Team Photo

Director of the Center for Reducing Health Disparities (CRHD)

Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, MD, PhD is Professor of Clinical Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis. He is the Founding Director of the Center for Reducing Health Disparities at UC Davis Health and the Director of the Community Engagement Program of the UCD Clinical Translational Science Center (CTSC).  He is past co-chair of the NIH’s Community Engagement Key Function Committee for the NIH-funded Clinical Translational Science Awards (CTSAs) for seven years and the immediate past co-chair of the NIH/NCATS CTSA’s Collaboration Engagement Domain Task Force Lead Team for 3 years. He is a past member of the National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) (2003-2007). He is past Chair of the Board of Directors of Mental Health America (MHA; formerly the National Mental Health Association) and past Chair of the Board of NAMI California.  He was recently appointed for a four-year term as a member of the National Advisory Council of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA)-Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS). He is currently a board member of the California Health Care Foundation, a member of the California Future Health Workforce Commission’s Technical Advisory Committee and co-chair of its Behavioral Health Subcommittee, a member of the California Department of Public Health Office of Health Equity’s Advisory Committee, a member of the board of Physicians for a Healthy California, and a member of the national board of Peer Health Exchange. He is a member of the following NIH/CTSA External Advisory Boards: UCLA, USC, Scripps, Tufts, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Indiana University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Mayo Clinic and also. He is a national and international expert on health and mental health comorbidities on diverse populations.  He has held several World Health Organization (WHO) and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) advisory board and consulting appointments and is currently a member of the Executive Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health Survey Consortium (WMH) and its Coordinator for Latin America, overseeing population-based national/regional surveys in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia (national and city of Medellin surveys), México and Peru.

Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola’s research includes cross-national comparative epidemiologic research on patterns and correlates of chronic health conditions, mental and substance abuse disorders in general population samples. His applied research program has focused on identifying unmet mental health needs and associated risk and protective factors to better understand and meet population mental health needs and achieve equity in health and mental health disparities in underserved populations. He is also very active translating health, mental health and substance abuse research knowledge into practical information that is of public health value to consumers, service administrators, and policy makers.  He is currently leading efforts in a five-year, community-initiated and outcome-driven project aimed at improving access and utilization of mental health services in historically underserved populations in Solano County, CA and promote interagency and community collaboration through innovation at the county level. This is a complex project that takes a collaborative and Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) approach to develop, implement, and evaluate a process for community engagement in the Filipino American, Latino, and LGBTQ communities and enhance interagency collaboration by implementing a tailored Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services standards (CLAS) training and implementing and evaluating action/quality improvement plans.

Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola is the author of over 180 scientific publications and the lead editor of the book Depression in Latinos: Assessment, Treatment, and Prevention and co-editor of the book (in Spanish) “Mental Health Epidemiology in Latin America and the Caribbean” (“Epidemiología de la Salud Mental en Latinoamérica y el Caribe”) published by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).  He is the recipient of multiple awards including the Vanderbilt University Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Medal of Congress (“Medalla de la Cámara de Diputados”) of Chile for work related to mental health research, the DHHS' Office of Minority Health's 2005 National Minority Health Community Leader Award (Hispanic Community), Washington, DC, the 2007 UC Davis Academic Senate Scholarly Distinguished Service Award, the 2008 Latino Mental Health Conference Excellence in Science and Research Award from NYU Univ., the 2009 National Award of Excellence in Blending Research and Practice from the National Hispanic Science Network, the 2012-2013 UC Davis Chancellor's Achievement Award for Diversity and Community in the Academic Senate category, the 2014 National Award of Excellence in Public Service by the National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse, the 2016 Dean's Award for Excellence in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion - Community Engagement, UC Davis School of Medicine and was named a distinguished member of the Top 10 U.S. Latino Physicians in the May, 2016 issue of Latino Leaders Magazine. More recently, he received the 2018 UC Davis Health Dean's Team Award for Inclusion Excellence, along with the Center for Reducing Health Disparities Team for outstanding multidisciplinary team contributions in the area of community engagement, the 2018 NAMI California Multicultural Outreach Excellence Award, the 2018 Mental Health California’s Research and Health Disparities Award, and the 2018 Mental Health California’s Research and Health Disparities Award. Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola was a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM/NRC) Committee on Depression, Parenting Practices, and the Health Development of Young Children (2007-2009) report and a member of the IOM/NRC Women’s Health Research: Progress, Pitfalls, and Promise (2010) report. He is currently serving as co-chair of the Steering Committee of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Assessing Meaningful Community Engagement in Health and Health Care, a project of the NAM Leadership Consortium and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

