NCCMT Team Members

 

Scientific Director

Maureen Dobbins
Maureen Dobbins, RN, PhD

A collaborative and passionate mentor as well as an award-winning scientist, Maureen oversees all initiatives of the National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools as scientific director. Maureen is known for her ability to convey complex statistical concepts in easy to understand, accessible terms. She is a dedicated educator and is also a professor in the School of Nursing at McMaster University. Maureen’s early experiences as a public health nurse inspired a strong desire to develop products and services to improve public health practice in Canada. A particularly fulfilling part of her role is seeing public health professionals, organizations and public health training programs embedding evidence-informed decision making within routine practice. Read More

Maureen is a Registered Nurse and holds a doctorate degree in Health Administration from the University of Toronto, as well as a Bachelor of Health Sciences in Nursing from McMaster University. Maureen sits on the Knowledge Translation Advisory Board for the Cochrane Collaboration. She has received numerous academic awards.

Prior to joining the NCCMT, Maureen spent 10 years conducting research in knowledge translation in public health. She is passionate about public health and evidence-informed decision making. Maureen has been the scientific director of the NCCMT, one of six National Collaborating Centres for Public Health in Canada, since 2011. The NCCMT provides leadership and expertise in helping public health professionals put evidence into policy and practice.

Always seeking personal growth and improvement, Maureen was proud to complete her first half Ironman 70.3 triathlon at the age of 50. When she’s not overseeing the NCCMT, you can find Maureen training in endurance-based activities or canoeing in the remote wilderness.

Administrative Director

Heather Husson
Heather Husson, BA (Hons.)

With more than 15 years of experience in research and project management, Heather brings an analytical and organized, yet adaptable, approach to her work. A lover of spreadsheets, she has an acute memory for details and is widely recognized for her ability to aggregate data and easily integrate numerous sources of information. Heather is responsible for oversight and direction of finance, human resources and operations of the NCCMT. She has implemented new systems and processes to integrate teams, cross-trained staff on various functions and created efficiencies to maximize use of limited resources. She is motivated by the public benefits of the NCCMT’s work and use of the organization’s resources by practitioners worldwide. Read More

In her role as administrative director, she identifies strategic priorities and ensures that work activities are both achievable and in alignment with the NCCMT’s mission and vision. She is also responsible for assessing the feasibility of projects, managing competing priorities and limited resources, and ensuring follow-through for successful outcomes. In addition, Heather works collaboratively with the other National Collaborating Centres to build partnerships and successfully execute joint projects. In this work, Heather sits on the Leads and Managers committee and the Evaluation committee. With a focus on relationship development and maintenance, she works collaboratively and respectfully with a range of external stakeholders and supports all staff in their roles by communicating expectations, providing feedback and troubleshooting issues. Heather works hard to ensure a happy and engaged team.

Heather has an Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto, as well as project management and executive management training from McMaster University. She is currently pursuing her Master of Health Management at McMaster University.

Outside of the office, you can find Heather spending time with her family, gardening, baking or engaged in a stream of never-ending home improvement projects.

Project Staff

Emily Belita
Emily Belita, RN, PhD (C) 
Knowledge Translation Advisor
 

Known for being detail-oriented, curious and a connector, Emily uses her analytical skills as well as expertise in tool development, critical appraisal and knowledge translation to support the professional development needs of public health professionals. With the NCCMT, Emily supports the needs of public health professionals by assessing their evidence-informed decision making strengths and areas of development. She is also involved in knowledge translation activities to bridge the evidence-to-practice gap. Read More

Emily has over a decade of experience working as a public health nurse with a focus on chronic disease prevention. She has worked with diverse communities in both urban and rural settings, where she noticed a need to integrate and use evidence-informed decision making in frontline practice and decision-making to support the health and well-being of community members. This led her to pursue a PhD from McMaster University focusing on measuring evidence-informed decision making competence among public health nurses. In addition, she holds Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Nursing degrees and is a registered nurse. While pursuing her PhD, Emily also completed the Emerging Leaders Program, an intensive leadership development program offered through the Health Leadership Academy at McMaster University. She is on the board of directors and is the co-lead of Research, Education, and Professional Development for the Community Health Nurses’ Initiatives Group, part of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario.

