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OHE Advisory Committee Members

Advisory Committee Member Bios

The OHE-AC consists of a broad range of experts, advocates, health clinicians, public health professionals, and consumers who understand the importance of the health and mental health disparities and inequities of historically vulnerable, marginalized, underserved, and underrepresented communities.

​Sarah De Guia


As chief executive officer, Sarah de Guia oversees development and implementation of ChangeLab Solutions’ long-term goals, priorities, strategies, and budget. She is committed to applying her legal expertise and leadership experience to advancing equitable laws and policies that ensure healthy lives for all.

Before joining ChangeLab Solutions, Sarah worked at the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN), first as director of government affairs and then as executive director. Sarah developed and implemented CPEHN’s policy, community partnership, and research goals. She also expanded the organization through creation of a Southern California office and increasing the number of permanent staff members in Sacramento. Sarah’s accomplishments during her tenure at CPEHN include passage of more than a dozen legislative bills to further health equity; critical administrative policy wins to incorporate health equity into land use and planning regulations; and improving the quality of health care for immigrants, patients with limited English proficiency, and communities of color. 

She has authored many publications on the health of communities of color in California, oral health disparities, mental health, and Latino health. Prior to working at CPEHN, Sarah was a health program director at Latino Issues Forum and a legislative analyst at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Sarah sits on the advisory committee for the Office of Health Equity at the California Department of Public Health. She 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.

​Jessica Buendia


Jessica (Jessie) Buendia has fourteen years of experience in the foundation, government, and nonprofit sectors advancing progressive public policy and social impact programs. Currently, Jessie is the Deputy Director of the California Strategic Growth Council (SGC). SGC promotes sustainability, health, and equity across the state by helping California achieve its climate change goals through place based and community driven programming.

Prior to joining SGC, Jessie was the Community Benefits and Social Responsibility Manager at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. She was responsible for implementing the agency's landmark community benefits and environmental justice policies across its Water, Power, and Sewer Enterprises, directing its social impact program, and leading its participation in the Government Alliance on Race and Equity. She has held positions at the San Francisco Foundation, Health Access Foundation, California State Legislature, City of Newark, Urban Habitat, and the Greenlining Institute. She has also lived and worked in Mexico, France, India, and South Africa.

Jessie has a Master's degree in Public Policy from Princeton University, an Advanced Project Management Certificate from Stanford University, and a Bachelor's Degree from Macalester College. She is also a certified life coach with a focus on building transformational leadership within the social justice sector.

​Aaron Gardner

Gardner_AaronAaron Gardner is an epidemiologist and program evaluator for the Epidemiology & Program Evaluation Branch of the Riverside County Department of Public Health (DOPH).  Aaron's 20 years of social science and epidemiological research experience includes 14 years investigating infectious and chronic disease in Riverside County with a focus on social epidemiology. His past research have included novel substance abuse treatment models for gay and bisexual men and African Americans. In the last decade, his research focus has shifted to health equity and the the social and environmental determinants of health and its impact on the chronic and communicable disease burden and life expectancy in minority populations and women. Aaron is on the forefront in research and policy development in his local health department coordinating the development, implementation, and evaluation of an innovative public health workforce training series and producing many of the county's first health reports on specific populations including the LGBT and transgender community.  

​Shireen Malekafzali 


Shireen Malekafzali serves as Senior Manager for Policy, Planning and Equity at the San Mateo County Health System, manages the Health Policy and Planning Program, Get Healthy San Mateo County (GHSMC) and the Children's Collaboration for Children's Success (CCCS). GHSMC is a collaborative initiative that partners with cities, community based organizations, leaders and other partners in building healthy, equitable communities with a focus on advancing policies to prevent disease and ensure that every resident has equitable opportunities for good health and well-being. Priority issues for the work include: housing stability; economic opportunity; complete neighborhoods with transportation options and food access; educational opportunities, and; civic participation. The CCCS initiative is a multi-agency initiative focused on overcoming the barriers to youth success through deep community engagement. Shireen brings over 20 years of experience advancing health equity through the non-profit, government and philanthropic sectors. She serves on the boards of Human Impact Partners and TransForm. Shireen has a passion for advancing a just democracy, eating Persian food, and playing with her two small kids.  ​​

Simran Kaur

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Simran Kaur is Director for the Center for Community Health at Valley Children's Healthcare, focused on improving the health and wellness of children in the Central Valley where they live, learn and play. She currently serves on the Fresno County Commission on the Status of Women. Previously, Simran was the Western Region Director for the Sikh Coalition, the nation's largest Sikh civil rights organization. In 2012, she led efforts to pass the California Workplace Religious Freedom Act, now the nation's strongest protection against religious discrimination in the workplace. In the past, Simran has served on the Board of Directors for The Women's Building, a women-led community space and has served as the Affirmative Action Officer on the Board of Directors for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California. She is an active member of the Sikh American community in California and her work was published in "Her Name is Kaur" an anthology of stories about Sikh American women.

