The following individuals presented at the 2016 Gathering for Pacific Islander Health:
Dr. Parag Aggrawal is a Senior Program Officer for the Addressing Disparities (AD) team at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). Before joining PCORI, Dr. Aggarwal worked for Deloitte Consulting LLP, where he led large, complex engagements focused on life science and healthcare strategy through the translational medicine team. He provided subject matter expertise across multiple areas, including healthcare regulatory agencies, life science and pharmaceutical companies, and non-profit organizations. Working within the strategy service line, Dr. Aggarwal developed strategies that combined science, business, and regulatory components to enable efficient business operations for life science and healthcare organizations. Dr. Aggarwal received his BS in Chemistry from Case Western Reserve University and his PhD in Medicinal Chemistry from the University of Michigan.
Shra Alik is a Program Director for the Department of Health Services in the Federated States of Micronesia. She has a decade of experience as an educator and advocate for chronic disease control, with special emphasis on tobacco control in Pacific Islander communities. She is a member of the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, and the Chair of the Pacific Partners for Tobacco Free Islands (PPTFI).
Tayna Belyu-Camacho has extensive research experience in the areas of diabetes, nutrition, and childhood obesity in Pacific Islander communities. She has served as Chair of the Board of Directors for the American Red Cross in the Northern Mariana Islands. She is a member of the Faith in Action Research and Resource Alliance (FARRA).
Willamina “Wanna” Bing
Wanna Bing is a Community Research Coordinator for UAMS Northwest campus in Fayetteville, Arkansas where she coordinates faith-based community health programs with Marshallese and other Pacific Islander churches in the region. She has a bachelor’s degree in management from John Brown University. Prior to joining UAMS Northwest, Ms. Bing worked as an Administrative Specialist and Outreach Worker for the Arkansas Department of Health’s Dr. Joseph Bates Outreach Clinic. She is a native of the Marshall Islands and is fluent in Marshallese.
Jeffrey B. Caballero, MPH, executive director of the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) and has been with AAPCHO since 1993. AAPCHO is a national membership association with 35 community health organizations serving over half a million patients. Mr. Caballero advocates for programs and policies that increase access to high-quality, comprehensive health care services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate. Mr. Caballero also participates on national committees addressing disparity issues affecting Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, such as tuberculosis, hepatitis B, diabetes, and cancer. Currently, Mr. Caballero serves as founding co-Chair of Hep B United, and Chair of the American Diabetes Association’s Legislative & Regulatory Sub-Committee. Mr. Caballero received his bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry/Cell Biology from the University of California, San Diego, and his Masters in Public Health from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Alfred Capelle is a senior statesman, linguist, scholar and humanitarian from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, who has devoted half a century to the protection and advancement of Micronesian cultures, languages, traditions, education and values. He has gone by many titles: Mayor of Likiep Atoll, ordained Deacon of the Catholic Church, Chief Executive Officer of Alele Museum, President of the College of the Marshall Islands, Ambassador to the United Nations from RMI, and Chairman of the Customary Law and Language Commission. He is co-author of the Marshallese-English Dictionary, published under the auspices of the Pacific Asian Linguistics Institute by the East West Center, as well as the author of a Marshallese novella for children and young adults, entitled Peḷọk ilo Meto Ekauwōtata. Currently, Chairman Capelle is completing the Marshallese Reference Grammar with Dr. Byron Bender, Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the Department of Linguistics at the University of Hawaii-Manoa and Dr. Louise Pagotto, Chancellor of Kapiolani Community College. In his present tenure on the Customary Law and Language Commission, Chairman Capelle has been instrumental in developing language, history, customary law and cultural education programs which support revised Ministry of Education policy that extends bilingual education through high school. Under his leadership, CLLC has initiated a Bilingual and Bicultural Education Project that aims to assess ongoing bilingual education needs among Marshallese communities in urban centers, to produce dictionaries, textbooks, workbooks, teacher guides and distance learning materials for the schools, and to further build institutional capacity. Chairman Capelle lives with his family in Majuro.
Russell Carey is a Program Associate for the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, where he is broadly responsible for ensuring an ongoing connection between WRF’s strategic plan and all program-related activities of the foundation. Prior to joining WRF in July 2013, he was an assistant buyer for Dillard’s, Inc., one of the nation’s largest retailers and a Fortune 500 company based in Little Rock, Arkansas. During his time at Dillard’s, Russell oversaw millions of dollars in purchase orders, developed electronic reporting tools, and helped manage corporate inventory levels. He previously interned with Heifer International and consulted for the Schedler Honors College at the University of Central Arkansas and the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre in Cape Town, South Africa. Russell earned his BBA in business administration from the University of Central Arkansas and MPS in public service from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.
