“I am a proud, identifying member of various communities that have persevered in the midst of oppression. It is not only my honor to serve each of these communities, it is my responsibility.”


Daniel Gibson, Regional Vice President, Miami-Dade, Allegany Franciscan Ministries,

Culture of Health Leaders challenge themselves to apply their expertise and outside-the-box thinking to making their communities healthier and more equitable.

No matter what their background, training or profession, they play a crucial role in building a Culture of Health. They stretch beyond their daily work and collaborate with leaders from many other fields and professions—rejuvenating their career, building their leadership skills, and creating change in their community and beyond.


Displaying 71 result(s)

Andy Allen, Outreach Officer

inHealth Strategies

Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: I’m the lead consultant for community and population health for inHealth Strategies out of Baton Rouge, LA. We collaborate on innovative solutions to help communities and providers nationwide radically change the health outcomes for the populations they serve. Through leveraging community resources, key stakeholders, best practices, and cutting-edge ideas, we create healthier communities and achieve cost savings.
Andy Allen, Outreach Officer

I’m a firm believer that not only can young people change our communities, but we must. We have to be involved, outspoken and organized. This program is providing me with more tools, training and networking to make a difference.

Riana Elyse Anderson, Assistant Professor


Location: Detroit, Michigan
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: Repeated exposure to instances of racism and discrimination can result in psychological problems, lower educational attainment, and increased cardiovascular disease, even if it is through just witnessing these events. Research has shown that race-based traumatic stress is common among Black people following negative in-person and witnessed discriminatory racial encounters. Given the recent heightened national awareness of police brutality, understanding how adults can support and protect youth from the effects of past, current and future instances of racism and discrimination is important. Dr. Anderson developed the Engaging, Managing, and Bonding through Race (EMBRace) program to address these issues and improve Black family wellbeing. EMBRace is a seven-week family program that brings parents and their children together for conversations on race, cultural pride, discrimination and stress management in an effort to reduce parent and adolescent racial stress, promote bonding for families, and improve adolescent psychological well-being and academic engagement. EMBRace is among the first programs to use culturally-specific theories and evidence-based practices to address discriminatory racial encounters and reduce racial stress and trauma. Families meet with program staff once a week for 90 minutes. We use relaxation, journaling, debating, role-playing and media in the program to facilitate conversations on race between parents and their children. EMBRace is currently focusing on families in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
Riana Elyse Anderson, Assistant Professor 

Riana Elyse Anderson is a clinical and community psychologist who investigates how protective familial mechanisms like racial socialization operate in the face of risks linked to discrimination. Riana is the developer and director of the Engaging, Managing, and Bonding through Race (EMBRace) program and loves to translate her work for a variety of audiences, particularly those whom she serves in the community via blogs, video, and literary articles.

Terrance Anderson, Health Promotion Educator

Location: Norfolk, Virginia
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: African-American men are experiencing an alarming prostate cancer disparity; having a 60 percent  greater likelihood of being diagnosed with the disease than most ethnic groups and dying at a rate 2.5 times greater than white men. I am developing an innovative media project entitled “PSA-2-PSA” that will increase awareness of this disturbing health inequity, by making effective use of compelling television public service announcements that feature real prostate cancer survivors and men at increased risk. African American participants will also be targeted with the newly-conceived “EXUMBRA” component of the “PSA-2-PSA” project, which uses a dynamic engagement tool to prompt men to come “out of the shadows’ and become more proactive in their health maintenance, e.g., regular prostate cancer screenings.
Terrance Anderson, Health Promotion Educator

A valiant prostate cancer survivor/warrior, I have been undaunted in my activism. I have moderated panel discussions at the U.S. Capitol and the Russell U.S. Senate Building, during annual African-American Prostate Cancer Disparity Summit events, staged by the Prostate Health Education Network (Boston, Mass.). Among other activities I wrote, produced and hosted the “Full Court Press” television special on the African American prostate cancer disparity.

Jose Ivan Arreola, Director


Location: Oakland, California
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: I am focused on creating opportunities for holistic and traditional healing for immigrant and undocumented communities in order to rejuvenate and fortify their mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.
Jose Ivan Arreola, Director

Trained as a community organizer for racial and economic justice, I leveraged my skills and personal story while doing immigrant rights work. I am now committed to responding to the need for holistic healing and emotional/mental health support for both our community members and movement leaders. In this country, we need sustained and rooted healing more than ever.

DeWayne Barton, Community Engagement Coordinator

Buncombe County Health and Human Services

Location: Asheville, North Carolina
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: Hood Huggers International, LLC, offers sustainable strategies for building support pillars for resilient historically African-American neighborhoods, providing a framework for community capacity building while helping to create spaces that absorb trauma and increasing the effectiveness of existing service programs. These strategies incorporate the arts, social enterprise, and the environment, building a culture of stability that is inclusive and economically just.

DeWayne Barton, Community Engagement Coordinator, Buncombe County Health and Human Services, Asheville, North Carolina

I am a social entrepreneur, a veteran, and a visual and performing artist who uses creative expression and experience to help protect, promote, and expand the dreams and goals of neighborhoods in the Affrilachian region.

Jacqueline Barton True, Director of Rural Health Programs

Washington State Hospital Association

Location: Seattle, Washington
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS: Rural hospitals are the bedrock of their communities. Through my work at the Washington State Hospital Association, I partner with hospitals and communities to strengthen essential health services and build community agency.

Jacqueline Barton True, Director of Rural Health Programs, Washington State Hospital Association, Seattle

I’m a passionate advocate for health and communities. As a social worker and public health professional, I’m committed to systemic change that upends our nation’s short-sighted approach to health policy.

Location: Birmingham, Alabama
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: The Birmingham area is known for its industrial past, harsh Jim Crow Laws and strict enforcement of segregation. Many of the structures and institutions built during this era impede progress today. We are working in Jefferson County, Alabama to promote health equity by engaging diverse stakeholders in equity, diversity, and inclusion training and solution development. This work centers on using population data to target evidence-based solutions to promote the best possible health and highest quality of life for all. As a team, we will offer new solutions and ideas for creating a more collaborative community based on fairness and equity.

[Pictured from Left to Right]

Kadie Peters, Vice President of Community Impact for Health, United Way of Central Alabama 

I am currently the Vice President of Community Impact for Health at United Way of Central Alabama where I lead the collaborative health improvement partnerships and regional collective impact movement focused on improving health. My role in the Jefferson County Health Action Partnership allows me the most direct contact with 5 operating priority groups and the hundreds of volunteers collaborating on projects. I also have the opportunity to build relationships with local, regional and state leaders regularly convened by United Way that includes CEO’s, Executives, elected officials, and Presidents of major industries.

Gregory C. Townsend, Health Service Administrator, Jefferson County Department of Health, Quality Improvement and Decision Support

I’m not a finished product!

Monica Baskin, PhDProfessor, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Medicine: Preventive Medicine

I am a professor, psychologist, community-based researcher, and a champion for health equity.



Troi Bechet, Founder and CEO

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: The likelihood of suspended students dropping out of school and one day facing incarceration is so strong that many refer to this trajectory as the school-to-prison pipeline. Owing in part to that trajectory, Louisiana has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world. Restorative Approaches will provide asset-based, participatory methods for changing this reality and strengthen community members’ capacity to develop their own solutions for justice and well-being.
Troi Bechet, Founder and CEO

Troi Bechet is the founder and CEO of the preeminent restorative justice organization in Louisiana, the Center for Restorative Approaches. She has over 30 years of experience in social justice and social service administration.

