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Leadership Bios

Steven C. Combs, Ph.D.

President and Chief Executive Officer

Steven Combs, Ph.D., was appointed to serve as President and CEO of MUIH and began his service on April 1, 2017.

Dr. Combs most recently served as the Executive Vice President and Provost at Drury University (Springfield, MO).  During his tenure, he oversaw a significant enrollment increase, the implementation of six new academic programs, the acquisition of over $3.5 million in grants and donations, the building and refurbishing of key academic spaces, created an office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, Teaching and Learning Center, and revitalized the Honors Program and Debate Team.   Prior to Drury, Dr. Combs was the founding Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, and the founding Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Hawaii Pacific University.  

Before joining the ranks of academic administrators, Dr. Combs had a distinguished career as a faculty member.  He spent twelve years at Loyola Marymount University, where he achieved the rank of full professor, eight years at Claremont McKenna College, and two years at Occidental College.  He has received numerous teaching awards, been honored three times by the Who's Who Among America's Teachers, and twice recognized in the International Directory of Distinguished Leadership.  Dr. Combs taught at Oxford University in summer 2005 and spent the fall 2005 semester as a visiting professor at Tsuda College in Tokyo, Japan.  

Dr. Combs has a broad background in communication studies and has presented scholarly papers on three continents.  He has been published in top, peer-reviewed journals such as the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Social Semiotics, and Argumentation and Advocacy.  He was the editor of a special issue of Argumentation and Advocacy, devoted to non-Greco Roman argumentation, and published a groundbreaking book, The Dao of Rhetoric.  

Dr. Combs holds a Ph.D. in Communication Arts and Sciences from the University of Southern California, with an emphasis on rhetoric and public address. He completed his M.A. in Communication Studies at the University of Kansas, and his B.A. at the University of Southern California. 

Dr. Combs has been a political and trial consultant and wrote Trial advocacy:  Communication, Critical Thinking, and the Law for use in his classes.  He coached university mock trial teams and has an extensive background coaching intercollegiate debate.  His teams have won numerous national championships, including the National Debate Tournament.  He also coached women’s softball at two different colleges.

Dr. Combs draws from his background as an intercollegiate debater, where he set and still holds the record for most victories in a college career (440) and placed second in the nation two years in a row.  He enjoys softball, bodysurfing, and gardening.

410-888-9048 ext. 6610


Chad Egresi, M.P.A.

Associate Vice President, Enrollment Management

Chad Egresi, M.P.A., currently serves as the Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management at Maryland University of Integrative Health. He is responsible for the strategic planning and leadership of Graduate Admissions, Registrar, Academic Advising, and Disability Services. His team works to build lasting, engaging relationships that endure with people from initial prospective student status through graduation. The offices are critical to the student experience, and thus his teams strive to identify areas of opportunity and foster inclusive action at every level of the organization. Mr. Egresi has contributed enormously to the development of MUIH by initiating and leading process and policy updates since his arrival.

Mr. Egresi first joined MUIH in 2013 as the Director of Graduate Admissions, and has also served as the Director of Enrollment Management, overseeing both Graduate Admissions and the Office of the Registrar. During that time, he oversaw the implementation of electronic systems for student applications and enrollment reporting, among others.

Previously, he worked for the Education Management Corporation (EDMC) as the Director of Admissions at South University and then Argosy University. In working with leadership to create a student success department at Argosy, he became the Director of Student Success, and successfully addressed challenges in the transition from admissions to academic advisors by maintaining established admissions relationships through the student enrollment period. Prior to his experience in higher education administration, Mr. Egresi worked for both ExxonMobil and Godiva, which helped to foster a deeper understanding of the customer, the importance of clear policy and procedure, as well as to solidify what being “in service of others” truly means.

Mr. Egresi earned his Bachelor of Science in International Relations from the State University of New York at New Paltz, and his Master of Public Administration from South University.

Mr. Egresi appreciates the great opportunity and realizes long-term potential of MUIH. He sees the societal value of integrative healthcare and supportive healing modalities and wants to be a part of healthcare solutions in the US. He believes his role as an administrator at MUIH, in enrolling and supporting students, contributes to educating the practitioners who will help develop the answers that are needed to fight the overwhelming health related epidemics facing our population and systems.

410-888-9048 ext. 6649

Marc Levin

Marc Levin, M.B.A., M.A., CPA

Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Marc Levin joined Maryland University of Integrative Health in March 2008 as Associate Vice President for Financial Services, was promoted to Vice President for Business and Financial Services in September 2008, and to Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer in September 2012.

