Mission, Vision, Goals

Our Center’s transdisciplinary academic-community team science will specifically highlight the social determinants of behavioral health, including Adverse Childhood Experiences, historical trauma, and intersectional effects of poverty and discrimination to improve conditions and outcomes related to youth suicide, alcohol and drug misuse, depression, and access to behavioral health services. The four overall aims are to:

  1. Implement a synergistic co-leadership model to promote transdisciplinary, multi-level intervention research that will advance the knowledge and science to improve behavioral health outcomes.
  2. Operationalize integration of theories, study design, and analysis into collaborative, multi-level interventions that improve behavioral health outcomes for socioeconomically disadvantaged and underserved rural populations with a southwest regional focus on American Indian/Alaska Natives and Latinos.
  3. Expand the development of a diverse scientific workforce by training new and early stage under-represented minority investigators (URMs) in a transdisciplinary context to conduct community engaged, multi-level intervention behavioral health research.
  4. Cultivate equitable research collaborations with community and tribal stakeholders, regionally and nationally, to translate and co-disseminate transdisciplinary research evidence into practice and policy.

Our conceptual framework highlights the relationships between health equity, history/context and deep culture, multiple domains of influence, multi-level interventions, dissemination of research through a community of practice and anticipated impact on behavioral health outcomes.

Our TREE Center’s work recognizes that behavioral health outcomes are deeply embedded in the history, context and culture of place and people in New Mexico as illustrated in the roots of the TREE.

Our conceptual framework also illustrates the influences of multiple domains on the health of populations as depicted in the TREE trunk. We embrace multi-level transdisciplinary interventions that draw from theories of historical trauma and intersectionality, and community engaged research approaches.

Anchored in Community-Centered Dissemination Science, our TREE Center will actively engage with a larger Community of Practice to translate research findings to practice and policy. Our anticipated outcomes include improved mental and behavioral health conditions as measured through our research and pilot projects and by the data unit described in the Administrative Core 

Administrative Core

Provides leadership for the center’s overall strategic inspiration, vision and oversight using a community-based multi-level intervention approach as well as the core principles of transdisciplinary research.

Administrative Core Group Shot

Aim 1. Develop center procedures ensuring the implementation of all aims, maintaining compliance with policies and procedures.

Aim 2. Launch and support the Community Scientific Advisory Committee (CSAC); coordinate bi-directional communications; foster dissemination of cultural knowledge and research evidence.

Aim 3. Provide administrative support, vision, and oversight of the research and pilot projects.

Aim 4. Coordinate career enhancement activities to promote the recruitment, development, and retention of diverse investigators to create a sustainable pipeline of multi-level transdisciplinary behavioral health.

Aim 5. Evaluate the Center outcomes with annual member surveys, retreats, and documentation of key priorities; develop a standard set of common data elements and measures at multiple domains.

Headshot Lisa Cacari-StoneLisa Cacari Stone, PhD, (purepecha/mestiza), Associate Professor, College of Population Health
TREE Director/PI

Email: LCacari-Stone@salud.unm.edu

Dr. Cacari Stone has dedicated over 30 years of population health science aimed at advancing health equity for diverse racial, under-resourced, rural and Latinx and immigrant populations.

She brings direct experience in health policy, child and social welfare as a former licensed behavioral health provider, director for a home visiting child welfare program, director of senior services, executive director of a rural federally qualified mental health clinic, state health officer and federal women’s health liaison with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and policy fellow with the Health Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and Senator "Ted" Kennedy.

Her scholarly portfolio is comprised of over $26 million in grants from private and public funders and encompasses the macro-level determinants of health (e.g. health reform, immigration policies), to the community level (e.g.Tool for Health and Resilience in Vulnerable Environments in frontier border communities), to the interpersonal level (e.g. role of promotores de salud in bridging patient-provider communications).

She has written multiple articles (i.e. Health Affairs, American Journal of Public Health, Academic Medicine) and policy reports and delivered over 100 research presentations to academic, community and policy audiences at the national, binational and state/local levels. Dr. Cacari Stone came to UNM after completing prestigious fellowships with the top thought leaders in social determinants of health at Harvard and training at the top rated health/social policy school in the nation- Heller, Brandeis University.

Headshot Steven VerneySteven Verney, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Email: sverney@unm.edu

Dr. Verney is Alaska Native (Tsimshian) and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology. He is a Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) on UNM TREE Center for Advancing Behavioral Health, an NIH Center of Excellence in Health Disparities. He has been involved in several studies investigating cognitive aging and
decline in older American Indians, and is the PI on two Native health disparities projects.

He is also involved in other funded projects investigating health inequities cerebrovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, and related risk factors in older American Indians. Dr. Verney has a broad background in psychology, with specific training and expertise in neuropsychological assessment, cultural psychology and mental health and has mentored a variety of underrepresented students including undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students.

Head shot Gabriel SanchezGabriel R. Sanchez, PhD, Professor, Department of Political Science

Email: rypsanchez@salud.unm.edu

Dr. Sanchez is Executive Director of UNM Center for Social Policy, co-Founder, UNM Native American Budget and Policy Institute, and Director of Graduate Studies, UNM Department of Political Science.

Dr. Sanchez is an expert on politics in the Southwest having directed many research projects and polls for Latino Decisions in New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona and he has been invited to give talks and presentations at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, LULAC, AFL-CIO, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and often serves as an expert policy advisor to the New Mexico State Legislature.

His research explores the relationship between racial/ethnic identity and political engagement, Latino health policy, and minority legislative behavior. Sanchez has published more than fifty scholarly research articles, chapters and books that examine minority public opinion, electoral behavior and racial and ethnic politics more generally in the United States.

Dr. Sanchez is author of the recent book Latinos and the 2016 Election: Latino Resistance and the Election of Donald Trump, and is currently working on the second edition of this book that will focus on the 2016 election. Dr. Sanchez is also coauthor of Latino Politics of America: Community, Culture and Interests, a textbook on Latino politics that will be ready for order in Fall 2020.

Headshot Maria Yellow Horse Brave HeartMaria Yellow Horse Brave Heart, PhD

Email: MBraveHeart@salud.unm.edu

Dr. Brave Heart (Hunkpapa and Oglala Lakota), is Associate Professor/ Clinician Educator, at UNM Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and is a Co-PI for the UNM TREE Center for Advancing Behavioral Health, and NIH Center of Excellence in Health Disparities.

