Board and Staff

Board of Directors

Lillian Grant-Baptiste

Chair

Lillian recently retired from the City of Savannah, where she created, developed, and championed several community engagement initiatives, the most notable being the Leadership Development Institute. The Leadership Development Institute is an extensive training program aimed at building the capacity of grassroots leaders to effect positive community change.

She is presently the Co-owner of a Touch of Afrika Boutique and Cultural Shop and the founder and principal consultant of Baobab Speaks Consulting Group. Ms. Grant-Baptiste is a sought-after trainer and motivational speaker that facilitates a variety of cultural diversity, youth development and leadership workshops locally, regionally, and nationally. Lillian is also a celebrant and renowned and prolific storyteller that focuses on stories of healing, resiliency, and reconciliation.

Ms. Grant-Baptiste is known throughout Chatham County for her advocacy for personal, family and community empowerment. She has been actively involved in the Social Change Movement for more than 30 years. Lillian serves on the boards of the King-Tisdell Cottage Foundation, the Martin de Porres Society, and is the former Champion of Step-up Savannah’s Faith-based Committee, and the past Chair of Healthy Savannah’s Faith and Health Coalition. What brings Lillian the greatest joy is spending time with her three adorable grandsons, Alix, Ashton, and Ali.

“Healthy Savannah is not just an organization that aims to effect positive change around health and wellness, it is a campaign that seeks to connect, inspire and grow to ultimately make Savannah a more holistic, healthy, and abundant community. More than 10 years ago, Healthy Savannah began as a few collaborative conversations and a dream deeply rooted in the heart of Mayor Otis Johnson and has since grown from a hope and a dream to a social movement that has drawn tremendous energy and momentum.”

Blake Caldwell, MD

Vice-Chair

Blake Caldwell is a physician and scientist who retired in 2010 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She is a pediatrician, but her early career included 8 years in the Navy doing bacterial research with a two-year tour teaching tropical public health and deployment medicine to Navy physicians in Panama. She joined the CDC in 1989 and her long career there included epidemiological research in HIV, health services research in health care quality and medical errors, and finally health policy for infectious diseases.

She developed and initially ran Skidaway Farms, a large community garden on Skidaway Island. She chairs the Agriculture and Archaeology Committees for Sustainable Skidaway. She is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Landings Association. She has been Co-chair of the Savannah/Chatham Food Policy Council since 2013 and helped found the Healthy Savannah Grant Planning Working Group. In 2011-2012 she chaired a task force for the Metropolitan Planning Commission to revise the city and county animal control ordinances to encourage urban agriculture.

Blake is married to Joel Rosenstock, an Infectious Disease physician practicing in Atlanta and they have two sons and three grandsons.

“How is Healthy Savannah is making an impact? Healthy Savannah had had a tremendous impact on the grant funding in the community through its Grant Planning Working Group helping coordinate grant planning for many successful grants since its inception.”

Nick Deffley, MS

Treasurer

Nick Deffley is the Director of Environmental Services & Sustainability at the City of Savannah, promoting a healthy, equitable, and economically vibrant community for our current citizens and future generations. Nick has worked with a variety of organizations locally including Armstrong University, Emergent Structures, Sustainativity, and Step Up Savannah on strategic planning, workforce development, and sustainability efforts. Prior to Savannah, Nick worked at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities where he developed sustainable building policies, managed the University’s first sustainable building program, and improved collaboration with women and minority-owned businesses on sustainable building projects. Nick has a multi-disciplinary Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies, Political Science & Communications and a Masters in Environmental Policy & Organizational Effectiveness. 

“The impact of Healthy Savannah is a direct result of its breadth and depth of relationships, connections, and partnerships that it has developed among so many organizations and people in Savannah and beyond.  Healthy Savannah’s collaborative and inclusive approach spurs innovative policy, environment and systems change that has far-reaching impacts on the health of Savannah and its residents.”

