Advisory Board

The purpose of the BREATHE Advisory Board is to advise, assist, support, and advocate for development and growth of extensive partnerships, both internal and external to the University of Kentucky. The specific purposes of the Board include:

  • Provide advice and counsel to the BREATHE Director and research team on matters for which external advice is critical. This may include long range planning and philanthropic endeavors as well as advice on achieving goals related to state, national, and international prominence in policy development, outreach and education, and research.
  • Increase awareness of the BREATHE team's work at the state, regional, national and international levels.
  • Serve as an advocacy network and ambassadors for the BREATHE team.
  • Members of the BREATHE Advisory Board must have attained prominence in their respective careers and are chosen for their value in providing sound counsel to the BREATHE team and its director.

Donna Arnett, PhD, MSPH 
Dean of College of Public Health
University of Kentucky

Linda Gorton, BSN 
Former Vice Mayor and Council Member 
Lexington-Fayette County

Rob Edwards 
Chief of External Affairs Officer 
University of Kentucky HealthCare 

Timothy Wm. Mullett, M.D.
Professor of Surgery
University of Kentucky
Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery 

Mark Neikirk
Executive Director
Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement
Northern Kentucky University                                                                                                                                                   

Lee Ridner, PhD, FNP-BC 
Associate Dean for Graduate Programs & Family Nurse Practitioner Program Coordinator
University of Louisville School of Nursing

Jim Sawyer 
Owner/Operator
Sawyer’s Bar & Grille

David B. Stevens, MD 
Veteran Affairs Medical Center-Lexington 
                                                                                                            
Lee T. Todd, Jr. 
Former President 
University of Kentucky

Everette Varney, MA 
Former Mayor
Georgetown, KY

Penny Warren, MBA
Attorney

Ellen J. Hahn, PhD, RN, FAAN 
Professor Marcia A. Dake Professorship, University of Kentucky
Director, Kentucky Center for Smoke-Free Policy

Janie Heath, PhD, APRN-BC, FAAN
Dean and Warwick Professor of Nursing 
University of Kentucky

Aimee Baston, BA 
Alumni and Development Director 
University of Kentucky College of Nursing

 

BREATHE ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER BIOGRAPHIES

Donna Arnett, PhD, MSPH is the Dean of the UK College of Public Health. She is the former associate dean and chair of Epidemiology at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Dr. Arnett is also the former president of the American Heart Association. A Kentucky native, Dr. Arnett obtained her Bachelors of Science degree in nursing and a Master’s of Science in public health from the University of South Florida before earning her PhD in epidemiology at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Dr. Arnett has been an NIH-funded researcher for 20 years and focuses her research on genes related to hypertensive disorders and organ damage that results from hypertension. 

Linda Gorton received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Kentucky.  She worked as a registered nurse for Baptist Physicians of Lexington for 16 years. Linda was then elected as the Vice Mayor and Council Member for Lexington-Fayette County until she recently retired. Linda has been a long-time supporter of smoke-free legislation, voting for Lexington-Fayette County’s smoke-free ordinance in 2003 (the first in Kentucky). Before retiring, Linda championed the amendment of Lexington’s law to prohibit e-cigarette use in all workplaces. She is currently pursuing a career as a writer as a rural, agricultural, and urban enthusiast.  

 

Rob Edwards serves as the Chief External Affairs Officer for UK HealthCare. In this role he is responsible for the development of strategic projects in support of the medical center’s strategic plan, policy development and analysis, marketing and outreach, and clinical partnerships focused on service line growth. Previously, Rob served in various positions appointed by Kentucky’s Governor in the Cabinet for Health & Family Services including chief of staff, budget director and legislative director. He earned his Doctorate in Public Health from the University Kentucky, his Master of Business Administration from the University of Louisville, and undergraduate degree from Centre College.  

Timothy Wm. Mullett, M.D. is a professor of surgery for the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Kentucky. He received his medical degree from the University of Florida where he completed his residency in general surgery as well as his fellowship in pediatric and cardiothoracic surgery. His interests and specialties include surgical treatment of lung cancer, early detection of lung cancer, and pulmonary hypertension. Dr. Mullett is currently the Medical Director for the Markey Cancer Center Affiliate and Research Networks at UK and Co-Investigator for the Kentucky LEADS (Lung Cancer Education Awareness Detection Survivorship) Collaborative. 

 

Mark Neikirk is the executive director of the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement at Northern Kentucky University. The center works to connect the campus and community by supporting service learning classes, a student philanthropy program, a community lecture series featuring NKU students and faculty, and community public affairs forum. Mark’s background includes 28 years as a journalist, lastly as managing editor of The Cincinnati Post. He is a member of the boards of the Friedell Committee for Healthcare Transformation, the Thomas D. Clark Foundation (University Press of Kentucky), the Behringer-Crawford Museum, and the Cincinnatus Association.

Lee Ridner, PhD, FNP-BC, serves as the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs for the University of Louisville School of Nursing. He is also the Family Nurse Practitioner Program Coordinator. Lee received his Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing, and PhD from the University of Kentucky. His research interests include smoking cessation and health risk behaviors among college students.  