Dr. Brave Heart was Principal Investigator (PI) of the NIMH R34 Randomized Pilot Clinical Trial: Iwankapiya (Healing): Historical Trauma Intervention and Group Interpersonal Psychotherapy. This study compared two outpatient group psychotherapy models for depression and PTSD symptoms in two tribal sites: a Northern Plains reservation and a Southwest urban American Indian clinic. Dr. Brave Heart was also a PI on the NIMHD Mescalero (Apache) Tribal Preventive and Early Mental Health Intervention (with high school reservation youth, focused on suicidal risk).

Dr. Brave Heart developed the field of historical trauma interventions for American Indians and Alaska Natives and founded the Takini (Survivor) Network/Takini Institute in 1992. Her prior academic appointments include – Associate Professor, University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work; Associate Professor, Columbia University School of Social Work, and affiliate with New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia Medical School.

Dr. Brave Heart is author of multiple papers dedicated to understanding historical trauma, unresolved grief and healing for diverse American Indian and Alaska Native communities, and implications for other traumatized, oppressed populations, particularly those across the Americas.

Headshot Melissa GonzalesMelissa Gonzales, PhD, Professor, School of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine Division of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Preventive Medicine UNM School of Medicine

Email: MGonzales@salud.unm.edu

Dr. Gonzales is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Evaluation, Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Her research focuses on the reliable and accurate assessment of key environmental and social determinants of health among Hispanic and Native American communities in the western United States.

She is the Co-PI with the UNM Center for Native Environmental Health Equity Research (P50), a Center for Excellence in Environmental Health Disparities Research. She is Co-Investigator in the UNM METALS Superfund Research Center (P42) research project characterizing and predicting exposures and health risks posed by toxic metals in airborne dusts transported from abandoned uranium mines to Native American communities.

Dr. Gonzales has mentored more than 40 undergraduate, graduate students, residents, fellows and junior faculty members, most of whom have subsequently entered post-graduate education (MS, MPH, PhD, and MD), faculty, and education leadership positions.

Dr. Gonzales’ local, regional and national service includes membership on National Academies of Science and Medicine Committees, scientific consultant to the Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board’s Institutional Review Board, and member of the NIH Infectious Disease, Reproductive Health, and Asthma/Pulmonary Conditions Study Section, Partnerships for Environmental Public Health, International Society for Exposure Science, International Society for Environmental Epidemiology and the National Alliance for Public Health.

Head shot Nina WallersteinNina Wallerstein, DrPH, MPH, Professor of Public Health, College of Population Health

Email: NWallerstein@salud.unm.edu

Dr. Wallerstein is Director of the Center for Participatory Research. Dr. Wallerstein has been developing community based participatory research (CBPR) and empowerment/ Freirian interventions for over thirty years.

Dr. Wallerstein’s among over a hundred and fifty articles and books are: Community Based Participatory Research for Health: Advancing Social and Health Equity, 3rd edition, 2018; and Problem-Posing at Work: A Popular Educator’s Guide.

She has worked in North American and Latin American contexts: in participatory evaluation of healthy municipalities; in family, youth, and women’s health intervention research; and with tribal partners to support culturally-centered research in New Mexico and the U.S. She is currently Co-Principal Investigator of a NIDA-funded intergenerational family prevention intervention with children, parents and elders in three Southwest tribes.

Dr. Wallerstein, to improve the science of CBPR and reduce health inequities is Principal Investigator of an NINR-funded RO1 to research best partnering practices associated with health outcomes and to develop a partnership evaluation/collective reflection toolkit.

Dr. Wallerstein has collaboratively produced with Latin American colleagues a train-the trainer Empowerment, Participatory Research and Health Promotion curriculum (initially sponsored by Pan American Health Organization), available in Spanish, Portuguese and English; and co-sponsors an annual summer Institute in CBPR for Health: Indigenous and Critical Methodologies at the University of New Mexico.

Blake Boursaw headshotBlake Boursaw, MS, Instructor, UNM College of Nursing

Email: bboursaw@salud.unm.edu

Blake's research focuses on using his deep, conceptually rigorous training in pure mathematics as a platform for employing a range of techniques, including innovating modeling strategies, to respond to analytic challenges that arise in equity oriented research in novel ways.

The TREE Center has been an important academic home for advancing this research trajectory, building skill, and making new connections. When not conducting research, Blake enjoys the splendor and beauties of New Mexico."

Headshot Antoinette Maestas.Antoinette Maestas, TREE Center Program Specialist

Email: amaesta3@unm.edu

Antoinette Maestas is the Program Specialist for the Center for Social Policy at UNM and the TREE Center at UNMH. She is a native New Mexican with a background in Human Resources, Event Planning, and Program Management.

She began her employment with the University of New Mexico in December of 2005 with the Human Resources Department and transitioned over the RWJF Center for Health Policy and Center for Health Policy. Antoinette enjoys traveling, crafting, and spending time outdoors with her husband and two boys.

Carlos Antonio Linares Koloffon

Email: CLinaresKoloffon@salud.unm.edu

Carlos is a physician, his research interests are cardiovascular and kidney disease, health care systems, equity and youth wellbeing, social media, public health communication, and telemedicine. Currently is a Master of Public Health student at the University of New Mexico and works as a Research Assistant at TREE Center.

Eunice Kim – Research Assistant; BA

Email: EDKim@salud.unm.edu

Eunice Kim is a first-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at UNM. Previously, she attended Calvin College (now University), where she received her bachelor’s degree in psychology, and worked at the University of Michigan Psychiatry Department in clinical neuroimaging research on OCD for a few years. Her current clinical and research interests involve neuropsychology and issues of cultural validity in assessment and treatment, especially as it pertains to justice-involved adults.

Ryan Martin – Research Assistant; BS, ANTH

Email: ryamartin@salud.unm.edu

Ryan Martin is a member of the Navajo Nation and a graduate student in University of New Mexico’s Master of Public Health program. He has a B.S. in Population Health with a minor in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico.

He is a Graduate Research Assistant for UNM’s TREE Center for Advancing Behavioral Health, an NIH Center of Excellence in Health Disparities.

He has been involved in local studies addressing Native health disparities in Navajo COVID-19 assessment, Native youth risk resilience, and has directly contributed to New Mexico’s Maternal Child Health program in injury prevention for infants.

