Core Team

Karen K. Lee, MD, MHSc, FRCPC
Dr. Lee is a Medical Officer of Health (Provincial Public and Population Health) with Alberta Health Services and an Associate Professor in the Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta. She also teaches for the University of Alberta School of Urban & Regional Planning, and Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City (NYC). Lee is a world-renowned expert in creating Fit Cities and served as NYC’s Inaugural Healthy Built environment and Active Design Director, and Deputy to the Assistant Commissioner for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control. She has worked for the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity & Obesity. Her work to create Active Cities: A Guide for City Leaders helped to inspire Edmonton’s Live Active Strategy. She was the recipient of the 2017 Canadian Institute of Planners President’s Award. She is the author of the recent book Fit Cities published by Penguin Random House. For more resources, see

Grant Administrative Coordinator
Mike Polak
Mike came out of the private sector having experience in both public accounting practice and industry. As the Grant Admin Coordinator, Mike’s responsibilities include submitting accurate quarterly financial and progress reports to PHAC. When time permits, Mike also helps in areas of Human Resources, Finance, Accounting and launching the Community Equipment Rental Program off the ground. Mike is excited to be part of the Housing for Health team which is passionate, professional and dedicated to making our living spaces healthier and sustainable.

Executive Assistant
Keyanna Utas
Keyanna has come from the private sector and has worked under many CEOs & Vice Presidents as the Executive Assistant role. Keyanna provides administrative, financial and research-related support to Dr. Lee, as well as the Grant Administration Coordinator and the Housing for Health Team. Keyanna works closely with Dr. Lee and provides support for the entire Research team.

Research and Evaluation Manager
Jodie Stearns, MA, PhD
Jodie has a background in psychology and kinesiology, with specific expertise in physical activity and social networks. She is leading the evaluation of built environment interventions in the two pilot developments targeted at older adults. Jodie is assessing for changes in physical activity, healthy eating, social connections, and perceptions of community environments in residents when they move into the pilot developments. As Research and Evaluation Manager, Jodie ensures that the various research initiatives of Housing for Health are coordinated and connected to other aspects of the project.

Research & Evaluation Coordinator
Kelsey Wright, MSc.
Kelsey is passionate about promoting health equity and wellness for underserved populations. Through her education in Kinesiology, Kelsey studied factors influencing health and wellbeing through multiple perspectives, which continue to inform her research practices. Through her role as a Research and Evaluation Coordinator with Housing for Health, Kelsey works closely with Dr. Lee to oversee the evaluation of built environment interventions on residents’ health and wellbeing.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Pilot Development, Partnership, and Community Engagement Quantitative Studies
Uloma Uche, PhD
Uloma received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from Abia State University, Nigeria, and two graduate degrees, Master of Public Health and Ph.D. in Public Health with a concentration in Environmental and Occupational Health, both from the University of North Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health. Her research has focused on the relationship between environmental factors and obesity. Uloma is currently the partnership and community engagement postdoc of the Housing for Health Team.

BE Assessment Consultant
Kausarul Islam, PhD
Dr. Kausar has a background in Architecture, Urban design, and sustainable urban infrastructure from Concordia University, Montreal, and The Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm. As Geospatial analyst for Housing for Health project. Dr. Kausar conducts a geospatial analysis of built environment audits and compiles spatial and non-spatial data. He also advises on built environment audit methodologies for healthy built environment analysis. His analysis focuses on components of the built environment and their connectedness with overall public health. 

Research Assistant
Marcus Jackson, BA, MSc
Marcus has a background in human geography and urban planning, graduating in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in this field. His master’s thesis research under the supervision of Dr. Karen Lee and Dr. Joshua Evans (Human Geography) used qualitative methods like photovoice and focus groups to examine the role of neighbourhood design in the experiences of health and well-being for older adults. His research with the Housing for Health Project has focused on complete community design inclusive of a health lens. 

Partnership Coordinator
Shanique Killingbeck, BSc, MPH
Shanique is passionate about public health and improving people’s quality of life through changes to living environments and access to safe and healthy food. With an undergraduate degree in Environmental Health, work experience as a Public Health Inspector and a Master of Public Health from the University of Alberta, she believes positive change in behaviour and health can be achieved through stakeholder engagement and participation in the design and implementation of public health programs. Shanique manages and engages the Housing for Health Partnership Working Group and its subcommittees.

Research Assistant
(Will be updated)

Community Engagement Coordinator
Taryn Ma, BA
Taryn has a background in Recreation Therapy and previously worked in Mental Health/Addictions and housing for individuals with complex needs for Alberta Health Services. She is passionate about using leisure and recreation to improve an individual's quality of life. As the Community Engagement Coordinator, she engages community leagues across the Edmonton area to work in partnership with Housing for Health to implement short term interventions to improve physical activity, access to healthy foods and beverages, and social connections.