Meet Our Supermoms 2018
Advocates gather in Washington to urge sustained funding to combat antibiotic resistance
On Feb. 27 through March 1, advocates from around the country will travel to Washington to meet with members of Congress and policymakers. These Supermoms Against Superbugs—including mothers, fathers, farmers, researchers, and doctors—share their personal experiences and unique perspectives to raise awareness about the growing public health and national security threat posed by drug-resistant bacteria. They urge continued support of programs essential to the fight.
Meet the 2018 superpeople
John Baddley (Birmingham, Alabama)
John W. Baddley, M.D., M.S.P.H., is a professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. He directs the infection control program at the Birmingham VA Medical Center and is director of the transplant infectious diseases clinic at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. He graduated from Louisiana State University Medical School in New Orleans, where he also completed a residency in internal medicine. Baddley completed his fellowship in infectious diseases at the University of Alabama, Birmingham where he became a faculty member in 2002. He is an active clinician and researcher, focusing on infections in patients who are immunocompromised. He is co-director of the Birmingham VA Medical Center’s antimicrobial stewardship program, where he works to develop clinical guidelines that support antimicrobial stewardship and patient safety.
Marshall Bartlett (Como, Mississippi)
Marshall Bartlett set out to build a business, Home Place Pastures, on his family farm in Como, Mississippi—the land that four generations of his family had worked before him. Bartlett and his family specialize in raising heritage pigs and have expanded the enterprise to include lambs and cattle. Home Place animals are raised on pasture with abundant access to fresh forage and sunshine. Bartlett is committed to sustainable, ethical animal husbandry and to the environmental and economic well-being of his rural community. He is also committed to promoting sustainable animal husbandry techniques and creating a viable business model by scaling up the production and distribution of pasture-raised meats through his business.
Bartlett received his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and worked in Montana and New Orleans before becoming co-founder and president of Home Place Pastures.
Janet Briscoe (Charleston, West Virginia)
Janet Briscoe, R.N., B.S.N., M.B.A., C.I.C., is the director of epidemiology and threat preparedness at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, the first West Virginia health department to achieve national accreditation. Briscoe has served in public health nursing administration positions at both state and local health agencies, and has worked in infectious disease management since 2008. She is responsible for the coordination of major planning and response activities in regards to public health emergencies and infectious disease investigations/outbreaks. Briscoe holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Marshall University and a master’s degree in business administration from West Virginia University College of Business and Economics.
In 2017, she achieved national certification in infection prevention and control (C.I.C.), which is recognized through the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) for Infection Preventionists. She serves on the Bridge Valley Community and Technical Center Nursing Advisory Committee, is a member of the West Virginia Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) Multidisciplinary Advisory Group, and a chapter member of APIC West Virginia. Briscoe believes one of the greatest opportunities that we have in public health is to educate the community and work with our many partners to create a safer world through the prevention of untreatable infections.
Paul Carson (Fargo, North Dakota)
As an infectious disease specialist, Paul Carson, M.D., sees the devastating effects of antibiotic resistance on a daily basis when he is faced with increasingly limited choices in treating patients. This inspired him 11 years ago to start the first antimicrobial stewardship program within North Dakota’s Sanford Health system. When he saw its significant benefit almost immediately, it became a major focus of his work.
Carson currently serves the North Dakota State Health Department as the state content expert on antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial stewardship, helping lead initiatives to improve antibiotic use across the state. In this role, he has helped develop a novel tracking tool for North Dakota nursing homes and small community hospitals to improve the way antibiotics are used within these facilities. He is also the director of the Enterprise Antimicrobial Stewardship Program for Sanford Health, a professor at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and on the faculty of North Dakota State University where he teaches management of infectious diseases in the department of public health and researches antimicrobial stewardship.
Christina Fuhrman (Columbia, Missouri)
Overuse of antibiotics left Christina Fuhrman ridden with a superbug, Clostridium difficile (C. diff.), which nearly ended her life and also the life of her daughter, who would develop C. diff. three years later as a 2-year-old. These harrowing experiences inspired her to get involved with the local community, and she became a Peggy Lillis Foundation Advocate and built a website (www.mygijourney.org) to increase awareness of C. diff. Her daughter’s C. diff. story is featured in Parents magazine. Fuhrman is eager to bring her advocacy to Washington to offer her perspective both as a superbug survivor and as the mother of one. She is a stay-at-home mom to two children after working 15 years in banking and lending.
