Resources | Young Minds Matter: Communities Connecting
for Well-being

The Hogg Foundation held a free, one-day training event in Houston for people who care about children, youth, families, and caregivers. Like previous Young Minds Matter conferences, the focus was on children, transition-age youth and their caregivers, with an added emphasis on engaging historically excluded and underrepresented groups. Learn more about the event.

See below for resources from the conference, including speaker biographies, session slides and videos. See all event photos on our Facebook page.

Additionally, you can hear reflections from attendees on this episode of our Into the Fold podcast.



Welcome and Opening Remarks 

Welcome by Hogg Foundation and Prevention Institute

Opening remarks by Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., Executive Director, Hogg Foundation
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Performance by Marlon Lizama, Poet/Artist
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Panel: Mental Well-being as a Community Equity & Social Justice Issue

Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., Executive Director, Hogg Foundation

Panel members:
Francisco Garcia, Community Involvement Coordinator, Bureau of Youth and Adolescent Health
Adilifu Sabur, Community Ambassador, Dream 77021
Palak Jalan, Senior Director of Population Health, AccessHealth Community Health Centers
Dr. Nia West-Bey, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

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Concurrent Sessions

A: Strengthening family and community engagement for well-being 
Traceé Black-Fall, Executive Director and Founder, Tova’s NEST
Stephany Bryan, Senior Program Officer and Consumer & Family Liaison, Hogg Foundation
Wil Crary, Program Coordinator, Prevention Institute

Session Slides
Session Video

B: Building youth power: Youth leading collective action for well-being 
Victor Fears, Community Involvement Coordinator, City of Houston
Destiny Richardson, Peer Wellness Specialist, Houston Health Department
Bryan Cooksey, Peer Wellness Specialist, Houston Health Department
Vicky Coffee, Director of Programs, Hogg Foundation
Roosevelt Neely, Program Coordinator, Prevention Institute 

Session Video

C: Exploring pathways between mental well-being and land use issues like parks, housing, and transportation 
Manal Aboelata, Deputy Executive Director, Prevention Institute
Jasneet Bains, Program Coordinator, Prevention Institute

Session Slides
Session Video

D: Improving mental well-being among young people through collaboration  and partnership 
Dr. Nia West-Bey, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Dana Fields-Johnson, Program Manager, Prevention Institute

Session Slides
Session Video

E: Cradle to career: Supporting educational and economic outcomes in early childhood and beyond 
Christy Serrano, Houston Regional Director, First3Years
Margaret Oser, Vice President of Mission and Strategy, United Way of Greater Houston
Alisha Somji, Associate Program Manager, Prevention Institute

Session Slides
Session Video

F: Taking action on community trauma and structural violence 
Dr. Howard Pinderhughes, Chair, Department of Social and Behavioral Science; UCSF; Research Associate, Institute for the Study of Social Change, UC Berkeley; Affiliated Faculty, UCSF Institute for Health and Aging
Kalyn Joseph, Peer Wellness Specialist, Houston Health Department
Zamari-A Jackson, Peer Wellness Specialist, Houston Health Department
Sheila Savannah, Managing Director, Prevention Institute

Session Slides
Session Video

Pulling It All Together: An Interactive Discussion

Vicky Coffee, Director of Programs, Hogg Foundation
Sheila Savannah, Managing Director, Prevention Institute

Thought leaders:
Traceé Black-Fall, Executive Director and Founder, Tova’s NEST
Margaret Oser, Vice President of Mission and Strategy, United Way of Greater Houston
Howard Pinderhughes, Chair, Department of Social and Behavioral Science; UCSF; Research Associate, Institute for the Study of Social Change, UC Berkeley; Affiliated Faculty, UCSF Institute for Health and Aging
Manal Aboelata, Deputy Director, Prevention Institute

