Jessica (Jessie) Buendia has fourteen years of experience in the foundation, government, and nonprofit sectors advancing progressive public policy and social impact programs. Currently, Jessie is the Deputy Director of the California Strategic Growth Council (SGC). SGC promotes sustainability, health, and equity across the state by helping California achieve its climate change goals through place based and community driven programming.
Prior to joining SGC, Jessie was the Community Benefits and Social Responsibility Manager at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. She was responsible for implementing the agency's landmark community benefits and environmental justice policies across its Water, Power, and Sewer Enterprises, directing its social impact program, and leading its participation in the Government Alliance on Race and Equity. She has held positions at the San Francisco Foundation, Health Access Foundation, California State Legislature, City of Newark, Urban Habitat, and the Greenlining Institute. She has also lived and worked in Mexico, France, India, and South Africa.
Jessie has a Master's degree in Public Policy from Princeton University, an Advanced Project Management Certificate from Stanford University, and a Bachelor's Degree from Macalester College. She is also a certified life coach with a focus on building transformational leadership within the social justice sector.
Shireen Malekafzali serves as Chief Equity Officer at San Mateo County. She focuses on building more equitable county government structure, policies, practices, and procedures in order to support more equitable outcomes in communities of color, low-income communities, and other communities facing inequities. Shireen brings over 20 years of experience advancing equity through the non-profit, government and philanthropic sectors. She serves as board chair of Human Impact Partners and board chair of the Social Justice Committee at TransForm. Shireen has a passion for advancing a just democracy, eating Persian food, and playing with her two small kids.
Califia Abwoon is a Peer Support Specialist (PSS), Certified Anger Management Coach (CAMF), Domestic Violence Management Facilitator (DMF), an Emotional Intelligence Rehabilitation Coach, and is in the process of earning her Substance Use Counseling License. She works with We Are Wayfarer, 1:1 Pilot Program developing relationships with the homeless population on Skid-row and in Long Beach. She advocates for underserved community members with mental health disorders who are homeless and lack effective case management services. She provides comprehensive mental health provisions that enhance the well-being of clinicians and patients. She also serves as the Chairman of the Board of Create Realistic Change Inc., a Peer Run Organization that is focused on the underserved community in Los Angeles. She is involved with the Service Area Advisory Committees (SAAC) 6 and 8, which functions as a local forum of consumers, families, service providers and community representatives to provide the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health with information, advice, and recommendations regarding the mental health service needs of those in South Los Angeles and South Bay. Califia is also with the California Association of Mental Health Peer Run Organizations on the Peer Action League Committee where she leads groups focusing on mental health efforts and updates peers on legislative policies. Califia is on the Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) pilot Reentry Health Advisory Collaborative (RHAC) funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Working on the funding committee for Men Central Jail Closure (MCJ), ordered by Los Angeles County Board of supervisors (LACBOS). LAC BOS has ordered the Office of Diversion and Reentry to create a Jail Population Review Council which includes the RHAC. The RHAC has partnered with the Participatory Budget Project (PBP) to help facilitate a community inspired budget. Califia collaborates with Community Coalition (CoCo) founded by Congresswoman Karen Bass, and with A New Way of Life Re-entry Project with All Of Us Or None (AOUON) founded by Susan Burton, who advocates for the rights of ex-prisoners and in prisoned populations. Califia has experienced homeless for 20 years. She is a violence, sexual, and mental abuse survivor. Califia provides a unique perspective to the Advisory Committee given her first-hand experience of being part of the community that the Advisory Committee serves.
Vong Mouanoutoua was the founding Advisory Board Member for the Hmong Helping Hands Project in the Central Valley. Vong represents and is part of the Hmong community in the central valley, a very vulnerable and underrepresented community. His prior experience include that of a program director in a non-profit for serval years. In that capacity he had the opportunity to write grants and supervise over $13 million in funding. Vong's current occupation with the Community Medical Centers and as a Councilmember for the City of Clovis has afforded him the opportunity to be part of the California Reducing Disparities Project (CRDP), which has allowed him to learn more about the needs of the mental health services for diverse populations. Through his work at the Fresno EOC, Reading and Beyond, Community Medical Centers, CRDP Project and on the City Council, he has learned how important it is to provide services to communities that are many times forgotten.
Robin Carter is the Interim Dean of the College of Health & Human Services at Sacramento State University. Robin Carter has over 25 years of experience as a social work professor and administrator. As a clinical social worker, she has worked with vulnerable populations, including the elderly, those with chronic health and disabling conditions, and people at the end of their lives. The focus of her scholarly and community work is mental health assessment and treatment; gerontology and equity and inclusion. She has been the principle investigator in several large grants and contracts serving students and totaling over $2 million. She has held board membership in multiple professional organizations, including the Sacramento Family Justice Center, Cal Post Doc Advisory Board and the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. She is one of the founding members of the MLK Center at Sacramento State and in her previous role of Interim Executive Director of Diversity she was charged with developing the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Sacramento State.
