Maria Thacker Goethe is the founding CEO of The Center for Global Health Innovation (CGHI), an Atlanta-based organization formed in 2020 from the merger of Georgia’s major global health and life sciences organizations. CGHI was established as an impartial, leading organizer of the global health, life sciences and health technology community which embraces cross-sector collaboration and speaks with a collective voice.
Maria is also the president and CEO of Georgia Bio, a role she has held since Feb. 2019, after spending more than 12 years actively building the organization into one of the state’s top bioscience and MedTech associations.
Under her leadership, the Georgia Global Health Alliance, BioEd Institute and Global Health Crisis Coordination Center were established and now reside within CGHI.
Prior to Georgia Bio, Maria participated in a fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry in environmental investigations, working closely with the National Center of Environmental Health in Chemical Demilitarization.
Maria serves on the board of the CJD Foundation, Southeast Life Sciences Association, and KSU Research Foundation, and as vice chair for the Council of State Bioscience Associations. Most recently, she was named to Georgia Trend magazine’s 2021 “100 Most Influential Georgians” list. Additionally, Maria has volunteered for 11 years with the Junior League of Atlanta.
Maria holds a master’s in public health from Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from Sweet Briar College. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, Patrick, and daughter Cecilia.
Andrew Randall is an Atlanta native and licensed CPA in the state of Georgia. Andrew has a varied background in finance and accounting with a particular expertise in nonprofit financial leadership and management. His career began fifteen years ago with a large local accounting firm where Andrew primarily focused on corporate tax planning and compliance. Andrew then transitioned to the nonprofit sector in 2011 serving as Controller and subsequently CFO of TMS Global. In 2018, Andrew formed his own consulting business where he provides outsourced Controller, CFO and accounting solutions to a variety of organizations, including a multi-year outsourced Controller engagement with Gray Matters Capital, a highly regarded impact investing organization based in Atlanta.
Andrew earned his Bachelor and Master of Accounting degrees from the University of Georgia, and in recent years completed a Nonprofit Management Certificate Program through Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
Andrew lives with his wife Lori, two young sons Will (5) and Wes (3), and three cats in Roswell. Lori is a primary care physician with Northside Hospital in Atlanta. In his free time, Andrew enjoys spending time with his kids, running along the Chattahoochee River, making espresso, and preparing/eating vegan food.
Kristina Forbes is the Vice President of Operations for the Center for Global Health Innovation (CGHI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering the international global health, health technology, and life sciences ecosystem to enhance health outcomes around the world. She is responsible for the strategic direction, financial management, and business operations and does this through leading initiatives designed to cultivate relationships and expand networks within the multiple industries represented through CGHI’s membership. Ms. Forbes enhances global health and economic development initiatives through collaboration, advocacy, and support of CGHI’s divisions: Georgia Bio, Georgia BioEd Institute, Georgia Global Health Alliance, and the Global Health Crisis Coordination Center.
Kristina is passionate about community engagement and service, dedicating her time in and out of the office towards promoting STEAM opportunities, entrepreneurship, innovation, and youth development. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and began her career in nonprofit management, to include the Technology Association of Georgia, Chi Phi Educational Trust, and the Atlanta Area Council – Boy Scouts of America. She has volunteered with multiple community organizations and currently serves on the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta Junior Board and the Georgia Intellectual Property Alliance Board.
Ashley Williams Haltom is a government affairs professional with almost a decade of experience working in politics and government.
After graduating from the University of Georgia, she began her career working in state government in then-Governor Deal’s Office of Workforce Development. In addition to agency experience, she spent several years working in state and federal campaigns before transitioning to the Georgia House of Representatives, serving in both the offices of Speaker David Ralston and House Media Services. Most recently, Ashley spent four years with a statewide membership association as the Communications Director and a staff lobbyist, honing her advocacy skills and continuing to create relationships under the Gold Dome.
Ashley and her husband Stephen live in West Midtown with their dog, George. She is a 2018 graduate of the Miller Leadership Institute and is actively involved with several community and philanthropic organizations, including the Junior League of Atlanta, Atlanta Community Food Bank, and the Red Shoe Society.
Emily Hutmacher joins the Global Center for Healthcare Innovation team with nearly 20 years of fundraising experience for a variety of local, state and national health and human service organizations. Her most recent work has been as Chief Development Officer of The National Pancreas Foundation.
Hutmacher has worked in leadership roles with nonprofits including Playworks -Georgia, The Sandy Springs Arts Foundation, YearUp Atlanta, and The United Way of Greater Atlanta.
In addition, Emily has expertise in healthcare philanthropy having fundraised for two major hospital systems in Atlanta, Georgia; Piedmont Healthcare and Emory Healthcare.
Emily also served as The Vice President of Development for Visiting Nurse Health System/Hospice Atlanta, Georgia’s largest and only non-profit home health/hospice organization.