Laurel Berman, Environment Health Scientist




Location: Chicago, Illinois
Cohort: 2016
Laurel Berman, Chicago, Illinois, Environmental Health Scientist, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)

I am an Environmental Health Scientist and the ATSDR lead on land reuse/brownfields. My entire program is Brownfields to Healthfields: teaching state health partners to engage communities; addressing environmental and health risks; communicating risks; redesigning communities with health in mind; and measuring success—environment and health change.

Melissa Bosworth, Principal

Vertical Strategies, Rural Healthcare and Nonprofit Capacity Building

Location: Aurora, Colorado
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: The Eastern Plains Healthcare Consortium was created to address the significant barriers to access of health services in a region where four hospitals serve multiple counties across the Eastern Plains of Colorado. As demonstrated in the proposal, the health care needs of these rural residents foretell a future where social determinants and medical care become even more sparse without direct intervention. Along with social determinants of health factors that fall behind state and national averages, the sustainability of the current health care structure is also being challenged by shifts in national health care policy and changes in reimbursement. The Consortium has been evaluating and planning for the past year, and through the incorporation of a separate 501(c)(3), they will start implementing the developed solutions. The Consortium’s mission is to collaborate among rural hospitals to provide excellent health care services for rural communities on the Eastern Plains of Colorado and surrounding areas while increasing the sustainability of its members. Initially, the members will specifically do this through shared inventory management and staff sharing agreements. The number of populations to be served is expected to grow as the network expands. The preliminary target population will be all health care consumers of Keefe Memorial Hospital, Weisbrod Memorial County Hospital, Lincoln Community Hospital, Melissa Memorial Hospital and their associated facilities.
Melissa Bosworth, Principal, Vertical Strategies

Melissa focuses on elevating nonprofits, specifically in rural areas to help their nonprofit and healthcare entities thrive in a continually tumultuous environment.

Amy Boyer, Program Manager


Location: Woodland, California
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: Prisons are places of disconnect. Insight Garden Program connects prisoners in California to themselves, nature and community through an innovative curriculum that is rooted in the gardens our participants grow. By growing themselves and plants, our participants change prison culture and successfully re-integrate into their communities.
Amy Boyer, Program Manager

I combine caring for nature and for people’s spirits as program manager in our three Central Valley prisons, including California’s two medical prisons.

Darren Brownlee, Doctoral Candidate

Johns Hopkins Medicine

Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: Based in Baltimore, my focus area is on increasing access to health care using an equitable lens. Today, people with special health care needs, chronic illness, and caregivers experience additional limitations in attaining optimal health outcomes. Through collaborating with insurance providers, policy makers, health care providers, and community-based providers, I envision a culture of health that is accessible to all.
Darren Brownlee, Doctoral Candidate, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland

After earning a football scholarship to West Virginia University and excelling on the field, my passion to improve the health of my community began to outweigh my love of the sport. My health was improving, but that of so many of my neighbors, family, and friends was worsening. I decided to commit my life to helping others, being an advocate for the improvement of the health of my environment.

Bettina Byrd-Giles, CEO


Location: Birmingham, AL
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: Ensley is a community in Birmingham, AL that is a symbol of Birmingham’s rich industrial history. Like similar communities, Ensley has suffered economic decline. The Bethesda Life Center, Inc. is concerned with the health of the mind, body, and spirit of community members. The Bethesda is a catalyst for economic renewal. As co-founder of Ensley Alive, a movement dedicated to Ensley’s renaissance, I support local creatives who are improving the health of the community through creative activity, murals, gardens, and filling vacant spaces.
Bettina Byrd-Giles, CEO

I am an interculturalist who is passionate about cultural competence, health disparities and building a culture of health in Ensley.

Leigh Caswell, Director of Community Health


Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: I work for Presbyterian Healthcare Services in New Mexico where we have an enchanting landscape with a rich, cultural history. We also struggle with high rates of poverty, chronic disease and substance abuse. There are communities that face huge disparities in outcomes and my work is focused on partnering with others to determine solutions through building on community assets and sharing resources to build a culture of health.
Leigh Caswell, Director, Center for Community Health

I am a public health professional working in a health care system, who is committed to equity and social justice and leveraging resources to improve health outcomes through systems change.

Corinne Chacon, Managing Co-Founder

Mano y Corazon Institute

Location: El Paso, Texas
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: As a Mexican-American, I understand the ways our community’s tight-knit families help us to be resilient. Can we leverage that behavior to reinforce our wellness? I believe a holistic approach (mind-body-soul) that integrates traditional medicine, behavioral health, Indigenous medicine, and complementary practices holds the key.

Corinne Chacon, Managing Co-Founder, Mano y Corazon Institute, El Paso, Texas

As an artist-activist-mystic, I view life through a spiritual framework. My journey begins with trying to understand the roots of a situation and the opportunities for transformation contained therein. Acknowledging the unity of all existence at the quantum level, awareness can be a pivot point for introducing change.

Bobby Cochran, Senior Fellow


Location: Portland, Oregon
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: Working with partners in Oregon and nationally to understand and deliver the health benefits of more time in nature—especially in ways that bridge new relationships between communities.
Bobby Cochran, Senior Fellow

Bobby walks in the spaces between the worlds of business, science and collaboration.

Christina Cody, Co-Chair, Eat Smart, Move More, KNOW(2) Cherokee County

Location: Gaffney, South Carolina
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: My rural southeastern community of Cherokee County, South Carolina, faces chronic disease and childhood obesity trends that continue to plague our families, dangerously diminishing the quality of life for ethnically, socioeconomically, and geographically distributed groups. Our youth can be powerful forces in identifying community needs and in being agents of change. Students, schools, and partners can be collective impact champions in meeting those needs, ensuring that health for all is a priority.

Christina Cody, Co-Chair, Eat Smart, Move More, KNOW(2) Cherokee County, Gaffney, South Carolina

As a high school teacher and student wellness advocate, I believe youth empowerment and partnerships can create the Culture of Health all people deserve while also building tomorrow’s community leaders.

Haley Coles, Executive Director


Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: I am passionate about working with people who use drugs in Arizona. My state is slowly moving forward in finding innovative solutions to address the suffering that Arizonans who use drugs experience due to criminalization, stigma and dehumanization. But in the meantime, we still have preventable tragedies coursing through the state, such as overdose fatalities, hepatitis C infection, child removal and compounding mental illness. As the director of Sonoran Prevention Works, I am embracing the concept of harm reduction to meet state policymakers and change leaders where they are to challenge stigma in a way that makes sense to their cultural and political orientations. I am building a culture where people who use drugs are safe to be who they are and have their best chance to achieve their goals, whatever that looks like.
Haley Coles, Executive Director

I am a proud Arizonan, a former drug user, and a bulldog—I will do whatever it takes in order to continue building a community that advocates for the dignity and rights of people who use drugs. I am in it for the long haul and can’t imagine doing anything else.