Dr. Catherine Decherong is the Medical Director for the Palau Community Health Centers in the Division of Primary and Preventive Care. She is an expert in noncommunicable diseases and is also a member of the Pacific Chronic Disease Coalition. She previously served as a family physician for Belau National Hospital.
Rebecca Delafield is a clinical research coordinator with the Department of Native Hawaiian Health (DNHH) at the University of Hawai‘i, John A. Burns School of Medicine. She was born in the Northern Mariana Islands, raised in Iowa, and moved to Hawai‘i in 2004 shortly after graduating with her Master in Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Rebecca’s work at the DNHH has focused on community-based research studies that address health disparities in Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander populations. She is currently enrolled in the Community-Based and Translational Research DrPH program offered through the University of Hawai’i Office of Public Health Studies.
Joe Enlet is a native of Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia. He was born and raised on the islands and moved to the U.S. as an adult. Mr. Enlet is a founding board member of the COFA Alliance National Network (CANN), where he served as President and most recently as the Organizing Director. CANN has been a champion for COFA islander policy work and in the last session has successfully passed legislation in Oregon to extend health access to COFA migrants. He currently serves as Senior Health Policy Analyst at the Multnomah County Health Department in the Health Equity Initiative and was appointed by Governor Kate Brown to serve as one of 13 members of the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace Advisory Board. Prior to that, he worked at Health Share of Oregon, the largest Coordinated Care Organization in Oregon serving over 250,000 Medicaid members, where he was the Community Engagement Program Coordinator. He has also worked for the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization as a community health worker and for IRCO’s Diversity and Civic Leadership Program. Mr. Enlet is an active Community Engagement Liaison with the City of Portland and serves on their Immigrant and Refugee council, in addition to being a faith leader in the Chuukese community. Joe Enlet lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and two daughters.
Ridvan “Riz” Firestone
Dr. Ridvan “Riz” Firestone currently leads a research program that focuses on life-course epidemiology across a range of non-communicable diseases, including maternal and child health, respiratory health, and investigation of the social-cultural determinants of obesity. She was awarded the Sir Thomas Davis Te Patu Kite Rangi Ariki Health Research Fellowship in 2015, which will be used to advance her skillset, knowledge and expertise in the area of obesity research and interventions, Pacific youth and participation action research with the aim of developing a fully-fledged international programme of research. Dr. Firestone is a member of the faculty of Massey University in New Zealand.
Helentina “Aina” Garstang
Dr. Helentina “Aina” Garstang is a practicing physician in the Republic of the Marshall Islands and serves as Director of the Ministry of Health’s Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. She specializes in gynecologic cancer prevention and treatment in Pacific Islander communities and previously served as the RMI’s clinical director for reproductive health and family planning.
Sandy Hainline-Williams is a 15 year veteran of the Arkansas Department of Health in Washington County. The emphasis of her practice has been contact investigations, treatment and follows up care for those infected with tuberculosis and/or Hansen’s disease. Approximately 90% of Sandy’s work is within the Marshallese Community of Northwest Arkansas. Ms. Hainline-Williams is a registered nurse with over 40 years of experience.
Dr. Nicola Hawley is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Anthropology at Yale University. Dr. Hawley’s research focuses broadly on: (1) understanding how maternal and child health are impacted by rising levels of obesity and diabetes in developing countries, (2) determining how delivery of healthcare impacts the identification and treatment of these diseases during the perinatal period, and (3) developing interventions to prevent the intergenerational transmission of chronic disease.
Jeremy Henderson works as a Pacific Research Assistant on the Youth Empowerment Programme with Dr. Riz Firestone. He currently works as a Senior IT Specialist, Technology Strategy and Operations for the Inland Revenue Department of New Zealand. He is also very enthusiastic about improving the healthy lifestyle of young Pacific people and building their leadership skills as part of this process.
Dr. Andrea Hermosura is a licensed clinical psychologist. Dr. Hermosura’s area of expertise and research centers around evidence-based lifestyle interventions in Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian communities, specifically related to psychological issues in cancer and cardiac care. She previously served as a Research Assistant for the PILI Ohana Partnership at the University of Hawaii and with I Ola Lahui Integrated Behavioral Health Services, working with Native Hawaiian and rural communities in behavioral health and chronic disease management. Dr. Hermosura received her PhD from the University of Hawaii.
