Who We Are

The Center’s leadership team (below) has a wide range of backgrounds and interests. You can also learn more about our research activities by visiting our Research page

Sara Benning, MLS, directs the day-to-day activities of the HRSA-funded Center for Leadership Education in Maternal and Child Public Health. If you’re interested in know more about the Center, the technical assistance we provide or how to partner on an educational event or training, contact Ms. Benning at sbenning at umn.edu.

Zobeida Bonilla, PhD, MPH, MA, is an Associate Professor in Epidemiology & Community Health. She is also a Co-Investigator on the HRSA-funded Center for Leadership Education in Maternal and Child Public Health training grant. Her areas of interest and expertise include health disparities, global MCH and qualitative research. Learn more about Dr. Bonilla’s areas of research, courses taught, publications and collaborations.

Alexis Chavez is from Glendale, Arizona and is a recent graduate from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Public Health: Health Promotion and minor in Health and Human Values. She is now pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health with an emphasis in Maternal and Child Health. She has a passion for child health and has much experience in volunteering, interning and working with children in different clinics and hospitals. She also has experience in research and grant writing. Alexis is passionate and dedicated to learning and becoming involved with the community at the University of Minnesota.

Alexis is our MCH Student Blog editor. Alexis will help guest authors showcase their research and practice skills. 

Rachel Hardeman, PhD, MPH, is an Associate Professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management. Her areas of interest and expertise are in the racial aspects of birthing, sexual and reproductive health, health equity, structural racism, population health and medical education. Learn more about Dr. Hardeman’s areas of research, courses taught, publications and collaborations.

Alyse Haven  graduated from the UMN in December 2018 with a degree in Psychology and minors in Neuroscience and Public Health. She always knew she wanted to pursue a career in public health, and chose the MCH Program after many years of working with families and children in public health and psychology settings. Alyse’s interests include the interaction of caregiver health and the development of children, as well as family health outcomes after natural disasters. Alyse also heads the SPH Ambassador program. Alyse’s top 5 CliftonStrengths are: Communication, Maximization, Individualization, Deliberative and Futuristic. 

Alyse is responsible for promoting MCH students’ and alumni efforts. She’s compiles the monthly student eNews, manages Student Spotlights and Alumni features on our website, serves on the executive committee of the MCH Student Interest Group, and helped lead the formation of the inaugural MCH Peers program.

Emily Reimer graduated in May 2014 from the College of Saint Benedict with a degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in Gender Studies. She spent the last four years in the healthcare software industry, working as a project manager for outpatient products. Throughout her career, she worked closely with population health, public health and patient engagement programs. She hopes to bring her strong understanding of healthcare systems, passion for women’s health, and interest in the environment to the MCH Program and RA role. 

Emily is the Center’s communications RA. She’s responsible for promoting our social media channels, compiling the Center’s monthly newsletter, and keeping our website updated with resources and educational opportunities. 

Rebecca Shlafer, PhD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor in General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health. Rebecca’s areas of interest and expertise include developmental outcomes of children and families with multiple risk factors, and the impact of incarceration on children. Learn more about Dr. Shlafer’s areas of research, courses taught, publications and collaborations.

Jaime Slaughter-Acey, PhD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor in Epidemiology & Community Health. Jamie’s areas of interest and expertise include health equity, maternal and child health/perinatal epidemiology, social determinants of health, racism, colorism, lifecourse perspective, perinatal health, women’s health, prenatal care and prenatal home visiting. Learn more about Dr. Slaughter-Acey’s areas of research, courses taught, publications and collaborations.

Jamie Stang, PhD, MPH, RDN, is an Associate Professor in Epidemiology & Community Health. She is Principle Investigator for the HRSA-funded Center for Leadership Education in Maternal and Child Public Health, and the director of the Leadership Education and Training Program in MCH Nutrition and co-chair of the Midwest Center for Lifelong Learning in Public Health. Jamie’s area of interest and expertise includes nutrition and weight status in pregnancy, child and adolescent nutrition, behavioral counseling in child obesity and eating disorders treatment. She also serves on the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee (Departments of Agriculture (USDA). Learn more about Dr. Stang’s research areas, courses taught, publications and collaborations.

Laura Villarreal is from rural Iowa and completed her B.S. in Global Health Studies at the University of Iowa. She enjoys experiential learning and traveling which led her to participate in an internship in Mysuru, India. Laura is the Report Card and Mini-Lab Research Assistant and is dedicated to being more involved with the community through this opportunity. 

Laura is working with Zobeida Bonilla, and together they will update the MN Women’s Health Report Card and corresponding website, which will serve as a periodic progress report on chronic disease, mental health, and substance use data specific to women. Students enrolled in the Foundations of MCH Leadership course will be intimately involved in making these updates. Laura will also assist with running Qualitative Mini-Lab to arrange trainings, schedule lab usage, update the webpage, conduct user evaluations, and more. 

Questions about the Center? Email us at mch at umn.edu.

Please note that we do not accept or respond to unsolicited requests to post content to our website.