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Our Staff Team

Claire Betker

Claire Betker

Scientific Director

Claire is a registered nurse and, since March 2019, has been the NCCDH’s scientific director. Prior to coming to the NCCDH, Claire was the Executive Director of the Population and Public Health Branch with Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living. Her career has included roles in rural and urban public health, home health, primary health care, a regional health authority and the Public Health Agency of Canada, as well as previously serving as a senior knowledge translation specialist with the NCCDH. Claire is a past president of the Canadian Nurses Association and of the Community Health Nurses of Canada. Her PhD work focused on the capacity for public health leadership to advance health equity, a knowledge base that informs her contributions to the NCCDH, the public health field and community. Claire brings a wealth of expertise, rich networks, and a passion to translate knowledge and evidence, especially to position public health to advance health equity.

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Connie Clement

Connie Clement

Scientific Director Emeritus

Connie Clement joined the NCCDH in January 2011. Before working with the NCCDH, she spent nearly three decades at Toronto Public Health as director of policy and planning when six public health units merged, and held varied management and front-line health promotion and sexual health positions. Connie was also the executive director of Health Nexus/Nexus Santé, an Ontario-oriented health promotion organization, and of Social Venture Partners Toronto, a venture philanthropy collaborative; she was also managing editor and collective member of Women Healthsharing. Connie holds a BSc in Biology/Sociology from Trent University. Connie received the Canadian Public Health Association’s certificate of merit in 2014.

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Faith Layden

Faith Layden

Program Manager

Faith has been with the NCCDH since February 2007 and is involved in strategic and operational planning. She oversees decisions related to programming and operations, focusing on the processes for finance, human resources, project management, quality assurance and evaluation, official language expectations, communications, partnerships, and facilities management at the Centre.

She earned her Master of Public Administration at the University of Victoria and has a Master of Arts in French from Dalhousie University, specializing in linguistics. Faith has worked with teams at the University of Victoria, a national non-profit organization, and the British Columbia provincial government. Currently, Faith sits on the Project Management team for the Integrated Health Research and Innovation Strategy (IHRIS) Network. Outside of work, she is a Director on the Saint Martha’s Regional Hospital Foundation. She recently served as a member of both her Community Health Board and her local government in Antigonish.

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Shim Pang

Shim Pang

Administrative Assistant

Shim joined the NCCDH in October 2012. She has a MSc in Telecommunications Management and two Bachelor's degrees (in Finance and in Computer Science) from Oklahoma State University. She has held several positions including Account Clerk, Helpdesk and Computer Technician, Research Assistant, and Junior Web Developer.

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Bernice Yanful

Bernice Yanful

Knowledge Translation Specialist

Bernice Yanful (she/her) joined the NCCDH in September 2022. She is a Registered Nurse and PhD Candidate in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. She conducts food systems research spanning several disciplinary boundaries including public health, education, geography, and nutrition. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, Bernice worked as a public health nurse at an Ontario public health unit in the areas of school health and health equity. She also has experience supporting the evaluation of complex global health programs. Bernice obtained concurrent degrees in nursing and global development studies and has a Master of Public Health in health promotion.

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Caralyn Vossen

Caralyn Vossen

Knowledge Translation Coordinator

Caralyn (she/her) joined the NCCDH in January 2022. She organizes the production and promotion of NCCDH products and guides strategic communication. Caralyn is passionate about mobilizing knowledge for public health practitioners to advance health equity in her home country. 

Caralyn obtained her Master of Science in Public Health from McGill University and her Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Simon Fraser University where she specialized in Life Sciences. She was involved in many research projects from which she developed a diverse array of skills, from technical laboratory skills to communication of scientific evidence. Her projects included mapping epigenetic markers of early life stress and developing a systematic review of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth mental health.

Outside of work Caralyn enjoys spending time outdoors and exploring her home province of British Columbia via hiking, paddleboarding, and camping.

