People of the Academy

Sheba George Sheba George, PhD, director of the CHW Academy, is an associate professor in the Department of Preventive & Social Medicine, at Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles and an adjunct professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. She is course director of the “Medicine and Society” Longitudinal Pre-Clerkship Course in the CDU College of Medicine. She is Program Director of the CDU AltaMed Health Careers Opportunity (HCOP) Pipeline Program.
Hector Balcazar Hector Balcazar, PhD, MS, Co-Founder and former Director of the CHW Academy, was also Dean of the College of Science and Health at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. Dr. Balcazar has extensive experience as a leader in public health education, research, service and community outreach working with community health workers. Dr. Balcazar has over 180 publications including 100 peer-reviewed journal articles.
Nazaret Nuñez Nazaret Nuñez , Nazaret Nuñez serves as the Program Manager for the Community Health Worker Academy. Nazaret is a first-generation, Mexican-American college graduate who studied Biology and Global Health at the University of California, Los Angeles. Nazaret has a research background in public health, education, and in nonprofit management. Since graduating in 2019, she has continued volunteering within UCLA’s Mobile Clinic Project and Companion Care, a community health organization that provides low-barrier medical services and referrals to primary care and social services. Through many years of involvement at nonprofits and community health organizations, Nazaret has served as a community health worker, case manager, health systems navigator, and volunteer educator/trainer. She is excited to continue engaging in collaborative projects that empower community members to play an active role in their health, and in addressing the root causes of health disparities.
Daniela Cruz Daniela Cruz MPH , Daniela Cruz, MPH, serves as the Master Trainer for the CHW Academy. Ms. Cruz is a first-generation college graduate with a background in Health and Human Sciences, Occupational Science, and Public Health. Her interests include child & maternal health, obesity prevention, cardiovascular disease and diabetes prevention, food justice, housing as a human right, health as a human right, access to quality education, and understanding the impact of social determinants of health in underserved communities of color. Through her work, Daniela aims to contribute to movements surrounding social justice, health equity, and the availability, accessibility, acceptability, and quality of health resources and services.

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.
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.

Allies of the CHW Academy

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. 
Lucero Silva Lucero Silva, MPH, past 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 A.S 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. As a Curriculum Developer, she aspires to advocate for all communities' health, learning, and safety.
Irma Ramos Veronica Sepulveda, MPH, is a pioneer in the Community Health Worker arena. In 2004, Veronica championed a pilot program called the Latino Adult Diabetes Prevention & Management Program with the Long Beach Department of Health & Human Services. In 2010, Veronica coordinated a Nutrition & Physical Activity Promotora Certification Program with UMMA Clinic, St. John’s Well Child and Family Centers, and Esperanza Community Housing. In conjunction with the Los Angeles Office of Education, Veronica lead efforts for the CA Network for a Healthy California to instruct 150 teachers on how to introduce the benefits of fruit & vegetables in the classroom.
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.
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.