Samantha Shaak | HealthBEAT

Samantha Shaak, PhD, Named Acting Executive Director at Leonard Parker Pool Institute for Health

May 8, 2024

The Leonard Parker Pool Institute for Health (LPPIH) is proud to announce that Samantha Shaak, PhD, has been named Acting Executive Director. Ed Meehan retired after more than 40 years of leadership as the Executive Director of The Rider-Pool Foundation, The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust and LPPIH.

Meehan was involved in many notable quality-of-life improvements in the Lehigh Valley during his tenure, including sound stewardship of $160 million in investments in the Lehigh Valley. He spearheaded The Pool Fellowship for Health and development of innovative community resources such as Building 21 in the Allentown School District and Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley. He also facilitated the creation of LPPIH partnership with Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) to continue the legacy of Leonard Pool and the focus on lasting improvements in health.

Dr. Shaak is excited to build on this foundation and has played an integral role as the Director of Community Innovation and Evaluation since LPPIH’s inception in 2021. She oversees LPPIH’s neighborhood development strategic initiative in Allentown, focusing on housing, education and neighborhood engagement efforts. She also leads the Pool Fellowship for Health, which has created and trained a cohort of almost 100 community leaders over the last 10 years. In addition, she oversees the Community Health Needs Assessment process for LVHN. 

Before transitioning to LPPIH, Dr. Shaak led translational research and evaluation efforts to mobilize community change at LVHN’s Community Health Department, serving as a Senior Research and Evaluation Scientist and then Manager of Health Systems Research & Evaluation. 

Dr. Shaak received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Georgetown University, Washington, DC, in 2008 and earned her Doctor of Philosophy in human development and family studies from the University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, in 2014. She has focused on promoting family and community resilience and on community-level systems changes to improve quality of life. Dr. Shaak has served on LVHN’s Institutional Review Board since 2014. She is also engaged as a leader in national organizations such as the American Evaluation Association Community Development group, serving locally on the Quality Steering Committee of Valley Youth House, Bethlehem, and on the board of Pinebrook Family Answers, Allentown.