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TB Notes Newsletter

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No. 2, 2014


News from the National TB Controllers Association

Change and growth in an organization can be exhilarating and it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of all that is new, especially when examining the possibilities! However, despite the exciting evolution that the National TB Controllers Association (NTCA) is undergoing, we still experience the sadness and loss when one of our own decides to change paths, and that path leads them away. NTCA has experienced this continuum of responses during these last few months.

Launch of the NTCA Epidemiology Section

One of those exhilarating changes occurring within the NTCA is the establishment of a new Epidemiology Section. This section will be devoted to developing a professional “home” for those with graduate education, those with practical and professional experience, and those who share an interest in the epidemiology of tuberculosis and seek to become more educated consumers of the science. As we are increasingly aware, knowledge and expertise in TB epidemiology is essential to the work we do in local, state, and territorial TB programs. This new Section will likely become a vibrant and active one, and will contribute significantly to the work of NTCA in the same way that the two existing sections, the National TB Nurse Coalition (NTNC) and the National Society of TB Clinicians (NSTC), have done and continue to do.

Dr. Shama Desai Ahujawas recently appointed as the first President of the Epidemiology Section. Shama has been instrumental in the work to establish this Section and authored the petition presented to the NTCA Board. Shama also was centrally involved in the planning of the session at the 2014 NTC devoted to the topic, Using Epidemiology to Inform Public Health Intervention in Key Populations, and presented on the successful approach taken by the New York City TB Program to integrate epidemiology into program decision-making.

An inaugural meeting of this new Section was held Tuesday, June 10. This meeting was held in conjunction with the 2014 National TB Conference and was open to anyone interested in joining this section. For additional suggestions about the section, please feel free to contact Shama at

On the loss side, significant leadership changes have occurred over the last few months in several state and big city TB programs. Although we look forward to a close working relationship with those individuals named to carry on the work of their predecessors, we mourn the recent departures of two very active members of the NTCA organization: Deb Sodt and Cristie Chessler.

Minnesota’s Deb Sodt Retires

Deb Sodt decided 2014 was the year to retire! A perfect role model for today’s public health nurse, Deb has spent her professional life doing what she loves. Deb was hired 20 years ago to be the first "Screening Coordinator" for the breast and cervical cancer control program, later known as SAGE, within the Minnesota Department of Public Health. From Deb’s supervisor, “Deb was instrumental in getting the program off the ground, recruiting and training clinics to provide services to underserved women throughout the state.” Deb’s legacy still lives on as the program continues to provide healthcare services to low-income women who are under- and uninsured. One estimate puts the number of women served at between 120,000 and 140,000!

Deb SodtThe legacy Deb leaves in TB control is no less significant, and can be measured in services to those within her own state who experience TB as well as in contributions to the national efforts at TB control. Over the years, Deb has contributed significantly to the efforts in domestic TB control by providing leadership to DTBE on the National TB Indicators Project (NTIP), the Electronic Disease Notification (EDN) System, the Genotyping and Tuberculosis Genotyping information Management System (TB GIMS), and the TB Education and Training Network (TB ETN).

As an NTCA Board member, Deb provided leadership to an organization composed of her colleagues and friends. Her quiet demeanor masks a quick wit, along with OCD-like organizational qualities that are the envy of those around her. Much of the credit for the establishment of the current Technical Instructions (TIs) introduced by CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (DGMQ) can be attributed to Deb’s leadership and facilitation skills. She recognized a growing concern at the state level and worked with federal leaders to implement mechanisms to address the concern — just one of the many legacies she leaves on the domestic TB control front.

We recognize that, despite her retirement, Deb can’t stay away from an organization she dearly loves. We fully anticipate her continued active involvement with the NTCA and will be waiting with an extensive “to do” list for her upon her return.

Utah’s Cristie Chesler Moves Up

Another loss significantly affecting the NTCA is the recent promotion of Cristie Chesler, Utah’s TB Controller. Although a huge loss to NTCA and to domestic TB control, we are thrilled for the State of Utah and those with whom Cristie will work. Recognized for her success in running the state’s TB control program, Cristie has been promoted to the position of Director of the Bureau of Epidemiology within the Utah Department of Health.In accepting this new position, Cristie vacated her position as both the Utah State TB Controller and the State Refugee Health Coordinator, positions she has held since 1999. During her tenure, the quality and availability of services for individuals diagnosed with TB disease increased significantly, and under her leadership, Utah became one of the first states to implement the Cohort Review Process. Cristie was instrumental in forming a statewide TB Advisory Committee; under her guidance, a contract for a secured tuberculosis unit for the isolation of homeless and/or court-ordered patients was negotiated and successfully executed.

Cristie joined the NTCA Board in 2012 and became active in the Membership Committee and the Organizational Development/Strategic Planning Workgroup. Cristie’s commitment to the states with low-incidence rates of tuberculosis was evident.
We don’t deny that we are thrilled for Deb and Cristie and support them in their new pursuits. However, we are saddened that they leave us as the organization is experiencing such transformative changes. We recognize their contributions to both the past and the future of NTCA, and wish them all the best.

Welcome to New TB Control Staff

With the losses of Deb and Cristie, there have been newly named TB Controllers in Minnesota and Utah. We welcome and look forward to working with-

  • Sarah Gordon, TB Controller/TB Unit Manager for the Minnesota Department of Health
  • Allyn Nakashima, MD, TB Controller with the Utah Department of Health

In addition, we welcome the following new TB control staff and look forward to introducing them to the work of the NTCA and to their new TB colleagues:

  • Kimberly Fitzpatrick, Public Health Program Manager, Division of TB/STD with the Pennsylvania Department of Health
  • Molly Harrar, Program Administrator with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health
  • Janette Candido, TB program manager with the Illinois Department of Public Health

Submitted by Donna Hope Wegener
and Jennifer Kanouse
NTCA Central Office

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