 

 

 

Jim Sawyer is the owner/operator of Sawyer’s Bar and Grille. He was one of the first small restaurant owner’s in Lexington, Kentucky to go voluntarily smoke-free prior to Lexington’s smoke-free ordinance. He is very passionate about smoke-free environments and affordable housing.

 

 

David B. Stevens, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon, affiliated with the Veteran Affairs Medical Center-Lexington. Dr. Stevens received his medical degree from Northwestern University Feinburg School of Medicine and practiced as an orthopedic surgeon for 60 years. He also worked at UK as a professor of surgery. He served on the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council stepping down in 2008 after 15 years of service. He was instrumental in passing Lexington’s 2003 smoke-free law, the first in Kentucky.  The David B. Stevens Smoke-free Advocate of the Year Award is bestowed annually to an advocate who exhibits outstanding effort and service in tirelessly promoting the public health of their community by promoting secondhand smoke education and smoke-free policy. 

 

Lee T. Todd, Jr., was the 11th President of the University of Kentucky. Dr. Todd received a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from UK. He pursued graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earning his master’s degree and a doctoral degree before returning to the University of Kentucky as faculty. Dr. Todd has founded two high-technology firms, DataBeam and Projectron. He has received numerous awards for his technical work including induction into the Telecon Magazine Hall of Fame, Kentucky Society of Professional Engineers, and Outstanding Business Leader of the Year to name a few. Dr. Todd was instrumental in providing leadership for UK’s campus to go tobacco-free in 2009. The Lee T. Todd Smoke-free Hero Award is given out annually at the Kentucky Center for Smoke-free Policy’s Spring Conference in his honor.

Penny Warren received her Master of Business Administration from the University of Arkansas and her Juris Doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Penny was a partner at Wyatt, Tarrant, & Combs, LLP for 16 years before becoming the Director of Mediation and Family Courts Division for the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts. She then moved to an attorney position for the United States District Court for 8 years before starting her own practice. Penny is a passionate advocate for smoke-free environments.

 

Everette Varney attended Berea College and completed a B.S. degree in Business and Physical Education. He then pursued graduate studies at the University of Virginia and Morehead (Kentucky) State University. After completing his M.A. and Rank I degrees in Education and Administration he came to Scott County High School in Georgetown, Kentucky. He spent 10 years in school administration at Scott County, where he served as assistant principal at the high school and later served as the first principal of the ninth grade school. He retired from education in December 1998, and assumed the duties of mayor of Georgetown on January 1, 1999, serving until 2006, and again from 2011-2014. Mayor Varney became an avid supporter of smoke-free efforts in Kentucky after voting for Georgetown’s smoke-free ordinance, enacted in 2005.

 

Ellen Hahn, PhD, RN, FAAN, is an Alumni Professor in the Colleges of Nursing and Public Health at UK. She holds the Marcia A. Dake Endowed Professorship in the College of Nursing. Dr. Hahn is Associate Director for the Center for Health Services Research, Faculty Associate at UK’s NCI-designated Markey Cancer Center, and facilitator for the Lung Cancer Translational Research Group. Dr. Hahn received her undergraduate degree in nursing from Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University. She earned a Master of Arts in Health Education from The Ohio State University and a Master of Science in community health nursing from Indiana University. In 1992, she completed a PhD in health policy/health of the community with a minor in substance abuse and the family at Indiana University School of Nursing. Dr. Hahn directs the BREATHE (Bridging Research Efforts and Advocacy Toward Healthy Environments) research team which includes the Tobacco Policy Research Program, the Kentucky Center for Smoke-free Policy, and the Radon Policy Research Program. Through the Kentucky Center for Smoke-free Policy, Dr. Hahn and her colleagues have assisted many of Kentucky’s 42 communities to go smoke-free. Hahn and colleagues have published multiple smoke-free workplace policy outcome studies showing positive health effects and no harm to business. In 2010, Dr. Hahn was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame, and in 2011, she was inducted into the American Academy of Nursing. Dr. Hahn was named the 2012 UK Provost’s Public Scholar, is the Co-Chair of the UK Tobacco-free Campus Initiative, and is an Ambassador for Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research.

Janie Heath, PhD, APRN-BC, FAAN, is the Dean and Warwick Professor of Nursing at the University of Kentucky. She was formerly an endowed professor of nursing and the chief academic officer at the University of Virginia and Georgia Health Sciences University. Dr. Heath earned her Master of Science Degree, with a clinical nurse specialist focus, from the University of Oklahoma and her post-master’s certificate with an acute-adult nurse practitioner focus from the University of South Carolina.  She completed her PhD in Nursing from George Mason University. She has more than 38 years of acute care nursing experience, has been awarded more than $12 million for academic and/or research initiatives, has generated more than 150 publications and abstracts, and served on numerous task forces for tobacco control.  

Aimee Baston is the Alumni and Development Director for the University of Kentucky College of Nursing. Aimee has more than 16 years of fundraising experience with expertise in annual giving, event planning, and development writing. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Communications with an emphasis in business from the University of Kentucky. Aimee has received the Terry B. Mobley Development Achievement Award and the Excellence in Copywriting Addy.