Inaugural board of directors named for groundbreaking group in academic health and wellness

Contact: Jill Jess Phythyon, 614-688-1062,

The National Consortium for Building Healthy Academic Communities has elected its first board of directors, a historic move in the effort to revolutionize the culture of health and wellness at colleges and universities, the consortium’s new president announced today.

“I cannot express how excited I am to be working with this amazing group of wellness experts,” said BHAC president Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, RN, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN, associate vice president for health promotion, university chief wellness officer, and dean of the College of Nursing at The Ohio State University. “It is a privilege to be part of a groundbreaking team that is transforming health and wellness of academic communities nationwide.”

Melnyk envisioned and led the founding of the National Consortium for Building Healthy Academic Communities, a group of public and private academic institutions dedicated to crafting a comprehensive framework that enriches the health and wellness of students, faculty and staff. The consortium was founded after the inaugural BHAC national summit in April 2013, which was held at Ohio State.

The second BHAC national summit will be April 23-24 at the University of California, Irvine. The summit will convene leaders and nationally recognized authorities in health and wellness to highlight and share best practices in promoting and sustaining wellness, with tracks focused on best practices and evidence-based programming, creating cultures of wellness, marketing and communication for engagement, and mental and emotional well-being.

“We in academia have a unique opportunity to affect the lives of our students, faculty and staff. Our collaborative voices, ideas and expertise can help set the national agenda for health and wellness along with generating and disseminating evidence to support best practices and influence policy,” Melnyk said.

Consortium officers are (full bios can be found at ):

President: Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, RN, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN, is associate vice president for health promotion, university chief wellness officer, and dean of the College of Nursing at The Ohio State University. She also is a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry in the College of Medicine.  She is an internationally recognized expert in evidence-based practice, health and wellness, mental health, and intervention research, and is a frequent keynote speaker at national and international conferences on these topics. Her scholarship record includes over 19 million dollars of sponsored funding from federal agencies as principal investigator and over 250 publications, including four books. She served a four-year term on the 16-member United States Preventive Services Task Force and currently serves as a member of the National Quality Forum’s (NQF) Behavioral Health Standing Committee and the National Institutes of Health’s National Advisory Council for nursing research. In addition, she is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine.  She has successfully led collaborative national initiatives and has served as president of a national organization.

President-Elect: Megan Amaya, PhD, CHES, AFAA, is the director of health promotion and wellness at The Ohio State University. She is president of the Society of Public Health Educators Ohio Chapter, and steering team member for the central region Healthy Ohio Business Council. She is a certified health education specialist, a certified personal trainer and a certified group fitness instructor. Megan has been instrumental in the launching of our National Consortium for Building Healthy Academic Communities.  She coordinated the 2013 National BHAC Summit and the Ohio BHAC Summit in 2014. Amaya also is a member of the planning committee for the 2015 National Summit.

Secretary: Carole Kenner, PhD, RN, FAAN, is dean of The College of New Jersey School of Nursing, Health and Exercise Science, which encompasses nutrition, wellness, fitness, and strength and conditioning. She is executive director/secretary of the Council of International Neonatal Nurses, Inc. and past president of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN). Kenner served as secretary on the board of the American Academy of Nursing (AAN) and is now co-chair of The College of New Jersey Healthy Campus Program Council.  She was instrumental in starting a wellness center at the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing. Kenner has over 30 years’ experience in higher education.  

Treasurer Chair: Karen Moses, PhD, RD, CHES, is the director of ASU Wellness at Arizona State University. She has provided leadership in ASU health promotion initiatives, programs and services, using both individual and environmental approaches to promote health and wellness among college students for 25 years. Recognized as a leader in college health promotion, Moses is a frequent speaker at college health and student affairs professional conferences, and has been consultant to other institutions of higher education to guide their healthy campus initiatives and health promotion programs. She has served in many elected and appointed positions of national associations, including the American College Health Association, Pacific Coast College Health Association, National Network Addressing Collegiate Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention, and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. She co-chaired the committee that developed the Healthy Campus 2010 Objectives for the American College Health Association, helped to develop the Standards of Practice for Health Promotion in Higher Education, and helped to found the NASPA Health Promotion Knowledge Community.  She was previously president of the Arizona Dietetic Association.

Marketing Chair: Angie Brown is the communications manager for the University of Florida’s Office of Human Resources. She has worked in higher education public relations for more than 20 years, having previously served in communication roles at Penn State University and Oregon Health & Science University.  At the University of Florida, Brown manages several UF websites and oversees other UF online and print publicity materials.  She is editor of The InfoGator , UF’s faculty and staff enewsletter, which reaches more than 14,000 employees.  She also facilitates internal change management efforts for the university, providing strategic communication planning and execution for units including the Office of Research, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer and UF Information Technology. In addition to her work on the UF-UF Health Wellness Committee, Brown has twice served as publicity officer for the UF Association for Academic Women and serves on the Public Relations Subcommittee of the UF President’s Council on Diversity.

Research & EBP Chair: Marcelle Holmes, PhD, is assistant vice chancellor of wellness, health & counseling services at UC Irvine, where she oversees the Counseling Center, Student Health Center, Disability Services Center, Campus Recreation, Health Education, Career Center, Campus Assault Resources & Education (CARE), and office of the Campus Social Worker.  She came to UC Irvine from Pomona College, where she served as associate dean of students and dean of women.  Holmes is a licensed clinical psychologist in California, and has worked in a variety of settings, including private practice, at college counseling centers, and as assistant professor of psychology and black studies at Pomona College.  She is a member of the American Psychological Association, American Association of Blacks in Higher Education, and Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA). 

Membership Chair: Colleen Harshbarger, M.S., is the director of the Office of Wellness & Health Promotion (OWHP) with WELL WVU:  The Student’s Center of Health and an adjunct faculty member in the College of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences at West Virginia University. She is a certified wellness practitioner with the National Wellness Institute, a certified wellness coach from WellPeople and holds a certificate in Alcohol Prevention Leadership from NASPA and EverFi.  Harshbarger has been studying and teaching yoga for over 20 years and is registered with Yoga Alliance at the ERYT-500 level.

Advisory Board Chair: Cassandra Kitko, MBA, CHES, IC, role is the Manager of Health Initiatives in Penn State’s Office of Human Resources’ Employee Benefits Division. Prior to working at Penn State, she planned and delivered worksite wellness programs. Kitko is president of the local school district, member of her parish council and finance committee.

BHAC founding institutions include Arizona State University, Bucknell University, Dartmouth College, East Carolina University, Gustavus Adolphus College, Iowa State University, Medical University of South Carolina, Ohio State University, Oklahoma State University, Penn State University, The College of New Jersey, University of California, Irvine, University of Florida, Virgina Tech, and West Virginia University.

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