Donna Nichols, MSEd, CHES

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Community Health Specialist, Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences
Faculty Associate

Donna Nichols has more than 30 years of public health promotion policy, program, partnership, and practice experience and has held numerous professional, management and leadership positions within three state health agencies and across multiple community settings and sectors. Her academic credentials are in health education and she is a certified health education specialist. She is a faculty associate and community health specialist with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health, Michael and Susan Dell Center for Health Living, a university-based, nationally recognized research organization aimed at improving children’s health. She serves in various roles for the Dell Center including, but not limited to, serving as a health policy advisor to university faculty, as a guest lecturer in health policy, and as a partnership coordinator for major Center grants and activities.

Donna is recognized as an influential state and national health promotion leader in the area of health promotion policy analysis and development and has proven success in implementing large scale, evidence-based public health partnership and program initiatives as the former Senior Prevention Policy Analyst with the Texas Department of State Health Services. She has testified on several occasions in front of Congress on the obesity issue facing the US and the funding needed to address this issue nationally. She has received numerous national awards given jointly by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Association of State and Territorial Directors of Health Promotion and Public Health Promotion including the: 1998 Health Promotion Medal of Excellence; 2000 Leadership Award; 2002 Evans/Muneoka Award; and, 2007 Health Promotion and Education Advocacy Award. Donna served as the former Health Policy and Partnerships Director for the Directors of Health Promotion and Education, a national non-profit organization aimed at providing and supporting proven health promotion programs and policies nationwide from 2007-2015.

Donna believes that public health practitioners and researchers have a responsibility to speak up about public health issues affecting this country and state. By supporting a strong, unified public health mission and a mobilized community health workforce, we can advance the health of the state and communities throughout Texas.

Current projects: 2018 Texas Obesity Awareness Week including recognition of Texas Health Champions and Rising Stars.

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Current Projects

Texas Childhood Obesity Prevention Policy Evaluation (T-COPPE)

Thumbnail image for Texas Childhood Obesity Prevention Policy Evaluation (T-COPPE)

This project is a collaborative effort that will study the impact of two recent policies: the Safe Routes to School program and an important rule revision to the federal food allocation package administered by the Texas Women, Infants and Children program.

Recent Publications

Texas Legislator Survey: Lessons Learned from Interviewing State Politicians about Obesity Policies

(Nichols D, Dowdy D, Atteberry H, Menendez T, Hoelscher DM; Texas Public Health Journal; 2017)

Effects of Funding Allocation for Safe Routes to School Programs on Active Commuting to School and Related Behavioral, Knowledge, and Psychosocial Outcomes: Results From the Texas Childhood Obesity Prevention Policy Evaluation (T-COPPE) Study

(Hoelscher DM, Ory MG, Dowdy D, Miao J, Atteberry H, Nichols D, Evans A, Menendez T, Lee C, & Wang S; Environment & Behavior; 2016)

A Contextual Look at Safe Routes to School Implementation in Texas

(Atteberry H, Dowdy D, Oluyomi A, Nichols D, Ory MG, & Hoelscher DM; Environment & Behavior; 2016)

Creating a tipping point: Texas obesity policy actions in review, 2000-2010

(Ory MG, Nichols D, Dickerson JB, Madsen KK, Dowdy D, Menendez T, Hoelscher DM; Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action, 2013)