Robert Gates (Tillatoba, Mississippi)
Robert Gates, M.S., is president of the Tri-County Agricultural Cooperative in Batesville, Mississippi, where his numerous responsibilities include providing technical expertise to small-scale and limited-resource farmers in rural communities. He believes that because of the growing number of bacterial infections, it is critical to continue the fight against antibiotic resistance. Among his many affiliations and awards, Gates is a member of the North Jackson Kiwanis Club and recipient of an AmeriCorps Education Award. He has a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science from Delta State University.
Elaine Hamm (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
Elaine Hamm, Ph.D., changed careers to tackle antibiotic resistance. After studying microbiology at the University of Oklahoma with a focus on antibiotic-associated disease, she worked for a company looking to invest in new startups. The moment she heard the mission of two new infectious disease companies, she knew she wanted to do more than just invest; she wanted to join them. As chief operating officer of Accele, she now heads their research program and hopes to create new antibiotics that superbugs can’t outsmart. Hamm believes that no one should fear that lifesaving medicine—antibiotics—may not work.
Hillary Hanson (Kalispell, Montana)
As the health officer for the Flathead City-County Health Department, Hillary Hanson, M.S., M.P.H., oversees all public health programs. Unfortunately, antibiotic resistance has become a major public health issue interfering with her ability to keep her community healthy, and she looks forward to informing federal policymakers of the impact that their decisions have at a local level. Hanson is a graduate of the National Association for County City Health Officials (NACCHO) Survive and Thrive leadership development program, and she currently co-chairs the NACCHO Workforce Committee. She is the chair-elect for the Association of Montana Public Health Officials, is on the Montana Board of Environmental Review, and serves as a site visitor for the Public Health Accreditation Board. Before working at the Flathead City-County Health Department, Hanson served as the deputy health officer at RiverStone Health in Billings, Montana, and worked as a research statistician at RTI International.
Christian Lillis (Brooklyn, New York)
Christian Lillis lost his mother Peggy to a Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection in April 2010 after she was unnecessarily prescribed a broad-spectrum antibiotic. The loss of his mother led Lillis to advocate for better antibiotic use policies and the building of a more robust drug pipeline, as treatments for C. diff are limited. Lillis is currently executive director of the Peggy Lillis Foundation and is a member of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Safety Program for Antibiotic Stewardship technical panel, as well as the Partnership for Patients’ Patient and Family Advisory Council of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In 2013, he received the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Excellence in Partnership award for domestic advocates and organizations.
Chaz Littlejohn (Washington, D.C.)
Chaz Littlejohn lost his sister, Meredith, to a hospital-acquired antibiotic-resistant infection after she beat acute myeloid leukemia. He wants to give a voice to his sister’s experience and help raise awareness about the problem of antibiotic resistance. Littlejohn also attends registration drives and shares Meredith’s story on behalf of Be the Match: The National Marrow Donor Program, which he originally got involved with intending to donate for his sister but instead proved a match for someone else in need. He currently works as an associate with Booz Allen Hamilton’s finance and economic development practice and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Steve Littlejohn (St. Louis, Missouri)
Steve Littlejohn, M.A., M.B.A., lost his daughter, Meredith, to a hospital-acquired antibiotic-resistant infection after she beat acute myeloid leukemia. If Meredith were here today, she would be fighting antibiotic resistance, so Littlejohn is filling in for her. He has four decades of experience in communications, including 25 years of experience in health care. As a member of the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) Board of Advisors, Littlejohn co-chaired the subcommittee that drafted the NPSF call to action urging that patient safety be addressed as a public health issue. Upon the merger of the NPSF with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, he began serving on the Certification Board for Professionals in Patient Safety and was also nominated to serve on a new IHI Patient Safety Advisory Committee. Littlejohn earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard University, a master’s degree in history from Cambridge University, and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Pittsburgh.
