Culture of Health Leaders was an ambitious leadership program designed to identify, cultivate, support and amplify the work of leaders advancing the cause of health equity. As cohorts, participants reflected some of the greatest diversity of any leadership program in the country.

That diversity and the program’s commitment to equitable approaches required us to listen deeply to the needs of leaders and respond in every way possible. This included providing flexible programming and individualized coaching and technical assistance, creating spaces for identity-based affinity groups, providing hardship funds, entrusting the design and implementation of convenings to participants, tapping leaders to serve as peer coaches, and facilitating difficult conversations in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

Through shared experiences, program participants developed deep relationships within and across cohorts, forming a mutual support system, learning from one another and consulting each other on advocacy and policy change efforts. These bonds remain critical to their resilience and longevity, given that the work of health and racial equity is often politically risky and emotionally demanding.

During the program, 198 leaders worked across communities, organizations and institutions to make health equity a reality. They grew in their ability to assemble and lead teams that advance racial equity and to create opportunities for other leaders to engage meaningfully in health equity efforts. They also gained expanded insight into how community-based leadership happens, what it takes to develop leaders for health equity, and the diversity of people, formal positions and lived experiences necessary to lead change that builds a culture of health.

Natalie S. Burke, Director, Culture of Health Leaders Program, President and CEO, CommonHealth ACTION

See the Culture of Health Leaders in actionView the Latest
  1. Partners

    Taking bold steps to change the status quo

    Meet our partners who we’ve collaborated with to create a Culture of Health. These leaders are spearheading innovative, sector-spanning work and taking bold steps to disrupt the status quo in their home communities.


  2. CommonHealth ACTION

    CommonHealth ACTION

    CommonHealth ACTION is a national public health organization working with philanthropy, nonprofits, businesses, governments, and community-based coalitions across the country to create equitable solutions to health and policy challenges.

    Learn More About CommonHealth ACTION

  3. National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE)

    National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE)

    The NCHE promotes health equity by harnessing evidence, developing leaders and catalyzing partnerships across the many different sectors that share responsibility for creating a more equitable and just society.

    Learn More About NCHE

  4. Center for Creative Leadership (CCL)

    Center for Creative Leadership (CCL)

    CCL is a top-ranked global, nonprofit provider of leadership development. For the past 50 years, CCL has worked with organizations of all sizes from around the world, including more than two-thirds of the Fortune 1,000.

    Learn More About CCL

  5. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)

    Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)

    RWJF is committed to improving health and health equity in the United States. In partnership with others, it is working to develop a Culture of Health rooted in equity that provides every individual with a fair and just opportunity to thrive, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have.

    Learn More About RWJF

Program Team

Natalie S. Burke
Natalie S. Burke Director, Culture of Health Leaders

As one of the key architects of this innovative leadership program, Ms. Burke was the visionary for its philosophy and direction. An acclaimed public health leader and “equity evangelist,” Natalie helps leaders and organizations understand the root causes of health inequities and how they can improve public health outcomes through partnerships, community-building and policy. A master facilitator, Natalie creates space for “constructive discomfort” that sparks meaningful individual and institutional change.

Her extensive background in public health includes technical assistance and capacity-building for community-based organizations, corporations, foundations, universities, medical schools, and local, state and federal governments. Prior to co-founding CommonHealth ACTION in 2004, Natalie was a part of the executive leadership at the National Association of County and City Health Officials. There, she managed the National Turning Point Initiative, which strengthened public health infrastructure by engaging state and local stakeholders not previously involved in public health, such as businesses, educators and faith communities.

“Regardless of their sector, stage in life or careers, Culture of Health Leaders will engage in creating an alternative future, one in which all people have equitable opportunities for their best possible health and well-being.”

