Our Vision

Counter Tools knows that place has a profound impact on the health of individuals. The spaces where we live, work, learn, and play — our homes, schools, neighborhoods, and nearby stores — determine our access to healthful living.

The Counter Tools vision is a nation where healthy living is equitable across communities, a nation where every person has access to healthful choices. In undertaking this important work, we convene thought-leaders and experts, conduct research, synthesize evidence, and tell impactful stories.

Our Story

Counter Tools began with University of North Carolina-based doctors Allison Myers and Kurt Ribisl. Concerned with big tobacco’s focus on keeping tobacco products cheap and visible in retail environments, Myers and Ribisl envisioned a website that would be a free, one-stop-shop for all things related to point-of-sale tobacco control. In 2011, they created CounterTobacco.org, a CDC-funded resource focused on tobacco point-of-sale history, impact, and policy solutions.

While some localities were able to fully utilize the resources provided on CounterTobacco.org, other communities needed more assistance. Counter Tools was born when Myers, Ribisl, and their team created two software tools, the Store Audit Center and the Store Mapper, enabling states and localities to collect, manage, visualize, and analyze tobacco retailer data that could show decision makers the need for change.

In June 2012, Counter Tools became a 501(c)(3), and what began as a North Carolina-based pilot expanded to include a broader geographical reach and more robust service offerings. While we maintain both CounterTobacco.org and our expertise in tobacco at the point of sale, we also focus on the impact the retail environment has on the health of the community as a whole, from assessing availability of healthy foods to enabling enforcement and compliance efforts. Our team has grown to include public health experts, policy makers, and data visionaries, all with the common vision of advancing place-based public health, starting with the retail environment.

Our Team

With backgrounds that include health behavior, economic development, health policy, education, technology processes, e-commerce, and software operation, the Counter Tools team has a wealth of experience that informs what we do and how we do it.

We’re a dedicated team of public health nerds, policy wonks, data enthusiasts, visionaries, and storytellers on a mission to leverage our expertise for productivity and positive social change.

To learn more about working at Counter Tools, please visit our Careers page.

Maria Julian

Maria Julian, MPA

Executive Director

Maria Julian began her public health career at the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County, Ohio in 2006. From startups to local governments in the U.S. and abroad, Maria has led teams through the implementation of behavior change strategies to improve health outcomes. Maria earned her Master of Public Administration from Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. She enjoys teaching nonprofit management at Appalachian State University, sending snail mail, and being outside with her partner, son and dogs.

Justin Bailey, MPH

Director of Product & Technology

Justin Bailey studied sociology at Brown University, then worked in HIV/AIDS prevention research in San Francisco. He became interested in tobacco control policy while obtaining his Master of Public Health at the University of North Carolina for his Master of Public Health and became a member of the Counter Tools founding team. Justin enjoys being the tech guru in a public health setting. At home, he enjoys being silly with his son, dabbling in music and photography, and making the occasional casserole-with-Velveeta recipe in homage to his roots in southern Ohio.

Jackie Boards

Project Director and Help Desk Manager

Jackie Boards earned a Bachelor of Arts in Global Health with a focus in Psychology from Mercer University. Her work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as in university and court settings, has taught her the importance of community health and inspired her passion for improving health and wellness within the communities where she lives and works. A Georgia peach, born and raised, Jackie loves binge-watching TV shows and movies, volunteering, being active, and eating healthful, delicious food.

Amanda Kong, MPH

Data Scientist

Amanda Kong earned her Master of Public Health in Health Behavior from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014 and is currently working towards her doctoral degree. A Lawrence, Kansas native (Rock Chalk Jayhawk!), she is passionate about researching place-based tobacco control policies and their potential to narrow the racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in tobacco use behaviors. When Amanda is not actively researching or working with Counter Tools, she loves to cook, explore North Carolina trails, visit local breweries, and play with her rescue husky mix.

Marielle Matthews, MPH

Senior Project Director

Marielle completed her undergraduate degree at Hamilton College in New York and earned her Master of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. With a background in food security and health care, Marielle has expertise in survey form development in the Store Audit Center and the Point of Sale Toolkit (POST). She enjoys managing triumphantly long to-do lists when creating new POST accounts. She’s passionate about healthy food and agriculture and puts those passions to work on the farm where she lives.

Mollie Mayfield, MPH

Senior Project Director and Managing Editor, CounterTobacco.org

Mollie Mayfield received her Master of Public Health in Health Behavior from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her BA in Psychology with a concentration in Community and Global Health from Macalester College. Her work with Counter Tools aligns aligns with her interest in fostering healthy lifestyles through health-supportive environments, creating equitable communities, and making change through policy. When she’s not working, Mollie enjoys trail running, reading, cooking, eating, and spending time outside.

Sharon Prochazka, MS

Data Manager

Sharon Prochazka earned a Master of Science in Environmental Toxicology with a minor in Geographical Information Systems from North Carolina State University. Her interest in data integrity, visualization, standardization, and documentation is the cumulative result of working with some of the brightest Intel and GE engineers for four years. Her skilled background in both technology and science allows her to fill a unique niche at Counter Tools. When Sharon’s not at work, you might find her cooking, cycling with her family, or headed to the Ocracoke Island, her favorite North Carolina beach.