Tom Bullock, PhD

Secretary

Dr. Bullock is the Retention Specialist for Georgia Southern University, Armstrong Campus’ TRIO Student Support Services program and serves on the President’s Diversity Advisory Council. He serves as a Board member for numerous nonprofit organizations including, the Savannah Multicultural Chamber of Commerce, Healthy Savannah, The Heritage Signature Chorale, Whitman-Walker Health, United Aid for Africa, Resurrection Catholic Church Pastoral Council, and the Savannah Technical College Foundation.

Dr. Bullock is the founder and CEO of the nonprofit organization LEADERS, Inc., which serves to prepare undergraduate students for self-reliance, postgraduate opportunities, and leadership through the facilitation of, and exposure to, social and cultural competencies, professional development, and life skills.

One of his favorite sayings is, “Don’t wait for tomorrow to be successful, do one successful thing each day.”

Otis Johnson, PhD

Founding Member

Dr. Johnson is the former mayor of Savannah, GA. While Mayor, in 2007, he planted the seed to start Healthy Savannah. A Savannah native, he graduated from Beach High School in 1960, Armstrong Junior College in 1964 (now Georgia Southern University) as the first African American graduate, and the University of Georgia in 1967. He served from 1959 to 1965 in the U.S. Naval Reserve. In 1969, he earned a master’s degree in social work from Clark Atlanta University, and, in 1980, he received his Ph.D. from the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.

Before becoming mayor, Johnson worked for the Economic Opportunity Authority, Model Cities Program, and Savannah State University. From 1983 until 1988, he served as the City Council Representative for the second district of Savannah. He then became the Executive Director of the Chatham Savannah Youth Futures Authority He formerly served as chair of the board of trustees of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation. A longtime neighborhood leader on issues of youth development, he led the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Youth Futures Commission in Savannah. He also was dean of the School of Social Work at Savannah State and is a member of the Aspen Roundtable on Comprehensive Community Change.

Melanie Willoughby, RN, BSN, CCR

Melanie received her Bachelors in Nursing from Armstrong State College in 1987.  She has worked at St. Joseph’s/Candler for the past 32 years and is currently the Director of Health Management. She received national certification in Critical Care Nursing (CCRN) by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.  Melanie’s area of expertise is critical care, cardiac rehabilitation, and Health Management.

Rhonda Barlow, MPH, RDN, LD, CLC

Rhonda Barlow is a Registered Dietitian and a Certified Lactation Counselor. She has worked in various capacities as a public health nutritionist for over 30 years, two of those years as a Peace Corps Volunteer. She currently works as a School Nutrition Coordinator with Chatham Public Schools. Rhonda has volunteered with Healthy Savannah since 2007. She also serves as the chair of the Healthy Savannah Faith and Healthy Coalition.

“Healthy Savannah is important because it’s the single organizing cooperate force in the community moving the people of Savannah towards a healthier life and a better quality of life.

“Healthy Savannah is making an impact in the community by consistently being a space for people to engage around, and in, healthy experiences.”

Cheri Dean

 Cheri Dean believes when basic human needs are met, individuals experience a greater sense of purpose and well-being. Fostering resiliency, through stability, a sense of belonging, and economic mobility, is the focus of her work at the United Way of the Coastal Empire. As a native of Savannah, Cheri is passionate about collaborating with the community and strategic partners to improve lives, especially in Coastal Georgia.

Dean earned a BA in Economics from Spelman College, MBA from Duke University, Fuqua School of Business, and MPH from Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. She began her career in Corporate America selling and marketing consumer products, providing strategic oversight for advertising executions, leading annual business planning cycles, among other critical functions. After a successful Corporate career, Cheri joined the ranks of entrepreneurs and advocates committed to social impact within vulnerable populations. In her hometown of Savannah, GA, she found a critical need to help young adults navigate their way out of poverty through educational achievement, meaningful employment, and other wraparound services. 

Cheri serves as a Board Member of Savannah Economic Development Authority, Senior Citizens, Inc., Keep Savannah Beautiful, and other community organizations.

Why is Healthy Savannah important?

“Healthy Savannah is an organization with demonstrated innovation and impact in our community. The Healthy Savannah Team is committed to equitable solutions for every aspect of life including food, exercise, safe, neighborhoods, and policies that shape our experience as Savannah residents. They embody health through their optimistic and resilient approach to making life better and healthier for all of us. It’s a privilege to serve and advance Healthy Savannah’s priorities in collaboration with our community.”