Dr. David Hough’s career includes 40 years of research and activism in support of linguistic and cultural human rights for indigenous and minority peoples. He has worked primarily in Asia and the Pacific to assist in local initiatives to develop dictionaries and language and culture learning materials for the classroom. He has advised ministries and departments of education, institutions of higher learning, local educational bodies, NGOs, INGOs, and indigenous peoples organizations on issues of linguistic human rights, multilingual and multicultural education, and language planning and policy. From 1998-2013, Dr. Hough was Professor of Communication at Shonan Institute of Technology in Fujisawa, Japan. In 2001, he received a three-year grant from the Japan Ministry of Education and Science to produce dictionaries and first language learning materials in Kosraean for the Kosrae State Department of Education. He also worked in Far East Russia on language revitalization projects with indigenous minorities in the region and served as Chief Technical Advisor to the Nepal Ministry of Education and Sports for the country’s Multilingual Education Program. He has also officially advocated with indigenous organizations from Nepal at the United Nations. In 2013 Dr. Hough accepted a faculty position at the College of the Marshall Islands in Majuro, where he is now Senior Advisor for Bilingual Education. He is attached to the Customary Law and Language Commission, where he helps facilitate the development of language, history, customary law and language education programs for the public schools. In addition, he organizes community capacity building workshops, indigenous knowledge holder curriculum development projects and teacher training programs. Dr. Hough also works closely with the Public School System (formerly Ministry of Education) on language education reforms. Dr. Hough currently lives and works in the Marshall Islands but maintains a residence with his wife in Japan.
Dr. Michaela Howells is a biological anthropologist who studies human biology, psychosocial stress, reproduction, barriers to reproductive health care, and neonate growth and development. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Colorado-Boulder and is currently an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington where she directs the Growth, Adaptation, Pregnancy, Stress (GAPS) Lab. She is currently working on a project addressing the re-emergence of Zika at her long term field site in American Samoa.
Dr. Henry Ichiho graduated from University of California at Irvine Medical School in 1968 and completed his internship (1969) and pediatric residency (1974) at Mount Zion Medical Center in San Francisco, CA. He also holds an MPH from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Dr. Ichiho previously headed the Hawaii Department of Health’s Children with Special Health Needs branch as well as the Maternal and Child Health branch. From 1986 to 2013, he provided consulting services in Hawaii and the U.S. Associated Pacific Islands related to maternal and child health, children with special health care needs, HIV-AIDS, and chronic diseases. In 1992-1994 he was Head of the Maternal and Child Health Training Program at the University of Hawaii, School of Public Health. From 2002-2009 served with the Pacific Diabetes Today Program and the Pacific Diabetes Education Program at Papa Ola Lokahi. From 2009-2013 served as consultant to the Pacific Chronic Diseases Coalition.
Father Ryan Jimenez MS, Mdiv facilitates the Faith in Action Research and Resource Alliance and engages in community-based participatory research throughout the Pacific. He works with community and faith organizations, providers, caregivers, patients, and other stakeholders to develop culturally targeted programs that improve the health and well-being of Pacific Islanders.
Dr. Lilly Jonas is a practicing physician in the Federated States of Micronesia, where she specializes in developing and implementing collaborative care models for cancer patients. She is a member of the Pacific Chronic Disease Coalition and the Cancer Council of the Pacific Islands.
Neiar Kabua is the Program Coordinator for the Comprehensive Cancer Control Program in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, where she works with Pacific Islander communities to implement strategies to increase screening and early diagnosis of cancer through community-based interventions.
Joseph Keawe’aimoku “Keawe” Kaholokula
Dr. Keawe Kaholokula is a Professor and Chair of Native Hawaiian Health in the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. He received his PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in 2003 and completed a clinical health psychology post-doctoral fellowship in 2004 at the Triple Army Medical Center. He is a National Institutes of Health funded investigator whose community-based participatory research (CBPR) involves developing sustainable community- and worksite-based health promotion strategies and programs to address cardio-metabolic health inequities experienced by Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. His research also examines how biological, behavioral, and psychosocial factors interplay to affect their risk for, and treatment of, cardio-metabolic-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. Among his various studies of Asians, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, he has examined the effects of depression on cigarette smoking and diabetes management; of racism on physiological stress indices, hypertension, and psychological distress; of acculturation on the risk for depression and diabetes; and of community-placed interventions on reducing obesity, hypertension, and diabetes disparities. He is also a member of Halemua o Kūali‘i, a Hawaiian cultural group dedicated to the revitalization of traditional values and practices to build leaders in our Hawaiian communities.