Ryan has a broad background in health care, with specific training and expertise in military medical support, victim advocacy and physical fitness mentoring for a variety of clients using the H.I.I.T method. 

Kandyce Garcia – Research Assistant

Email: kgarcia169@unm.edu

Kandyce Garcia was born and raised on the Kewa Pueblo. She received her Bachelors in Health Education from the University of New Mexico in 2016. Kandyce is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Community Health Education.

Since graduating from UNM Kandyce has worked in a variety of settings and capacities within the field of public health. She has gained experience and expertise in Native American health, chronic health condition management, and access to care for LGBTQ2S+, healthcare capacity building, and health equity. She is experienced in program planning and implementation, strategic planning, program evaluation, and data analysis.

Upon completion of her Masters degree, Kandyce plans to stay in her community and create a non-profit that is dedicated to addressing social injustice in indigenous communities.

Kasim Ortiz - Research Assistant; BA, MS

Email: kasortiz@salud.unm.edu

Kasim Ortiz’s diverse interdisciplinary training, coupled with training in aging health-related disparities, and a strong commitment to a professional career focused on eliminating dynamics jeopardizing healthy aging for disparity populations (i.e., racial/ethnic and sexual/gender minorities) uniquely positions Kasim to carry out successfully the scientific goals detailed in the proposed NIA R36 Dissertation Award. The project examines the influence of a novel measure of residential segregation, residing in gayborhoods (or not), in shaping racial/ethnic variations in smoking among sexual minorities across the adult lifespan. Several strengths I possess enhance feasibility of the proposed projects.

First, Kasim has extensive experience conducting research on racial/ethnic and sexual minority health disparities. Second, this research experience has contributed to a complementary extensive publication record; indicating my ability to complete projects and disseminate findings. Third, many of these publications have used secondary data techniques required for the proposed project, including a publication using one of the planned datasets proposed. Fourth, Kasim values collaborative research as exhibited by authorship lines across publications, which indicate an average of 4.8 additional co-authors; further demonstrating that I will effectively and optimally use resources offered by expert consulting collaborators.

Kasim’s previous research rests at the nexus of medical sociology, social epidemiology and population health; wherein particular focus has sought to highlight the deleterious impacts of different stratifying social systems in shaping health inequities. The R36 Dissertation Award application is a direct outgrowth from the training Kasim received, resulting from a NIA-funded Diversity Supplement I previously received.

The UNM HSC TREE Center has sponsored over 50 trainings, discussions and convenings on multi-level research methods and intersectionality, historical trauma, community based participatory research, and social determinants of health. Including an 8-week training on the “Sociopolitical Contexts of Cognitive Decline among American Indian/Native American & Latino Older Populations in Rural/Frontier Contexts.”

Steering Committee

The Steering Committee is a leadership subcommittee comprised of select members from TREE Center’s Community Scientific Advisory Council (CSPAC) and NIMHD officers. The steering committee has Joint Responsibility for the direction of the TREE Center and includes the: 1) four Center co-PI(s); 2) four members from the CSPAC; 3) the NIMHD Program Official and two NIMHD Project Scientists; and 4) four academic scientists. Each committee member will have one vote except for the NIH staff members, who will share one vote. The Steering Committee will convene by telephone as needed and will meet in person at least once a year.

Head shot Dorothy CastilleDorothy Castille, PhD received her BA in English and speech education from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 1969. She earned her M.A. in anthropology from California State University, Hayward in 1986, a PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1996, and completed post-doctoral training in psychiatric epidemiology at Columbia University from 1998-2001.

Her graduate and postgraduate work included psychological anthropology; qualitative and quantitative research methods; psychiatric sequelae of stress, trauma, and stigma; and Native American, Alaska Native, Latino, and Asian cultures. Dr. Castille ;has a research associate scientist appointment with the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Contact: dorothy.castille@nih.gov

Rada K. DagherRada K. Dagher, PhD, M.P.H. Dr. Rada Dagher is a scientific program director at NIMHD. She manages a diverse portfolio of research, capacity building, and training grants, and is a project scientist on several cooperative agreement awards. Dr. Dagher is the program director for the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Fellowships. In addition, she represents NIMHD on multiple NIH-wide committees, including National Research Mentoring Network/Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (NRMN/BUILD) and Interagency Modeling and Analysis Group (IMAG).

Prior to joining NIMHD, Dr. Dagher worked in academia, where she secured grant funding and conducted research in maternal and child health, mental health, occupational health, and health disparities. She also taught Health Policy and Management and Health Services Research Methods graduate courses. Her research focused on the risk and protective factors associated with postpartum depression and the impact of this disorder on health services use. Her expertise also includes the impact of employment policies and psychosocial work organization on workers’ mental and physical health, and gender and racial/ethnic disparities in mental health and mental health services. Contact: rada.dagher@nih.gov

Margarita AlegriaMargarita Alegría, PhD, is the Director of the Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research (CMMHR) at Cambridge Health Alliance, and a full professor of the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. She has devoted her professional career to researching disparities in mental health and substance abuse services.

A natural collaborator, Dr. Alegría has worked with investigators and researchers across the United States and Puerto Rico to generate research focused on improving health services for Latinos and other minority populations. Contact: malegria@mgh.harvard.edu

Bonnie DuranBonnie Duran, DrPH (mixed race Opelousas/Coushatta descendent) is a Professor in the Schools of Social Work and Public Health at the University of Washington, in Seattle and is on the leadership team at the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute (https://health.iwri.org). She received her Dr.PH from UC Berkeley School of Public Health in 1997.

Bonnie teaches graduate courses in Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR), and Mindfulness. She has worked in public health research, evaluation and education among Tribes, Native Organizations and other communities of color for over 35 years. Contact: bonduran@uw.edu

Head shot Tassy ParkerTassy Parker, PhD, RN (enrolled citizen of Seneca Nation, beaver clan) is Director of the Center for Native American Health; tenured Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine; Professor in the College of Nursing; and Associate Vice Chancellor for American Indian Health Research and Education, at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences.

Dr. Parker is currently co-lead with collaborators from the University of Colorado and Washington State University for four NIH grants that address American Indian health disparities in the areas of hypertension, diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias, and suicide among young adults. She has a strong background in mental and behavioral health CBPR.