Her diverse roles include project management, development and implementation of strategic plans utilizing best practices in capital fundraising, foundation relations, special events, board engagement, as well as corporate and community relations.
Emily holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and an MBA from Rice University.
Emily and her husband Warren reside in Atlanta, Georgia with their two children.
Edie Stringfellow is the Vice President of Ecosystem Development for the Center of Global Health Innovation (CGHI) where she is responsible for recruiting pioneering organizations to expand the innovative, entrepreneurial, and collaborative ecosystem of CGHI’s Global Health Innovation District b.k.a “The District;” a growing and thriving marketplace where the life sciences community works together to balance global and local priorities and perspectives. She is also developing programs to draw and engage district participants as well as the surrounding community in a manner that creates mutual value and advances the CGHI’s mission.
Edie takes pride in being ‘The Mayor’ of The District where its focus is ‘glocal’, combining global health expertise to produce local impact and beyond. She has made it her personal mission to create a culture where everyone is welcomed and an experience where risk takers and biomedical explorers can thrive as well as support world class organizations to solve health crises.
As Head of CGHI’s Innovation & Health Equity Office and Command Center (launching Q3 2022), Edie will work with numerous organizations via a transformational digital network to address health disparities in underserved and under-resourced populations. It will work in partnership with corporations to develop a process to help them understand their responsibility in achieving equity where they do business and within their workforce. The office will leverage its relationships to assist life science companies with increasing diversity in clinical trials and their talent pipelines. Additionally, she will provide strategic guidance to The Center’s workforce and crisis response units to ensure their programs and projects are equitable and accountable.
While at the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, Edie served as the Sr. Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Prior to MassBio, she was a Director of Patient Recruitment for a clinical research agency. Currently, The Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) Awareness Advocate is on the Mass General Brigham Biobank / NIH All of Us Research Program Community Advisory Panel and the Medable Patient Advisory Council. She is also a member of the Vaccine Atlanta Outreach Initiative and a member of WITH (Women Innovating Together in Healthcare) global organization, Boston Chapter.
Before transitioning to the Life Sciences, Edie spent 15 years in Sports, Entertainment and Film and worked at ESPN as well as on projects for German Channel ZDF, Global Insight Pretoria S.A., and Toronto Sports Network. Due to life-changing events of losing loved ones to SCD complications, Edie embarked on a new career journey, committed to making an impact by passionately assisting organizations that work towards improving people’s lives. Edie splits her time between Boston, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. When her schedule permits, she enjoys working on sports/film/music/theatrical productions related to STEM. She has a daughter that is Pre-Med at the University of Miami who is an inspiring neurosurgeon and screenwriter.
“Viruses have no boundaries, so neither should we. The diseases we fight are rare, but the opportunities to fight them shouldn’t be.” - Edie Stringfellow
Stephanie Adams, PhD
Managing Director, Global Health & Crisis Coordination
Dr. Adams has more than 20 years of experience in the Biotech and Pharmaceutical industry. Most recently, she served as a consultant with King and Spalding’s intellectual property counseling practice. As Senior Patent Agent, she worked with inventors, universities and biomedical companies to evaluate potential inventions for patentability and commercial value while developing and implementing appropriate strategies. Her management and prosecution of global patent portfolios for over a decade resulted in the issuance of dozens of patents. Stephanie’s expertise extends across a wide range of biotechnology areas, including molecular biology, neuroscience, immunology and vaccines.
Stephanie also served as Executive Director of Southeast Life Sciences (formerly Southeast BIO). As director of this regional nonprofit organization, she augmented the growth of the life sciences industry in the Southeastern U.S. through efforts that promoted entrepreneurship and brought together companies, investors, universities and support organizations.
She has been active in the Georgia and Southeastern life sciences communities for over twenty years, promoting its growth through involvement in industry organizations, events, speaking and client counseling. This promotion has extended into the community through a variety of science-based initiatives at local schools.
Stephanie obtained her Ph.D. from Emory University. Her research focused on the molecular biology of novel peptides involved in the central control of reward and satiety and was presented at numerous international symposiums and published in prominent scientific journals.
Kristin Boscan serves as the Managing Director of Workforce Development for the Center for Global Health Innovation in Atlanta. Boscan leads workforce initiatives that target all points of the workforce pipeline, from K-12 to post-secondary, to early-career professionals. Initiatives include science teacher professional development, an Equipment Depot of free lab supplies for hands-on science in k-12 classrooms, career awareness campaigns, implementing industry-recognized credentials, and a mentor program for graduate level students.
Boscan began her career in education and administration in upstate New York, where she led classroom instruction, professional development, and curriculum writing, as well as pioneered the first middle level alternative program. A move to greater-Atlanta led to a career in healthcare staffing and recruiting, followed by marketing toward the economic development of the healthcare, life sciences, and biotech industries. Within Georgia, Kristin continues to serves on Atlanta Public School’s CTAE Advisory Board, Sims Academy Board of Directors, and Level Creek Elementary’s Local School Council.