Mr. Levin has more than 20 years of experience in accounting, finance, and operations for public and private healthcare companies. He is proud to use his talents not only to strengthen the financial foundation of MUIH, but also to expand the University's impact on the world. Responsibilities under Mr. Levin include finance and accounting, financial aid, information technology, campus and facilities, and bookstore and café.

Mr. Levin holds a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Maryland. Mr. Levin has earned a Master of Art in Transformational Leadership and Social Change from Maryland University of Integrative Health (formerly Tai Sophia Institute). He is also a certified public accountant and the author of Eight Shifts for Wellness: Practical Transformative Steps to Enhance Health, Wellness, and Well-Being.

410-888-9048 ext. 6646


Christina Sax, Ph.D.

Provost and Vice President, Academic Affairs

Christina Sax, Ph.D., is Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Maryland University of Integrative Health. Dr. Sax serves as the chief academic officer and provides leadership for academic and clinical quality, assessment, and accreditation; research and scholarship; continuing education; faculty professional development; digital learning; and external academic and clinical outreach. She provides leadership for all academic programs and faculty, the Natural Care Center; the Center for Teaching and Learning, and the Sherman Cohn Library.

Dr. Sax is a nationally recognized expert in academic innovation and online education. She has more than 20 years of experience in higher education administration and teaching, and more than thirty years of experience in scientific research. Her record includes more than 40 scholarly and research publications, and more than 200 conference, symposia, seminar, workshop, and training presentations on the national level.

Prior to MUIH, Dr. Sax was the Associate Provost and Dean of Academic Outreach and Innovation at Shippensburg University (PA), following her initial role as the Dean of Extended Studies. She served at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) from 1998 to 2007 in various roles including Interim Senior Associate Dean, Assistant Dean of Social, Behavioral, Natural, and Mathematical Sciences, and Academic Director of Natural Sciences. She was also the co-founding Director of the Quality Matters Program from 2003 to 2006, which provides a nationally recognized framework and process for the quality assurance of online courses. Dr. Sax was a research scientist at the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health from 1987 to 1998. She has served as a faculty member at UMUC; the University of Maryland Baltimore County; United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization; Foundation for the Advancement of Education in the Sciences; and Chulabhorn Research Institute in Bangkok, Thailand.

Dr. Sax holds a Ph.D. in Human Genetics from the Medical College of Virginia of Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond VA, with Sigma Xi and Phi Kappa Phi honors. She received a B.S. in Microbiology with High Distinction in Research from the University of Rochester, in Rochester NY. She is currently pursuing a Specialization in Design Thinking and Innovation from the Darden School of Business of the University of Virginia.

Dr. Sax has received seven University Professional and Continuing Education Association Mid-Atlantic Region program awards, the Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications Outstanding Work Award, the United States Distance Learning Association 21st Century Best Practice Award, the Maryland Distance Learning Association Distance Educator of the Year and Program of the Year Awards, and the Central Pennsylvania Business Journal Women of Influence Award.

She serves on the national Board and Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of the University Professional and Continuing Education Association, and the Substantive Change Committee of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. She co-founded the Collective for Academic Innovation and Transformation and the Southcentral Pennsylvania Education Collaborative. She formerly served as Vice President of the Maryland Distance Learning Association, and on the Editorial Board of the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, the Science Education Resources Working Group of the NIH Office of Science Education, and the joint Curriculum Review Panel of the National Academy of Sciences and Smithsonian Institution.

Dr. Sax’s research and scholarly activities focus on the areas of academic innovation; online teaching, learning, and quality assurance; educational technology; faculty development; higher education leadership and planning; STEM education; and molecular biology, gene expression, and transcriptional regulation.

Dr. Sax indicates that being a member of the MUIH community is directly aligned with her personal mission to create an environment that fosters growth and learning, and provides her with the unique opportunity to blend her interests in education, science and research through non-traditional and innovative models and programs.

410-888-9048 ext. 6655


Susan Testa, M.S., RD, LDN

Associate Vice President, Clinical Services

Susan Testa, M.S., RD, LDN, currently serves as Associate Vice President of Clinical Services at Maryland University of Integrative Health, developing and delivering strategic initiatives and the overseeing the student teaching clinics and individual faculty provider care services in the Universities integrative health center, the Natural Care Center.

Formerly, Ms. Testa served as Manager of Experiential Programs and adjunct faculty in the Nutrition Department for MUIH where she developed and taught on-campus online clinical nutrition experiential programs, community nutrition education practicums, clinical skills coursework, internships and board examination preparatory website for students who are attaining the Certified Nutrition Specialist board certification credentials.

