Department chairs | Health Education

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Health Education

In the Department of Health & Behavior Studies

Our Program as a Provider of Department Chairs in Academia Across the Nation!

The Program in Health Education is developing a legacy as a provider of leaders in academia, including as Department Chairs! This represents a major contribution to universities and colleges across the region and nation, reflecting the excellence in leadership that our doctoral graduates are providing. This article highlights the contributions of just some of these leaders in academia.




Dr. Lesley Rennis serves as the Chair of the Department of Health Education, Borough of Manhattan Community College, The City University of New York. Dr. Rennis also teaches courses in community health education, stress management and alternative therapies.  Further, Dr. Rennis is a certified group fitness and instructor and wellness coach.  Dr. Rennis earned her B.S. in Microbiology from Michigan State University, her MPH from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and her EdD from Teachers College, Columbia University.  She had the pleasure of receiving close mentoring throughout her doctoral degree training from Dr. Robert E. Fullilove, Dr. Mindy Thompson Fullilove, and Dr. Barbara Wallace. Dr. Rennis completed her postdoctoral research at Columbia University New York State Psychiatric Institute.

After completing her postdoctoral fellowship she served as Vice President of Health and Social Services at Abyssinian Development Corporation.  During this time, she also taught at: Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health; Teachers College, Columbia University; and the College of Mount Saint Vincent. In 2008, Dr. Rennis returned full-time to the classroom as an Associate Professor of Health Education for the Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York.  While also serving as Department Chair, she pursues research in the use of mindfulness techniques to enhance classroom teaching and learning, the use of complementary and alternative therapies, and the development of health professions career paths.




 Dr. Nichoias Grosskopf is Associate Professor of Health and Physical Education at York College, City University of New York. He currently serves as Deputy Chair of the Department of Health and Physical Education and Gerontological Studies. He also serves as Co-Director of the Collaborative Research Group on Health Policy & Promotion at York College/CUNY. In the past he has worked with the Center for HIV Educational Studies & Training, the Bureau of HIV/AIDS at the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, and the NYC Department of Education. He holds a joint appointment in the Doctor of Public Health (DPH) program at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health. His scholarly interests include the intersection of health and technology, health equity and health policy implications for sexual minorities as well as human participant research ethics as he serves as Chair of CUNY University-Integrated Institutional Review Board (UI-IRB) #4. He is Co-Director of the Collaborative Research Group on Health Policy & Promotion + the UrbanHealth Lab at YC.

He received his EdD from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2008, while enjoying the status as a Fellow of the Research Group on Disparities in Health.  He also received his MS degree from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2007, and his MS degree from New York University in Human Sexuality, Marriage and Family Life Education in 2004. Dr. Grosskopf has extensive experience working in community health settings, specializing in HIV prevention and education with urban youth and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) health.

 Dr. Grosskopf has extensive experience working in community health, specializing in HIV prevention and education with urban youth, and in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) health; In addition, Dr. Grosskopf periodically serves as a reviewer for many sexual health journals such as Journal of Homosexuality, Journal of Sexual Medicine and Archives of Sexual Behavior. He holds a joint appointment in the Doctor of Public Health (DPH) program (Community, Society & Health Track) at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Of note, Dr. Grosskopf is a very popular and highly rated professor. Students at York College have described him as follows: “This professor is awesome.” “This is one of the best Professors in the Health Department.”  “He is the best Professor!” “He is so nice, considerate…” “He has inspired me to make a difference in the field of public health.” Dr. Grosskopf regularly presented at the Annual Health Disparities Conference at Teachers College, while setting records for bringing the largest number of his undergraduate students with him. He has been dedicated to nurturing a pipeline from undergraduate to graduate studies to health education for his students, while one of his students graduated from the MS degree program in health education in 2016. 




Dr. Donna T. Bacon is a tenured Professor at
Nassau Community College in the Health Education
department where she teaches courses on Human
Sexuality and Death Education. She was recently
unanimously voted Chairperson of the department
securing her place as the first female, youngest and
only African American ever to hold the position. She is
the founding Executive Director of Mid-Nassau Lend a
Helping Hand, which is an organization she founded
to provide emergency financial services to women
undergoing recent breast cancer surgery,
chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment. She founded the organization as a direct result of the challenges she personally experienced dealing with the financial strain following from a breast cancer diagnosis and her recovery, particularly at 33 years of age.

