Dawn Gideon Scholars

The Dawn Gideon Scholarship provides scholarship assistance for students in the MHA program whose talents lean towards creative problem solving and an understanding of the value all individuals bring to the process.

After Dawn Gideon's death in June 2015, her husband, Kevin Altomari, along with family, friends, and colleagues, founded the Dawn Gideon Foundation. This organization seeks to provide a forum for the development of hospital administration professionals. It has provided generous support to establish an annual lecture series as well as scholarships for students in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Pitt Public Health.

Dawn Gideon Scholars

Natasha Shah (MHA '24)
Natasha Shah
Natasha Shah (MHA '24)

Natasha Shah graduated from the University of Maryland-College Park with a degree in community health. As an undergraduate she found interest at the intersection of public health and health policy. She says being a Gideon scholar allowed her leave a full-time job in Washington, D.C. and relocate to Pittsburgh to join the MHA program. “I have always been interested in helping communities that are underserved and being an advocate for those who don’t have a voice in main­taining their health,” said Shah. “The Dawn Gideon Scholarship has empowered me to do just that.” She says the scholarship has allowed her to connect with like-mind­ed female scholars who are going to make an impact in the health care field in a range of cities around the country.

Emily Maurer (MHA/MBA '25)
Emily Maurer
Emily Maurer (MHA/MBA '25)

Emily Maurer graduated from Duquesne University with a bache¬lor’s degree in health administration and minors in public health and marketing. As an undergraduate, Maurer interned at West Penn Hospital supporting and helping patients in the Hospital Elder Life Program. She has also been an administrative intern at the Sharon Regional Health System working with several departments. Maurer says her experiences have inspired her to focus on improving care standards and advocating for patients.


Alexa Skokowski (MHA '25)
Alexa Skokowski
Alexa Skokowski (MHA '25)

Alexa Skokowski graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts in Health Services and certificates in Nonprofit Management and Global Health. During her undergraduate career she spent time working as a mobility technician at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. This experience led to her interest in hospital operations and improving patient satisfaction. Alexa currently works for UPMC as a hospital transfer coordinator where she has become familiar with healthcare systems of Western Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas. This position has exposed her to the capacity and staffing issues that hospitals are currently facing.

Makenzie Postma (MHA ’25)
Makenzie Postma
Makenzie Postma (MHA '25)

Makenzie Postma graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, and a minor in Psychology. For the past three years, she has worked for Oak Street Health, a primary care clinic operating under a value-based managed care model, improving health outcomes and care quality, lowering medical costs, and improving the patient experience. She has always intended to work in healthcare and become a physician. However, the timeline for medical school has been flexible, as she wants to be the best physician she can be and take advantage of every opportunity, thus adding on three years of work experience and graduate school. Her hope is to attend medical school in the same state in which she completes her graduate school degree. Her long-term goal is to become a Chief Medical Officer eventually or in another role within medical leadership. As someone who will make decisions for others, she needs to know that those decisions are practical and efficient for clinical teams. One way to do this is to have the ability to apply specific operating procedures made by non-clinical leaders in patient settings and provide feedback as the clinician.

Past Gideon Scholars

Jordan McBride (MHA/MBA '21)

Jordan McBride

Jordan McBride was born in Pittsburgh but is from Atlanta, Georgia. She has a BS in nutrition science from the University of Georgia. After graduation, she wanted experience in direct patient care and sought certification as a medical assistant, gaining clinical work experience. She became curious about the business side of the health care system and sought a business-focused health care degree. That curiosity, of course, led her to pursue a joint degree option, combining the MHA with an MBA from Pitt’s Katz Business School. She wanted to learn new things and capitalize on the diversity of the other students in each program.

McBride chose Pitt because Pittsburgh is a complex health care city, and because of the strengths and networks of both Pitt Public Health and the business school, including access to local health care leaders. Her interests lie in data analytics and strategy. While she hasn’t yet picked a topic for her thesis, she’s interested in risk adjustment and is thinking about a topic that would explore how risk adjustment impacts the health insurance sector financially and in terms of quality. She’s currently working as a resident at Gateway Health in the risk adjustment department, focused on revenue optimization. “I enjoy that risk adjustment is challenging and there are many complex facets…there is always something new to learn and requirements to consider multiple stakeholders.”

Being a Gideon scholar gives McBride an extra level of motivation and an additional network to diversify and enrich her experience. She was honored to receive the scholarship and feels incredibly supported by the Dawn Gideon Foundation, both academically and professionally. With a network of women that meets regularly and discusses topics like resilience, meaningful networking, accountability, mentorship, self-awareness, and self-care helps McBride find balance in all aspects of her life.

“I hear stories from successful women in the health care field and can apply their experiences to my own situations in both academic and professional environments. I feel that I am meeting people with whom I will have a lasting relationship and I am looking forward to participating as a mentor in the future.”

Through the work of the foundation and the honor of the scholarship, McBride is also motivated by Gideon herself. “Dawn Gideon inspires me because she never took the easy route in her career. She was a problem solver, and worked to turn around cash-distressed health care systems. Most individuals would be afraid to take on a role in a company that is plummeting, but Dawn saw this as a challenge and she wanted to help the organization overcome,” said McBride.

