Expert Advisory Group

Cindy Brach

Cindy Brach is a Senior Health Policy Researcher at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). She conducts and oversees research on health literacy, cultural and linguistic competence, care management, system design innovations, and Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Cindy leads AHRQ’s health literacy and cultural competence activities, such as the developing the Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit and the CAHPS® Item Set for Addressing Health Literacy. Cindy has also adapted hospital discharge and patient safety interventions for diverse patients. She serves on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Roundtable on Health Literacy and on the Advisory Group of DiversityRx’s biannual conference. Her peer-reviewed articles include, Integrating Literacy, Culture, and Language to Improve Quality of Health Care for Diverse Populations, Crossing the Language Chasm, and Can Cultural Competency Reduce Ethnic and Racial Health Disparities? A Review and Conceptual Model. Cindy received her Master of Public Policy degree from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was also advanced to Ph.D. candidacy.

Esther Han

Esther was a Senior Health Care Analyst for Research at The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) from 2006-2010 and served as an advisor for the first year of the Your Voice project. In July 2010, Ms. Han will leave NCQA to attend medical school at Boston University School of Medicine. As a senior analyst, Ms. Han worked on projects focused on promoting culturally and linguistically appropriate health care services and care coordination at NCQA. She was the project manager for NCQA’s annual health plan award program recognizing innovative practices for addressing health care disparities and Multicultural Health Care: A Quality Improvement Guide – a print and on-line guide to quality improvement for health care organizations serving diverse populations. Ms. Han also managed NCQA’s project on developing measures of care coordination and NCQA’s work on the identification and selection of health care innovations for inclusion in the AHRQ Innovations Exchange. Ms. Han’s work supported NCQA in the development of various measures assessing health plan performance in access, effectiveness and overall quality of care. Ms. Han received her Master of Public Health in health policy at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. In July 2010, Ms. Han left NCQA to attend medical school at Boston University School of Medicine, where she will continue to blog for DiversityRx about health and diversity issues in medical education.

Cindy Roat

Cynthia is a national consultant on language access in health care. A native of upstate New York, she spent many years working in rural areas of Latin America before earning her MPH in International Health Services from the University of Washington in Seattle. Cynthia entered the interpreting world in 1992 as a medical and social service Spanish-English interpreter. Her interest in systems change, however, quickly led her out of the exam room and into the classroom to teach interpreters, trainers, and medical providers the basics of the interpreting trade. Today, she also spends significant time in boardrooms, assisting administrators in evaluating and improving their language access programs.

Over the past two decades, Cynthia has made significant contributions in many areas of the language access field: training, program development, research, policy formulation, advocacy and organizational development. She is the author of a wide array of key resources in the field and a founding member of the Washington State Coalition for Language Access (WASCLA) and the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC), where she spent nine years on the Board. She is known nationally as an engaging speaker, a knowledgeable resource, and an energetic advocate for language access in general.

Mara Youdelman

Mara is Senior Attorney at the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) and also serves as Chair of the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters. At NHeLP, Mara directs the National Language Access Advocacy Project, funded by the California Endowment, to increase awareness of language access at the federal level. Mara coordinates a national coalition to develop a consensus-driven agenda to improve language access policies and funding. Mara is co-author of Ensuring Linguistic Access in Health Care Settings: Legal Rights and Responsibilities and, from The Commonwealth Fund, three reports on promising practices for providing language services. Mara is recognized as a national expert on language access and has participated on expert advisory panels for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; the National Committee for Quality Assurance; the National Quality Forum; and The Joint Commission.

Technical Advisory Group

Siobhan Champ-Blackwell

As the Community Outreach Liaison for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, MidContinental Region, Siobahn works to assist in the reduction of health disparities by providing access to health information to underserved populations and the health care providers who serve them. Champ-Blackwell oversees the development of outreach programs to libraries and community based organizations that result in increased direct access to health information by the general public. She reaches a large audience through the “Bringing Health Information to the Community” blog.

Ellen Howard

Ellen is a University of Washington Librarian and the Head of the library branch at Harborview Medical Center, a public hospital serving newly arrived refugee and immigrant groups in Seattle. Ellen founded EthnoMed in 1994 with clinicians and staff at the Center to provide a place where cross cultural information related to patients could be easily shared. She continually explores ways of presenting and sharing information, often using small NNLM grants to support the work, such as putting computers in the community centers of ethnic organizations. With NIH support, she is working to convert EthnoMed's current website to a more dynamic and flexible content management system site. Ellen received the 2008 Michael E. DeBakey Library Services Outreach Award.

