People of the Academy

Hector Balcazar Hector Balcazar, PhD, MS, co-director of the CHW Academy, became Dean of the College of Science and Health at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science on April 4, 2016. Prior to that position, Dr. Balcazar served as the Regional Dean of Public Health at the University of Texas (UT) Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health, El Paso Regional Campus. Dr. Balcazar has extensive experience as a leader in public health education, research, service and community outreach working with community health workers. Dr. Balcazar specializes in the study of public health problems of Latinos/Mexican Americans. He is a bilingual, bicultural family and public health scientist who has conducted numerous studies of acculturation and health related behaviors, cardiovascular disease prevention programs in Latinos, and border health issues. Dr. Balcazar has over 180 publications including 100 peer-reviewed journal articles.
Sheba George

Sheba George, PhD, co-director of the CHW Academy, is also faculty member at CDU in the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine and in the Department of Community Health Sciences at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health. Her current interests broadly center on how social and cultural determinants of health - such as race/ethnicity, class and immigration status and access to essential resources and health care – mediate to impact the health care experiences and health outcomes among populations experiencing health inequities.  She has used her expertise in social scientific theories and methods and her experience in the use of these approaches to teach and conduct research on health inequities, particularly using community-based methods among under resourced and vulnerable populations.  Her research in these areas has resulted in multiple award-winning peer-reviewed publications, including one co-authored book and a second sole authored book, both published by the University of California Press and over 50 publications. She is also a member of the CDU Center for Biomedical Informatics, where she has focused on sociotechnical aspects of the adoption of health information technologies.

Lucero Silva Lucero Silva, MPH curriculum developer for the CHW Academy. She is a learner, health educator, advocator for health equity. Ms. Silva's educational background includes an A.S in Medical Assisting from Orange Coast Community College, a B.S in Health Care Administration from Cal State Long Beach, and an MPH with a specialization in Community Health Education from Cal State Long Beach. Ms. Silva's research interest includes examining the influence of social determinants of health and health behaviors and outcomes. The social and physical environment factors like access to fair employment, fresh food, green spaces, education, and their association with health disparities. Ms. Silva has participated in serval local community-based programs in downtown Long Beach and designed health education programs to promote all underrepresented communities' health and well-being. Through these programs, she has collaborated with Community Health Workers (CHWs) and other community members to speak about their collective power to promote health equity. Ms. Silva has ten years of experience mentoring, training, and empowering other students to pursue their education in allied health professions. As a Curriculum Developer, she aspires to advocate for all communities' health, learning, and safety.
Carla Truax Carla Truax, MPH, is an educator with 15 years of experience creating meaningful curricula and learning experiences with academic and nonprofit organizations across Southern California.  Ms. Truax has a background in environmental studies and public health, earning her B.A. from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN, and completing her Master’s degree in Public Health at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine. 

Student Interns

Zerena Varghese Zerena Varghese recently graduated from the University of California, Davis with a B.S. in Biopsychology and a minor in Public Health Sciences. Her experiences working with individuals experiencing homelessness in Sacramento have led her to her passion to improve health care access and delivery for underserved communities. She is also interested in exploring the intersection between health, technology, and design and hopes to pursue a Master’s in Public Health in the next year.
Precious Onwuka Precious Onwuka, a junior at the University of California Berkeley, is currently pursuing her B.A. in Public Health. Her recent experience interning at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and now at the Academy, is solidifying her passion to advocate for equity in underrepresented minority communities lacking health resources. Her willingness to serve her community inspires her to also take what she has learned into a clinical setting as she pursues her master's in nursing in the coming year.
Jessenya Reyes Jessenya Reyes recently graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a B.S. in Human Biology and Society, with a concentration in Medicine and Public Health, along with a minor in Labor Studies. Before college, community leaders in her hometown helped her expand her understanding of health and wellness, and her passion to empower historically marginalized communities like her own began to grow. Her further experiences working in education and community medicine with communities of Los Angeles and Tecate, Mexico have continued to nourish that passion. Her vision for herself is to become a family medicine physician who is actively engaged in the community with whom she works.
Nancy Nguyen Nancy Nguyen is currently a graduate student pursuing her MPH in Community Health Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health. She graduated from UC Irvine with a B.A. in Public Health Policy. Before pursuing her MPH, she worked with communities in San Jose and the Bay Area in multiple capacities. During this time, she gained her Community Health Worker certificate in Youth Advocacy from City College of San Francisco. She strongly believes in the role of CHWs in fostering and inspiring healthy communities. In the future, she hopes to continue supporting CHW work and community health clinics who work in medically underserved areas to promote health equity in our communities.