Dr. Tina Kauh joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2012 as a Research-Evaluation-Learning unit program officer. In this role, she evaluates the work of grantees, develops new research and evaluation programs, helps to develop and monitor performance indicators, and disseminates lessons learned. With her focus on research and evaluation with ethnic and minority populations, she values the “opportunity to understand and address critical health issues, such as childhood obesity.” Previously, Kauh was the senior research associate and director of Management Information Systems for Public/Private Ventures in Philadelphia, where she directed and managed evaluations of out-of-school time, mentoring, and violence reduction programs for youth. She also served as a statistical consultant for MentorPRO in Washington, D.C., was an evaluation advisory board member with the Providence After School Alliance, Providence, R.I., and worked as a graduate assistant and instructor for five years with The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa. Dr. Kauh earned a PhD in Human Development and Family Studies from The Pennsylvania State University with a doctoral minor in Statistics. She also holds an MS in Human Development and Family Studies from The Pennsylvania State University and a BA in Psychology from Wellesley College. She has authored numerous research reports and articles on reducing youth violence, working with at-risk middle- and high school-aged youth, and providing school-based mentoring programs. She is a member of the Society for Research on Adolescence, the Society for Prevention Research, the Society for Research in Child Development, the American Evaluation Association, and the Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy. Born in South Korea, Kauh grew up in Lower Merion, Pa. and now resides in Newtown, Pa. with her husband and two children.
Kathy Ko Chin
Kathy Ko Chin is president and chief executive officer of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), a national health justice organization which influences policy, mobilizes communities, and strengthens programs and organizations to improve the health of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. Ms. Ko Chin has worked in senior management positions in community-based and philanthropic organizations throughout her 30 year career. Most recently, she was the program director for the Community Clinics Initiative (CCI), a joint project of Tides and The California Endowment, which supports the infrastructure development of community clinics and health centers in California through grantmaking, learning and knowledge sharing, and data and research. The $130 million, 10 year program, has funded over 90% of all the community clinics and their associations across California. She has also worked in a number of health care settings and community clinics across the country, including San Francisco General Hospital, University of California San Francisco Institute for Health Policy Studies, Planned Parenthood SF, South Cove Community Health Center in Boston, and with the longest tenure as the Associate Director of Asian Health Services. Ms. Ko Chin is a graduate of the Harvard School of Public Health, as well as of Stanford University, with additional coursework at the London School of Economics and Fudan University in Shanghai. Beyond her professional experience, Kathy has chaired and/or served on the board of directors of Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, Asian Women’s Shelter, and St. Paul’s Episcopal School, where her children have attended. Kathy volunteers with the Lao Iu Mien Culture Association, helping to build the first-of-its-kind national Iu Mien Cultural Center in East Oakland.
Dr. Peter Kohler is Vice Chancellor for UAMS Northwest campus in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Duke Medical School. Following postgraduate training at Duke and Georgetown, he began his medical career at the National Institutes of Health. He then went to Baylor College of Medicine where he served as Professor of Medicine and Chief of Endocrinology. In 1977, Dr. Kohler became Chairman of the Department of Medicine at UAMS. As Chair and later interim Dean of the UAMS medical school, he was an active proponent of the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) program as a way of improving access to health care in underserved areas. Later, as Dean of the University of Texas Medical School in San Antonio, he initiated development of an AHEC program in the Rio Grande Valley. Dr. Kohler is President Emeritus of Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, where he served for over 18 years, from 1988 until his retirement in 2006. He developed an AHEC program in Oregon and served as chair of the Oregon Health Council. He also chaired the NIH Endocrinology Study Section, the NICHD Board of Scientific Counselors, and the Board of the Association of Academic Health Centers. Dr. Kohler was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2004, and has served on the IOM Task Force on Telemedicine and chaired the IOM Committee on Quality in Long-term Care. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Pacific University. In addition to holding appointments to several UAMS boards and affiliated committees, Dr. Kohler serves on the Northwest Arkansas Council and was previously on the boards of the University of Arkansas’ Eleanor Mann School of Nursing and the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce.
