What We Do:
The Communications Branch is responsible for NIDA’s information and dissemination activities.
- Anne Rancourt, Communications Director, Branch Chief
- Ms. Rancourt oversees NIDA’s communications activities and serves as the Chief, Communications Branch in the Office of Science Policy and Communications. Prior to joining the NIDA team in 2020, she worked at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as a section chief responsible for communications on HIV, allergy, and immunology. Ms. Rancourt previously served as the communications director for the Office of Research on Women’s Health and at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute where she directed media and digital strategy for The Heart Truth campaign, which raised awareness of heart disease in women. Before coming to NIH, Ms. Rancourt was a Presidential Management Fellow in the Office of the Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services, where she directed communications strategies on the Department’s $167 billion Recovery Act investment. She has also worked in brand management, behavior change campaigns, and marketing on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and began her career as a journalist at The Washington Post and NBC News. Ms. Rancourt has a bachelor of arts in English from Georgetown University and a master’s in strategic public relations from George Washington University.
- Molly Freimuth, Deputy Communications Director, Branch Chief
- Ms. Freimuth, the Deputy Communications Director, joined NIDA in January 2021. Previously, she served NIH as a Senior Public Affairs Officer and Strategic Communications Supervisor at the Clinical Center, the largest research hospital in America. In the hospital, she oversaw coverage of major press stories including the care of those with Ebola, carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pnueumoniae (KPC), and many “first-in-human” clinical trials. Prior to joining NIH, Ms. Freimuth was a Press Officer at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree from Towson University where she studied Mass Communications, Business Administration and Broadcast Journalism and has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Mount St. Mary’s University.
- Mark Fleming, Section Chief, Digital Communication Section (DCS)
- Mr. Fleming joined the Communications Branch (CB) in December 2000. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in zoology from Miami University in Ohio and a Master of Arts in visual communications from Ohio University. He has worked for NIDA since 1986, both as a contractor and now as a federal employee. He established the Visual Media Unit to provide photographic and graphic arts support for NIDA intramural research. In addition, he established the NIDA web site in 1995 and has worked since then to increase its scope and exposure. Recently, his work has focused on the completion of NIDA's migration to content management systems, cloud hosting, and responsive design. As NIDA’s 508 coordinator, Mr. Fleming and his support team work with NIDA staff to ensure all information products meet accessibility regulations.
- Janet Linton, Deputy Section Chief, DCS
- Ms. Linton joined the Communications Branch (CB) in March of 2009 to provide web and traditional and social media support and strategic direction. Her primary tasks include: ensuring NIDA’s content/websites are compliant with NIH/HHS guidance and regulations, provide web, graphic, and social media support, and oversee the NIDA for Teens, including the National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week® sites. She also manages NIDA’s Research Translation & Dissemination for Adolescents (NIDA for Teens) and Educational Outreach to Middle and High School Students on Substance Use (Scholastic Heads Up) contracts. Ms. Linton has more than 20 years of experience managing/developing web/digital projects and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Animation from Westwood College and a Master of Science in Management from the University of Maryland.
- Josie Anderson, Digital Media Manager/Audiovisual Production Specialist, DCS
- Ms. Anderson joined the Communications Branch (CB) in October of 2012. Currently, she works directly with the Digital Communication Section, while also augmenting NIDA's Office of the Director and Office of Science Policy and Communications Branches. She has over 18 years of federal civilian and active duty military service in public affairs, digital media management, and broadcast journalism. As NIDA's audiovisual production specialist, Ms. Anderson serves as the institute's primary video content producer and multimedia manager. She also supports NIDA's website, as well as both traditional and social media needs. Josie attended the Defense Information School with a background in Public Affairs, Broadcast and Interactive Journalism. She also received BA degrees in Political Science and Anthropology from Rutgers University and an MA from American University’s School of Communication.
- Michelle Corbin, Public Health Analyst
- Ms. Corbin joined the Communications Branch (CB) in January 2017 to manage and coordinate NIDA’s outreach program to clinicians (NIDAMED.) She works with clinical groups and other stakeholders to ensure NIDA’s science based information on drug use and health is integrated into medical education, including information on screening for opioid misuse. Ms. Corbin was a long time Public Health Analyst at HRSA, coordinating communications and recruitment efforts for the National Health Service Corps (including the NURSE Corps), which recruits and provides clinicians to the most underserved communities in the United States. Michelle has a great deal of experience with outreach to all varieties of clinicians; has helped to grow NHSC numbers; is skilled in building partnerships; has experience in legislative affairs; and has many years of experience developing and testing audience specific communication materials. She has also worked closely with program officials who manage HRSA’s Federally Qualified Health Centers. Michelle has an MBA with a marketing specialty from American University.
- Rachel Evans, Senior Press Officer
- Ms. Evans leads a variety of public affairs efforts such as responding to reporter inquiries, coordinating interviews with NIDA researchers, pitching exciting advancements and crucial health topics, and advising on translating scientific information into understandable messages for journalists and the public. Prior to joining NIDA in 2021, she worked as a press officer at the NIH National Cancer Institute where she led communications rollouts and oversaw a diverse range of national news coverage, including stories on immunotherapy, childhood cancer, artificial intelligence, comparative oncology, and cancer therapies being studied to treat severe COVID-19. Before coming to the NIH, Rachel held communications positions in her home state of Minnesota at the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Human Services. She graduated from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, and a Master’s Degree in Health Communication.