Originally, beginning her career in clinical nutrition in private practice and faculty for University of Maryland and University of District of Columbia, Ms. Testa has held leadership positions in various experiential and clinical programs within the conventional and integrative healthcare sector. She was a former Senior Clinical Director of Support Services, managing six clinical services for Bon Secour Health System in Baltimore, identifying service line opportunities, and spearheading strategic expansion plans. She was also a former administrator for Maryland Traditional Acupuncture Institute in Bethesda, MD, overseeing the acupuncture clinical programs and improving the clinical curriculum and patient clinical services. Ms. Testa also served as Chief Operating Officer for Capital University of Integrative Medicine in District of Columbia where she played a leading role in the development and implementation of student the clinical training program for the post-graduate degree program. Prior to this role, she was the Clinic Director for an integrative medical practice in the District of Columbia, expanding the integrative medical model by increasing integrative team members such as naturopathic physician and nurse participation.

Ms. Testa earned her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She completed her clinical work at the University of Maryland Medical System and became a licensed nutritionist in the state of Maryland. She attained her Master of Science in Nutrition Education at the Chicago Medical School, College of Health Professions. 

Ms. Testa continues as a clinician in private practice and adjunct faculty member teaching various online and on-campus nutrition clinical skills application courses in MUIH’s nutrition department.

410-888-9048 ext. 6691


Deneb Falabella, M.Ac., L.Ac., Dipl.Ac. (NCCAOM)

Assistant Provost, Academic Assessment and Accreditation

Deneb Falabella, M.Ac., L.Ac., Dipl.Ac. (NCCAOM), serves as the Assistant Provost for Academic Assessment and Accreditation at Maryland University of Integrative Health. In this role, Ms. Falabella supports the University’s academic departments with continuing development and implementation of academic assessment and accreditation initiatives to improve student learning outcomes and program quality in an ongoing manner.

She previously served as the Associate Vice President for Student Teaching Clinic from 2012 through 2013, where she managed the human resource, financial, administrative, regulatory, and academic components associated with the University’s Natural Care Center and the delivery of supervised clinical practicums. From 2006 through 2011, she assisted the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine department as the Associate Director, working as part of a team to assess and enhance curricula while strengthening operations. She is also a former clinical supervisor and assistant faculty member.

Ms. Falabella maintains a part-time clinical acupuncture practice at MUIH’s Natural Care Center, and she has been a practicing acupuncturist since 1999. Prior to her acupuncture training, she provided program support at a national yoga retreat center and taught English as a second language abroad.

Ms. Falabella earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Muhlenberg College, and her Master of Acupuncture and Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Chinese Herbs from Maryland University of Integrative Health (formerly Traditional Acupuncture Institute). She served on the Maryland Board of Acupuncture from 2010 to 2015, fulfilling the role of chairperson for several years.

Ms. Falabella appreciates MUIH’s deep connection to ancient wisdom and philosophy and enjoys being engaged in a dynamic community of learners who both honor the healing traditions and look toward an inventive future together. She sees the University as a place of discovery where academic and practical wisdom merge to create conduits for ongoing learning and healing in the world.

410-888-9048 ext. 6681


Mary Ellen Hrutka, Ph.D.

Associate Provost, Digital Learning and Faculty Engagement

Dr. Mary Ellen Hrutka spent 15 years at University of Maryland University College (UMUC), including nine years as Vice Provost and Dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies.  UMUC is the largest university in Maryland and the leading public online university in the world.  Dr. Hrutka led the university’s efforts to overhaul the undergraduate curriculum and build a robust inventory of academic majors, minors, and certificates worldwide in a system that served more than 29,000 students in both on campus and online programs. She managed a staff of more than 80 full-time employees and 1,500 faculty members, and participated in university governance and management at the cabinet level.  

In addition to her work at UMUC, Dr. Hrutka is recognized as an expert on quality assurance in education, the non-traditional learner and adult education, as well as the importance of support for non-public school students and faculty.  She was a founding member of MarylandOnline and Quality Matters and represented UMUC on many inter-institutional initiatives. She is an Adjunct Professor in The Graduate School at UMUC and teaches in the area of organizational development, leadership, and change, and previously taught leadership in The Undergraduate School as well as at other universities. Dr. Hrutka was the founding Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Catholic Schools Consortium.

Since July 2014, Dr. Hrutka has served Maryland University of Integrative Health as an online consultant and worked with faculty and staff to support the growth and quality of online courses.  In November 2014, she was appointed by the Provost to serve as the Acting Academic Director, Nutrition Programs.