McBride’s hobbies include traveling, sports, yoga, and baking. McBride's father played college basketball with Gideon's brother at Washington and Jefferson College.

Emily Joseph (MHA '20)

Emily Joseph

Emily Joseph is originally from Columbus, Ohio and has a bachelor’s degree in public affairs from Ohio State. After graduating, she worked in a variety of areas focused on social entrepreneurship and workforce development for the formerly incarcerated, education policy and politics, and ultimately right before graduate school, a health system in New England. These jobs were a perfect lead in to a master’s in health administration because of a core similarity: they were all focused on how systems impact people’s lives. Joseph wanted to leverage her existing knowledge while learning more about health systems operations in order to apply that to the work she was already doing.

UPMC’s Department of Medicine, where Joseph works now while she’s in school, is comprised of thirteen different divisions but she’s most enjoying working on the physician or provider side. “I think I would really be happy post-graduation staying in the physician provider side of the organization and then ultimately I’d just like to be in a position that has a lot of ability to influence how resources are used in health care. So whether that’s at a system level where you have multiple hospitals or systems that report up to you, or on the health plan side, I think there are a lot of different opportunities to apply resource management and operations management in health care in ways that can more efficiently direct how we provide care to patients,” Joseph said of her career aspirations.

The MHA program is helping her to do that through a balance of hard skills in the classroom and exposure to real-world practitioners through both the MHA program and also through the Dawn Gideon Foundation. “The foundation has done a lot of work to expose the scholars to people who knew Dawn Gideon and it’s been really wonderful to hear about her impact on their lives, whether they’ve been people that she’s personally mentored or just her close friends from her own graduate school experience that kind of followed in her career footsteps or grew in life with her.”

With her degree, Joseph plans to continue taking a systems-based approach to public health. “When I think about public health, I think about all of the systems that need to work together so that a person can achieve health. I think that it’s often not just the actual health care delivery system but a lot of the social systems and social supports that go along with it. You can’t be healthy if you don’t have a place to live.” People outside of public health often think of the field in terms of county health departments and vaccine fairs but Joseph is among those connecting “how a hospital works with a housing agency and works with the court system to ensure that all of those parts and pieces work together to promote a healthy environment and a healthy community that everyone can benefit from.”

When she’s not working or studying, Joseph enjoys baking bread and hosting dinner parties with her husband.

Zoe Kaufman (MHA '19)

Zoe Kaufman

Zoe Kaufman (MHA '19), a Connecticut native, has recently moved to New York City to begin her career in health administration. She currently serves as a data analyst at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Immediately prior to the move, she received her Master of Health Administration degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 2019. While at Pitt, she served as the Pitt Public Health Alumni Relations Committee representative and was active in the Pitt Public Health Student Government Association, where she served as the social chair. At the undergraduate level, she received Magna Cum Laude honors for her Bachelor of Arts degree in History with a minor in Entrepreneurship from the University of Connecticut. In the near future, she is eager to become involved in local organizations. Beyond academics, Zoe has a passion for traveling the world, reading, and playing golf.

Kristin Free (MHA '18)

Kristin Free

Kristin Free is a Pittsburgh native with a BPhil in rehabilitation science and a BS in psychology from Pitt. She was drawn to Pitt Public Health for graduate school partly because she was already a Pitt student – she liked Pitt as an undergraduate and so she wanted to stay. The MHA program was also a strong draw. “I really liked the program because there was a lot of emphasis on evidence-based literature and practice,” said Free.

While she was here, she also completed the global health certificate, focusing some of her school work in the global realm. She traveled to Peru with a handful of other members of the Health Policy and Management Association student group and an organization called MedLife, bringing basic medical interventions into low income areas. The students set up clinics and helped doctors – even building a set of stairs to help with infrastructure.

Today, she works at the Allegheny Health Network as an analyst on the strategic analytics team and really enjoys touching on different areas of the organization. “I tell stories with data. We make quick, easy to interpret dashboards that allow people to quickly consume data without being overwhelming, so that way leadership is making data-based decisions.”

Free isn’t sure what might come next in her career. “I always say I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. From every experience, you change a little bit. I started out in undergrad wanting to be a vet, so that’s very different from what I’m doing now.” But she does know that she has the support of the Dawn Gideon Foundation network. She was the first Dawn Gideon Scholar, and so she got to give her own input into what would be helpful for the scholars and today she serves on the board. The program they’ve built provides scholars with an invaluable network of mentors that are ready to act as sounding boards and that the scholars can get to know, feel comfortable reaching out for advice.

“I think that Dawn left an incredible legacy. Every time I mention the foundation, I’m running into people who personally knew Dawn and every single person I run into has a great story about her and had great interactions with her. And through all of these stories, I’m not only learning through the resources that the foundation has given me, but also through Dawn herself, which is really cool. Especially working at AHN and her connections there – it’s kind of cool to see that.”

Free is secretary of the Greyhound Health Initiative and recently bought a house built in 1888, so projects around the house have taken over her life. “I’m learning to do stuff that I had no idea…lots of YouTube. You can learn anything!”