Community Coalition for Equity in Research
Leadership & Membership
Karen Emmons, PhD, is professor of social and behavioral science at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She currently serves as the faculty lead of the Community Engagement program for Harvard Catalyst. She is a behavioral scientist with a strong track record of funded research in community-based approaches to cancer prevention in a variety of settings that serve under-resourced communities, including low-income housing and community health centers.
Emmons’ work targets a range of cancer risk factors, including nutrition, physical activity, sun exposure, tobacco and second-hand smoke exposure, and cancer screening. Her research teams have included interdisciplinary perspectives on cancer risk reduction and health disparities, with a focus on multiple cancer risk behaviors. Her current work and writing focus heavily on implementation science, particularly in community health settings, and she has been actively involved in national efforts to develop implementation research and training programs.
Michael Curry, Esq, is president and CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, which represents 52 health centers, serving more than a million patients. He has worked on both state and federal health reform, substance use funding, Medicaid waivers, and reauthorizations for health center and public health programs. His role has taken him from Blue Hill Avenue in Roxbury to Beacon Hill to Capitol Hill.
Curry serves on numerous boards in Massachusetts, including the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, the Kids Count Advisory Committee, and the Massachusetts Non-profit Network. Nationally, he serves on the board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and chairs the board’s Advocacy and Policy Committee, as well as vice-chairs the Political Action and Legislation Committee. Prior to joining the Mass League, Curry worked in corporate affairs and had a 16-year career at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, where he worked in customer service, claims, IT, audit and controls.
Albert W. Pless, Jr., MS, is the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the Town of Andover, Massachusetts. Previously, he served as the program manager for the Men’s Health League at the Cambridge Public Health Department. He is an adjunct professor at the Tufts School of Medicine MPH program. Pless has more than 20 years of experience working in community-based programs in the Greater Boston area. Previously, he directed a nationally recognized community health worker program for Black and Latino men at the Boston Public Health Commission. Pless is on boards and committees including the Men’s Health, and Black Health Care Workers Caucus of the American Public Health Association. He received his MSc from Southern New Hampshire University.
Carolina Trujillo, MPA, MSPS, is vice president and volunteer engagement director at Eastern Bank. Previously, she worked as the community relations director at Essex Media Group and publisher of La Voz Newspaper, their Latino newspaper. There she developed culturally sensitive media interventions that capture the specific needs of Latinos on the North Shore. She worked in the healthcare sector at the Professional Education Department at Joslin Diabetes Center & Blue Cross Blue Shield to identify opportunities to improve health disparities and service quality for minority and socio-economically deprived patients.
Abdullah Abdul-Rahim, MEd, is a certified chaplain on the leadership team of The Men of Color Health Awareness (MOCHA), the Baystate Community Faculty: Population-Based Urban& Rural Community Health, and BRIDGES: Building Respect in Diverse Groups to Enhance Sensitivity. His work focuses on healthcare issues common in both the urban and rural populations in Massachusetts. Previously, Abdul-Rahim worked as an associate chaplain for the State of Connecticut and the Department of Corrections.
Rosa Alemán, BA, is a digital communications and content strategist at American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts. She helps engage upwards of 70,000 ACLUM community members across social media platforms, with timely, relevant, and valuable content designed to educate and inspire meaningful action.
In 2015, Alemán designed a higher learning project titled #MyDiyMFA: A three-year self-directed education experience consisting of a year of reading, a year of writing, and a year of making. The DIY MFA project aims to empower people to learn powerful communication technology skills that amplify voice and perspective while encouraging the exploration of pathways and practices for proactively confronting systemic oppression, white supremacy, colonialist ideologies and institutional racism across societal sectors.
Elana Brochin, MS, MPH, is program director for health equity at the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC), where she works to promote health equity through the convergence of community development and health via policy, partnerships, and technical assistance to MACDC members.
Prior to working at MACDC, Brochin worked as the healthcare project manager at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (AGO), where she managed the update of the Attorney General’s Community Benefits Guidelines. Previous to her work at the AGO, she worked as a research coordinator and research associate at the Institute for Aging Research. Brochin earned an MS in food policy and applied nutrition, an MPH from Tufts University, and a BA from Cornell University.
Glavielinys Cruz, PsyD, is a behavioral health clinician at Lynn Community Health Center (LCHC). As the lead clinician and site manager at a school-based health center, she oversees and facilitates the effective integration of behavioral health services into the LCHC team and within the Lynn Public School community. Cruz performs comprehensive diagnostic evaluations and creates patient centered treatment plans, provides ongoing treatment, engages in case management and case consultation, and assesses patients’ needs and progress within an integrated team as a bilingual/bicultural clinician.
Cruz is also a member of the board of directors for the Integrated Center for Group Medical Visits in Lawrence, MA. She received bachelor degrees in both psychological and brain sciences, and Spanish literature from Dartmouth College. She also holds a master’s degree in professional psychology and a doctorate in clinical psychology from William James College.