Cristina Gibson, MPH

Cristina has been in public health for 19 years, in the divisions of epidemiology, youth development, and has finally found her passion in health promotion. She is the Chronic Disease Prevention Director for the Coastal Health District, serving all the counties along the coast of Georgia and her branch’s motto is “Make the healthy choice the easy choice.” Her current work involves increasing community assets in the way of opportunities for physical activity, access points to healthy foods, and smoke-free environments. She is a member of the Healthy Savannah Coalition, which was instrumental in helping the City of Savannah and Chatham County pass local smoke-free ordinances and at our local university, Armstrong State, adopt a 100% smoke-free campus policy.

 

Keon Green, MBA, HCA

Keon Green is a graduate of Armstrong Atlantic State University, with a B.S. in Biology, a minor in Psychology, and a Masters of Business Administration in Healthcare Administration from South University. Keon is a healthcare professional with more than 13 years of experience in healthcare. He is also a nationally certified pharmacy technician registered with the Georgia Board of Pharmacy. 

Keon Green is the Customer Service Representative and Adult Education Instructor at Savannah Technical College. Currently, Keon is a doctoral candidate for the degree Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) at Walden University where his doctoral focus is on sociodemographic factors that predict opioid misuse by types of healthcare insurance. Furthermore, his focus is on research and health policy.  

“The impact of Healthy Savannah transcends local and state laws and policies. This organization provides a safe place where citizens can acquire health literacy, access to healthcare, and preventative solutions surrounding health and wellness. Connections facilitated through Healthy Savannah provide a comprehensive community-based approach to population health using an evidence-based approach. Each facet of Healthy Savannah elicits positive social change.”

Sarah Hanson

 Sarah Hanson is an experienced health and well-being educator with over 15 years of demonstrated history working in the industry. She recently left the City of Savannah where she served as the Health & Wellness Coordinator for over 11 years to take on a new role as the Bē Health & Well-Being Navigator with St Joseph’s/Candler.  She is skilled in disease management, occupational health and health and wellness coaching. Sarah earned her Master’s in Public Health from Armstrong Atlantic State University with a strong emphasis in resiliency and positive psychology; as such, she has many tools to help increase resiliency and positivity toward increased success with lifestyle change. Sarah has received Certifications from WellCoaches School of Coaching as a Certified Health and Wellness Coach (CHWC), National Commission for Health Education Credentialing as a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), YogaRenew as a Certified Mindfulness Coach and Emory University Diabetes and Technical Center as a Certified Lifestyle Coach for Diabetes Prevention.

Sarah is passionate about health education and helping others reach their health goals. As a health educator and wellness coach she believes in creating positive motivation through coaching conversation by focusing on participants individual strengths and internal resources to succeed in their goals. She has extensive experience in partnering, coaching and training individuals who are navigating their way with preexisting conditions and multiple challenges to see opportunities where obstacles previously resided.

Sarah “walks her talk” being a wellness coach and lives her life based on her values of faith, family, health, food and travel. She has a passion for running and has completed 14 ultra/marathons, mostly in the mountains, additionally she enjoys obstacle course races, biking and yoga. For relaxation she likes spending time with her family, yoga, reading and just being.

Why is Healthy Savannah important?  

“Healthy Savannah is important as it encourages healthy living for all and in turn makes Savannah a healthier place to live, work and play.  I’ve been witness to several initiatives brought to fruition through the hard work of Health Savannah and their partners. The best part for me is they are working to make the healthy choice the easy choice for all of us!”

Reverend Marvin L. Lloyd

Marvin Lloyd, a native Savannahian, is an alumnus of Savannah High School. A basketball standout, he attended college on an athletic scholarship at Lake City Community College in Lake City, Florida.

He later earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology, with a Physical Education minor, from Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida. Lloyd has also benefitted from pastoral seminars and Master of Divinity graduate studies at Gordon-Conwell Seminary North Carolina and Florida campuses. His is a congregant of the First Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia where the Rev. Andre Osborne is pastor.

