MENU

Project Team

Jenna Garris
Jenna Garris, MA
Executive Director, REACH Initiative
Jenna Garris has nearly 10 years of experience in program development, research and evaluation, and health communications. She earned her Master’s degree in Health Education from East Carolina University in 2012. Prior to moving into her role with REACH, Jenna served as the Communications Coordinator and Healthy Eating Intervention Lead for the North Carolina Community Transformation Grant Project at Johnston County Public Health Department. While there, she lead the Healthy Eating Action Team comprised of regional staff, partners, stakeholders, and community members working to create or enhance farmers markets, mobile markets, or farm stands and increase overall access to healthy food in the community. As the Communications Coordinator, Jenna facilitated all project communication, working in conjunction with the Communications Sub-Committee to coordinate the promotion, advertisement, and marketing of regional events, projects, and initiatives. Jenna also served as the Health Communities project coordinator for Johnston County, implementing programs address risk factors for physical inactivity, poor nutrition, tobacco use, and unintentional injury. Previously, she taught undergraduate healthful living courses at East Carolina University, conducting research on tobacco policy on college campuses, sexual health risk behaviors, and using technology to facilitate health behavior. Jenna also served as a program coordinator for a senior center, leading walking groups and exercise classes for senior citizens. Ms. Garris will oversee the day-to-day operations for REACH, serve as a critical link between the workgroups and various components of the program, and provide important input into the design and execution of all aspects of the REACH Initiative.
Baxley
Elizabeth Baxley, MD
Principal Investigator
Dr. Baxley serves as Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Brody School of Medicine. Previously, Dr. Baxley spent 18 years on the faculty of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and served as Chair of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine from 2003-2012. She is a graduate of Clemson University and received her MD degree from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. Dr. Baxley’s work has focused heavily on health care delivery system redesign and teaching about patient safety and quality improvement. She has a keen interest in actualizing interprofessional, team-based care that is patient and family centered. She has co-directed three regional academic collaboratives of 25 teaching practices across SC, NC and Virginia. She currently serves as a faculty advisor for ECU’s IHI Open School Chapter.
Luan Lawson, MD, MAEd
Luan Lawson, MD, MAEd
Co-Principal Investigator
Luan E. Lawson is the Assistant Dean of Curriculum, Assessment, and Clinical Academic Affairs at Brody School of Medicine. After graduating from East Carolina University School of Medicine and practicing in a community setting, she returned to ECU as faculty in the Department of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Lawson academic interests have focused on undergraduate medical education, which led her to obtain certification in Medical Education and a MAEd in Adult Education from East Carolina University. During Dr. Lawson’s tenure as Director of Undergraduate Medical Education in Emergency Medicine, she developed and instituted a required Emergency Medicine rotation with a simulation-based curriculum for fourth-year medical students. She also developed PIRATE MD, a comprehensive, longitudinal course formulated to promote the academic, personal, and professional success of each Brody medical student. Dr. Lawson serves on the National Board of Medical Examiners Emergency Medicine Advanced Clinical Exam Task Force and on the planning committee for ECU’s IHI Open School Chapter. She piloted a simulation, teamwork, and procedural skills assessment as a component of Brody’s Transition to Residency Capstone Course and hopes REACH will transform the way interprofessional teams are educated and ensure that innovative educational strategies provide learners with the skills and competencies necessary to care for patients in our rapidly evolving heathcare system.

