Champions of Service: 2022 Volunteers & Board of Directors

At PAEA, our mission is to advance excellence in PA education through leadership, scholarship, equity, and inclusion. As we enter our 50th Anniversary celebration this year, we reflect on what brought us to where we are today. Thanks to the volunteers and Board members who have selflessly given their time over the years, PAEA has always had partners to help in the pursuit of this mission. From engaging in high-level strategic thinking on emerging issues to playing a critical role in exam development, these individuals serve PA education and the profession at the highest level.

As we look ahead to a momentous year, we want to say “thank you” and “welcome” to our 2022 volunteers and Board members. 

New Board Members

Jacqueline S. Barnett, DHSc, MSHS, PA-C

Treasurer Division Chief and Program Director Duke University PA Program

Dr. Jacqueline Barnett, Program Director of the Duke University PA Program, has held numerous leadership positions over her 25-year career, serving in professional organization leadership and service roles and investing in countless individuals as a mentor, coach, and leader. 

Virginia Valentin, DrPH, PA-C

Director at Large Department Chair University of Kentucky PA Program

Dr. Virginia Valentin is an associate professor and department chair at the University of Kentucky PA Program. She received her Doctorate of Public Health with a focus in Epidemiology from the University of Kentucky in 2017 and spends the majority of her time on research. She brings nearly two decades of clinical experience to her teaching. Additionally, Valentin has years of advocacy experience at the state and national levels.

Cassidy McCandless

Cassidy McCandless, MS, MPAS, PA-C

Student Member at Large PA Student Missouri State University PA Program

Cassidy McCandless’ professional career began as a Clinical Registered Dietitian. She has experience working in varied locations, from WIC clinics to nursing homes, to rural inpatient hospitals. While completing a Master’s of Science in Medical Nutrition, she enrolled in the Reinert Center for Transformative Learning Foundations Certificate in University Teaching Skills through Saint Louis University, which allowed her to develop instructional techniques.

McCandless said she looks forward to serving as both an advocate and apprentice during her year as Student Member at Large. “As a student member, I would advocate for my colleagues and their views on PA education. This means creating open lines of communication with students around the country to ensure our voices are heard in a constructive way about educational topics, program concerns, or student retention.”

Board Member Transitions

2023 PAEA President Linda Sekhon

Linda Sekhon, DHSc, PA-C

President Department Chair, Program Director High Point University Doctor of Medical Science Program

Dr. Linda Sekhon has been a PA educator since 1996, and in 2011, she founded the PA program at High Point University. This February, she transitioned into department chair and program director for the High Point University Doctor of Medical Science program. She has served on the PAEA Board of Directors since 2020 as Director at Large. This year, we are thrilled to welcome her as President Elect.

Carl Garrubba

Carl Garrubba, DMSc, PA-C, CPA

Director at Large (Leaving in 2023) Dean of Health and Natural Sciences Dominican University of California

Dr. Carl Garrubba has served on PAEA’s Board of Directors since 2014, serving as Treasurer for the last six years. At the request of the Board, Garrubba has agreed to serve as Director at Large for one year to fill the vacancy created by Sekhon’s election as President Elect. 


In 2021, we asked our volunteer team why they chose to serve at PAEA. Overwhelmingly, the number one reason they gave was the opportunity to participate in national service. This year, numerous members with no previous PAEA volunteer experience took advantage of this opportunity. In 2022, we’re excited to welcome the highest number of first-time PAEA volunteers ever.

Join us in welcoming the new members joining the PAEA volunteer committees.  

Awards & Honors Review Committee         

  • Lauren Paluch, DMSc, PA-C   
    East Virginia Medical School 

Finance Steering Committee

  • Karen Graham-Burnet, PhD, PA-C
    Cedarville University  
  • Raymond Eifel, EdD, PA-C      
    Butler University        

Diversity and Inclusion MAC

  • Carl Frizell, DMSc, MSPAS, PA-C       
    University of South Alabama 

Faculty Development MAC   

  • Mary Allias, MPAS, PA-C   
    University of Pittsburgh         
  • Lavette Shirley Elee, DScPAS, PA-C    
    Wingate University

Leadership MAC        

  • Lucy W. Kibe, DrPH, MS, MHS, PA-C
    Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science
  • Megan Blakemore, DHA, PA-C         
    Stephens College       
  • Avril Nimblett-Clark, MS, PA-C          
    Barry University         
  • Rachel Chappell, MHS, PA-C  
    Louisiana State University – New Orleans     
  • Kandi Pitchford, PhD, MHE      
    South College – Knoxville       

Research MAC           

  • Bettie Coplan, MPAS, PA-C    
    Northern Arizona University 
  • Adrian Banning, DHSc, MMS, PA-C    
    Drexel University       
  • Michele Toussaint, MS, PA-C
    Stanford University    
  • Skylar Stewart-Clark, PhD, PA-C        
    Charleston Southern University        

Future Educator Development Steering Committee           

  • Janelle Bludorn, MS, PA-C     
    Duke University Physician Assistant Program

PACKRAT® Exam Development Board

  • Virlana Johnson-Silva, MPAS, PA-C   
    Utah Valley University

Emergency Medicine & General Surgery Exam Development Board

  • Malwina Huzarska, MS, MMS, PA-C          
    Frostburg State University     
  • Christopher Chillura, MSPAS, PA-C    
    Medical University of South Carolina

Internal Medicine & Family Medicine Exam Development Board 

  • Liza Bashambu, PA-C 
    South University – Savannah 
  • Michelle McWeeney, MS, PA-C         
    Seton Hall University 
  • Kristi Collins, DScPAS, MS, PA-C
    Franklin Pierce University      

Government Relations Steering Committee

  • Melissa Bowlby, MSBS, PA-C
    Ohio University          
  • Frank Giannelli, PhD, PA-C     
    Rutgers University     

Grants & Scholarships Review Committee  

  • Tamara Ritsema, MPH, MMSc, PA-C 
    George Washington University         
  • Carolyn Bradley-Guidry, DrPH, MPAS, PA-C  
    The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center        
  • Tiffany Maxwell, DHSc, MSA, PA-C   
    University of Maryland Eastern Shore          
  • Samarpita Sengupta, PhD      
    The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center        

JPAE Feature Editor – Academic Law

  • Diana Noller, DHSc, MSPT, MMS, PA-C         
    Hawai’i Pacific University MMS-PA Program

JPAE Feature Editor – Best Practices in PA Education

  • Shaun Lynch, PhD, MS, MMSc, PA-C 
    High Point University 

JPAE Feature Editor – Global Perspectives   

  • Mary Showstark, MS, PA-C    
    Yale University Physician Assistant Online Program 

JPAE Feature Editor – Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion           

  • Sheena D. Brown, PhD, MSCR    
    Meharry Medical College      

JPAE Editorial Board 

  • Daytheon Sturges, PhD, MPAS, PA-C
    University of Washington – MEDEX Northwest PA Program 
  • Elana Min, PhD, PA-C 
    Northwestern University