A licensed and ordained Christian Baptist minister, Lloyd has pastored the Little Bryan Missionary Baptist Church 509 East Gwinnett Street, Savannah, for 24 years. The church’s current ministries include a Sunday School children’s breakfast, small group topical Bible studies, women’s Bible enrichment initiatives, and ministerial social service and social justice support.

A retired Chatham County Health Department and Coastal Health District Epidemiologist, Lloyd is presently a part-time Drug and Alcohol Counselor with the Chatham County Detention Center. His credentials include State of Georgia Leadership Class graduate, certified HIV/AIDS health educator, and U. S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) HIV pre- and post-test counselor.

Pastor Lloyd is married to the former Ms. Jerry L. S. Artest and is the father of two adult children.

MarRonde Lumpkin-Lotson

MarRonde A. Lumpkin-Lotson is the Business Opportunity Manager in the Economic Development Department of the City of Savannah where she oversees the city’s Small and Minority Business programs as well as the
business education programs targeted to entrepreneurs designed to help them start and grow their businesses. She has also played a significant role in the development of the City’s International initiative and is staff liaison
to the Greater Savannah International Alliance. She has been with the City for more than 16 years.

Before joining to the City of Savannah team, MarRonde was City Administrator for the Town of Thunderbolt (Georgia) where she served for six years. In this appointment she earned the distinction of being
Thunderbolt’s first African American City Administrator and was also the first woman administrator.

MarRonde is a native Savannahian, educated in the local school system and a 2x graduate of Savannah State University earning her Bachelor of Business Administration in 1993 and a Master of Public Administration in
2000. MarRonde was recognized as one of our state’s Top 40 Under 40 Business and Governmental Professionals by Georgia Trend magazine. She is a graduate of Leadership Savannah and a graduate of Leadership
Southeast Georgia where she remains an active and engaged alumnus. Presently, MarRonde serves as the Vice Chair of the inaugural Chatham County Historic Preservation Commission and works with United Way of the Coastal Empire Campaign Cabinet.

MarRonde is married to Marcus K. Lotson and they have two daughters, Maria Janese (age 20), a college junior and Morgan Ellese(age 14), a 9th grader.

She is also very active in her church and her community. MarRonde is a Diamond-life member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a member of The Links, Incorporated, and several other professional, civic, and social
organizations that also serve the community.

Tiffoni Buckle McCartney

Tiffoni Buckle McCartney is an experienced Environmental Health and Safety professional and Sustainability leader. Tiffoni is married to Daryl McCartney, a family physician, and they have two children. She currently works in the marine industry as a Corporate Sustainability Manager collaborating with businesses and community groups to maximize environmental and health programs. Tiffoni previously worked as the sustainability manager for Georgia Southern University campuses in Statesboro, Hinesville, and Savannah. Prior to her work in Georgia, she worked as a consultant for the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Tiffoni has worked with Sandals Resorts International as their Environmental Health and Safety Regional Manager, coordinating environmental and risk management programs. She has experience working in both the private sector and public sector in the Caribbean, Latin America, United States of America, and the United Kingdom on environmental health and safety. Trained as a Natural Resource Manager and Environmental Engineer; she holds a BSc. in Environmental and Natural Resource Management, an MSc. in Environmental Engineering, and a Master of Business Administration.

“Healthy Savannah is important as it is a resource for residents to find healthy options in the Coastal Empire. It is also a coalition of partners that meet to discuss policy and systematic changes which make a difference in the community.”

Krystal McGee

Krystal McGee is the Chief Operating Officer for the YMCA of Coastal Georgia which has been serving the Coastal Georgia community for over 167 years, and continues to work every day to advance our cause to strengthen community through three areas of focus; youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. She is an alumnus of Bowdon High School and the State University of West Georgia where she was part of the athletic training staff and a member of the college softball team.  She earned a B.S. degree in Recreation and Corporate Fitness.  She is passionate about the work of Healthy Savannah because it directly impacts the quality of life for the entire community.  Her past work included the development of the US Army’s Pregnancy Fitness Program and the US Army’s Civilian Fitness Program.