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2019 Speakers & Bios

Manal J. Aboelata

As Deputy Executive Director at Prevention Institute, a national nonprofit dedicated to achieving equitable health and safety outcomes, Manal oversees its California strategy, an interdisciplinary effort designed to improve population health for all. Manal emphasizes policy, collaboration and community-based approaches to catalyze a more systematic approach to prevention. Manal’s commitment to collaboration is exemplified by her many years chairing the statewide Strategic Alliance for Healthy Food and Activity Environments, founding of the Joint Use Statewide Taskforce and more recently, her work to establish a Healthy, Equitable and Active Land Use Network in Los Angeles. Manal is a Board-appointed member of Los Angeles’ Community Prevention and Population Health Taskforce. Manal graduated from UC Berkeley and UC Los Angeles, with a Master’s in Public Health in Epidemiology. Manal served on the board of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust for five years, serving as its chairperson from 2015-2016.  As a 2017-2019 Stanton Fellow of the Durfee Foundation, Manal will explore how to better leverage public infrastructure financing to achieve equitable health outcomes for all.

Jasneet Bains

Jasneet Bains, MPH, MURP, works at the nexus of health equity and land use policy and planning at Prevention Institute. Jasneet coordinates the Healthy, Equitable, Active Land Use Network (HEALU Network), which advocates for healthy community environments through the reduction of health disparities in built environments. Under the HEALU umbrella of work, she conducts research on community engagement best practices that cover both government-led and community-driven approaches with an emphasis on healthy, equitable land use and infrastructure improvements.

Jasneet also supports a range of California statewide prevention projects under the California Approach team. Her past experience includes work in the academic, legal, and public agency sectors on research and policy projects related to health equity, transportation equity and environmental justice. Before joining Prevention Institute, she conducted community health research with the UCLA Center for Health Advancement and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) where she analyzed the racial, economic and health disparities that exist in transportation planning decisions. In addition, she supported land use and zoning policy research and development for the Los Angeles Department of City Planning in their Policy Planning Division. Jasneet holds a Master of Public Health and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles. 

Traceé Black-Fall

Traceé Black-Fall is the founder and Executive Director of Tova’s N.E.S.T, Inc.” Which gives a bridge of hope as people move toward new beginnings.” She is a graduate Cum Laude from Columbus State Community College in Applied Science and The Ohio State University, John Glenn Institute for Public Service and Public Policy, Leadership 2000 Academy despite being given a dim prognosis of recovery from a brain aneurysm. As a Certified Community Health Worker Tracee’ is humbled to assist populations traditionally underserved and fights to eliminate health disparities. She is an active parent leader and community partner in education and advocacy with the Multiethnic Advocates for Cultural Competence, the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, and the Ohio Mental Health Network for School Success. She serves on several boards and community collaboratives. Through a spirit of gratitude Traceé has taken the trials, tribulations, and successes in her life and found purpose and living her passion every day.  

Stephany Bryan

Stephany Bryan joined the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health in 2007 where she leads initiatives that improve the mental health and well-being of everyone in the community. She serves as Senior Program Officer and Consumer and Family Liaison, representing the perspectives of consumers of mental health services and their families in the foundation’s strategic planning, grant making, programs and policy activities. Since 1994, she has advocated for improvements to federal, state and local mental health policies and services. She is as a leader, mentor and adviser to consumers, family members, government agencies, policy makers and advocacy groups in Texas and nationally, and has served as a gubernatorial appointee to the Texas Integrated Funding Initiative and the Texas Transformation Workgroup, and chair of the Parent Collaboration Group with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

She has also worked with the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health and the American Institutes for Research in Washington D.C. to advise communities and states across the U.S. implementing systems of care for children and youth with mental health needs and their families. Stephany has a certificate in finance from the American Institute of Banking and completed coursework in music at Texas State University. She is courageous, spirited, endlessly creative, and a lover of family and the great outdoors. She lives to celebrate life and serve others.

Vicky Coffee

Vicky Coffee, who has been with the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health since 2007, has committed more than 30 years to increasing awareness, offering services, and enhancing systems to support individuals, youth and families living with mental health conditions in Texas. In her role as Director of Programs, Vicky oversees a team that develops and implements grant initiatives to advance mental health, wellness and recovery in Texas. Most recently, her work has supported the mental health of youth and families in Houston, as well as faith-based communities throughout Texas.

Vicky has served as an executive board member and secretary for the National Leadership Council on African American Behavioral Health, and is a founding member and coordinator of the Austin Area African American Behavioral Health Network. A certified licensed professional counselor supervisor and Mental Health First Aid instructor, she holds a Bachelor of Science in child and family development and a Master of Education from Texas State University.

