and supports our self-management projects for our CDC projects. She also provides programmatic development and implementation support for our department.

Markay comes to us from Morehouse School of Medicine where she provided support for three public health leadership training programs, which focused on fostering educators, elected officials, and members of the community into public health advocates. She received her Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from Morehouse School of Medicine and her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Promotion from the University of Georgia.