— NATALIE S. BURKE, Director, Culture of Health Leaders, President and CEO, CommonHealth ACTION


Nehanda A.M Lindsey
Nehanda A.M Lindsey Curriculum, Learning, and Technology Director, Culture of Health Leaders

In her role as the Director of Curriculum and technology for the Culture of Health Leaders program, Ms. Lindsey provided direction for the development, implementation
and delivery of the program model. She also developed and managed the technology infrastructure for the program, including the learning systems, devices and platforms that support the program delivery.

As the Senior Vice President of CommonHealth ACTION, Ms. Lindsey provides direction and oversight for the organization’s programs and operational activities. With an extensive background in program development and project management, she supports programmatic activities through the effective use of interactive videos, web-based tools, educational webinars, social media and training development. She is a trained writer and editor with strong skills in instructional and information design, communications as well as comprehensive meeting management. In addition, she designs and manages CommonHealth ACTION’s operations, processes and systems. A certified meeting professional with over 25 years of experience in the conference and events industry, Ms. Lindsey manages the organization’s major events as well as the associated continuing education activities.

Tara Gonzales Hacker
Tara Gonzales Hacker Director, Program Experience, Culture of Health Leaders

Ms. Gonzales Hacker oversaw the day-to-day management and development of the Culture of Health Leaders’ program experience. In this role, she led a team of program staff and partners in supporting participants in their growth as equitable leaders by learning from them; incorporating the wisdom of their experience into the program; creating spaces and opportunities for them to engage and share across their cultural identities; and supporting the development of robust networks. She also worked alongside stakeholders to share learning across RWJF’s Leadership for Better Health programs.

At CommonHealth ACTION, she oversees client projects focusing on leadership development, community practice and evaluations. She also codirects team building, staff development and organizational growth for the organization.

Mark Cervero
Mark Cervero Senior Manager, Learning and Curriculum, Culture of Health Leaders

Mr. Cervero managed the learning and curriculum experience for the Culture of Health Leaders program. Mark led the development and facilitation of our equitable leadership coursework and managed the evolution of our curriculum and training programs in response to participant feedback and needs. In this role, he helped to create opportunities for leaders to explore and grow their leadership and share their experiences with fellow participants.

As a Senior Manager with CommonHealth ACTION (CHA), Mark provides leadership, support and subject-matter expertise across the organization’s portfolio. He leads the organization’s efforts to develop unique and engaging learning experiences focused on supporting individual and organizational perspective transformation. He serves as a key team member in the delivery of technical assistance to community-based organizations, local governments and other groups. He has also worked extensively to provide group facilitation for communities and organizations to address their work using a health equity lens.

Tiffany Boykins
Tiffany Boykins Senior Manager, Operations and Events, Culture of Health Leaders

In her role with Culture of Health Leaders, Ms. Boykins managed program budgets, reporting and event planning. Tiffany thrived on everyday tasks and emergent last-second demands, transforming difficult problems into solvable puzzles, piece by piece, person to person. Throughout her involvement, she was key in planning and hosting our multi-day in-person convenings throughout the country.

As an Operations Manager for CommonHealth ACTION, she manages the development and implementation of business operations and financial management systems for the organization, turning inscrutable mazes into easy-to-follow processes for staff, partners and clients.

Trung Nguyen
Trung Nguyen Manager, Curriculum and Participant Experience, Culture of Health Leaders

Trung led the day-to-day curriculum development, technical assistance and administration across all COHL cohorts. He served as a program liaison, working directly with participants to advance them through the program and their strategic initiatives. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Trung was instrumental in managing our transition to an enhanced virtual learning environment and the development of an online community platform designed for ongoing relationship-building and program delivery.

At CommonHealth ACTION, Trung manages the development and implementation of client projects that promote health equity through leadership development, intentional capacity-building and systemic change.