Outside of the office, Emily volunteers in her community. She is on the school’s parent council and volunteers with the local SPCA in their Pet Visiting Program. As part of this program, she visits schools with her dog Ansley to promote wellness, reduce anxiety and increase socialization among students.

Donna Ciliska
Donna Ciliska, RN, PhD
Senior Knowledge Translation Advisor
 

Donna is an award-winning educator who loves to facilitate learning for public health colleagues and the community. Widely recognized for her expertise in evidence-informed decision making and as a facilitator, she supports sharing and developing knowledge and skills in EIDM through workshops and quality appraisal in her role as senior knowledge translation advisor. Donna is a lifelong learner—someone who recognizes that public health improves for everyone when we recognize the value of continuously seeking to expand our knowledge. Read More

Donna was the inaugural scientific director of the NCCMT and the co-principal investigator of the CIHR-funded McMaster Evidence Review and Synthesis Centre, a systematic review group supporting the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Services. Before joining the NCCMT, she was a consultant with the Hamilton Public Health Research Education and Development program and led the Effective Public Health Practice Project. Donna is also a professor emeritus in the School of Nursing at McMaster University.

Donna has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Western Ontario and a doctorate degree from the University of Toronto. She has authored several papers on knowledge translation and evidence-based practice, and has received numerous awards and honours throughout her career, including the Community Health Nurses of Canada Lifetime Membership Award; the Margaret L. McClure Visiting Nurse Scholar Program at the New York University Medical Centre; and the 2005 Periodical Publishers Association Award for Evidence-Based Nursing. 

When she isn’t helping others learn, you can find Donna outdoors on a ski or hiking trail, reading a good book or spending time with her daughters.

Emily ClarkEmily Clark, MSc
Knowledge Broker
 

Emily is a dynamic, driven and positive individual who is known for her ability to take large-scale, complex projects and turn them into manageable work plans with clear objectives, actions and timelines. Making a difference in public health is what drives her. She works closely with public health decision makers and practitioners to support them to achieve their goals for evidence use through workshops, training and collaborative projects. Read More

Emily brings her expertise in project management, writing and teaching to her role as knowledge broker with the NCCMT’s clients to implement evidence-informed decision making in their organizations. Her diverse portfolio includes developing and refining the NCCMT’s suite of products and services, networking and outreach to various audiences, and leading and supporting a range of knowledge translation projects. An accomplished facilitator, Emily has been invited to deliver several guest lectures to public health graduate students and has also delivered an in-house training series on research methodology to the NCCMT team.

In addition to a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Waterloo, Emily has earned two Master of Science degrees, one in biology from McGill University, and a second in health research methodology from McMaster University. Emily has a passion for research methodology and is always happy to discuss study designs or critical appraisal. She also contributes to various working groups at the National Collaborating Centres for Public Health on an ongoing basis.

In her personal time, Emily enjoys going on adventures with her children and learning new skills.

Bandna Dhaliwal

Bandna Dhaliwal, MPH
Research Assistant

Where others see barriers, Bandna sees opportunity. Driven by the NCCMT’s mission to improve public health practice, she works to shift systems toward evidence-informed decision making. Together with the rest of the NCCMT team, she seeks to turn ideas into action and continually improve the tools and resources available to clients. Read More

As a research assistant, her role involves product development, implementation, evaluation and quality improvement. Using her expertise in continuous improvement, data management, analysis and evaluation, Bandna supports a wide range of initiatives. Through her work, she supports the NCCMT’s clients to use evidence in their important work.

Bandna earned a Bachelor of Health Sciences from Western University and a Master of Public Health from the University of Toronto. An active volunteer, she has served various community organizations and events in different capacities, including as an evaluator for an anti-oppression training pilot program, an intake volunteer with a Hamilton youth shelter and the evaluation committee chair for the Confronting the Crisis conference. She was drawn to the NCCMT’s work for its vision, values and national reach.

What Bandna loves most about what she does is that it leads to action. She appreciates being a part of the NCCMT team and its commitment to continuous quality improvement, which results in better resources and a better experience for users.

