Teresa Córdova, PhD

Board Chair

Teresa Córdova is Director of UIC’s Great Cities Institute (GCI). GCI sponsors research, service, and educational programs aimed at improving the quality of life of people living in Chicago, its metropolitan region, and other great cities of the world. In carrying out its work the Institute engages closely with government institutions, businesses and their membership organizations, foundations and grant-making agencies, and organizations devoted to the social, cultural, and economic vitality of cities, local communities and neighborhoods. It serves as a research laboratory and meeting place for scholars, policymakers, and citizens who share an interest in finding answers to the question, “What can cities and regions do to make themselves into great places?

She is also Professor of Urban Planning and Policy in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs (CUPPA). Professor Córdova received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Before her appointment as the third permanent Great Cities Director, she was department Chair and Professor of Community and Regional Planning at the University of New Mexico.

Dr. Córdova is a former elected official on the Bernalillo County (New Mexico) Board of Commissioners. While a County Commissioner, she served on the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority; The Metropolitan Transportation Board; and was Chair of The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Government Commission. While Commissioner, she brought needed infrastructure projects and improvements, economic development, amenities such as open space and parks, a medical clinic, youth facilities and various services to her district. She also initiated several long range planning projects.

She is founder and former Director of the Resource Center for Raza Planning in the College of Architecture and Planning at UNM. While director, the Center engaged students in research, policy writing and analysis, public participation, design, strategic and sector planning, and curriculum related to issues of economic development, infrastructure (water, sewer, drainage and road improvement), land use, neighborhood stabilization, agricultural preservation and youth development.
She was a National Research Council Fellow and has received multiple leadership awards and recognitions for her role in community economic development and infrastructure planning. She has sat on numerous national and local boards and steering committees of community development corporations, planning organizations, policy groups, and campus committees.

Professor Córdova is currently President of the Board of Directors of The Praxis Project, a national, nonprofit organization that provides research, technical assistance and financial support to tackle issues impacting the well-being of communities. She is currently the elected Secretary of the Governing Board of the Association for Collegiate Schools of Planning, a consortium of university –based programs offering credentials in urban and regional planning.

Ajamu Baraka

Board Vice-Chair

An internationally recognized human rights defender whose experience spans four decades of domestic and international education and activism, Ajamu Baraka is a veteran grassroots organizer whose roots are in the Black Liberation Movement.
As an activist and human rights organizer, Ajamu has been at the forefront of efforts to develop and apply a radical “People-Centered” human rights framework to social justice organizing and advocacy in the U.S. for more than 25 years. Ajamu was the Founding Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network (USHRN) from July 2004 until June 2011. The USHRN was the first domestic human rights formation in the United States explicitly committed to the application of international human rights standards to the U.S.

Baraka is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C. and editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report. He is also a contributing writer with various outlets including Commondreams, The Nation, Pambazaka, Dissident Voice, Counterpunch Magazine and Black Commentator.

A geo-political analyst and commentator, Baraka has appeared on and been covered in a wide-range of print, broadcast, and digital media outlets such as CNN, BBC, the Tavis Smiley Show, Telemundo, ABC’s World News Tonight, TeleSue TV, Black Commentator, Russia Today, the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Lawrence Wallack, DrPH

Board Secretary

Lawrence Wallack is currently Professor, Oregon Health and Sciences University/Portland State University School of Public Health. He served for nine years (2004-13) as Dean, College of Urban and Public Affairs at Portland State University. He is also Emeritus Professor of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley.

He was the founding director of the Prevention Research Center (1983-86), the first federally funded national alcohol research center with a primary emphasis on prevention. From 1986 to 1995 he was the principal investigator for the California site of the Community Intervention Trial to Reduce Smoking (COMMIT). This project funded by the National Cancer Institute was the largest randomized community trial ever developed for the prevention of smoking. In 1993 he was the founding director of the Berkeley Media Studies Group, an organization conducting research and training in the use of media to promote healthy public policies. Dr. Wallack is one of the primary architects of media advocacy — an innovative approach to working with mass media to advance social and public health issues. He has published extensively and lectures frequently on the news media and public health policy issues.

Dr. Wallack has been honored with various awards and was one of the original recipients of the Innovators Award (2000-05) from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This award recognized lifetime achievement and innovation in the area of prevention.

