Community Advisory Board

Ediss Gandelman, MBA, MEd, CAB ChairEdiss Gandelman, MBA, MEd, CAB Chair
Ediss Gandelman is the former executive director of Trustee and Corporation Relations at Wheelock College in Boston. As chief administrative officer for the Board of Trustees, Gandelman supported the college’s exploration of strategic options resulting in a merger with Boston University. Previously, she served as the director of community benefits at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) where she spearheaded the hospital’s public and community health initiatives and served as the managing director of Community Care Alliance, a network of seven community health centers affiliated with BIDMC. Gandelman practiced as a child/family psychologist before moving into hospital administration where she was the principal of Kennedy Memorial Hospital for Children’s Inpatient Educational Program. After completing her MBA, she worked at the Dimock Center, where she developed an array of health and human service programs as the center’s senior vice president of development and public affairs. Gandelman currently serves as the chair of the Community Engagement Program Community Advisory Board.


Lissette Blondet, EdMLissette Blondet, EdM
Lissette Blondet currently serves as the executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers where she works to strengthen the association and strategically position the workforce to seize the many opportunities now available through healthcare reform. Blondet has dedicated most of her professional life to legitimizing community health workers as public health professionals. She founded the Community Health Education Center (CHEC), the first training and resource center in the country. CHEC’s curricula and professional development programs now serve as national models and have been replicated across the country. Previously, she was director of community benefits for Cape Cod Healthcare, where she focused on making healthcare accessible to the large and underserved Brazilian and Wampanoag communities. Blondet was born in Venezuela and moved to the U.S. to study music. Blondet graduated magna cum laude from Boston University with a BA in music and psychology, and received an EdM from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.


Elizabeth González Suárez, MAElizabeth González Suárez, MA
Elizabeth González Suárez serves as vice president of Community Life (CL) for The Community Builders, Inc. (TCB), where she works to provide stability and social connections for seniors and access to opportunities for families in TCB communities. Previously, she served as the director of Community Health Practice at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), and deputy director of the U54 Partnership Outreach Program. Most of her 20-year tenure with DFCI was dedicated to designing and implementing evidence-based programs that promote public health among high-risk and underserved populations. Earlier in her career, González Suárez conducted research on community-based approaches to health promotion and cancer prevention. She was an active member of the DFCI’s diversity initiative, targeting programs to increase representation of people of color into the health professions. González Suárez serves on the HRiA (Health Resources in Action) board of directors and the advisory board of the Jordan Boys & Girls Club. She received her bachelor and master’s degrees in psychology from Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela.


Elicia Miller Elecia Miller
Elecia Miller works for the City of Lawrence Mayor’s Health Task Force, a public health coalition whose vision is to make the city and its environs a, “healthier, safer, and more thriving community.” She oversees the daily operations and brings public health education to the city. Miller is project officer of the coalition, overseeing health initiatives such as Mass in Motion, a statewide initiative that examines access to physical activity and healthy eating; Lawrence Ciclovia, an open streets activity; and youth development. She is dedicated to reaching residents of the greater Lawrence area through her work.


Shari Nethersole, MDShari Nethersole, MD
Shari Nethersole is the medical director for community health at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH). For over 25 years, she has served as a pediatrician in Boston. In her role as medical director, she oversees the hospital’s community health mission, which works to address the most pressing health issues affecting children in our city including asthma, mental health, obesity, and child development. Nethersole works with community organizations, community health centers, and city and state agencies to address health disparities and improve the health of children and families through programs, partnerships, and advocacy. She established the Community Asthma Initiative, as well as the Fitness in the City Program to address childhood obesity. She’s also an active advocate at the city and state level for child health priorities. Nethersole received her undergraduate degree from Yale University and her medical degree from Harvard Medical School and completed her pediatric residency at BCH.


Leslie Pelton-Cairns, LCSWLeslie Pelton-Cairns, LCSW
Leslie Pelton-Cairns is the director of public health initiatives at the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, the primary care association for all 50 health centers in the state. In this role, she manages clinical quality initiatives and provides direct technical assistance to health centers as a leader in the Clinical Health Affairs Team. She currently serves on several advisory committees, including Brigham and Women’s Community Health Initiative and Simmons College’s Behavioral Health Workforce Integration Program. Previously, she launched Beth Israel Deaconess’s Patient and Family Engagement Program, institutionalizing the involvement of patients in quality improvement efforts. Additionally, she was a senior management consultant at Public Health Solutions, where she managed the Infrastructure Technical Assistance Unit, offering one-on-one coaching and designing curriculum for New York City HIV/AIDS organizations. She holds an MS in social work administration from Columbia University and a BS in business management and marketing from Cornell University.