Krystal serves on the Unforgettable Dream Board and was a member of Leadership Southeast Georgia Class of 2018 and Leadership August Class of 2016. 

Tiffany Pertillar

Steering Committee Chair

Tiffany Pertillar is a leader in the field of Public Health and a health equity subject matter expert.  Her public health career has spanned over 15 years working on issues related to advocacy, chronic disease prevention, and health promotion.  A University of Maryland-trained public health social worker, Tiffany is an unapologetic social reformer and compassionate crusader for justice, whose mission is to elevate equity and promote health for all people.  Not only is she co-founder and CEO of Epic Health Solutions, a small consulting firm focused on engaging, educating, and empowering this generation to incite the kind of social change that lifts equity and upholds social justice in all ways, but she consults with national organizations such as the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, the National Parks and Recreation Association, and the Urban Land Institute on issues of chronic disease and health equity. 

She’s known for her thought-provoking insights into the social issues that adversely impact the health of racial and ethnic minorities throughout the United States and beyond. She has a profound ability to captivate and connect audiences in efforts to bridge the racial and wealth gaps that have both defined and divided our nation.  

Tiffany received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Services from Geneva College in 2003 and Masters Degrees in Social Work and Public Health from the University of Maryland Baltimore in 2008.  She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist, a Fitness Instructor, a Body Builder, and a Certified Health Coach. Tiffany is originally from Harrisburg, PA but currently resides in Savannah, Georgia with her ten-year-old Maltipoo named Riesling.

“Healthy Savannah is important because the work we are doing together with and in the community is saving lives and giving the people who need it most, the access and opportunities they need to live their fullest and healthiest lives.   

“How is Healthy Savannah making an impact? Healthy Savannah is making an impact by illuminating the inequities that exist in our community and working to uproot the systems that perpetuate those inequities through policy, systems, and environmental changes.  We are truly working to make the healthy choice the easy choice for every person in Savannah.”

Yolanda Roberson

Yolanda Roberson is the co-founder of Kingdom Life Christian Fellowship, Inc. Kingdom Life is a community-driven and holistic ministry located on the Southside of Savannah, Georgia. Yolanda has served for the past 18 years as Executive Pastor.

Yolanda is an alumnus of Alfred Ely Beach High School.  She is a graduate of Savannah State University where she earned a Bachelor of Social Work degree.

Yolanda has a passion for the needs of people. She previously worked as a Case Manager for Coastal Center for Developmental Services for several years before devoting herself to full-time ministry. She has a desire to serve women of all ages and backgrounds.  As a result, this led her to formulate “The Ladies of Life Women’s Group” which empowers women to become, and be, their best in every area of their lives.

Yolanda is married to Charles P. Roberson Sr., who serves as the Senior Pastor of Kingdom Life Christian Fellowship, Inc. They have two adult children, Charles, Jr. and Channah Patrice.

Healthy Savannah is important because it affords the opportunity to educate and provide healthy options and resources to communities and people who are underserved.

Healthy Savannah is making an impact through awareness, policy changes, and implementation of physical support and education for the community through the numerous opportunities that it provides.

Jane Vaden Thacher 

Jane Vaden Thacher is the President and Dealer Operator for Vaden Automotive, which includes four General Motors Dealerships, four Nissan dealerships, an INFINITI dealership, and Vaden Powertrain, and a medium duty truck center. She attended Vanderbilt University and the University of Georgia and is the recipient of several prestigious awards and honors, including the National F&I Dealer of the Year Award and the AFP Outstanding Philanthropic Corporation of the Year. In addition to her service on the Board of Healthy Savannah, Jane has served on the boards for Savannah Country Day School, Hospice Savannah, and the Isle of Hope United Methodist Preschool. She has been married to Peter Thacher for 30 years and has three children. She is also an avid runner and reader, loves weight lifting, scuba diving, and yoga, and is an active member of Community Bible Church.

Tina Tyus-Shaw

 Tina Tyus-Shaw is a National Edward R. Murrow and Emmy award-winning journalist and Evening News Anchor at WSAV-TV in Savannah, GA.  