He is past Chair, Board of Trustees, World Affairs Council of Oregon and served for five years on the Board of Governors, City Club of Portland. He currently serves on the governing boards of, Upstream Public Health (Portland, OR), and The Praxis Project (Washington, DC). He also serves on the National Advisory Committee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program. He was a member of several Institute of Medicine committees and is a Lifetime National Associate of the National Academies based on “extraordinary contributions through pro-bono service to National Research Council and Institute of Medicine.”

Dr. Wallack’s current work focuses on translating the science of developmental origins of health and disease into public health policy and practice on a community, regional, and statewide level in Oregon. He is also part of the team evaluating Voices for Healthy Kids, a national effort funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association to reduce childhood obesity through passing and implementing policies at the local and state level.

Carla Sparks, MPH

Board Treasurer

Carla Sparks is a Rural Outreach Coordinator for the Child Advocacy and Public Health Division of Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Little Rock, AR. Via her 15 year tenure at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, she served as a the Director, Patient Centered Initiatives and Community Engagement, Center for Health Literacy, and Community Liaison and Health Policy and Management Department adjunct faculty member at the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health. Ms. Sparks worked in the public sector for (7) years as Director of Training Community Organizations for Change a nonprofit capacity building organization, Development Director for Second Genesis Project, and an organization development consultant. In her continuing role as an organization development consultant, Ms. Sparks has had the opportunity to work with numerous community-based, governmental, and philanthropic organizations dealing with nonprofit capacity building, community development, and public health. Prior to work in the public sector, she worked for 13 years in the private/corporate sector primarily in human resources and organization development. Ms. Sparks received her BS in Mathematics from Philander Smith College of Little Rock, AR and her Master of Public Health (MPH) from the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock Arkansas. Ms. Sparks has served on a campus-wide task force focused on reducing racial and ethnic health disparities, and a campus-wide inter-professional health education team including the establishment of student-run free health and wellness center in an under-served community, supported by a community-based advisory board. Ms. Sparks has also served as a leader and member of the Boards of several different nonprofit/community-based organizations such as Better Community Development, the Arkansas Literacy Council, and University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, Center for Community Philanthropy Advisory Board.

Dileep Bal, MD, MS, MPH

Board Member

Dr. Dileep G. Bal began working for the Hawaii State Department of Health in September 2005, as the District Health Officer for the Island of Kauai, and as Special Advisor to the Director of the Department on Cancer, Chronic Disease, Tobacco and Nutrition. He is a Clinical Professor at both the University of Hawaii Cancer Center and the Department of Family and Community Medicine of the College of Medicine (University of Hawaii).

Dr. Bal had been with the State of California for over two decades, where he served as the Chief of the Cancer Control Branch within the Department of Health Services. With the advent of Proposition 99, which added a $.25 tax on each package of cigarettes sold in California, he became responsible for implementing California’s tobacco control efforts. This tobacco use prevention and cessation program was one of the largest of its kind in the world and has been universally acclaimed for its innovations and effectiveness. He is the founder/director of California’s Tobacco Control and Obesity Control efforts. His branch’s annual budget was in excess of 250 million dollars.

Since 1981 Dr. Bal had held an appointment as a Clinical Professor at the medical school of the University of California at Davis, where he was active in the teaching and research programs. He has published extensively in the areas of cancer prevention and control, especially about diet and cancer, tobacco, and cancer and the underserved. Dr. Bal has been Principal Investigator on several large National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control cancer prevention and control projects. Dr. Bal serves on the Advisory Committee to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control. Currently he is on the editorial board or, is an active reviewer, for several peer-reviewed medical journals as well as for the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Bal is a frequent speaker on public health, medical and social issues, both nationally and internationally. He was the commencement speaker at Brown University Medical School in May 2005. Dr. Bal is a Regent Emeritus of the University of Hawaii.

Prior to going to California in 1981, Dr. Bal was in Tucson, Arizona for ten years, where he was the Director of the Pima County Health Department and on the full-time faculty of the University of Arizona, College of Medicine. Dr. Bal was born and educated mainly in New Delhi, India. His medical degree is from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. He also has graduate degrees in Public Health from Columbia and Harvard Universities. He has been board certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine since 1975.