Eugene Cooke, Agroecologist

Grow Where You Are

Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: As urban farmers in Atlanta, we see the main barrier to food sovereignty in urban areas as a land justice issue. Real estate speculation diminishes the value of urban farming by ignoring its qualitative impacts, such as public safety, ecological restoration, and civic engagement. Therefore, we envision part of the solution to be working to ensure that committed urban farmers own their homes and their farmland so that they may make long-term investments in their communities.

Eugene Cooke, Agroecologist, Grow Where You Are, Atlanta, Georgia

I am an American-born father of three, descended from Indigenous farmers and African refugees. My unique perspective is based on 20 years of growing food in urban areas, as well as work-study abroad in Africa, Jamaica, and Haiti. I am one of many people who bring life skills to this challenge of equity.

Thomas Cudjoe, Postdoctoral Fellow


Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: Both of my grandfathers are now deceased, but the memory that permeates my mind for each of them is our walks together. Our simple walks shape my vision of what health is and how I envision weaving health into the fabric of our society. The experiences with these two men compelled me to pursue medicine, public health and the care of older adults. They taught me how optimizing mobility and social engagement are essential for physical and mental health, and how our elders are community treasures who are often undervalued. As a geriatrician in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, I am very interested in facilitating relationships that will enable older adults to be more engaged in their communities and have better health.
Thomas Cudjoe, Post Doctoral Fellow

I am a doctor for older adults who believes that the transformation of our nation’s health will occur in the community. I believe that my medical knowledge, public health training, and experiences as a caregiver for my grandparents positions me to develop and disseminate strategies to sustain and improve the well-being of older adults.

Carlene Davis, Co-Founder and Southern California Director

 Sistahs Aging with Grace & Elegance

Location: Los Angeles, California
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS: They say that “Black don’t crack”, but we recognize that Black women’s resistance, resilience, and brilliance belies the cumulative toll of cradle-to-grave educational, social, economic, and housing inequities that shape our lived experiences. Sistahs Aging with Grace & Elegance (SAGE) is committed to creating intentional community conversations, networks, and social support systems both to foster the holistic well-being of Black women as they age and to mitigate the impact of later-in-life social-determinant risk factors. In partnership with the California Black Women’s Health Project, and through establishing regional aging-focused Sister Circles, SAGE provides culturally specific and responsive programming to empower Black women with knowledge, tools, and resources to make choices and decisions to enhance their quality of life through their aging and senior years.

Carlene Davis, Co-Founder and Southern California Director, Sistahs Aging with Grace & Elegance, Los Angeles, California

As a collective impact leader and strategist for positive social change, my life’s work focuses on building the capacity of women, families, and communities to identify, navigate, challenge, and overcome policy and system barriers that prevent them from activating their agency, realizing their full potential, and achieving their desired goals.

Brittney Drakeford, Member

Gethsemane United Methodist Church

Location: Cottage City, Maryland
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS: Despite being one of the most affluent counties in the country, Prince George’s County, Maryland, has significant health and economic disparities. Many of these disparities can be attributed to suburban sprawl and land-use decisions over the course of nearly 50 years. To remedy these issues, I believe we need to reimagine community investment as an opportunity for neighbors to conspire to make their towns better through communal ownership, inclusivity, and long-term positive commitment.

Brittney Drakeford, Member, Gethsemane United Methodist Church, Cottage City, Maryland

I am a radically hospitable urban planner and sixth-generation native of Prince George’s County. I am passionate about helping people in my hometown become more effective advocates for change.

Julie Fitch, Testing and Capacity-Building Supervisor

STD/HIV Program, Louisiana Office of Public Health

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: Louisiana has some of the highest HIV and sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates in the nation, and communities of color and LGBTQ communities are the most heavily impacted by these and other health concerns. I hope to help reduce these disparities in New Orleans and across Louisiana by shifting organizations’ understanding of systemic oppression and fostering unconventional partnerships to address racism, transphobia, and homophobia.

Julie Fitch, Testing and Capacity-Building Supervisor, STD/HIV Program, Louisiana Office of Public Health, New Orleans

I am a native Louisianan and Cajun who works with the Louisiana Office of Public Health STD/HIV Program. I am dedicated to working for social justice and building meaningful relationships with communities served through the health department’s STD/HIV prevention and services work.

Vannessa Frazier, Executive Director


Location: Howardville, Missouri
Cohort: 2016
Vannessa Frazier, Howardville, Missouri, Executive Director, Howardville Community Betterment Committee

I am an environmentalist, at all times, my surroundings dictate my health, my thoughts are inclusive for all. I am the right person for this program, to demonstrate that cleaning up your community, home and vacant buildings, along with sufficient green space will allow a dying community to become renewed and healthy.

Heather Gaydos, Reentry Project Director


Location: Providence, Rhode Island
Cohort: 2017


FOCUS: Over 12,000 individuals cycle in and out of Rhode Island’s prison system on an annual basis, a population with unmet health needs, large barriers to civic engagement, and high recidivism rates. My vision for a culture of health in RI is one in which formerly incarcerated individuals are effectively reintegrated back into the community and afforded the opportunities to live economically viable and healthy lives. This requires a community approach to reentry that recognizes the interconnectedness of the health and success of ex-offenders and the health and success of the entire community. Through my position at the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights in Providence, RI, I will be leading the development and coordination of a community-based statewide prisoner reentry system.
Heather Gaydos, Reentry Project Director, Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights

My passion for social justice and racial equity has grown throughout the past 15 years of working at community-based organizations in Providence, RI. I have extensive experience working as both a program administrator and direct service provider for justice-involved and high-risk populations.

Daniel Gibson, Regional Vice President

Miami-Dade, Allegany Franciscan Ministries

Location: Miami, Florida
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: Overtown, a neighborhood within the city of Miami, was once the preeminent center for Black commerce in South Florida, home to many notable Black entrepreneurs and cultural pioneers. Today, this proud community is threatened by irreversible gentrification and the displacement of families who have called Overtown home for generations. “Towners,” as native Overtown residents call themselves, are watching the community disappear before their eyes. Through Allegany Franciscan Ministries’ Common Good Initiative, I am working from within the community of Overtown to allow current residents to empower themselves and have their voices heard. We want to preserve and grow businesses of color, foster job creation that employs from within the community, and invest in local youth so that they and future generations will be able financially to continue to live, work, and play in Overtown.

Daniel Gibson, Regional Vice President, Miami-Dade, Allegany Franciscan Ministries, Miami, Florida

As a man of color who overcame my obstacles by discovering my voice and resiliency, I dedicate my career to serve communities where equity and opportunity evade those without a voice. I am proud to be a champion of criminal justice reform, the eradication of chronic homelessness, and the removal of inequities of poverty, race, and sexual orientation.

Jennifer Godzeno, Deputy Director


Location: Brooklyn, New York
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: Our most pressing social and political issues are rooted in an unfortunate misalignment of citizen will, political power and where our tax dollars go. Elected officials and power brokers under-invest in preventative health measures, subsidize food that’s terrible for us, build neighborhoods in ways that worsen congestion and climate change, and starve basic community needs like education and public space. I bet if everyday people had direct power over how to spend public money—plus easy access to good data to drive their decisions—“we the people” could help our leaders to make better and more inclusive public investments and policies that support a culture of health. Participatory budgeting has given communities across North America the power to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars more equitably.
Jennifer Godzeno, Deputy Director

I’ve worked to advance equity through grassroots transportation advocacy and active design research. The next frontier is getting elected and appointed leaders to act on good data and the voices of diverse constituents—I’m excited to bring a civic participation lens to advancing a culture of health.