Dr. Parker is President of the Board of Directors, First Nations Community HealthSource (an urban IHS clinic and FQHC), and serves on the Seneca Nation Health Board. Contact: taparker@salud.unm.edu

Cathleen WillgingCathleen E. Willging, PhD is a Senior Scientist at the Behavioral Health Research Center of the Southwest in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Dr. Willging received her PhD in anthropology from Rutgers University in 1999. Her postdoctoral studies in anthropology and evaluation were undertaken at the University of New Mexico between 1999 and 2002. 

Her interests include mental health services research, health policy, rural populations, gender and sexuality, and community-based participatory planning and evaluation.  She has spearheaded a number of research projects in New Mexico that employ qualitative data collection and mixed-methods approaches to understand the impacts of new programs and policy reforms on diverse populations. Contact: cwillging@pire.org

Investigator Development Core

The Investigator Development Core works to improve health and well-being for New Mexicans by providing training and mentoring for the future of behavioral health disparities researchers. This includes:

  • 19 - Total number of pilot and mini-pilot projects.
  • 10 - Junior Researchers, a majority of whom are either female, an underrepresented minority, or both.
  • $750K - in funding to be distributed by 2022.

Investigator Development Core

Aim 1. Develop and implement a pilot project (PP) program (3 new projects per year at $50K for postdoctoral scholars and junior faculty); related to the social determinants of BH, historical trauma, ACES, and the intersectional effects of poverty and discrimination.

Aim 2. Increase the number of underrepresented minority (URM) and non-URM post-doctoral students, junior faculty, and early stage investigators (BH intervention research).

Aim 3. Increase researcher capacity to conduct behavioral health disparities research by developing and implementing a mentorship model.

Aim 4. Develop novel approaches and methods to support junior researchers and new investigators.

Head shot Matthew BorregoMatthew Borrego, PhD, MS, RPh

Email: Mboreggo@salud.unm.edu

Dr. Borrego is Co-Director of the TREE Center’s Investigator Development Core (IDC), developing and implementing a successful faculty pilot research project program. He is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, UNM College of Pharmacy.

He is a Pharmacist and PhD trained in Pharmacoeconomics /health outcomes research. His research interest/expertise are: Pharmacoeconomics/ health outcomes, health policy, health disparities, health literacy, survey research, interprofessional education and pharmacy education /practice issues.

Head shot Theresa CruzTheresa H Cruz, PhD

Email: Thcruz@salud.unm.edu

Dr. Cruz is Co-Director of the TREE Center’s Investigator Development Core (IDC), developing and implementing a successful pilot research project program. She is a Research Associate Professor in the UNM Department of Pediatrics, and an Epidemiologist and Deputy Director of the CDC-funded University of New Mexico Prevention Research Center (PRC).

She is involved with the UNM PRC Education and is Training Core Lead with experience developing and implementing training for faculty, staff, students and community partners. Dr. Cruz’s research interest and expertise are: Community-engaged research, translation and dissemination research, primary prevention, and injury and violence prevention, particularly in the areas of adverse childhood experiences, prescription drug overdose, sexual violence prevention and suicide prevention.

Headshot Janet Page ReevesJanet Page-Reeves, PhD

Email: JPage-Reeves@salud.unm.edu

Dr. Page-Reeves is a member of the TREE Center’s Investigator Development Core (IDC), developing and implementing a successful faculty pilot research project program. She is Associate Professor, Department of Family & Community Medicine, and Director of Research, Office for Community Health.

Her PhD training is in political economic cultural anthropology. Her research interest/expertise are: health inequity/health equity, diabetes, social isolation, depression, gender studies, Latino health, Native American health, Native American success in STEM, food allergy, social determinants of health, social determinants screening, and community engaged research.

Year 1

Headshot Shiv DesaiPrincipal Investigator

Shiv R. Desai, Assistant Professor, Department of Teacher Education and Educational Leadership, & Policy, College of Education, University of New Mexico

Email: sdesai@unm.edu

Award: $21,765 

Pilot Project Title: Hurt people hurt people: Utilizing Ethnic Studies to heal student trauma by addressing the mind, the body and the spirit

Academic Mentor: Dr. Nancy Lopez, PhD, Director, Institute for the: Study of "Race" & Social Justice, NM Statewide Race, Gender, Class: Data Policy Consortium; Co-Chair: Diversity Council; Professor, Department of Sociology, University of New Mexico

Student PI:  Kasim Ortiz, PhD Student, Department of Sociology

Project Description: the proposed pilot project inventively deploys a community engaged, multilevel study design to identify appropriate measurements of youth psychological well-being while simultaneously enhancing professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators currently involved with the implementation of ethnic studies in the Albuquerque Public School District.


  • Dr. Michelle Drummond

Headshot Thomas ChavezPrincipal Investigator

Thomas Chavez, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Individual Family and Community Education (IFCE), University of New Mexico

Email: tachavez00@unm.edu

Award: $29,925

Pilot Project Title: UndocuResearch: Mental Health among Undocumented and Mixed Status Families of New Mexico

Project Description: TREE Center funding will support junior faculty, Dr. Thomas A. Chávez, to work with a community PI and co-Investigators from the UndocuResearch team to analyze the transcribed interview data in English and Spanish in order to identify key risks and resiliency factors from geographically diverse areas of the state. The results will be interpreted and translated into key areas for developing future interventions with DREAMers employing a community engaged data analysis process rooted in Critical Race Theory for public health (Ford & Airhihenbuw, 2010) that is centering the margins within the dialogue of DREAMers to develop solutions that interrupt the intersectional systems of oppression.


  • Community Co-I: Josue De Luna Navarro, Lead Organizer and Health Coordinator, New Mexico Dream Team/United We Dream
  • Other Community Partners:
    • Selene Vences, Education Equity Coordinator, New Mexico Dream Team/United We Dream
    • Felipe Rodriguez Romero, Field Organizer, New Mexico Dream Team
    • Yazmin Irazoqui, Field Coordinator, New Mexico Dream Team
    • Italia Aranda, UndocuHealth Lead, New Mexico Dream Team

Head Shot Jaelyn deMariaPrincipal Investigator

Jaelyn deMaria, PhD, Assistant Professor, Communication and Journalism Department, University of New Mexico

Email: jdemaria@unm.edu

Award: $11,250

Pilot Project Title: Shifting Narratives for Behavioral Health Justice

Academic Mentor: Tamar Ginossar, PhD, Associate Professor, Communication Journalism, University of New Mexico

Project Description: The way behavioral health is communicated about in New Mexico has real impact on the lives and experiences of residents here. However, some voices are underrepresented in narratives about the system and their experiences with it. Generation Justice is a nationally-recognized, award-winning, multimedia movement based in New Mexico that trains youth to harness the power of media and give rise to narratives based on truth, analysis, and hope. Youth are inspired to become media makers committed to media justice social transformation and positive community development.