Candace Koshiba is a Program Manager for the Palau Tobacco Control Network in the Ministry of Health for the Republic of Palau. She has years of experience in the areas of tobacco prevention, noncommunicable disease, and infectious disease in Pacific Islander communities and is a member of Pacific Partners for Tobacco Free Islands. She is active with the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Melisa Laelan is the Executive Director and Founder of Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese (ACOM), based in Springdale Arkansas. She is a member of the Arkansas Minority Health Commission and is a certified court interpreter. ACOM is a nonprofit organization founded and run by the Marshallese, working to improve quality of life and access to services for the Marshallese community. Ms. Laelan is also a veteran of the United States Army, where she served 10 years and earned the rank of sergeant before settling in Northwest Arkansas.
Korab Lanwe is a registered nurse and disease management nurse with the Ministry of Health in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. He is a member of the Pacific Chronic Disease Coalition. Mr. Lanwe is based in Ebeye in the Marshall Islands.
Tana Lepule is the founding executive director of EPIC: Empowering Pacific Islander Communities, and has over 20 years of experience in health promotion and advocacy for Pacific Islanders in California and the U.S. As a community health educator at one non-profit organization and two universities, he has conducted extensive needs assessments regarding obesity, physical activity, nutrition, cancer screening and survivorship. He has also served as community liaison for WINCART: Weaving an Islander Network for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training, and is experienced in conducting focus groups and surveys leading to the development and evaluation of community-based outreach and education programs. In his current role as EPIC ED, Mr. Lepule spearhead the development of the landmark “Communities of Contrast” reports documenting the social economic, education and health issues and needs of Pacific Islanders in the U.S.
Patrick Luces is the chair of the Pacific Chronic Disease Coalition (PCDC) and is a Program Coordinator with the Guam Department of Health and Social Services. He has years of experience working in the areas of diabetes prevention and control in the Pacific.
Glen Manglona is a statistician and the Epidemiological Lead Coordinator at the Community Guidance Center, Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands.
Dr. Carolee Masao is a practicing physician specializing in tuberculosis. For more than 20 years, she has served as Chief of Curative Services for the Kosrae Department of Health, Arthur P. Sigrah Memorial Hospital in the Federated States of Micronesia.
Dr. Pearl McElfish is the Director of the Office of Community Health and Research at UAMS Northwest Campus in Fayetteville, Arkansas and Co-Director of the Center for Pacific Islander Health at UAMS. She holds a PhD in public policy, a master’s degree in community and economic development, and a master’s degree in business administration. Dr. McElfish is also a certified Project Management Professional and a Certified Community Developer. Prior to joining UAMS, she served as the Chief Development Officer for Ozark Health, where she led the offices of the foundation, marketing, community health, and new business development. She later served as the Chief Development Officer for the NWA Community Foundation (now Endeavor) and worked for the Georgia Health Policy Center to help rural communities across the nation reduce health disparities. After working for several years in community health, she joined UAMS as Study Director for the National Children’s Study. In January 2013, she became the Director of Research for UAMS Northwest and holds a faculty position with the UAMS College of Medicine.
Alison Mendoza-Walters is Director of Research and Evaluation at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials in Arlington, VA. Her responsibilities include providing internal evaluation support for colleagues, conducting assessments on state health agencies, and coordinating capacity building activities for health agencies, with a focus on those in United States Affiliated Pacific Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. She received her BS from the University of Maryland at College Park and MPH from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Dr. Neal Palafox has spent the last 25 years focused on improving health capacity and health policy toward reducing health disparities in the populations of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and the other US-Affiliated Pacific Island (USAPI) jurisdictions of the Territories of American Samoa and Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Republic of Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia. This work has been done utilizing a community-based, participatory approach and developing key partnerships with health leadership, policy-makers and community advocates throughout the USAPI and with Micronesian communities in Hawaii. These efforts have resulted in US Center for Disease Control (CDC)-funded Comprehensive Cancer Control programs in each of the USAPI jurisdictions and the USAPI region, in the development of a Pacific Regional Central Cancer Registry and in a Pacific Center of Excellence in the elimination of disparities in breast and cervical cancer in USAPI populations. Dr. Palafox obtained his MD at the University of Hawaii and his MPH in international health at Johns Hopkins University. He is a professor at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.
