Speaker Bios in order of appearance:

Jennifer Dillaha, MD - Since joining the Arkansas Department of Health in 2001, Jennifer Dillaha, M.D., has played a leading role in the Agency’s health promotion efforts, using a life stage approach that focuses on population-based interventions to improve the health and well-being of all Arkansans. In March 2020, Dr. Dillaha was named the State Epidemiologist. This is in addition to her role as Medical Director for Immunizations since November 2013 and the Medical Director for Outbreak Response since September 2019. Her charge in the role of State Epidemiologist is to provide leadership and guidance for addressing Arkansas’s most pressing infectious diseases, including COVID-19. She is also charged with improving Arkansas’s immunization rates, particularly among adults. She is uniquely prepared for that role as a physician with specialty training in internal medicine and subspecialty training in infectious
diseases and in geriatric medicine. She also serves on Immunize AR Board of Directors. Immunize AR is Arkansas’s statewide immunization coalition.

Under her leadership, low health literacy has been recognized as an important public health problem in Arkansas, and the Health Department has integrated health literacy into its strategic plan. In April 2013, Dr. Dillaha became the Medical Advisor for Health Literacy at the Health Department. In January 2015, Dr. Dillaha began serving on the Roundtable on Health Literacy of the National Academies of Science, Engineering & Medicine. Prior to her current roles, Dr. Dillaha served as the Special Advisor for Strategic Initiatives in the Office of the Director from June 2010 to April 2013 and Director of the Center for Health Advancement from August 2005 to June 2010 at the Arkansas Department of Health.

Jose Romero, MD -is the Arkansas Secretary of Health and Director of the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is a Professor (tenured) of Pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was the the Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UAMS/Arkansas Children's Hospital and held the Horace C. Cabe Professor of Pediatrics Infectious Diseases from 2008-2012. He is board-certified in Pediatrics and Pediatric Infectious Diseases. Dr. Romero is active in Public Health efforts. He has been the state Pediatric Tuberculosis Physician for the ADH since 2012. Dr. Romero holds or has held numerous national and international committee appointments. In 2014, he was appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and served as its Vice Chairman from 2015-2018. In July 2018 he became the ACIP Chairman for a 3-year term. Since 2015 he has been a member of the Polio National Certification Commission of the United States and became the committee’s Vice Chairman in 2019. He served on the Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) from 2007-2012 and its Chairman from 2011-2012.

Erica DeWald - Erica DeWald is the owner of Coffeehouse Communications and serves as VYF’s Director of Advocacy. She leads VYF’s efforts at both the state and federal level to educate legislators, media, and the public about the value of vaccines. She has developed relationships with immunization partners throughout the nation to ensure that our work supports grassroots efforts to ensure effective vaccine policies at the state level.

Chad Rodgers, MD has been practicing pediatrics at Little Rock Pediatric Clinic for 19 years. He
provides Well Child Care and vaccinations to children from birth to 18 years of age. He also serves as Arkansas Chapter Immediate Past President for the American Academy of Pediatrics, the largest professional organization for pediatricians representing over 60,000 members. He also currently serves at the President of the Arkansas Medical Society. He is the Chief Medical Officer for Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, an organization that has worked for over 45 years in the state of Arkansas to improve healthcare through evaluation and education.

Joseph Smyser, PhD- Dr. Joe Smyser is the CEO of The Public Good Projects (PGP), a public health nonprofit that designs and implements large-scale programs. PGP is heavily involved in vaccine promotion efforts. Under Dr. Smyser's leadership, PGP designs and manages Kaiser  Permanente's seasonal flu campaign for minority communities. These campaigns have increased vaccination rates and reduced measures of vaccine hesitancy. PGP created the nation's largest vaccine hesitancy and opposition media monitoring program, Project VCTR, used by over 200 health organizations. PGP partnered with UNICEF, creating a new Vaccine Demand Observatory to track and respond to vaccine misinformation in several West African countries. PGP partnered with GSK, creating a new multinational organization to better leverage peer networks to promote pro-vaccine messages. Finally, PGP runs a national social advocacy campaign, Stronger, mobilizing the public against misinformation and for vaccines.
Dr. Smyser received his Masters in Public Health from San Diego State, his PhD in public health from University of California San Diego's School of Medicine, and completed his post-doctoral training at the CDC.

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Presentations in order

Dillaha State of State presentatio photo
Dr Romero.JPG
DeWald Presentation Photo.JPG
Rodgers presentation photo.JPG
Smyser presentation photo.JPG