  • Roberta Rael, Director, Generation Justice

Year 2

Principal Investigator

Melanie Baca, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of New Mexico

Email: MBaca@salud.unm.edu

Award: $50,000

Pilot Project Title: Development of a Multi-Level Intervention Framework to Reduce Disparities in Unintended Teen Pregnancy among Hispanic Adolescents

Academic Mentors:

  • Jennifer Hettema, PhD, Associate Professor, Clinical Psychologist, TREE Center Methodological Advisor
  • Andrew Sussman, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Medical Anthropologist, TREE Center Methodological Advisor

Project Description:

Our study will use the theory of intersectionality to guide our work. Intersectionality highlights the importance of different intersections of identity on reproductive health decision-making, including cultural beliefs, social and economic status, experiences of oppression or privilege, and institutional practices (Hankinvsky et al., 2014). The study will seek to identify the barriers, sociocultural patterns, biases and stigma that influence access and choices for contraception in young Hispanic women.


  • Sally Kosnick, MS, Educator, New Mexico GRADS

Headshot Julia Hess.Principal Investigator

Julia Hess, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, Prevention Research Center, University of New Mexico

Email: jmhess@unm.edu

Award: $50,000

Academic Research Mentor: Janet Page-Reeves, PhD, Family and Community Medicine, University of New Mexico

Pilot Project Title: Designing a Culturally Appropriate Group Navigation Model to Improve Mental and Emotional Health Equity for Spanish- Speaking Latina Women

Project Description: The goal of this study is to implement such an approach conceptualized by a community health worker (CHW) to pilot an innovative, multi-level intervention to address social and structural determinants that negatively influence MEH disparities for Latinas from low-income households. The proposed research integrates CHW navigation with group peer support. Both of these strategies have been shown to be culturally appropriate and effective for improving a variety of health outcomes with this population. Our transdisciplinary, community-engaged team will use a convergent parallel mixed method research design to assess the feasibility of the intervention and its impact on six domains of interest: 1) emotional support, 2) informational support, 3) depression, 4) social isolation, 5) empowerment, and 6) social determinants needs.


  • Guadalupe Fuentes, Centro Savila
  • Jacqueline Perez, LCSW, Centro Savila/The Hopkins Center
  • Alma Olivas, Centro Savila
  • Bill Wagner, PhD, MSW, Director

Principal Investigator

Shannon Sanchez-Youngman, PhD, Assistant Professor, COPH Dean's Office, Research Faculty: RWJF Center for Health Policy; Research Scholar: School of Public Administration

Email: santerry@unm.edu

Award: $50,000

Academic Mentor: Victoria Sanchez, DrPH, Associate Professor, College of Population Health, University of New Mexico

Pilot Project Title: Adapting evidence-based knowledge and practice to increase the capacity of a community health coalition to reduce suicide risk factors in rural New Mexico.

Project Description: The PI has assembled an interdisciplinary partnership between practitioners, academics and policy makers to illustrate transformations in organizational governance processes by departing from the tendency of treating organizational capacity as features and resources. Instead, this study develops a relational view of organization/coalitional capacity building. This approach emphasize that meanings and actions are actively constructed in social contexts through relational dynamics. Intervention Innovation. Building on the growing science the efficacy of CBPR partnership practices, this study adapts evidence-based collective reflection tools to increase the mobilization capacity of the SMCHC to develop a community-wide strategy to reduce the risk factors of suicide from a social determinants perspective.


  • Barbara Perea-Casey

Headshot Pilar SanjuanPrincipal Investigator

Pilar Sanjuan, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, Psychology Department, University of New Mexico

Email: psanjuan@salud.unm.edu

Award: $50,000

UNM Academic Mentor: Lawrence Leeman, MD Medical Director, Milagro Program, UNM HSC Professor with Tenure, Department of Family and Community Medicine UNM SOM

Pilot Project Title: Providing Expanded Continuous Labor Support to Pregnant Women in New Mexico with Substance Use Disorders

Project Description: Aims of this study will determine the feasibility of offering expanded continuous labor support by trauma- and addiction-trained medical paraprofessionals (i.e. doulas) at no cost to pregnant women receiving care for substance use disorders (SUD). The long-term goal of this transdisciplinary multilevel intervention is to collaborate with UNM and community researchers and providers to collect data that will support ongoing policy efforts to secure Medicaid coverage for doula services in New Mexico. The attainment of this aim will ultimately reduce a major existing behavioral health disparity in the state.


  • Micaela Lara Cadena, MCRP
  • Research Director, Young Women United
  • Young Women United
  • UNM Birth Companion Project
  • UNM Milagro Program

Principal Investigator

Vincent Werito, PhD, Associate Professor, Language, Literacy, & Sociocultural Studies, College of Education, University of New Mexico

Email: vwerito@unm.edu

Award: $50,000

UNM Research Mentor: Lorenda Belone, Associate Professor, Department of Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences, College of Education

Pilot Project Title: Developing Community Partnerships Through Research to Define Community Well-Being from a Diné-centered Perspective with Three (Diné) Navajo communities in New Mexico

Project Description: For the first time, a research university (the University of New Mexico [UNM]) is working with three Navajo communities (Counselor, Torreon-Star Lake, and Ojo Encino Chapters) to an intervention study integrating CBPR with DCSR. The innovation of the proposed project is to use a synthesis of these two approaches to build a university-community research partnership and to create capacity in the community for community-engaged multilevel behavioral and mental health research. These three communities have long-term goals of asserting local control and promoting self-determination and self-governance through community rebuilding initiatives. This project will contribute to that process.