Bryan Cooksey

Bryan Cooksey is a graduating senior receiving a B.A. in Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations and Advertisement with a minor in Radio, Television and Film. Mr. Cooksey became a proud member of the PWS cohort in June of 2017. Bryan is a Community Relations Specialist with the Houston Health Department. Bryan’s lived experiences along with his amazing personality has assisted in creating a wonderful environment and opportunities for the mentees with which he works in local high schools.

Wil Crary

Wil Crary, MSW (he/him/his) focuses on the connection between community conditions and mental health inequities as a Program Coordinator at Prevention Institute. Wil provides guidance on implementing community-led strategies and measuring the impact of primary prevention. Some days this looks like interviewing leaders of opioid overdose death prevention and other days like compiling best practices for balancing quantitative public health data with community stories and perceptions. With extensive experience as an educator, writer, and researcher, he positions himself as a thought-partner for community leaders both young and old. Early in his career, after years cultivating community gardens, Wil transitioned into the public health field to focus on food-based community-building with Market Umbrella in New Orleans.

When he wasn’t organizing the culinary capital’s farmers markets, he designed and implemented nutrition curriculum for underserved schools, coached rural farmers toward collective marketing models, conducted outreach and listening sessions with food stamp recipients, and supported peer-led healthy lifestyle classes at community health clinics. Although he spends most of his time analyzing structural barriers and systems of oppression, some of his fondest memories involve direct service work facilitating bicycle repair workshops with young people, mentoring recent immigrants seeking employment, and teaching undergraduates the foundations of critical sociology. Wil received a Master of Social Welfare degree from UC Berkeley as a Mack Graduate Fellow and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Spanish at Tulane University as a Posse Scholar. 

Victor Fears

Victor Fears coordinates the PWS Training and Mentorship Program. As a Community Involvement Coordinator, he has been instrumental in developing and implementing activities for the PWS Training Program. Mr. Fears has a unique ability to bring young people, family members and service providers to the table in meaning ways, leading to program success. Mr. Fears has brought his corporate management expertise to the public health arena to help impact the lives of the young people of Houston.

Dana Fields-Johnson

Dana Fields-Johnson, MPA is a Program Manager at Prevention Institute with more than 25 years of professional experience. She has worked in public health to address maternal and child well-being, chronic disease and obesity prevention, healthy eating and active living with an emphasis on policy, systems and environmental change, community safety and violence prevention, mental health and wellbeing, and substance use prevention. During her three years in nonprofit consulting at Prevention Institute, Dana has served on the safety and wellbeing team where she has worked with NYC Department of Health-Center for Health Equity, the L.A. County Department of Public Health, New Orleans Dept. of Public Health and Milwaukee Dept. of Public Health to advance their efforts to apply upstream approaches to violence and apply a public health approach to preventing violence.

Dana also serves on PI’s national Making Connections project team which provides TA and consulting to the Movember Foundation and 16 communities across the country, including Boston MA, Albuquerque NM, Oklahoma City, Chicago, and Tacoma WA to name a few, working collaboratively to apply a gendered, cultured and community lens to mental health and wellbeing by creating environments that support healing and mental wellbeing for men and boys.

She also served as PI’s project lead on consulting work with the OH Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and 20 rural communities to expand their focus on treatment, recovery and harm reduction to include a primary prevention, community-trauma informed approach to the opioid epidemic. Dana is a self-described public health advocate with a strong passion for engaging and working alongside community members to be their own best advocates and change agents. She is also on the project team for Communities of Care, a Hogg Foundation initiative.

Francisco Garcia

Francisco Javier Garcia at 17 started his dedication advocating in his community to bring improvements and services for youth and young adults in the Alief, Texas community. Not long after Francisco Garcia was employed with a local grass roots nonprofit organization. Prior to joining the nonprofit, he founded a community group, Unified HOODS (Helping Out Others During Struggles), that mobilized youth and young adults to improve their local community and become civically engaged. Such advocacy work complimented the existing efforts to drive the community to demand the allocation of resources and a new Multi-Purpose Service Center that will be erected in 2021.

