Our Alumni Chapter

The School of Public Health Alumni Chapter (SPHAC) 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 mutually beneficial goals. We are excited about the opportunities to strengthening relations between our School and alumni.

We invite you to read on and meet your alumni chapter executive.

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • Tahmid Kashem (MPH student); School of Public Health Students' Association representative

    Tahmid is an international medical graduate who was originally trained in Bangladesh. He is currently enrolled in the master of public health program in health policy and management at the School of Public Health. His interests lie in establishing a better patient-oriented health care system and developing health policies focused on the best practices and quality outcome. He is also interested in explicating the social and political barriers associated with health policy development on vulnerable populations specifically addiction and mental health, people residing in long-term care, and maternal and child health.

    Tahmid is an executive member of the School of Public Health Students’ Association where he holds the position of external relations representative. He is also a student representative of the Health Sciences Students Association (HSSA).  In his free time, he enjoys playing cricket, wild-life, nature and landscape photography, watching movies, traveling, and spending quality time with friends and families.

  • Jacqueline Burt (MSc student); School of Public Health Students' Association representative

    Jacqueline is a master of science in health promotion and socio-behavioural sciences student with the School of Public Health. She serves as a student representative on both the School of Public Health Alumni Chapter and the Committee on Educational Policy and Programs.

    In addition to her academic pursuits, Jacqueline is a study coordinator for neurodegeneration and aging research at the University of Alberta. She has been with the Division of Neurology at the Department of Medicine since 2014. In this capacity, she works primarily with individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

    Jacqueline actively volunteers with KidSport, the Prairie Urban Farm, and the Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention. 

  • 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. 

School of Public Health Alumni Chapter Terms of Reference

1. Name: The name of the committee shall be the University of Alberta School of Public Health Alumni Chapter, hereinafter known as the Chapter.


2. Mission: To support School of Public Health alumni to champion public health approaches; to foster a sense of community among alumni; and to promote the goals and values of the School of Public Health.

3. Chapter Membership:

3.1 All graduates of programs offered by the School of Public Health shall be members of the Chapter.

3.2 All graduates of programs offered by the Department of Public Health Sciences (previously known as the Department of Health Services Administration and Community Medicine) and the Centre for Health Promotion Studies prior to the formation of the School of Public Health in 2006 are members of this Chapter.

3.3 Any individual who has rendered outstanding service to the Chapter may become an honorary member upon identification as such by the Executive Committee. 

4. Executive Committee: 

4.1 The Executive Committee, guided by the mission and supporting work plan, will implement the goals of the Chapter, as long as they are not in conflict with the University of Alberta, the University of Alberta Alumni Association, or the School of Public Health or its student groups or clubs.

4.2 The powers of the Executive Committee shall include:

4.2.1 Promoting the goals of the Chapter

4.2.2 Recommending an annual budget for the Chapter

4.2.3 Raising funds for scholarships or bursaries

4.2.4 Making policies, rules and regulations for operating the Chapter


4.3 The Executive Committee shall consist of the following members:

4.3.1 Chair

4.3.2 A maximum of five Directors, with at least two that are based in Edmonton and at least one that is not based in Edmonton

4.3.3 A maximum of two student representatives

4.3.4 A maximum of two representatives from the School of Public Health, with one having responsibility for marketing, communications and alumni relations

4.3.5 Past Chair
4.3.6 A maximum of two Directors-at-Large

4.4 The Chair will assume the following duties:

4.4.1 Preside at all meetings of the Executive Committee. In the absence of the Chair, a chairperson shall be appointed by the members present.

4.4.2 Work in collaboration with the Executive Committee to establish work plans, implementation timelines and high level evaluation of progress.

4.4.3 Work with the representative(s) from the School of Public Health who will provide Secretariat functions.

4.4.4 Work in collaboration with the Executive Committee to establish the Chapter meeting schedule and prepare and circulate an agenda in advance of meetings.

4.4.5 Review the Chapter meeting minutes for accuracy and distribute them to the Executive Committee and to the University’s Office of Alumni Relations.

4.4.6 Liaise with the University’s Office of Alumni Relations and forward, as requested, minutes, reports, Chapter news, and other information.

4.4.7 Develop Chapter related documents as required.

4.5 The five Directors, student representatives, School of Public Health representative(s) and Directors-at-Large will assume the following duties:

4.5.1 Champion the mission and goals of SPHAC.

4.5.2 Attend and actively participate in Chapter Executive meetings.

4.5.3 Serve on sub-committees formed to achieve the Chapter’s mission and goals.

4.5.4 Serve, on occasion, as volunteers at Chapter-related events and activities as location permits.

4.6 A quorum shall consist of a majority (50% + 1) of members of the committee. A consensus model shall be used for decision making.