 

Associate Director, Vacant

 

Director of Education, Center for Reducing Health Disparities

Dr. Hendry Ton is the Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office, Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Diversity, and a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science.  He serves as the Director of Education at the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities where he authored a training program to teach health care leaders how to make culturally and linguistically appropriate system changes at academic, county, and state health organizations. He is also the founding medical director of the Transcultural Wellness Center of Asian Pacific Community Counseling; a community clinic that specializes in serving the mental health needs of Sacramento’s diverse Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

Dr. Ton received the UC Davis Chancellor’s Achievement Award for Diversity and Community in 2005; the 2007 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Community Engagement for his work with communities, ethnic minorities, and cultural competence; and the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Exemplary Psychiatrist Award in 2016.

Dr. Ton has presented nationally on the topics of cultural competence, education, and system change and regularly receives teaching, leadership, and community awards for his work with health care professionals and underserved communities. His areas of interests include diversity and inclusion, professionalism, cultural psychiatry, humanistic psychology, medical student education, and faculty development.

 

Associate Director of Education, Center of Reducing Healthcare Disparities
 
Puja Chadha received her Bachelor's in Science in Biomolecular Sciences with minors in Chemistry and University Honors from Chapman University, CA.  She completed her medical school training at The University of California, Davis including an active role as Co-Director to Joan-Viteri Memorial Student-Run Clinic supporting homelessness, harm-reduction, and gender-health.  During her General Psychiatry Residency at University of California, Davis she completed the APA/SAMHSA Fellowship focused on care in minority mental health as well as research into women's mental health and residency training on cultural competence in client interviews.

As an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at University of California, Davis she serves as Associate Director of Education for the Center for Reducing Healthcare Disparities as well as multiple teaching roles in the School of Medicine and Psychiatry Residency Training Program including Director of Diversity Education, Office of Faculty Development & Diversity leading curriculum to improve faculty supporting inclusion for diverse students as well as training on faculty search committee training diversity and inclusion efforts in workforce recruitment.   

Clinically she has worked with UC Davis Psychiatry to open a 16-bed acute Psychiatric Health Facility as Assistant Medical Director and then moved on to work with underserved populations through the County Mental Health Clinics in Sacramento. She has worked in both private practice sector providing psychotherapy as well as with underserved at the Asian Pacific Community Counseling Center also known as the Transcultural Wellness Center where she was awarded Doctor of the Year 2014.  She was an active Team Member for 2017 Dean’s Team Award for Inclusion & Excellence for work on CLAS implementation and community engagement longitudinal collaboration projects at the Center for Reducing Healthcare Disparities and she was the faculty Inductee to the Gold Humanism Honors Society 2018 for University California School of Medicine.  She continues her efforts in educating students, residents, faculty, community members, and providers both clinically and non-clinically including collaborating with National Alliance on Mental Illness to co-create and teach the Cultural Competence Webinar Training Series as part of her work at the Center for Reducing Healthcare Disparities.

Associate Director of Education, Center for Reducing Health Disparities
 
Swati Rao, MD completed her Bachelor of Arts in Cultural and Social Anthropology with a focus in Medical Anthropology at Stanford University. She attended medical school at UC San Diego and completed her residency in combined Family Medicine/Psychiatry at UC Davis. She currently works at UC Davis in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences where she practices psychiatry and family medicine for underserved populations through Sacramento County. She and her wife (a family practitioner) helped start a free transgender hormone clinic through the Gender Health Center in 2012 and have worked to increase transgender cultural and medical competency among providers in the Northern California region. Her teaching duties at UC Davis Health include seminars on culture, medicine and psychiatry for residents and medical students, in which she focuses on issues of unconscious bias and structural health inequity. 
Image of Andrea NunezAndrea Nuñez, B.S.
Chief Administrative Officer

Andrea joined the Center for Reducing Health Disparities in 2017. She currently serves as the Chief Administrative Officer providing leadership for the center, strategic planning, fiscal management, compliance, contract and grant administration and managing the center daily operations. She began her career at UC Davis in 2006. Her previous experience includes field research, clinical trials and research management. She received her BS in Neurobiology, Physiology & Behavior from UC Davis. She has a passion for working towards improving the health and well-being of all human beings and for our future generations.

 
Executive Assistant and Project Coordinator, Vacant
 
 
Cassie Chandler PhotoCassie Chandler, M.P.H.
Senior Project Manager, California Reducing Disparities Project
 
Cassie is the Senior Project Manager for the California Reducing Disparities Project (CRDP) for the Center for Reducing Health Disparities at UC Davis Health. Cassie manages and oversees technical assistance, training, information dissemination and program evaluation for a group of 7 Latino-serving community-based organizations implementing innovative community defined evidence practices in mental health prevention and early intervention. 
 