Califia Abwoon


Califia Abwoon is a Peer Support Specialist (PSS), Certified Anger Management Coach (CAMF), Domestic Violence Management Facilitator (DMF), an Emotional Intelligence Rehabilitation Coach, and is in the process of earning her Substance Use Counseling License. She works with We Are Wayfarer, 1:1 Pilot Program developing relationships with the homeless population on Skid-row and in Long Beach. She advocates for underserved community members with mental health disorders who are homeless and lack effective case management services. She provides comprehensive mental health provisions that enhance the well-being of clinicians and patients. She also serves as the Chairman of the Board of Create Realistic Change Inc., a Peer Run Organization that is focused on the underserved community in Los Angeles. She is involved with the Service Area Advisory Committees (SAAC) 6 and 8, which functions as a local forum of consumers, families, service providers and community representatives to provide the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health with information, advice, and recommendations regarding the mental health service needs of those in South Los Angeles and South Bay. Califia is also with the California Association of Mental Health Peer Run Organizations on the Peer Action League Committee where she leads groups focusing on mental health efforts and updates peers on legislative policies. Califia is on the Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) pilot Reentry Health Advisory Collaborative (RHAC) funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Working on the funding committee for Men Central Jail Closure (MCJ), ordered by Los Angeles County Board of supervisors (LACBOS).  LAC BOS has ordered the Office of Diversion and Reentry to create a Jail Population Review Council which includes the RHAC.  The RHAC has partnered with the Participatory Budget Project (PBP) to help facilitate a community inspired budget. Califia collaborates with Community Coalition (CoCo) founded by Congresswoman Karen Bass, and with A New Way of Life Re-entry Project with All Of Us Or None (AOUON) founded by Susan Burton, who advocates for the rights of ex-prisoners and in prisoned populations. Califia has experienced homeless for 20 years. She is a violence, sexual, and mental abuse survivor. Califia provides a unique perspective to the Advisory Committee given her first-hand experience of being part of the community that the Advisory Committee serves.

​Jo Ann Julien

Jo Ann JulienJo Ann Julien leads the Office of Health Equity within Public Health Services, Health and Human Services Agency for the County of San Diego. She is also on the Center of Excellence for Health Promotion and Health Equity led by the University of California, San Diego.

Jo-Ann's public health career spans 20 years, starting at the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada, the Canadian  equivalent of the Centers for Disease Control, Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health. Jo-Ann has worked in the area of cultural diversity and human rights at the federal level helping to create inclusive institutions.

Jo-Ann speaks French, and holds a B.A. in Communications and a Master's in Education, specializing in Counseling. She is trained in mental health first aid, risk communication, facilitation, deliberative dialogue, regulatory affairs, and public policy and is certified with the International Association of Public Participation. She will make an excellent addition to the Office of Health Equity Advisory Committee.

​Vong Mouanoutoua


Vong Mouanoutoua was the founding Advisory Board Member for the Hmong Helping Hands Project in the Central Valley. Vong represents and is part of the Hmong community in the central valley, a very vulnerable and underrepresented community.  His prior experience include that of a program director in a non-profit for serval years. In that capacity he had the opportunity to write grants and supervise over $13 million in funding. Vong's current occupation with the Community Medical Centers and as a Councilmember for the City of Clovis has afforded him the opportunity to be part of the California Reducing Disparities Project (CRDP), which has allowed him to learn more about the needs of the mental health services for diverse populations. Through his work at the Fresno EOC, Reading and Beyond, Community Medical Centers, CRDP Project and on the City Council, he has learned how important it is to provide services to communities that are many times forgotten. 