Rawan FarranRawan Farran, MSc
Research Coordinator

Rawan is a skilled facilitator with expertise in communications who is passionate about her work in supporting public health in Canada. As research coordinator, Rawan is a key player on the team, leading and supporting a broad range of projects associated with the NCCMT, Health Evidence™ and the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal—a website dedicated to providing the best available evidence on optimal aging to support staying healthy, active and engaged as we grow older. Rawan works hard to bring a global outlook to the public health sector, with a focus on making research and fact-based health information accessible and easy to understand for Canadians. Read More

In her current role with the NCCMT, Rawan screens research, conducts quality assessments and manages all social media platforms for the NCCMT and Health Evidence™. Rawan brings extensive educational, volunteer and employment experience to the NCCMT, all related to her dedication to the continuous improvement of Canada’s public health system. Prior to completing a Master of Science in Global Health at McMaster University, Rawan volunteered and worked with various health care organizations, including the Canadian Cancer Society, an inner city health centre and Hamilton Public Health Services. In addition to her Master degree, Rawan also holds an Honours Bachelor of Science degree from McMaster University. Her ongoing commitment to research is evident: She has been published in the Journal of Gerontology & Geriatric Medicine; assisted in the planning and implementation of several health and leadership summits; and developed and facilitated workshops and presentations at various local and national conferences.

She feels most fulfilled professionally when she receives feedback about how the NCCMT’s work is positively impacting the professional and personal lives of clients. When she’s not at work, Rawan can be found spending time with her friends and family. She loves to explore all things pop culture, and she is a fluent speaker of Arabic.

Rawan Farran

Leah Hagerman, MPH
Research Assistant

Leah brings her background in research, health promotion and health communication to her role as research assistant. She assists and supports with evaluation, quality control and dissemination of the NCCMT’s products. Read More

Leah supports newsletter and webinar development, development and promotion of new and current products, product maintenance and evaluation, and circulation of new resources to our audiences. The flexible nature of her role allows her to support many projects, using her ability to see new problems from different angles in order to find the best solutions.

In addition to an undergraduate degree in Biology from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Leah has earned a Master of Public Health (MPH) from the University of Guelph. During her undergraduate studies, Leah became interested in the influence and impact of individual health on the health of broader communities and populations. This interest grew during her MPH, where she developed a strong passion for cross-sectoral collaboration and ensuring that the most impactful questions are asked and the most relevant evidence is disseminated and implemented.

Outside of the office, Leah has built strong community connections through singing and playing clarinet and saxophone with various choirs, symphonies and bands around the GTA.

Claire HowarthClaire Howarth, MPH
Research Coordinator
 

As a research coordinator, Claire uses her advanced skills in communications and writing, along with her deep knowledge of the NCCMT’s products and services, to help develop resources that public health practitioners can actually use in their work. She also meaningfully connects with the NCCMT’s audiences to share those resources. Claire is known for her ability to explore issues from multiple perspectives, and for the thoughtful, improvement-oriented approach she brings to her work. Read More

Claire’s main focus in her role is spreading the good word about the NCCMT. Whether it’s coordinating the NCCMT’s communications, marketing and capacity-building activities, supporting the development of new products and services, or supporting internal professional development initiatives, Claire’s job satisfaction comes from connecting directly with public health practitioners and hearing about how the NCCMT is providing useful and relevant resources that allow them to make a difference in Canadians’ lives.

Claire completed her Master of Public Health degree at Memorial University of Newfoundland and her undergraduate degree in psychology, neuroscience, and behaviour at McMaster University. She was a key player in the successful coordination of the Population Mental Health Promotion Forum in 2018, and she also presents regularly at public health conferences across Canada. Claire is a member of the committee for the Knowledge Translation Student Awards and the Communications Committee for the National Collaborating Centres for Public Health.

From mental wellness programs to gardening and cooking programs for children, Claire has always been committed to volunteering in the community. In fact, it was during her six years volunteering with Compass Community Health in Hamilton that she had her first experiences with public health that ultimately influenced the direction of her career.

Outside of the office, Claire enjoys reading and sharing her latest homemade baked creations with friends and family.