Francisco also conducted organizing work in local apartment complexes to civically engage, equip and empower residents in modest income communities with the skills and resources needed to interrupt inter-generational patterns of poverty, low educational attainment and crime. This led to successfully creating resource centers in various apartment complexes led by residents to serve in job placement, youth workshops and self-sustaining community improvement projects.

Francisco Garcia has worked in various campaigns from Non-Partisan Voter Registration Drives, Tenant Rights Workshops, Coordinating Relief Efforts and Leadership trainings to educate, empower, and engage the community on local issues. In recognition of his achievements, and hard work in the community Francisco Garcia at the age of 22 received the Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Youth Activism Award and the City of Houston presented him with a City Proclamation dedicating October 13, 2009 as Francisco Garcia Day. Francisco Garcia is now with the City of Houston Health Department, My Brother’s Keeper Houston and brings the skills, experience, and knowledge to further compliment the MBK footprint in the City of Houston.

Zamari-A Jackson

Zamari-A Jackson is a fourth year Psychology major at Texas Southern University and a Community Relations Specialist with the Houston Health Department. Zamari-A is the newest member of the PWS team, joining in November of 2018. Today, Zamari-A mentors youth in local high schools in the Houston area and dreams of using his platform to promote mental health awareness and social issues faced by boys and men of color in today’s society.

Palak Jalan

Palak Jalan is the Senior Director of Population Health at AccessHealth Community Health Centers and is responsible for strategic partnerships, development and making the operations more community-centered. She is a results-oriented public health leader with a strong foundation in healthcare management and international development. Palak convenes and participates in multiple community conducting needs assessment, community focus groups and prioritizing efforts. Her work to address the lack of sidewalks have led to a private foundation funding a City for a multiyear, multimillion dollar sidewalk project. Her work both as a provider and an administrator provides her with a panoramic view to assess and strategize healthcare interventions across a broader spectrum of development.

Kalyn Joseph

Kalyn Joseph is a fourth year Psychology major at Texas Southern University and a Community Relations Specialist with the Houston Health Department. Kalyn became a member of the PWS cohort in August of 2016. She also helped facilitate 3 of the PWS training classes. Today, Kalyn mentors youth in local high schools.

Marlon Lizama

Marlon Lizama is a Poet/artist that focuses on the cultural aspect of writing and the arts. Coming to the United States at the age of 9, he discovered himself in the hip-hop subculture. Joining a group, Havikoro,which quickly became world renowned through competition, theater, workshops, and cultural exchange programs, Marlon was part of a group of young dancers, poets, and artists that put Houston on the world culture map. Marlon has been to over 40 countries through competition, performances, poetry shows, and through working with the U.S. State Department. He is currently being supported by St. Paul’s Methodist Church through an artist-in-residence program in Houston, Texas where he is currently creating a writing program that works with youth from all over the city. Youth groups include Sharpstown high school, incarcerated youth, St. Paul’s spiritual youth group, and Houston probation department. The goal of the program is to create writers and published young authors.

Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr.

A native Texan and licensed psychiatrist, Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr. is the fifth executive director to lead the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health since its creation in 1940 at The University of Texas at Austin, where he oversees the vision, mission, goals, strategic planning and day-to-day operations of the foundation. Dr. Martinez holds an appointment of Senior Associate Vice President within the university’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement; he is also a clinical professor in the university’s School of Social Work; and holds an adjunct professor appointment at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry. His academic interests include minority health, health disparities and workforce issues.

In addition to his administrative and academic duties, he currently serves on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s, Health and Medicine Division’s (HMD’s) Standing Committee on Medical and Public Health Research during Large-Scale Emergency Events and on HMD’s Roundtable on the Promotion of Health Equity and the Elimination of Health Disparities. He has formerly served on the IOM’s Committee on the Governance and Financing of Graduate Medical Education (2014) and on the Committee on the Mental Health Workforce for Geriatric Populations (2012). From 2002 to 2006 he served as a Special Emphasis Panel Member for the National Institutes of Health, National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Dr. Martinez also serves on the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services to the Secretary of Health. He is a member of the board of directors for Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), a member of the editorial board for the Home Health Care Services Quarterly Journal, and a member of The University of Texas – University Charter School Advisory Board. Dr. Martinez is a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, a member of The American College of Psychiatrists, a member of The College of Behavioral Health Leadership, the National Hispanic Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, and the Texas Society for Psychiatric Physicians.