- Judith Lavelle, Technical Writer/Editor
- Ms. Lavelle joined the Communications Branch in June of 2020. Judy oversees the NIDA content management team—responsible for many of NIDA’s publications and webpages—and is a member of the NIDA press team. She is passionate about providing science-driven, non-stigmatizing information on substance use disorders and substance use research to those who need it most. Prior to NIDA, Judy served as a science writer for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where she created content on COVID-19, HIV, allergy, immunology, and transplantation research and supported media relations. Judy received a Master of Science degree in Science Journalism from Boston University. Her science writing and multimedia work have appeared in the Boston Globe, Chemical & Engineering News, Scientific American Online, NPR and on the walls of Philadelphia's Mütter Museum.
- Stacy Lu, Technical Writer/Editor
- Ms. Lu writes and edits webpages and publications for NIDA’s Communications Branch, which she joined in August of 2021. Prior to NIDA, she was lead writer for Management Sciences for Health, a global health non-profit, where she wrote about infectious disease, global health security, and health technology. A long-time health and science journalist, Stacy has written or worked for The New York Times, Forbes.com, ABCNEWS.com, Prevention, Proto, Monitor on Psychology and others. She has also been a digital content strategist and editor for Time Inc., TEDMED, and Digitas. Stacy has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.
- Brian Marquis, Program Analyst
- Mr. Marquis joined the Communications Branch (CB) in January 2002 as the Information Center Manager. He is now the NIDA Public Liaison Officer and connects with organizations across the country with the help of NIDA publications and Web sites. Prior to joining the branch, Mr. Marquis worked at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Publications Clearinghouse and as a contractor at National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. He has a B.S. in Family Studies from University of Maryland, College Park.
- Susan Boswell, Content Support (Contractor)
- Ms. Boswell joined NIDA as a contractor in July 2021. She brings extensive experience working for nonprofit associations in the health care realm, having served as the director of communications for the AG Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and as assistant managing editor of the membership news-magazine for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She also wrote about rare disease for BioNews Services and served as a copyeditor for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program. Her work in communications spans publication management, public relations, marketing communications, website content development, and social media. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a master’s degree in Management from Notre Dame of Maryland University, and certifications in association management and digital marketing.
- Simona Combi, Media Relations Specialist (Contractor)
- Ms. Combi joined the Communications Branch (CB) in October 2019 as a contractor for the press office. She supports the press team in responding to reporter requests for interviews with NIDA spokespeople about a variety of drug use and addiction topics and is responsible for facilitating and preparing spokespeople for media interviews. She also processes research papers for press outreach consideration, assists the press team with outreach campaigns and events, and writes submissions for internal and external publications. Simona is the Earned Media Manager contractor from IQ Solutions. Prior to coming to NIDA, Simona was the Media Relations Director for First Focus, a bipartisan child advocacy organization, where she generated media coverage for the organization’s signature report, “Children’s Budget: 2018.” Before that, she was the Media Relations Manager at the Center for Global Policy Solution, a policy research and advocacy organization that focused on racial inequalities in health, particularly before and after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. She developed and executed the media outreach plans for the Center’s studies, edited and placed op-eds and letters to the editor, and prepared experts for media interviews. Previously, she worked at the Urban Institute on a wide range of public policy issues, mostly related to poverty and the safety net. She earned her Master’s in Communication, Culture and Technology from Georgetown University and her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Bucharest, Romania.
- Aaron Martinek, Web Analyst, DCS (Contractor)
Mr. Martinek has been a contractor with NIDA since 1999. Originally a Graphic Designer at NIDA’s Intramural Research Program (IRP) in Baltimore, he switched his role to Web Analyst, and moved to Office of Science Policy and Communications in 2005 to focus on NIDA's websites. Mr. Martinek handles everything from web development to design for digital/print materials. He holds a B.A. in Graphic Communication from University of Maryland (UMGC), and has over 25 years’ experience in the field of Graphic Design.
- Molly Natchipolsky, Content Support (Contractor)
- Ms. Natchipolsky joined the Communications Branch (CB) in January 2019, serving as the lead contractor for NIDA’s communications contract. For the last eight years, Molly has been the sole proprietor of Kitchen Table Communications, LLC, which specializes in non-profit, first-responder, and health issues. As a communications specialist, she has been writing and developing strategic marketing and communication plans and materials for clients, including articles, press releases, speeches, and social media content. She has almost 20 years working in the communications field; having managed public relations and communications programs for several non-profit organizations including the American Red Cross, National Osteoporosis Foundation, the International Food Information Council and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Molly received her Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Communications, with a minor in Public Relations from Frostburg State University.
- Ann Rea, Web Analyst, DCS (Contractor)
- Ms. Rea has been a contractor with NIDA since 1993. Originally a Medical Photographer at NIDA’s Intramural Research Program (IRP) in Baltimore, she switched her role to Graphic Artist and then to the role of Web Analyst in 1999. Ms. Rea works on the main NIDA site, specifically with NIDA Notes, International, NACDA, and publications. She has also taken a major role in the ongoing task of ensuring that the NIDA website and all of the smaller sites meet the Section 508 Guidelines. Ms. Rea holds a M.A. in English from Morgan State University.