Corinne Chacon
Corinne Chacon Community Manager, Culture of Health Leaders

Corinne Chacón served as the Community Manager for the Culture of Health Leaders program online platform “Interwoven,” serving nearly 300 users. In her role, Ms. Chacón brought her background as an activist, community developer and network engineer. As an alumna of the COHL program, her tenure with Interwoven began as a tester during the beta phase and then with its launch, where she helped inform outreach efforts. Her emphasis was on creating and cultivating relationships with program participants to facilitate their utilization of the platform and maximize their ability to collaborate and share research. To this end, she supported the platform by identifying newsworthy items, posting event announcements, sharing information from Leaders at their request, helping to organize Zoom calls for various Leader initiatives and providing general user support for accessing Interwoven accounts.

Ms. Chacón also took the lead in structuring information to best convey the significant work being accomplished by her fellow Leaders through their strategic initiatives. She also researched platform usage reports in response to queries by the program team. In addition to taking part in monthly calls with staff and the Interwoven “vendor” for troubleshooting and making system updates, she also provided support during convenings—both in-person and hybrid events—to the COHL team and program participants, including alumni.

Olivia Kenyon
Olivia Kenyon Program Manager, Technology, Culture of Health Leaders

Ms. Kenyon managed the technology needs of all Culture of Health Leader program participants and staff. She also provided operational and event support for in-person and virtual convenings, training programs, applicant interviews and administration of our online community platform.

At CommonHealth ACTION, Olivia is an Operations Manager where she supports organizational operations and program teams. She is directly involved with accounting and is known as the “IT Guru” because she manages the purchase and introduction of new IT and delivers training to staff on the efficient use of systems and software products. Olivia is a liaison for seamless implementation across all programs and projects.

Shanece Veal
Shanece Veal Program Associate, Learning and Impact, Culture of Health Leaders

Working across all cohorts and being a strong participant advocate, Ms. Veal was a critical member of the Culture of Health Leaders team. She served as program liaison, providing administrative support and technical assistance on coursework, assessments and navigating the online learning platform. Ms. Veal also worked with leaders to review and advise them on their strategic initiative proposals. She supported the evaluation team by administering participant surveys, analyzing data and sharing key findings with program staff as we evolved the participant experience each year.

In her role as a Program Associate with CommonHealth ACTION, Shanece supports the Learning and Coaching team as well as the assessments and evaluations for CommonHealth ACTION’s projects and programs.

Meet the contributorsView Acknowledgements
Mark VanKerkhoff
Mark VanKerkhoff
National Advisory Committee Chair, Culture of Health Leaders;
Director of the Development & Community Services Department Kane County, Illinois

Mark VanKerkhoff is the Director of the Development & Community Services Department for Kane County, Illinois, where he provides leadership in the areas of planning, community development, economic development, building, zoning and code enforcement services. Mark’s involvement in historic preservation, long range and community planning, farmland protection, and community services programs administration has spanned over 25 years. He currently co-leads the Kane County Planning Cooperative, which integrates community health, land use and transportation. He also serves as Co-Chair of the Land Use Committee for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and represents Kane County in the Chicago Regional Growth Initiatives for economic development

Katie Clarke Adamson
Katie Clarke Adamson National Advisory Committee Member, Culture of Health Leaders;
Senior Director, Health Partnerships and Policy, YMCA of the USA

Katie Clarke Adamson has over 25 years of experience in health policy, partnership development and strategic planning in the non-profit, private and government sectors. She currently serves as the Senior Director of Health Partnerships and Policy for YMCA of the USA. She provides guidance and consultation on healthy living policy, partnership and program strategies at the national level and for local Ys and YMCA state alliances. She helps advance state and federal level healthy living legislative and advocacy strategies, including the drafting and implementation of legislative initiatives and accompanying policy documents; and, assisting with congressional, corporate and health partnerships.