Dana Mirman (Naples, Florida)
Dana Mirman survived a life-threatening infection in December 2011 and credits her recovery to her doctors’ prompt diagnosis and the efficacy of the antibiotics they used to treat her. She is a writer, television producer, and public relations executive. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Binghamton University in New York; was an associate producer for ABC’s “20/20”; and has developed content for TLC, Animal Planet, National Geographic Wild, Discovery, and “The Montel Williams Show.” She is a member of the board of directors of Sepsis Alliance, the national nonprofit organization devoted to raising awareness of sepsis.
Angela Myers (Kansas City, Missouri; Olathe, Kansas)
Angela Myers, M.D., M.P.H., is an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Medicine, co-director of its antimicrobial stewardship program, and medical director of clinical services for the infectious diseases division. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS), and a member of the Society for Pediatric Research. Myers directs the pediatric infectious disease fellowship program, chairs the national PIDS program directors’ training committee, and serves on PIDS’ nominations and awards committee. She served as the lead author of subspecialty-specific entrustable professional activities for Pediatric Infectious Diseases, part of the Pediatrics Subspecialty Milestone Project. Myers is passionate about the judicious use of antibiotics and the importance of testing in the outpatient pediatric setting, and is currently a co-investigator on a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute-funded grant to decrease antibiotic use for common respiratory conditions in the outpatient setting.
Dana Nguyen (Vancouver, Washington)
Dana C. Nguyen, B.S.N., R.N., C.I.C., is an infection-control practitioner for the Infectious Disease Program at Clark County Public Health. She has 30 years of nursing experience, including 24 years of nursing leadership, and has spent the past two years performing assessments of infection control and response throughout Washington state. Nguyen helps health care facilities to assess infection prevention practices and develop and implement antibiotic stewardship programs. She also disseminates educational resources for different health care settings and believes that education is both a great enabler as well as a critical foundation from which a community of practitioners delivers care. Nguyen is an active member of National Association for Professionals in Infection Prevention and Control. She received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Washington State University.
Justin Oas (Bremerton, Washington)
Justin Oas lost his younger sister, Brianna Strand, in May 2017 from complications associated with atypical mycobacterial infection and cystic fibrosis. At a congressional hearing last year, Strand spoke about her battle with multidrug resistant bacteria, and Oas wants to continue Strand’s quest by putting a face on the public health threat of antibiotic resistance. His family has hosted the Cystic Fibrosis Walk-a-Thon for 26 years, proceeds of which fund research through the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Oas has a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from the University of Texas at Austin and is currently a registered dietitian nutritionist for Cornerstone Healthcare Services.
Valerie Oas (Poulsbo, Washington)
Valerie Oas lost her 28-year-old daughter, Brianna Strand, in May 2017 due to complications associated with atypical mycobacterial infection and cystic fibrosis. At a congressional hearing last year, Strand spoke about her battle with multidrug resistant bacteria, and Oas wants to continue sharing her daughter’s story and put a face on the public health threat of antibiotic resistance. Through participation in supermoms, Oas hopes to secure funding for the research and development of new antibiotics. As a caregiver for Strand, she is passionate about educating family, friends, and the public about cystic fibrosis. Oas and her family have hosted the Cystic Fibrosis Walk-a-Thon for 26 years, and she received the Washington State Parent Teacher Association Golden Acorn award for volunteerism.
Ken Opengart (Signal Mountain, Tennessee)
Ken Opengart, M.S., D.V.M., Ph.D., has worked in the poultry industry as an animal health professional for nearly 25 years and is currently vice president of global sustainability and welfare at Keystone Foods. He has always considered antibiotic stewardship an integral part of his responsibilities because options for efficacious antibiotic use in animals are limited, and making the right antibiotic choice is necessary to improve the chances of favorable treatment outcomes and minimize the potential for antibiotic resistance to develop. Opengart believes there is a general lack of understanding in how antibiotics are used in animal agriculture, and he seeks to help inform the “One Health” discussion about the intersection of human and animal health. He is a past president of the American College of Poultry Veterinarians, incoming chairman of the American Association of Avian Pathologists Animal Welfare Committee, and founding board member of the International Poultry Welfare Alliance and the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Poultry and Eggs.