Peter Rubenacker

Director of Special Initiatives

Peter Rubenacker earned his Bachelor of Science in Accounting from SUNY Albany, where he met his partner Ingrid, also a New York native. Peter and Ingrid raised their family in San Diego where they were sponsors of donor-advised programs at Rady Children’s Hospital. Peter spent three decades in wireless technology industries and has held executive positions in finance, IT, and operations. After relocating to Chapel Hill, Peter pursued a passion for teaching at local universities, and discovered Counter Tools while coaching its founders in an emerging entrepreneurs program at the University of North Carolina. He is an automotive fanatic and has caught the travel bug.

Kate Speed

Senior Operations and Marketing Manager

Kate Speed is a New York native who earned her art degree at the University at Buffalo. She worked in art-related non-profit organizations before her stretch in the e-commerce and market research industries, where she became intrigued by the power of big data and data visualization. Kate loves working on projects with crossover between the creative and the technical and seeks out opportunities to streamline processes. Outside of work, Kate builds websites and plays video games under the supervision of her cats.

Beth Turner

Business Manager

Beth Turner holds a BA in French from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has been in the nonprofit sector since 1998, when she was hired as the volunteer coordinator for the HIV/AIDS Council of Chatham County. A founding member of the Triangle-based nonprofit Girls Rock NC, Beth was the organization’s Jill-of-all-trades from 2004-2014. Beth served on the Pittsboro Town Board of Commissioners from 2011-2015, and has been with Counter Tools since 2014. She is a cat whisperer and bass player.

Board of Directors

Dwana “Dee” Calhoun, MS

Dwana “Dee” Calhoun is the National Network Director of SelfMade Health Network, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention organization seeking to eliminate cancer and tobacco-related disparities among the nation’s most vulnerable populations. Calhoun has fifteen years of senior management experience in healthcare quality improvement, chronic disease management, and public health and has worked closely with the American Diabetes Association and several other advocacy organizations. She has presented at several national and state meetings, including the National Conference on Tobacco or Health and the American Association for Cancer Research. Calhoun holds a BS from the University of Louisiana (Lafayette) and an MS in Community Health from Old Dominion University.

Monica H. Eischen

Monica H. Eischen retired from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) in June 2015 after more than twenty-six years of service. As a program consultant, Eischen worked with state and local health departments and tobacco control partner organizations to advance evidence-based tobacco control policies. She provided guidance to tobacco control programs across the nation and worked closely with tobacco control partner organizations, including CounterTobacco.org, to advance the tobacco control policy agenda. Eischen’s pre-CDC experience includes thirteen years in health education with the Iowa Department of Public Health. Eischen also serves on the Washington University School of Public Health Advisory Committee for the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool Project. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Mankato with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Education.

Karen Girard, MPA

Karen Girard is the manager Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention at the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division. She has been at the Health Division since 1995, working to change policy, systems, and environments to improve public health through tobacco and alcohol control, physical activity and nutrition, and early detection and self-management. Girard received her Masters in Public Administration from Portland State University and a degree in International Studies from Willamette University in International Studies.

Joshua Prasad, MPH

Joshua Prasad is the former Center Director of the Concerted Care Group in Frederick, Maryland, where he helped develop and expand a unique model of integrated behavioral health. Prasad has served as Director of Health Outcomes and National Partnerships at Sherbit, a health technology startup he helped found; Senior Advisor to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); and Director for the National Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative. Currently, Prasad runs IIF Health, a public health and design thinking consultancy focused on improving and increasing multi-sectoral, human centered solutions. Prasad received his Bachelor’s from Rutgers University, earned a Master of Public Health from Drexel University, and completed an Innovation Fellowship at the Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care.

Kurt Ribisl, PhD

Kurt M. Ribisl, Ph.D., co-founder of CounterTobacco.org and Counter Tools, is professor and chair in the Department of Health Behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Program Leader for Cancer Prevention and Control at UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Ribisl’s primary research interest is evaluating and improving the reach of population-level efforts to reduce tobacco use, with an emphasis on policy and information technology. Dr. Ribisl is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for the journal Tobacco Control and is the author of over 185 scientific articles. His research has appeared in journals such as the American Journal of Public Health and Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). He received his doctorate in community psychology from Michigan State University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cardiovascular disease prevention and epidemiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine Prevention Research Center.

Jeff Willett, PhD

Jeff Willett, PhD, is Senior Vice President of Health Strategies for the American Heart Association’s Midwest Affiliate. Jeff’s extensive background in directing and evaluating comprehensive tobacco prevention and control programs includes his work with the New York State Department of Health as director of one of the nation’s largest state tobacco control programs. Prior to joining the AHA, Jeff served as a Vice President with Truth Initiative, a Washington-DC based foundation focused on preventing and reducing tobacco use. While at Truth Initiative, Jeff directed a research team with a strong focus on e-cigarettes, including some of the early research regarding youth and adult use of JUUL.

Leslie Zellers, JD

Leslie Zellers is a Public Health Legal & Policy Consultant. As an attorney with more than twenty years of experience in public health law and public policy for government and nonprofit organizations, Leslie works to advance health and wellbeing through ongoing legal and policy advocacy on issues such as tobacco control, cannabis regulation, road safety, and childhood obesity prevention. Current and former clients include the Network for Public Health Law, the Public Health Institute, the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, the World Health Organization, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and the California counties of Alameda, Santa Clara, and Ventura. Previously, Leslie was the Director of Programs at ChangeLab Solutions, a nonprofit organization that seeks healthier communities for all through better laws and policies. Leslie She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, and a graduate of the UC Hastings College of the Law.

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