Robin Guenther, Principal


Location: New York, New York
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: A culture of health can create a health care system that eliminates its own negative environmental impacts, anchors community health and resilience, and leads broader societal transformation
Robin Guenther, Principal, Perkins+Will, Senior Advisor, Health Care Without Harm

I believe the health care sector can create a world where the delivery of health care creates nothing but health. I work on helping health care organizations to connect the dots between their built environment decisions and health.

Dana Harvey, Executive Director

Mandela MarketPlace

Location: Oakland, California
Cohort: 2017
Dana Harvey passed away in March 2019 after a battle with cancer. She will be dearly missed by her fellow Culture of Health Leaders, Culture of Health Leaders program staff, and by the entire Robert Wood Johnson Foundation family. Her leadership and her commitment to food security and equitable economic development was unwavering. Read more about Dana’s work and impact from her community at Mandela Partners.


FOCUS: Through Mandela MarketPlace, Dana developed and promoted new models for investment, growth, and shared wealth that sustained and elevated community power, opportunity, and health. Using food as an entry point, she drove investment into neighborhoods to create thriving communities that are shaped by the people who live there, thus increasing access to local, healthy food, supporting small business owners, and assisting communities in leveraging their assets to sustain and elevate community power, opportunity, and health.

Dana Harvey, Executive Director, Mandela MarketPlace, Oakland, California

Dana shaped alternative, community-driven food access and economic development programs to shift dynamics of race, poverty, and food insecurity. Programs and frameworks that design and implement equity-based models to improve access to healthy and affordable food and address economic disparities, especially in communities of color and historically marginalized communities, are a critical piece of building a national Culture of Health.

Valeria Hawkins, Healthy Schools Program Manager


Location: Clarksdale, Mississippi
Cohort: 2016

Building Healthier Communities for a Healthier Generation


I am working to make it easier for kids to develop healthy habits in Mississippi. In the United States, nearly 1 in 3 kids is already overweight or obese, and today’s generation could be the first to live shorter lives than their parents. The significant racial and ethnic disparities that exist in obesity prevalence among American children are pronounced in Mississippi’s diverse communities and pose additional challenges to accessing the resources kids need to grow up healthy. I work with schools, companies, community organizations, healthcare professionals, and families to transform the conditions and systems that lead to healthier kids.

Valeria Hawkins, Healthy Schools Program Manager, Alliance for a Healthier Generation Inc.

I live by the mission of trying to “be the change I hope to see in the world” and I am a change agent for better children’s health.

Jeanne Herb, Associate Director; Environmental Analysis and Communications Group


Location: New Brunswick, New Jersey
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: To me, a culture of health is one in which all people have equal access to the services and conditions that support health and well-being. My focus area is on maximizing opportunities to apply information about environmental conditions and environmental health to inform community planning and decision-making. My intent is to create tools and resources that community leaders and decision-makers can use throughout New Jersey to apply extensive sets of data about environmental conditions and environmental health to help create communities that are healthy, safe, prosperous and equitable.
Jeanne Herb, Associate Director; Environmental Analysis and Communications Group

For more than 30 years, I have worked in government, non-profit and academic settings to advance environmental programs and policies that promote healthy communities and sustainable development. I am the right person for this program and area of focus because my experience has been both as a leader and a worker bee and because the scope of environmental issues in which I have been engaged is very diverse.

Rio Holaday, Owner and Graphic Facilitator

Rio Holaday Consulting

Location: San Francisco, California
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: Creating new ways of being with each other through facilitation, graphic recording, and honest conversations about scary topics. I create space for people to get real about who they are, what they want, and what they need from each other. I specialize in bringing together folks from different perspectives who need to work together to address a social justice issue. Budding graphic novelist about the things we fear and don’t talk about.

Rio Holaday, Owner and Graphic Facilitator, Rio Holaday Consulting, San Francisco, California

From refugee resettlement to food access, researcher to facilitator, the one constant in my career has been working at the intersection between people and their (political, social, built) environments.

Michael Howard, Vice President for Education and Research


Location: Madisonville, Kentucky
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: I live in rural western Kentucky, which is a particularly unhealthy part of a particularly unhealthy state. Our focus is on harnessing our existing community resources across all areas from economic development to education to health care. We will build a coalition of partners who will be able to work together to address the socioeconomic barriers that are preventing some of those in our communities from accessing and fully utilizing health care and other social programs that can positively impact their well-being and quality of life.
Michael Howard, Vice President for Education and Research, Baptist Health Madisonville

I’m the VP for Education and Research at the unusually large medical center in my hometown. I just moved back here after a career in biomedical research and academia. My position here and the support of my hospital allows us to be the engine that helps to spark a change that will bring the Culture of Health to rural Kentucky and allow us to be an example of what rural communities can become.

Mike Hoyt, Creative Community Liaison

Pillsbury House + Theatre

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: My work resides at the intersection of creativity and community development. I believe the arts and community-embedded artists have a meaningful role in sparking cross-sector movements and audacious forms of asset creation that benefit everyone, all the while preserving cultural diversity and heritage, and evoking and honoring our disremembered histories.

Mike Hoyt, Creative Community Liaison, Pillsbury House + Theatre, Minneapolis, Minnesota

I am an independent professional artist, nonprofit arts administrator, and teacher. I have been producing, managing, and directing arts-based community development projects and youth development programs, while making and exhibiting art professionally, for more than 23 years.

Genoveva Islas, Director

Cultiva La Salud

Location: Fresno, California
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS: Health inequity is killing us. Establishing just and fair policies related to our food and physical activity environments is essential to ensuring that all people have an equal opportunity to live the full course of their lives in optimal health.

Genoveva Islas, Director, Cultiva La Salud

I am a child of farm workers who was raised in poverty. I wasn’t supposed to graduate from high school, let alone be a recognized leader. I am here because someone told me I couldn’t be, and I want everyone from disadvantaged backgrounds like mine to know that they belong.

Emily Jackson, Program Director

Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project

Location: Asheville, North Carolina
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: I have lived my whole life in western North Carolina, in the mountains of Appalachia, and I cherish my home and community. It is the land of old-time music, a rich agricultural heritage, burley tobacco, and moonshine. It’s a place of extremes—extreme beauty but extreme isolation, richness in flora and fauna but a lack of necessary economic opportunities. Increasing the number and quality of early childhood education programs is a solution to improve the Culture of Health in western North Carolina. By giving them the best early childhood experiences possible, we are setting children on a course to become active citizens and healthy individuals.

Emily Jackson, Program Director, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, Asheville, North Carolina

Whether as a teacher, as a domestic violence advocate, or in my current role in farm-to-school activities, I have deepened my understanding of the needs of rural people and the challenges they face. I also see the strengths of rural places and know how to bring people together for the common good. I have learned to be a good listener and an honest communicator. I speak the language of rural Appalachia.

Delores James, Associate Professor

Department of Health Education and Behavior, University of Florida, Gainesville

Location: Gainesville, Florida
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: African-Americans have one of the highest rates of smartphone ownership in the country. They also experience high levels of health disparities for many chronic and acute diseases and conditions. Thus, a unique opportunity exists to use mobile devices and social media to engage them in health-promoting and disease-preventing activities. I aim to create a digital library of short health education videos to improve health outcomes in low-resource communities.

