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A lupus awareness and educational program from the American College of Rheumatology

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
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, a Master’s degree in Business Administration with a specialization in non-profit leadership and a graduate degree in public health.

Kate Chiseri, MPH, CHES
Senior Specialist, Project Manager

Kate joined the COIN team in early 2020. She brings a wealth of program planning, education and community coalition development experience. Prior to starting at the 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) from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, and an honors Bachelor’s Degree with Distinction from the University of Delaware.

Tenesha Hood, MA
Sr. Specialist, Physician Education and Engagement

Tenesha is responsible for projects engaging physicians including rheumatologist and all non-specialist (PCPS, Fellows, etc.) manages all training and tracking projects and initiatives engaging physicians; responsible for measuring impact on the physician pipeline.

Tenesha graduated from The University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science (BS) and Master of Arts (MA) in Health Sciences with a concentration in Health Promotion and Health Education and has a passion for reducing poverty and health inequities.. She has served in the AmeriCorps Peace Corps at Impact America and worked within the non-profit sector for over 5 years including the Georgia Department of Public Health and Georgia Academy of Family Physicians.

Nat Cabrera
Senior Specialist, Project Manager

Nat joined the COIN team in 2021, bringing extensive experience in program and association management. Nat started at the ACR in grants administration with the Rheumatology Research Foundation and most recently worked in the Strategic Relations department. She also spent time with the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology where she worked in Research and Training, acting as the liaison and managing relationships with training programs, the National Residency Match Program, and the ACGME. She received her Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Emory University.

Markay Russell, MPH
Specialist, Collaborative Initiatives

Markay became a valuable asset to the Collaborative Initiatives Department in 2019 through her work on the department’s Promotores project as well as supporting the development of the Volunteers to Expand Rheumatology Access (VERA) project. She accepted a permanent position as the Specialist, Collaborative Initiatives in early 2020. Markay received her Master of Public Health Degree at Morehouse School of Medicine, and she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Promotion and Behavior from the University of Georgia.

Ella Carroll
Coordinator, Collaborative Initiatives

Ella Carroll joined the COIN team on a permanent basis in Fall 2020 after supporting COIN in a supplemental staffing role for several months. Ella’s diverse skill set and experience includes work involving operations, customer service implementation and business process improvement projects in the corporate space. Her can-do and work-smart attitude has earned her recognition and excellence awards over the years.

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