What We Do:
The Communications Branch is responsible for NIDA’s information and dissemination activities.
- Anne Rancourt, Communications Director, Branch Chief
- Ms. Rancourt oversees NIDA’s communications activities and serves as the Chief, Communications Branch in the Office of Science Policy and Communications. Prior to joining the NIDA team in 2020, she worked at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as a section chief responsible for communications on HIV, allergy, and immunology. Ms. Rancourt previously served as the communications director for the Office of Research on Women’s Health and at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute where she directed media and digital strategy for The Heart Truth campaign, which raised awareness of heart disease in women. Before coming to NIH, Ms. Rancourt was a Presidential Management Fellow in the Office of the Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services, where she directed communications strategies on the Department’s $167 billion Recovery Act investment. She has also worked in brand management, behavior change campaigns, and marketing on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and began her career as a journalist at The Washington Post and NBC News. Ms. Rancourt has a bachelor of arts in English from Georgetown University and a master’s in strategic public relations from George Washington University.
- Molly Freimuth, Deputy Communications Director, Branch Chief
- Ms. Freimuth, the Deputy Communications Director, joined NIDA in January 2021. Previously, she served NIH as a Senior Public Affairs Officer and Strategic Communications Supervisor at the Clinical Center, the largest research hospital in America. In the hospital, she oversaw coverage of major press stories including the care of those with Ebola, carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pnueumoniae (KPC), and many “first-in-human” clinical trials. Prior to joining NIH, Ms. Freimuth was a Press Officer at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree from Towson University where she studied Mass Communications, Business Administration and Broadcast Journalism and has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Mount St. Mary’s University.
- Mark Fleming, Section Chief, Digital Communication Section (DCS)
- Mr. Fleming joined the Communications Branch (CB) in December 2000. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in zoology from Miami University in Ohio and a Master of Arts in visual communications from Ohio University. He has worked for NIDA since 1986, both as a contractor and now as a federal employee. He established the Visual Media Unit to provide photographic and graphic arts support for NIDA intramural research. In addition, he established the NIDA web site in 1995 and has worked since then to increase its scope and exposure. Recently, his work has focused on the completion of NIDA's migration to content management systems, cloud hosting, and responsive design. As NIDA’s 508 coordinator, Mr. Fleming and his support team work with NIDA staff to ensure all information products meet accessibility regulations.
- Judith Lavelle, Supervisory Public Affairs Specialist, Team Lead, Public and Professional Science Content Team (PPSCT)
Ms. Lavelle joined the Communications Branch in June of 2020. Judy leads the NIDA Public and Professional Science Content Team in creating and updating many of NIDA’s webpages, publications, videos, graphics, and NIDAMED resources and coordinating responses to inquiries from the public. She is passionate about providing science-driven, non-stigmatizing information on substance use disorders and substance use research to those who need it most. Prior to NIDA, Judy served as a science writer for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Judy received a Master of Science degree in Science Journalism from Boston University. Her science writing and multimedia work have appeared in the Boston Globe, Chemical & Engineering News, Scientific American Online, NPR and on the walls of Philadelphia's Mütter Museum.
- Josie Anderson, Digital Media Manager/Audiovisual Production Specialist, DCS
- Ms. Anderson joined the Communications Branch (CB) in October of 2012. Currently, she works directly with the Digital Communication Section, while also augmenting NIDA's Office of the Director and Office of Science Policy and Communications Branches. She has over 18 years of federal civilian and active duty military service in public affairs, digital media management, and broadcast journalism. As NIDA's audiovisual production specialist, Ms. Anderson serves as the institute's primary video content producer and multimedia manager. She also supports NIDA's website, as well as both traditional and social media needs. Josie attended the Defense Information School with a background in Public Affairs, Broadcast and Interactive Journalism. She also received BA degrees in Political Science and Anthropology from Rutgers University and an MA from American University’s School of Communication.
- Heather Boerner, Technical Writer/Editor, PPSCT
Ms. Boerner writes evidence-based communications on stigmatized health conditions and scientific research for NIDA’s Communications Branch, which she joined in August 2022. Previous to that, Heather had a 25-year career as a newspaper, magazine and online journalist and author, most recently covering HIV. Her work has appeared in NPR, PBS NewsHour, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, and TheBody and TheBodyPRO, among others. An excerpt of her book on HIV and pregnancy (which overlaps with substance use disorders), was published in The Atlantic.