In recognition of her service to UMUC, Dr. Hrutka was named as the first Dean Emerita of UMUC. She is a former member of the Board of Trustees at St. John’s College High School and is a current member of the Boards of Elizabeth Seton High School and the San Miguel School.  She serves on the Maryland Governor’s P-20 Leadership Council.

Dr. Hrutka received her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Miami, M.A. in Counseling and College Student Personnel from the University of Maryland, College Park, B.A. in Sociology from Southern Connecticut State College and A.A. in Liberal Arts from Westchester Community College, and she is a graduate of Leadership Maryland. 


Jeff Millison

Jeff Millison, M.Ac., Dipl.Ac.(NCCAOM)

Academic Director, Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Jeff Millison is the Director of the Master of Acupuncture program at Maryland University of Integrative Health. A faculty member of MUIH (formerly Tai Sophia Institute )since 1992, he currently serves as a clinical supervisor and teaches multiple courses. Mr. Millison served on the board of the Maryland Acupuncture Society from 1992 to 1996 and is certified as a Diplomate in Acupuncture by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

He has been in clinical practice since 1991 and is the co-founder and co-director of the RiverHill Wellness Center (Ellicott City, MD), a multidisciplinary and integrative center for health and healing.

Mr. Millison is a 1991 graduate of the Traditional Acupuncture Institute (now MUIH). He also earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Maryland in 1985, and in 1988 completed course work towards a master’s degree in holistic psychology from Boulder College. In 1996 he completed a two-year program in Chinese herbal medicine.

410-888-9048 ext. 6638


Elizabeth Pimentel, N.D.

Dean, School of Naturopathic Medicine

Elizabeth (Beth) Wotton Pimentel, N.D., will be the Dean of MUIH’s planned School of Naturopathic Medicine. She brings decades of experience in the fields medicine and integrative health to MUIH. With dozens of publications and presentations on naturopathy and higher education to her name, Dr. Pimentel presently works as a consultant for issues related to accreditation, standards of practice, integrative medical education, curriculum development, outcomes and competencies, and health and wellness for individuals and in the workplace. Most recently, she developed the introductory course “Visionary Health and Medicine” for the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine Fellowship.

Dr. Pimentel began naturopathic family practices in New England in 1996, where she held leadership roles in the Massachusetts Society of Naturopathic Physicians and advised Seattle Midwifery School in the development of a satellite Northeast program. Upon relocating to California, Dr. Pimentel worked as the Government Affairs Consultant to the California Association of Naturopathic Physicians (2002-2004).

Dr. Pimentel’s extensive work in the field of naturopathic and interdisciplinary medicine ultimately led to her appointment as Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine (UBCNM) in 2006, where she taught courses and supervised student clinicians in the UB Naturopathic Clinic and developed a mind-body specialty shift. In 2008, Dr. Pimentel was named Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at UBCNM, serving in that role until 2011 when she was appointed Dean of the College of Naturopathic Medicine.

Under her leadership, The Center of Excellence in Generative Medicine was created and an innovative generative medicine curriculum combining genomics and naturopathic medicine was added to the college. For the classroom, Dr. Pimentel took steps to integrate topics across disciplines and enhance the progressive outcomes assessment process, and for the community she established an annual all-school Philosophy Day to ensure the ongoing engagement and assessment of naturopathic healing philosophy in the classroom, clinic, and community. Dr. Pimentel also served on the board of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges and participated in its Council of Chief Academic and Clinical Officers, working to establish standardized learning outcomes across accredited Canadian and US naturopathic programs, and to explore inter-institutional collaboration for faculty and students.

Dr. Pimental earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in 1995 and her Certificate of Midwifery in 1996. She serves as Board Member on the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners and Accreditation Evaluator on the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education.

410-888-9048 ext. 6625

Cheryl Walker Shapero

Cheryl Walker Shapero, M.L., MCC

Associate Provost for Values, Diversity and Inclusion

Cheryl Shapero is Associate Provost for Values, Diversity, and Inclusion at Maryland University of Integrative Health. She previously served as Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Chief Values Officer,  Academic Director of Health Philosophy and Promotion programs, and Program Manager for the University’s health coaching and wellness coaching programs. She also previously served as director of at Tai Sophia Institute’s (now MUIH) Transformative Leadership and Social Change (TLSC) program, was a faculty member in the TLSC program for 10 years, and served as Dean of Students from 2000-2005.