Dr. Bacon orchestrated the First Annual Breast Cancer Walk and Expo at Nassau Community College, which raises awareness and provides an annual platform to educate the young adults on campus about their bodies--while encouraging breast health strategies and breast cancer awareness, the annual event impacts a 23,000 member campus community. Dr. Bacon has created, designed and facilitates two life skills mentoring programs SASH (Student Advocates for Sexual Health) and is the co- creator of Red Shoes (Redefining, Envisioning & Developing Sheroes to Health and Overall Emotional Satisfaction). In an innovative fashion, these programs empower young men and women and professional women to live their best lives, physically, sexually, spiritually and emotionally. In 2014, Dr. Bacon was awarded a $300,000 grant from the Department of Justice, Office of Violence against Women to create and initiate prevention education programs on the NCC campus to reduce the occurrence of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and stalking. In response to her work on the campus as Executive Director of all Violence Prevention Programs, she has been appointed Chief Investigative Officer on the NCC campus by the college President, in order to train and assist in consistent and proper investigation and adjudication of incidents of sexual misconduct within the NCC community. In 2013, Dr. Donna Bacon was vetted and selected to participate in a rigorous two year elite Leadership Academy, The Energeia Partnership, which is dedicated to identifying and addressing the serious, complex and multi-dimensional issues challenging the Long Island region. The goal of this academy is to recruit proven ethical leaders in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors of Long Island; and, to furnish them with the information, network and support necessary for corrective action—namely to serve as change agents, while imagining new possibilities for the Long Island community region.

Dr. Bacon’s dedication to closing the gap in healthcare disparities extends internationally with her mission work in Pretoria and Soweto, South Africa. In this manner, within South Africa, she annually volunteers, working directly with women that are pregnant and HIV positive. She also trains outreach workers in various communities and treatment facilities.

Regarding her extensive educational background, Dr. Donna Bacon is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Certified Thantologist (CT). She earned a Master of Social Work degree from Adelphi University. Thereafter, she also earned Master of Science and Doctor of Education degrees in Health and Human Behavior Studies from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her dissertation, completed in 2007 and earned while undergoing chemotherapy, was a social marketing campaign that utilized technology (i.e. series of videos on the major forms of birth control and sexually transmitted diseases featuring Dr. Bacon providing education) and an original website she created to disseminate health information in a creative way to African American women. The website –, has been the springboard for online research and similar website innovations among the Research Group on Disparities in Health (RGDH) at Teachers College Columbia University; the website has expanded since 2007 to support numerous additional website portals and related doctoral dissertation for fellows of the RGDH. Collectively, the numerous portals on the website and studies hosted on it have made a major contribution to the study of African American women, while seeking to empower women through provision of comprehensive health education on numerous topics. Regarding awards, Dr. Bacon received a Nassau County Citation for her work with women and minorities on Long Island. She received a Heath Care Hero: i.e., the Health Care Professional award from Long Island Business News and North Fork Bank. She was also the first recipient of the Columbia University Teachers College Lorna Macintyre Award. Dr. Bacon is currently an Executive Board member for Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, She also serves as a Board Member for the Long Island Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency. Dr. Bacon has presented for multiple local and national organizations, being invited to speak at numerous conferences. She has worked with underserved populations for over 20 years. In addition to her full time teaching schedule at NCC, in recent years she has served as an Adjunct Professor at Long Island University CW Post, Alfred University, Adelphi University, and SUNY Old Westbury.

Dr. Bacon has volunteered for numerous organizations, and is a consultant on a diverse range of topics—including sexual health, HIV/AIDS, death/dying/bereavement, parenting skills, motivation/empowerment, as well as various health issues. Donna has dedicated her life to the education, empowerment and health promotion of underserved individuals and communities.




Ranelle Brew, Ed.D., MS, CHES is Chair of the Department of Public Health and Director of the Master of Public Health Program at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. While at Teachers College, Columbia University, Dr. Brew worked closely with Professor Barbara Wallace and completed her dissertation on the topic of adolescent asthma health education in New York public schools. This research project involved a collaboration with New York Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University. Dr. Brew’s current research includes her role
as Director of the sHaPe summer health professions
camp. Here, Dr. Brew provides leadership via sHaPe
for a community partnership between Grand Valley
University and the Grand Rapids School system,
while involving local 8th and 9th graders in a summer
program that seeks to increase the representation of
minorities in the health professions in West Michigan,
while also serving as a pipeline into college. In
addition, her research includes health literacy. She is
also interested in global healthcare partnerships, and
her global work has included travel to Ghana, West
Africa, Beijing, China, Tacloban City, Philippines,
Nairobi, Kenya, and Manenberg, South Africa—while
also supervising travel abroad study programs for her
students. Most recently, Dr. Brew has provided
leadership for a sustainable international health care service-learning program that provide graduate students in the MPH program with global learning experiences in public health. Her teaching focuses on Public Health Promotion, while her additional area of expertise is online teaching. In this regard, Dr. Brew is a leader at her university, having trained other faculty in using online technology, while designing curriculum to guide faculty in this process. Her publications include those targeting diverse audiences— ranging from those in the medical profession to children, given her children’s book, Healthy Days. Further, Dr. Brew’s background includes 20 years of practice in a variety of health care settings, as well as within the public school system and in geriatric settings.

Dr. Brew was a regular presenter at the Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA) where she tends to cross paths with her former dissertation sponsor, Professor Barbara Wallace. For example, Dr. Brew’s 2013 APHA paper presentation was entitled, “Inspiring Adolescents toward Careers in Health Professions: A Community and University Intervention.” Through this talk, Dr. Brew disseminated information about her work as Director of the sHaPe summer health professions camp; specifically, she reported longitudinal data from four years of camp outcomes with the minority students from the local Grand Rapids School system that have participated in this model pipeline program into college and the health professions.