Suzanne Lazorick, MD, MPH
Suzanne Lazorick, MD, MPH
Co-Investigator and Evaluator
Dr. Lazorick is Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health and is a health services researcher with focus on childhood obesity and evaluation of interventions. Her background uniquely spans the clinical, public health, preventive medicine, research and quality improvement realms. She joined the faculty at BSOM in 2006 after fellowship training in research methods and preventive medicine, and several years in primary care practice in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. Since joining the faculty, she has been a leader at BSOM in curricular enhancements for education in population health and prevention. Dr. Lazorick also has background and expertise in implementing and teaching practice change strategies and quality improvement methods in primary care. She serves on a national planning group with the American Academy of Pediatrics that works to improve primary care physician learning in quality improvement methods in practice. She will apply this combined expertise in QI, education and evaluation in order to serve as evaluator for the REACH project.
Herb Garrison, MD, MPH
Herb Garrison, MD, MPH
Co-Investigator and Health System Leader
Herb Garrison is a Professor of Emergency Medicine and Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education (GME) at ECU's Brody School of Medicine and a Vice-President of Medical Affairs at Vidant Medical Center, where he serves as interim Director of GME. A native of Charlotte, he received his undergraduate, medical and public health degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Garrison is the founding Director of the Eastern Carolina Injury Prevention Program. His research and commentary have focused on the prevention of injuries associated with motor vehicle crashes and the effectiveness of prehospital emergency medical services. He served on the Institute of Medicine Committee on Injury Prevention and Control (1997-1998) and the Institute of Medicine Subcommittee on Prehospital Emergency Medical Services (2005-2006). An alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, Dr. Garrison received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Wingate University and the Distinguished Service Award from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. In 2011, he was conferred the Order of the Long Leaf Pine for service to the state of North Carolina.
Danielle Walsh, MD, FACS, FAAP
Danielle Walsh, MD, FACS, FAAP
TQA Leader
Dr. Danielle Walsh is an Associate Professor of Surgery at East Carolina University in the Division of Pediatric Surgery. After obtaining her medical degree from the University of South Florida College of Medicine, she trained in general surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She also completed a fellowship in fetal surgery and research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a fellowship in pediatric surgery at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. She practiced in Jacksonville, FL holding faculty appointments at the Mayo Medical Center and University of Florida before moving to her current position in North Carolina. Her clinical and research interests are pediatric surgical disorders including birth defects, cancer and abdominal and thoracic surgery as well as minimally invasive surgery. In addition to her surgical interests, she has an interest in quality and process improvement. She has more than 20 scientific publications and serves as a reviewer for four academic journals. She serves locally on the Quality Committee of Vidant Medical Center and and was recently appointed as Director of Surgical Quality for the Maynard Children’s Hospital. She is the 2013-14 President of the Association of Women Surgeons, and she serves on national committees for the American College of Surgeons, the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, and the American Pediatric Surgical Association.


Donna Lake, RN, BSN, MEd, PhD
Donna Lake, RN, BSN, MEd, PhD
LINC Scholars Leader
Dr. Lake is a Clinical Assistant Professor, Graduate Nursing Sciences, Leadership Concentration in the College of Nursing (CON). During her six years at ECU, she has been involved in a Robert Wood Johnson Grant studying the nursing workforce and healthcare needs of Eastern NC. In addition, conducted research in adolescent positive health practices, awarded a grant to study the resiliency of children of military parents deployed, and built global partnerships (Service, Education, and Research) with BSOM and nursing teams in Nicaragua and Spain. Dr Lake’s instructional experience includes coaching student practicum projects in business case plans (56), microsystems small change process improvement projects in various healthcare environments (62) and capstone practicum projects (21). Prior to her appointment at ECU, she retired as a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force with 25-years of service in various roles as a medical CEO, clinical operations officer, chief nurse executive at 4 hospitals. Also, was practice manger for 6 ambulatory care large family practice and multispecialty clinic sites. She also held clinical nurse roles spanning 11 clinical areas and served as a leader in Department of Defense (DoD) and USAF corporate quality improvement (QI) and population health for 64 world-wide medical facilities. She has specific expertise and supervision experience in interprofessional leadership and teamwork, QI policy and curriculum development and instruction with DoD, Veterans Affairs and non-military healthcare and international partners. Dr Lake’s passion and teaching philosophy is student focused in experiential education that infuses direct experiences within interprofessional teams, and quality improvement activities in health care systems.
Jason Higginson, MD
Jason D. Higginson, MD MA FAAP
TQA Leader

Dr. Higginson completed his medical degree at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles, followed by an internship and residency in pediatrics at the University of California-San Francisco Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland. He then completed a fellowship in neonatal-perinatal medicine at the National Capital Consortium at Walter Reed.

Before assuming the role of Chair for the Department of Pediatrics in June 2016 Dr. Higginson served many roles at Brody and Vidant.  He served as chief of neonatology and medical director for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Director of Newborn Medicine, and was co-medical director for the James and Connie Maynard Children's Hospital at Vidant Medical Center.

Prior to joining ECU Dr. Higginson served on active duty in the U.S. Navy from 2002-2012. He served at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, as assistant chief of graduate medical education, division head of research resources, medical director of the Neonatal High-Risk Clinic, and assistant division chief of newborn medicine. Upon arrival at ECU he transitioned to the Navy Reserve in 2012.

He currently serves as the regimental surgeon for the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Logistics Regiment 45 and leads the U.S. Navy Reserve Medical Corps Pediatrics Specialty, advising the surgeon general of the U.S. Navy regarding pediatric policy and credentialing.