Terry Allan, MPH
Terry Allan, MPH National Advisory Committee Member, Culture of Health Leaders;
Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner, Cuyahoga County Board of Health (Greater Cleveland)

Terry Allan is the Health Commissioner for the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, and past president of the Association of Ohio Health Commissioners. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine. Terry has served on advisory panels for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He is a Year 13 Scholar of CDC’s National Public Health Leadership Institute. Terry is a Past- President of the Board of Directors for the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

Kitty Hsu Dana
Kitty Hsu Dana National Advisory Committee Member, Culture of Health Leaders;
Senior Health Policy Advisor, Institute for Youth, Education & Families, National League of Cities

A social change leader for advancing equity, Kitty Hsu Dana is the Senior Health Policy Advisor for the National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, Education & Families. Kitty previously served as Vice President of Community Impact, Health for United Way Worldwide. She supported its network of local organizations on evidence-based strategies, thought leadership and collaborations across sectors to address factors that affect the health of people and their communities. Prior to UWW, she held senior positions in a diversity of settings, including the American Public Health Association, the Helix Health System, and Planned Parenthood of Maryland. She is a co-creator of the Public Health Code of Ethics and was on the National Academy of Medicine’s Roundtable on Obesity Solutions.

Marcia Conner
Marcia Conner
National Advisory Committee Member, Culture of Health Leaders;
Blank-page Systems Architect, Business sector consultant & adult learning expert

Marcia Conner is a former corporate executive now dedicating her time to reinventing a vibrant healthy world. Described as a “blank page systems architect,” she works with big-vision leaders, impact entrepreneurs and unreasonable thinkers. She is a SupporTED Mentor, contributor to Fast Company, fellow at the Darden School of Business, and an activist with Change Agents Worldwide. Marcia is author of Learn More Now; The New Social Learning: Connect, Collaborate, Work; Creating a Learning Culture; and contributor to Changing the World of Work: One Human at a Time. She speaks globally on outcompeting current structures through system innovation and ingenuity.

Andrea Ivory
Andrea Ivory National Advisory Committee Member, Culture of Health Leaders;
Executive Director, Women’s Breast & Heart Initiative, Florida Affiliate

Andrea Ivory’s experience as a breast cancer survivor inspired her to establish The Women’s Breast & Heart Initiative because she realized how critical early detection is in saving the lives of women diagnosed with breast cancer. Ivory was named one of 10 recipients of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Health Leaders Award in 2011, a 2009 Top Ten CNN Hero, and a 2009 L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth Honoree.

Wendell Waukau
Wendell Waukau
National Advisory Committee Member, Culture of Health Leaders;
Superintendent, Menominee Indian School District, Keshena, Wisconsin

Wendell Waukau has been employed by the Menominee Indian School District (MISD) for the past 23 years and has served as the superintendent of schools for the past eight years. The superintendent serves as the MISD School Board’s chief advisor on educational matters and is the district’s educational leader. He ensures all schools within the district operate effectively and enforces all policies and regulations established by the MISD Board of Education.

Julie Willems Van Dijk, PhD, RN, FAAN
Julie Willems Van Dijk, PhD, RN, FAAN National Advisory Committee Member, Culture of Health Leaders;
Associate Scientist, Director of the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps Program, University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute

Julie is an Associate Scientist and the Director of the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps Program, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Her research focuses on community health improvement planning processes. Julie worked for 21 years as a public health nurse, director of nursing and health officer. She has served on numerous community boards, including the Aspirus Wausau Hospital Board of Directors, the Wausau School District Board of Education, the Marathon County United Way’s Local Initiatives for Excellence (LIFE) committee, and the Wausau/Marathon County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Wausau program.

Vicki Ybarra, PhD, MPH, RN
Vicki Ybarra, PhD, MPH, RN
National Advisory Committee Member, Culture of Health Leaders;
Director, Research and Analysis, Washington Department of Early Learning

Dr. Vicki Ybarra is the Director of Research for Washington’s Department of Early Learning. She has an interdisciplinary background focused on social/structural determinants of health and well-being, public policy and civic engagement. She is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation scholar and holds a PhD in Political Science/Public Policy. Dr. Ybarra worked in the Yakima Valley in Washington for over two decades as a home visiting nurse, health planner, school board member and community advocate to help build health and education systems responsive to a growing population of immigrant families. She served as Washington’s first Chair of the Governor’s Health Disparities Council and led creation of the state’s first plan to eliminate health disparities in 2010.