She began her television career at WAGA-TV in 1986 as a receptionist/news desk assistant. She took advantage of that time in the newsroom to work and learn from reporters, anchors, and photographers.  She also spent time at WOBR Radio on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, WRBL-TV as a news anchor. 

April 6, 2022 marked Tina’s 30th Anniversary at WSAV-TV.  She has explored breast health issues facing women for more than 20 years. Her work goes beyond health.  Tina covered the late Nelson Mandela’s visit to Atlanta and the 1996 Olympic Games. Tina is the proud niece of Olympic Legend Wyomia Tyus, the first person ever to win back-to-back gold medals in the 100 meters in 1964 and 1968. Tina was chosen as a Savannah “Community Hero” Torchbearer for the Olympic Torch Run across Georgia.

Tina was inducted into The National Academy of Arts & Sciences Silver Circle for Lifetime Achievement in Television in 2016.  In 2020, Savannah State University honored her with the Robert S. Abbott Memorial Award for Meritorious Service in Mass Communications.  Tina has received Associated Press & Edward R. Murrow awards for her work in journalism.  The State of Georgia honored her with The Outstanding Georgia Citizen Award in 2020.  

Subsequently, by combining her love for television news and her passion for young people she created “Speakademy”, a course which teaches teens how to strengthen their public speaking and communication skills

Tina is a proud HBCU graduate of Tennessee State University.  She is also a member of the National Association of Black journalists.  

“Health Savannah is important because it offers our community valuable knowledge about healthy lifestyle changes.  Not having access to healthy foods and that educational piece,  a lot of people face health issues like high blood pressure.  Seeing people suffer with these issues inspires me to do something to teach healthy self-care, and being relatable to different communities is key for me.

 “Our communities need Healthy Savannah, but it’s all about strategy. One size fits all doesn’t work. While we all may not face the same barriers, we must admit food deserts do exist. We all have to be able to give people access to meal cards to improve their health.”

Charmaine Wells

Charmaine Wells is a graduate of South Carolina State University, with a B.S. in Biology, a minor in Chemistry, and a Masters of Business Administration in Healthcare Administration from South University. Charmaine Wells is a Pandemic Regional Immunization Consultant for the CDC Foundation in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Public Health. Her public health career has spanned over 12 years working on health promotion and health advocacy. Charmaine is very passionate about public health and embodies the mission of promoting health for all people. 

Why Is Healthy Savannah Important?

Healthy Savannah is important because we are providing access to healthcare and preventive measures to improve the quality of lives for people in Savannah. Healthy Savannah give people an opportunity to improve by increasing control of their health by promoting health education and resources.

Johnathan Winbush

Mr. Johnathan R. Winbush is a native of Chicago, Illinois, with deep ancestral roots in Georgia and South Carolina. He is a writer and researcher of Low Country History and Culture. Johnathan also studies 19th Century American Thoroughbred Racehorses.

An alumnus of Xavier University of Louisiana, Mr. Winbush has over a decade of governmental & administrative experience. He co-founded The Ella Baker Freedom School; a parent-based, homeschooling initiative in Chicago. He has worked for the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum in Savannah with noted historian, Mr. W.W. Law. He also served on former Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson’s Citizens’ Task Force on Public Safety and Education. Mr. Winbush currently serves as the Outreach Liaison for Parent University and a Resource Specialist for The Front Porch, a risk-reduction program for families. Johnathan also coordinates special projects on community gardening to promote healthier lifestyles for the residents of Chatham County.

“Healthy Savannah is important because it is an organization on the leading edge of advancing policies and programs for health and wellness initiatives for all the residents of our greater community.

“How is Healthy Savannah making an impact? Over the course of the past decade and a half, Healthy Savannah has made a difference for those who have embraced the responsibility for their own health. My point of view is: We can lead people to water; though, we must assure them that it is clean and safe to drink!”