- Michelle Corbin, Public Health Analyst, PPSCT
- Ms. Corbin joined the Communications Branch (CB) in January 2017 to manage and coordinate NIDA’s outreach program to clinicians (NIDAMED). She works with clinical groups and other stakeholders to ensure NIDA’s science based information on drug use and health is integrated into medical education, including information on screening for opioid misuse. Ms. Corbin was a long time Public Health Analyst at HRSA, coordinating communications and recruitment efforts for the National Health Service Corps (including the NURSE Corps), which recruits and provides clinicians to the most underserved communities in the United States. Michelle has a great deal of experience with outreach to all varieties of clinicians; has helped to grow NHSC numbers; is skilled in building partnerships; has experience in legislative affairs; and has many years of experience developing and testing audience specific communication materials. She has also worked closely with program officials who manage HRSA’s Federally Qualified Health Centers. Michelle has an MBA with a marketing specialty from American University.
- Rachel Evans, Senior Press Officer
- Ms. Evans leads a variety of public affairs efforts such as responding to reporter inquiries, coordinating interviews with NIDA researchers, pitching exciting advancements and crucial health topics, and advising on translating scientific information into understandable messages for journalists and the public. Prior to joining NIDA in 2021, she worked as a press officer at the NIH National Cancer Institute where she led communications rollouts and oversaw a diverse range of national news coverage, including stories on immunotherapy, childhood cancer, artificial intelligence, comparative oncology, and cancer therapies being studied to treat severe COVID-19. Before coming to the NIH, Rachel held communications positions in her home state of Minnesota at the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Human Services. She graduated from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, and a Master’s Degree in Health Communication.
- Stacy Lu, Technical Writer/Editor, PPSCT
- Ms. Lu writes and edits webpages and publications for NIDA’s Communications Branch, which she joined in August of 2021. Prior to NIDA, she was lead writer for Management Sciences for Health, a global health non-profit, where she wrote about infectious disease, global health security, and health technology. A long-time health and science journalist, Stacy has written or worked for The New York Times, Forbes.com, ABCNEWS.com, Prevention, Proto, Monitor on Psychology and others. She has also been a digital content strategist and editor for Time Inc., TEDMED, and Digitas. Stacy has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.
- Brian Marquis, Program Analyst
- Mr. Marquis joined the Communications Branch (CB) in January 2002 as the Information Center Manager. He is now the NIDA Public Liaison Officer and connects with organizations across the country with the help of NIDA publications and Web sites. Prior to joining the branch, Mr. Marquis worked at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Publications Clearinghouse and as a contractor at National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. He has a B.S. in Family Studies from University of Maryland, College Park.
- Josh Robbins, Social Media Strategist
Mr. Robbins joined the NIDA communications team in April 2022. He serves as the social media strategist for numerous national projects and identifies emerging issues that need to be presented to the media. With his experience in patient advocacy (harnessing the power of social media), Mr. Robbins leverages social media to highlight extraordinary research while promoting scientifically accurate messaging and collaborating with experts to reinforce the public’s understanding of NIDA.
- Juwon Song, Technical Writer/Editor
- Ms. Song joined the NIDA communications team in October 2021. She writes and edits press pieces, fields reporter inquiries and is a liaison for organizing and moderating press events and interviews. At NIDA, she has the opportunity to align her passion for humanitarian causes with her demand for science-based evidence and penchant for writing. Prior to NIDA, Ms. Song worked for 5 years as a Science magazine press writer at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, helping promote upcoming papers mainly in Science Immunologyand Science Robotics, as well as in other sister journals. She graduated from Bates College in 2015, majoring in English and biology.
- Allisen Stewart, IT Specialist (INET), DCS
- Ms. Stewart joined the Communications Branch in June of 2022. She began her NIH career as a summer student and became a full-time employee after graduating from college. In 2003 she graduated from NIH Management Intern Program and since then has worked at NINR, NIAMS, NIAID, and NIDCR as a technical writer/editor and digital information specialist overseeing web analysis and Section 508 maintenance. At NIDA Ms. Stewart is responsible for managing web analytics, updating and maintaining content on the NIDA website, and managing email-based outreach. Ms. Stewart is enthusiastic about NIH’s mission to provide science-based, health information to everyone. Ms. Stewart received a Bachelor of Arts from Virginia Tech and a Master of Arts degree in Government from Johns Hopkins University.
- Ann Rea, Web Analyst, DCS (Contractor)
- Ms. Rea has been a contractor with NIDA since 1993. Originally a Medical Photographer at NIDA’s Intramural Research Program (IRP) in Baltimore, she switched her role to Graphic Artist and then to the role of Web Analyst in 1999. Ms. Rea works on the main NIDA site, specifically with NIDAMED, International, NACDA, and publications. She has also taken a major role in the ongoing task of ensuring that the NIDA website and all of the smaller sites meet the Section 508 Guidelines. Ms. Rea holds a M.A. in English from Morgan State University.