Delores James, Associate Professor, Department of Health Education and Behavior, University of Florida, Gainesville

I am a professor, researcher, clinician, public health professional, and social entrepreneur. I have a passion for helping families create and pass on a legacy of health to the next generation.

Naya Jones, Managing Director

Get Rooted Consulting

Location: Milwaukee, WI
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: Throughout American cities, Black communities navigate the intertwined challenges of food injustice, gentrification, and mind/body well-being. As Owner and Ecstatic Facilitator of Get Rooted Consulting, I help organizations in Texas and beyond grow local food and healing systems that are grounded in cultural knowledge and social justice. Together, we build capacity and emotional resilience for social change.

Naya Jones, Managing Director, Get Rooted Consulting, LLC, Milwaukee, WI

As a geographer, meditation guide, and action educator, I bridge knowledge communities and sectors. I combine training in trauma-informed mind/body wellness with a PhD in geography.

Dr. Kent Key, Research Area Specialist


Location: Flint, Michigan
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: The Flint Water Crisis was a man-made disaster that affected the citizens physically, mentally, financially and psychologically. Most of the focus has been on young children from a pediatric/clincial perspective. I envision the adoption and operationalizing of Health Equity in All Policies where all decisions passed through legislation will have to conduct a health impact assessment. I also envision a Flint Youth Public Health Academy to use the water crisis story as a platform to introduce youth to public health, research, health disparities and advocacy.
Dr. Kent Key, Research Area Specialist

I was introduced to public health through my service in the AmeriCorps program. It was through Community Based Public Health programming that I began my career of Health Disparity and Community Engaged Research and Community Activism. Getting my start from a nontraditional public health track has given me a different lens and perspective on how to effectively use non-traditional approaches in public health. This has prepared me on several fronts to initiate, support and co-create efforts in Flint in response to the Flint Water Crisis.

Grace Kyung, Special Projects Director


Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS: St. Louis is divided by systemic racism and economic and social inequities that have grown rather than being rooted out over the years. I focus on breaking down these barriers by harnessing the city’s assets and understanding the role of transportation planning in community development. I further develop tools and processes for inclusive, collaborative planning to create healthy communities by using data and people’s lived experiences. I work as a leader in creating a process whereby decisions are made through the lens of racial equity and in providing an opportunity for true progress rather than perpetuating the status quo.

Grace Kyung, Special Projects Director, Trailnet, St. Louis, Missouri

I work as a catalyst in changing the way we plan for our communities by applying a health and racial equity lens to equitable development. To do this in a just way, I work alongside communities to recognize historical circumstances and the current conditions necessary to achieve equity.

Dave Laney, Principal, Environmental Science


Cohort: 2016
Dave Laney, Principal, Environmental Science

I work for a for-profit environmental and engineering consulting firm. I am looking for innovative, out of the box solutions developed through cross-sector collaboration.

Ashley Lewis, Community Health Worker

Esperanza Community Housing Corporation

Location: Los Angeles, California
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: Asthma impacts 6 percent of adults and 9 percent of children in Los Angeles County, and Black children and adults face a disproportionate share of the asthma burden in South Los Angeles. As a community health worker, I am able to see firsthand how asthma adversely impacts the quality of life of the community residents I serve in South Los Angeles. Moreover, I understand how asthma and its symptoms are inextricably linked to the poor housing conditions these residents live in, oftentimes due to a lack of affordable, healthy housing. By creating space for more healthy housing in South Los Angeles, we can begin to support more residents in getting their asthma under control and enhance the quality of life for those most severely impacted.

Ashley Lewis, Community Health Worker, Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, Los Angeles, California

I’m a native Angeleno and I am deeply committed to working in and supporting the community that raised me.

Jen Lewis, Fellow


Location: Santa Rosa, California
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: Residents in Sonoma County, like many communities around the country, have inequitable access to opportunity, which results in disparities in health, education and well-being across place and population. By harnessing the energy of the breadth of diversity in our community, we are challenging the systems that perpetuate these inequities and proposing to build new systems of investment and capital to unlock the unmet potential of our community.


Julie Linton, Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics

University of South Carolina School of Medicine – Greenville

Location: Greenville, South Carolina
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: As a pediatrician, child advocate, and educator, I have dedicated my career to clinical care, education, advocacy, community engagement, and scholarship to promote health equity for all children and families, with a particular focus on children in immigrant families. I prioritize work outside the walls of the medical center in an effort to learn from community partners, build cross-sector collaboration, and activate systems-level promotion of health equity and social justice.

Julie Linton, Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of South Carolina School of Medicine – Greenville

I am a pediatrician dedicated to building a national, regional, and local Culture of Health that includes all children and families. My health lens is focused on the social determinants of health, with recognition of family immigration status as a neglected social determinant of health.

Jonathan Lykes, Policy Analyst and National Youth Organizer

Center for the Study of Social Policy

Location: Washington, D.C.
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: My interdisciplinary approach to art, activism, and anti-oppression work merges policy change, artistic expression, and activism. Combining these forms of social transformation—and harnessing their synergy—I work to create awareness, promote personal healing, surmount institutional barriers, and generate systemic change. I am also a community organizer, serving as co-chair of the national board for Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100), a movement of young adults using a Black, queer, feminist lens and direct-action organizing to advocate for community and systemic change. I also served as artistic director for BYP100’s freedom song and chant album, The Black Joy Experience, helping to teach music and holistic energy through the Black radical tradition.

Jonathan Lykes, Policy Analyst and National Youth Organizer, Center for the Study of Social Policy, Washington, D.C.

I am a Black queer artist, activist, and policy analyst. I work at the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) as a Policy Analyst and National Youth Organizer, addressing disproportionality and disparities that affect Black and Brown LGBTQ and gender-nonconforming youth impacted by the oppressive actions of deep-end systems (child welfare, mental health, homelessness, and criminal justice). My work with the get R.E.A.L initiative at CSSP situates me to merge my multidisciplinary artistic background with public policy reform, community organizing, and systems change work.

Sriram Madhusoodanan, Food Program Director


Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Cohort: 2016

Securing food justice from seed to plate

From seed to plate, our food system is broken, and low-income communities and communities of color are the ones bearing the brunt of this breakdown. The biggest driver of this breakdown—the rotten core of our broken system—is McDonald’s, a corporation that makes a huge profit off of the health of our children and our communities. I’m honored to be part of the nation-wide campaign to challenging and end the harmful practices of McDonald’s in the service of fixing our broken food system and bringing food justice to our communities. I work in coalition with labor allies, community leaders, educators, and parents to curb McDonald’s political and economic might. For example, we are exposing the ways the corporation influences food policy via the powerful trade group, the National Restaurant Association. We’ve brought parents and educators together to end the exploitative marketing practice called McTeacher’s Nights. And we’re helping communities move local hospitals to end contracts with McDonald’s—so children aren’t being treated for diabetes on one floor and being served junk food on the next.

Sriram Madhusoodanan, Food Program Director, Corporate Accountability International

My deep-rooted understanding on sustainable food and agriculture begins with my grandparent’s farm in South India where I was raised in a microcosm of a food system where the food we eat nourishes us, rather than makes us sick. These roots, infuse my abiding passion for working with people to have their voices heard and effect transformational change at every level—from the local to the international.

