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Our People

 Portrait of Amy McDonald

Amy McDonald, MS, CHWP
Director, Health Promotion
Pronouns: she/her/hers
(585) 273-5770 
UHS Building, room 430

As the Director of the Health Promotion Office, Amy strives to create a thriving culture of well-being for our campus community. During the past fifteen years, she has created, developed, implemented, and evaluated health education and health promotion programs for the corporate and higher education sectors. Her areas of expertise include strategic planning and program development, as well as the topics of mental well-being and mindfulness meditation. Amy is passionate about advancing a comprehensive, inclusive, and progressive student well-being model which creates the conditions for students to flourish.  Her work moves beyond traditional approaches of influencing individual behavior towards systems level and environmental strategies that influence the well-being of the whole campus culture. She believes that utilizing a public health approaches to improve well-being is how we can truly become ever-better

Amy has a BA in Brain and Cognitive Science from the University of Rochester and an MS in Leadership in Healthcare Systems with a focus on Health Promotion and Education from the University of Rochester’s School of Nursing. She is a trained mindfulness teacher, Level II Reiki practitioner, completed her College Health and Wellness Professional certificate from the American College Health Association (ACHA), and completed a certificate program for Executive Women in Leadership from Cornell University.

Portrait of Rebecca Block

Rebecca Block, MS, CHES, RYT 200
Health Promotion Specialist, Student Well-Being
Pronouns: she/her/hers
(585) 273-5772
UHS Building, room 428

As the Health Promotion Specialist – Student Well-Being, Rebecca plays an integral part the planning, implementation, and evaluation of theory- and evidence-informed health promotion strategies, programs, and services to enhance student well-being with a primary emphasis on student mental health / flourishing and graduate student well-being. Other than student-facing programs, she directs trainings to faculty and staff that offer practical skills which allow them to support the well-being of the students they serve. She also serves as the Program Director of the Mindful University Project, working closely with the 7 schools of the University, as well as a variety of administrative departments, to integrate a culture of mindfulness across the campus. In addition, she leads the Peer Health Internship (PHLT 394) offered through the Public Health degree program.

Rebecca has a BA in Health, Behavior and Society from the University of Rochester and an MS in Community Health Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Instructor (RYT 200), Certified Koru Mindfulness Teacher, and completed her College Health and Wellness Professional certificate from the American College Health Association (ACHA).

Portrait of Zoe Black

Zoe Black
Health Promotion Specialist, Health Equity
Pronouns: she/her/hers
(585) 273-5774
UHS Building, room 432

As the Health Promotion Specialist – Health Equity, Zoe is responsible for planning, implementation, and evaluation of the sexual health and health equity programming and services offered by the UHS Health Promotion Office. Some specific populations that Zoe focuses on are LGBTQ+ students and First-Generation Students. Zoe also supervises our Peer Health Advocate team of students. Aside from student-facing programming, Zoe also leads the UHS Employee Wellness Committee to provide wellness programming and efforts to UHS staff.

Zoe has a BA in Health, Behavior, and Society, as well as  BA in Business from the University of Rochester. She is a certified SafeZone Facilitator and has completed her College Health and Wellness Professional certificate from the American College Health Association (ACHA).

Portrait of Gaelen McCormick

Gaelen McCormick, M. Mus
Eastman Performing Arts Medicine
Pronouns: she/her/hers
(585) 274-1233

Gaelen is the Manager of Eastman Performing Arts Medicine and works with Health Promotion to create wellness programming tailored to the Eastman School’s campus of performing artists. As a professional classical musician who is deaf/hard-of-hearing, she is passionate about educating performing artists in wellness that will help them have long and healthy careers. She teaches a practical course in managing performance anxiety, Strategies for Audition Success and a new course exploring the use of arts in healthcare, Music and Medicine through the Eastman School of Music. Gaelen is also a certified Kripalu Mindful Outdoor Guide and enjoys guiding in local parks and urban spaces.