  • Community Mentor:  Daniel Tso
  • Community Mentee - Mario Atencio
  • Diné-Centered Scientific Research Mentors (DCSR) Team: Herbert Benally, PhD, Diné College, David Tsosie, EdD, and David Begay, PhD
  • Tri-Chapter Alliance

Year 3

Headshot Cindy GevarterPrincipal Investigator

Cindy Gevarter, PhD, Assistant Professor, Speech and Hearing Sciences

Email: cgevarter@unm.edu

Award: $49,762

UNM Academic Research Mentor: Cathy Binger, Associate Professor, Speech and Hearing Sciences

Pilot Project Title: Training Early Intervention Providers to Teach Naturalistic Intervention Strategies to Parents of Children with or at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Project Description: We partnered with a local Family Infant Toddler Program agency that provides services to families of children who have developmental delays. Participants included four Hispanic parents (two fathers, and two mothers), along with their child who had symptoms or a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, and the early intervention providers who were working with each family. Parents and providers participated in a training that focused on naturalistic, family-centered, and culturally relevant strategies for building communication skills. The early intervention providers continued to coach parents in the use of the strategies following the training. All families increased their use of communication strategies, and all children showed an increased use of communication behaviors. Parents and providers provided positive feedback regarding the training.

Cindy Gevarter, PhD (Bio)
Dr. Gevarter is Assistant Professor in Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences. Previously she worked as a special education teacher, early interventionist, and behavior analyst. She received her Ph.D. in Early Childhood Special Education from University of Texas at Austin. She researches early communication intervention and assessment in autism spectrum disorder and her research focuses on parent and provider training in naturalistic methods.


  • Felicia Tapia-Alvidrez, Community Mentor, Associate Director/Clinical and Early Intervention PB&J Family Services, Inc.
  • PB&J Family Services, Inc., Community Partner Agency
  • Rachel Morsbach & Alixandria Lucero Family Infant Toddler Program Directors, PB&J Family Services, Inc., Community Agency Consultants

Headshot Ralph KlotzbaughPrincipal Investigator

Ralph Klotzbaugh, PhD, Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, University of New Mexico

Email: RKlotzbaugh@salud.unm.edu

Award: $49,466

Pilot Project Title: Utilizing Gender Minority Perspectives to Describe and Operationalize Affirming Behavioral Health Outcomes of Peer-Led Support Groups for Gender Minorities in New Mexico

Project Description: His specific project for the TREE Center seeks to: Describe peer-led support groups for gender minority participants in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Identify participant and peer group intervention leaders’ perspectives on intersectional minority stress, as well as important outcomes of the intervention.  Describe participant and peer group intervention leaders’ input on developing and delivering online peer-led support groups for gender minorities in New Mexico.  Operationalize participant informed intersectional outcome measures of the intervention to inform a future evaluation of both peer led in-person and online support groups.

Ralph Klotzbaugh, PhD (Bio)
Dr. Klotzbaugh’s research relates to culturally competent practice with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) communities. His research focuses on unique challenges and perspectives of LGBTQ identified populations residing in rural areas. His research methodological interests include both quantitative and qualitative methods, as well as community informed survey development.


  • Zane Stephens, Community PI, Co-Director, Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico
  • Las Cruces Transgender Support Group (Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico)
  • Santa Fe Trans, Nonbinary, and Gender Nonconforming Support Group (Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico)

Headshot Crystal LeePrincipal Investigator

Crystal Lee, PhD, Assistant Professor, College of Population Health, University of New Mexico

Email: crystal42lee@gmail.comMuCLee@salud.unm.edu

Award: $24,994

Pilot Project Title: A Global Profile of Indigenous Adolescent and Young Person’s Health

Project Description: Our novel approach will generate needed NA/AN adolescent and young people data specific to New Mexico and the U.S. under the larger scope of an international Indigenous led collaborative project. Globally, health equity is a core focus of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals and is particularly relevant to adolescent health, yet Indigenous youth health remain relatively ignored in data from developed nations, which is needed to inform a responsive global health policy fundamental to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We will build on the key findings of the preliminary data analysis to provide a synthesis of evidence-based approaches to respond to the defined need.

Crystal Lee, PhD (Bio)
Dr. Lee was born and raised on the Navajo Nation in Arizona. Her tribal clans are Tachii’nii (Red Running into the Water), Tabaaha (Water’s Edge), Tsenjikini (Cliff Dwellers), and Kin I ichii’nii (Red House). Her educational journey led her to complete her undergraduate studies at Arizona State University and her graduate studies at University of Nevada-Las Vegas. She completed her predoctoral training focused on Indigenous Health from Johns Hopkins University and her postdoctoral training at UCLA School of Medicine focused on infectious disease preventative medicine. She is an Assistant Professor of Health and Social Policy at the University of New Mexico, College of Population Health and Founder/CEO of a non-profit organization, United Natives. She is obtaining a Masters in Indigenous Peoples Law at the University of Oklahoma, College of Law. She serves as Vice Chair for the Clark County, NV, Democratic Party, Native American/Alaska Native Caucus, Advisor for Nevada Office of Minority Health and Equity, Advisor to the United Nations (UN) Gender and Equality Task Force, Board Member of the Las Vegas Indian Center and Member of the UN North American Caucus, UN Indigenous Women’s Caucus. Dr. Lee was a former UN Global Indigenous Youth Caucus Co-Chair and served as a Tribal Health Advisor to the Obama Administration.


  • Kevin English, Director , Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center
  • Melanie Nadeau, Assistant Professor, University of North Dakota, Department of Public Health
  • Sutton King, Graduate Student, New York University, United Nations Indigenous Youth Caucus Member
  • Erin Johns, Undergraduate Student, University of New Mexico, United Nations Indigenous Youth Caucus Member
  • Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center
  • Nathaniel Brown, Navajo Nation Council Delegate, Navajo Nation

Headshot Noah Painter-DavisPrincipal Investigator

Noah Painter-Davis, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of New Mexico

Email: npf26@unm.edu

Co-I: Kimberly Huyser, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of New Mexico

Email: khuyser@unm.edu

Award: $19,790

UNM Academic Research Mentor: Scott Tonigan, Research Professor, Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico; Interim Director Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addiction

Pilot Project Title: Sentencing Policies and their Implications for Disparity Among Native Americans:  A comparative Study of Three Court Systems

Project Description: Native American’s, particularly members of federally recognized tribes, are subject to a complex web of criminal justice institutions involving three jurisdictions: Tribal, state, and federal, each having unique sentencing policies that shape access to substance abuse treatment as an alternative to incarceration. Depending on the type and location of the crime, a defendant may be subject to the Major Crimes Act which requires that certain crimes committed on reservation lands be sentenced in Federal court, a system in which alternatives to incarceration, including substance abuse treatment, are less available.

