Category: Health and Health Care

7 - Addressing Alzheimer’s: A ready curriculum resource for educating health professionals

Are public health and health care professionals prepared to address the Alzheimer’s epidemic? Alzheimer’s disease is the only cause of death among the top 10 in America that cannot currently be prevented, cured, or even slowed. But, research is growing that there are opportunities to reduce risk for cognitive decline and dementia and improve outcomes through early detection and quality dementia care. A Healthy People 2020 (HP2020) goal is to reduce the morbidity and costs associated with, and maintain or enhance the quality of life for, persons with dementia, including Alzheimer’s.

Many public health and health care organizations spend little time, resources or focus on addressing dementia. In order to reach the HP2020 goal, public health and health care providers must address knowledge gaps regarding basic understanding of Alzheimer’s and the role they play in addressing this epidemic. Public health professionals are facing increasing demand to address chronic diseases and brain health in an aging population in a culturally competent manner.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alzheimer’s Association, and Emory (University) Centers for Training and Technical Assistance developed an introductory competency-based curriculum, “A Public Health Approach to Alzheimer's and Other Dementias,” for use by faculty in schools and programs of public health to educate students. The peer-reviewed curriculum is currently being used by faculty in schools and programs of public health. In addition to use in an academic setting, the curriculum is a useful resource to inform public health and the health care community about Alzheimer’s disease. The curriculum is a free, ready-to-use and easily adaptable set of four modules that cover topics ranging from understanding physiological/psychological aspects of Alzheimer’s to the role of public health in addressing the disease. It is available for download on both the Alzheimer’s Association and CDC websites. In this presentation, the Director of Public Health, Alzheimer's Association, (confirmed) will describe curriculum purpose, audiences, and components. The Director of Public Health Program, American University (confirmed) will give actual examples of how the curriculum has been used in an academic setting and potential for use in professional settings.


Molly French

Director of Public Health
Alzheimer's Association
Washington, District of Columbia

Molly French is the director of public health for the Alzheimer's Association. As the principal investigator of a CDC cooperative agreement, she works closely with national and state partners to advance the Healthy Brain Initiative. She is responsible for cultivating partnerships and providing effective technical assistance to the field on issues such as surveillance, early detection and diagnosis, workforce development, and health promotion. Prior to joining the Alzheimer’s Association, Molly had an active consulting practice that partnered with national nonprofits to change health systems so they work better for older people. As the policy research director for Partnership for Prevention, Molly spearheaded numerous initiatives that educated business and government leaders about disease prevention and health promotion. Her state policy experience includes directing programs for the California Healthcare Association, California Telehealth & Telemedicine Center, and California Primary Care Association. Molly earned her MS in community and regional planning at The University of Texas at Austin and has a BA in international relations from Drake University.

Jolynn Gardner

Director, Public Health Program, Department of Health Studies
American University, District of Columbia

Jolynn Gardner is the Director of the Public Health Program in the Department of Health Studies at American University. Dr. Gardner has over 25 years of experience in undergraduate Public Health education. She earned a doctorate in Community Health Education and Health Services Administration from The Ohio State University and she is certified as a Health Education Specialist. Dr. Gardner’s academic and research interests include undergraduate public health education and curriculum development; issues associated with stress, change and loss, particularly among young adults; drug abuse education and prevention; and healthy nutrition / lifestyle initiatives. She piloted “A Public Health Approach to Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias” curriculum in AU’s Public Health Capstone course and guided its integration into AU’s Introduction to Human Health and Disease course.

Tara Redd

Director, Program Development
Emory University- Rollins School of Public Health
Atlanta, Georgia

Tara Redd is director of program development with the Emory Centers for Training and Technical Assistance at Emory University. She serves as the project lead for the Alzheimer’s curriculum project as well as provides programmatic support and operations management for the Diabetes Training and Technical Assistance Center (DTTAC) at Emory Centers. Tara has over 20 years’ experience in public health, primarily managing program development and implementation. She has worked in a variety of public health settings from community-based organizations, health care, academic, federal, and non-profit settings. Tara was a public health advisor (contractor) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention working in the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. In addition, Tara worked as the program coordinator for the Emory Public Health Training Center, a HRSA-funded center focused on public health workforce training and development. She also worked for a home health and hospice organization for 4 years. She worked for 7 years managing both employee and community wellness programs at a large health system. Tara has a Master of Education in human resource and organizational development as well as a Bachelor of Science in health promotion and behavior, both from the University of Georgia. She is a Master Certified Health Education Specialist.

Linelle Blais

Executive Director, Emory Centers for Training and Technical Assistance
Emory University-Rollins School of Public Health
Atlanta, Georgia

Dr. Linelle Blais is a health psychologist and an Associate Research Professor in the Department of Behavioral Science and Health Education at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, and the Associate Director of the Executive MPH Program’s Prevention Track. Linelle’s primary role is as Executive Director of the Emory Centers for Training and Technical Assistance, which includes a Diabetes Center (DTTAC) and a Tobacco Center (TTAC), and two specialty centers in Evaluation and QI, and Organizational and Program Development. The mission of Emory Centers is to strengthen the public health workforce nationwide, and services currently span across many public health issues (Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Ebola, Heart Disease, Nutrition, Oral Health, Tobacco), risk factors and professional competencies. Two key initiatives include scaling of CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program through training of lifestyle coaches and master trainers nationwide, as well as the diffusion, dissemination and evaluation of the Alzheimer’s curriculum and the Road Map. Prior to joining Emory, Linelle was in leadership at the American Cancer Society’s National Home Office where she served in various roles including those of National Executive for Voluntarism, Field Operations, National Vice President, Talent Strategy, and Director of Applied Research and Evaluation. Linelle also worked at the Cancer Prevention Research Center at the University of RI working on the application of the stages of change model to adoption of healthy prevention behavior, and at Brown University’s Center for Gerontology and Health Care Research addressing cancer patient and caregiver unmet needs.

Natelege Swainson

Manager, Learning Networks and Evaluation
Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health
Atlanta, Georgia

Natelege Swainson works in various capacities in her position as Project Manager, Learning Networks and Evaluation at Emory Centers for Training and Technical Assistance. Natelege’ s responsibilities include project and program management and evaluation; the design, implementation, and management of technical solutions and systems; managing and facilitating in person and virtual trainings; curriculum development, pilot and dissemination; and providing technical assistance to aid in public health program development and implementation. Prior to her current role, Natelege served as the Vice President of Learning and Development at the small business consulting firm LIfT where she managed and developed the firm’s marketing and online presence, served as the project manager on several projects, and facilitated and evaluated virtual and in-person trainings with clients such as the CDC and Boys and Girls Club. Natelege has a passion for assisting organizations and individuals reach their potential and goals, and utilizing her public health, technical and professional skills to do it. Natelege Swainson earned a BA in Psychology from Spelman College and worked for close to ten years at IBM managing and analyzing data as a Data Specialist. After some soul searching, Natelege decided to change fields and pursue career that impacted the health and well-being of communities, and society as whole, by earning an MPH from Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).