January 9, 2023

Three New Trustees Join Horizon Foundation Board

The Horizon Foundation has announced the appointment of three new members to its Board of Trustees: Yvonne Commodore-Mensah, associate professor at The Johns Hopkins University; Yvette Rooks, head team physician and assistant director in the University Health Center at the University of Maryland, and; Lanlan Xu, public health expert and community advocate. Each will serve a four-year term on the 18-member board of the Horizon Foundation, the largest independent health philanthropy in Maryland. The Foundation leads community change so everyone in Howard County, Maryland can live a longer, better life.

“We are thrilled to welcome these three impressive women to the Horizon Foundation board,” said Nikki Highsmith Vernick, president and CEO of the Horizon Foundation. “Each of them brings a passion for public health, community service and making our community more just and equitable. We look forward to their guidance in helping further the Foundation’s mission of making good health and well-being achievable for everyone in Howard County.”

Lisa Pearson, formerly the vice chair of the Board of Trustees, will ascend to the role of Board Chair. Chris Fortune will become vice chair and Gopi Suri will serve as secretary. Mark Cissel will remain as treasurer. Yvette Oquendo-Berruz, Larry Appel and Greg Olaniran left the Board of Trustees at the end of December after completing their eight-year terms.

“I can’t thank Yvette, Larry and Greg enough for their incredible leadership and service to the Horizon Foundation,” said Vernick. “They all worked tirelessly to help improve public health for everyone in our community, and we will miss their passion and presence greatly.”

The new trustees began their terms on January 1. Their bios are below.

Yvonne Commodore-Mensah
Associate Professor, The Johns Hopkins University
Executive Director/CEO, The African Research Academies for Women

Howard County resident Yvonne Commodore-Mensah is a professor at The Johns Hopkins University, serving in the School of Nursing; The Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research; the Department of Epidemiology in the Bloomberg School of Public Health and Publithe Center for Health Equity. She also serves at the CEO of the African Research Academies for Women, an organization that works to promote STEM education among African women. Yvonne is a fellow at the American Heart Association’s Council on Cardiovascular Nursing and a fellow at the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association. She holds a Ph.D from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, a Master of Health Science from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a B.S. in Nursing from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Yvette Rooks
Head Team Physician and Assistant Director in the University Health Center at the University of Maryland, College Park

Dr. Rooks leads the University Health Center’s sports medicine department, serving as the primary care clinician and sports medicine specialist to UMD student-athletes and overseeing areas such as athletic training, nutrition and sports psychology. Prior to this role, Dr. Rooks served as the Chief Medical Officer for athletics at Rutgers University’s health care provider, RWJBarnabas Health. She is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians; American Medical Society for Sports Medicine; and College Athletic Trainers Association; and is an Executive Board Member of the College Athletic Trainers Society. A Howard County resident, Dr. Rooks holds a B.S. in biology and chemistry from State University of New York at Albany, and M.D. from the Health Science Center at Syracuse. She completed her residency at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Lanlan Xu
Public Health Advisor, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Department of Health and Human Services

Lanlan is a health policy expert in reforms to improve quality, reduce cost and achieve equity in the healthcare system. She recently acted as a Policy Advisor on detail to the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, leading key policy areas such as health equity and data disaggregation. A longtime advocate for the Asian American community in Howard County, Lanlan participated in the Horizon Foundation’s first cohort of the Howard County Equity Collaborative as a member of the Howard County Chinese School. She holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in German Literature from Georgetown University.