UPHOLD‘s team of public health behavioral scientists, epidemiologists, economists, disparities researchers and scholar activists have over 100 years of combined experience. We unified our skills and combined expertise to support our passions for youth empowerment, community-based social change, family resiliency and sustainability development.


Rashid Njai, PhD, MPH (President & Director)

Dr. Njai has over 15 years of community based public health experience and is a determined scholar activist. He founded UPHOLD: a non-profit action cooperative, to combine his passion for scholar activism, measurement and intervention of social determinants of health (e.g. health, education, poverty, violence) to address disparities and the application of unique and mixed method evaluation techniques to show impact of sustainable non-profit efforts. He received his MPH and PhD in Health Behavior and Health Education with a focus on behavioral health, community based participatory research and social epidemiology from the University of Michigan, School of Public Health; he also has a BS in Biology from the Pennsylvania State University. He has worked in the leading public health agency in the nation as a social epidemiologist in community health for the past 10 years. His work focuses broadly on the epidemiology of mental and physical health disparities and social inequity; community based chronic disease prevention and surveillance among vulnerable populations, as they relate specifically to the Social Determinants of Health and Health Equity, resiliency and wellness. He maintains a commitment to spirituality, family, and seeking out opportunities to collaborate with other dedicated scholar activists to address health inequities. As an affiliate scholar of University of Michigan’s Center for Research on Ethnicity Culture and Health he is interested in continuing to explore innovative ways to bolster assets like culture and other factors while understanding how they contribute to community resilience among vulnerable populations.


Tricia Miranda-Hartsuff  (Vice President & Director)

Dr. Miranda-Hartsuff has over 15 years of community based public health experience and received her MPH and PhD in Health Behavior and Health Education from the University of Michigan School of Public Health (Ann Arbor, MI); she also has a BA in Sociology from Trinity University (San Antonio, TX). She is presently a tenured associate professor of health policy and administration at the Pennsylvania State University, with appointments in demography and the School of Medicine, has numerous publications, and her work has received funding support from the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences; National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development), and the RAND Corporation. Formerly, Dr. Miranda-Hartsuff was a W. K. Kellogg Foundation Health Scholar at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, the top cancer center in the United States, and a Leaders in Equitable Evaluation and Diversity (LEEAD) Scholar for The Annie E. Casey Foundation. Dr. Miranda-Hartsuff uses a “health in all policies” approach to examine health disparities that affect vulnerable populations, with an emphasis on health disparities in cancer control and prevention affecting immigrant and Latino populations.


Danielle T. Barradas, Ph.D. (Director)

Dr. Barradas has 10 years of public health experience and brings a diverse background to UpHold. She holds a doctorate from Emory University and has expertise in the fields of nutrition, physical activity, and childhood obesity prevention. She is currently an epidemiologist working in the area of maternal and child health. Her knowledge of a broad array of national and state-level surveillance systems, performance measures, and health outcome indicators will be an asset to UpHold. Dr. Barradas is also an adjunct faculty member in the Health and Fitness Management Program at Clayton State University.


Leo Ferguson, M.B.A. (Director)

Mr. Ferguson has been an IT professional for over 20 years leading the deployment of emerging technologies. He manages large corporate accounts from a program management perspective and manages to the P&L.  In addition, Mr. Ferguson is an entrepreneur who has built and leads several businesses. Mr. Ferguson has a longstanding interest in developing technologies and systems that improve the lives of people. He has also spent many years working with young adults to improve their understanding of personal finance and business.  Mr. Ferguson has a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from University of North Carolina-Charlotte and a Master’s of Business Administration from University of Phoenix.