SPHHS Alumni Named to BusinessWest’s 40 Under 40

Alumni Tiana Davis, Preeti Nakrani, Melanie Wilk, and Sasha Jimenez

Top row from left: Tiana Davis and Preeti Nakrani.
Bottom from left: Melanie Wilk and Sasha Jiménez

June 22, 2022

SPHHS alumni Tiana Davis ’17MPH, Preeti Nakrani ‘17MPH, and Melanie Wilk ’17 are among those named to BusinessWest's 40 Under 40 Class of 2022. They are joined by Sasha Jiménez ‘17, an HFA graduate who served as co-chair of the planning committee for the documentary film, MOSAIC, produced in partnership by the SPHHS and the Western Massachusetts Health Equity Network (WMHEN).

The alumni are among the group of eight UMass alumni and one UMass employee to earn the recognition. They join the class of 40 young professionals chosen from a field of 200 nominees for their career achievements and their commitment to the Western Massachusetts community, demonstrated by their involvement in volunteer activities.

Tiana Davis, who earned her MPH degree from the Department of Health Promotion and Policy, serves as the deputy public health commissioner for the City of Springfield. There, she oversees services for the Homeless Health Center, a federally qualified health center in the city of Springfield that provides quality primary healthcare, dental care, behavioral-health services, and comprehensive support services to individuals and families experiencing homelessness within Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. She oversees the city's day-to-day operations relating to patient care, staff development, training, program data and collection, and billing, and also manages the contracts with community partners with whom she collaborates to provide services to individuals within the community.

BusinessWest writes that "Davis works tirelessly to ensure that people without housing are treated with dignity and respect by assuring that quality medical care is rendered. She has strengthened partnerships by cultivating relationships with open-door/open-pantry programs and the Friends of the Homeless program by helping to enhance their case-management systems."

Preeti Nakrani, another health promotion and policy MPH alumna from the class of 2017, works as a Medicaid program manager at Health New England. She turned her graduate internship at Baystate Health into a full-time position with Baystate's BeHealthy Partnership ACO (accountable-care organization). There, she provided daily management and support of the program, including establishing programmatic goals, care management for inpatient and outpatient workflows, tracking performance, and generating reports.

“I don’t think a lot of people get lucky enough to manage this type of an innovative model right out of grad school,” she says in her BusinessWest profile. “I see it as a blessing.”

Today, she handles many of those same responsibilities in a different setting and with a different title — as Medicaid Program manager for Health New England, an affiliate of Baystate Health.

BusinessWest writes that "It’s a career marked by thoughtful and innovative approaches to the task of bringing down the cost of healthcare by focusing on improving the overall health of the region. And it’s a career that’s really just getting started."

Melanie Wilk earned her bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and now serves as the director of food service with Chicopee Public Schools. BusinessWest highlights her role in creating the "Curbside Cafeteria" for the school system.

“A lot of families in Chicopee don’t have transportation to get to meal sites — we saw a big need,” Wilk tells BusinessWest. Along with her team, Wailk obtained a Food Security Infrastructure Grant from the state to purchase a food truck. Starting this summer, it will provide mobile meals to students on their way to school, during after-school activities, or at parks during the summer months — free of charge.

During the pandemic, she mobilized her staff to use a safe drive-up method of serving meals; from March 2020 through June 2021, she and her team served more than 1.5 million free meals to Chicopee families. BusinessWest writes that "She is working hard to ensure that hers is not just a food-service program, but a community program with a mission of combating food insecurity and helping children create healthy relationships with food."

Sasha Jiménez, who as co-chair of the film planning committee was instrumental in producing the SPHHS- and WMHEN-sponsored film MOSAIC, serves as a community outreach specialist with Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. There, she provides resources to organizations across the Commonwealth and connects them to referral partners. She also gives presentations at schools and other venues and is the team lead for the organization’s HIV-prevention plan.

BusinessWest highlights Jiménez's instrumental role in the passing of the Paris Agreement Declaration 4.0, signed by Mayor Domenic Sarno, designating Springfield as a Fast Track City committed to HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness initiatives. It also notes her work with domestic-violence survivors at the YWCA while providing support with housing, employment, and other social determinants of health. BusinessWest writes "That role at the YWCA, in particular, opened Jiménez’s eyes to health disparities among women, especially in regard to intimate-partner violence, HIV prevention, and substance-use disorder, she said."

More information on each honoree in the 40 Under 40 Class of 2022 is available on the BusinessWest website.