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Our Graduates Have Great Success Stories

Alumni of the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences (BCHS) are making an impact in all areas of public health. Here are profiles of a few of our notable alumni.

Alumni Stories from the Field

Recent MPH graduates of BCHS returned to Pitt Public Health to share their stories about working in a variety of settings to promote health and equity in the Pittsburgh region.

Elana R. Barkowitz (MPH ’11) works as a senior telephonic health coach for UPMC Health Plan. She completed her MPH in May of 2011. She also received her Certified in Public Health and Certified Health Education Specialist credentials. While working full-time for UPMC Health Plan, Barkowitz also worked part-time for four years as a paraprofessional counselor at Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania, and currently works part-time as an interviewer for the Pittsburgh Girls Study. She grew up in Pittsburgh and is happy to be growing her career in her hometown.

Katharine Horowitz (MPH ’12) is vice president for education at Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania. While pursuing a Master of Public Health degree, she did practicum work with a women’s health organization in Mexico, Mujeres Aliadas, for which she now is pleased to serve as a member of their U.S. board of directors. She also served on the board of the Perry Hilltop Citizen’s Group in Pittsburgh. Horowitz has worked in youth development for eight years, having started her career leading summer trail crews with the Student Conservation Association, and has been with Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania for nearly five years. She is a born-and-bread Pittsburgher, driven to improve sexual and reproductive health outcomes for everyone in the dynamic communities that make up our city.

Jennifer Jones (MPH ‘11) is the community engagement coordinator for the University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute. In this role, she acts as a bridge between community and academia, creating capacity and partnerships. After attending Juniata College, she worked in Washington, D.C., at a public health non-profit, and it was there that she realized she wanted to earn her own Master of Public Health. Pitt was her number-one choice, as she grew up in nearby Shippensburg and has always been an avid fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers (and now the Pirates and Penguins!). While an MPH student, she completed the community based participatory research and practice certificate and later took classes to also receive a certificate in evaluation of public health promotion and health education programs.

Melissa Knorr (MPH ’16) is the operations manager at The Open Door, Inc. She was first introduced to the organization as a social work intern in 2014, and stayed connected as a board member for the next two years. During her time at Pitt, Melissa was an Evans Fellow, board member of the Global Health Student Association, and administrative intern for Bridging the Gaps. She earned master’s degrees in public health and social work in 2016. Prior to her graduate program, Knorr served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia, Belize, and Costa Rica in the health, education, and youth development sectors, respectively.

Mara Leff (MPH ’15) is a program associate for the Jewish Healthcare Foundation working on planning and implementation across projects, including support for the foundation’s Aging Agenda. Prior to joining the foundation, she worked at Ogilvy Public Relations, a global marketing and communications firm located in in Washington, D.C., on a comprehensive childhood obesity prevention campaign funded by the National Institutes of Health. She moved back to her beloved hometown to pursue a Master of Public Health with a concentration in behavioral and community health sciences, and a certificate in global health from Pitt. While a student, she conducted practicum research in India, informing her thesis entitled “The Emergence of a Social Marketing Framework to Increase Hand Washing Among Rural Women.” Upon graduation, she was inducted into the Delta Omega Honorary Society.

Taylordaphne Morsillo (MPH ’16), while working to obtain her Master of Public Health and global health certificate, began her employment at the Allegheny County Health Department as a program coordinator for the Plan for a Healthier Allegheny. In this position, she supports the epidemiologist and manager of special projects. Previously, she served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique where her assignment focused on community and local hospital health presentations and direct work with an I-NGO, a provincial department of health, and the CDC. She also served as Peace Corps volunteer leader, creating a linkage between Peace Corps staff and volunteers.

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