Sarah Neil-Sztramko
Rachel Jansen, RN, MPH (C) 
Research Assistant

Rachel combines clinical knowledge from her background in mental health nursing with public health knowledge in her role as research assistant with the NCCMT. She supports various projects, including research, website development, repository updates and communication. Read More

Rachel’s contributions to NCCMT’s projects include: supporting two systematic reviews; completing quality appraisals for the Health Evidence™ repository; drafting evidence summaries and blog templates for the Optimal Aging Portal repository; assisting with communication projects disseminating the impact of public health; assisting with the Rapid Evidence Service; and contributing to ongoing Health Evidence website development.

Rachel earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from McMaster University and worked as a registered nurse (RN) in an inpatient mental health setting for seven years. Rachel’s role as an RN has allowed her to witness the impact of the social determinants of health on the health and experiences of her patients. She is very proud of her acceptance to and progress through McMaster’s Master of Public Health program. She hopes to combine this education with her professional experience to contribute to public health efforts that support both vulnerable populations and frontline health professionals in their challenging roles.

Outside of the office, Rachel enjoys baking, travelling and most of all spending time with her loved ones.

Sarah Neil-Sztramko

Alanna Miller, MPH
Research Assistant

Alanna is a motivated and dedicated individual who brings her background in research, evaluation and writing to her role as research assistant. Like the rest of the team at NCCMT, Alanna is excited to use her knowledge and enthusiasm to help support the use of evidence-informed decision making in public health. Alanna’s current focus is on supporting the NCCMT’s COVID-19 response. In this role, she is helping with the planning, development, communication and knowledge translation of the special COVID-19 research projects, including two systematic reviews. Read More

In addition to an undergraduate degree in Life Sciences, Alanna has also earned a Master of Public Health from McMaster University. During her graduate studies, Alanna played an integral role in planning and executing the 2019 McMaster Public Health Student-Led Conference, which showcased academic, student and community research about the future state of public health. Alanna has also been involved with several local organizations, including completing a program evaluation project with Hamilton’s John Howard Society and serving as a first contact for harm reduction services at The AIDS Network in Hamilton.

Alanna is grateful and excited about joining the NCCMT where she has the opportunity to learn a variety of new skills and work with such a dedicated and knowledgeable team. Outside of the office, Alanna strives toward building connections in the Hamilton community. She enjoys attending Pilates classes, painting and exploring the trails and parks throughout the area.

Sarah Neil-Sztramko

Sarah Neil-Sztramko, PhD
Knowledge Translation Advisor

A hardworking and dedicated professional, Sarah manages multiple projects by bringing her expertise in research and knowledge translation methods to achieve the NCCMT’s team goals. Driven by the opportunity to learn and solve new and ongoing challenges in public health, she connects researchers and educators at McMaster University to the NCCMT and supports the use of appropriate methods and tools in research and education. Read More

Throughout Sarah’s career and education, she has maintained a strong focus on rigorous knowledge translation methods and supporting the use of research evidence in practice. In her current role as knowledge translation advisor, Sarah uses her expertise to support staff in the development of knowledge products and services related to evidence-informed public health.

Sarah holds a doctorate degree in Population and Public Health from the University of British Columbia. She has received several research grants as a principal and co-investigator from organizations such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute and the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging.

Outside of work, Sarah enjoys cycling and running—she has even qualified for the Boston Marathon—but most of all, spending time with her family.

Kristin Read
Kristin Read, MPH
Research Coordinator
 

Kristin brings her keen attention to detail to make meaningful improvements that connect with big-picture outcomes. In her role at the NCCMT, she manages the Health Evidence™ registry and the NCCMT’s Registry of Methods and Tools. These two repositories work to make it easier to use the best available evidence in public health practice. As a research coordinator, she also supports evaluation of the NCCMT’s activities and impacts, including documentation of the organization’s knowledge translation efforts and networking and outreach that connects public health decision makers and practitioners across Canada. In all that she does, Kristin keeps her focus on closing the gap between knowledge and application by working to bridge the worlds of academia and practice in public health. Read More

Kristin holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Alberta and an Honours Bachelor of Arts from Trent University. During her undergraduate studies at Trent, Kristin took a course on the sociology of health and illness, which sparked a passion for population and public health. Fuelled by this desire, Kristin pursued graduate work in public health, which ultimately led her to the NCCMT.

