Thistle I Elias

  • Associate Professor, Director of Community Engagement
  • Director, Bridging the Gaps-Pittsburgh
  • Faculty in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences

Contributions to Public Health

  • Promoting community partnership and engagement is key to my practice and teaching, and I was honored to receive the 2019 Chancellors Award for Distinguished Service based on two decades of building diverse community partnerships for mutual benefit.  I serve on the Internal Advisory Committee of the Community Engagement Centers at the University, and utilize my role as Director of Community Engagement at Pitt Public Health to spotlight partnership and skill-building opportunities.
  • I direct the Bridging the Gaps-Pittsburgh program, part of the Bridging the Gaps Network, a multi-disciplinary graduate internship program serving local organizations while building the capacity of future health professionals.  This program, now in its 27th year, challenges students to think critically about healthy equity, health determinants and interventions.  In keeping with principals of community partnership, I enjoy opportunities to present and publish with community partners (noted with ^).
    • Elias, T., Thompson, J., Boak, B., Jones, D.^, Ziats, B.^ When “immersive” learning goes remote: Interdisciplinary lessons learned in a pandemic.  Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action. (Online September, 2023)
    • Elias, T., Thompson, J., Boak, B., Cannon, J.^ Developing Community-based Mentorship; Supporting Health Science Training in Historically Marginalized Communities. Health Promotion Practice. (April, 2021)
  • I lead multiple evaluation teams for health programs at state and local levels, incorporating both traditional and creative methods. Much of this work is proprietary, utilized for program quality improvement and evidence of impact for program funders.  I enjoy helping organizations discover how collaborative evaluation can better tell the story of their work, finding opportunities for students to engage in this work (students noted with *) and inviting shared authorship with community partners (noted with ^).  
    • Park, Y.*, King, J., Eggleston, M., Elias, T. Critical lessons in tailoring interventions: lessons learned from WISEWOMAN participants.  American Journal of Health Promotion (September, 2023)
    • Lui. X.*, Boak, B., Eggleston, M., Rodi, A.^, Biscardi, A.^, Elias, T. Preparing to Address Social Determinants of Health (SDOH):  Approaches to Clinic Transformation.  Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.  (In press, June 2024)
  • I am privileged to advise students from multiple disciplines within and outside of public health, to mentor graduate students through independent study and practica, and to work to build student skills around community engagement, participatory evaluation, qualitative methods and health equity (students noted with *).  For a decade I have taught a school core class and a health equity course that explore these issues.
    • Thompson, J., Boak, B.*,Elias, T. Health Professional Student Awareness and Attitudes toward Poverty. Pedagogy in Health Promotion. (July, 2020)
    • Thompson, J.*, Goldberger, R.*, Elias, T. Poverty Simulations with Health Professional Students – Evidence of Impact. Pedagogy in Health Promotion. (July 11, 2019)
  • I care deeply about student learning and opportunities to develop curricula that are engaging, intellectually challenging and responsive. To these ends, I serve on the Pitt Public Health MPH Curriculum Committee, the Health Equity Certificate Committee, and direct the Health Evaluation Certificate (students noted with *).  I served on the Behavioral and Community Health Sciencds MPH Curriculum Committee for eight years.
    • Elias, T., Williams, K.*, Hershey, T.B., Documet, P.I., Barinas-Mitchell, E., Gary-Webb, T. The health equity certificate program: a targeted approach to reducing health disparities and increasing the competence of health professional students. Pedagogy in Health Promotion. (August 24, 2016) 10.1177/2373379916665637

University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, BA, 1989, Political Science
University of Pittsburgh, MPA, 1993, Public Administration
University of Pittsburgh, certificate in non-profit management, 1993
University of Pittsburgh, DrPH, 2012, Behavioral and Community Health Sciences

  • BCHS 2509 Social Sciences in Public Health
  • BCHS 2558 Overview of Health Equity