Assess, Prioritize, Collaborate.

Our Vision: Healthy lives, whole communities.

CHNA 17’s mission is to promote healthier people and communities by providing a forum to identify, prioritize, collaborate, design and track local and regional health promotion strategies and to tell the stories of the lessons learned.

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.


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


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

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.

Ronit Barkai

Assistant Director, Transition House, Inc.

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. She has been on the CHNA steering committee since 2014.

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

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.

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.

Ben Echevarria

Executive Director, Welcome Project

For the past 7 years Rev. Benjamin Echevarria 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. He has been on the CHNA steering committee since 2016.

Sassiane Estany

Sassy Estany is a community outreach coordinator with Books of Hope, an organization that works with youth to help them get their creative writing published. She is a former program coordinator with Teen Empowerment.  She joined the CHNA steering committee in 2016.

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

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

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.

Stephanie Venizelos

Coordinator, Live Well Watertown and Task Force for Substance Use Disorders

In addition to being the Coordinator of Live Well Watertown and the 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

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

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.

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