Kristin has represented the NCCMT both online in webinars and in-person at several conferences. A lifelong learner, she has actively pursued professional development in the areas of leadership, continuous quality improvement and project management. When she’s not at the NCCMT, Kristin enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Susan Snelling
Izabelle Siqueira, MPH Research Assistant

 

Izabelle is an inquisitive and driven individual with a strong background in public health, research methods and critical appraisal of evidence. She enjoys collaborating with the NCCMT team on a wide range of initiatives to support evidence-informed decision making. Read More

As a research assistant, Izabelle supports the team in the development and implementation of new products, along with continuous quality improvement of the existing suite of resources. She collaborates on many projects using her expertise in assessment and analysis of evidence. She wanted to work for the NCCMT because of their mission to enhance Canadian public health practice and policy by providing leadership and expertise in evidence-informed decision making.

Izabelle has a Bachelor of Life Sciences and Master of Public Health from Queen’s University, with academic interests in population health and research methodology. Throughout her studies, she actively built organizational capacity and individual knowledge by designing and conducting research about age-friendly communities and competency-based medical education. She took the initiative to meet the identified needs of community members in her roles as an active volunteer, teaching assistant, co-president of the Life Sciences Student Council, executive of the Public Health Sciences Student Association and public health event planner. 
 

Outside of the office, Izabelle enjoys team sports, painting and performing in dance shows. She speaks fluent Portuguese and loves learning other languages.

Susan Snelling
Susan Snelling, PhD
Senior Knowledge Translation Specialist
 

Susan brings a practical, grounded approach to evaluation and public health practice. She is known for her clear communications, capacity to relate to people and skillful ability to facilitate difficult conversations. Using customized approaches, she supports the NCCMT’s clients in identifying strategies for finding and using evidence that will work in their roles, contexts and organizations. For Susan, the most rewarding part of her role is helping public health professionals feel confident in their practice because they have found a way to use evidence to support their decisions. Read More

As a senior knowledge translation specialist, Susan supports outreach to the NCCMT’s audiences, including graduate training programs and public health professionals. At the NCCMT, she links public health agencies across the country with methods and tools for using evidence in their organizations and delivers training related to evidence-informed decision making. She provides relevant, practical training and consultation on evidence-informed practice for professionals working and training in the field.

Susan holds a doctorate degree in Psychology and has the Credentialed Evaluator designation from the Canadian Evaluation Society. She currently serves as the chair of the board of directors at 4elements Living Arts. Prior to joining the NCCMT, Susan worked for 10 years at the Sudbury & District Health Unit as manager of research and evaluation. She has also worked at Public Health Ontario, providing training and consulting on health promotion evaluation. In addition, Susan was part of a team that completed an Executive Training in Research Application (EXTRA) fellowship through the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, focusing on using evidence to improve health equity.

When she’s not working on NCCMT projects, Susan spends her time living the good life on Manitoulin Island.

Colleen van Berkel
Colleen van Berkel, RN, MHSc

Senior Knowledge Translation Specialist

Colleen meets complex and challenging issues with focus and determination. She brings more than three decades of experience in public health to her role as a senior knowledge translation specialist, where she provides expertise related to the NCCMT’s knowledge translation products and site operations. At the core of Colleen’s career is a desire to make a meaningful contribution to public health in Canada. Read More

Colleen completed her Bachelor of Nursing Science from Queen’s University and her Master of Health Science from McMaster University. Prior to joining the NCCMT, Colleen managed a variety of public health programs during her impressive 31 years with the City of Hamilton Public Health Services, where, most recently, she held the position of manager of the applied research and evaluation team. By joining the NCCMT team, Colleen saw an opportunity to make an impact by leveraging her extensive public health management experience in a new setting.

Colleen has held a clinical cross-appointment with the McMaster University School of Nursing, during which she collaborated with the Hamilton Public Health Research Education and Development (Teaching Health Unit and PHRED) program. Colleen also participated as a member of the NCCMT Advisory Group. She is committed to lifelong learning and appreciates opportunities for working collectively to achieve the NCCMT’s objectives.

Outside of the office, Colleen enjoys reading and staying active through kayaking, curling, playing golf and travelling—she has even walked the Portuguese and Spanish Camino.