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Working to Reduce Disparities through Research, Education, and Community Partnerships
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Meet the Scholars
Julie Merker, MSUS
Julie has worked in the Learning and Performance Improvement department at Beech Brook for 7 years. As a learning organization, Beech Brook thrives on data collection and analysis. Julie’s main role is Manager of Operational Systems. In this capacity, she assists in the implementation of Beech Brook’s electronic health record. She utilizes a variety of technologies to measure compliance and operational data to improve agency performance. Julie is also the supervisor of two internal auditors who review individual client records for compliance with Medicaid, Joint Commission, ODJFS, and ODMH requirements. This skill set gives her a unique perspective and an opportunity to influence agency systems and processes to ensure overall compliance and efficiency.

Julie has been a long time volunteer and supporter of local social justice organizations, including The InterReligious Task Force on Central America, serving on their Board of Trustees for five years. Julie spent a year as an AmeriCorps volunteer at the Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture in Chicago, IL. This experience had a profound impact on her life and encouraged her to pursue graduate education. She earned her Master’s degree in Urban Studies with a concentration on Urban Policy Analysis. Her policy interests lie in health care, human rights, and immigration.

 In her spare time, Julie appreciates being outside with her husband and two young daughters, Ana and Reese. She is also hard at work preparing for her first century bike ride this summer.

Kimberly Juhas, MA
Kimberly Juhas has been a member of the Trauma Services team at Mental Health Services for Homeless Persons (MHS) for over 4 years.  MHS helps those who are homeless, mentally ill, suicidal, in crisis, and traumatized.  Some of the programs that Trauma Services houses are the Children Who Witness Violence Program, Defending Childhood Initiative Central Intake, and Violent Loss Response Team.  The department provides in-home mental health and crisis-related services to children and families in Cuyahoga County, most of whom have been affected by violence or traumatic loss.

Kim’s interest in research was sparked during her undergraduate coursework at Kent State University and fully ignited while completing her Master’s thesis for Goddard College’s independent study counseling program. She has since gravitated towards opportunities to help conduct research, and in her current job at MHS, she works with much of the data needs for Trauma Services.  She also recently recruited for and assisted with data collection for Violence, Sleep, and Child Health, a research project conducted by Case School of Medicine’s Dr. James Spilsbury. 

Kim feels that it is important to make a positive impact on others in the work that she does.  Outside of work, Kim immerses herself in activities that promote health and stress relief, including yoga, meditation, and growing her own food. She also operates a small business that provides Reiki, guided meditations, and workshops, and volunteers some of these skills in the community. 

Patricia J. Terstenyak, MPH, CH
Patricia Terstenyak is a public health professional and a certified health education specialist.  She serves as the Community Outreach Coordinator at Susan G. Komen Northeast Ohio where she manages the Community Health Advisors program.  Komen Community Health Advisors are trained lay community volunteers who identify and teach women the importance of breast health screenings and help women reduce any barriers they may encounter.
Patricia earned her Master of Public Health with a concentration in Community Health Sciences from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana.  She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Cleveland State University.  Her areas of concentration include: health literacy, health disparities and community health. 

She currently lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio with her son Jacob.
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