Michelle Protani-Chesnik (Willards, Maryland)
Michelle Protani-Chesnik has owned and operated a family commercial poultry farm with her spouse on Maryland’s Eastern Shore for the past 30 years. She strongly believes in the need to use antibiotics responsibly, and for 13 years has raised chickens for Mountaire, a Certified Responsible Antibiotic Use company that only uses medically important antibiotics when the birds are sick. She hopes to help others understand the welfare issues that arise when birds are left ill. She has also worked with Perdue Farms as a poultry producer to help write a welfare manual for poultry from the perspective of the hatchery, breeder, and farm. Protani-Chesnik has studied hatchery and poultry production processes around the world, including in Egypt and France, as well as the United States. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Antioch University and later returned to school to complete a flock supervisor course at the University of Georgia. Protani-Chesnik is affiliated with several agricultural organizations in Maryland, including the Maryland Agricultural Commission and the Maryland Farm Bureau, is certified by the Farm Stewardship Certification and Assessment Program as an agricultural conservation steward, and was awarded Outstanding Poultry Producer in 2008 by the Delmarva Poultry Industry. She is looking forward to advocating for the judicious use of antibiotics, and in the future hopes to see more “animal-only” antibiotics developed and more vaccine research to help combat poultry disease.
Jennifer Read (Burlington, Vermont)
Jennifer Read, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., D.T.M.&H., is a pediatric infectious disease physician and epidemiologist. She is the director of the Prevention of Healthcare-Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance Program at the Vermont Department of Health and clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Vermont Medical Center. Before relocating to Vermont in 2017, Read spent over two decades as a medical epidemiologist, focusing on infectious diseases, for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other U.S. government agencies, and as a clinical faculty member in the Department of Pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine. She trained in pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University, epidemiology at Harvard University and the NIH, and tropical medicine at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Read is an elected member of the Society for Pediatric Research, the American Pediatric Society, and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society’s board of directors.
Shannon Ross (Vestavia Hills, Alabama)
Shannon Ross, M.D., M.S.P.H., is an associate professor of pediatrics and microbiology in the division of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB). She earned her medical degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine and completed her pediatric residency and pediatric infectious diseases fellowship at the UAB. During her fellowship training, she also earned a master’s degree in public health, in clinical research, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. She has been a faculty member in the UAB’s department of pediatrics since 2006. Ross is an active clinician and researcher, with her lab work focusing on congenital infections. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, and is an elected member of the Society for Pediatric Research. Since 2015, she has been the medical co-director of the Children’s of Alabama-Benjamin Russell Hospital’s antimicrobial stewardship program and leads a team that works to implement guidelines and policies on appropriate antimicrobial use to improve patient care.
To learn more, watch “My Worst Fear”: A Doctor Faces Antibiotic Resistance, and read One Doctor’s Fight to Stop Superbugs and Save Lives.
Laura Sage (Willamette Valley, Oregon)
Laura Sage and her husband are co-owners of Red Bird Acres, a first-generation pasture-based livestock farm located in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. They raise laying hens, broiler chickens, and pigs exclusively on pasture, and their products are certified Animal Welfare Approved. They strive to operate their farm under the highest animal welfare and environmental standards, which in turn allows them to provide high-quality, nutritious food to their community. Sage has a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies and adventure education. Before starting the farm in 2013, she worked as an outdoor educator and wilderness EMT.
On their farm, Sage and her husband work to prevent antibiotic resistance through the judicious use of antibiotics. They never give their animals prophylactic antibiotics, and through good husbandry practices, they are able to raise animals that stay healthy and thrive on pasture without the use of medical interventions common on other livestock farms. They have selected slow-growing breeds that are well-adapted to their farming methods, and they never confine animals within barns, instead utilizing rotational grazing on pasture and maintaining low stocking densities. When necessary, they will provide an individual sick animal with antibiotics at a therapeutic dose under the supervision of their veterinarians. As a very small scale farm, they rely on these medications to work when they need them. Sage is participating in Supermoms Against Superbugs so she can lend her voice as a farmer in promoting the responsible use of antibiotics.