Dr. William Kernan is an Associate Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Public Health at William Patterson University, New Jersey.

After pursuing his doctorate in health education, Dr. Kernan returned to share his expertise in teaching cross-cultural competence to our graduate students, while also serving on doctoral dissertation committees. His background includes an MS in health education from Teachers College, Columbia University, as well as an MPA in Public Health Administration from Marist College, New York.

In addition to serving as Department Chair, at William Patterson, he has taught a range of courses, as follows: Public Health Practice, Health Research Methods I, Health Research Methods II, Global Health Issues, Cultural Dimensions of Health, Food and Community, Disparities in Health, Stress Management, Introduction to Public Health, Methods of Health Education, Program Planning, Internship. Dr. Kernan brings a rich and varied background to his teaching, given his experiences both globally and within the United States, including: Research Director and Data Team Chair, United for Prevention in Passaic County; Child Survival Officer/United States Peace Corps Volunteer, Chintheche Rural Hospital, Chintheche, Malawi, East Africa; Micronutrient Deficiency Malnutrition Trainer, United States Peace Corps, Lilongwe, Malawi, East Africa; Nutrition Monitoring Specialist, United Nations World Food Programme, N'Zerekore, Guinea, West Africa; Community Food Systems Coordinator, Global Outreach, Mexico City, Mexico; Lecturer in Global Health and Micronutrient Malnutrition, New International School of Thailand (NIST), Bangkok, Thailand; Director, Center for Student Wellness, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY; and, Director of Health Education, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

More recently, his research projects have included: outcomes of community-based substance abuse prevention programs; data usage among community-based substance abuse prevention workers; and, food insecurity among college students; and, cross-cultural issues and implications for school nurses. To his credit, Dr. Kernan has accumulated numerous peer-reviewed publications, as well as grant funding for his research projects.

Dr. Kernan has drawn upon his knowledge of the excellence of training provided to doctoral students at Teachers College, and drawn from this pool in recruiting both Adjunct and Professors on tenure track lines to join his Department. The result is both his outstanding leadership and outstanding faculty for his Department of Public Health at William Patterson University.



While not yet a Department Chair, Dr. Charles Daramola is contributing his leadership to building programs and promoting excellence in academia in Florida.

Dr. Charles Olufemi Daramola serves as Assistant Professor and Program Director for the Community and Public Health Programs at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) in Fort Myers, Florida. Dr Daramola received a Bachelor’s degree in business from Andrews University in Michigan, an MBA from Baruch College of the City University of New York, Masters and Doctorate degrees in Health Education from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York; He is also a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).

 Prior to joining Florida Gulf Coast University in 2012, Dr Daramola was a faculty member at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in New York as well as Western Oregon University. Soon after joining Florida Gulf Coast University, he took on the responsibly of managing and building the Community Health Program, officially becoming the first Community Health Program Director in 2013. Dr. Daramola was also part of the leadership team charged with developing a Public Health Bachelor’s degree program at Florida Gulf Coast University—and will he will be that program’s first Director when it starts in the fall of 2018.  Health education is Dr. Daramola’s second career, as he decided to fulfill new dreams after a successful career in the pharmaceutical sales/marketing industry where he specialized in diseases of the Central Nervous System.

Dr Daramola’s research interests are in the areas of health disparities, community health education and the pharmaceutical industry. He has presented his work at national healthcare conferences including: the Annual Health Disparities Conference at Teachers College, Columbia University; the National Conference of Quality Healthcare for Diverse Populations; the National Association of African American Studies & Affiliates; and the Annual Conference of the Society of Public Health Education. His work on health disparities and medication adherence in African Americans has been published in the Journal of Intercultural Studies.  He has also collaborated with colleagues at Florida Gulf Coast University and published in Clinical Kinesiology on the importance of promoting Behavior Change to Athletic Trainers. Further, he also serves on the Editorial Board of Aquila, the Florida Gulf Coast University student research journalDr. Daramola has a published a book on how to get a job and be successful in the pharmaceutical industry, following the expertise he gained via his first career.

 The media in the Southwest has also called upon Dr. Daramola to discuss public health and disease prevention issues, as they impact the local community, including being interviewed by the local public radio station (WGCU News/NPR for Southwest Florida). Also, his work on Zika prevention has been featured in the Naples Daily News.

Dr Daramola is passionate about his work and his students. He is dedicated and works tirelessly to prepare students for admission to and success in graduate school, including for careers in healthcare, as well as preparing them for life. Coming from a very successful career in Pharmaceutical Sales and Marketing, Dr. Daramola credits his professors at Teachers College (Dr. Barbara Wallace, Dr. John Allergrante, Dr. Charles Basch, Dr. Robert Fullilove and Dr. Randi Wolf) for making academia look “cool” and helping him navigate his path to become a university professor. 


This sampling of Department Chairs is a source of great pride for our Program! We know there are other leaders in academia currently serving the nation. We invite other leaders to share their accomplishments with us, so we can share the good news!

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