Doctor of Health Administration Faculty
The Doctor of Health Administration faculty includes:
Amber Arnold, DNP, RN
Dr. Arnold is a registered nurse with a clinical background in pediatrics and critical care. After 10 years at Children's of Mississippi Hospital with varying roles from staff nurse to clinical director, she followed her passion for improving patient care on a system-wide level. After training at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Patient Safety Executive Development Program, she assumed the role of patient safety officer at UMMC to facilitate change in unsafe behaviors affecting the culture of safety. After five years in patient safety, she transitioned to a part-time role working on various projects for the chief medical officer at UMMC. She currently primarily serves as faculty for the doctor of health administration program at UMMC teaching a variety of courses in the program.
Arnold obtained a bachelor of science in nursing degree from UMMC in 1999. She graduated with a master of science in nursing in 2009 and doctor of nursing practice in 2013, both from UMMC. She is a certified critical care nurse alumnus and a TeamSTEPPS Master Trainer. She also serves as past president of the Nursing Alumni Board, past president of Madison Ridgeland Academy PATS Board, and program chair for UMMC Alliance.
Kaye Bender, PhD, RN, FAAN
Dr. Bender is the owner of Kaye Bender Consulting, LLC, where she works as an independent public health, organizational, and education consultant and strategist. She also serves as the Executive Director of the Mississippi Public Health Association. Bender served as the President and CEO of the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) in Alexandria, VA, from 2009-2019. She was the Dean of the University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Nursing prior to PHAB. She worked in local public health for several years in Mississippi and was the Deputy State Health Officer for the Mississippi Department of Health for 12 years.
She is an active member of the American Public Health Association and is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing. She is also a board member of the National Board of Public Health Examiners; the Public Health Foundation; and the MS Public Health Institute. She has numerous publications and presentations related to governmental public health infrastructure improvement.
Dr. Bender holds a BS in Nursing from the University of MS Medical Center; an MSN from the University of Southern Mississippi; and a PhD from the University of MS Medical Center.
Whitney Bondurant, JD, DHA
Dr. Bondurant earned the doctor of health administration from UMMC, juris doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law, and undergraduate degree from Millsaps College. Bondurant joined UMMC’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, Pre-Award Division, in 2015 and was named division director in 2017. In that role, she oversaw the submission of all UMMC grant proposals and execution of all UMMC sponsored program agreements. In February of 2019, Bondurant was named the first director of the UMMC Office of Clinical Trials. The office processes all UMMC clinical research studies and provides administrative support including contract and budget negotiation, clinical trial project management, recruitment and data solutions, training, and regulatory assistance.
She is an active member of the Mississippi Bar Association and is licensed to practice in Mississippi state courts, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Mississippi.
Angela Burrell, PhD, RN
Dr. Burrell earned a doctor of philosophy in nursing education and administration from William Carey University and the master of science in nursing from the University of Mississippi (UMMC). She also earned her undergraduate degree from Mississippi College and is a licensed registered nurse.
Burrell has over 20 years of health care experience, serving in clinical, educational, and leadership roles within various organizations. In addition, she has served in multiple roles at UMMC’s School of Health Related Professions (SHRP): as adjunct faculty for the departments of health sciences, health information and informatics management, and radiologic sciences; as program coordinator and program director of the department of health administration, and currently serves as chair of the doctor of health administration program.
Carley Dear, EdD
Dr. Dear is the Director of Assessment for the Office of Academic Effectiveness at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. A former Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness for a large, multi-campus community college, she has experience in data visualization, data storytelling, and data-informed decision-making practices. Dear presents at national, regional, and state conferences on assessment, effective presentation of data, and accreditation standards. Professionally, she has designed curriculum for multiple disciplines and created assessment plans for instructional and administrative units across public and private institutions from K-12 to community colleges and professional schools. Dear has assisted schools with accreditation documents from five different accreditation bodies.
Cindy Dishongh, MHS, RHIA
Ms. Dishongh earned the master of health science degree from Mississippi College and her undergraduate degree from UMMC. She is a registered health information administrator (RHIA).
Dishongh has over 30 years of health care experience and currently serves as the chief quality officer for Merit Health Rankin. She was previously Chief Quality Officer for Merit Health's Hospital Market, and had served as chief operating officer for Health Management Associates at River Oaks, Rankin and Woman's Hospitals, as well as chief executive officer for MH-Rankin. In addition, she has experience as the executive VP of business development for Hospitals and Ancillary Services.
Thomas Dobbs, MD
Thomas Dobbs assumed the role of Dean of the John D. Bower School of Population Health on August 1, 2022. In addition to his role as Dean, Dr. Dobbs teaches Epidemiology for the School of Population Health and the School of Health-Related Professions. He has a clinical position within the Division of Infectious Disease, working specifically in the fields of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections with a focus on the intersection of disease and the social determinants of health.
Dr. Dobbs has a long career working at the crossroads of clinical medicine and public health as a physician, researcher and public health leader. He has held numerous leadership roles within the Mississippi State Department of Health including State Epidemiologist and State Health Officer (a role through which he directed the state's response to the COVID pandemic). In his role as State Health Officer, Dr. Dobbs focused the agency on addressing the numerous health inequities that plague our state. Additionally, he has worked in leadership roles nationally and internationally in the fight against diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis.
Elizabeth Franklin, PhD
Dr. Franklin earned the doctor of philosophy in higher education leadership and the master of education from the University of Mississippi. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi.
