LaManna—who shares this year’s award with two other distinguished alumni—was recognized during a ceremony held at the COPH on April 3, the highlight of a week-long celebration of National Public Health Week.
According to the COPH’s website, the Outstanding Alumni Awards recognize “COPH graduates who improve the public’s health and do it exceedingly well.”
LaManna’s first love was politics, not health care policy. But after working on a congressional campaign in 2008, when Obama was piecing together his Affordable Care Act, his interests shifted.
“I was recruited by WellCare to do state relations, and I just got passionate about the work,” he said. “I fell in love with the health care industry and seeing the difference it can make in people’s lives and in the communities we serve.”
While working at WellCare, LaManna developed relationships with other USF COPH students, grads and faculty—namely Dr. Zachary Pruitt (now an assistant professor of health policy and management) and Dr. Eric Cahow (then an adjunct assistant professor of health policy and management).
“These people were passionate about health care and the things we could do to improve people’s lives. They were always willing to provide information and engage with me. It got me interested in going back to school for an MPH. I decided on USF because these colleagues that I greatly respected were either attending the college or teaching there.”
LaManna pursued his public health degree at night while working full time. It made for some long, tiring, days and nights, but LaManna has no regrets.
“Attending USF COPH was an amazing experience for me,” he said. “I learned things I never would have learned in the field. Getting my MPH has helped me propose and develop innovative ideas and get support for them within the community. Seeing things through a public health lens allows you to frame things in a broader sense. I was able to connect dots that I might not have been able to connect without that education.”
Today LaManna, who lives in Sylvania, OH, with his wife and two young boys, is the business development leader for Anthem, where he oversees the identification, pursuit and development of innovative solutions for government partners in 20 markets, including Ohio. He says the thing he most loves about his work is the ability to work with, learn from and support state partners, provider partners and community organizations with developing novel answers to the problems that many vulnerable populations face.
“How do we support local efforts rather than reinvent them?” LaManna asked. “How do we impact the community rather than just the members we serve? The COPH taught me to think in broader terms when it comes to public health strategies.”
Alumni Fast Five
What did you dream of becoming when you were young?
Chief of staff to the president
Where can we find you on the weekends?
Spending time with my family and watching sports (FSU, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, NY Mets, NY Rangers)
What was the last book you read?
“Promise Me, Dad,” by Joe Biden
What superpower would you like to have?
What is your all-time favorite movie?
Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health