Meet the Speakers

Florida 2024

Keynote Speakers

Amelia Burke-Garcia, PhD, MA

Program Area Director, Public Health, NORC

Dr. Amelia Burke-Garcia is a seasoned health communications professional with 20 years of experience in health communication program planning, implementation, and evaluation. At NORC, she leads the organization's Digital Strategy and Outreach Program Area and is part of the leadership team for NORC’s health communication science practice. In these roles, she designs and implements strategies that leverage the science of communication (in particular, digital media) to influence behavior. Over the course of her career, Dr. Burke-Garcia has spearheaded some of the most innovative communication programs and studies on a variety of health topics. Since 2020, she has been overseeing the award-winning How Right Now/Que Hacer Ahora campaign, which aims to increase people’s ability to cope and be resilient. Other prior work has included acting as director for CDC’s National Influenza Vaccination Campaign. She also has worked with MeetUp groups and the Waze mobile application to move people to action around flu vaccination and HIV testing, respectively. Finally, she has been examining the role of influencers in health communication and research for more than a decade and has recently expanded this work to look at the role of AI in opinion leadership. Dr. Burke-Garcia is the author of the books, Influencing Health: A Comprehensive Guide to Working with Social Media Influencers, and Communicating Through a Pandemic: A Chronicle of Experiences, Lessons Learned, and a Vision for the Future. She has been highlighted by the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, for her work in honor of Women’s History Month and has been named to VeryWellHealth.com’s list of 10 Modern Female Innovators Shaking Up Health Care. She is a Founding Member of the Society for Health Communication, a member of the Council for Quality Health Communication, and sits on the Boards of Directors for the non-profits, Vaccinate Your Family and the Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice. She earned her bachelor’s degree in International Development Studies and Humanistic Studies from McGill University, her master’s degree in Communication, Culture and Technology from Georgetown University, and her PhD in Communication from George Mason University.

Dr. Rebecca Soskin Hicks

Board certified, Stanford trained Pediatrician and Medical Consultant

Dr. Soskin Hicks is a Stanford-trained pediatrician who occupies a unique position at the nexus of clinical medicine and innovative technology. She has 15 years of clinical experience and is deeply committed to patient care as well as the advancement of digital strategies for health communication. In her practice, she has built a reputation for effectively communicating complex medical concepts to patients and families, enhancing both trust and health literacy. As an independent consultant, Dr. Soskin Hicks applies her medical and health communication expertise to aid in the development of digital health solutions that prioritize accuracy and public health impact. Her work focuses on bridging the gap between clinical medicine and digital health information, and she brings a unique blend of knowledge in digital and AI-focused health communication solutions. She has contributed to large-scale international health initiatives for Medcase at Google, steering aspects of content moderation to combat misinformation in the digital sphere. Recognized for her strategic approach to health communication, Dr. Soskin Hicks is currently consulting for prominent AI companies, offering fresh insights into policy and strategy that align ethical standards and public health objectives with the growing need for individualized, empathetic communication. Her professional ethos is grounded in a commitment to truth, which she believes evolves through continuous learning and adaptation in both medicine and technology. Dr. Soskin Hicks is a member of The Council for Quality Health Communication, supported by The O’Neill Institute for Global Health Law at Georgetown, and is an advisor for the Stanford Pediatrics Digital Health Consortium.

Ilze Melngailis

Senior Director, Business Council for the UN (BCUN) and Private Sector Engagement, UN Foundation

Nancy Lee

President Social Marketing Services Inc., Teaching Associate Univ. of Washington, Strategic Advisor C+C

Nancy Lee has more than 30 years of professional marketing experience, with special expertise in Social Marketing.  She is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Washington and the University of South Florida. She conducts seminars and workshops on social marketing and marketing in the public sector and has participated in the development of more than 100 social marketing campaigns.She has been a guest lecturer at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, the Health Promotion Board in Singapore, Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia, National University of Ireland in Galway, Yale, and Oxford University. She has conducted social marketing workshops for more than 5,000 public sector employees involved in developing public behavior change campaigns.  She has delivered more than 200 social marketing trainings, most recently in Jordan for USAID, Canada for the Ministry of Health, and in Seattle for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  She has been a keynote speaker on social marketing at conferences including ones addressing Public Health, Injury Prevention, Environmental Protection and Poverty Reduction. Nancy is a member of Rotary and the City of Mercer Island's Green Ribbon Commission, has been a volunteer member of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Advisory Committee, and the Mercer Island School District's Advisory Committee.

