RWJF Center for Health Policy at UNM

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Previous scholars

Yajaira Johnson-Esparza

Postdoc at the University of Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute
505 272-5885

Dr. Yajaira Johnson-Esparza is a staff psychologist and Director of Medication Assisted Treatment at Salud Family Health Centers, a large Federally Qualified Health Center system providing behavioral health services in Colorado. She completed her predoctoral internship at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine. She specializes in Integrated Primary Care Psychology and is involved in direct patient care, training and supervision, primary care research, and program development. Her primary areas of interest are working with underserved and Spanish-speaking immigrant populations. Additional areas of research and clinical interest include health disparities, social determinants of health, Latino health, and integrated primary care. 

Anna Marie Moya Garcia Dinallo MA, LMHC

Anna Marie
Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies Doctoral Student

Dr. Anna Dinallo is an integrative health researcher who focuses on family emotional literacy, trauma, and community education. Since 2006, she has taught health education and community engagement in a variety of settings. She formerly worked as an international health delegate for a human rights organization in El Salvador and has been a licensed mental healthcare counselor in the Albuquerque (N.M.) Public Schools and an educator with The Partnership for Community Action in New Mexico.

Today, she is studying at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (OCOM) to deepen her expertise in traditional healing arts. Her research focuses on parental engagement to develop mental health curriculums in schools and the qualitative effects of acupuncture and emotional literacy as remediation tools for individuals with traumatic experiences. She is currently teaching medical providers about integrative health practices, leading constellation therapy workshops, and instructing yoga. She also teaches online seminars at the Integrative Health Institute in family psychology. She is the founder of Illuminate LLC and is working on building a nonprofit organization known as CAMPS, or Complementary and Alternative Medicine Prevention in Schools.

Research Interests 

Emotional Literacy, Family Education, and Alternative Medicine as Prevention

Anna’s research aims to understand pathways to alleviate mental health issues in school settings. Specifically, she assesses emotional literacy curriculums for parents. Anna’s research moves away from a counselor-client behavioral health lens into prevention-based curriculums that are rooted in developing parent funds of knowledge.

Through a Community Based Participatory Action (CBPR) framework, she continues to study parent-engaged education. Her dissertation is a narrative study that documents the experiences of seven Latina community educators through focus group, interview, and artifact data. Given disproportionately high rates of child mental health issues and academic gaps that affect Latino families (Child Trends report, 2013), it is key to develop parent-led emotional literacy interventions. Community centered approaches are highlighted in the Mental Health in Schools Act of 2015, H.R.1211, as a tool to promote culturally relevant health interventions. In response to H.R.1211 and Latino low utilization gaps of mental health services, the researcher and participants developed narratives based on topics within emotional literacy models (Stiener, 1997, Goleman, 2006), critical consciousness (Brown, 2007), and counseling research (Brown, 2006; McLaren, 2010). Narratives across the seven women reveled a need to focus on family emotional learning by identifying inter-partner violence.

More recently, Anna has begun to study Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the state of New Mexico. Given her background in counseling and yoga instruction and other alternative therapies, she aims to bridge alternative medicinal practices with her teaching, counseling, and research. Anna’s research contributes to studies in the field of family emotional literacy, alternative medicine, and curriculum development.

Recent Accomplishments 

Last year Anna received the William B. and Roberta V. Castetter Educational Fellowship in her college. She is currently working on a conference to training medical providers on experiential learning within Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Vickie Ybarra

Director, Research & Policy
Washington State Dept. of Children, Youth, and Families

Dr. Ybarra has an interdisciplinary background with an emphasis on social/structural determinants of health and well-being, health/education/early learning/immigration policy, and civic engagement. She holds degrees in Nursing and Public Health from the University of Washington, and in Political Science/Public Policy from the University of New Mexico. She has made contributions to knowledge on immigrant integration and well-being, immigration policy, farmworker health, and Latino racialization. She also has led the implementation and evaluation of numerous family support programs for low-income and marginalized families in the Yakima Valley.


Research Interests 

Dr. Ybarra has served in a number of appointed and elected policy leadership positions, including as an elected member of the Yakima School District Board of Directors and Board President during the 2000s. She also served as Chair of the Governor’s Interagency Council on Health Disparities, and in that role oversaw the development of Washington State’s first Action Plan to Eliminate Health Disparities in 2010.


Shannon Sanchez-Youngman

Research Faculty

Shannon's research interests lie in the social determinants of health, particularly how racism impacts Latina women's health.

Research Interests 

Shannon recieved her doctorate in political science in Spring 2016. She is a native New Mexican from Albuquerque. She obtained her Bachelor of Science from the University of New Mexico before spending nine years working in the field of women's community health. Shannon's research interests lie in the social determinants of health, particularly how racism impacts Latina women's health.