Other sentencing policies, such as sentencing guidelines, may reduce racial/ethnic disparity in access to substance abuse treatment as they provide sentencing recommendations that are based on legal factors (e.g., offense severity and criminal history) and prohibit the use of non-legal factors in sentencing decisions. The proposed study will examine how sentencing policies impact Native American access to substance abuse treatment in the Federal court and the state courts of Pennsylvania and New Mexico.

Noah Painter-Davis, PhD (Bio)
Dr. Painter-Davis received his PhD in Sociology and Demography from Pennsylvania State University (2013). His research focuses on the efficacy of criminal justice policies and the causes and consequences of racial/ethnic disparities in criminal justice outcomes. His current projects include (1) examining how defendant skin tone affects sentencing in New Mexico and (2) the development and evaluation of a diversion program for justice involved juveniles and young-adults in the First Judicial District of New Mexico.


  • Community Partners/Research Team Members
  • Community Mentor: Cheryl Fairbanks, Esq. & Interim Executive Director, Native American Budget and Policy Institute
  • Community Team Researchers:
  • New Mexico Sentencing Commission: Linda Freeman, Executive Director

Year 4

Headshot Tiffany OteroPrincipal Investigator

Tiffany Otero, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education, University of New Mexico

Email: oterot@unm.edu

Award: $50,000

UNM Academic Research Mentor: Magdalena Avila, DrPH., Department of Health Exercise and Sports Science

Other UNM Research Team Members:

  • Andrew Hsi, MD, MPH, Professor, Department of Pediatrics
  • Susan Copeland, PhD, Professor, Department of Special Education
  • Shelley Alonso-Marsden, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry
  • Yen Pham, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Special Education

Pilot Project Title: Addressing the Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences Through School-Based Programming in a Diverse Community

Project Description: Our team is using a Community-Engaged Research (CEnR) approach to develop and pilot a culturally and linguistically appropriate ACEs screening tool and a training on trauma-informed classroom management for teachers in a small town outside of Albuquerque, NM with a diverse student body. The goal of the proposed project is to increase our understanding of local perspectives on ACEs and trauma to inform an ACEs screening and teacher training protocol that encourages adoption of trauma-informed classroom management practices that are sustainable and responsive to community needs.

Tiffany Otero, PhD, BCBA (Bio)
Dr. Otero is Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education Applied Behavior Analysis Program. She is Practitioner of Applied Behavior Analysis since 2010 and a licensed psychologist since 2019, with a specialty training in pediatric neuropsychology for developmental conditions. As an educator, scholar, and practitioner, Dr. Otero is dedicated to promoting ethical, culturally-competent and person-centered practices. Her previous work has focused on the use of self-management interventions in schools, and the development of a person-centered framework for social skills interventions.


  • Community PI/Community Mentor: Baylor Del Rosario, PhD, Director of Special Education & Health Services, Bernalillo Public Schools, Member of Equity Council
  • Other Community Partners:
    • Equity Council, Bernalillo Public Schools
    • General Education Social Workers, Bernalillo Public Schools
    • Teachers, Bernalillo Public Schools

Head shot Lucia D'arlachPrincipal Investigator

Lucia D'Arlach, PhD, Assistant Professor Family and Community Medicine, University of New Mexico

Email: ludarlach@salud.unm.edu

Award: $50,000

UNM Academic Research Mentor:

  • Janet Page-Reeves, PhD, Family and Community Medicine, UNM

Pilot Project Title: New Mexico Army Reserve National Guard: Identifying Risk and Protective Factors Towards Building Early, Effective Behavioral Health Interventions

Project Description: Nationally, between 2008-2017, over 6,000 veterans took their lives yearly; 20 a day since 2014. In 2019, the New Mexico Army and Air National Guard (NMAANG) developed a simple Proactive Case Management model that tracks new recruits every six months via online surveys (ACES, Social Determinants of Health), triggering case management if any need arises in the recruits' experience towards immediate resolution of the problem. At the NMAANG request, this project will establish a partnership for UNM to organize NMAANG data, scientifically test PCM’s inclusion criteria, and support resolution of any implementation challenges, towards scaling up or replicating the intervention in other states.

Lucia D’Arlach, PhD (Bio)
Dr. D’Arlach is a bilingual (Spanish-English) clinical and community psychologist with expertise on treating impoverished, culturally marginalized populations with high childhood-onset trauma, particularly exposure to violence (sexual, interpersonal, domestic, community, historical). She serves families, children and adults at Atrisco Heritage Clinic, Department of Family and Community Medicine, and is dedicated to training family, emergency medicine and psychology residents in vivo therapeutic practices.


  • Major Brian Pilgrim, PhD, New Mexico National Guard, Co-Investigator and Principal Community Mentor 
  • Major Ivette Y. Bibb, LCSW, LADAC, UNM Office for Community Health and Active
    • Member of the New Mexico Army National Guard
  • Maria Elena Castro, M.A., Psychologist, Director of INEPAR (Institute de Educacion Preventiva y Atencion de Riesgos AC, Mexico)
  • New Mexico National Guard

Headshot Jaelyn deMariaPrincipal Investigator

Jaelyn deMaria, PhD, Assistant Professor, Communication and Journalism Department, University of New Mexico

Email: jdemaria@unm.edu

Award: $50,000

UNM Academic Research Mentor:

  • Magdalena Avila, PhD, MPH, MSW, Associate Professor and Program Coordinator Community Health Education Program Health, Exercise and Sports Science, College of Education, University of New Mexico

Pilot Project Title: Digital Storytelling through Indigenous Art:  A Community Model for Behavioral Health Action

Project Description: In the proposed project, we rely on a community based participatory research (CBPR) approach for its acknowledgement of power differentials, iterative process, collaborative ethic, and commitment to cocreation with community members as experts.36 We operate under the philosophy that any research should doubly act as community-driven action with immediate and tangible benefits to partner communities. Furthermore, the proposed project is derived from a conceptual framework of decoloniality 25, 26, 27 as applied to health prevention and promotion.

