Our Alumni Chapter

The School of Public Health Alumni Chapter (SPHAC) is a community of alumni and current students of the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta. The Chapter executive consists of alumni and student representatives that are supported by School staff who work together to foster a sense of community among the Chapter's members.


To champion and foster a sense of community among School of Public Health alumni.

Guiding Principles

The School of Public Health Alumni Chapter strives to:

  • build a sense of community among alumni.
  • engage alumni and students through hosting a variety of events.
  • support and champion relevant initiatives by the School of Public Health and the University of Alberta.  


The School of Public Health Alumni Chapter was approved in 2011 as an alumni chapter under the auspices of the University of Alberta Alumni Association. All graduates of programs in the Centre for Health Promotion Studies and the (former) Department of Public Health Sciences are members.

This new, unified chapter was launched in cooperation with the executives of two previous chapters affiliated with our School: the Public Health Sciences Alumni Association (PHSAA) and the Health Promotion Alumni Association (HPAA). 

This new chapter represents renewed enthusiasm and commitment to pursue its mission.  

SPHAC Executive Members

  • Ali Assi (MPH '15); chair

    Ali graduated with a master of public health (MPH) degree in global health from the University of Alberta in 2015. Currently, he is the community engagement lead for a research team in the Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta, working with a diverse group of government officials, community leaders, and health care providers in the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Ali's research and work interests lie in the dynamics of health and its social determinants among Indigenous communities, refugees and immigrants.

    As a student, Ali served as the president of the School of Public Health Students’ Association and was the co-founder of the University of Alberta student group, Jericho Project.

    Ali has volunteered extensively with non-governmental organizations and social groups including the Red Cross, Student Health Initiative for the Needs of Edmonton and iHuman Youth Society. Currently, Ali is also a board member of the Pride Centre of Edmonton.

  • Kayla Atkey (MSc '14); director

    Kayla Atkey is the policy analyst for the Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention, located in the School of Public Health. In this role, Kayla helps to coordinate the activities of the coalition as well as synthesizes evidence on policy activities to reduce chronic disease in Alberta. Kayla is also a board member for Alberta Food Matters and the Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada, and is a member of the leadership council for Farm to Cafeteria Canada.

    As a student, Kayla was actively involved in the school of public health community and served on the School of Public Health Students’ Association as the external relations coordinator.

    Kayla is passionate about health promotion from an ecological lens and the use of collaborative advocacy to facilitate healthy policy change.

  • Jongregor Elliott (MPH '12); director

    Jongregor Elliott received his master of health in occupational and environmental health from the School of Public Health in 2012. For 10 years Jon was an environmental health officer on First Nations lands in Alberta and has worked with most First Nations communities in the province.  During this time he dealt with routine work of addressing water quality, poor housing conditions and other environmental health concerns. He also worked on planning, response and recovery after many emergency events.

    While at the First Nations Inuit Health Branch he assisted in the development of a geographic information system, and the overhaul and maintenance of an inspection database.  For a number of years, Jon held the role of vice-president of the Alberta Branch of the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors. 

    Looking for a change, Jon brought his knowledge and experience to Alberta Health and worked on developing policies and conducting regulatory review relating to food safety.  During the Fort McMurray fires last summer, Jon dedicated his time to assisting in the development and review of re-entry plans.  Jon is currently working on a number of files, including the provincial response to opioids, effects stemming from the legalization of cannabis and policies related to antimicrobial resistance. 

  • Meredith Scroggins Niewczas (MPH '11); director

    Meredith Scroggins Niewczas is currently a quality improvement consultant in the Primary Health Care portfolio at Alberta Health Services. Her work focuses on supporting primary care teams test and implement practice changes that aim to improve patient access, support continuity of service, and optimize person-centred care.

    Meredith earned her master in public health in health promotion in 2011. As a student Meredith was actively involved in the school of public health community and served on the School of Public Health Students’ Association as the co-president.

  • Alicia (Yajing) Yang (MSc '15); director

    Alicia (Yajing) started her professional career with Covenant Health after earning her master of science in health promotion in 2015. She has had experience in patient relations and engagement, and is now involved in continuing care projects across the province of Alberta to support the organization's strategic priorities and decision making process. Alicia is very passionate about quality improvement and project management in healthcare.

    As a student, Alicia was an active volunteer with student groups and non-profit organizations. She was an executive member of the Emerging Health Leaders Edmonton Node, one of the founders and vice-president of the University of Alberta Chinese Graduate Students Club and a volunteer with Alberta Health Services at the University of Alberta Hospital.

  • Simrat Sandha (MPH student); student representative

    Simrat is a master of public health student in epidemiology at the School of Public Health. She is currently the epidemiology director-at-large on the School of Public Health Students' Association. She also volunteers with the Women in Scholarship: Engineering, Science and Technology (WISEST) Program Committee to promote women in STEM fields. 

    Aside from graduate school, Simrat enjoys dancing, playing the piano and baking. 

  • Elizabeth Wishart (MSc student); student representative

    Elizabeth is a master of science in epidemiology student at the School of Public Health. She currently serves as the external relations coordinator for the School of Public Health Students' Association, and is the School of Public Health representative on the Health Sciences Students' Association.

    Elizabeth enjoys playing soccer and running in her spare time, and her favourite place to be is anywhere her dog is. 

  • Salima Thawer (MPH '13); University of Alberta Alumni Council representative

    Salima graduated with a master of public health in public health leadership from the University of Alberta in 2013. Salima is a part-time clinical instructor and assistant clinical professor with the University of Alberta's Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry.  She is interested in public health interventions related to oral health and teaches courses related to community health within the dental hygiene program. 

    Salima has served on a number of boards and committees including; the University of Alberta’s Ismaili Alumni Chapter; the Aga Khan Health Board for Edmonton; the Commission for Dental Accreditation of Canada; and as a councilor to the College of Registered Dental Hygienists of Alberta. She currently serves as the public health faculty representative for the University of Alberta’s Alumni Council.  

  • Donna Richardson (BCom '85, MEd '89); School representative

    Donna is the director of marketing and alumni relations in the School of Public Health. In this role, she leads a talented team of marketing and communications professionals in the daily activities of the Office of Marketing and Alumni Relations. 

    Prior to joining the University of Alberta in 1999, Donna worked at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology for 19 years. There, she taught in the marketing program and, later, served as communications specialist in Community Relations.

    Donna is enthusiastic about the possibilities that come with helping alumni stay connected to each other, as well as with the School of Public Health.

  • Rachel Harper (BA '07); School representative

    Rachel is the communications and alumni associate in the School of Public Health. In this role, she coordinates a broad portfolio of activities in support of the goals and objectives of the School. 

    Prior to joining the University of Alberta in 2014, Rachel worked in the not-for-profit sector for over six years holding various roles in health promotion and amateur sport development. 

    Rachel is looking forward to helping all stakeholders stay engaged and involved with the School.