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US Virgin Islands Walkability Institute Planning Committee – Bios & Photos


Kathleen Arnold-Lewis was born and happily raised in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. After high school graduation in 1983, Kathleen Arnold, moved to the US mainland to attend college and pursue a nursing career. After graduation from Hampton University’s nursing program, she was commissioned into the United States Air Force Nurse Corp where she gained experience in adult medicine, pediatrics and obstetrics. She separated from active duty military in 1992 and went on to pursue a Master of Public Health degree at Temple University. She returned to St. Croix in 1996 to offer her health care experience to her community. Since being home, she has held the positions of home health care nurse, community health clinic nurse for the Department of Health, Infection Control Coordinator at the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital, and Health Coach/Case Manager for Cigna (Insurance Company). In 2014, she accepted the position of Territorial Director of Chronic Disease at the Department of Health. In this position, she guides programs in the department that are geared towards preventing and managing non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, etc. and targeting the risk factors associated with them. It is her mission to do all she can to raise awareness and educate the community on chronic diseases so people are equipped with the knowledge and skills to implement behaviors in their daily lives that would ultimately lead to a healthier community of people. Mrs. Lewis is a wife of 21 years and is the proud mother of 2 teenage children. Along with other family, friends, and work colleagues, they provide a great deal of support and happiness to her life.



Stacy De Jesus, MPH, has nearly 15 years of experience with CDC. She leads the Islands Team in the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Previously, she coordinated global maternal and child health activities across CDC, worked on maternal mortality reduction in sub-Saharan Africa and Haiti, and provided technical assistance to governments and humanitarian relief organizations to improve reproductive health services for women affected by armed conflict and natural disasters. Ms. De Jesus received her master’s degree in international public health from Emory University. She was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Eastern Caribbean and worked with Dominica’s Ministry of Health on nutrition issues that included breastfeeding, young child feeding, and chronic disease.



Esther Ellis received her PhD in Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology from the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burn’s School of Medicine in 2011. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Duke National University of Singapore in the emerging infectious disease department and then completed a two year Epidemic Intelligence Service fellowship with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focusing on the epidemiology of dengue virus. Dr. Ellis has served as Territorial Epidemiologist and Director of the Bureau of Epidemiology at the US Virgin Islands Department of Health since June 2014.




Mark Fenton is a nationally recognized public health, planning, and transportation consultant, adjunct associate professor at Tufts University, advocate for active transportation, and former host of “America’s Walking” on PBS television. He has consulted with the University of North Carolina’s National Center for Safe Routes to School and Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, and has led training and planning processes for pedestrian-, bicycle-, and transit-friendly designs in communities across the United States, Canada, and Australia. In the United States, much of this work is as a technical assistance provider to communities funded through Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other healthy community grant programs. He studied engineering and biomechanics at the Massachusetts Institute Technology (BS & MS) and US Olympic Training Center, was manager of the Human Performance Laboratory at Reebok, and has published numerous articles and books related to exercise science, physical activity promotion, and community interventions. He also tries to practice what he preaches, having served on his community’s planning board, and walking and cycling for as many routine trips as possible.



Claire Jennings, MA, is a Project Manager with Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET), a program of the Task Force for Global Health in Decatur, Georgia, one of the organizers for this Walkability Institute. She manages a portfolio of projects ranging across topics such as non-communicable diseases, Zika, Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) support, and learning and across countries around the world. While working in Puerto Rico one summer, Ms. Jennings visited St. Thomas and St. John and walked down a busy road from a beach she had hiked to. So while she can’t be at the Institute, she can imagine some of the walkability issues the teams will be discussing! Ms. Jennings wishes all the participants a great workshop and will be in touch after for action plan implementation!


Adam Johnson provides logistical and programmatic support to multiple TEPHINET projects but focuses on Zika in the Latin America and Caribbean region. He studied International Business Management at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee and is currently pursuing his MPH full-time in health management and policy at Georgia State University. Mr. Johnson has lived abroad working for the Japanese Government under their Council of Local Authorities for International Relations and Department of Education. Learning two foreign languages from childhood, he is passionate about cultural differences and service to fellow-man. Non-English languages spoken: Japanese (fluent), Spanish (fluent)




John Omura is a family physician and preventive medicine specialist with a Master of Public Health degree from Harvard University. He is a graduate of the Epidemic Intelligence Service and currently works as a Medical Officer with the CDC’s Physical Activity and Health Branch. Dr. Omura’s research interests include surveillance of physical activity; physical activity promotion within health systems; as well as community-level strategies for promoting physical activity.



