HEALing Communities Study Project Staff

Name Title Phone
Redonna Chandler, Ph.D. Director 301-402-1919
Jennifer Villani, Ph.D. Health Scientist Administrator 301-827-4095
Andrea Czajkowski Program Analyst 301-827-6202
Keisher Highsmith, DrPH Program Official 301-402-1984

Biographies

  • Redonna Chandler, Ph.D.
    Director
    (301) 402-1919
    Dr. Redonna Chandler is the Director of the HEALing Communities Study at NIDA. She brings extensive scientific and organizational leadership, and recently served as the Deputy Director for the Division of Clinical Innovation at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) providing leadership to the Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program. Dr. Chandler has been at the NIH since 2002, serving in positions of increasing responsibility and leadership at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Prior to joining NCATS, she served as the Acting Director for the NIDA’s Division of Epidemiology, Services, and Prevention Research and Chief of the Services Research Branch. She worked for the Department of Justice from 1996-2002, directing large drug treatment programs. Her areas of expertise include research with individuals involved with the criminal justice system, clinical trials, improving adherence to drug abuse treatment and HIV care, health services research, and implementing evidence based treatments into routine practice settings. She has authored numerous articles and book chapters. She earned her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Kentucky and is a licensed psychologist. As a clinician she has treated those struggling with addiction use disorder and serious mental health issues. Dr. Chandler is also the Director of the AIDS Research Program.
  • Jennifer Villani
    Jennifer Villani, Ph.D. M.P.H.
    Associate Director
    (301) 827-4095
    Dr. Jennifer Villani is the Associate Director of the HEALing Communities Study. She comes to NIDA from the NIH Office of Disease Prevention (ODP) where she conducted a wide range of research activities to advance disease prevention. She developed and tested a new method for portfolio analysis that utilizes machine learning to characterize NIH prevention research in areas including substance use and health services. In addition, Dr. Villani was the lead NIH representative to the Healthy People Federal Interagency Workgroup, where she oversaw and coordinated NIH participation in the development of the Healthy People 2030 initiative. Prior to joining ODP, Dr. Villani worked 9 years at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), where she coordinated an international consortium of investigators developing computational models to understand infectious disease dynamics. She also served as the NIGMS Planning and Evaluation Officer for a year and conducted portfolio analyses and program evaluations in infectious disease modeling, multiscale modeling, and systems biology. She earned her Ph.D. in Health Services Research from the University of Maryland, College Park, and her Master of Public Health in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from the George Washington University. Her research foci include preventive medicine, substance use prevention, patient-provider communication, health literacy, and health care disparities.
  • Andrea Czajkowski
    Andrea Czajkowski  
    Program Analyst, HEALing Communities Study
    (301) 827-6202
    Andrea Czajkowski is the Program Analyst for the HEALing Communities Study. Andrea came to NIDA in 2018 after six years with the Indian Health Service (IHS). She is a proudly enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna, located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She spent the majority of her tenure at IHS working in the Office of Clinical and Preventive Services, Division of Behavioral Health. Notably, she was responsible for high-profile event planning and project management activities. On behalf of the IHS Chief Medical Officer, she served as lead planner for the agency’s National Behavioral Health conferences and National Combined Councils meetings. Andrea also worked closely with the agency’s key advisory bodies, advocating for issues that affect the delivery of behavioral health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives. She served as an Executive Committee member on the National Council on Behavioral Health and coordinated mission-critical activities for the National Tribal Advisory Committee on Behavioral Health. Andrea earned her Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland, Global Campus and her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Frostburg State University. She is currently pursuing her Project Management Professional certification through the Project Management Institute.
  • Keisher Highsmith, DrPH
    Keisher Highsmith, DrPH
    Program Official
    (301) 402-1984
    Dr. Keisher Highsmith comes to NIH/NIDA from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Dr. Highsmith is a Scientist/Epidemiologist in the U.S. Public Health Service and has been a public health practitioner for over 14 years. Dr. Highsmith’s tenure at HRSA included serving as Deputy Director in the Bureau of Primary Health Care. Her portfolio consisted of special initiatives and technical assistance investments that supports HRSA funded health centers with clinical quality practice transformation and service expansion activities such as mental health and substance abuse. Dr. Highsmith also served as the Director of Special Initiatives and Program Planning and Evaluation in the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB). She provided scientific leadership and support for the development and implementation of innovative, multidisciplinary programs in the area of maternal, child and women’s health. Dr. Highsmith established The Maternal Health Initiative (MHI) which is a comprehensive national strategy to improve women’s health and ensure the quality and safety of care. She also conceptualized, launched, and led The Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health: Improving Maternal Health and Safety which is a national initiative to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality through quality improvement of patient safety in birthing facilities. Dr. Highsmith served as a subject matter expert on maternal/women’s health on HRSA State MCH Title V Block Grant Transformation Steering Committee and Chaired the State Needs Assessment Workgroup. As a result, this historical program portfolio now include four (4) national outcome and performance measures focused on women and maternal health. Dr. Highsmith received her Doctorate in Public Health from Morgan State University.

For information about the HEALing Communities Study and other HEAL Initiatives see - NIDA’s Role in the NIH HEAL Initiative