Sabine Martin, President

CTOR Solutions, LLC

Location: Manhattan, Kansas
Cohort: 2016
Sabine Martin, Manhattan, Kansas, President, CTOR Solutions, LLC

I uniquely combine my private sector environmental experience with my years of providing brownfields-related assistance to communities and tribes to help improve community health by addressing brownfield sites.

Shannon McGuire, Chief Empowerment Officer

Spark Strategic Solutions, LLC

Location: Boise, Idaho
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: Idahoans face significant health challenges in food security, access to care, obesity, and mental health. The increase in rural Idaho’s social challenges has been rapid, often outpacing the proposed solutions from organizations and even entire sectors. This gap has created health inequities that require a comprehensive, cross-sector approach to addressing the root cause of disparity. My focus is to create reciprocal partnerships that result in observable, measurable impact to both fully maximize and mobilize resources. The intention is to build a statewide Culture of Health and provide evidence that everyone benefits from carefully planned progress.

Shannon McGuire, Chief Empowerment Officer, Spark Strategic Solutions, LLC, Boise, Idaho

I am a social impact strategist who helps brands build vibrant communities.

Jeremy Moore, Director, Community Health Programs–Innovations

Spectrum Health

Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: The vast majority of a person’s health is determined by everything but whether that person walks into a doctor’s office. Wealth, housing, and social capital have an extraordinary impact on people’s health and whether they can withstand a health issue. As Director of Community Health Programs–Innovations at Spectrum Health, my work focuses on how Spectrum Health can impact health at the individual and system levels. This means I spend most of my time in the community focused on specific health issues, neighborhoods, or subsets of people to develop targeted, universal approaches to community-level health needs. I was the architect of the first pay-for-success project in Michigan, led the development of the 30-organization place-based Invest Health collaborative, and co-founded Equity PAC to target key equity issues such as policy reform and diversity of government.

Jeremy Moore, Director, Community Health Programs–Innovations, Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids, Michigan

My work spans 17 years of leadership in health care, philanthropy innovation, and political action. I believe that targeted, universal approaches that bring unusual suspects around the table to agree on material history work best as starting points for sustained, healthier communities.

Yanna Muriel, Agricultural Manager

Visit Rico

Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: Puerto Rico, the oldest colony in the world, is not food sovereign. While the organic farming industry continues to increase, small-scale farmers are disappearing. For more than a decade, I have been supporting local initiatives to build healthy food systems. Visit Rico, Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica de Puerto Rico, Efecto Sombrilla, and our organic farmers’ markets together help strengthen the work of urban and rural farmers who believe in building self-sufficient communities based on the vital power of seeds to produce nourishing meals.
Yanna Muriel, Agricultural Manager, Visit Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico

I have seen and helped move food through all spectrums of the value chain. As a farmworker, farmer, market vendor, assistant cook, market coordinator, and agricultural activist, I have found that food is an important aspect of any culture, yet its cultivation has become undignified. As a mother, I am pushed to do this work because I feel I do not have any other choice; it is the only way I can secure a sustainable present and future for my children and thereafter.

Jean Mutchie, Service Line Program Manager

St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital

Location: Nampa, Idaho
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: In Nampa, Idaho, social disparities have created significant areas of vulnerability in some of our neighborhoods. Addressing equity issues as the cause of these disparities will allow more residents to have an opportunity to live their healthiest life. Children in our community should be as safe and nurtured where they live as they are at school. When the school bell rings, an alternate reality shouldn’t exist. As part of a health care system, my focus is finding solutions that combine population and community health strategies that provide health equity to all residents of my community.

Jean Mutchie, Service Line Program Manager, St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital, Nampa, Idaho

I am a passionate champion of community engagement and organization, and I believe that cross-sector collaboration is imperative to building a Culture of Health in communities. When residents feel their voice is heard and they have the power to influence change, there is very little that can’t be accomplished. This program will help me build the will and skill necessary to help make Nampa a community that embodies the promise it holds for all residents.

Isaiah Pickens, PhD, Assistant Director

Service Systems Program, University of California

Location: Los Angeles, California
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS: Our life stories are written by the experiences that shape us and the people we care most about. When traumatic experiences shape these stories, it can become difficult to manage stress and build healthy relationships—particularly for children and teens. Trauma-informed practices, coupled with culturally responsive approaches that promote health equity and honor individuals’ multifaceted identities, are the most effective strategies for rewriting the stories of children and teens impacted by domestic violence, abuse, and a host of other traumas. In a Culture of Health, we will empower schools and other child-serving institutions to facilitate healing for our most vulnerable citizens and help grow the skills that have enabled these children to survive, by training institutions’ staff and supporting key decision-makers’ development of policies that promote trauma-informed and culturally responsive practices. By using evidence-based strategies to attend to the whole person and infusing these strategies with the values that undergird the communities being served, we can ensure that we use all resources at our disposal to create and sustain human stories that reflect a Culture of Health.

Isaiah Pickens, PhD, Assistant Director, Service Systems Program, University of California, Los Angeles

I am a licensed clinical psychologist and writer who fuses innovative public health messaging with clinical expertise to help individuals impacted by trauma and other mental health challenges heal toward a healthier version of themselves. My roles as assistant director of the Service Systems Program at the UCLA / Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress and as founder of iOpening Enterprises give me national platforms to creatively engage research practice and the arts to build a Culture of Health.

Leticia Reyes-Nash, Director of Programmatic Services and Innovation

Cook County Health and Hospitals System

Location: North Riverside, Illinois
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: I am Director of Programmatic Services and Innovation in the Cook County Health and Hospitals System, serving both Chicago and the suburban Cook County region. My job is to work across the integrated delivery system to expand programs and services through innovative partnerships with public and private partners. To achieve improved health outcomes, health equity, and a Culture of Health, I work to bridge silos by forging collaborations and partnerships between nontraditional partners. My priority areas of work are developing programs to support justice-involved people, creating opportunities to implement the system’s behavioral health strategy, and identifying opportunities to address housing and food insecurity.

Leticia Reyes-Nash, Director of Programmatic Services and Innovation, Cook County Health and Hospitals System, North Riverside, Illinois

I am an expert at navigating complexities to successfully work across and bridge silos, and I am innovative in my approach to finding solutions by forging collaborations and partnerships between nontraditional partners. As a systems thinker, I can find linkages across different stakeholders and provide leadership to align and move us all in the same direction. My goal is to build bridges between sectors that are sustained over time.

Devon Riter, Executive Director

Lower Brule Research Institute

Location: Lower Brule, South Dakota
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: I work to give kids living in and around Lower Brule, South Dakota, the opportunity to ask and answer the questions that are important to them and their community. I believe that through this process they will find and build the opportunities needed to create a healthier and more just world for all.

Devon Riter, Executive Director, Lower Brule Research Institute, South Dakota

A teacher at heart, I love being able to lend a hand to help kids become the people they want to be.

Location: Washington, D.C.
Cohort: 2016

Urban Farming, Cooperative Economics, Community Ownership, Afroecology, Healing, Growing, and Building

FOCUS: We are working in Washington, D.C., on using Agriculture as a tool to build alternative economics models and healthier and more sustainable communities on a mental, physical and spiritual level.