Portrait of Ian Briffa holding a saxophone

Ian Briffa
Graduate Assistant, Eastman School of Music Wellness
Pronouns: he/him/his
Major: Master’s in Saxophone Performance and Literature

Ian Briffa is a First-year master’s student studying Saxophone Performance and Literature at the Eastman School of Music. He is the Health Promotion Program Assistant for Eastman Performing Arts Medicine and UHS. Passionate about both Music and Wellness, Ian aims to foster a deeper connection between the two and find ways to create a happier and healthier future for Eastman students. He received a Bachelor’s in Saxophone Performance and a certificate in Arts Leadership from Eastman in the Spring of 2022.

Kaylen Furr posing next to a lilac bush while smilingKaylen Furr
Graduate Assistant, Mindful University Project
Pronouns: they/them/theirs
Major: Master’s in Mental Health Counseling

Kaylen graduated from Wells College with a dual degree in Psychology and Women’s, Transgender, and Queer studies in 2021 and is currently a graduate student in Mental Health Counseling at the Warner School of Education. Kaylen discovered their mindfulness practice in 2014 as a part of their personal mental health journey and has found it to be an evolving, dynamic, and holistic journey ever since. Their practice started with yoga, but over the years has become an expansive practice involving yoga, meditation, energy work, and connection with nature. They find mindfulness to be all about relationships; they have found it to be a place where they have built a healthy relationship with their mind, body, and spirit, but have also found it to be a place where they feel connected with others. One of their favorite things about practicing mindfulness is that it leaves space for all experiences and allows us to find connection with ourselves, others, and our world circularly. With a passion for creating inclusive spaces, Kaylen is excited to share and continue to expand the experience of mindfulness with the University of Rochester community in the ongoing process of becoming.

Our Peer Health Advocate team is comprised of student leaders who advocate for health and wellness on campus. They collaborate with Health Promotion Office staff to implement health promotion and well-being programs, advocate for change in structures that affect student well-being, and listen and engage with their peers.

Portrait of Michelle ShuaiMichelle Shuai
Senior Peer Health Advocate
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Major: Philosophy and Health Policy

Michelle is a senior studying philosophy and health policy. She’s particularly interested in the intersection between political philosophy and public health. As a Senior PHA, she is primarily focused on mental wellness, stress relief, and health equity. Outside of the HPO, Michelle is also a Writing Fellow at the Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program.

Portrait of Zoe HynesZoe Hynes
Senior Peer Health Advocate
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Major: Psychology and Digital Media Studies

Zoe is in her second semester as a Peer Health Advocate Intern in the Health Promotion Office, and is particularly passionate about promoting mental wellness and mindfulness among students.

Portrait of Irene Choi

Irene Choi
Peer Health Advocate
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Major: International Relations with a minor in Health Policy

Irene loves writing songs and figure skating during her  free time! She looks forward to working as an intern at the Health Promotion Office! Irene’s focus area is mental health and she hopes to work together to improve student life on campus.

Summer Koltay sitting in a swing in front of a sunflower fieldSummer Koltay
Peer Health Advocate
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Major: Health Behavior and Society and Anthropology

Summer is primarily focused on promoting mental wellness and health equity on campus. As a first generation student she is passionate about encouraging the use of resources on campus and working on programs specifically for first generation students, especially first years. Summer is also Publicity Chair of SUPHS and is local to the Rochester area.

Chaired by a UR undergraduate student, URSHAC offers students the opportunity to have an impact on the health care services offered for them. The committee meets with the Director of University Health Service and other representatives of the University Health Service and the University Counseling Center to share ideas, offer suggestions, and discuss topics of concern.

URSHAC is chaired by:

  • Elianna Dunster, Executive Chair
  • Lindsey DeSplinter, Administrative Chair
  • Anjali Blow, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Chair
  • Antoinette Nguyen, Graduate Student Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Chair
  • Brooke Jones, Graduate Student Chair


If you would like more information about URSHAC, e-mail Elianna Dunster, Executive Chair, or Amy McDonald, UHS Staff Advisor.

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