Cassie has over 15 years of experience working in global health and community development. For the past 10 years, Cassie worked for international NGO Freedom from Hunger, now Grameen Foundation, to improve the lives and well-being of marginalized, rural populations—primarily women—in developing countries. In her most recent position as Health Director, Cassie led the organization’s integrated health strategy and technical assistance for programs in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Prior to joining Freedom from Hunger, Cassie worked with the Latino Health Access Network in New Orleans and with organizations in Mexico and Kenya on microfinance and HIV & AIDS projects. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras, focusing on maternal and child health. Cassie holds an MPH from Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington. Cassie currently serves on the board of directors for Puente a la Salud Comunitaria, a non-profit organization based in Oaxaca, Mexico.
 
Maria Alaniz PhotoMaria Alaniz, M.P.H.
Senior Project Manager, Solano Innovations Project
 
Maria Alaniz joined the Center in January 2018 as the Project Manager for their five-year multi-phased Solano County Innovations Project.  She is a Public Health enthusiast with over 10 years’ experience working with underserved communities.  Her passion for Public Health began when she became involved in a student run organization as an undergraduate helping coordinate quarterly health fairs to rural areas in Tecate, Mexico, that did not have medical services.  Maria graduated with a double Bachelor’s in Sociology and Anthropology from UCLA and a Master’s in Public Health from Boston University.  During the course of her career she has acquired experience in a wide range of areas including: community engagement, qualitative research, health communication, health literacy, prenatal care, prenatal genetic screening, diabetes education, and curriculum development.  Prior to joining the Center, Maria was the Program Manager for the California Department of Public Health’s Northern California Region, Prenatal Screening Program, which encompassed over 40 Counties.  She aspires to be a leader in her field and to always work towards addressing the social determinates of health for better health outcomes for all communities. 
 
Jill Lopez-Rabin PhotoJill Lopez-Rabin, M.P.H.
Project Coordinator, Solano Innovations Project
 
Jill Lopez-Rabin joined the University of California at Davis’ (UCD) Center for Reducing Health Disparities as a CLAS (Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services) Sustainability Coordinator for the Solano County Innovations Project.  She holds a bachelor's degree in Spanish and Portuguese Literature from the University of California, Berkeley and a master's in public health, Community Health Sciences from the University of California, Los Angeles.
 
Over the past 15 years and prior joining UCD Medical Center, Jill served as Health Net’s Language Assistance Program (LAP) Subject Matter Expert and the Northern California Health Equity lead; spearheading multiple health disparity reduction projects in various counties. As a grant administrator for the California Mental Health Services Authority’s social marketing campaign, Jill managed a ground-breaking program to infuse stigma and discrimination reduction messages into speakers’ bureaus throughout California. Additionally, as a consultant Jill functioned as a program evaluator for La Clínica de la Raza and Foundation for Osteoporosis Research and Education.  At UC Davis, within the Public Health Sciences department, Jill held the role of community health program manager for the Apoyando a la Mujer Latina project; she led a team that developed culturally and linguistically appropriate Spanish-language health education materials.
 
Jeffrey Duong photographJeffrey Duong, Ph.D
Research Data Analyst, Solano Innovations Project
 
Jeffrey Duong is a Research Data Analyst for the Center for Reducing Health Disparities and the Evaluation Coordinator for the Solano Innovations Project. He provides organizational support and administrative assistance to the Solano Innovations Project Evaluation Team. He is highly involved in the design and establishment of research instruments and evaluation tools for the Solano Project, in addition to the collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of program data and findings. He also prepares reports pertaining to the quantitative and qualitative evaluation of the Solano Project. Jeffrey is bilingual in Mandarin Chinese. He is a self-professed “data nerd” and enjoys drawing from a comprehensive range of statistical techniques and applying them to large complex projects. He is otherwise currently working very hard on being the best dog-father he can be to Timothy, his Yorkie..
 
Jeffrey received his PhD in Public Health in 2014 from the Department of Mental Health at Johns Hopkins University, where he was a Sommer Scholar and Albert Schweitzer Fellow. His training spans multiple disciplines, from psychiatric epidemiology, maternal and child health, to health education and communication. Jeffrey’s areas of expertise include childhood social-emotional development and youth bullying prevention, and he has published or presented widely on these topics. In addition, Jeffrey has extensive research experience on disparities in mental health services access and utilization, as well as psychiatric outcomes, which he focused on previously while at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, CA. Jeffrey was an American Public Health Association Kenneth Lutterman Award Recipient, American College of Physicians Poster Competition Winner, American Psychiatric Association Medical Student Fellow, Johns Hopkins University Dean’s Teaching Fellow, and National Health Service Corps Scholar. He and his work have been covered by Reuters, SELF Magazine, and MD Magazine.
 