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Carolina Jimenez

Carolina Jimenez

Knowledge Translation Specialist

Carolina Jimenez (she/her) is a Registered Nurse and Public Health Professional. Carolina completed her Bachelor and Master of Education at Queen’s University. She joined the NCCDH as a Knowledge Translation Specialist and remains a practicing RN in acute care. Her professional praxis is influenced by a socio-political worldview; she is inspired to advance quality of life at the individual and population level for those who face systemic barriers. 

Prior to her work at the NCCDH, Carolina fervently led the Decent Work and Health Network in a multi-pronged campaign to improve the employment and labour conditions of precarious, low income, and migrant workers. This campaign advanced Decent Work as a social determinant of health at the municipal, provincial/territorial, and federal levels by helping establish higher minimum wages and paid sick days. Outside of work, Carolina is steeped in community organizing.

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Dianne Oickle

Dianne Oickle

Knowledge Translation Specialist

Dianne is a registered dietitian who has been with NCCDH since 2014. Prior to that, her career included 16 years of frontline practice focused mostly on reproductive and child health in rural settings with many diverse clients. As a white settler cis-gendered woman, her passion for meaningful engagement of people with lived expertise of inequities to inform public health priorities drives her motivation. Her work at NCCDH focuses on community engagement, mental health promotion, intersectoral practice, equity in environmental public health, movement building, and digital equity. Dianne earned a BSc at St. Francis Xavier University and an MSc at the University of Saskatchewan. 

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Hannah Klassen

Hannah Klassen

Knowledge Translation Specialist

Hannah (she/her) is a White cis-gendered woman with European and Métis ancestry. Health equity and social justice are her passions, and she seeks to be part of building a world that is fair and just for all. She has 10 years of experience as a Registered Nurse with a background in substance use health and perinatal health. Her clinical work informs her desire to privilege the knowledges of those with lived/living experience of inequities. She joined the NCCDH in January 2022 as a practicum student. She completed her Master of Public Health with a focus on Indigenous Peoples’ health through the University of Victoria. She is happiest when connecting with others, especially while paddling, hiking, biking, or playing board games.

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Jonathan Cagampang Heller

Jonathan Cagampang Heller

Visting Scholar

Jonathan Heller (he/him) is a Visiting Scholar at NCCDH and a Senior Health Equity Fellow at the Population Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin. He is the co-founder and until 2020 was the co-director of Human Impact Partners, a US-based non-profit focused on bringing the power of public health to campaigns and movements for a just society. Under Jonathan‘s leadership for 14 years, Human Impact Partners became a national public health leader focused on changing policies related to the social determinants of health by: supporting community organizing groups and campaigns with research and advocacy; conducting leadership development, capacity building, and political education with public health agencies; organizing the public health community; and supporting narrative change initiatives. HIP is credited for advancing a focus on equity and community power building within public health. Jonathan received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and doctorate from University of California, Berkeley, and he served in the Peace Corps in Papua New Guinea. Jonathan is a co-founder and past president of the Society of Practitioners of Health Impact Assessment (SOPHIA) and serves on the board of Community Change.

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Kristia Maatta

Kristia Maatta

Knowledge Translation Specialist

Tia (Kristia) Maatta (she/her) joined the NCCDH in November 2021. Tia has a Master of Public Health from Western University, where she gained skills in critical appraisal, systems thinking, and collaboration. Tia is passionate about evidence-informed decision making, addressing root causes of health outcomes and systems that promote health and wellness.

Before joining the NCCDH, Tia worked for local Public Health in Ontario. Tia has experience synthesizing evidence, evaluating community programs, and fostering cross-sector relationships. Through relationships with members of the local Community Drug Strategy, Tia learned about harm reduction, trauma and violence-informed care and stigma. Tia remains involved in initiatives that aim to reduce stigma towards people who use drugs. As part of the local COVID-19 pandemic response, Tia worked as a contact tracer and provided support at COVID-19 immunization clinics.

In previous roles, Tia supported evidence-informed program planning, operational planning, and quality improvement and collective impact projects. Outside of work, Tia volunteers with local agencies committed to promoting health and wellness and advancing social justice.