Franklin worked as a language instructor at the secondary and community college levels for 22 years prior to coming to UMMC as an information technology solutions strategist. She has served as director of Continuing Education in the Health Professions at UMMC and presently is full-time faculty of the DHA program teaching a variety of courses and serving as admissions chair of the program.
Kenny Heard, JD
Kenneth M. Heard III presently serves as director of the Department of State Authorizations at UMMC and previously worked in public procurement at UMMC.
Prior to UMMC, Heard practiced law as an associate attorney, then sole practitioner, appearing in both federal and state court systems throughout Mississippi. He earned a juris doctor from Mississippi College School of Law, and a bachelor of arts in biology from University of Mississippi. Heard regularly participates in academic regulatory related presentations involving state authorization, licensure and institutional disclosure requirements. Heard serves as faculty at the School of Health Related Professions in the Department of Health Sciences and the Department of Health Administration.
Seth Lirette, PhD
Dr. Seth Lirette holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Mississippi State University and a PhD in Biostatistics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His primary appointment is in the Department of Data Science, but he also holds secondary appointments in the Departments of Radiology and Radiation Oncology alongside his work with the Doctor of Health Administration program.
He has a broad range of biostatistical skills and works with a large number of collaborators, both on and off the UMMC campus, publishing dozens of peer-reviewed articles and helping obtain millions of dollars in external funding.
Kendria Lyles, DHA
Dr. Lyles earned the doctor of health administration and master of health sciences from the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). She also earned her undergraduate degree from The University of Southern Mississippi.
Since 2008, Lyles has held various positions at UMMC. Lyles’s health care experiences include hospital administration, learning and workforce development, human resources, and information technology (Epic). She currently serves as full-time faculty for the doctor of health administration program teaching a variety of courses.
Rob McElhaney, PhD, CPA
Dr. McElhaney earned the doctor of philosophy in higher education administration, master of professional accountancy, and undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. He is a certified public accountant.
McElhaney has served as the chief financial officer for the University of Southern Mississippi Foundation and currently serves as assistant comptroller and chief internal control officer at UMMC.
Mitzi Norris, PhD, MT
Dr. Norris earned the doctor of philosophy in educational leadership from the University of Mississippi and the master of science in microbiology from the Mississippi University for Women. She also earned her undergraduate degree from MUW. She is a registered medical technologist and has specialist certification in microbiology.
Norris worked in various clinical laboratories for many years before changing to hospital education. She was the education director for the South Central VA Health Care Network that included 10 medical centers. At UMMC, Norris serves as the executive director of academic effectiveness for the campus.
Brian Rutledge, PhD
Dr. Rutledge earned the doctor of philosophy in clinical health sciences at the University of Mississippi. He earned his master of health services administration degree from Mississippi College as well as his undergraduate degree.
Rutledge has served as a health policy fellow to Sen. Thad Cochran. At UMMC, he has served as manager of Emergency Services (Emergency Medicine), manager of business operations (Medicine), and the director of accreditation and assessment (School of Medicine). He currently serves as chief of staff to the vice chancellor for health affairs.
W. Taylor Sisson, DHA, MBA
Dr. Sisson earned the doctor of health administration from UMMC, the master of business administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the bachelor of science in commerce and business administration from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa.
Sisson has functioned in various leadership roles with UMMC, working primarily in the ambulatory sector of health care administration. Overall, Sisson’s health care experiences include ambulatory operations, departmental/business administration, fundraising/development, information technology, and marketing/sales. Dr. Sission is currently the Executive Administrator for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UAB Medicine.
Juanyce Taylor, PhD
Dr. Taylor earned the doctor of philosophy in international development and the bachelor of science degree in psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi. She also earned the master of science in education from Jackson State University.
Taylor has been employed at the Medical Center since 2008 and has held several leadership positions. She co-leads several committees such as the Vice Chancellor’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion, the Institutional Climate Committee, and the Health Care Disparities Council. In her role, she facilitates the integration of diversity and inclusion throughout the Medical Center’s mission areas. She is a professor and serves as the chief diversity and inclusion officer for the institution.
Robin Thompson, DHA, RN
Dr. Thompson earned a doctor of health administration from the University of Mississippi Medical Center. She earned both a master of science in nursing and a bachelor of science in nursing from Alcorn State University.
Thompson is a licensed registered nurse with over 15 years of health care experience, specializing in pediatrics and women’s health services. Her background includes providing direct patient care, educating licensed and aspiring health care professionals, and leading teams in clinical and academic organizations. She has served in multiple faculty roles in various health care programs across the United States.
In 2017, Thompson assumed the role of Director of Instructional Development and Distance Education for the School of Health Related Professions. In addition to the duties entrusted to that role, she serves as faculty for the bachelor of health systems administration, master of health systems administration, master of health information management, and doctor of health administration programs.
Lei Zhang, PhD, MBA
Dr. Zhang earned the doctor of philosophy and the master of science in preventive medicine from the University of Mississippi. He also earned his master of business administration from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and a bachelor of science from the Chengdu University of Technology in China.
Zhang is the director of Office of Health Data & Research at Mississippi State Department of Health. He also holds an academic appointment as professor of biostatistics in the School of Nursing and School of Health Related Professions at UMMC. Currently he serves as chair of the Applied Public Health Statistics Section of American Public Health Association.