David Harrington
David Harrington National Advisory Committee Member, Culture of Health Leaders;
Executive Director, Prince George's County Chamber of Commerce

David Harrington is President and CEO of the Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce. During his tenure, the Chamber’s revenue, membership and influence on state and local policy has increased significantly. Previously, David completed 15 years of public life commencing as a mayor, a county council member and Maryland State Senator. He was also President of the Maryland Municipal League, National Chair of Economic Development with the National Association of Counties, and Chaired the Maryland State Task Force on Physical Education. He has been awarded numerous awards, including the Phyllis Newman Award for nonprofit advocacy, the Human Services Coalition Legislative Award, and Legislator of the Year from the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

Luella Toni Lewis, MD
Luella Toni Lewis, MD National Advisory Committee Chair, Culture of Health Leaders;
President and Founder, Liberation Health Strategies Co-Founder, Health Equity Cypher
Immediate Past Chair of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Health

Dr. Luella Toni Lewis is the president of Liberation Health Strategies which focus on community, national, and global holistic strategies for health justice. Dr. Lewis is the immediate Past Chair of SEIU Healthcare, the arm of SEIU representing one million nurses, doctors and health care workers throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. She joined SEIU in 2004 as a member of the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR) of SEIU Healthcare. She was elected as the national president of CIR from 2007-2010. Dr. Lewis trained at St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center when it experienced service cuts and imminent closure. She emerged from this crisis as an experienced and tested public health advocate devoted to health justice and the highest quality of care for all communities.

Kyu Rhee
Kyu Rhee National Advisory Committee Member, Culture of Health Leaders;
Senior Vice President, CVS Health and Chief Medical Officer, Aetna

Dr. Kyu (“Q”) Rhee serves as Senior Vice President of CVS Health and Chief Medical Officer of Aetna. He and his team lead the integration and delivery of clinical and population health solutions. Dr. Rhee was formerly the Chief Health Officer of IBM, where he had global responsibilities for Watson Health and assuring a Culture of Health at IBM. Prior to joining IBM, Dr. Rhee was Chief Public Health Officer at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the primary federal agency for improving access to health care services for the uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable. Dr. Rhee also served as Director of the Office of Innovation and Program Coordination at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where he led numerous initiatives related to eliminating health disparities and promoting health equity.

Dani Ledezma
Dani Ledezma National Advisory Committee Member, Culture of Health Leaders;
Racial Equity & Social Justice Senior Advisor, Portland Public Schools

Dani Ledezma is the Racial Equity & Social Justice Senior Advisor for Portland Public Schools where she helps guide the process of building a clear strategic direction to integrate racial justice throughout the district to meet the needs of students of color so they reach their full potential. She was formerly the interim Executive director of the Coalition of Communities of Color. Prior to that Dani spent fifteen years in the public sector working towards equity for underserved communities through promotion of an equitable work environment and equitable public investments focused on inclusion and collaboration. She served as Housing and Human Services Policy Advisor to Governor Kate Brown, and Education Policy Advisor to Governor John Kitzhaber.

Emily Haozous, PhD, RN, FAAN 
Emily Haozous, PhD, RN, FAAN  National Advisory Committee Member, Culture of Health Leaders Research Scientist;
Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE)
Chiricahua Fort Sill Apache

Emily is a Research Scientist at PIRE’s Behavioral Health Research Center of the Southwest (BHRCS), in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dr. Haozous’ research is guided by the health and wellness priorities of the Native American partners with whom she collaborates. She has published in peer reviewed journals on cancer pain management, telehealth and video conferencing, complementary and alternative therapies for pain management, issues in racial misclassification, national trends in premature mortality, and cancer decision-making; always focusing her research efforts on the interests of Native Americans and Alaska Natives. She has a background in hospice and palliative care nursing and is passionate about policy change that brings equitable healthcare delivery to all corners of Indian Country.