Assess, Prioritize, Collaborate.

Our Vision: Healthy lives, whole communities.

CHNA 17’s mission is to promote healthier people and communities by fostering community engagement, elevating innovative and best practices, advancing racial equity, and supporting reciprocal learning opportunities to address the needs of the most marginalized members of our communities.

The CHNA has existed as a regional health coalition since 1992, serving Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge, Somerville, Watertown and Waltham. The coalition’s work is funded primarily through a Determination of Need (DON) allocation from Mount Auburn Hospital, and McLean’s Hospital. The Cambridge Public Health Department/Cambridge Health Alliance also contributes to the CHNA’s community grants.

Membership

Participation in CHNA 17 is open to anyone interested in working with others to improve the health and well-being of local residents and communities. Click here to complete our membership form. For more information, contact Stacy Carruth, CHNA 17 Planning Director at planningdirector@chna17.org.

Leadership

CHNA 17’s activities are governed by the Steering Committee.

Elizabeth Aguilo

Elizabeth Aguilo, Chair

Executive Director, Paine Senior Services

Liz Aguilo, LICSW, received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Simmons College School of Social Work. In 2000, she became the Executive Director of Paine Senior Services and in this role serves as the Board President of Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services, the co-facilitator of the Cambridge and Somerville Mental Health and Aging Coalition, and the Chair of the CHNA 17 Steering Committee. She has been on the CHNA steering committee since 2011.

Betty Burkes

Betty Burkes

Chair, Cambridge Insight Meditation Center.

Betty Burkes is a life-long educator and activist. She is a meditation practitioner and currently chairs the Board of the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center (CIMC). She has been on the CHNA steering committee since 2016.

Pietra Check

Pietra Check

Technical Adviser, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pietra Check has been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health over the past 10 years. At the CDC she has developed partnerships at the local, regional, and national level and worked with the Mexican government to develop materials and training to build capacity for occupational safety and health at Mexican consulates around the U.S. She is currently a DrPH candidate at Tufts University. She has been on the CHNA steering committee since 2017.

Mary DeCourcey

Mary DeCourcey

Mary works in the Community Health Department at Mount Auburn Hospital as the Community Benefits Coordinator. Her work involves developing community health priorities by listening to the needs of the community and responding to those needs. Programs or services are carried out which benefit the community and show quality outcomes. As the Community Benefits Program Coordinator she has led many initiatives, including community health education and outreach as well as community health assessments which inform the work. She also serves on the Board of Youth Services in Arlington, which oversees and supports The Arlington Youth Counseling Center. Mary has a Masters Degree in Health Care Administration from Simmons College.

Kaytie Dowcett

Kaytie Dowcett

Executive Director, Waltham Partnership for Youth

Kaytie Dowcett is the Executive Director of the Waltham Partnership for Youth, a small nonprofit working to increase the collective capacity of service providers in Waltham to meet the needs of all of Waltham’s youth. She has over 15 years of experience in education and youth development, including direct service, research and evaluation, and policy advocacy. She has been on the CHNA steering committee since 2016.

Shameka Gregory

Shameka Gregory

Shameka is a licensed independent clinical social worker, and is the community liaison at Transition House in Cambridge. She has a master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from Boston College. Among her previous work, Shameka was a Life Success Coach at the Henry Dearborn Middle School through the Trinity Boston Counseling Center. Life Success Coaches are integrated into Boston Public Schools to coach and manage truant students to improve attendance, engagement, and performance. She has also served as a Behavioral Health Communications Specialist with the Cambridge Health Alliance. Shameka recently received a certificate from Tufts University in non-profit management and leadership

Alison Kuah

Alison Kuah

Alison is a recent graduate from Tufts University with a degree in Anthropology, where she was a recipient of the Frederick Melvin Ellis Prize. She current works for the Welcome Project in Somerville as the Youth Program Coordinator. She has also served as an intern for the Women’s Center in Medford, and the Association for Women in Action and Research in Singapore. She has also worked on the following community projects: Medford Conversations; Teens Take Action Somerville, Tufts University Experimental College. She has presented at the Boston Educators for Social Justice Conference and the Rootskills Conference.

Colleen Leger

Colleen Leger

Director, Arlington Youth Counseling Center

For the past 13 years, Colleen has worked to support the social and emotional health needs of youth and their families. In 2008, she received a Masters in Public Health from Boston University and subsequently began working for the Town of Arlington. As the Director of the Arlington Youth Health and Safety Coalition, Colleen led a community coalition in their efforts to prevent and reduce substance use and other risky behavior among youth in Arlington. She is currently the Director of AYCC, a licensed outpatient mental health agency dedicated to serving community youth and their families. Colleen has been on the CHNA steering committee since 2012.

Natasha Pierre

Natasha Pierre

Clinician, Wayside Youth and Family Services

For the past 6 years, Natasha has worked as a mental health clinician at Wayside Youth and Family Services. Prior to that, she was an advocate at Transition House and worked with people in the transitional living program. She is a certified trainer for Mental Health First Aid, and Youth Mental Health First Aid, is a lead trainer for the Street Smart Curriculum, and is Certified in the Child and Adolescent Needs Strengths Program. She has a M.Ed in Counseling Psychology. She has been on the CHNA steering committee since 2017

Nancy Rihan Porter

Nancy Rihan Porter

Coordinator, Injury & Violence Prevention Program, Cambridge Public Health Department

Nancy has over 10 years working with mental health related organizations, including Cushing House, Women’s Hope, Casa Myrna and now the Cambridge Health Department. She also oversees the Cambridge Community Response/Resilience Network and is an active member in the Domestic Violence Steering Committee, and is a member of the anti-oppression work group. She is certified in LADCII And CADAC through the Alcohol and Chemical Dependency Treatment Services Program at the University of Massachusetts and completed a residency in psychiatry. She has been on the CHNA steering committee since 2017.

