The Population Health Team

The Department of Population Health at Northwestern Medical Center is made up of a dedicated team to support the strategies, programs, and statewide initiatives that have been shown to improve population health. 

Northwestern Medical Center (NMC) is the administrative entity for the Vermont Blueprint for Health in the St. Albans Health Service Area. In this role, NMC supports the Community Health Team (CHT) and the Medical Assisted Treatment (MAT) team to deliver care to our community in the Primary Care and Spoke settings. 


Denise Smith

Director, Population Health

Denise Smith is a value-driven, systems level collective impact leader with 20+ years of experience at the intersection of planetary and human health and wellbeing.  She has spent a large degree of her service in executive roles with environmental, healthcare, and economic development organizations. Denise recognizes the importance authentic leadership plays in the meaningful transformation of systems and believes that communities possess the self-organizing abilities to redefine their futures. She is focused on improving population health in Vermont and is a value-based care professional. She currently works as the Director of Population Health Programs and Strategy at NMC, where she works at the intersection of clinical quality outcomes, health equity, prevention, social determinants of health, and collective community initiatives that improve the health of her friends, neighbors, and family members. She attended the University of Vermont (UVM) as an undergraduate and served in the Peace Corps in Mali, West Africa shortly after graduating. In 2018 she received her Master of Science in Leadership for Sustainability from Rubenstein School at UVM. She is currently the Chair of the St. Albans City Planning Commission, Chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee for Lake Champlain, and Treasurer of the Vermont Public Health Association. She lives in an old house that she and her husband are remodeling room by room in St. Albans with their three children, two dogs, and a cat.

[email protected] | 802-524-8913


Amy Brewer

Health Educator, Coordinator of the Franklin-Grand Isle Tobacco Prevention Coalition

Amy Brewer, MPH, is the Health Educator at NMC and long-time coordinator of the Franklin Grand Isle Tobacco Prevention Coalition. She is a long-time advocate and instigator within the community supporting meaningful changes that decrease the harm from tobacco and vaping and increase walkability, bikeability, and recreation infrastructure. She is also actively involved in NMC’s Cancer Committee, strengthening prevention and early detection of cancer. When she is not working on policy, system and environmental changes that impact the health of our community, you can often find her outside running, walking the dog, and finding ways to walk, bike, and take the bus around town alongside her husband and two daughters.

[email protected] | 802-524-1296


Courtney O’Brien

Quality Improvement Practice Facilitator

Courtney O’Brien has been a leader in health care for her entire career. Beginning in elder care and transitioning to pediatrics and primary care, she has insight and experience into our systems of care. She currently serves as the Quality Improvement Practice Facilitator for the St. Albans Health Service Area. In this role she supports high quality primary care in our region and builds linkages in the care delivery system in our region. Courtney is very passionate about her work, as she grew up in this community and her work contributes to the care of her friends, neighbors, and family members. Courtney’s strength in building strong relationships through collaboration supports improving quality and creating a better patient experience leading to better health outcomes for our entire community. Courtney lives in Highgate with her young family and her two dogs. She also volunteers with a local Dog Rescue, helping to save thousands of dogs per year.

[email protected] | 802-527-3611




Nichole Cunningham

Regional Self-Management Program Coordinator

Nichole has been with NMC since 2020, most recently joining the Population Health Team in June of 2022 as the Regional Self-Management Program Coordinator. Drawing from her experience as a family wellness program creator, Nichole collaborates with community partners to bring the My Healthy VT programming to Franklin, Grand Isle, and Lamoille Counties. Nichole’s passion for health care equity and accessibility motivates her to work closely with community partners and employers to offer free, accessible, and reliable chronic disease prevention and self-management workshops to Vermont residents. Outside of Population Health, Nichole enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, gardening, bird watching, live music, and co-directing Saint Albans Community Arts.

[email protected] | 802-752-1985