NAU researcher, HonorHealth physician join Flinn Foundation board of directors

June 1, 2022

By Jessica Vaile

A leading Northern Arizona University researcher and a Scottsdale pulmonologist who serves in HonorHealth leadership have been elected to the Flinn Foundation board of directors.

The election of Julie Baldwin, Ph.D., Regents Professor of health sciences and the founding director of NAU’s Center for Health Equity Research, and Dr. Alpa Shah, a physician who serves on the HonorHealth board of directors and as chief of staff at HonorHealth Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center, increases the number of Flinn Foundation board members to 10. 

In her role with the Center for Health Equity Research, Baldwin serves as the principal investigator for the center’s Southwest Health Equity Research Collaborative, which is increasing basic biomedical, clinical, and behavioral research at NAU to address health inequities among diverse populations of the southwestern United States. The $21.4 million National Institutes of Health grant to create the collaborative in 2017 was among the largest ever received by NAU.

Baldwin specializes in community-based participatory research, HIV/AIDS and substance-abuse prevention, chronic-disease prevention and work with diverse and rural populations, especially among American Indian/Alaska Native communities.

Baldwin’s history with NAU dates back nearly 30 years. She served as a tenured faculty member at the Flagstaff-based university, with a joint appointment in the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, from 1994–2004. After a decade at the University of South Florida, Baldwin returned to NAU’s Department of Health Sciences in August 2015.

A citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Baldwin earned her doctorate in behavioral sciences and health education from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Shah, who specializes in pulmonary and critical care medicine, joined the HonorHealth board of directors in 2020 and has served as medical staff president, or chief of staff, at HonorHealth Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center since 2020.

Shah is a managing partner at Scottsdale Pulmonary and Critical Care, a practice focused on the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary and respiratory diseases and conditions including COPD, asthma, and lung cancer. Shah has been affiliated with HonorHealth Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center and HonorHealth Scottsdale Shea Medical Center since 2006, has been a medical consultant and case reviewer for the Arizona Medical Board since 2014, and is a past member of the HonorHealth Network Bylaws Task Force, created to help facilitate the merger of the medical staffs after Scottsdale Healthcare and John C. Lincoln merged and became HonorHealth.

Shah’s training includes a pulmonary and critical care medicine fellowship at University of Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital and an internal medicine residency at New York Medical College (Brooklyn-Queens). She is a member of the American Association for Physician Leadership, the American Medical Association, the American Thoracic Society and is a Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians. 

“The Flinn Foundation, with its longtime support of Arizona’s public universities and medical community, will benefit greatly from the knowledge that Professor Baldwin and Dr. Shah bring to the board of directors,” said Dr. David Gullen, chair of the Flinn Foundation board. “We are also proud of extending our long tradition of electing directors committed to Dr. Robert Flinn’s legacy of improving health care in Arizona.”

Heidi Jannenga, co-founder of Phoenix-based WebPT, had been the most recent addition to the board, joining in June 2021.

“I look forward to learning from and working alongside our accomplished new board members, who will provide the broad expertise the Flinn Foundation board needs to maximize its effectiveness,” said Tammy McLeod, Ph.D., Flinn Foundation president and CEO. “The institutional knowledge and experience of our longest-serving members, combined with the perspectives of our newest members, including our first university researcher and member from northern Arizona, will benefit the Flinn Foundation’s work and the residents of Arizona.” 

In March, Dr. Scott Robertson retired from active service on the Flinn Foundation board of directors but will continue as an honorary director. Robertson, a cardiologist at the Scottsdale Cardiovascular Center, joined the Flinn board in 2001. 

Gullen has served as chair of the Flinn Foundation board of directors since 2002. The board allocates funding for the foundation’s grants and programs while setting its strategic direction through its expertise in medicine, finance, business, law, research, and entrepreneurship.

About the Flinn Foundation

The Flinn Foundation is a privately endowed, philanthropic grantmaking organization established in 1965 by Dr. Robert S. and Irene P. Flinn that awards grants and operates programs in four areas: the biosciences, the Flinn Scholars, arts and culture, and the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership. The foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life in Arizona, to benefit future generations. 

The foundation’s focus on health care and medical research stems from the career of Robert Flinn, a cardiologist who headed the departments of cardiology and electrocardiography at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix. He was chief of the medical staff at St. Joseph’s and at Phoenix Memorial Hospital, president of both state and county medical societies, and co-founder and first president of the Arizona affiliate of the American Heart Association.