RWJF Center for Health Policy at UNM

You are here

Newsletter - August 2010- RWJF Center for Health Policy

RWJF Center at UNM Collaborates with NALEO to Prevent Tobacco Use and Obesity Across Nation
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced awards totaling $10 million to 10 national non-profit organizations to support public health efforts to reduce tobacco use and reduce obesity through increased physical activity and improved nutrition. These competitive awards are part of the HHS Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) initiative, a comprehensive prevention and wellness initiative funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The RWJF Center for Health Policy will collaborate with The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund on its $1 million grant, allowing Center Senior and Doctoral Fellows to provide expert guidance to help Latino leaders sustain current prevention efforts and foster new prevention efforts by adopting and implementing key policies and practices in their communities.

Summer Orientation Returns
For the third consecutive year, the Center is delighted to host a Summer Orientation event for new and returning graduate fellows. This year's event will be from August 10-13. For event times, please see our events calendar at
Drawing on the results of last year's evaluations, and the valued input of committees (including Center staff, faculty, senior fellows, graduate fellows, and leadership), this year's event aims to provide an intriguing mix of old favorites, new initiatives, and special guests.
There will be a reprise presentation from the Institute for the Study of "Race" and Social Justice, and a "Getting Your Doctorate" discussion with new fellows.
The transition from new fellow to all-fellow orientation sessions will take place Wednesday 08/11 on the Center lawn, with an all Fellows luncheon at 12p.m. Center faculty, leadership, staff, and invited guests are hosting the luncheon.

New initiatives include a first-ever clinical site visit, a health policy roundtables session, an introduction by Dr. Daniel Sanford to services available from the Multicultural Writing & Language Center, and a Welcome Back Reception including participants in our first annual Recruitment Conference.

Finally, we are especially honored to have Nora Domínguez of UNM's Mentoring Institute and Dr. Refugio Rochin, professor and director emeritus at UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz, as guest speakers

Welcome 2010-2011 Doctoral and Dissertation Fellows

The Center is pleased to welcome the 2010-2011 Doctoral and Dissertation Fellows!
For information on their specific areas of research and goals, please visit:

Congratulations to Doctoral Fellows Lorenda Belone and Julia Austin! They are the first of the Center's dissertation fellows to complete their PhDs!

Doctoral Fellows

Angelina Gonzalez-Aller, Political Science

Sonia Bettez, Sociology

Heaven Handley, Economics

Belinda Vicuña, Psychology

Estela Vasquez Guzman, Sociology

Tennille Larzelere Marley, Sociology

Julie Lucero, C&J

Marita Luz Campos-Melady, Psychology

Michael Muhammad, Sociology

Alexis Ortiz, Psychology

Yajaira Peña-Esparza, Psychology

Luis Robles, Economics

Veronica Salinas, Economics

Shannon Sanchez-Youngman, Political Science

Vickie Ybarra, Political Science

Dissertation Fellows

Sean Bruna, Anthropology

Felicha Candelaria-Cook,  Psychology

Elvira Pichardo, Anthropology

Andrea Lopez, Anthropology

Ron Nikora, Political Science

Justin Tevie, Economics

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Vanessa Watts Simonds, FCM

Kimberly Huyser, Sociology

New Faculty
Dr. Jillian Medeiros transitions from Center Post-Doctoral Fellow to Assistant Professor of Political Science.
Dr. Margaret Blume-Kohout joins the faculty of the Economics Department as an Assistant Professor. Watch for their faculty profiles in the next issue of this newsletter.

Welcome, Baby Brandon Michael Maestas!
Born to Antoinette and Michael Maestas on 6/15/10 at 6:51 PM, 7lbs 7oz
cloud rotated

Fall Lecture Series: "Plural Perspectives on Health and Health Policy"
"You Got to Prove It Beyond a Doubt: Knowledge, Evidence, & Practice in American Indian Mental Health Services"

Joseph P. Gone, PhD
Associate Professor
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

UNM Student Union Building Lobo Room A &B

Thursday, September 9, 2010
12:30 - 2:00 pm

"The U.S. and the U.K. : Two Countries Divided by a Common Need for Healthcare Efficiency"

Michael Drummond, PhD, MBA
Professor, Health Economics
University of York and National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) 

UNM HSC Domenici Room 3010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010
12:30 - 2:00 pm  

"New Public Policy in Health Literacy"

Terry Davis, PhD
Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

UNM HSC Domenici Room 2112

Thursday, November 4, 2010   
12:30 - 2:00 pm

"National Health Policy Reform: Looking Forward and Back"

Judith Feder, PhD
Professor, Public Policy
Georgetown University

UNM Student Union Building Acoma A & B

Thursday, November 18, 2010   
12:30 - 2:00 pm

New Art Exhibit at the Center: "Generations"
The Center is delighted to announce the fall art exhibit, opening August 28, 2010 from 1-3pm.