Fahina Pasi has been the Executive Director of the National Tongan American Society (NTAS) since 2003. Her leadership has helped to develop programs and access to opportunities to thousands of Pacific Islanders in Utah to healthier lifestyles, increased civic engagement, citizenship assistance, higher education, social justice efforts and cultural preservation. In addition, a weekly bi-lingual community radio show hosted by NTAS Programs Director assists NTAS’s efforts to serve the community. Before joining NTAS in 2003, Ms. Pasi worked for 10 years for the University of Utah as an Academic Advisor assisting ethnic students, with focus on Pacific Islanders, to successfully navigate higher education. Her degrees include AA in Aeronautics, BA in Sociology, MS in Health Promotion and Education. Recognition for her work includes Woman of the Year Award from Utah’s Governor, Leadership Award from Salt Lake Community Action, Organizational Leadership from Organization of Chinese Association-Utah, and a national Leadership Award from the Leadership Education Asian Pacific Organization among others. Ms. Pasi was born in Tatakamotonga, Tonga, grew up in San Mateo, California, and now resides in Holladay, Utah with her husband and family.
Yvette C. Paulino is an Associate Professor of Epidemiology in the University of Guam’s Health Sciences Program, and currently the lead of the Data and Surveillance Team of the Guam Non Communicable Disease Consortium. She served as the Guam Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalition Chairperson in 2012-2013. Dr. Paulino is dedicated to eliminating health disparities through research. She has received funding from the United States Department of Agriculture to study childhood obesity, as well as the NIH-NCI to study the epidemiology and public health of betel nut chewing, including oral pre-cancer screening, the effects of betel nut chewing on the mircrobiome, and most recently a betel nut intervention trial. Her work has been recognized nationally and internationally through awards, publications, and keynote invitations.
Joakim “Jojo” Peter
Jojo Peter lived and studied in Hawai‘i for five years in the 1990s. After earning a double Master degree he returned home to Micronesia and worked at the College of Micronesia–FSM at the Chuuk Campus for 15 years before returning to Hawai‘i in 2011. He is currently working on a doctorate degree in the Special Education at the University of Hawai‘i focusing on immigrant families of children with special needs in Hawai‘i. He is a certified assister for the Hawai‘i Health Connector. With fellow community advocates, he co-founded COFA Community & Advocacy Network (COFA-CAN), a community advocacy network that provides awareness and support for crucial legislative and legal initiatives that affects the lives of the Freely Associated States (FAS) citizens living in Hawai‘i and the United States. Mr. Peter is a native of Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesian (FSM) and speaks Chuukese and English fluently.
Dr. Sheldon Riklon is one of two Marshallese physicians educated in the United States. He is a graduate of the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine and the University of Hawaii-Hilo. He completed his residency in family practice at the University of Hawaii, where he serves on the faculty in the College of Medicine. His professional and research interests center on reducing health disparities in Marshallese and Micronesian populations. Dr. Riklon is a native of the Marshall Islands and is fluent in English and Marshallese.
Mandy Ritok is a Community Research Coordinator and Community Health Worker with the UAMS Northwest Office of Community Health and Research. In this capacity, she recruits Marshallese participants for IRB-approved studies, obtains consent, and leads classes in a unique culturally appropriate diabetes self-managed education program designed by UAMS as part of a PCORI-funded study. Ms. Ritok has a degree in political science from the University of Saint Mary in Kansas. She comes to UAMS Northwest with four years of experience in project management. She is fluent in Marshallese and is also a Parent Liaison, Translator, and Interpreter for Marshallese families at Southwest Junior High School in Springdale, Arkansas.
Jellesen Rubon-Chutaro is a Community Research Coordinator and Community Health Worker with the UAMS Northwest Office of Community Health and Research. She was born in the Marshall Islands and raised in the Fiji Islands. She graduated from high school in Hawaii and received an Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Arts from the College of Marshall Islands. Jellesen attended the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, where she majored in economics. Jellesen provides diabetes self-management education to the Marshallese community in Arkansas as part of a grant funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and facilitates a variety of community-based participatory research pilot studies with the Marshallese community in Northwest Arkansas.
Rebecca “Becky” Robles is the Noncommunicable Disease Administrator at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation in the Northern Mariana Islands. She is a founding member of the Pacific Partners for Tobacco Free Islands (PPTFI) and has over 10 years of experience in tobacco control and prevention.
Dr. Raynald Samoa is a board certified endocrinologist with expertise in diabetes and obesity prevention and treatment. He is the physician lead of the Diabetes Education Program and also the community engagement lead within the Department of Diabetes at City of Hope. He also serves as Advisor on the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities. His areas of expertise are in diabetes and metabolic diseases in vulnerable populations such as underserved low income communities and directly relates to the scope of work to be conducted under the Scientific Advisory and Action Board.
