Meet Our Staff

Julia Applegate Head Shot Julia M. Applegate, MA, MPH
Director

Julia M. Applegate (she, her, hers) directs the Institute, where she leads LGBTQ+ health education, research and community engagement efforts to improve the health and wellness of LGBTQ+ communities across Ohio. Prior to joining Equitas Health, Julia directed the LGBTQ+ Health Initiative at Columbus Public Health.

Julia has over 25 years of experience in curriculum design, education and public health programming/policy development. She has worked in public health programs focused on women’s health, HIV/AIDS, and LGBTQ+ Health. With over 20 years of academic teaching experience, Ms. Applegate is a skilled trainer and experienced presenter who has designed curricula, conducted Train the Trainer programs and presented at local, state, national and international conferences on public health, HIV/AIDS, gender and sexual orientation topics. Her trainings have focused on questions of health equity, diversity and inclusion-focusing primarily on marginalized and underserved communities. Ms. Applegate has worked on numerous federal grants and is an experienced grant writer. She has done policy and program development at the local, state and international level as a government employee and as a member of a Board of Directors. Ms. Applegate has several years of management experience as a public health professional and a Master of Public Health degree from The Ohio State University. Julia lives in the Glen Echo area of Clintonville with her partner of 20 years, Liv Gjestvang, their two children, Karsten and Solveig.


Michele Battle-FisherMichele Battle-Fisher, MPH
Research Manager

Michele Battle-Fisher (she, her, hers) is the Research Manager at the Equitas Health Institute where she leads the organization’s research efforts to improve the health of LGBTQ+ and medically underserved populations. She has degrees in public health and African American Studies from the Ohio State University. She has also completed doctoral studies in public health and communication studies.

Michele is an astute researcher and college instructor. Prior to joining Equitas, she was an Instructor and Assistant Program Director of the Wright State Master of Public Health program. She remains on faculty as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, where she wrote Application of Systems Thinking to Health Policy and Public Health Ethics- Public Health and Private Illness (Springer). The book has been recognized as a 2016 Doody’s Core Title, a title given to books that are deemed essential to medical education. She is a member of the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science, a Research Scholar for the Ronin Institute, and was a 2018 TEDxDartmouth speaker where she talked about systems science. Michele has over 20 years’ experience in practical public service as well as academic teaching experience at various colleges. She has worked for Ohio Medicaid, KidsOhio.org, Columbus AIDS Task Force, and Ohio University Heritage College of Medicine (HCOM).

Originally from Portsmouth, Ohio, Michele resides in Central Ohio with her spouse and two children.


Jan Huebenthal, Ph.D. Jan Huebenthal, Ph.D.
Education Manager

Jan Huebenthal (he/him/his) is the Education Manager at the Equitas Health Institute where he leads educational initiatives to reduce LGBTQ+ health disparities and build provider capacity. His portfolio in the Institute includes operational management of education services, contract execution, communication, speaking at educational events, and oversight of Continuing Education (CE) programs. Previously, he was the Assistant Director of the LGBT Center at Ohio University where he also taught in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Cutler Scholars programs. Jan holds a PhD in American Studies from William & Mary where he was a Michael R. Halleran Dissertation Fellow. His research focuses on the ongoing HIV/AIDS crisis and its attendant racial inequities. Jan’s writing has appeared in the Radical History Review (Duke University Press) and the European Journal of American Studies. A native of Germany and proud graduate of the Universität Bremen, Jan lives in Athens, Ohio, with his husband and their beagle mix Lobo.


Ramona Peel head shotRamona Peel, MA
Lead Trainer

As the Lead Trainer for The Equitas Health Institute, Ramona Peel (she, her, hers) collaborates on creating the Institute’s training programs and leads the delivery of training to internal and external audiences. Ramona is also a Political Science Lecturer at the Newark branch of The Ohio State University. In addition, her lived experience as a trans woman informs and enriches her work.

Ramona has 17 years of classroom teaching experience, and her work was recognized by the Ohio State University Political Science Department in 2004 when they awarded her the Henry R. Spencer Award for Distinguished Teaching. Her varied background also includes social science research, broadcasting, and journalism. In April 2017, she was a contributor and guest editor for that month’s issue of (614) Magazine. In February 2018 she was featured in an article that ran in Harper’s Magazine. Her writing has appeared in PRIZM Magazine and the Ohio Family Physician Magazine.

Ramona has a B.A. and M.A. in Political Science from Western Washington University, where she graduated Cum Laude in 1997. She lives in the Clintonville neighborhood of Columbus and has two wonderful, supportive children. She is a lifelong Seattle Seahawks fan and Star Wars geek.


Stelle Sheke Stella Sheke
Research Associate

Stella Sheke is currently a Research Associate at the Equitas Health Institute where she performs research on various health disparities, impacting the LGBTQ+ community. She received her Master’s in Public Health from Ohio University (OU), and a Bachelor of Science in Public Health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Stella’s research focuses on addressing the health and well-being of minority populations. She has worked on multiple public health projects, focusing on the planning, promotion, execution, and implementation of research that addresses health disparities in communities disadvantaged by systemic racism and institutional bias. In addition to research, Stella has experience in the curriculum design and development of a variety of public health courses.