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Town Hall Meeting Speakers

Tobacco Use
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
2:00 – 3:00 PM EST

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Speakers' Biographies

Karen DeLeeuw, MSW
Director, Center for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention,
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

For the last six years, Karen DeLeeuw, MSW, has been the director for the Center for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). In this capacity, DeLeeuw has actively participated in the redesign of the Prevention Services Division, helping to establish collaborative, cross-cutting approaches that better leverage both human and financial resources. The Center for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention houses the state's obesity and tobacco use prevention programs, as well as all of the chronic disease programs. In November 2008, Colorado was selected as one of four states to participate in a pilot program with CDC to design and implement more integrated approaches to prevent and reduce chronic disease. In addition, the center is responsible for administering more than $50M annually from the Amendment 35 tobacco tax earmarked for both tobacco and chronic disease prevention and control.

For the previous eight years, DeLeeuw served as the section chief for the tobacco education and prevention program at the CDPHE. For several years, Colorado's tobacco control program was only one of three state programs funded at the CDC recommended funding level. The program has been acknowledged as a model, with both youth and adult tobacco use prevalence declining at rates that exceed the national average. In this capacity, DeLeeuw served as a member of CDC's Best Practices Expert Panel, as well as chair of the national Tobacco Control Network. In February 2010, she was appointed as a voting member of the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, serving as the government representative.

DeLeeuw came to the Colorado health department with more than 25 years of experience in public health, including at the state and local levels and in the non-profit sector. She holds an MSW in organization, planning, and administration from the University of California at Berkeley.

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Terry F. Pechacek, PhD
Associate Director for Science, Office on Smoking and Health,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Terry F. Pechacek, PhD, is the associate director for science for CDC's Office on Smoking and Health (OSH). He is responsible for monitoring all scientific work within the office, including the preparation of Surgeon General reports on the health consequences of tobacco use. OSH is the lead federal agency for comprehensive tobacco prevention and control and, as such, is dedicated to reducing death and disease caused by tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.

Dr. Pechacek served as a visiting scientist and senior biomedical research scientist in OSH from 1995 until his appointment as the associate director for science in 1999. He is the senior author of the 1999 and 2007 Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs reports, and has been involved in the preparation of all Surgeon General reports on smoking and health since 1979. In 1986, Dr. Pechacek joined the National Cancer Institute in Washington, DC, leading the Community Intervention Trial for Smoking Cessation and the early development of the American Stop Smoking Intervention Trial.

Dr. Pechacek received his PhD in psychology at the University of Texas at Austin in 1977. He completed a three-year postdoctoral fellowship in preventive cardiology at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health. After his fellowship, Dr. Pechacek remained at Minnesota as an associate professor and developed population-based interventions for the Minnesota Heart Health Program.

Dr. Pechacek has been involved in tobacco prevention and control research and public health activities since the 1970s. He is the author of more than 100 scientific publications and regularly provides expert testimony across the United States on the efficacy of public health strategies to prevent smoking and tobacco-related diseases. In 2006, Dr. Pechacek was awarded the Surgeon General's Medallion in recognition of his work to support the Office of the Surgeon General in communicating the risk of tobacco use.

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Jeffrey Willett, PhD
Research Scientist, New York State Department of Health
Director, New York Tobacco Control Program

Jeffrey Willett, PhD, is a research scientist with the New York State Department of Health and director of New York's Tobacco Control Program. In his position, Dr. Willett is responsible for the development, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of effective tobacco control and public health interventions in New York state.

Prior to joining the New York Department of Health, Dr. Willett served as the director of research and evaluation for the Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation, an agency charged with implementing statewide control programming in Ohio. Dr. Willett has also served on advisory committees for several national and state tobacco control organizations, including CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, Legacy, and the North American Quitline Consortium. He has a PhD in sociology, with a focus on the sociology of health, and an undergraduate degree in broadcast journalism, both from the University of Nebraska.

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