Kristin holds a Bachelor’s in Human Performance and Kinesiology, a Master’s in Elementary Education, and Educational Administration Certifications from the University of Rochester.
Ryan Brooks is an expert storyteller and communications professional with nearly a decade of experience working in politics, government, and consulting.
After graduating from Furman University, Ryan began working in state government at the office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. In addition to state government experience, Ryan worked for the United States House of Representatives for over three years where he drafted communications about healthcare policy and other legislation. Following his time working for congress, Ryan planned and implemented communications strategies from start to finish for various clients, including biotechs, pharmaceuticals and hospital systems, as a consultant.
An Atlanta native, Ryan lives on the beltline in Southwest Atlanta with his wife Sarah and their three cats.
Megan Heaphy serves as the Project Coordinator for the Rural Teacher Training Initiative, which brings hands-on bioscience experiences to 7th to 12th grade rural teachers. This experiential training equips teachers with the knowledge, skills, and equipment to prepare students with real-life bioscience career competencies and readiness to enter Georgia’s thriving life science industry.
Megan began her career in education as a high school AP Biology and Chemistry teacher. After 9 years of teaching in metro Atlanta schools, Megan returned to school at Georgia State University, where she studied biology with a focus in biochemistry and microbiology while holding a teaching assistantship and performing research. Her research focused on the impact of hands-on bioreactor use in an introductory microbiology lab course on student outcomes and perceptions of science. Megan joined Georgia Bio in February as the Program Intern for the Georgia BioEd Institute. During her internship, she supported the planning and execution of educational programs and initiatives and strengthened community partnerships to increase the efficiency and impact of GaBioEd.
Megan has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Master of Science in Biology with a concentration in Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry at Georgia State University. In her free time, Megan enjoys horseback riding, gardening, and traveling and hiking with her husband.
Mr. Weakland has directed and managed international and domestic health programmes for over 30 years. He most recently served as the Senior Advisor for Strategic Management and Operations and guides and supports the development of public health programme management and business operational systems for advancing Africa CDC scientific and strategic goals and objectives within the context of the African Union. Prior to joining Africa CDC, Mr. Weakland served in a number of executive and line management functions with the US CDC, including serving as the Deputy Director, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria and Associate Director for Management and Operations in the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases.
In his 28 years with CDC, Leo is most proud of his work in supporting research leading to the successful antiretroviral therapy and life-saving treatment of Africans living with HIV. His work in collaboration with WHO, UNICEF, the American Red Cross and the UN Foundation to support African Member State efforts to immunize children against measles helped achieve a 60% reduction in related mortality between 2002 and 2007 in Africa. Mr. Weakland holds a Master of Science in public health with specialization in health policy and administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is fluent in English, French and Haitian Créole.
Dr. Breiman was most recently Director of the Emory Global Health Institute and holds faculty appointments in the Hubert Department of Global Health at the Rollins School of Public Health and in the Infectious Disease Department of the Emory University School of Medicine. During his over 30-year career in public health and academia, Dr. Breiman’s primary areas of research have been related to addressing inequities with focus on child mortality, immunizations, urbanization in impoverished settings, and a range of respiratory and enteric diseases, as well as a variety of emerging infectious diseases.
In addition to his research, Dr. Breiman is currently working on translating global health work to increase public awareness and engagement. Until 2020, he was the Executive Director and Principal Investigator for the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) network. CHAMPS, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), is designed to characterize and provide crucial data for preventing childhood mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia; it currently works in S Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh and India. Dr. Breiman has also been PI of BMGF and Gavi-funded projects focused on typhoid surveillance, rotavirus immunization impact, and characterizing the evolution of pneumococcal genetics globally during the era of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine use.
Before joining Emory in 2013, Dr. Breiman worked at CDC for 26 years. From 2004-2013, he was based in Nairobi, Kenya as the Director of CDC-Kenya’s Global Disease Detection Division, and for three years as overall Director of CDC-Kenya. Breiman was Head, of the Programme on Infectious Diseases and Vaccine Sciences at the internationally acclaimed International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research in Dhaka, Bangladesh (ICDDR, B) from 2000-2004. He was Director of the United States National Vaccine Program Office (NVPO) from 1995-2000 and was Chief of the Epidemiology Section of the Respiratory Diseases Branch (RDB) from 1989-1997. He served in the Epidemic Intelligence Service at CDC from 1987-1989 in RDB.
Dr. Breiman was elected into the National Academy of Medicine in 2017 and is a Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH).