Head shot of Mauricio RodriguezMauricio Rodriguez, M.P.H.
Senior Project Coordinator, Solano Innovations Project
 
Mauricio Tomas Rodriguez’s strong public health background includes academic and work experience. During his studies at Drexel School of Public Health and California State University, Fresno, he mastered advanced courses in health behavior, health education, biostatistics, epidemiology, and research methodology. He was actively involved with the data collection phase of several projects at California State University, Fresno, Harvard, and UC Davis. These projects included working with diverse socioeconomic and cultural populations concerning obesity, diabetes, breast cancer, depression, heart failure, smoking cessation, and mental health. He’s worked in multidisciplinary teams and collaborated with project stakeholders, such as schools, community clinics, academic institutions, and community-based organizations.
He is strongly interested in improving the overall health for the community through research collaboration and outreach, particularly for underserved populations.
 
Selena Regalado PhotoSelena Regalado, (Bachelor degree in progress)
Student Worker, Solano Innovations Project
Selena is a transfer student at UC Davis majoring in Human Development with minors in Public Health and Native American Studies. Before transferring to UC Davis, Selena participated in the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) at UCLA. As an SHPEP scholar, she studied health disparities, the social determinants of health and conducted research on undocumented Latinx health disparities while creating interventions. As a UC Davis student, Selena has volunteered extensively with her community serving as a peer mentor and a volunteer at a student run clinic providing primary care to ethnic minorities in Oak Park.  Selena co-founded the first Native American Pre-health Student Organization at UC Davis and received a UC Davis Community Service award for her contributions to the campus. Most recently, she participated in the FACETS Program at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. As a FACETS fellow, she interned at the Department of Population Medicine, a collaboration of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Institute. At the Department of Population Medicine, she analyzed the effectiveness of policy-based methods to prevent obesity and diet-related diseases. Ultimately, Selena plans to pursue careers in Public Health and Nursing to improve health outcomes in marginalized communities.  
 
Elizabeth Vasile, Ph.D.
INSPIRE Program Manager, Clinical and Translational Science Center
 
Elizabeth Vasile is Program Manager for Integrating Special Populations into Research (INSPIRE). The INSPIRE program builds professional capacity and innovative infrastructures to enable more effective collaborations between investigators, professional staff, and community partners with the shared aim of improving and integrating the scientific research enterprise, clinical care, and community health.
 
Liz earned a doctorate in geography from UC Berkeley, and has two decades of experience managing and conducting qualitative research in underserved and hard to reach communities in the United States and abroad.  Her areas of expertise include ethnographic field methods, community and regional development, and research management.
 
Community Engagement and Research Specialist, Vacant
 
Gustavo Loera PhotoGustavo Loera, Ed.D.
Consultant
Dr. Gustavo Loera is an educational psychologist and researcher in community mental health and wellness. For the past two decades, his work in education and research has been devoted to historically underserved communities in addressing health and educational disparities. In the area of leadership and training, Dr. Loera has worked with school districts, government agencies, counties, and community-based organizations in capacity-building and advancing California’s career technical education and workforce development in health sciences and medical technology. Working with Mental Health America of Los Angeles and the California Department of Education, he has helped develop college and career readiness frameworks and evaluated the effectiveness of career academies. He also developed standards in behavioral health now in use at the state-level for career pathways, including workforce development for the mental health industry.
 
Dr. Loera is also working with high schools and their districts across the state to implement a prevention and early intervention model to address students’ and their families’ mental wellness and ensure their full participation in school and community life. This work also builds on the increasing importance of a diverse health and mental health workforce as a critical factor in closing the treatment gap and improving access, availability, appropriateness, and advocacy to quality health care. Dr. Loera is currently helping with statewide efforts to reduce mental health disparities as a consultant with the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities using a comprehensive community engagement approach to increase participation of underserved populations in mental health treatment.
 
Image of Rachel GuerreroRachel G. Guerrero, LCSW
Consultant
Rachel Guerrero, is a License Clinical Social Worker, with over 40-years of experience in the field of mental health both as a direct services provider and public mental health state administrator.  In 1998 she served as the first Chief of the Office Multicultural Services for the CA State Department of Mental Health.  For twelve years and in partnership with many community stakeholders, she had the lead responsibility to develop strategies and policies to address solutions for the elimination of health disparities and inequities found in public mental health county programs that were adversely affecting California’s racial, ethnic and cultural communities.  
 
