Published on August 8, 2023 by Frank Ruggiero  
liza nicholson drph

 When she enrolled in Samford University’s School of Public Health, Liza Pugh Nicholson had business to attend to.

As founder and CEO of Avail Management Services, a Tuscaloosa, Ala.-based health care management company, Nicholson, Dr.P.H. ’22, had already established herself as a leader in her field.

"But you can never know enough," Nicholson said. "I pursued a Doctor of Public Health degree to enhance my knowledge and skills, thus leveraging my interdisciplinary expertise to further the efforts of Avail Management and bridge business and public health solutions to develop, implement and evaluate public health programs and policies."

Avail provides program/project planning, direction and technical assistance within clinics, health care systems, academic institutions, home care and community-based organizations, with a focus on improving performance, capacity and cost-saving solutions.

"Avail supports organizations to ensure that people are getting the most equitable and efficient care possible," Nicholson said.

In her studies, Nicholson focused on health management and policy, which proved instrumental in expanding her business to serve clients globally, across the U.S. to New Delhi, India.

 "I am appreciative of the opportunity I had at Samford University to expand my expertise in addressing emerging trends in public health policy and practice," she said. "The exposure to the phenomenal faculty and diverse cohort of peers allowed for lasting relationships and a network of public health leaders impacting populations across the world."

Although the Dr.P.H. curriculum is offered fully online, Nicholson never felt disconnected from her instructors and peers. Furthermore, it fostered a public health initiative called the Cultured Heart Connection. What started as Nicholson’s capstone project now promotes culturally responsive education among African American women to reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

Since earning her Dr.P.H., Nicholson was named one of the "75 Black Health Care Leaders to Know" by Becker’s Healthcare: Hospital Review in 2022 and featured as the cover story for CIO Views’ 2023 International Women’s Day issue, among numerous other accolades.

"Liza is one of the most inspiring students I have ever taught,” public health professor Ahinee Amamoo said. “I am so proud of her and can’t wait to see how God continues to use her. She is truly operating in her calling."

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.