"Generations" is a collection of works by various artists who participate in the VSA Day Arts Program at the North Fourth Art Center. The exhibit will run from August 28 through December 1, 2010. Showcased in the exhibit are the talents of Marc Fyre, Lean Han, Sammy Maldonado, Robert Rivers, and James Santillanes. Each artist utilizes different sources of inspiration and identifications that are closest to their cultural generation.
The VSA Day Arts Program provides arts education and exhibition opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities. The Albuquerque program at the North Fourth Art Center is affiliated with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC and currently enrolls 175 artists in visual and performing arts classes. For more information, please visit

"We are honored to present at the RWJF Center for Health Policy, a locus for shaping and encouraging new generations of diverse leaders in health policy research," says Lina Jabra, Community Development Director. An arts and crafts sale featuring the work of dozens of VSA artists will open the exhibit on Saturday, August 28, 2010 from 1-3pm, on the lawn in front of the Center at 1909 Las Lomas. All proceeds from the sale of art will go to the artists.

Meeting Co-hosted by New Connections
The RWJF Center will co-host a regional meeting with "New Connections: Increasing Diversity of RWJF Programming," a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The event will take place September 9-10, in the UNM SUB.
The purpose of the regional meeting is to highlight current issues in health policy and health services research that affect diverse members of the southwest community as well as the nation. The meeting will also feature a panel presentation of research conducted by New Connections grantees and alumni.

Keynote speaker, Joseph P. Gone, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology & American Culture, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor will present "You Got to Prove it Beyond a Doubt: Knowledge, Evidence, & Practice in American Indian Mental Health Services."

Congratulations 2010 RWJF Faculty Research Seed Grant Awardees
Chris Duvall, Assistant Professor in Geography & Paul Zandbergen, Associate Professor in Geography & Richard Santos, Professor in Economics
"Geographic Information Tools for Assessing Spatial Relationships Between Food Accessibility, Food Availability, and Diet-Related Public Health in a Local Community" Awarded $19,863

Kun Huang, Assistant Professor in the School of Public Administration
A Study of Agency Strategic Orientation and Inter-agency Collaboration in a Mixed-Sector Behavior Health Service Network in Bernalillo County" Awarded $9,958

Jillian Medeiros, Assistant Professor in Political Science
"An Assessment of Latino Public Opinion Toward Health Care Reform during the Congressional Debates of 2009" Awarded $10,000

Tassy Parker, Assistant Professor in Family and Community Medicine & John Oetzel, Professor in Communication & Journalism
"Using Community-Based Participatory Research to Map the Course of Integrated Health Care for Depression and Co-Occurring Conditions Among Off-Reservation American Indians"
Awarded $20,000

Howard Waitzkin, Distinguished Professor in Sociology & Mario Cruz, Associate Professor in Psychiatry "Civilian-Sector Health and Mental Health Services for Active-Duty Military Personnel" Awarded $19,447

Please refer to our website for additional information,

Remodel of Jonson Gallery
The Center is currently renovating the basement of the main office. The basement renovation began in Spring 2010 and completion is expected by late August. The renovation will include a large conference room, a workroom with copier and fax, a break area, and a lounge area for students and faculty. Additionally, there will be staff and faculty offices, and space for students to work. Please stay tuned for an announcement of an open house to display our new workspace in early Fall 2010.

Range of Research Services Now Available
The Center now offers a variety of proposal development services to collaborating faculty members. The Research Support Team consists of seven staff to assist with concept development, budget preparation, and proposal submission.
Research Support Team Contact Information:

Gina Urias-Sandoval, Senior Program Manager

Carolyn Richardson, Senior Research Scientist

Denise Wallen, Senior Fellow

Anita Parmar, Research Manager
Maria Vahtel, Research Coordinator

Thu Luu, Accountant

Lila Chavez, Grants Coordinator

Welcome New Center Staff
Denise Wallen joined the RWJF Center for Health Policy at UNM as a Senior Fellow in January 2010. Dr. Wallen is part of the Center's Research Support Team and works directly with Center leadership, staff, and faculty in support of the Center's research activities, project development, and core mission. Prior to joining the Center, Dr. Wallen served in numerous capacities in the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development including as Director of Research Development. She holds a Bachelor's in Political Science from City College of New York, a Masters of Public Administration, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Thought and Sociocultural Studies from the University of New Mexico.