Dr. Tetine Sentell is an Associate Professor in the Office of Public Health Studies at the University of Hawaii, where she is part of the Health Policy and Management specialization. Dr. Sentell received an MA in Political Science and a Ph.D. in Health Services and Policy Analysis from the University of California, Berkeley and was an NIMH postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Sentell has a long-standing interest in racial and ethnic health disparities, especially related to health literacy and English language ability. Dr. Sentell is currently the PI for a 5-year study funded by NIMHD under the Center for Native and Pacific Health Disparities Research concerning racial/ethnic differences in preventable hospitalizations and re-hospitalizations in Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders and recently completed an AHRQ sponsored project considering maternal quality information for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, especially those with limited English proficiency and low health literacy.
Dr. Ka`imi Sinclair is an Assistant Professor in the Institute for Research and Education to Advance Community Health at Washington State University. The past two decades of her academic career has focused on improving diabetes outcomes among health disparity populations, including Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, African Americans, and American Indians. Dr. Sinclair’s work has generally been translational in nature, blending the rigor of randomized controlled trials with a community-based approach. Her research includes several cultural adaptations of Partners in Care diabetes self-management education (DSME) intervention, a novel translation of evidence-based guidelines of the American Diabetes Association Standards of Care integrated into a culturally informed DSME program. Currently, she is partnering with the University of Hawai`i, Department of Native Hawaiian Health to improve blood pressure control among Native Hawaiians through a hula intervention. In addition, she has two grant funded studies to reduce diabetes risk factors among American Indian men, and one study to promote healthy eating and physical activity among Pacific Islander men in Washington. In another study, Dr. Sinclair has created and is evaluating a living donor kidney transplantation educational program for American Indians on dialysis. Finally, she is conducting a series of deliberative discussions about biobanking and biospecimen donation with American Indians and health care providers across the U.S. to inform the national Precision Medicine Initiative.
Chris Surla is a health educator with the Guam Department of Health and Social Services and a member of the Pacific Partners for Tobacco Free Islands (PPTFI).
Since 2008, Dr. Tina Tauasosi-Posiulai has been working as a Community Partner & Research Specialist at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa, Office of Multicultural Student Services (OMSS). Working collaboratively with other Pacific Islander communities, as well as non-profit organizations, she has helped establish and implement various outreach projects aimed to inspire and motivate Pacific Islanders living in Hawaiʻi to pursue a post-secondary education. Currently, she is the project coordinator for Pasefika Passion Pipeline (better known as three P’s) which focuses specifically on transitioning Pacific Islander high school students to any of the University of Hawaiʻi Community Colleges. Dr. Tina remains strongly rooted to her home island, Sāmoa. Her doctoral research “Sauga o Tamaitai e a Latou Tane i Samoa” (2010) and early career focused on domestic violence against women in Samoa. From 1999-2001, she helped to spearhead a World Health Organization Multi-Country study on the effects of violence against women on family health and safety. In Samoa, the Study was carried out as joint research initiative of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the United Nations Population Fund, as well as the Samoan Ministry of Women Affairs. Such research projects have helped to spur the establishment of other nonprofit organizations in Sāmoa to address issues of domestic violence, family health, and safety.
Gertrude Tevita works as a Pacific Research Assistant on the Youth Empowerment Programme with Dr. Riz Firestone. She is also the Regional Operations Director for CityFitness Gym franchise in Wellington, NZ. She is very passionate about health and dedicated to working with Pacific communities in improving health and well-being.
Claire Townsend Ing
Dr. Claire Townsend Ing is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Native Hawaiian Health and received her DrPH from the Office of Public Health Studies at University of Hawai‘i at Manoa 2014. Much of her academic and work experience has been in health disparities, community based participatory research, and health behavior and health education. She has been working as the program coordinator for the PILI ‘Ohana Project, an NIH funded community based participatory research project aimed at overcoming obesity disparities in Hawaii, since 2008. As she develops her career as an independent investigator, she hopes to continue utilized a community-based research approach in examining and addressing social determinants of health.