In 2008, under her leadership as part of the Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) component of the Mental Health Services Act, the California Reducing Disparities Project was conceived and over $60 million dollars were successfully secured for funding this project.   This new investment funded 5 population groups, Native American, Latino/a/x, African American, Asian Pacific Islanders, and LGBTQ. Each of these communities’ has experienced historical disparities to treatment.  The goal of this project is to identify solutions to reduce these disparities.  This requires investing in “Community-Defined Evidence” which is developed by evaluating treatment strategies that are culturally and linguistically competent as defined by the communities’ themselves.
 
In 2010 she retired from the State Department of Mental Health.
She currently managers her own consulting and training practice, Guerrero Consulting in Sacramento, CA.  She continues in her commitment for social justice for underserved and un-served communities. 
 
In 2016 she began work with UC Davis, Center for Reducing Health Disparities, Latino Technical Assistance team as a consultant to the California Reducing Disparities Project.
 
Ms. Guerrero’s social justice leadership efforts have been recognized with many state and national awards.
 
Heather Diaz PhotoHeather Diaz, DrPH, MPH
Consultant
Dr. Heather Diaz is an Associate Professor at Sacramento State University in Health Sciences, assigned to the Community Health Education curriculum. In her role as an Associate Professor, she teaches courses focused on: Community Planning and Evaluation (Grant Writing), Health Epidemiology, Disease Prevention- all taught with a focus on issues of health equity. She also works on various campus based projects aimed to improve the lives of the diverse student body, including an international foreign language project offering a Spanish certificate for students interested in the community health field. The certificate includes coursework aimed at improving the Spanish language ability in students using community health vocabulary and examples, culturally appropriate and sensitive case studies, and an immersion experience working with a local based CBO serving the Spanish speaking population. Dr. Diaz also serves as a managing partner/lead consultant of Community Health Insights, a non-profit entity aimed at changing the lives of community members living in the greater Sacramento and Northern California area through strategic planning, assessment, and evaluation design.
 
Since 2000, Dr. Heather Diaz has worked to improve the lives of vulnerable populations through public health program development, communitywide health/social assessments and program evaluation consulting. Her early work as a public health professional focused on a variety of programs aimed at improving the lives of immigrant Latino residents in the public health areas of Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Health. Her graduate research focused on the influence of acculturation status on exercise and healthy dietary habits of Latino adolescents, which has been widely published.
 
Since 2006, Dr. Diaz has been involved in over 20 community health needs assessments (CHNA) directed at identifying unmet health needs of diverse communities stretching from the San Francisco Bay to San Joaquin County to the California/Oregon border. These assessments combine both quantitative and qualitative approaches to identify unmet community health needs and specific populations experiencing health disparities. These assessments assist in targeting Community Benefit funding by area hospital systems to improve population health at the local level. Dr. Diaz has served as a special public health consultant to Sutter Health Systems, Kaiser Permanente, Dignity Health, San Joaquin County Public Health, Solano County Public Health and UC Davis Health Systems since 2007 on the development of the CHNAs and the direction of the resulting community based improvement plans. In 2013, Dr. Diaz was the lead grant writer on the Community Transformation Grant funding, granted to Sierra Health Foundation, which aimed at improving the lives of diverse populations in the greater Sacramento County area. This funding has led to large shifts in collaboration among area local CBOs serving diverse communities and other health initiatives.
 
Dr. Diaz has extensive experience as an evaluator, including teaching program evaluation at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. In addition to serving as the principal investigator of various community based programs (responsible for the evaluation of the programs), she has also served as an evaluation consultant to local health systems since 2005 (Dignity Health, Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente). Dr. Diaz has provided many special trainings and workshops on evaluation for agencies working with diverse communities. In 2013, she served as a presenter/trainer to the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities providing a presentation on program evaluation to CBOs working with Latino communities. In addition, Merced County Department of Public Health, Sutter Health System and various local CBOs have participated in evaluation training under her direction. Current projects include working with the Sutter Health System Regional office of Northern California to assist in the development of a training module for all Community Benefit staff on the evaluation of community based implementation plans. In June 2015, Dr. Diaz served as a special evaluation consultant to the California Department of Public Health on the evaluation of the Teen Dating Violence Pilot Project assisting with the final analysis and presentation of a mixed methods evaluation approach using case study analysis. Currently, she serves as an evaluation consultant on the Technical Assistance Team from the Center for Reducing Health Disparities, as a part of the California Reducing Disparities Project.

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