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Mandy Walker

Mandy Walker

Knowledge Translation Specialist

Mandy (she/her) is a White Settler of European ancestry. She is a Registered Nurse and a Public Health Professional with most of her career having a pediatric and family-centered care focus. She has 10+ years of clinical healthcare experience within an emergency department, acute care, and community setting. Her frontline work experience ignited and continues to inspire her passion and dedication in working to advance health equity and social justice.   

Mandy obtained her Bachelor of Nursing from Mount Royal University in Calgary, and her Master of Public Health from the University of Waterloo. Outside of work, she enjoys being curious about the world and people around her by exploring new places and activities, meeting new people, and always following her desire to learn and grow.

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Myrianne Richard

Myrianne Richard

Knowledge Translation Specialist

Myrianne (she/her) is a White Settler of European ancestry. She is a pragmatic public health and education practitioner with a background in public health, education, and clinical care. Dedicated to improving health outcomes for the local, national, and global populations, she has a special interest in equitably designed wellness, health, and care systems.

Myrianne brings to the center 10+ years of clinical experience in primary, community, and acute care in BC and around the world. She also brings another 10 years of experience in service delivery design and implementation, education, and public health through a variety of roles ranging from educator, consultant in clinical and organizational learning, and public health specialist in the field of global health and environmental contamination.

Myrianne obtained her Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy from the University of Ottawa and her Master of Public Health from the University of Waterloo. When she is not at work, Myrianne loves spending time on beautiful Vancouver Island, hiking, running, and exploring with her son, partner and 2 puppies.

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Nandini Saxena

Nandini Saxena

Knowledge Translation Specialist

Nandini is a registered social worker with over twenty years of experience in policy research, public engagement, knowledge mobilization, and health system improvement. Prior to joining the NCCDH in 2021, Nandini held a variety of staff and management roles in public health, mental health and substance use, public policy, and international development. 

Nandini is passionate about the design and implementation of meaningful and inclusive engagement processes grounded in diverse perspectives and ways of knowing that advance evidence-informed decision-making for policy and system improvement, and which aim to achieve equitable population health outcomes. Nandini has led the design and implementation of numerous knowledge mobilization and policy research initiatives on, for example, ways to address systemic barriers experienced by refugees and immigrants, understanding citizens’ value preferences on the long-term management of used nuclear fuel, and centering the voices of people with lived/ living experience of mental illness and addiction in service and system improvement work. 

Nandini holds a graduate degree in Social Work from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration from Queen’s University School of Policy Studies. When not at work, she can often be found exploring the ravines and rivers of Toronto.

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Pemma Muzumdar

Pemma Muzumdar

Knowledge Translation Specialist

Pemma Muzumdar is motivated by a desire to improve well-being and planetary health, particularly those who, through intersecting factors, experience marginalization and exclusion. 

Pemma has worked with the six National Collaborating Centres (NCCs) for Public Health in various capacities since 2011, developing and sharing knowledge, networks and resources for improved public health action. She completed her Masters of Public Health at the University of Waterloo in 2010, and draws from significant experience in science communication, public speaking, group facilitation, team learning and organizational development. Prior to joining the NCCs, Pemma contributed to dynamic teams at the Ontario Science Centre, Discovery Channel Canada, the Program Training and Consultation Centre of the Smoke Free Ontario Strategy, TakingITGlobal and the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital.

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Rebecca Cheff

Rebecca Cheff

Knowledge Translation Specialist

Rebecca advances health equity and action on the social determinants of health by bringing people together, mobilizing research, practice, and community-based knowledge, and building strategies for policy and practice change.

Before joining the NCCDH in 2021, Rebecca led a range of policy research projects and networks, related to decent work, income security, and access to health and social services, for six years at the Wellesley Institute. Rebecca has been part of teams at the Centre for Urban Health Solutions at St. Michael’s Hospital, Re:searching for LGBTQ2S+ Health, Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services, and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. She has a Master of Public Health in Health Promotion from the University of Toronto, and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Mount Allison University.

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