Phil Gibson, Principal at PhilipGGibson Consulting, works to put qualified applicants together with opportunities. He has over 32 years of experience in technical education bringing industry together with an emerging workforce through designed preparatory systems. One of the most important of our challenges is to provide opportunity to those seeking it. We must make this a priority. He currently serves as Principal Investigator for a National Science Foundation grant for Implementation of an Industry-Recognized Credentialing System for Biotechnicians.
Elisabeth (Lisa) Hayes is an international global health consultant, specializing in strategy and stakeholder engagement towards improved outcomes. With over 15 years of experience in international strategy development and implementation and partnerships, Lisa has produced results with high level and diverse stakeholders that include: leaders of UN agencies (WHO, UNICEF, UN General Assembly, UNECE, UNDP); global health agencies (The Task Force for Global Health, The Carter Center, CDC, Ministries of Health); Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs); donors (Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, World Bank, regional development banks, bilateral aid organizations); and thought leaders from around the world. A skilled meeting and logistics planner, Lisa has managed and supported complex, multi-tiered, high-level committees for international health and development that include a UN General Assembly session; the Global Road Safety Stakeholder Forum in Geneva, Switzerland; regional road safety forums in Costa Rica and Puerto Rico and qualitative research with experts to advance program goals.
A skilled executive leader, Lisa most recently served as Executive Director of the Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council (Safety Net) for five years. Her work coordinated strategy implementation among a planning body of key stakeholders with the goal to: 1) work to strengthen the health care infrastructure; 2) build safety net system capacity; and, 3) improve access to primary and behavioral health care in Coastal Georgia. As a result of this leadership, Safety Net received multiple awards. This includes the 2017 Community Impact Award from Georgians for a Healthy Future for directly improving the health of Georgians in and around their community. Lisa was also recognized as a finalist (one of three national honorees) for the Milbank Memorial Fund and AcademyHealth’s 2018 State and Local Innovation Prize (for “Building Continuity of Care System for Chatham County Jail Inmates via Health Information Exchange”).
For six years, Lisa served as a Senior Associate Program Director at the Task Force for Global Health in two programs: The Center for Global Health Collaboration and The Global Road Safety Forum. In this role, she developed, coordinated and implemented multi-tiered strategies with high level stakeholders for sustainable solutions. For example, she led a national partnership in Uruguay to implement a seat belt law; write and pass a UN Resolution to address road safety with international team; co-authored the book, “Real Collaboration: What it Takes for Global Health to Succeed.” The book details a roadmap, or “Journey” partnership framework, with a toolkit designed to improve outcomes and evaluation metrics for global health partnerships.
Lisa earned a Master of Business Administration from The Goizueta Business School at Emory University, with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She is an alumni Fellow of the 11th class of the Liberty Fellowship Program and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, of the Aspen Institute. A member of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Georgetown University Center for Children and Families’ Children’s Health Leadership Network (CHLN) and coordinates a strategy to improve children’s health in Georgia. A recognized thought leader, Lisa is a Fellow at Emory’s Institute for Developing Nations.
Nakia helps researchers commercialize their Biotechnology, Energy, Defense, Military Technology, Education, Government Technology, and Aerospace technology. He also helps them secure investments from a network of federally funded laboratories, universities, and corporations. Throughout his career, he has worked with industry, academia, and government. As a result, Nakia has a unique and deep understanding of the early-stage innovation ecosystem and technology transfer, proven scientific and technical expertise, and decades of operational experience in technology-driven, high-growth companies. He has successfully helped startups and develop businesses worldwide in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Nigeria, and Ghana.
Nakia’s passion as a business advisor, deep-tech, deep-science mentor, and startup coach inspires and helps entrepreneurs and startups spun out of university research. A seasoned entrepreneur, Nakia allows entrepreneurs to execute their ideas while guiding them in the total startup journey — from product development and selling to the government, to their go-to-market strategy and customer discovery to scaling a company and getting capital. He has worked with more than 700 startups worldwide, with more than 15,000 hours of classroom time working with entrepreneurs.
Nakia is an active member and mentor of the technology community and a frequent contributor to numerous business organizations, including the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). He is a longtime technology startup mentor, having served in that role at Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Institute of Technology, the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (NSF I-Corps), the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), Georgia Tech Create X mentor, MIT Hack Medicine, DOD lab mentor, NSF I-Corps Adjunct Instructor at Georgia Institute of Technology, Hack for Defense Instructor (H4D), Defense Innovation Accelerator Mentor (DIA), and StartMe at Emory University. He also has a deep understanding of SBIR-STTR. He has been intimately involved with many new emerging growth technologies, including government, universities, and corporate innovation. He is a board member for several startups and is involved in two Health-tech Medical Device startups, which are actively funded by SBIR Phase I NIH and SBIR Phase I NSF. Mr. Melecio has a master’s degree in Education, Teaching, Learning, and Educational Technology, a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Science, and a Doctor of Psychology Educational Psychology, Educational Leadership.