Dean’s Staff Announcement

September 10, 2020

Dear All,

As we join forces in this unprecedented moment to reinvigorate public health and expand our work, I am excited to announce a set of staff additions that will bring new leadership, skills, and support to our School.

First, I am pleased to share the appointment of Sara Walsh as the Executive Dean of Finance and Administration, effective September 21, 2020. Currently the Assistant Vice President of Finance, Operational Support and Special Projects within the Division of Finance, Sara will report directly to the Dean and serve as the chief operating and financial officer for our School. She will be a strategic leader, responsible for implementing the School’s financial model, creating a dynamic administrative structure, and space planning to support the growing needs of the School’s mission.

Sara is especially well-positioned for this critical role. She has over 12 years of finance and administration experience within Brown University. She has worked in the Office of the Provost, Dean of the College’s office, and most recently the Division of Finance. She has been an integral part of system optimization including Workday HCM, Financials, and Adaptive Insights. Sara led the effort to create Academic Finance and Administration (AFA), an organization that brought together financial and transactional needs of many offices including the Office of the Provost, Office of the President, Dean of the Faculty, Vice President for Research, Graduate School, University Library, and others. She led the campaign adjudication process with Advancement, Provost, and Finance, as well as process improvement initiatives within the Finance Division. Recently, Sara was an integral leader in the University’s transition to a base-budget process. Most relevant to our SPH community, Sara has been an integral part of the University’s support for the School during this time of transition.

Prior to joining Brown University, Sara worked as an analyst at Hasbro, Inc. and the Vanguard Group. She earned her BS in Business from Boston University Questrom School of Business and her MS in Finance from Suffolk University Sawyer Business School. 

Second, I decided to create, on a temporary basis, the post of Deputy Dean to support the operations of the School during this challenging period. This temporary post is operative through December 2020, and I am pleased to share that David Savitz has graciously agreed to serve in this role. 

David will continue to work very closely with me but will also work closely with the new Executive Dean for Finance and Administration, the Associate Deans, Chairs, and Center Directors to ensure a smooth transition to a new financial model for the School and to maximize the impact of the changes we are making. Given the leadership roles he has had in his time at Brown, including most recently as Interim Dean, he is uniquely positioned to be a tremendous resource for the entire senior leadership team as we enter a new and exciting phase of the School of Public Health.

There are four more additions that I am pleased to announce today.

As many of you know, I have been leading a team that is deeply engaged in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I believe that continuing this engagement provides unique long-term opportunities for our School. I am excited to share that we will transition ongoing pandemics work, including research, modeling (such as hospital capacity and localized testing needs), data visualizations (such as the COVID Risk Levels Map), congressional engagement, and crisis communicationefforts to our School from the Harvard Global Health Institute.

I look forward to integrating this work with the terrific pandemic research and efforts already ongoing at Brown and think of it as the launching pad from which we can build out long-term work on this topic. Together, we can learn from this pandemic and build the research, tools, and policies to study the current one and better prepare for the next one.

I also plan to broaden our school’s overall reach, visibility, and impact, building on our leadership during this pandemic and our leadership and innovative approaches to national and global public health issues overall. To provide the staffing and experience needed to get us there, I have created these new roles:

Senior Director of Content, Strategy and Public Affairs. A key strategic partner to me at the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI), Stefanie Friedhoff will join our leadership team in this new role, reporting to the Dean and working closely with the Chief of Staff, Executive Dean, Associate Deans, and senior staff. A veteran international journalist with 25 years of experience in news media and higher education, Stefanie will oversee and expand the Schools’ communication and engagement efforts; serve as a key strategic advisor on thought leadership and innovation to the Dean; and oversee the Dean’s ongoing special projects and pandemics portfolio, including research collaborations, modeling and data projects, congressional efforts, and crisis communications.

Prior to her position as Director of Content and Strategy at HGHI, Stefanie has worked as a foreign correspondent, feature writer, editor, department head, and photographer on three continents. In 2000, she was awarded a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University, and from 2006 to 2014, she directed a variety of programs at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism, including the foundation’s Global Health Reporting Fellowship and Trauma Journalism Program.

Associate Director for Dean’s Initiatives and Special Projects, Mahrokh Irani will join the Dean’s office to work closely with our leadership team and me on high-level project management, operations, research, and implementation. An experienced driver of public health research projects and outcomes, Mahrokh manages our engagement with media, Congress, and state leadership including governors and mayors. She will support the execution of strategic goals and special projects on behalf of the leadership team. She is currently a Research Associate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and HGHI, where she has led major work on Quality of Care in India, Aging, and other important public health initiatives. Prior to joining the Institute, Dr. Irani was a practicing Oral Surgeon and Oral Public Health Researcher in Mumbai, where she worked with marginalized populations and underprivileged patients suffering from systemic diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, and oral cancer, and conducted research on identifying health seeking behaviors in minority groups, women, and children. She holds a degree in Dental Surgery from Nair Hospital Dental College in India and a Master of Public Health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Assistant Director of Multimedia and Content Production. An outstanding visual and social media communications expert, Caroline Claflin will work closely with Stefanie and the communications team to broaden our School’s social media engagement and visual output across all platforms, driving attention, visibility, and engagement. She also leads key data visualization, engagement, and social media projects on our pandemic response team, and will support other communications functions across the School. Currently the Social Media and Engagement Editor at HGHI, Caroline is an artist, filmmaker, animator, and designer who enjoys storytelling and project management in equal measure. Before joining HGHI, she was part of the communications team at the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University. Caroline holds a BFA from our neighbors — the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) — and an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. She says she can’t wait to be back in Providence.

Senior Writer, Dean’s Office (part-time), Andrew Iliff. Currently a senior writer at HGHI, Andrew will join the Dean’s Office to support a wide variety of writing projects, including op-eds, media briefs, research and policy reports, and magazine-length articles. An experienced writer with a unique ability to produce high-quality, accurate, and accessible Public Health content in a fast-paced environment, Andrew is a key part of the pandemics and communications teams. Recent projects include a major 2019 report on physician burnout and a 2020 report outlining how climate change threatens UHC in Africa. Prior to HGHI, Andrew has worked at Human Rights Watch, the International Center for Transitional Justice, WilmerHale, and the Harvard University Center for African Studies. He received an AB in Social Studies and African Studies from Harvard University and completed a joint degree in Law and African Studies at Yale University.

These four new positions will work collaboratively with our existing outstanding team of public health communicators, Matthew Moore, Laura Joyce, Ken Zirkel, and Karen Scanlan to change our ability to engage with the world through new and old media, communicate our strengths and capabilities more effectively, and help drive messages of evidence and science as pillars of public health.  

This is an amazing team of individuals that we are adding — from Sara’s superb leadership in finance and administration to Stefanie’s extraordinary vision for communications. I could not be more pleased with these additions to our School.

They will be joining our SPH formally over the next few weeks. In the weeks and months that follow, as you all get to know these individuals, I am confident you all will better understand why I am thrilled that they have agreed to join our School. 


Jha signature Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH
Dean, School of Public Health