Professor Jeff French

iSMA President, CEO Strategic Social Marketing, Emeritus Professor Kings College London & Brighton University

Jeff French is a recognised global leader in the application of behaviour change and social marketing. Jeff has extensive experience of developing leading and evaluating behaviour change projects, social marketing programmes and the development of communication strategies at international, national, regional and local level.

With over 30 years experience at the interface between government, public, private and NGO sectors Jeff has a broad practical and theoretical understanding of national and international health and social development issues.

Jeff and has published over 70 chapters, articles and books in the fields of behaviour change, social marketing, community development, health promotion and communications. Jeff is a visiting professor at Brunel University and Brighton University and a Fellow at Kings College University London and teaches at four other Universities in the UK.

Jeff was the Director of Communication and Policy at the Health Development Agency for five years from 2000 – 2005. In March 2005 From July 2006 through to July 2009 Jeff set up and managed the National Social Marketing Centre for England. In August 2009 Jeff became the Chief Executive of Strategic Social Marketing Ltd.

Strategic Social Marketing works with clients from all over the world in the private, NGO and public sector on the development and evaluation of social behaviour change programmes. Strategic Social Marketing also provides consultancy services to some of the world’s biggest corporate communications and research companies.

Jeff continues to act as the principle adviser to the National Social Marketing Centre and the Department of Health behaviour Change and Social Marketing policy team. Jeff also acts as an advisor to a number of national policy committees, the EUCDC Knowledge and Resource Centre in Health Communication project, and is a member of the organising committee of the Global Social Marketer’s network. Jeff is a member of the editorial Boards of the International Review on Public and Nonprofit Marketing and the Journal of Social Marketing.

Jeff is Conference Chair of the World Social Marketing Conference. His new book ‘Social Marketing and Public Health Theory and Practice’, published by Oxford University Press is now available. Jeff is also the author of the NSMC’s new guide to procuring and managing the delivery of social marketing service.

Simona C. Kwon, DrPH, MPH

Associate Professor, Department of Population Health, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Simona C. Kwon, DrPH, MPH is an associate professor, director of the Section for Health Equity, and the vice chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Department of Population Health at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. Dr. Kwon is a socio-behavioral epidemiologist with extensive experience in the use of, among other methods, community-based participatory research, mixed methods approaches, health communication, dissemination and implementation science, and multidisciplinary teams to address community-level health disparities. Dr. Kwon employs a social determinants of health framework to implement and evaluate evidence-based strategies in community settings, focusing on cultural relevance and impact and identifying effective channels through which to translate research into practice.

Tosheena Nez, MPH

Multicultural Communications Specialist, American Indian & Alaska Native Audience, ICF Next

Tosheena Nez, MPH is a Diné (Navajo) multicultural communication specialist with expertise in public health emphasizing Native American community health at ICF Next. She is Kinyaa'aaníí (towering house clan). She grew up in the Western Agency of the Navajo Nation, in Northern Arizona. She has 5 years of experience in health education, health promotion, community engagement, and partnership development with the Navajo Nation and other tribal communities. Her experience is centered on community outreach and engagement, and culturally sustaining materials development to support healthy lifestyle practices in Native communities. Her work has focused on COVID-19, diabetes, substance use disorder, commercial tobacco cessation, and environmental justice. She earned her Bachelor of Art degree in Public Health Policy from the University of California, Irvine, and her Master of Public Health degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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