Dr. Bal is very active with the American Cancer Society at the local, state, and national levels. He has been a member of the National Board of Directors and a National Officer, in addition to being an Honorary Life Member, and Past President of both the Sacramento Unit and the California Division of the American Cancer Society. In 2000-2001, Dr. Bal was the National President of the American Cancer Society.

Dr. Bal and his wife Muktha have two children. Their son Vijay who has degrees from Harvard, University of Rochester and University of San Diego works in Los Angeles. Their daughter Suniti has a degree from the University of California and works in Washington, D.C.

Janvieve Williams Comrie

Board Member

Janvieve Williams Comrie is a human rights strategist, trainer and organizer with a deep commitment to assist in the building of powerful social movements for racial justice and human rights. She is an expert a race and human rights expert, and internationally recognized for her work with African Descendent communities. She has worked in a variety of fields and for several human rights institutions, including the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights Regional Office Central America, where she coordinated a regional program on race and racism. She has also done groundbreaking human rights work, both with grassroots organizations, NGO’s and with the United Nations, primarily in southern-based United States, Canada, Mexico, Nicaragua, Belize, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil to name a few.

Her work around race and racism has been highlighted on CNN en Español, and its impact has been documented through international networks such as Al Jazeera, TeleSur, and BBC Radio. In addition, Janvieve has been featured on national media outlets such as the Nation Magazine, Laura Flanders, and ColorLines Magazine, as well as many local media outlets.

Presently Janvieve serves social movements as a facilitator, communications consultant and strategic planning consultant. She is a writer for Al Jazeera on issues of human rights, race and immigration.

Nichole June Maher, MPH

Board Member

Nichole June Maher, joined Northwest Health Foundation as president ad CEO in August 2012. Nichole is the youngest president of a major foundation in the Northwest and has led the organization through a significant transformation. Northwest Health Foundation has become champion of advocacy, policy, and supporting vulnerable population to be leaders in creating healthy families and communities. Under Nichole’s leadership as a trustee, and later as president, Northwest Health Foundation is proud to have a majority minority board and staff and to give over 75% of its resources to communities of color. Northwest Health Foundation has become a leader in equity nationally and a model for how a foundation can leverage all of their resource beyond grant making to influence long term positive health outcomes.

Previously, Nichole served as the executive Director of the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) in Portland, Oregon for over 11 years. Under her leadership, NAYA Family Center grew from a staff of five and a budget of $200,000 to over 100 employees and a $10 million annual budget. In 2010, NAYA served over 5,000 families as a wrap-around community service organization offering culturally specific education programs, a fully accredited high school, financial literacy and micro-enterprise development, social services, domestic violence prevention and response programs, housing, and comprehensive poverty reduction programs. Under Nichole’s leadership, NAYA Family Center is widely recognized as one of the most effective and innovative wrap-around family service models in the United States.

Nichole holds a master’s degree in public health from the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University and two bachelors of science, one in public health and one in American Indian Studies from Oregon State University. In 1999, she completed a fellowship at Harvard Medical School, as well as the Robert Wood Johnson Minority Medical Education program at Yale Medical School in 1998. She has received numerous leadership and industry honors, including Oregon’s 50 most powerful people, Oregon’s top 40 under 40, Portland’s 50 most influential people, as well as the Oregon Women of Distinction award. Some of her most proud accomplishments include co-founding the Coalition of Communities of Color, one of the most powerful advocacy groups in the state of Oregon and regionally, and co-founding the National Urban Indian Family coalition, a group representing over half of the Native Americans living in the United States today. Nichole is widely published, and her work has been influential in the fields of philanthropy, equity and education.

Nichole serves on a number of governing boards, including Grantmakers in health, Portland city Club, the National Urban Indian Family Coalition, the National Comcast/NBC Joint Council Board, Northwest Indian College Foundation Board, American Indian Alaska Native Oregon Education State Plan Advisory Panel and the Oregon Historical Society Levy Oversight Committee, where she serves as co-chair. Previously she served on the Oregon Education Investment Board and the Future of Public Health Task Force.

Born in Ketchikan, Alaska, Nichole attended school on the Siletz Indian Reservation in Oregon and is a member of the Tlingit Tribe of Southeast Alaska. She is a proud mother of three young children.