JoAnn Tsark received her Masters in Public Health from the University of Hawai‘i in 1984 and has focused her tenure in Public Health on Native Hawaiian community health and wellness. Since 1999 she has served as the Research Director of Papa Ola Lōkahi and has spearheaded multiple federally-funded programs from NCI, HRSA and CDC to support programs for cancer and diabetes prevention and control in Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities. Also, she has supported efforts in cardiovascular risk factor research and for the past 16 years has directed ‘Imi Hale Native Hawaiian Cancer Network, one of 23 NCI-funded Community Network Program Centers (www.imihale.org). As a founding member of ‘Imi Hale, she and her colleagues have mentored and supported over 50 Native Hawaiians to win and lead cancer research grant awards, developed the largest body of culturally tailored cancer education materials for Hawaiian and Pacific audiences, established the Ho‘okele i ke Ola Cancer Patient Navigation Training Program and trained 212 Navigators. ‘Imi Hale programs and research incorporate community based participatory research principles, community leadership, capacity building and community participation.
Dr. Lusiana Tuiloma is a physician practicing in the Republic of the Marshall Islands and representative of the RMI Ministry of Health. She is an expert in noncommunicable diseases and a member of the Pacific Chronic Disease Coalition. She has years of experience working to prevent and manage diabetes in Pacific Islander communities. Prior to practicing in the Marshall Islands, Dr. Tuiloma served as Medical Officer for the National Diabetic Centre in Fiji.
CAPT Cathy Wasem serves as a senior program management officer in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Region IX Office of Pacific Health, Office of the Regional Health Administrator. In her role, she works with the State of Hawaii and the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands on a broad range of policy and programmatic health issues, including workforce development, rural health & telehealth, maternal and child health, health equity, NCD’s and emerging infectious diseases, and veterans health, with a focus on underserved rural and AANHPI populations. She is a member of the Region IX Federal Regional Council’s Outer Pacific Committee and has been serving in the Pacific for 14 years. Prior to joining Region IX, she directed HRSA’s $28 M rural telemedicine grant program in the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth and was with the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, HRSA for 11 years where she addressed rural programmatic and policy issues. In the 1970’s and 80’s she worked on the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations as a clinical nurse and then with the tribal colleges as an instructor and director of an AD-RN nursing program. To her current work with communities and agencies, she brings her experience of having been a recipient of Federal grants, a Federal project officer for grants and contracts, and a director of a Federal grant program. She received her BS in Nursing and BA in German from South Dakota State University, her Masters in Nursing from the University of Washington, and studied health policy as a Fulbright Scholar/DAAD at the University of Cologne, Germany. She has served in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps since 1988.
CDR Samuel Wu currently serves as the Public Health Advisor in the Office of Minority Health at the Department of Health and Human Services with a focus on the health and well-being of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations. In this capacity, he coordinates program, policy, and health initiatives across the department. He also serves as the liaison to the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI). Prior to joining the Office of Minority Health, CDR Wu worked at the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of the Chief Information Officer where he coordinated and led the effort in developing and implementing processes for converting drug information (indications, drug interactions, drug adverse reactions, etc.) into machine-readable format for the development of clinical decision support applications. Prior to that post, he served as the Public Health Advisor at the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Office of Health Equity. In that capacity, he was responsible for coordinating a number of public health initiatives, such as Healthy People 2020. Prior to joining the U.S. Public Health Service, CDR Wu worked as a Consultant Pharmacist where he provided drug therapy management services to nursing home residents. CDR Wu also enjoys volunteer work. Currently, he volunteers as a pharmacist at the Pan Asian Volunteer Health Clinic in Gaithersburg, Maryland serving predominantly limited English proficient and low health literacy clients. CDR Wu earned his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from University of Maryland Baltimore School of Pharmacy.
Laura Wyatt, MPH, is the Research Data Manager for the New York University Center for the Study of Asian American Health (CSAAH), within the Department of Population Health at the NYU School of Medicine. She manages and oversees the data across CSAAH, including health intervention data, community surveys, and secondary datasets. Additionally, she assists with the dissemination of study findings and provides epidemiological and biostatistical support for grant development activities. Prior to working at CSAAH, Laura was at the New York City Department of Population Health and Mental Hygiene, where she assisted in multiple research projects related to cancer screening in New York City, including the evaluation of a breast cancer risk reduction workshop and regular analyses of colon cancer screening surveillance data. She also worked at the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, where she led efforts in the construction or protocols for the data collection and analysis of an adolescent dating violence prevention program. Laura received her MPH in Epidemiology at Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health in 2009, and she also studied public health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Laura has extensive experience with data analysis and dissemination of findings, and often presents CSAAH research at national conferences and meetings.