Thistle I Elias, DrPH, MPA

Assistant Professor, Behavioral and Community Health Sciences


6123 Public Health
R-znvy: ryvnf@cvgg.rqh
Primary Phone: 967-179-0086

Personal Statement

My research interests are largely in the areas of community-engaged evaluation and research, especially using mixed methods, and health equity for populations by income, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, rurality and dis/ability. The public health value of social justice drew me to community and behavioral health in the first place and I firmly believe that we have great opportunities within public health to make positive change. I am passionate about teaching and incorporate "real world" and practice examples into the classroom, based on the variety of partnerships and projects with which I'm engaged.

I conduct evaluative research with the Evaluation Institute at Public Health, direct the Certificate for Health Program Evaluation and advise students through evaluation and other practica, in an effort to ensure quality learning in organizational settings. I sit on the Committee for the Certificate in Health Equity and am a faculty affiliate of the Center for Health Equity. I have a decade of evaluation experience with both community-based organizations and state-wide initiatives, in particular those focusing on vulnerable populations. I am a proponent of using mixed methods in order to get more complex and complete understanding and especially enjoy using qualitative methods in community-engaged work in order to capture the perspectives of people which might otherwise be missed.

I have co-directed Bridging the Gaps-Pittsburgh for over a decade. This multi-disciplinary, community health internship program is in collaboration with the School of Medicine and aims to train health professional students while providing critical support to organizations that work with vulnerable populations.


2012 | University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA | Doctor of Public Health

1993 | University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA | Master of Public Administration

1993 | University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA | Certificate in Non Profit Management


I enjoy advising students from many disciplines and mentoring students through independent study, field placements and practica, in addition to partnering with organizations to help meet their evaluative needs and build their capacity.

I am privileged to teach Introduction to Program Evaluation, Overview of Health Equity, and a section of the school core class Social and Behavioral Sciences in Public Health. I serve on the Pitt Public Health MPH Curriculum Committee.

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 strong and diverse community partnerships.

Selected Publications

Thompson, J., Goldberger, R., Elias, T..  Poverty Simulations with Health Professional Students – Evidence of Impact.  Pedagogy in Health Promotion. (In press, May 31, 2019)

Elias, T., Blais, N., Williams, K., Burke, J. Shifting the Paradigm from Child Neglect to Meeting the Needs of Children:  A Qualitative Exploration of Parents' Perspectives. Social Work in Public Health. Epub 2018 Nov 30. Volume 33(7-8):  407-418. doi 10.1080/19371918.2018.1543625

S. Sarnaik, T. Thomas, T. Elias.  Comprehensive Community Assessment 2017/2018, Family
Foundations Early Head Start. Report to Family Foundations EHS. June 2018. 

S. Sarnaik, T. Thomas, T. Elias.  Parental Mental Health:  A qualitative exploration with Early Head
Start parents.
  Annual Evaluation Report to Family Foundations EHS.  June 2018.  

Y. Park, J. King, T. Elias. WISEWOMAN Lifestyle Programs – Report on Client Interviews.  WISEWOMAN, Pennsylvania Department of Health.  November 2017.



Thistle I Elias