Cirila Estela Vasquez Guzman

Cirila Estela
Vasquez Guzman
RWJF Center for Health Policy Dissertation Fellow
Sociology, Currently on the Job Market

C. Estela Vasquez Guzman was born in Oaxaca, Mexico and immigrated to the United States with her parents when she was two. She became interested in better understanding the medical establishment due to her personal struggles with various health conditions. She graduated salutatorian from Benson Polytechnic High School, a vocational school where she majored in Nursing. During that time she did over 200 hours of volunteer service at Presbyterian Hospital. Vasquez Guzman graduated from Whitman College in 2010 with her B.A. in Sociology and published her first piece on racial and class health disparities. She went on to the University of New Mexico where she obtained her M.A. degree in Sociology with a focus on mental health among the children of Mexican immigrant mothers. Currently Vasquez Guzman is pursuing her Ph.D. in Sociology with a concentration on Racial/Ethnic Health Inequities and using an equity framework to develop stronger health policy promoting a more equitable healthcare system.

Research Interests 

C. Estela Vasquez Guzman research interest concerns with how the social structure influences health outcomes and processes. Her broader research agenda engages with literature on the medical profession, models of health, and inequities in the delivery of health care.

Her dissertation evaluates how medical students are trained to work with diverse populations. This research contributes to the field of sociology, specifically to the literature on the medical professions and the socialization of medical students. How do we teach social-cultural issues to future medical providers? Recent changes to the MCAT and revisions to the LCME accreditation standards have placed medical education reform as a top priority for the medical community. Vasquez Guzman utilizes a range of qualitative methods in her research, including interviews, focus groups, and case study data to analyze the emergence, adoption, and implementation of culture competency training. Her research will help the medical field to better understand how students are trained to work with diverse communities in order to foster a workforce that can effectively deliver high quality care to diverse and marginalized communities. 

Her training in health policy and sociology aims to bridge these two realms in order to contribute to the body of knowledge and build a more responsive healthcare system. For more information about my research and teaching interest, please contact me at

Recent Accomplishments 

C. Estela Vasquez Guzman was recently elected as the incoming student representative on the Section on Medical Sociology Council at the American Sociological Association (ASA) and looks forward to serving in that capacity. She is excited to currently serve as the Southwest Graduate Fellow of the Scholars Strategy Network (SSN) assisting with the organization of the 3rd Annual LGBTQ Health Summit in Albuquerque, NM. Vasquez-Guzman engagement in service has strengthened her leadership and positively contributes to her professional identity.
Vasquez Guzman has furthermore been a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Fellow at the University of New Mexico since 2010. In the last two years she has been part of a larger research team funded by the National Institute of Health investigating medical decision making and bias. This team administered a national survey to medical students and recently traveled all over the nation to conduct case studies documenting the various medical school environments and how they facilitate the training future providers to work with diverse communities. Vasquez Guzman adds the sociological perspective to this interdisciplinary collaborative research project, which makes her a well-rounded researcher with quantitative and qualitative research experience.  

Louis Alvarado

Assistant Professor of Anthropology
University at Albany, SUNY
Louis Alvarado is a PhD student in Evolutionary Anthropology, working with Drs Jane Lancaster and Martin Muller. His research focuses on the expression of male steroid physiology across the lifespan, particularly as it relates to androgen-dependent cancer. He conducts fieldwork in a rural Polish village at the base of the Carpathian Mountains, where he uses non-invasive methods of biological specimen collection to examine interactions between steroid hormone levels, fertility status, work patterns and senescence.
Research Interests 
Louis Alvarado is a Ph.D. student in Evolutionary Anthropology, working with Drs. Jane Lancaster and Martin Muller. His research focuses on the expression of male steroid physiology across the lifespan, particularly as it relates to androgen-dependent cancer. He conducts fieldwork in a rural Polish village at the base of the Carpathian Mountains, where he uses non-invasive methods of biological specimen collection to examine interactions between steroid hormone levels, fertility status, work patterns, and senescence.

Julie Lucero PhD, MPH

Assistant Professor, Social and Behavioral Health
Community Health Sciences, University of Nevada-Reno
(775) 682-7115

Julie was born and raised in northern New Mexico's Espanola Valley, known as a tri-cultural area consisting largely of Spanish, Mexican and Native American populations. She completed her graduate work at the UNM Dept. of Communication & Journalism in Health Communication. Her past research collaborations include Principal Investigator on a health disparities project, in partnership with the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center, and UNM HSC Office for Diversity on institutional faculty and student recruitment policies, and UNM Cancer Center population science efforts. 

Research Interests 

Using mixed methods and Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR), Dr. Lucero's research is centered on the identification of modifiable social determinants to reduce the impact of health inequities within communities of color and other diverse communities. Dr. Lucero has been involved with CBPR projects in collaboration with American Indian, Hispanic and LGBT communities. These projects examined factors associated with substance abuse, mental health outcomes, positive youth development, and service utilization. Her current research explores the role of trust in promoting effective processes and outcomes in community-academic partnerships. In previous research, we found trust at the beginning of research partnerships to be significantly associated with participation, power relations, sustainability, and overall research outcomes. Acknowledging the fragile nature of trust, future research will look at concepts and constructs associated change in trust over partnership lifespans.