Samuel S. Wong, PhD, MS, REHS/RSSamuel S. Wong, PhD, MS, REHS/RS
Sam Wong is the director of the Office of Local and Regional Health at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Previously, he served as director of public health for the City of Framingham. Wong is a scholar with the Northeast Public Health Leadership Institute and is president of the Massachusetts Health Officers Association. He is a past chair of the MetroWest Prevention & Wellness Partnership, a collaboration of healthcare and community organizations in the MetroWest area dedicated to integrating clinical and community health sectors to prevent and improve health outcomes of residents suffering from chronic diseases. He is also a gubernatorial-appointed council member for both the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the Massachusetts Food Policy Council and serves on the statewide Special Commission on Local & Regional Health. Wong has received many state and regional awards for his work on public health, including the Deborah Blumer Community Health Leadership Award from the MetroWest Health Foundation and the John D. Crowley Award from the Massachusetts Health Officers Association. He earned his graduate degrees from the University of Rhode Island.


Leon Bethune, MPHLeon Bethune, MPH
Leon Bethune is the director of the Community Initiatives Bureau (CIB) at the Boston Public Health Commission. He manages a number of divisions with a budget of $5 million, including the Chronic Disease Division, Healthy Homes and Community Support Division, Environmental and Occupational Health Division, the Mayor’s Health Line, and the South End Fitness Center. CIB addresses health issues affecting the entire community of Boston through community and home-based services. The bureau supports the commission’s commitment to reduce exposure to environmental toxins, chronic disease prevention and management, access to healthcare, and the enforcement of citywide health regulations. Bethune has worked at the commission since 1994, previously serving as director of the Division of Environmental and Occupational Health and as an environmental toxicologist. He has written and presented abstracts on environmental health issues at national conferences. He currently serves on several nonprofit boards and is the president of the Dorchester YMCA board, past president of the Massachusetts Environmental Health Association, and a member of the ESAC board. He received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Northeastern University and a master of public health in environmental health from Boston University. He was awarded the city’s 2012 Henry L. Shattuck Public Service Award.


Jen FaigelJen Faigel
Jen Faigel is co-founder and executive director of CommonWealth Kitchen (CWK), Boston’s only nonprofit food business incubator and food manufacturing social enterprise. CWK provides kitchen space and business support to more than 50 entrepreneurs, 75% of whom are women and/or people of color/immigrants, and employs more than 160 local residents. CWK’s small-batch contract manufacturing provides recipe development, production, and value-added processing for more than 25 wholesalers, restaurants, and farms. The organization also works with several local colleges and Boston Public Schools. Faigel has a background in real estate and community economic development. She was the lead real estate consultant for the $15 million Pearl project, which is now home to CWK’s flagship kitchen operation. In her career, she has developed more than 500 affordable homes and 225,000 square feet of commercial real estate–worth more than $200 million–as a driver of job creation and economic opportunity.


Benjamin Perkins, MA, MDivBenjamin Perkins, MA, MDiv
Benjamin Perkins is the chief executive officer at Wholesome Wave and former vice president of multicultural initiatives/health equity for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. He has worked in the public health field for more than 17 years, specializing in disease prevention and research education to communities vulnerable to HIV infection. He has held numerous leadership roles, from community advisory board chair to founding director of a CDC-funded HIV-prevention and wellness center, to project director for an NIH-funded HIV-prevention feasibility study. His work has also focused on health disparities and inequities in cardiovascular disease and stroke rates among communities of color and other underserved populations. Perkins received his master of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School, his master’s in clinical psychology from Antioch University in Los Angeles, and his bachelor’s in geography from the University of California at Los Angeles.


Sabrina Selk, ScDSabrina Selk, ScD
Sabrina Selk is the director of health and racial equity at the National Network of Public Health Institutes and serves as a member of the Cambridge Human Rights Commission. Previously, she was the director of the Office of Health Equity at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Selk brings extensive experience working with communities to understand and address social determinants of health and improve the health of children. Previously, she worked at the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ), where she led the Department of Applied Research and Evaluation, and at Dana Farber Cancer Institute as manager of research & clinical relations at Advance Health Solutions. In her role at NICHQ, she was a senior advisor on a number of projects across content areas including asthma, sickle cell disease, infant mortality, and early childhood comprehensive systems. She has technical expertise in research methods, content development, training and technical assistance, as well as experience addressing health equity through evidence-based strategies and quality improvement. Selk has a doctor of science in social and behavioral science society, human development and health, from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, and undergraduate degrees in biology and psychology from the University of Washington.


Stephanie Marie Sloan, MPHStephanie Marie Sloan, MPH
Stephanie Marie Sloan is the assistant director at the New Bedford Health Department. In her role, she coordinates COVID-19 contact tracing and vaccination clinics, manages grant and nursing staff for implementation of programs, coordinates public health accreditation preparation activities, and organizes internships at the health department. In her previous roles at the health department, she served as project manager for the Prevention Wellness Trust Fund Grant, coordinating clinical and community partnership activities in the city, and sat on the Bristol County Emergency Preparedness Coalition. Previously, she worked for the Brookline Community Mental Health Center. Outside of her work, she volunteers with St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Dartmouth, where she helps to organize fundraising events and manage church social media and event advertising.