Jaelyn de María, PhD (Bio)
Dr. de Maria is Assistant Professor with Department of Communication & Journalism, University of New Mexico. She received her PhD in Communication (2012) from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her research interests include justice studies, Chicanx studies, visual communication, intercultural communication, mass communication, ritual behavior, border studies and social organization around human rights issues.

Her background includes documentary photojournalism and multimedia production at the Albuquerque Journal. She is a recipient of the Sara Belle Brown Faculty Community Service Award, recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Dissertation Fellowship, recipient of the Southwest Hispanic Research Institute’s (SHRI) Land Grant Studies Fellowship, and recipient of the Center for Regional Studies Dissertation Fellowship.


  • Kee Straits, PhD, TLC Transformations, LLC
  • Tribal Consultant Nadine Tafoya; Nadine Tafoya & Associates; New Mexico Tribal Prevention Project
  • Other Partners
    • Artistic documentation team includes Josephine Seymour (an award-­winning traditional potter from Acoma and Laguna Pueblos), Paul Quintana Jr. (a metal sculpture artist from Cochiti Pueblo), Shawna Sunrise (a mixed-­media artist from Santo Domingo Pueblo and Diné Nation), and Carey Tully (videographer from Diné Nation), and potentially five others Native American Community Academy

Community Engagement & Dissemination Core​

The Community Engagement and Dissemination Core (CEDC) leads the Center in listening and learning from New Mexico Communities of Practice to guide behavioral health research, practice, and policy.


Aim 1. Facilitate collaborative academic and community/tribal partnerships to mutually advance health disparities transdisciplinary intervention research.

Aim 2. Cultivate bi-directional learning and mentoring opportunities for academic and community and tribal stakeholders aimed at creating intersections of community knowledge and practice with evidence-based knowledge.

Aim 3. Work with community and tribal stakeholders throughout the state of New Mexico to translate and co-disseminate research findings.

We cultivate vibrant communities of practice for disseminating (COP4D) culturally defined practices and evidence including: Chimayo/Rio Arriba County; Gallup with the San Juan Collaborative; Dine Centered Evaluation Research Group (Shiprock); Hobbs (Lea County) and Las Cruces and the Paso del Norte Region. Goals of the COP4D meetings have been to support new research and dissemination of community-based practices and evidence based research findings for action plans in the respective regions. A few examples include: Development of Digital Policy Stories to illucidate the power of “querencia” for healing the root causes of opioid and other addictions in Chimayo; and development of a series of infographics with the Pacific Research Institute for Research and Evaluation which focus on access to care resiliency as a protective factor of LGBTQ health equity.

UNM HSC CEDC New Mexico Map.

Head shot Lorenda Belone.jpgLorenda Belone, PhD, MPH (Co-Director)

Email: lorenda@unm.edu

Dr. Belone is Co-Director of the Community Engagement and Dissemination Core, TREE U54 Center Grant). She is Diné/Navajo and an Associate Professor within the University of New Mexico’s (UNM) Community Health Education Program, College of Education and Human Sciences, Health, Exercise and Sports Sciences Department.

Dr. Belone is PI for the Family Listening Program (FLP) Project which has involved the development of three distinct American Indian FLP prevention programs in which an evidence based and culturally centered family curriculum was created (U26IHS300287/04 & U26IHS300009/A) and is now undergoing rigorous testing though National Institute on Drug Abuse funding (NIDA 1R01 DA037174-05, 2014-21).

She is Co-Investigator on a National Institute of Nursing Research funded (NINR 1R01NR015241-01A1, 2015-20, Wallerstein, PI) study called Advancing CBPR Practice Through a Collective Reflection and Measurement Toolkit, to improve the science of measurement within community engaged research (CEnR) to meet the needs of academic-community research partnerships nation-wide.

Head shot Magdalena AvilaMagdalena Avila, DrPH, MPH, MSW (Co-Director of the Community Engagement and Dissemination Core, TREE U54 Center Grant)

Email: avilam@unm.edu

Dr. Avila is Co-Director of the Community Engagement and Dissemination Core, TREE U54 Center Grant. She is Associate Professor with the Health Education Program, Health, Exercise and Sports Science, College of Education, University of New Mexico. Her extensive background includes Community-Based Participatory Research, Community Engagement, Social Justice Research and Community Health- working with and in communities of color.

She is a Public Health Researcher partnering with New Mexican communities to address inequities in health. Dr. Avila has community-based ethnographies-expertise in framing community ways of knowing and understanding as it relates to public health research and designing culturally relevant interventions.

Shixi ZhaoShixi Zhao, PhD, CHES

Email: shixizhao@unm.edu

Dr. Zhao is a member of the TREE Center’s Community Engagement and Dissemination Core (CEDC). He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health, Exercise and Sports Sciences (Health Education Program) at the University of New Mexico (UNM). Dr. Zhao has been involved in several studies regarding parental utilization and experience of genetic testing for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.

He is a health behavior social scientist, with specific training and expertise in public health genomics, mental behavioral health, community-participatory research, chronic diseases prevention as well as health behavioral assessment and measurement. Dr. Zhao is a Public Health Researcher collaborating with New Mexico Asian communities to address inequities in mental behavioral health.

Headshot Kiran KitiraKiran Kitira, PhD

Email: kkatira@unm.edu

Dr. Katira is Director with UNM Community Engagement Center. She is a Fellow with NACA Inspired Schools Network, where she designs and implements an indigenized charter school for the multiracial community in the International District.

Dr. Katira has over twenty years’ experience working alongside local community organizers and leaders in NM, which includes networks for social transformation such as Families United for Education. She oversees two anti-racist youth leadership development programs for local youth of color in NM, which include Public Allies and UNM Service Corps.

Dr. Katira has over twenty years’ experience as a professional trainer and coach on race relations and undoing structural racism through local initiatives such as Antiracism Youth Leadership Institute and nationally as a trainer with the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond. Dr. Katira has over twenty years expertise in community networking and coalition building, which she bring to classes taught at the university and to research conducted.

TREE Center Contact

Transdisciplinary Research, Equity and Engagement Center for Advancing Behavioral Health (TREE Center)
Integrity Building
1001 Medical Arts Avenue NE
1 University of New Mexico 87131

NIMHD Grant # U54 MD004811-09

Director and Principal Investigator
Lisa Cacari Stone, PhD, MS, MA (ella, ella y suya/ she, her and hers)

Email: treecenter@unm.edu

Office: 505-994-5081