Twins Double as Graduate Assistants

You’re not seeing double when you walk the halls of the College of Public Health’s Center for Public Policy and Health (CPPH). You’re seeing Kathryn and Marissa Bland, twins who work as graduate assistants under the leadership of Dr. John Hoornbeek, Associate Professor and CPPH Director of Health Policy and Management, and Josh Filla, Outreach Program Coordinator.

“Working with my sister everyday actually makes my job easier,” said Kathryn, “I know how she thinks, what her opinions tend to be - plus I can bounce ideas off of her during our morning runs.”

Seem too good to be true? Maybe, but the sisters are true professionals and know how to put work first.

“What Kathryn says is true – plus when you are in a work environment it is just like any other professional relationship – even if you don’t agree all of the time you still have to figure out how to get the job done together,” added Marissa. “This experience has really helped both of us understand what we’d like to do next in our careers.”

Both Kathryn and Marissa have been heavily involved in CPPH’s project with the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (ODAS), which focuses on the health insurance purchasing practices of local government entities in Ohio. The sisters played key roles in reviewing and summarizing literature on Affordable Care Act implementation, consortium health benefit purchasing by public entities, and the use of fully insured and self-insured health plan arrangements by reviewing  the most recent publications.  Additionally, Kathryn and Marissa have traded leadership roles during the project. Kathryn led an effort to summarize the results of a phone interview and survey process focused on individuals affiliated with health benefit consortia that offer services to public entities in the state.  Marissa conducted an analysis of collective bargaining agreements between public employee unions and public entities in the state to characterize the role unions play in health insurance purchasing decisions within public entities.

“Kathryn and Marissa have helped propel our health benefit purchasing and local health department consolidation projects forward,” said Dr. Hoornbeek. ”My hope is that this kind of ‘real world’ community- based research experience not only grows Marissa’s and Kathryn’s experience and skills, but also helps them become forward thinkers as they move ahead in their professional careers.”

Marissa and Kathryn also are involved with ramping up CPPH’s feasibility study of a consolidation between the health departments of Jefferson and Steubenville counties. This project is in an early stage and the sisters are taking leadership roles in laying the foundation.

“We’ve really grown and learned from experiences we’ve had at CPPH, and we wouldn’t feel nearly as prepared to enter the workforce when we graduate this spring without it,” concluded Kathryn.

POSTED: Wednesday, March 2, 2016 - 12:25pm
UPDATED: Thursday, February 20, 2020 - 1:54pm