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Equitable Recovery Strategies: Investing In Communities

Thursday, August 4, 2022 -
2:00pm to 3:30pm PDT
Zoom Meeting
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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Community Based Organizations (CBOs) have responded quickly and nimbly to ensure Black, Indigenous, and other people of color who have been most impacted have access to timely and accurate information in multiple languages, tests and vaccines, food, internet, and so much more. These organizations are essential partners, trusted by the people they serve, who have taken on public health work that often goes beyond their core missions and programming because their communities need it. As we enter the recovery stage of the pandemic, what can we learn from the leadership of these CBOs who build power and foster strong communities, and are showing us the path to a healthy future for all Californians? How can we support and strengthen their role as critical partners to the people they serve and to the public sector in order to best meet the rising needs of our communities?

Join us:

Join us to hear how CBOs can create local infrastructure, in partnership with the public sector, which centers on community engagement and advances an equitable recovery. We’ll hear from CBO leaders; co-authors of the report, How California’s Community-Based Organizations Filled the Gaps for Underserved Communities; and foundation partners about their recommendations for philanthropy’s role in supporting CEOs for the long term. We’ll discuss how to center community voice and engagement to create systems, structures, and partnerships that better serve low-income, Black, Indigenous, and communities of color, and move us toward an equitable recovery and future for our region.


Jimina Afuola, Advocacy Coordinator, EPIC
Jimina Afuola currently serves EPIC as their Advocacy Coordinator. As an advocacy coordinator, Jiminaleads EPIC’s policy efforts in CA toward the organization’s mission to promote social justice and increase the political power of NHPI. She is passionate about ensuring that NHPI's are accessing resources and developing a pipeline for the next generation of NHPI leaders. Born and raised in the Bay Area, Jimina and her family later relocated to Sacramento where she attended SCC for 3 years before transferring to UC Riverside. Prior to her role with EPIC, Jimina worked at the API Legislative Caucus as a Senate Consultant.
Ruben Cantu, Associate Program Director, Prevention Institute
Ruben Cantu is an Associate Program Director on Prevention Institute’s Safety and Wellbeing Team. He has more than 20 years of nonprofit experience in public health and mental health and wellbeing through an equity and racial justice lens. At PI, he leads initiatives to address and prevent community trauma through application of PI’s Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience framework. He also works on strategies to improve mental health and wellbeing through a focus on community conditions. This recently included managing the Making Connections for Mental Health and Wellbeing Among Men and Boys initiative, a national community of practice comprising 13 sites across the U.S. implementing upstream, community prevention strategies to build resilience among men and boys of color and military servicemembers, veterans, and their families. Prior to his time at PI, he was Associate Director at the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN), where he managed programs, development, and communications initiatives to inform, mobilize, and advocate for the state’s communities of color. As CPEHN’s lead on mental and behavioral health, he authored the state’s strategic plan for reducing mental health disparities. He serves on several state advisory committees.
Sarah de Guia, CEO, ChangeLab Solutions
Sarah de Guia is the chief executive officer of ChangeLab Solutions. She applies her legal expertise and leadership experience to advancing equitable laws and policies that ensure healthy lives for all. Under Sarah’s leadership, ChangeLab Solutions has established new partnerships to uplift health-promoting policies in rural areas; assist community efforts to increase affordable housing; strengthen resilience and opportunities for children and families; support public health agencies, and equitable enforcement; and expand innovations in equitable and sustainable food systems. Prior to joining ChangeLab Solutions, Sarah was executive director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network; a health program director at the Latino Issues Forum; and a legislative analyst at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Sarah earned her law degree from Santa Clara University School of Law and her bachelor’s degree in ethnic studies from the University of California, Berkeley.
Richard Vezina, Senior Program Officer, Blue Shield of California Foundation
Richard Vezina, MPH is a senior program officer at Blue Shield of California Foundation, leading the Foundation's work to align systems with community priorities in order to make California the healthiest state and end domestic violence. Prior to joining Blue Shield of California Foundation, Richard was a vice president at Harder+Company Community Research, where he led evaluation and strategy engagements for foundations, nonprofits, and public agencies. In that role, he also led the firm’s business development and communications efforts. Earlier, he worked in wide range of roles at organizations such as amfAR, the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, Planned Parenthood, and Greater Philadelphia Health Action. Richard also currently serves on the board of directors for the hunger relief nonprofit, FoodConnect. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College and a Master's of Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley. He lives in San Francisco with his husband, daughter, and dog.
Susan Watson, Director, Together Toward Health
Susan Watsonis the Program Director for the COVID-19 equity initiative Together Toward Health, the CA4Health community of practice to advance chronic disease prevention and health equity across California, and the California Adolescent Health Collaborative that works to improve wellness of youth across California. She is also managing a Community Health Fellowship program for The Health Trust. Previously, Ms. Watson has worked on projects with local health departments on accreditation and strategic planning, managed PHI’s Community Transformation Grant Initiative, worked at Regional Asthma Management and Prevention (RAMP) on asthma disparities, and at the University of California, San Francisco and California Department of Public Health, Sexually Transmitted Control Branch on reproductive health issues. Her career has prioritized working on issues related to equity, community health, and the elimination of racial and ethnic disparities. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Bayview Hunters Point Foundation for Community Improvement in San Francisco. Watson holds a master’s in public health from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.
Jennifer Wright, Program Officer, California Wellness Foundation
Jennifer Wright is the program officer for Cal Wellness’ Equityin Access portfolio. In her role, she reviews letters of interest, evaluates grant proposals, conducts site visits, and makes funding recommendations. She brings 10 years experience in strategic grantmaking, health care administration and nonprofit management. She is passionate about working with communities to secure equitable resources, supporting health care workers and safety net organizations, and finding ways to provide innovative quality care.
Prior to joining Cal Wellness, Wright worked as a Senior Program Manager at the Center for Care Innovations (CCI) where she led strategy and managed programmatic work to bridge healthcare and community efforts. During her tenure at CCI, her programs included supporting community-based coalitions to develop system solutions for addiction prevention and treatment; designing a technical assistance collaborative focused on evidence-based healthcare transformation; and managing a grant and technical assistance program to disseminate technology and care solutions in safety net clinics and public hospital systems.
Prior to CCI, she worked with the San Francisco Foundation as a Community Health Fellow where she led the responsive grantmaking strategy to support local community health workforce development, designed and facilitated grantee convenings and carried out day-to-day management of the community health grantmaking portfolio. Before San Francisco Foundation, Wright worked with L.A. Care Health Plan as a Special Projects Manager where she managed financial projects related to ACA implementation.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in public health and a master’s degree in public health focused on health and social behavior and multicultural health from the University of California, Berkeley.
Weiyu Zhang, Associate Policy Director, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network
Weiyu Zhang As a public health practitioner, Weiyu (she/her) is committed to leveraging the vision, knowledge, and toolkit of public health to solve racial and social inequities. She advocates for policy and decision-making processes that center community self-determination and expertise for Black, Indigenous and other People of Color communities in California. Weiyu has more than seven years of experience working in public health and social justice, including doing community health education and community crisis response, organizing multicultural coalitions, and analyzing public policy. In 2015, she had the opportunity to work with NGOs during the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, since which she has been dedicated to a rights-based approach in health and public health’s mission in addressing state violence. Weiyu also has a strong analytical background from training as a biomedical scientist and working in clinical cancer research and biopharmaceutical production. She holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Science in Applied Biology and Biotechnology from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
Weiyu is a native speaker in Mandarin Chinese. In her free time, she loves exploring Northern California’s woods andlakes and is always trying new creative hobbies.
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