Recent Accomplishments 

Selected publications

In Press

  • Lucero, J.E., Wallerstein, N., Duran, B., Alegria, M., Greene-Moton, E., Isreal. B., Kastelic, Magarati, M., Oetzel, J., Pearson, C., Schulz, A., Villegas, M., & White Hat Emily. In Press. Development of a mixed methods investigation of Process and Outcomes of Community Based Participatory Research. Journal of Mixed Methods Research.


  • Pearson, C., Duran, B., Oetzel, J., Magarati, M., Villegas, M., Lucero, J., & Wallerstein, N. 

    Research for improved health: Variability and impact of structural characteristics in federally funded community-engaged research projects. Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action.


  • Belone, L., Lucero, J., Wallerstein, N., Baker, E., Chang, C., Chan, C., Duran, B., Greene-Moton, E., Kelley, M., & Tafoya, G. 

    .Community-Based Participatory Research Conceptual Model: Community Partner Consultation and Face Validity. Qualitative Health Research, DOI: 10.1177/1049732314557084.

  • Oetzel, J., Zhou, C., Duran, B., Pearson, C., Magarati, M., Lucero, J., Wallerstein, N. & Villegas, M. 

    Establishing the psychometric properties of constructs in a community-based participatory research conceptual model. American Journal of Health Promotion. Advanced online publication.


  • Hicks, S., Duran, B., Wallerstein, N., Avila, M., Belone, L., Lucero, J., Magarati, M., Mainer, E., Martin, D., Muhammad, M., Oetzel, J., Pearson, P., Sahota, P., Simonds, V., Sussman, S., Tafoya, G., & White Hat, E. 

    Evaluating community-based participatory research to improve community-partnered science and community health. Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action, 6(3), 289-299.

  • Sandoval, J., Lucero, J., Oetzel, J., Avila, M., Belone, L., Mau M., Pearson C., Tafoya G., Duran B., Iglesias Rios L., & Wallerstein N.

    Process and outcome constructs for evaluating community based participatory research. Health Education Research, 27(4), 680-690.


Tennille Marley, PhD, MPH

Assistant Professor
American Indian Studies

Tennille is an Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies and a faculty research affiliate with the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center at Arizona State University (ASU). She is a member of the White Mountain Apache tribe and grew up on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. Tennille’s dissertation examined the relationship among indigenous knowledge, land, history and diabetes on an American Indian reservation. Her current research includes examining structural determinants, particularly housing, and obesity in American Indian adolescents and examining American Indian reservations as segregated places. Currently, she is a co-principal investigator of a pilot grant through ASU’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences to understand more fully how traditional American Indian knowledge can further build and sustain Indian nations, communities, and organizations in Arizona in the areas of food sovereignty, health, language, and education. Dr. Marley earned her B.A. and M.P.H. from the University of Arizona and Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico.

Andrea Lopez

Department of Anthropology
Curriculum Vitae: 

Andrea Lopez, grew up along the United States/Mexico border, in El Paso, Texas, and completed her bachelor of arts degree in anthropology at San Francisco State University, with a focus on urban anthropology and substance use.

In 2007, she received a master’s degree in anthropology from the University of New Mexico.

Research Interests 

Her broad research areas include: medical anthropology, urban anthropology, community-based participatory research methods, public health, HIV/AIDS, substance use, health inequities, and gender and health.

The RWJF Center for Health Policy has given me the tools to participate in health policy discussions across the disciplines. I have been able to explore the contributions of qualitative anthropological approaches to health policy. I could not have pursued this kind of research without the support of the Center.

J. Alexis Ortiz

Postdoc at Stanford University Department of Psychiatry
505 917-9406

Alexis Ortiz's dissertation was: Bridging the Gap: A Comparison of Adapted and Standard Version of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction with Latino Populations. She was awarded the Inaugural Division 29 Diversity Research Grant from the Society for Psychotherapy.

Research Interests 

J. Alexis Ortiz will obtain her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of New Mexico in Summer 2015.
Alexis is currently completing her clinical internship at the Palo Alto VA.
Her research interests include stress, coping, and effects on health and health inequities, Latino health inequities, and mindfulness-based interventions.
Alexis' dissertation was entitled "Bridging the Gap: Adapting Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction for Latino Populations".
She has presented research findings at 16 national conferences, 1 regional and 1 local conference. Alexis has co-authored 7 publications (peer-reviewed and book chapters). She feels fortunate to have been selected as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Doctoral Fellow, American Psychological Association Minority Fellow, New Mexico Center for the Advancement of Research Engagement and Science on Health Disparities, and Ford Foundation Fellow.
Alexis will be starting a postdoctoral position at Stanford University in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the Fall of 2015.

The benefits of an RWJF fellowship are tremendous and far-reaching. The aspect of the fellowship that has been most valuable in my experience has been the numerous opportunities to access resources relevant to our progression as researchers. These include networking with senior scholars in our field, leadership sessions, and the conference travel support that the RWJF Center provides.