NCQC Team

Tiffany Christensen, BFA
Tiffany Christensen, BFA
Performance Improvement Specialist- PFE
919-677-4119
tchristensen@ncha.org

Tiffany is the Performance Improvement Specialist at the NC Quality Center working on operationalizing PFE across North Carolina. Tiffany approaches her work from the perspective of a life-long patient and a professional patient advocate. Tiffany is a TeamSTEPPS Master Trainer, a Respecting Choices Advance Care Planning Instructor, an APPEAL certificate recipient, and the co-creator of her own workshop series for developing and advancing Patient Advisory Councils. Christensen is a nationally recognized public speaker and the author of three books exploring advocacy, end of life planning and partnership strategies in healthcare. She is a board member of the Beryl Institute and Faculty for the IHI Patient Safety Officer Training. Tiffany served as a patient advocate at Duke Hospital working primarily in the area of Oncology and also worked as the Program Coordinator for Duke Medicine’s Patient Advisory Council Expansion Program.

Currently, in addition to the work she does in North Carolina with the Quality Center, Tiffany works nationally with organizations on starting or improving their Patient and Family Advisory Council Programs, addressing burnout with PFE strategies and using TeamSTEPPS for Patients.

Dean Higgins, BA
Dean Higgins, BA
Director of Operations
919-677-4212
dhiggins@ncha.org

Dean joined the North Carolina Quality Center in early 2008 as a Project Manager. He has over ten years of experience working across diverse healthcare settings to improve quality, increase access to care and to promote healthcare advocacy and education. Having developed new programs for community mental health organizations and while serving as a hospice volunteer coordinator, Dean has significant experience in project management and program development. He also brings marketing expertise from his most recent experience as a healthcare marketer for a community based hospice organization. Dean received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Berea College in Berea, KY.

Debbie Hunter, MBA
Debbie Hunter, MBA
Performance Improvement Specialist
919-677-4103
dhunter@ncha.org

Debbie has extensive experience in process management and process improvement methodologies focusing primarily on clinical quality improvement strategies. As a Six Sigma Master Black Belt, she has led and consulted on many transformational performance improvement initiatives and projects that have accelerated the achievement of quality and operational outcomes. Debbie’s skills in organizational development, coaching and facilitation have contributed to her success in building high performance teams and engaging associates to achieve established goals.

Debbie previously worked as Assistant Vice President of Quality and Performance Improvement at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center where she was responsible for planning and coordinating the development, management and implementation of the Medical Center’s performance excellence and quality improvement strategies in partnership with the leadership team. Debbie also worked at Wachovia Corporation and AON Consulting with the most recent role of Senior Vice President, Leadership and Organizational Development.

Debbie has a Master of Business Administration degree from Wake Forest University Babcock Graduate School of Management and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Economics from Meredith College. She lives in Winston-Salem, NC where she is actively involved as an advocate for the homeless and underserved.

Laini Jarrett, BS
Laini Jarrett, BS
Project Manager
919-677-4123
ljarrett-echols@ncha.org

Laini Jarrett has served the North Carolina Quality Center as a Project Manager since 2012. She has managed the coordination of a number of the center’s educational programs in addition to collaborative and learning networks projects that focus on safety culture, patient family engagement and healthcare associated infections, health equity and disparities, antibiotic stewardship and most recently the Triple Aim. She is also a member of the NC Hospital Associations Community Health Improvement Collaborative that supports hospital and community partnerships to address population health disparities. Laini holds a BS degree from Howard University in Health and Physical Education and has a 14-year history of working with health organizations in varying management and technical support capacities. She has conducted administrative focused technical assistance to primary medical care and support service programs affiliated with hospitals, universities and community based health programs in rural and urban programs across the United States.

Latoshua LeGrant, ASQ, CQIA
Latoshua LeGrant, ASQ, CQIA
Performance Improvement Specialist, Culture
919-677-4134
llegrant@ncha.org

Latoshua is a Performance Improvement Specialist for Culture with the North Carolina Quality Center. Latoshua LeGrant has extensive experience in supporting healthcare organizations establish both organizational and local cultures that embrace shared accountability, principles of effective teamwork and communication, safe reporting, and a learning environment that utilizes risks and events as opportunities to drive improvement. She has trained hundreds of professionals in the principles of Just Culture and TeamSTEPPS® and has supported and coached 44 healthcare organizations in their journey to establish a Just Culture enterprise-wide.
She is a TeamSTEPPS® Master Trainer, a Certified Quality Improvement Associate through the American Society for Quality, and has completed certification training in Just Culture through Outcome Engenuity, LLC and Crucial Conversations via VitalSmarts®. Latoshua also has over 15 years of project management and process improvement experience, utilizing various methodologies including Lean and Six Sigma principles. Over the last 10 years, she has managed healthcare organization collaborative programs to eliminate healthcare-associated infections, improve medication reconciliation, and implement Just Culture.
Latoshua holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science/Engineering from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, NC and a Master’s Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University,

Joshua McGowan, MA, MS
Joshua McGowan, MA, MS
Healthcare Analysis
919-677-4133
jmcgowan@ncha.org

Josh McGowan has been a Healthcare Data Analyst at the North Carolina Quality Center since December 2012. Prior to joining the NCQC, he conducted biostatistical analysis and research on issues related to organ transplantation. Josh has several years of project experience using SAS to perform data management and analysis on large datasets. In addition, he has written and carried out statistical analysis plans, as well as prepared results for publication and presentation at conferences. In addition to his research background, Josh also has experience in education as a public school teacher.

