The Steering Committee consists of eight founding members who are dedicated to advancing group well-child care research and practice. The committee meets monthly to discuss research initiatives, collaboratively develop research protocols, establish shared agreements, and determine network priorities.
Ellie Alderfer, MSN, RN, CCRP, CNML
CommUnity Care - Pflugerville
University of Texas, Dell Medical School, Austin, TX
Michelle Gallas is an assistant professor and outpatient pediatrician who has worked caring for Austin's most under-resourced and disadvantaged since 2006. Her patients are medically and socially complex, and many are recent immigrants or refugees. Gallas is the lead pediatrician for CenteringParenting at CommUnity Care, the safety net clinic system for Central Texas, and has been running groups since 2009. At its peak before the pandemic, her clinic had approximately 30 active groups. An interesting fact is that all her groups have been in Spanish as there is a large Hispanic population in Austin (they have never had a group with English-speakers only!). Gallas is passionate about resident education and supervises Dell Med’s pediatric residents and medical students at the program’s primary continuity site, Pflugerville CommunityCare Health Center.
Covenant Community Care, Inc.
Rachel Campbell has nearly a decade of experience working in maternal child health and is passionate about reducing barriers and improving access to high quality obstetric and gynecologic care. Rachel directed the implementation of CenteringPregnancy group prenatal care at Covenant Community Care and later served as a consultant in the clinic’s CenteringParenting program. She has been instrumental in advocating for fully integrated maternal-infant behavioral health services and in the creation of evidence based clinical protocols across the organization.
Rachel has special clinical interests in family planning, high risk obstetrics, and lactation support. She also regularly precepts midwifery students and is an assistant clinical professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing.
Reading Hospital, Tower Health
Ellie Alderfer is an experienced nurse, manager, and researcher. She is the liaison for research to the Johns Hopkins Clinical Research Network. She is actively involved in research related to the nursing experience during the COVID pandemic, and her goal is to inform on the needs of nurses that will create a sustainable workforce now and in the future. In the GROWBABY Research Network, she provides input and guidance regarding administration for the research activities. Ellie fully supports the advancement of this important care delivery model and the research network, that with attention and direction, will surely grow bigger and stronger – just like the babies.
University of California San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
Ariana Thompson-Lastad is an Assistant Professor at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Health and the Department of Family & Community Medicine. She conducts research on group medical visits and integrative healthcare as approaches to advancing health equity. Trained as a medical sociologist, she uses qualitative and mixed-methods approaches and partners with community health centers to use group medical visits as a way to improve wellbeing of both patients and healthcare workers. Her current research focuses on group medical visits for postpartum health, chronic pain, and other chronic conditions, as well as how group visits can be combined with other health services such as acupuncture and produce prescriptions. Dr. Thompson-Lastad is also on the board of Integrative Medicine for the Underserved, a national network that includes many group visit clinicians and researchers.
Tower Health - Children's Health Center
Cyndi Dimovitz is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner with her Primary Mental Health Certification and is a Breast Feeding Counselor with a focus on improving healthcare and health, preventing disease and eliminating health disparities among women and children, especially in vulnerable and underserved populations. She has been involved in Centering for over 8 years and has recently become involved in a grant working with mother-infant dyads affected by maternal opioid use disorder (OUD) using the Centering model of care.
Einstein Medical Center
Susan Leib, MD, MPH is a board-certified pediatrician with over 30 years of experience as a primary care pediatrician. She completed her residency at Yale New Haven Hospital and was in private practice in Connecticut for 20 years. She joined Einstein’s Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine in 2012. Dr. Leib is the medical director of Einstein’s CenteringParentingR group well care program and was a member of the team that initiated Einstein’s CenteringParentingR program in 2013. Her research interests include pediatric residents’ experience with group well child care and the impact of group well child care on social determinants of health and child and family wellbeing.
University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Group (UM-BWMG) - Pediatrics
Glen Burnie, MD
Esther Kim Liu is Chair of Pediatrics and Director of CenteringParenting(r) at the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center where she oversees the pediatric hospitalist program and their award-winning Centering-based pediatric primary care practice.
Dr. Liu is passionate about children’s health and safety. She has extensive media experience including TV, radio, online, and print as she believes that ensuring families have access to reliable and relevant information is an important responsibility of those in the medical field.
Paula Greer served as the Centering Pregnancy Coordinator and Centering Facilitator Trainer for the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center (UM-BWMC) Women's Health Practice. Before retiring, Greer also worked for UM-BWMC Pediatric practice within their Centering Parenting Program, facilitating Group Depression Management sessions for moms with mood disorders, such as post-partum depression and anxiety.
In addition to serving as a volunteer consultant for the CRADLE Lab, Centering Healthcare Institute, and March of Dimes, she has promoted the UM-BWMC practice by writing articles for ShareCare.
Meet the GROWBABY operations team! The operations team at Vital Village Networks and Boston Medical Center serves as the backbone organization for the GROWBABY Research Network providing administrative and operational support for the Steering Committee.
Vital Village Networks
Renée Boynton-Jarrett, MD, ScD
Clare Viglione, MPH, RDN
Renée Boynton-Jarrett is a practicing primary care pediatrician at Boston Medical Center, a social epidemiologist and the founding director of the Vital Village Community Engagement Network. Through the Vital Village Network, she is supporting the development of community-based strategies to promote child well-being in three Boston neighborhoods. She joined the faculty at Boston University School of Medicine in 2007 and is currently an Associate Professor of Pediatrics. She received her AB from Princeton University, her MD from Yale School of Medicine, ScD in Social Epidemiology from Harvard School of Public Health, and completed residency in Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Her work focuses on the role of early-life adversities as life course social determinants of health. She has a specific interest in the intersection of community violence, intimate partner violence, and child abuse and neglect and neighborhood characteristics that influence these patterns.
Clare Viglione, MPH, RDN
Clare Viglione (she/her) is a licensed clinical dietitian, a public health researcher, and the director of the GROWBABY Research Network at Vital Village Networks. Clare graduated from Columbia with a Masters in Public Health and is currently working towards a doctoral degree in Health Behavior at University of California San Diego. Clare has worked and managed collaborative research studies with Harvard Prevention Research Center, Columbia University, UC San Diego, New York University, and Boston Medical Center. She also completed her clinical internship at Harvard Medical School/ Brigham and Women’s Hospital and has practiced primary care nutrition focused on diabetes and obesity. Clare hopes to ultimately design and scale equitable, cost-effective familial interventions targeting social-emotional development and childhood obesity.
Hassan Lubega (he/she/they) is a research professional at Boston Medical Center with a particular interest in equity and mental health research. Currently, Hassan serves as Research Manager for the CRADLE Lab, the research arm of Vital Village Networks in Boston, Massachusetts. He's hoping to continue advancing the landscape of community based participatory research
Haley Powell (she/her) graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2023 with a B.A. in Anthropology on a track in Global Health & Environment. She has worked with the NGO Empower Through Health based in Uganda where she researched parasitic worm infections and medicine administration. She also studies medicinal plants and their effects on parasitic worm infections. She is an Evaluation and Participatory Research Coordinator for Vital Village Network’s GROWBABY team as well as other projects with the CRADLE Lab team.