Jean Dolin, BA, is a trilingual humanitarian from Haiti who works to promote LGBTQ and Immigrants’ rights. He is a recent graduate of Immigrants Lead Boston, a program by the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement that trains and empowers Boston immigrants to take civic, ownership, and leadership roles in the community. He is also an alumni of the Leaders in Health program from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
As a community advocate, he has been continuously serving for the past four years as a member of the leadership council of Success Boston, an initiative for college education access by the Boston Foundation. Dolin holds a bachelor of arts degree in communications.
Brenda Evans, MPH, is the community research liaison for the Center for Community Health Equity Research in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, UMass Amherst. She has more than 20 years of education and experience in the public health field, which includes training, healthcare workforce development, coalition building, and community engagement.
Previously, she served as director of a healthcare workforce development program (Pioneer Valley Area Health Education Center) including a coalition of community health workers at the City of Springfield, Department of Health and Human Services. Evans is dedicated to population health and health equity via advocacy and intersectional systematic change to achieve optimal health for everyone.
Chien-Chi Huang, MS, is the founder of Asian Breast Cancer Project and is presently the executive director of Asian Women for Health. A skilled and passionate community advocate, Huang was the Asian community program manager at the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling from 2006 to 2011 where she spearheaded several new health initiatives addressing the unique issues and challenges facing the Asian American community. These initiatives include Asian American problem gambling outreach efforts, Asian American Women’s Mental Health Symposium, Asian American Mental Health Forum, and Immigrants and Refugees Mental Health Network.
Mark Kennedy, MBA, is a senior program manager in the Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Division at the Boston Public Health Commission. In this role, Kennedy is leading the creation and implementation of the cancer early detection plan for the City of Boston. He is also faculty for “Shared Decision-Making: Essential Skills for Prostate, Lung and Breast Cancer Screening,” an online continuing medical education course at the Massachusetts Medical Society, and teaches graduate and undergraduate courses at Regis College and Emerson College.
Additionally, he serves on the steering committee for the Massachusetts Comprehensive Cancer Prevention and Control Network for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and is a co-chair for the Network’s Prostate Cancer Work Group. Previously, Kennedy spent 13 years at Dana-Farber. He received his executive MBA from Northeastern University.
Maame Obeng, BS, is a registered nurse with an interest in establishing a community-based clinic or hospital. She has volunteered at the Hospital of Central Connecticut for two years and has also been a part of the Hunger and Homelessness Project (a subgroup of UConn Public Interest Research Group), Urban Service Track as an urban scholar due to her interest in urban health, and a mentor in the Ron Burton Training Village.
Nancy B. Smith, BS, recently joined the City of Boston Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management as the program manager for community emergency response team/volunteers. As the former program manager for community resilience and engagement at Office of Public Health Preparedness, Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), Smith was responsible for developing community relationships in support of emergency preparedness and community resilience in close coordination with other public health departments and Boston Emergency Management Services.
Smith has worked in different departments of the BPHC, Substance Abuse Bureau, Homeless Commission, and the Child Adolescence and Family Health Bureau. She co-developed “Healthy Relationships” curriculum under the three-city Community Healthy Marriage Initiative site report that includes Boston on the Administration for Children and Families website. Smith also co-developed and manages an emergency preparedness, public safety, public health and climate adaption program called “Get Ready, Be Safe, Stay Healthy.” She is currently working on special programming exploring climate change adaption for the City of Boston.
Marie-Jacques Toussaint, MD, is a program coordinator at True Alliance Center (TAC), Inc., a faith-based organization advocating for quality education, fair immigration policies, and access to affordable healthcare and housing in the Haitian immigrant community. She organizes campaigns for vaccination at TAC and volunteers at the Immigrant Family Services Institute.
Bekka Lee, ScD, is a research scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Bekka is also the director of the Community Engagement Program at Harvard Catalyst providing capacity building on mixed methods, implementation science, and community-engaged research to faculty, staff, students, and community partners. Her research focuses on designing and evaluating community-based interventions that translate into real-world policy and environmental change, focusing in particular on investigating the contextual factors that impact effective implementation and promote health equity. She has spent 15 years working at the Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity, where she conducts research and evaluation with partners at the Boston Public Health Commission, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and YMCA. Bekka teaches courses in implementation science, program planning, and evaluation and co-directs the Leaders in Health community training program at the Harvard Chan School.
Shoba Ramanadhan, ScD, MPH, is an assistant professor of social and behavioral science at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is also a behavioral scientist with expertise in implementation science, cancer disparities, and community-based participatory research. She is also Her work focuses on strengthening systems in underserved communities to leverage the best available evidence for cancer prevention and control.
Her research falls into three streams. First, she designs and evaluates workforce development interventions to promote the use of research evidence within community settings in the US and India. This work also includes examinations of the impacts of staff social networks on the uptake and use of research evidence. Second, she studies the adaptation of evidence-based preventive services for use in underserved communities in the US and India. Her goal is to support strategic adaptation so that implementing organizations can increase the impact of available interventions by leveraging practice- and research-based expertise. The third stream of her work focuses on methods to incorporate practitioner expertise into the cancer prevention and control evidence base more effectively. This includes evaluations of strategies to identify and engage critical implementation stakeholders as well as technology-based methods to gather stakeholder insight efficiently. Much of her work is conducted in partnership with community-based organizations and health-focused coalitions.