Estevan Flores, PhD

Board Member

Dr. Flores is Principal of Flores Consulting, LLC. He was to 2014 Academic and Faculty Director at Regis University’s Dual Language Campus. A sociologist, Dr. Flores was Executive Director of the Latino/a Research & Policy Center (LRPC) at the University of Colorado Denver (1997-2007), where he was also Associate Professor in the Department of Health and Behavioral Sciences. He was Chief of Population Science and Cancer Control at the Nevada Cancer Institute to July, 2008. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas (Austin) and MA from the University of Notre Dame.

His fields include public health and health disparities, race and ethnic relations, cancer control, leadership, community-based research, and dual language university programs. Dr. Flores published work appears in U.S. journals and in Mexico as well. Dr. Flores has published over 75 op-eds and his career funding is $7.5M in research grants on health and cancer prevention. His 2005-10 NCI grant brought 12 counties and 25 community based organizations and leaders into a Colorado prevention Network to save lives. He served on the first national Minority Advisory Committee to eliminate health disparities for the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services and for a decade on the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

His consulting work in Dallas resulted in the opening of a new Dual Language University Campus in January of 2015. In Dallas he worked with city and state elected officials, university administrators, hospital leadership, and community based organizations and leaders. He was an Adviser to the Mexican government from 2006 to 2008.

In Colorado he has been an activist and co-founded organizations like the Hispanic Health Coalition, the Hispanic League, the Latino Education Campaign, and the Colorado Latino Forum. He now serves on Denver’s Clinica Tepeyac’s Board of Directors (a gateway health facility for the underserved). Estevan received the Community Health Research Leadership Award from the National Cancer Institute (2005) and the “Cesar Chavez Leadership Award” in 2014 by Denver’s Peace and Justice Committee. Currently he is working nightly to complete his autobiography.

Alex T. Tom

Board Member

Alex T. Tom is a second generation Chinese American born and raised in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Alex got politicized in high school youth programs in the Bay Area and spent nearly a decade organizing youth and college students in San Diego and the U.S./Mexico Border Region. He is currently the Executive Director of the Chinese Progressive Association in San Francisco and has played a leadership role in building CPA’s service, organizing, and civic engagement programs. Before becoming Executive Director, Alex served as the Campaign Coordinator where he built the CPA Worker Organizing Center and led campaigns to organize workers in the garment and restaurant industries, winning over a million dollars in back wages.

Alex has also played a key role in local and national movement building. On a local level, Alex serves on the Leadership Committee of the San Francisco Rising Alliance, a nine-member grassroots multiracial electoral movement building alliance. He serves on the Board of Directors of the School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL) and is on the Coordinating Committee of Grassroots Asians Risings, a new national initiative for grassroots Asian organizations. CPA launched Seeding Change: A Center for Asian American Movement Building, CPA’s national project that includes building a national pipeline for the next generation of organizers; creating an infrastructure for grassroots organizing; and building power and scale for our movements toward a vibrant social and economic justice movement. Alex has a BA in Political Science and Ethnic Studies with a minor in Education from the University of California, San Diego.

Moises Gonzales, MCRP

Board Member

Moises Gonzales is an Assistant Professor in the Community and Regional Planning Program at the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of New Mexico. He also serves as the Director of the Resource Center for Raza Planning, which is a community outreach center within the School of Architecture and Planning whose mission is to provide technical assistance in the areas of community development, design, and natural resource planning for traditional communities throughout New Mexico. Mr. Gonzales currently serves on the board of the Carnuel Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association in addition to serving as the Secretary for the Cañon de Carnue Land Grant Board.

Moises Gonzales holds a Post Professional Master’s Degree in Urban Design from the College of Architecture and Planning from the University of Colorado, Denver as well as a Professional Planning Degree in the Masters of Community and Regional Planning Program at the University of New Mexico. In 2008, He was awarded the Post Graduate Loeb Fellowship at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University where he studied sustainable urban design. In addition to being an Assistant Professor, Mr. Gonzales is the Principal and owner of Chimal Designs which has over 14 years of experience in working in community planning, land use, and design projects throughout the state of New Mexico. Moises Gonzales teaches courses in the Physical Planning Concentration of the Community and Regional Planning Program which include; Advanced Planning Studio, Human Settlements, Urban Design Theory, Environmental Design Studio, and Introduction to GIS.