Kismet Baldwin

Kismet bio picKismet Baldwin, MD, recently transitioned to a new position of Deputy Health Officer of Sonoma County Public Health.  She continues to strive to provide leadership in a broad array of programs and services to protect, promote, and improve the health and well being of county residents.  Her dedication to public health started with her experiences as a neonatologist, where she saw first-hand the devastating effects that health inequity can have on a community; that dedication has been cemented by further experiences as a health officer.  With a vision that all communities in Sonoma County will be healthy, safe, equitable, and thriving, Dr. Baldwin and the public health staff are dedicated to removing barriers and addressing the root causes of health inequity.  Sonoma County Public Health works with colleagues across all sectors -- traditional and non-traditional community partners; private and public entities; with other county agencies and within their own -- to improve the social, economic, and physical conditions that have shortened our more impoverished residents' life-spans. 

Robin Carter


Robin Carter is the Interim Dean of the College of Health & Human Services at Sacramento State University.  Robin Carter has over 25 years of experience as a social work professor and administrator. As a clinical social worker, she has worked with vulnerable populations, including the elderly, those with chronic health and disabling conditions, and people at the end of their lives. The focus of her scholarly and community work is mental health assessment and treatment; gerontology and equity and inclusion. She has been the principle investigator in several large grants and contracts serving students and totaling over $2 million.  She has held board membership in multiple professional organizations, including the Sacramento Family Justice Center, Cal Post Doc Advisory Board and the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. She is one of the founding members of the MLK Center at Sacramento State and in her previous role of Interim Executive Director of Diversity she was charged with developing the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Sacramento State.

​Yvette McShan

Yvette McShanYvette McShan is the Chief Operating Officer of Victorious Black Women, an organization she co-founded with a simple but powerful idea back in 2009 that the path towards healing lies in the ability of black women sharing their stories with one another. Her expertise lies in promoting life skills, mentoring, and substance abuse counseling, and she in strong advocate for individuals and communities facing incarceration and re-entry, addiction, and mental illness.

​Nahla Kayali

Nahla KayaliNahla Kayali is the Executive Director and Founder of Access California Services and the Chairperson of the Refugee Forum of Orange County.  Ms. Kayali is described as a foot soldier for her community in making sure individuals and families receive access to quality health and human services.  Ms. Kayali believes in a world in which each individual leads a dignified and enriched life.

Lisa Folberg

Lisa-FolbergLisa Folberg is the President and CEO of the California Academy of Family Physicians. She has expertise in health policy, including health system reform and financing, designing and implementing public health programs, physician practice and ethnic physician organizations, coalition building, health care workforce development, and non-profit administration.

Michael Witte

Michael WitteMichael Witte has been a physician since 1970 and currently serves as the Chief Medical Officer for the California Primary Care Association, where he works with a dynamic group of health policy experts who support the most vulnerable populations in California. Family medicine and Federally Qualified Health Centers are his primary areas of expertise.

​Virginia Hedrick

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Virginia Hedrick is the Director of Policy and Planning for the Consortium for Urban Indian Health.  She is enrolled member of the Yurok Tribe of California and is also of Karuk descent. She currently oversees a statewide initiative addressing opioid use disorder in Urban Indian communities, as well both federal and state health policy. Her prior work includes chronic disease prevention, implementation and policy impacts of the of the Affordable Care Act for California tribes, as well health research. Mrs. Hedrick holds bachelor of arts degrees in Sociology and American Indian Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles, a Graduate Certificate in Maternal Child Health Epidemiology from the University of Arizona and a Master of Public Health Degree from Drexel University. 

​Patricia Lee

Patricia LeePatricia Lee has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Rhode Island and is currently the Research Scientist for the Office of Medical Director (OMD) in the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). Dr. Lee determines potential key areas of research in health disparities and inequities, to be undertaken by OMD, and disseminate findings of scientific research in written reports. Prior to joining the OMD, Dr. Lee worked for the Office of Women’s Health (OWH) in DHCS. Before working for the state, she was an assistant professor in the department of Health Behavior at the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB) School of Public Health, and she was an associate scientist position in the UAB Minority Health Research Center.

Ana Gonzalez-Seda

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Ana González Seda, MPH is the Director Programs for the San Diego/Imperial Valley Chapter for the Alzheimer's Association. She started her position December 2016. She manages the care and support arm of the local chapter and oversees the program department. Ana has worked in the non-profit sector for leading health organizations in San Diego for over 20 years. As a San Diego native, Ana received her Bachelor's Degree in Sociology from San Diego State University and later earned a Master's Degree in Public Health with an emphasis in Health Services Administration. Ana recently received a certification in Project Management from the University of Redlands. In her free time, Ana enjoys spending time with her vivacious five year old son, Christian and husband, residing in La Mesa.

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