4.7 Recruitment for the SPHAC Executive members will occur as follows:

4.7.1 Recruitment of Chair

4.7.1.1 Will be the responsibility of the incumbent SPHAC Chair.

4.7.1.2 Will preferably come from the pool of current executive who have served a minimum of two years.

4.7.2 Recruitment of Directors

4.7.2.1 The Chair will call for nominations and the names of potential suitable candidates will be confirmed.

4.7.2.2 An Executive Committee member will be assigned to gauge the potential candidate’s interest.

4.7.2.3 At an Executive Committee meeting the candidates will be confirmed and the Chair will subsequently notify the person and advise them of the next meeting date.

4.7.2.4 A staggered approach to recruitment will be used when possible, to optimize continuity.

4.7.3 Recruitment of School of Public Health Representatives

4.7.3.1 The senior person responsible for marketing, communications and alumni relations will be designated as the representative.

4.7.3.2 Additional School representatives may be recommended by the person designated in 4.7.3.1

4.7.4 Recruitment of Student Representatives

4.7.4.1 The Chair will ask for a maximum of two representatives from the School of Public Health Student Association (SPHSA).

4.7.5 Recruitment of Past Chair

4.7.5.1 The Past Chair will be encouraged to serve a one year term to support the Executive Committee’s transition to new leadership.

4.7.6 Recruitment of Directors-at-Large

4.7.6.1 Director-at-Large positions shall be used to allow recognized leaders to continue to serve on the Chapter after a prior term is complete and to allow the Chapter access to people with specialized expertise.

4.7.6.2 Directors-at-Large are considered full members of Executive Committee and have the same duties and responsibilities.

4.7.6.3 It is desirable that one of the Directors-at- Large be a member of the University’s Alumni Council.

4.8 Appointment of members for the SPHAC will occur as follows:

4.8.1 The Chair of SPHAC and the SPH representative will share new SPHAC member’s names with the Dean, SPH.

4.8.2 A welcome letter, on SPH letterhead, co-signed by the Dean, SPH and Chair, SPHAC will be sent to each new member and to members assuming new roles.

4.8.3 Appointments for the Chair and Directors will be for a period of not less than two years with the option to renew for one two-year term. An officer shall not serve more than two successive terms in one position.

4.8.4 Appointments of the School of Public Health Representatives will be ongoing for the duration of their position with the School of Public Health.

4.8.5 Appointments of the Student representatives will be at the discretion of the School of Public Health Student Association Executive.

4.8.6 Appointments and timeframes for the Director-at-Large positions will be mutually agreed upon by the individual and the Chair.

4.8.7 If an appointed member resigns their position or otherwise ceases to hold their position, the Chair will initiate recruitment as outlined above in 4.8.

4.9 The Executive Committee shall meet at least 4 (four) times per year at the call of the Chair.


5. Finances: 

5.1 The fiscal year of the Chapter is April 1 to March 31.

5.2 Funds required to operate the Chapter shall be obtained from donations collected; sponsorships; funds from the School of Public Health; or any other dues, membership fees or ticket prices as the Chapter may deem appropriate.

5.3 All funds/finances shall be administered by the University of Alberta Office of Alumni Relations.

5.4 The funding, if available, from the University of Alberta Office of Alumni Relations will be applied for and expended on Chapter operations within each fiscal year.

5.5 The University of Alberta Office of Alumni Relations shall maintain the financial records.


6. Records:

6.1 The Chair shall forward to the School representative a copy of the minutes of all meetings of the Chapter for safe-keeping and will also forward minutes to the University of Alberta Office of Alumni Relations.

6.2 A member wishing to inspect the minutes or financial reports of the Chapter must give the University of Alberta Office of Alumni Relations 10 business days’ notice of their intention to do so. Records that are governed by FOIPP or deemed confidential shall not apply.


7. Amending Terms of Reference:

7.1 The Executive Committee may propose amendments to the Terms of Reference. Proposed amendments must be submitted to the University of Alberta Office of Alumni Relations in writing.

7.2 Amendments shall not take effect until approved by the University of Alberta Office of Alumni Relations.


8. Dissolving the Chapter:

8.1 Should the Chapter have a period of inactivity for a period of two years, it will be deemed to be dissolved and the University of Alberta Office of Alumni Relations will notify the School of Public Health regarding this change.

8.2 If the Chapter is dissolved, the remaining funds, if any, will be used for scholarships or bursaries for students in the School of Public Health.