Roosevelt Neely

Roosevelt Neely, MPA is a Program Coordinator at Prevention Institute who primarily works in the mental health and violence prevention focus areas. He is located in PI’s Houston office and provides support to several sites across the country involved in the Making Connections initiative and assists communities in their implementation of upstream and sustainable strategies to improve the wellbeing of men and boys. He is also on the project team for Communities of Care.

Roosevelt previously managed Project Row Houses’ college and career preparatory program for high school students and oversaw the U.S. Dream Academy’s mentoring component for Houston children in 3rd to 6th grade. Presently, he applies his understanding of public and nonprofit management, youth development, and visual storytelling to address inequity in diverse communities and build solutions through prevention. His two years of nonprofit consulting experience have included a range of clients within multi-sector coalitions, including community-based, faith-based, youth-serving, and tribal organizations, health departments, evaluators, and institutions of secondary and higher education. Roosevelt earned his Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin and holds a Bachelor of Science in kinesiology and psychology.

Margaret Oser

Margaret Oser has 30 years’ experience in nonprofit management, evaluation and fundraising. Currently, Margaret is the Vice President of Mission and Strategy for the United Way of Greater Houston. She has spent the majority of her career within the United Way system in both Houston and San Antonio, Texas. During her time with United Way, she has led fundraising efforts in both the corporate and governmental sector. She led the design and implementation of various community initiatives focused on resident-engagement and financial stability. She served as the lead evaluator for various programs and initiatives focused on asset-based community development, health, mental health, financial stability, substance abuse, character development and basic needs.

For over 15 years, she’s served as a trainer on outcomes development and evaluation, board roles and responsibilities, and leadership development at the grassroots level.  Margaret was fortunate to attend a two-year fellowship at Harvard’s Kennedy School on family strengthening. The fellowship was a partnership between the Annie E. Casey Foundation, United Way Worldwide and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Public Policy. She is a trained facilitator and has facilitated numerous board and staff meetings and retreats.  Margaret has served as the Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association in Houston, Texas, which, at the time, served an 18 county region around Houston. Margaret is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, and has committed her professional life to serving within the State of Texas.

Dr. Howard Pinderhughes

Chair, Department of Social and Behavioral Science; University of California San Francisco; Research Associate, Institute for the Study of Social Change, University of California Berkeley; Affiliated Faculty, University of California San Francisco Institute for Health and Aging

Social and behavioral scientist and author Howard Pinderhughes has conducted research and program development in the areas of race relations among youth and adolescent violence prevention and intervention. His research combines aspects of grounded theory, qualitative methods, survey research and participatory action research to examine problems related to the impacts of structural inequality, racial, class and gender dynamics on adolescent health and relations. Dr. Pinderhughes is currently developing a conceptual framework to address the production of racial, class and gender health inequality. His book, Race in the Hood: Conflict and Violence Among Urban Youth, presents a study of racial attitudes among youth and racial violence in New York City. 

Destiny Richardson

Destiny Richardson is a second year Social Work major and a Houston Health Department Community Relations Specialist. Ms. Richardson is a member of the first PWS training cohort and was also the first to receive her state certification. Today, Ms. Richardson mentors youth in numerous schools in communities on Houston’s south side. She also serves as Vice Chair of the PAIMI Council through Disability Rights Tx. Ms. Richardson’s innate creativity coupled with her lived experiences give her an edge that makes her approach to peer support unique.

Adilifu Sabur

Adilifu Sabur is a resident of the OST-South Union Neighborhood in Southeast Houston and serves as a member and Community Ambassador within the DREAM 77021 Communities of Care Collaborative.
Her interests include yoga and wellness, education, and community development. She is a teacher, and she holds a Master of Arts in Education from Goddard College and a Bachelor of Arts in African and African-American Studies from Washington University in St. Louis.

At the core of her personal life and unifying each of her professional interests, Adilifu is driven by one mission: to be who she authentically is and, concurrently, to create and co-create safe spaces that not only uplift academic and professional excellence but that also honor and nurture our cultural, spiritual, emotional, and physical identities, allowing for the full manifestation of the many truths and gifts that exist within all of us.