Ms. Shapero has been a senior consultant and executive coach with a leading international organization development firm, consulting and coaching in the areas of leadership effectiveness, communication skills, team building, conflict resolution, diversity, change management, and transitional strategies. She has a comprehensive understanding of organizational change and has been intimately involved with helping organizations through challenging transitions. Her work has involved organizational restructuring, change management, cultural renewal, downsizing, and strategic redirection. She also brings to her work at MUIH more than 30 years as a successful small business owner.

Ms. Shapero received a bachelor’s degree from Antioch University and has a Master of Leadership from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. She also holds a Master Certified Coach (MCC) certification from the International Coach Federation.

410-888-9048 ext. 6695

James Snow

James Snow, M.A., RH(AHG)

Assistant Provost for Academic Research and Academic Director, Integrative Health Sciences

James Snow is the Assistant Provost for Academic Research and Academic Director of the Integrative Health Sciences Department at Maryland University of Integrative Health. He has more than 25 years of experience merging modern scientific perspectives with traditional explanatory models of healing.

Mr. Snow has worked as a clinician and educator in the field of Western herbal medicine and served as director of MUIH’s (then Tai Sophia Institute) herbal medicine program. He has conducted and published research on the cognitive effects of rosemary and the development of a questionnaire to measure wellness. Mr. Snow is a contributing author to the Gastrointestinal Nutrition Desk Reference, sits on the editorial committee for the Journal of the American Herbalists Guild, and serves as a reviewer for the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia.

Mr. Snow’s current research projects include investigation of attitudes and use of evidence-informed practice among Western herbal practitioners; the role of context effects in the effectiveness of Western herbal medicine; and exploring the construct of healing presence. At MUIH, his work also focuses on enhancing research literacy and capacity among complementary and integrative health faculty.

Mr. Snow holds a Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership and Social Change from MUIH, and completed the herbal residency program at the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine. He is also a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild.

410-888-9048 ext. 6675

 Michael Tims  

Michael Tims, Ph.D.

Academic Director, Herbal Programs

Michael Tims is Academic Director of Herbal Programs at Maryland University of Integrative Health. He has taught at the University of Maryland and Montgomery College, and has had broad experience in the herbal supplement industry as a managing partner of Cash Grocer Natural Foods, as a clinical herbalist, and as an academic researcher focused on the chemical ecology of endangered medicinal plant species.

Dr. Tims also collaborated with federal regulators to provide medicinal plant toxicity assessments. He co-developed HerbMed, a web-based herbal database providing access to scientific data on the use and safety of herbal medicine, and he completed an NIH/NIST postdoctoral fellowship developing Botanical Standard Reference Materials.

Dr. Tims currently sits on the Editorial Board for The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine and on the following herbal industry scientific committees: Joint Committee on Dietary Supplements, NSF, American Herbal Pharmacopoeia, Analytical Advisory Committee, and the American Herbal Products Association Analytical Methods Committees. He was recently awarded the 2017 MUIH Research and Scholarship Award. His talk can be found here. Emerson Ecologics awarded MUIH a grant for his proposal to develop cGMP compliance in the dispensary for educational purposes.

Dr. Tims received his BA in English/Writing from George Mason University and his Ph.D. in the Chemical Ecology of Medicinal Plants from the University of Maryland, College Park

410-888-9048 ext. 6668

 Kathy Warner

Kathy Warner, Ph.D.

Academic Director, Nutrition and Integrative Health

Kathy Warner brings to her position a rich background in higher education leadership, research, and administration as well as comprehensive experience in online learning, program design, curriculum delivery and teaching. Her academic and research areas of focus have been in the sciences. 

Prior to joining MUIH, Dr. Warner was the associate dean of academic affairs in the undergraduate school of University of Maryland University College (UMUC). She previously served UMUC as the assistant dean of the social, behavioral, natural, and mathematical sciences unit, in which she oversaw experiential learning, the director of natural science and environmental management programs, and the assistant director of science. During her tenure at UMUC, she played a lead role in a university-wide assessment of science literacy and in new course and program designs.

Dr. Warner served as the principal investigator on a National Science Foundation grant for Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement, a program that seeks to improve the quality of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education for college students. Her grant focused on constructing a Virtual Chesapeake Bay Watershed Science Center. Dr. Warner also served as the co-investigator for a Next Generation Learning Challenges grant with the Open University of the United Kingdom and Anne Arundel Community College and coordinated a Carnegie Corporation grant on adaptive learning. 

Dr. Warner was also a research fellow at the Uniformed Services University and an adjunct faculty member at College of Southern Maryland, Marymount University, and Montgomery College.

Dr. Warner holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from University of Kentucky and a B.S. from Washington College.

410-888-9048 ext. 6683