Maria Vahtel joined the Center as a Research Coordinator in May 2010. Maria promotes the Center's mission by offering organization and tracking of projects. She worked for the UNM Human Research Protections Office from 2008-2010. She has also been a Research Associate and a Medical Technologist. Maria graduated with a B.S. from UNM in 2001, and a M.A. from St. John's College, Santa Fe in 2004.

Helen Davis lent administrative support during the summer to help fill the void while Antoinette Maestas is on maternity leave. She is a PhD student in Human Evolutionary Ecology at UNM. Her research focuses on the effects of health, stress, and formal education on cognitive performance. For the last six years she has worked as a researcher for the joint UNM/UCSB Tsimane' Health and Life History Project in lowland Bolivia . Thanks for all your hard work, Helen!

The Center is Pleased to Announce Two Staff Promotions
Dr. Charlene Porsild, who has served as the Senior Program Manager for the Center since its creation, has been promoted to Assistant Director, a role in which she will take on the primary responsibilities for the Center's academic support activities for pre-doctoral and post-doctoral fellows as well as administrative oversight. She has also been appointed Associate Research Professor in the School of Public Administration where she will assist with the incorporation of faculty research and policy analysis with the Center.

Gina Urias-Sandoval is now the Senior Program Manager, responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Center. She formerly served as a joint Program Manager for the Center and the RWJF Nursing and Health Policy Collaborative.

UNM's First Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) Institute an Interdisciplinary Success
The University of New Mexico hosted the first summer "Institute in Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) and Health" from June 1st – 5th. The Institute provided master of public health (MPH), political science, and sociology graduate credits. Sponsored by the Center for Participatory Research, within the HSC Office of Community Health, and the RWJF Health Policy Center at UNM, the Institute was an interdisciplinary success with 25 enrolled participants, and another 5 auditing participants.
Doctoral students from Nursing, Sociology, Psychology, Health Communications, and MPH interacted with post-doctoral fellows and UNM faculty from Public Health, Pediatrics, Health Education, and Nursing, as well as three Psychology faculty members visiting from Puerto Rico.
Co-taught by Nina Wallerstein, Tassy Parker, and Center Dissertation Fellow, Lorenda Belone, the Institute engaged learners through presentations, discussion of CBPR theory, literature and applied case studies, role play activities, a community panel, journal writing, and opportunities for reflection on participants' own experiences and research interests.
As emphasized in the Institute, CBPR (and any other community-engaged research approach) is not a specific method, or set of methods. It is an overall orientation to research that seeks to equalize the relationship between researchers and those researched. CBPR begins with a research topic of importance to the community with the aim of combining knowledge and action for social change to improve community health, and eliminate health disparities. Success was seen in participants' abilities to use the Institute to strengthen their own research.
Dr. Meredith Minkler, Professor, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, spoke about CBPR as a core strategy for health policy change during an invited lecture. Over one hundred participants, many from the community, public health agencies, and health care settings came to hear her presentation.
One Nursing fellow stated, "I realized that CBPR represents an orientation to research rather than an exact methodology. It became apparent to me that in my own area of interest (pediatric obesity) CBPR may represent the research strategy that is currently lacking in successful intervention programs, particularly among overweight and obese minority children and their families." Videotapes of the presentations by Drs. Minkler, Wallerstein, Parker, and Belone will soon be available on the Center for Participatory Research and RWJF Center for Health Policy websites.

Comments and Feedback

Please feel free to send any comments, feedback or editorial suggestions for this newsletter to

Visit detailed information and resources on news and activities mentioned in this newsletter.

RWJF Center for Health Policy

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico is the only health policy center dedicated to increasing the number of leaders from Latino and American Indian communities helping to shape the future of our nation's health and health care. A collaboration of the University of New Mexico and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the RWJF Center for Health Policy focuses on inserting the perspectives of Latino, American Indian, and other underrepresented groups into the most pressing health policy debates today.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
To create the best health care services for all Americans, the country needs a diverse group of leaders in Washington and in academic circles who represent the interests, cultures, and needs of this incredibly diverse nation. For more than 35 years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful, and timely change to the health and health care issues facing our country. As a leading Hispanic-serving institution with a medical school, colleges of nursing and pharmacy, a public health program, and doctoral-level programs in economics, political science and sociology, the University of New Mexico is uniquely positioned to assist the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in its mission of improving pharmacy, a public health program, and doctoral-level programs in economics, political science and sociology, the University of New Mexico is uniquely positioned to assist the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in its mission of improving the health and health care of all Americans.