John Orr is a Program Manager/Data Analyst at the Department of Health. He works in the Chronic Disease Prevention Program at Charles Harwood Complex on St. Croix. His responsibilities include oversight of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey and the Virgin Islands Central Cancer Registry, as well as data analysis for chronic disease prevalence and mortality. In his data analysis capacity, he collaborates with the Territorial Epidemiologist, providing assistance with data processing and reporting of infectious disease.




Desiree Ross is a consultant with 30 years of experience in the areas of administrative, business, logistics coordination, information technology, and financial management. She has worked in the public relations, non-profit, and oil and gas industries utilizing her skills to create a more efficient organization. Ms. Ross earned a Bachelor of Science from Howard University and has studied at the University of Maryland – University College and the Keller Graduate School of Management.






Madalena Soares, BS, Program Analyst, with 2M Research Services, LLC within the Office of Public Health Practice is responsible for providing support and consultation to grantees regarding program and technical matters for the 5-year Funding Opportunity “Public Health Actions to Prevent and Control Diabetes, Tobacco Use, Heart Disease, and Associated Chronic Disease Risk Factors and improve health in the US Affiliated Pacific Islands, Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.” She coordinates, gathers, and tracks all administrative obligations, provides input to the Procurements and Grants Office (PGO), assists with planning and coordinating annual meetings and conference calls, and manages related projects to improve efficiency and productivity for the island jurisdictions. Ms. Soares previously worked as a program coordinator for the Global Health Office coordinating the development and implementations of several international health training courses and workshops in Latin America, Mozambique, and China. She is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, and Cape Verdean Creole.




Emily Ussery, PhD, MPH, is an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer assigned to the Physical Activity and Health Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. In this role, she supports the analysis and dissemination of national physical activity surveillance data. Dr. Ussery holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Boston College, and an MPH and PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Texas, School of Public Health in Austin. Together with John Omura and colleagues at the USVI Department of Health, she helped lead the USVI Walkability Assessment in May 2016.



Janis Valmond holds a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree in Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences from the University of Texas, School of Public Health (UTSPH), Health Science Center at Houston and recently joined the full-time staff at the Caribbean Exploratory (NIMHD) Research Center of Excellence at the University of the Virgin Islands School of Nursing as Research Coordinator. In addition to her work in health disparities, Dr. Valmond’s research interests include community-based participatory research, socioecological determinants of health impacting adolescents and their families, and development of culturally relevant measures, health education and health promotion interventions for Caribbean populations. Dr. Valmond is a member of the Chronic Disease Advisory Council and chairperson of the Healthy Lifestyle sub-committee.


Margaret West, MPA, is a Public Health Advisor in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO).  Ms. West has been in federal service with CDC for more than 18 years. She joined DNPAO in 2009 and has been working closely with state health departments, college and university land grant institutions, and local health departments on multiple funded programs. In addition to federal service, she spent two years on assignment with Papa Ola Lokahi, learning about Native Hawaiian health and health disparities. From 2001 to 2008, she worked within the Department of Native Hawaiian Health, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii (UH) at Manoa and was involved in community-based participatory research related to behavior changes through educational interventions in various settings and populations (predominantly Native Hawaiians, Filipinos, and Pacific Islanders.)  




Margo Younger is a project officer in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In this role, she works as a project officer with ten state health departments on two cooperative agreements and provides technical assistance on community design and physical activity to all 50 grantees. Since 2011, she has served on the executive committee for the CDC Built Environment Work Group. Prior to joining DNPAO, Margo worked in CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health / Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (NCEH/ATSDR) as a Public Health Analyst in the Office of Policy, Planning, and Evaluation from 2007 to 2014. In this role, she served as a project officer for cooperative agreements with various non-profit organizations, in which she provided technical assistance on environmental health issues and facilitated cross-sector collaborations through health in all policies. In 2011, Ms. Younger served a six-month rotation in the CDC Mozambique office, where she performed data collection and analysis related to gender-based violence, HIV counseling and testing, and prevention with people living with HIV/AIDS. She began her work with CDC in 2005 as an Emergency Operations and Response Assistant in the CDC Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response program, where she created a classification system for a CDC bioterrorism database. Margo received a Master of Public Health degree with a focus on behavioral sciences and health education from Emory University in 2006, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology from Brandeis University in 2002. 

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