[Pictured from Left to Right]

Joelle Robinson, Social Scientist, Food and Drug Administration

I hope to advance community generated solutions on food and social justice issues and connect them to local policy.

Xavier Brown, Small Parks Specialist, Soilful City

I am Xavier Brown, student of the world. I use farming as my tool to transform my community. I live and love the work I do.

Jennifer Bryant, Communications Coordinator, International Labor Communications Association 

I believe cooperatives are a tool we can use to combat structural unemployment. More expansively, we are exploring how cooperatives, urban agriculture and local policy can be used to plant the seeds of a new, more equitable society.

Artair Rogers, Senior Fellow

Health Leads

Location: Glendale, California
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: We need individuals pushing for an equitable health care system from both within and outside. Most of my experience is inside the health care system working with organizations like Kaiser Permanente. Now I am working outside of the system with Health Leads to advance the cause of addressing basic social needs as a standard part of care delivery. Integrating social needs into care delivery allows us not only to create a more structural and culturally competent way of delivering health care but also to gather data that will allow us to develop approaches to addressing community health. Tackling the issues of community health will allow us also to implement necessary policy changes that target the root causes of health inequities.

Artair Rogers, Senior Fellow, Health Leads, Glendale, California

I am the epitome of the small-town guy living in the big city. Growing up directly exposed to rural health issues and now living in one of our country’s largest cities, I directly see how social determinants of health and systemic inequities affect the lives of individuals living in both rural and urban environments. Based on this exposure, I have had various roles in health policy and hospital operations to advance the cause of integrating basic social needs into health care delivery.

Artina Sadler, Food System Navigator / Program Manager

Community Foundation of Greater Flint

Location: Flint, Michigan
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: My primary focus is to increase access to and consumption of healthy food and to support the creation of a sustainable food system for Genesee County, Michigan. My methodology is equitable engagement and relationship building. I work with all food system players with the goal of demonstrating true partnership, interconnection, and the strength of togetherness. My ultimate goal is an equitable, sustainable food system that operates without my input or presence.
Artina Sadler, Food System Navigator / Program Manager, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Michigan

I strive to be a person who walks in integrity and truth. I believe in work that is larger than me. I do not seek agreement but expansion of thought, ideas, and actions. I believe in bringing my whole self to everything (lived and professional experiences, skills, knowledge, and abilities) and greatly appreciate it when others do the same. I want to not only be better but to do better, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Sonia Sarkar, DrPH Candidate

Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: By focusing on medicine instead of health, our current health care system fails to incorporate the realities of patients’ lives into their care: where they live, how they move, what they eat. Although we know these social factors have a huge impact on health outcomes, our resources are dramatically skewed toward treatment rather than the upstream services that can prevent disease. To build a Culture of Health, we must shift our economic and political investments from clinical care to the social net that enables well-being.

Sonia Sarkar, DrPH Candidate, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

I am an accidental poet, a public health evangelist, and a big believer in questioning existing processes via humor and respectful irreverence. Having worked across the nonprofit, government, and private sectors, I have great conviction that achieving health starts by acknowledging the systems, policies, and practices that have led to poor health outcomes in our country—and all of our respective roles in perpetuating that status quo.

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: The health and well-being of New Orleans’ most vulnerable has not led recovery efforts post Hurricane Katrina, and we have only recently seen a focus on resiliency that has begun to address the impact of trauma on our communities. People who are exposed to the chronic stressors of poverty, disenfranchisement and systemic inequality, are disproportionately affected by violence and poor health. Through creative media outlets (including film, social/traditional media and journalism), we strive to put health first and address the lingering impact of unresolved trauma in New Orleans.

[Pictured Left to Right]

Iman Shervington, Director of Media and Communications, Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies

I translate health concepts visually and viscerally. For eight years I have combined my film, photography and design skills with my public health background to help communities internalize the value of their health.

Lisa J. Richardson, Director of Research and Evaluation, Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies

I have worked in academy and nonprofit organizations on participatory action research and community-based interventions for more than 20 years. My area of expertise is urban studies and public health.

Jarvis DeBerry, Deputy Opinions Editor and Columnist,, The Times-Picayune

As an editorial writer and columnist, advocating for my city and region and state comes naturally.

Leroy “Buster” Silva, Community Coordinator

Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: My focus at the Notah Begay III Foundation is to help prevent the increase of type 2 diabetes and obesity among urban Native American youth by creating more access to spaces of movement and more sport opportunities in Albuquerque. By using a collective impact approach, I will target this challenge with a common goal and shared measures for success. By working together and bringing all our resources and passion to the table, we will move the needle in a positive direction.

Leroy “Buster” Silva, Community Coordinator, Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation, Albuquerque, New Mexico

I am a lover of life and of people—I believe everything happens for a reason, and it is my responsibility to observe and listen. I am passionate about health and fitness, and I find happiness in making others feel good about themselves.

Adeola Sonaike, PhD, MPH, Senior Vice President, Health


Location: Trenton, New Jersey
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: Based in New Jersey, my focus area is on increasing access to health care using an equitable lens. Today, people with special health care needs, chronic illness, and caregivers experience additional limitations in attaining optimal health outcomes. Through collaborating with insurance providers, policy makers, health care providers and community-based providers, I envision a culture of health that is accessible to all.
Adeola Sonaike, PhD, MPH, Senior Vice President, Health

Dedicated to developing and evaluating innovative strategies and therapies that will increase access to quality health care in efforts to create a healthier nation through an equitable lens.

Adeola Sonaike, PhD, MPH, Senior Vice President, Health


Location: Trenton, New Jersey
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: Based in New Jersey, my focus area is on increasing access to health care using an equitable lens. Today, people with special health care needs, chronic illness, and caregivers experience additional limitations in attaining optimal health outcomes. Through collaborating with insurance providers, policy makers, health care providers and community-based providers, I envision a culture of health that is accessible to all.
Adeola Sonaike, PhD, MPH, Senior Vice President, Health

Dedicated to developing and evaluating innovative strategies and therapies that will increase access to quality health care in efforts to create a healthier nation through an equitable lens.

Florentina Staigers, Policy Specialist

Equity in All Places (Urban League of Louisiana)

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: New Orleans has a murder rate almost 10 times the national average. But a conversation about violence must include structural violence. I am working with a small organization, Equity in All Places, to help communities and individuals heal from institutional violence on the community and individual level. We are advocating for equitable policies; building multiracial, multiethnic coalitions; and creating space for authentic and self-aware dialogues on issues of race and intersectionality.

Florentina Staigers, Policy Specialist, Equity in All Places (Urban League of Louisiana), New Orleans

My life’s purpose is to help raise the consciousness of the world, starting with myself. I am a social justice attorney, writer, and facilitator, and I choose work that enhances social welfare by cultivating peace, compassion, and understanding through principles of justice and equity.

Tina Tamai, Coordinator

Hawaii Good Food Task Force, The Kohala Center, Inc.

Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: In a country of abundance and wealth, it bothered me that a basic human necessity as simple as good food is not available to everyone. It became an imperative to change that paradigm and create a culture that views good food as a priority and the norm for every person in my state. Communities have firsthand understanding of the barriers to food access and healthy eating among our underserved members. To support leaders in building food systems that facilitate healthy eating among these community members, I founded and led a task force of partners to provide backbone support through relationship building, networking, and collaboration. By linking and interconnecting key leaders and communities throughout Hawaii, we aim to create a statewide movement and social norm that insists on good food and health for everyone in Hawaii.
Tina Tamai, Coordinator, Hawaii Good Food Task Force, The Kohala Center, Inc., Honolulu

I am a former Department of Health program manager who developed relationships and created a network of community leaders to focus on increasing food access and healthy eating in low-income communities in my state. Now that I am retired, I have the rare opportunity to continue my commitment to community and to explore more creative and innovative approaches to drive this network and movement in an even more meaningful and powerful manner.

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: Our team is focused on the overlapping areas of structural racism in policing and under-investment in communities of color. We aim to push back against the agenda of austerity budgeting in both Chicago and Illinois, and focusing on advancing health care access for immigrants and fighting discrimination against them. We also aim to work with low-wage workers to advance economic justice.
Felipe Tendick-Matesanz, Development and Knowledge-Management Specialist ROC-United [Pictured Front Left]

I am a human being. I bring the perspective of having had something, losing it and then making a conscious decision to redirect my anger and pain. I dedicate my life to human rights, to a focused dismantling of the systems of oppression and taking away power from the established elite that maintain them.

Lilian Jimenez, Policy Director, Cook County Board of Commissioners [Pictured Front Right]

I am trained as an attorney with a background as a community organizer. I strive to promote the perspectives of low-income black, brown and immigrant communities in the policy world.

Wesley Epplin, Director of Health Equity, Health & Medicine Policy Research Group [Pictured Back Left]

I am the Director of Health Equity at Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, which works to advance the health of all people in Illinois by promoting health equity. I’m also a co-facilitator and co-founder of Radical Public Health, which focuses solutions on the root causes of public health problems. I bring my public health and political science background and activist approach to fighting for justice in health and health care.

Maximillian Boykin, Senior Coordinator, Black AIDS Institute [Pictured Back Right]

Bio coming soon

Matthew Tinsley, Director, Strong Start Project


Location: San Jose, California
Cohort: 2016


FOCUS: Most children in Santa Clara County don’t have access to quality early learning opportunities. I support a coalition working on local solutions to ensure that every child in our community has what they need to make a strong start.
Matthew Tinsley, Director, Strong Start Project

I’m a convener and facilitator, helping our local early learning community use their expertise and experience to overcome these challenges.

Robert Torres, Director of Community Engagement

Urban Edge Community Development Corporation

Location: Roxbury, Massachusetts
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS: I focus on building affordable housing in Boston and creating prosperous communities. Boston is the third most expensive city in the United States, right behind New York and San Francisco. Lower-income residents in Boston often bear extremely high rent burdens, sometimes paying more than 75 percent of their income on rent, often causing families to forgo addressing critical health needs. I work to create more affordable housing opportunities, connect residents to needed services, and design programs and systems that support healthy communities.

Robert Torres, Director of Community Engagement, Urban Edge Community Development Corporation, Roxbury, Massachusetts

I am an affordable housing advocate and a community builder. My mission is to create healthy and equitable communities where residents are positioned to self-organize to drive positive change.

Wilson Wang, MD, Pediatric Attending


Location: New York, New York
Cohort: 2016

A Cross-Sectoral Solution to Youth Violence in East Harlem


FOCUS: Children in conflict often get hurt at the intersection of systems that are supposed to nourish and protect them. A school altercation is allowed to escalate. The police come bearing handcuffs. A child is brought for dearth of options to the hospital. The triage nurse registers a complaint of danger to self, resulting in transfer of the individual into a locked-down psychiatric facility, meant for adults. The end of the line facility in this scenario is Metropolitan Emergency Department in East Harlem but this might as well be anywhere. Caring adult professionals with community partners must commit to a cross-sectoral approach to problems that put children’s health and development first. For this particular problem we establish conflict resolution programs in Harlem schools, youth-centered protocols for how police deal with children and a separate pediatric psychiatric assessment area in Metropolitan’s Emergency Department.

Wilson Wang, MD, Pediatric Attending, New York City Health and Hospitals

Dr. Wang’s first job out of University was as a middle school science teacher in urban Oakland. The lessons he learned in the classroom on social health determinants became the backdrop for a 12-year career in clinical pediatrics, health system design, and public health. Dr. Wang will do anything for the health of children starting with the obvious: Putting children first.

Akilah Watkins-Butler, CEO

Opportunity Institute

Location: Bowie, Maryland
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: My focus areas is place and its impacts on social and economic opportunities, race equity and inclusionary policies, place-based antipoverty strategies, and community-driven community development and neighborhood revitalization.

Akilah Watkins-Butler, CEO, Opportunity Institute, Bowie, Maryland

I bring a deep knowledge base about the importance of place—that is, neighborhoods and how they impact social mobility for vulnerable children and families. I also bring a deep commitment to restoring opportunity for all, no matter where they were born, and creating on-ramps for social and economic integration.

Dwayne Wharton, Director of External Affairs

The Food Trust

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Cohort: 2017
FOCUS: I live and work in the city of Philadelphia—a place of rich history, incredible people, and a host of big problems. Roughly one-quarter of the city lives in poverty; there are approximately 40,000 lots with little known use; in many low-income communities, finding healthy food is a challenge and diet-related diseases are prevalent; and many residents have been marginalized because of their status. Many people are working to address these issues and make the city better. I see my participation in the Culture of Health Leaders program as an opportunity to connect with leaders from diverse sectors across the country who are also committed to collaboration and creative solutions. Specifically, I would like to help activate vacant lots to serve as access points where healthy food is grown and sold by community members, returning citizens, immigrants, youth, and other marginalized groups. Doing so would provide income to those who are unemployed and underemployed, activate space in ways that benefit communities and the environment, and improve health by increasing access to healthy food.

Dwayne Wharton, Director of External Affairs, The Food Trust, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Northwest Philadelphia born and raised, I experienced episodes of hardship but was fortunate to have a supportive family and community to see me through—since then I have always wanted to give back. In college, I was exposed to higher learning and the principles of service, and I joined the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, which continues to serve as a network of men who expect achievement and leadership as the norm. As a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, I realized that I am a resource. I have worked with homeless men and women, provided disaster relief, mentored youth, and through my current work with The Food Trust, helped to advance food access and health equity across the country. I realize none of my experiences, or these issues, operate in isolation from each other. Because the Culture of Health Leaders program looks at so many ways in which people’s health is impacted, I hope to continue to connect these dots and find ways to help communities come up with and lead the change they deserve and envision for themselves.

Erica Woodland, Director

National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network

Location: Oakland, California
Cohort: 2017

FOCUS: Despite our growing awareness of the impacts of trauma—individual, intergenerational, historical, and collective—we still live in communities that lack the conditions necessary for healing. For queer and trans people of color, mental health resources are largely inaccessible due to cost and the ways in which racism, queerphobia, transphobia, and ableism are embedded within systems of care. The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network is a healing justice organization that recognizes the role of systems of oppression in the trauma we experience in our daily lives. We seek to build healing resources rooted in social justice and liberation.

Erica Woodland, Director, National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network, Oakland, California

I am a clinical social worker, healing justice practitioner, and trainer who believes that the communities and leaders most impacted by systems of oppression carry essential expertise and solutions for their healing and liberation.