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Our Team

Elisa MendelElisa Mendel

Elisa Mendel

Vice President, Workforce and Community Health Solutions

What is your role on the Thriving Schools team?
My role is to help make the overall program successful and impactful in order for our schools to thrive.

Favorite school subject?
I always loved math, especially Algebra!

Annie Reed, DrPH, MPPAnnie Reed, DrPH, MPP

Annie Reed, DrPH, MPP

National Senior Director, Thriving Schools

What is your role on the Thriving Schools team?
Annie leads Thriving Schools, including the team, partnerships, and strategy.

What inspired your career choice to improve health in school communities?
Our health and wealth trajectories are established in our youth and determined by many factors that are out of our individual control. There’s an incredible opportunity to increase life-long health and wellness through policies and systems change in education settings.

Favorite teacher?
Mrs. Byrd, my 5th and 6th grade teacher! She made a giant impression on me. On the first day of 5th grade she taught us the definition of “stereotype” and its many manifestations. It was transformational. Additionally, whe looked strangely like my grandmother, was a fierce advocate for children, and taught me how to diagram a sentence like nobody’s business.

Rujuta Gaonkar, MPHRujuta Gaonkar, MPH

Rujuta Gaonkar, MPH

National Program Lead

What is your role on the Thriving Schools team?
Rujuta oversees the development and implementation of racial justice strategies both within the Thriving Schools team and in KP’s work with schools.

What inspired your career choice to improve health in school communities?
As schools are one of the most influential systems in the lives of young people, Rujuta feels inspired and honored to channel her passion for racial justice through opportunities to ensure its intersection with the physical, mental and social well-being of students, staff, teachers and families.

Favorite recess activity?
Cherry drops on the monkey bars!

Mariah Lafleur, MPHMariah Lafleur, MPH

Mariah Lafleur, MPH

National Program Lead

What is your role on the Thriving Schools team?
Mariah leads creation of school health initiatives that includes and integrates mental, physical, and social health for students, staff and teachers. She also oversees the work and relationships with external Thriving Schools organizational partners.

What inspired your career choice to improve health in school communities?
Mariah was inspired to work in school health by recognizing the spaces and places where we spend time are a huge factor in deciding how healthy we are, and that school and education settings can determine and encourage healthy behaviors for people early in life.

Favorite subject in school?
Mariah has been an avid reader since the age of four, and her fondest school memories are of story time and library visits in primary school, and creative writing and literature in secondary school.

Mary Mancuso, MPHMary Mancuso, MPH

Mary Mancuso, MPH

National Program Lead

What is your role on the Thriving Schools team?
Mary is a National Program Lead for our internal customer and employer-facing stakeholders – often with a focus on educator well-being.

What inspired your career choice to improve health in school communities?
As a former public school teacher, Mary saw every day how health impacted her students’ ability to learn. She ultimately left the field to pursue an advanced degree in public health, but has found the perfect niche of health in education with Thriving Schools.

Favorite subject in school?
Mary’s favorite subject in school was Reading. She was always said to “have her nose in a book” and continues to be an avid reader as an adult.

Rickie Lee Marker-Hoffman, MPH, MSRickie Lee Marker-Hoffman, MPH, MS

Rickie Lee Marker-Hoffman, MPH, MS

National Program Lead

What is your role on the Thriving Schools team?
Rickie Lee connects internal partners to support the implementation of Thriving Schools resources across our markets, including supporting Educational Theatre programming across the enterprise.

What inspired your career choice to improve health in school communities?
Rickie Lee has been in the health and wellness field for 10+ years. She js passionate about the connection of systems and environments to support health, as well as the connection between mental and physical health. She believes that when we are intentional and create environments that support mental, physical and social health, educators and students can thrive.

Favorite recess game?
Rickie Lee lived in a world of make believe and loved imaginary play. Lava monster was a favorite!

Jared RandolphJared Randolph

Jared Randolph

National Program Lead

What is your role on the Thriving Schools team?
Jared is the National Team Lead for Educational Theatre; serving educators and students with programs on mental, physical, and social health.

What inspired your career choice to improve health in school communities?
As a theatre maker, Jared has always been interested in fostering learning through artistic experiences and sparking dialogue between audience members. Our work with Educational Theatre inspires everyone to make informed choices about their health and build stronger, healthier communities.

Favorite subject in school?
Jared’s favorite subject in school was drama. It was a inclusive environment that welcomed everyone looking for a creative outlet or the opportunity to find their voice.

Rachael Wooden, MARachael Wooden, MA

Rachael Wooden, MA

National Program Lead

What is your role on the Thriving Schools team?
Rachael is a National Program Lead overseeing the intersection of social determinants of health and school communities.

What inspired your career choice to improve health in school communities?
Rachael was an elementary school teacher for ten years and has a deep commitment to the well-being of teachers, students, and school staff. She strives for a world where every member of a school community has what they need to work, learn, and live a long healthy life.

Favorite school subject?
She loved all her arts classes and found ways to turn every assignment into an arts project.

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