Elizabeth Mizelle, MPH
Elizabeth Mizelle, MPH
Healthcare Data Analyst
919-677-4124
emizelle@ncha.org

Elizabeth joined the North Carolina Quality Center in July 2014 as a Healthcare Data Analyst. Prior to joining the NCQC, she worked at the NC Division of Public Health in data management, program evaluation and quality improvement for maternal and child health. She has a Masters of Public Health from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and a BA in Spanish and International Studies from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Sarah Roberts, PMP
Sarah Roberts, PMP
Project Manager
919-677-4139
sroberts@ncha.org

Sarah has a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family relations from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. She has 3 years of experience in Logistics Management and administrative assistance for a presentation company in RTP. The company assisted Pharmaceutical companies in preparation and execution of FDA Advisory Committee Meetings. Sarah joined the North Carolina Quality Center in February 2012 as a Project Coordinator. She has worked for the Center the past 4 years on Safety Culture, Healthcare Acquired Infections, and Patient-Family Engagement Initiatives, as well as Education Programs, and on the NC Alliance for Effective Care Transitions. In November 2016, Sarah earned her Project Management Professionals (PMP) certification.

Nancy Schanz, RN, MA, MHA, MBA
Nancy Schanz, RN, MA, MHA, MBA
Performance Improvement Specialist, North Carolina Quality Center PSO
919-677-4105
nschanz@ncha.org

Nancy is the Performance Improvement Specialist for the North Carolina Quality Center Patient Safety Organization (NCQC PSO). The NCQC PSO conducts activities that minimize harm to patients by fostering a culture of quality and safety through learning and sharing among healthcare organizations. Nancy joined the Quality Center in July 2008 and was previously the Administrator for Mid-Carolina Home Care Specialists, a joint venture of UNC Hospitals and WakeMed Health & Hospitals and Director of Operations at UNC Hospitals. She has experience in working with quality improvement and risk management initiatives in major teaching hospitals and with Ernest and Young as a nursing consultant in multiple states. Nancy has her Bachelors Degree in Nursing from the University of Illinois, a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership, a Master in Business Administration and a Master in Healthcare Administration. She recently earned a graduate certificate in Patient Safety, Error Science and Full Disclosure.

Amy Smith, BA
Amy Smith, BA
Project Coordinator
919-677-4140
asmith@ncha.org

Amy joined the Quality Center in June 2015 as a Project Coordinator.  Her prior experience includes the development of various non-profit meetings, continuing education opportunities, and ten years of developing cultural, intellectual, and social programs for seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Amy received her Bachelors of Art Degree from High Point University in Human Relations with a concentration in non-profit and public relations.

Karen Southard, RN, MHA
Karen Southard, RN, MHA
Director of Performance Improvement
919-677-4121
ksouthard@ncha.org

Karen is the Director of Performance Improvement with over 3 decades of health care experience. She is an RN with diverse clinical experience in both acute and ambulatory care. Most of her career was spent in NC triangle hospitals. She earned a BS in Business, Organization Development from the University of Mt. Olive and a Masters in Health Administration from Pfeiffer University. Her progressive leadership included nurse manager, Director of Nursing Operations, Director of Performance Improvement and Associate Chief Nursing Officer. She has diverse background in acute care service line operations which include achieving a Bariatric Center of Excellence at Duke Regional, expansion of the Woman’s Pavilion and Birthplace at WakeMed Cary Hospital and was part of the core leadership team to achieve Magnet Designation at Duke University Health System.
Karen has spent the last 7 years of her career at The Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence working under the CMS Quality Improvement (QIO) contract . Karen worked with a core team of staff to implement CMS National Quality Strategy. The QIO Scope of Work spans across the continuum of care which supports health care organizations and providers to focus their quality strategy on the goals of the Triple Aim, providing better care, lower cost and improved health. During Karen’s tenure with the QIO she developed an expertise in value based quality initiatives and assisted NC in achieving national recognition by CMS in 2014 as a top performing state in Care Transitions. Karen has served as an advisor to the National Quality Form, which published the Readmissions Action Pathway in July 2014. Karen holds an adjunct position at the University of Mt. Olive in the Health Care Management Department.
Karen lives in Cary with her husband, Rich. They have 3 adult children and enjoy hiking, cooking and spending time in the NC Mountains.

Trish Vandersea
Trish Vandersea
Program Manager, NC ACT
919-677-4115
tvandersea@ncha.org

Trish is the Program Manager for the North Carolina Alliance for Effective Care Transitions (NC ACT), a statewide coalition bringing together organizations across North Carolina in partnership and collaboration, committed to improving the transition of care from one healthcare or home setting to another. Prior to joining the NCQC, Trish worked at Community Care of North Carolina as Project Manager for the Multi-Payer Advanced Primary Care Practice Demonstration working with CMS, BCBSNC, and the North Carolina State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees. She has extensive experience empowering high performing teams, strengthening collaborations with stakeholders and community agencies, and implementing evidenced based programming in communities across NC. Trish has a Master of Public Administration degree from Appalachian State University with a focus on Project Management and a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from Duke University. She lives in Cary with her husband, two children, and two dogs.