Chad Stahl (College Park, Maryland)
Chad Stahl, Ph.D., M.S., is the chair of the Department of Animal and Avian Sciences at the University of Maryland. He was previously on faculty at North Carolina State University and Iowa State University, and worked as a biologist at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Stahl is particularly interested in improving animal health and productivity while combating antibiotic resistance. He earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from North Carolina State University, a master’s degree in animal science with a concentration in animal nutrition from Cornell University, and a doctorate in animal science with minors in microbiology and nutritional biochemistry from Cornell University.
Gerald Stokka (Cooperstown, North Dakota)
Gerald Stokka, D.V.M., M.S., is an animal science associate professor at North Dakota State University and serves as an extension veterinarian and livestock stewardship specialist. Although primarily focused on the beef cattle industry, he provides information and applied research regarding all aspects of livestock health, best practices, behavior, well-being, handling, and animal-environmental interactions. His mission is to educate agricultural and lay audiences about sustainability practices. Before joining the faculty at North Dakota State University, Stokka spent seven years in private practice in Cooperstown, North Dakota, and served on the faculty of the Kansas State University department of clinical sciences and as a Kansas State University beef extension veterinarian.
Stokka has worked with feedlots, stocker operations, and cow-calf operations throughout the Midwest and Great Plains, speaking extensively throughout the U.S. to veterinarians, feedlot managers, ranchers, animal scientists, and consumer audiences. Since 2014, he has been involved in multidisciplinary programming on “Antimicrobial Stewardship.” Stokka is also a partner, with his brother Murray, in a commercial Angus and registered Red Angus operation.
John Tarpoff (Edwardsville, Illinois)
John Tarpoff is vice president of fresh beef at Niman Ranch. His start in the beef business was influenced by his family. Both of his grandfathers were shepherds—one started a grocery store, and the other raised calves and lambs. Eventually, the harvesting business turned into a family-run packing business. With this experience, and his degree in biology from the University of Missouri, Columbia, Tarpoff understands the importance of growing Niman’s niche business with dedicated ranchers and farmers, and maintaining product excellence for consumers.
Clay Taylor (Oakland, Mississippi)
Clay Taylor is a specialist at the Tri-County Agricultural Cooperative in Batesville, Mississippi, where among his many responsibilities he provides technical expertise to small-scale and limited-resource farmers in rural communities. Additionally, Taylor serves as executive director of Trinity Educators Development Corporation, Inc. in Oakland, Mississippi. He is a member of the Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association, the Mississippi Association of County Agricultural Agents, and the United Fresh Produce Association. Taylor attended the University of Mississippi for engineering.
Erica Washington (Metairie, Louisiana)
As the healthcare-associated infections program coordinator at the Louisiana Department of Health, Erica Washington, M.P.H., is thrilled to participate in supermoms to advocate and raise awareness about antibiotic-resistant organisms. She believes these organisms can be slowed through judicious antibiotic use, provider education, and consumer awareness. Washington has a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Louisiana State University and a master’s degree in public health in epidemiology from Tulane University; previously she was a 2016-17 Informatics-Training in Place Program antibiotic resistance fellow with Project Strengthening Health Systems Through Interprofessional Education (SHINE). She is a member of numerous epidemiological organizations, including the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, and was a 2013 White House Champion of Change for Prevention and Public Health.
Gary Wheeler (Little Rock, Arkansas)
Gary Wheeler, M.D., is the chief medical officer at the Arkansas Department of Health. Previously, he served as the medical director of the state health department’s hospital-acquired infection and antimicrobial stewardship programs, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, and a pharmaceuticals and therapeutics chair for Arkansas Children's Hospital where he focused on stewardship. His major work has been in advocating for the sustained public health of children, for which he has been cited by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Southern Society of Pediatrics, and the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. Wheeler earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his master’s degree in religious studies from the University of Chicago, his medical degree from the Baylor College of Medicine, and his master’s degree in public service from the Clinton School of Public Service.