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Our Staff Team

Claire Betker (she/her)

Claire Betker (she/her)

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 (she/her)

Faith Layden (she/her)

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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Caralyn Vossen (she/her)

Caralyn Vossen (she/her)

Knowledge Translation Coordinator

Caralyn 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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Jonathan Cagampang Heller (he/him)

Jonathan Cagampang Heller (he/him)

Visting Scholar

Jonathan Heller 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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Bernice Yanful (she/her)

Bernice Yanful (she/her)

Knowledge Translation Specialist

Bernice Yanful 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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Carolina Jimenez (she/they)

Carolina Jimenez (she/they)

Knowledge Translation Specialist

Carolina Jimenez 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 (she/her)

Dianne Oickle (she/her)

Knowledge Translation Specialist

Dianne has been with NCCDH since 2014. Formerly a registered dietitian for 26 years, her practice included 16 years of frontline public health nutrition 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, language and terminology of health equity, mental health promotion, 2SLGBTQI+ health, environmental public health, food systems/justice and digital equity. Dianne earned a BSc at St. Francis Xavier University and an MSc at the University of Saskatchewan. 

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Mandy Walker (she/her)

Mandy Walker (she/her)

Knowledge Translation Specialist

Mandy 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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Nandini Saxena (she/her)

Nandini Saxena (she/her)

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 (she/her)

Pemma Muzumdar (she/her)

Knowledge Translation Specialist

Pemma is racialized as Brown. Through various roles with the six National Collaborating Centres for Public Health, Pemma has worked at the nexus of public health, knowledge translation, and systems change for the past 12 years. She is passionate about public health system renewal, building a culture of equity in public health organizations, and supporting public health to address root causes of health inequities. At the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, her work and leadership is focused on: operationalizing values such as reciprocity, solidarity, and social justice through a range of program and policy approaches (e.g. those informed by critical race theory, intersectionality, decolonization); disrupting racism and White supremacy; analyzing opportunities for public health to respond to the inequitable climate crisis; and framing messages about the structural and social determinants of health. Pemma co-leads the Health Equity Collaborative Network (a group of health equity-focused public health staff from across Canada) and co-produces Mind the Disruption, a podcast about building a healthier world for everyone. She completed her Masters of Public Health at the University of Waterloo in 2010. 

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Rebecca Cheff (she/her)

Rebecca Cheff (she/her)

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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