Staff

 

Paula Kreissler, MBA, CPA

Executive Director

Paula volunteered with Healthy Savannah from its launch in 2007, prior to accepting her current position. Paula graduated from Concordia University, is a licensed CPA, earned an MBA in Sustainable Business from Marylhurst University in 2012 and is a 2016 graduate of Leadership Southeast Georgia. The first 25 years of her career were spent primarily in Operations Management at FedEx.

As a volunteer at Healthy Savannah, Paula was on the inaugural Board of Directors, has led the Policy and Advocacy Committee, Steering Committee, Food Policy Committee, and Visibility Committee. Paula was the Project Lead on a Healthy Savannah grant to reduce childhood obesity in the Savannah/Chatham County community and currently is the Program Manager for the CDC REACH Grant. In 2008 Paula received the Top Ten Working Women’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award from A Working Women In Need (AWWIN). Paula’s business Wound Care Clinic -ESU won the 2008 Small Business of the Year Award from the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce. In 2015 she was recognized by the United Way Women’s Legacy Council with a “Women Who Rule” award.

“Healthy Savannah and its 200+ public and private partners are making an impact by collaborating around Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change through the lens of health equity.  We collectively have been at the table to educate policy influencers and policymakers on how they can help the healthy choice to be the easy choice.  From the creation of Healthy Savannah in 2007, Savannah has seen positive health outcomes as a result of new policies being implemented like Smoke-Free Air, School Wellness Policy, School Design Guidelines, Complete Streets Ordinance, Community Garden Policy, Farm Truck Ordinance, and many more.  I am looking forward to the next 10 years as we create a Culture of Health in our community.”


Larson Ashford

Communications and Community Clinical Linkages Program Manager

Larson Ashford is a recent Student Athlete and magna cum laude graduate of Savannah State University, with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business and Logistics. Larson is a firm believer in teamwork and getting involved in new experiences to expand knowledge. Larson is passionate about business and athletics, and is dedicated to building relationships and strategies to promote a safe, fun, and healthy lifestyle within the community.


Ruby Hallam, MPH

Nutrition Program Manager

Ruby Hallam is a graduate of Georgia Southern University, having recently completed her Master of Public Health degree. Prior to that she studied Biology and Public Health at Columbia College in South Carolina. Through her role as the Nutrition Manager of the REACH grant, she will continue to improve access to healthy food options for underserved populations alongside other projects in Savannah and Chatham County. Ruby said, “I believe that taking an upstream approach provides the best opportunity to improve the health outcomes of our community.”


Nichele Hoskins, MA

REACH COVID/Flu Communications Manager

A Savannah State University and Beach High School graduate, Nichele Hoskins is a longtime health journalist and group fitness instructor. Hoskins earned an MA in Journalism from The University of Michigan and has worked as a senior editor at national publications including Health and Heart & Soul magazines. Communications and increasing visibility are key parts of her role at Healthy Savannah.


Ashley Rainge

Director of Fund Development and Communications

Ashley Rainge earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Medieval History and Philosophy from Fordham University. She has spent her career working and volunteering in the nonprofit sector for organizations dedicated to history and the arts. Her passion for social justice, advocacy, and community organizing drives her work with Healthy Savannah.


Elsie Smalls, PhD

REACH COVID/Flu Operations Manager

Dr. Elsie W. Smalls earned her Bachelor’s Degree from South Carolina State University, MBA from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, and Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from Walden University.  Her professional background includes higher education administration, leadership in the nonprofit sector, and adjunct professorship in the areas of public policy and business administration.  Additionally, she is the Co-founder of LoMa Spoken Word and Consulting LLC, an organization dedicated to educating, enlightening, and inspiring individuals and organizations.  Dr. Smalls has facilitated workshops, professional presentations, and keynote addresses to a variety of audiences to include public sector and nonprofit organizations, churches, high schools, and women’s conferences.


Armand Turner

Physical Activity Program Manager

A Gary, Indiana, native, Armand Turner is a graduate of Indiana University with a BS in Recreation. Turner interned at the Denver Parks and Recreation Department in 2014. A year later he worked at Texas Parks Recreation Department in Southlake and Grapevine, Texas. Most recently, Armand was the Recreation Coordinator at Albany State University in 2016.