A recipient of the "Champion of Change" award from the White House in 2014, Nahla Kayali works to empower underserved individuals and families to ensure they have access to health and human services. Arriving to the United States as a Palestinian refugee from Syria at the age of 16, and only having finished the 9th grade, Nahla founded Access California Services (AccessCal) in 1998, a culturally and linguistically competent health and human services non-profit organization in Anaheim dedicated to empowering underserved populations, with a focus on Arab-American & Muslim-American communities. Under Nahla's leadership, AccessCal serves 11,000 unduplicated clients and provides over 65,000 services, annually. Nahla serves as the Chairperson of the Orange County Refugee Forum and holds the State Refugee Forum Seat for the State Advisory Council on Refugee Services. Most recently in 2019, Nahla's work was featured in the book "Leadership with Impact: Preparing Health and Human Service Practitioners in the Age of Innovation and Diversity," written by Juan Carlos Araque, PhD, a Clinical Associate Professor and Eugenia L. Weiss, PsyD, LCSW, a Clinical Associate Professor who both work at the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at the University of Southern California.
Michael Witte has been a physician since 1970 and currently serves as the Chief Medical Officer for the California Primary Care Association, where he works with a dynamic group of health policy experts who support the most vulnerable populations in California. Family medicine and Federally Qualified Health Centers are his primary areas of expertise.
Patricia Lee has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Rhode Island and is currently the Research Scientist for the Office of Medical Director (OMD) in the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). Dr. Lee determines potential key areas of research in health disparities and inequities in the California Medicaid population, to be undertaken by OMD, and disseminates findings of scientific research in written reports. Prior to joining the OMD, Dr. Lee worked for the Office of Women’s Health (OWH) in DHCS. Before working for the state, she was an assistant professor in the department of Health Behavior at the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB) School of Public Health, and she was an associate scientist position in the UAB Minority Health Research Center.
Nancy Rodriguez is a Health Program Analyst with Community and Field Services at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) South Bay Regional Health Office. She conducts the planning, implementation, and evaluation of programs that promote authentic community engagement. Nancy serves as co-lead of the South LA/South Bay African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Community Action Team, a government-community partnership to address the alarming racial disparities in birth outcomes endured by African Americans in Los Angeles County. Her priority is to ensure that the voices of community members play a central role when planning and implementing community initiatives. Nancy's heavy involvement with the community will serve as a bridge for the Advisory Committee to engage directly with residents and obtain first-hand input on the various initiatives happening within the community. Nancy is a first-generation college graduate from a Mexican immigrant family. She completed her undergraduate education in Public Health Policy at the University of California, Irvine, and obtained her Master in Public Health (MPH) with an emphasis in Health Communication from the University of Southern California. Nancy is also a Certified Health Education Specialist and a Certified Healthcare Interpreter.
Héctor Manuel Ramírez
Héctor Manuel Ramírez (he/them/they) is an Apache and Mexican Two Spirits person occupying space in Yaanga, Tongva-Los Angeles, CA the ancestral lands of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians. He is an Autistic person with a psychiatric disability and is hard of hearing, a lifelong disability rights advocate focusing on the intersections that impact disabled people, families, and communities.
He is a formerly institutionalized person and a consumer of the largest public mental health system in the country-Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health where he chairs the Latino UsCC. He is the first openly gay person ever appointed to the Los Angeles County Mental Health Commission, a board member of Disability Rights California, and the National Disability Rights Network.
He has been appointed to California's Governor Gavin Newsom's Behavioral Health Task Force to address the urgent mental health and substance use disorder needs across California and to the Los Angeles County Measure J Reimagine LA Advisory Committee, where he makes recommendations to the board of supervisors on strategies to address racial injustice through community investments such as youth development, job training, small business development, supportive housing services, and alternatives to incarceration.
Angelina Woodberry is currently a Consumer Advocate Liaison with Cal Voices in Sacramento County and brings 20 years of front line nonprofit social services experiences. Angelina has been involved in community based advisory boards for 14 years. She serves as a Peer Action League Member with the California Association of Mental Health Peer Run Organizations and is a member on their Cultural, Racial Ethnic Equity Committee. She is also the Chair Sacramento County Children's Coalition. With her roles on these boards, she provides the unique perspective of a woman of color who came from the foster care system. She has been both a consumer of mental health services and the parent of a child with a physical disability and mental health challenges. Angelina previously worked as a mental health patients' rights advocate, representing people with lived mental health challenges in administrative hearings to help them fight for voluntary outpatient treatment.