Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives, Howard H. Baker Jr. School of Public Policy and Public Affairs
Adjunct Assistant Professor
PhD, Political Science, Purdue University
Fields of Interest: Public Health; Public Policy; Public Leadership
Phone: 865-974-8681 • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Katie Cahill is the Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Howard H. Baker Jr. School of Public Policy and Public Affairs at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and holds a courtesy appointment as an adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science. She holds a PhD from Purdue University, and her expertise is in health policy. She was previously the Associate Director of the Baker Center and the Director of the Leadership and Governance Program.
As the Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives, Dr. Cahill reports to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. In this role, she is responsible for the transition of the Baker School into an independent academic unit. This includes responsibility for the development of strategic plans that integrate research, teaching, and public engagement initiatives to ensure continual growth and success of the School. She is also responsible for creating curriculum at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the areas of public policy, public management, and public affairs and innovating academic access by creating online, executive ed, and other programming modalities. In this role, Dr. Cahill acted as an advisor to the University-wide task force charged with considering the development of the Baker School, co-authored the white paper proposal to establish the Baker School, developing financial projections, co-authored the proposal for a new academic unit for the University Board of Trustees and Tennessee Higher Education Commission, drafted new college-level bylaws with the Associate Dean and faculty, negotiated the move of existing faculty and crafting positions for new faculty, developed curriculum with the Associate Dean and faculty for new undergraduate and graduate degree programs, conducted market analyses and assessment plans, lead the development of a template for new online courses, and co-authored the strategic visioning document to guide growth over the next ten years. She will serve as a faculty member in the Baker School on an as-needed basis, and recently acted as a supporting faculty member for the Leading with Courage course by former Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Chancellor Donde Plowman.
In terms of public health and policy, Dr. Cahill was a member of the steering committee for the interdisciplinary Coronavirus-19 Outbreak Response Expert (CORE-19) team and led the collection and analysis of the Tennessee Pulse Survey in partnership with Governor Bill Lee’s Economic Recovery Group. She also served on the steering committee for President Randy Boyd’s newly announced Substance Misuse and Addiction Resource for Tennessee (SMART) Policy Network and was the principal investigator for the Healthy Appalachia Project in partnership with Remote Area Medical (RAM). Her previous research focused on the tension between democracy and public health initiatives, particularly global childhood vaccinations programs. This included nine months of fieldwork in South Asia. Her research uses an interdisciplinary, multi-method, and puzzle-driven approach to examine public health policies and outcomes. Dr. Cahill is highly motivated to conduct research that has both theoretical and practical implications.
In addition, she leads the Appalachian Leadership Institute funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission and co-hosts the Tennessee Legislative Leaders Academy for newly elected state legislators with the Institute for Public Service. She also facilitates the campus wide Vols Vote Initiative and is a founder of the annual statewide Tennessee Campus Civic Summit. The aim of these programs is to foster leadership and public service across generations of Tennesseans.
Based on this work, she recently co-authored an invited chapter for Tennessee’s 2020 Economic Report to the Governor on public health and the economy and published an article titled “Health and Voting in Rural America” examining the relationship between health status and voter participation in the journal Frontiers in Political Science. Dr. Cahill’s work has been cited by national and local news including in The New York Times, Reuters, C-SPAN, The Tennessean, Knoxville News Sentinel, on WBIR, WVLT, and WUOT, among other outlets. She also frequently provides talks to community organizations.
In her previous role for the Center, she reported to the Executive Director, and was responsible for strategic planning along with the Center’s directors, supervising the day-to-day operations of the Center, including managing staff, graduate students and students, developing outreach strategies, designing new programs that support the research, teaching, and engagement mission of the Center, including high-profile public lectures, and overseeing the appropriate use of the facility. Dr. Cahill was also responsible for developing curriculum for the Public Policy Analytics minor offered by the Center, mentoring student researchers, and pursuing extramural funding for programs and research projects. She served as a faculty member for the Master in Public Policy and Public Administration (MPPA) program. Cahill also supervised undergraduate research through the Baker Scholars program and created the annual Washington Program.
Prior to joining the school, she was the Associate Director of the Purdue Institute for Civic Communication established partnership with C-SPAN.