Mary Jo Rendón

Mary Jo Rendón

Mary Jo has been working in education for over the past 20 years. As a DropOut Prevention Specialist at Waltham High School she has developed a LatinX Family Leadership Program and a Parent-Teacher Home Visit Project to build trustful and safe relationships between educators and international families. She partners with school and community members to raise critical consciousness around cultures and identities and to build a sense of belonging among diverse populations.

Lynn Rosenbaum

Lynn Rosenbaum

Lynn works for the Community Engagement Team in Cambridge where she is a trainer and curriculum editor for the Making Connections program and was the Managing Editor for the report “Shining a Light on the Racism facing American-born Black Families in Cambridge.” She has a Masters in Health Education from Boston University, and over the last 20 years has worked for many non-profits focused on education and community health. She lives in Arlington where she teaches sexuality education to teens and has coordinated meditation groups. She has been a member of CHNA 17 for over 5 years and joined the Steering Committee in 2018.

Stephanie Venizelos

Stephanie Venizelos

Coordinator, Live Well Watertown and
W.A.T.E.R.town Task Force for Substance Use Disorders

In addition to being the Coordinator of Live Well Watertown and the W.A.T.E.R.town Task Force for Substance Use Disorders, Stephanie is a Certified Wellness Coach and Practitioner. She has 20 years of experience in program development, coaching, teaching and training, and developed a course on Mindfulness and Social-Emotional Intelligence which she teaches at Mount Auburn Hospital and throughout the community. She joined the CHNA 17 Steering Committee early in 2016.

Min Ma

Min Ma

Evaluator, CHNA 17

Min provides evaluation services, training, and technical assistance to a range of organizations. She is committed to promoting rights and inclusion of immigrants and refugees, and has worked for over 10 years on education, community health, migration, and youth development in the US, Asia, and Africa. Min holds a Master of Arts from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Stacy Carruth-Sesia

Stacy Carruth-Sesia

Planning Director, CHNA 17

Stacy has been providing technical support to community coalitions for the past 10 years. As a community health specialist working with community coalitions, she has also led successful legislative advocacy initiatives. Prior to this, she coordinated research studies in youth substance use at JSI and Alzheimer’s caregivers at Boston Medical Center. Stacy was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Comoros Islands, and received a Masters in Public Health from Boston University. Stacy has been supporting CHNA 17 since 2015.

Advisory Committee

The current members of CHNA 17’s Advisory Committee

Ronit Barkai

Assistant Director, Transition House, Inc.

Formerly a member of the CHNA 17 Steering Committee, Ronit has worked for over 25 years on the issues ​of domestic violence and sexual assault. She began working for Transition House in 2002, opening its first Transitional Living Program. Since then, she has been responsible for expanding Transition House’s programming and programs. She currently serves as the Assistant Director of the agency.

Ronit Barkai

Melissa W. Bartholomew

Melissa W. Bartholomew is a racial justice and healing practitioner. She practiced public interest law for nearly tenyears before embracing her call to the ministry of racial justice and healing. Melissa received her MDiv from Harvard Divinity School, her MSW from Boston College, and is currently pursuing a PhD in social work at Boston College. Her research interests include the impact of racism and incarceration on the mental health of African Africans and the role of spirituality in their resilience. She facilitates racial justice and healing workshops utilizing her framework, Healers of the Wound: Healing Racism from the Inside Out.

Melissa W. Bartholomew

Ben Echevarria

Executive Director, Welcome Project

Formerly of the CHNA 17 Steering Committee, for the past 7 years Rev. Benjamin Echevarría Jr., has served Board President & CEO for The Welcome Project. The past 3 years Ben has worked starting La Luz Del World Ministry. A ministry designed to help bicultural Latinos find meaningful ways to serve God. Ben is now the Executive Director of the Welcome Project, a community-based organization in Somerville working to build the voice and collective power of the immigrants to participate in and shape community decisions.

Ben Echevarria

Stacey King

Stacey, formerly of the CHNA 17 steering committee, works with graduate students at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on their field practice experiences, which take place with public health organizations in metro-Boston and around the world. A former member of the CHNA 17 Steering Committee, Stacey worked for ten years at the Cambridge Public Health Department as Community Health Director, among other roles. She has a M.S. in Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism from the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and an A.B. in Psychology from Brown University.

Stacey King

Albert W. Pless, Jr.

Albert is the Program Manager for the Men’s Health League at the Cambridge Public Health Department. Albert has over 20 years 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. Albert is on numerous boards and committee’s including the Men’s Health, and Black Health Care Workers Caucus’s of the American Public Health Association (APHA). Albert received his Master of Science degree in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, NH.

Albert W. Pless, Jr.

Shalini A. Tendulkar

Shalini is a Lecturer in the Department of Community Health at Tufts University. She has extensive experience conducting research, evaluation and needs assessment work in collaboration with community and academic partners using community-based participatory approaches. Shalini is also committed to working with partners to address racial, ethnic and other health disparities and has collaborated on various projects addressing health disparities, from men’s health disparities to mental health disparities in Asian populations. Dr. Tendulkar has published her research and evaluation work in peer-reviewed journals and presented her work in national and community-based settings, often in collaboration with her community partners. Given her commitment to teaching future generations of public and community health professionals, Shalini is also dedicated to mentoring and training students to support their involvement in community-based research and evaluation partnerships. Shalini received her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College and her Masters and Doctorate in Maternal and Child Health from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Shalini A. Tendulkar
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