Sheila Savannah

Sheila Savannah, MA, Managing Director of Prevention Institute, has over thirty years of experience in multisector collaboration and youth/family engagement to address wellness, safety, and equity. She is widely recognized for her contributions in the areas of health equity, mental health, capacity building, and therapeutic programming with children, adolescents, families, and communities. The work she leads from the Houston office includes curriculum design consulting and co-facilitation of a year-round community resident training initiative through Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) focused on building local neighborhood leaders and advocates for health equity. Her team’s work addresses the connection of multiple forms of violence and self-harm, including technical assistance with five California collaboratives who are building community-wide solutions to prevent partner violence. Her team also provides training support to rural counties in Ohio who are constructing prevention plans to address some of the root causes of their region’s opioid-misuse epidemic.

Sheila leads the Movember Foundation-funded Making Connections for Mental Health and Wellbeing Among Men and Boys initiative, which works in diverse settings across the United States to identify and amplify community approaches to improve mental wellbeing outcomes for boys and men. Her team will also provide coordination and TA to Communities of Care, comprised of ten Hogg Foundation funded community collaboratives in the Houston region that will work to improve community conditions for equity and mental well-being. Previously, Sheila was a division manager with the Houston Public Health Department, responsible for strategic partnerships and the Office of Adolescent Health and Injury Prevention, including Houston’s CDC-funded youth violence prevention initiative. As a national trainer and a CDC Grand Rounds panelist, she has expertise in multi-sector collaboration and youth/family engagement in addressing complex system issues. Sheila holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas, Austin, and an MA in behavioral sciences with concurrent completion of training in expressive arts therapies from the University of Houston, Clear Lake.

Christy Serrano

Christy Serrano is the Houston Regional Director of First3Years. Prior to joining First3Years, Christy worked in child abuse prevention programming, early childhood policy, and education philanthropy. Christy also has experience working with teens with disabilities in developing job readiness skills. Christy has demonstrated her leadership ability in positions with various advisory boards, committees and mentorship roles. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish from Northwestern University and a Master of Public Policy from the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago. Christy grew up in Fort Bend County and now lives in Harris County with her husband Matt and three adorable pets.

Alisha Somji

Alisha Somji, MPH, Associate Program Manager at Prevention Institute, brings seven years of public health experience, including close to four years at Prevention Institute on the safety and wellbeing team where she applies a public health approach to preventing multiple forms of violence.  Alisha supports cities across the country through the UNITY City Network, and plays an active role in facilitating national PreventConnect web conferences focused on sexual and domestic violence prevention. Alisha provides direct technical assistance to several collaboratives, cities and states in developing strategies to create safe, healthy and thriving environments. This work has spanned states such as California, Washington, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, and Wisconsin.

For example, Alisha has served as a consultant on citywide strategic planning processes including Milwaukee’s Blueprint for Peace, the East San José PEACE Partnership, and the Kansas City Missouri Youth and Family Violence Prevention Master Plan. She is also on the project team for Communities of Care, a Hogg Foundation initiative. Alisha previously worked at Berkeley Media Studies Group, where she conducted content analysis research and co-published findings on media framing of Berkeley and San Francisco’s sugar sweetened beverage taxes, sexual violence, and adverse childhood experiences. Alisha also spent two years planning, implementing, and evaluating community health education programs for cancer prevention and screening at a regional cancer program in Ontario, Canada. She holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Toronto.

Dr. Nia West-Bey

Nia West-Bey is a senior policy analyst with the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)’s youth team. Her work is focused on youth and young adult mental health, strategies to support young, low-income parents of color as well as girls and young women of color. She has expertise in youth development, qualitative and quantitative data interpretation and analysis, and the intersection of psychology, social policy, and program evaluation.

Prior to coming to CLASP, Dr. West-Bey co-founded and spent 10 years as executive director of a community-based nonprofit organization offering youth development programming to young people in foster care in Washington, D.C. Through this work, she had the opportunity to learn and experience how national and local policy impacts disconnected youth.

Dr. West-Bey earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. in community psychology from New York University and completed her undergraduate degree at Swarthmore College.