Anthony Schmitz

Anthony is co-director of Health Advocates, a Minnesota-based community health consulting firm specializing in cross-cultural, immigrant and international health. Health Advocates designed and coordinates the Multilingual Health Resources Exchange website. In addition, Health Advocates consults on a variety of issues for state and national organizations, including the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care, the University of Minnesota, the Global Health Council and the Minnesota Department of Health.

Peer Learning Group Moderators

Erin Bowman

Erin Bowman served as a program manager for the California Health Care Safety Net Institute (SNI), the quality improvement branch of the California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (CAPH). In this role, she led efforts to eliminate health disparities, improve language services, and spread palliative care to public hospitals in California. In her tenure at SNI, Erin led an initiative in public hospitals to better understand the barriers and facilitators to improving race, ethnicity, and language data collection and use.

Prior to joining SNI, Erin was a rural community health Peace Corps volunteer in Benin, West Africa. She is currently attending the Masters Entry Program in Nursing at the University of California at San Francisco. Upon graduating as an adult nurse practitioner, Erin plans to work in a safety net setting and lead quality improvement efforts aimed at eliminating health disparities.

Diana Carr

Diana is a Medical Anthropologist and Manager of the Cultural and Linguistic Services Department at Health Net of California where she has been employed for over nine years. Diana holds a Master of Art’s degree in anthropology and is a medical anthropologist whose area of specialization is non-western health care and ethnopharmacology. She is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Riverside. Dissertation fieldwork was conducted in an indigenous community in Southern Mexico and focused on non-literate means of learning and transferring medical knowledge. She has twelve years of experience teaching anthropology and cultural awareness at local universities and another nine years of experience teaching cultural competency courses at Health Net. Ms. Carr also has extensive background in anthropological linguistics and the transmission of culturally based or group held information through language.

Loretta Estes

Loretta served as the coordinator of cultural and linguistic services in the Public Affairs Department at Passport Health Plan for 10 years. Ms. Estes is certified as a cultural diversity professional by Cornell University and as a trainer by the Cross Cultural Health Care Program (CCHCP) in Seattle, Washington, Society for Human Resource Management, and the Emotional Intelligence and Diversity Institute.

Her primary role was to serve as an advocate for members who are limited English proficient. Her other duties included oversight of the organization’s compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Standards in Health Care issued by the Office of Minority Health (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). Loretta coordinated the translation of vital documents in the Plan’s threshold languages, and conducted on-going assessments of the changing demographics in Kentucky.

Loretta is very active with local and regional community organizations, particularly those that advocate for individuals who face cultural and language barriers.  Her work includes participation with the Americana Community Center, Catholic Charities and Kentucky Refugee Ministries among others.

Darci Graves

Darci Graves has nearly 10 years of professional and academic experience in the fields of cultural competence and health education. A former faculty member at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, she aided in the development, implementation, and management of their diversity, spirituality, communications, and geriatrics curricula. She holds an MA in Communications and an MA in Religion and Sociology. Darci is all but dissertation for her PhD in Public Policy at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. Her dissertation research is an analysis of recent state-level cultural competence legislation addressing disparity reduction. In addition she consults with various academic and non-profit organizations as they relate to cultural competence, healthcare and social justice. She currently serves as Senior Healthcare Education Specialist with SRA International, Inc. working on various cultural competence initiatives including a new web-based curriculum for disaster responders.

Jeffrey Ring

Jeffrey Ring is the Director of Behavioral Sciences at the Family Medicine Residency Program at White Memorial Medical Center in East Los Angeles. After receiving a doctorate degree in community/clinical psychology at Boston University, he completed a fellowship in minority and community psychology with an emphasis on Latino/a mental health at the School of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco.

Dr. Ring has been working in the area of culturally responsive health and mental health for twenty years, with a number of published articles and international lectures and presentations. He is the lead author of the book Curriculum for Culturally Responsive Medical Care: A Step-By Step Guide for Cultural Competence Training. (Radcliffe Publishing, 2008). He also published a self-reflective article on the provision of culturally responsive care from a white, male perspective in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. Dr. Ring has served as co-chair of the Group on Minority Health and Multicultural Education in the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. He delivered the plenary address for the 2009 Forum on Behavioral Sciences entitled, ‘Reducing Health Disparities in Our Lifetime? Key Roles for Behavioral Scientists in Medical Education.’ (And by the way—yes we can!)

Carl Rush

Carl is Principal of Community Resources, LLC in San Antonio, Texas, and has worked full time for and with Community Health Workers (CHW) for 13 years. He recently developed a CHW skills curriculum for the American Dental Association, and has consulted with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) initiative on serving the Hispanic elderly. He was named by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to their national Health Disparities Technical Expert Panel for the Medicare program in 2008. Carl was a lead author on the CHW National Workforce Study for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Bureau of Health Professions (2007). In 2007 he also convened an invitational conference to draft a national research agenda on CHWs with support from several private and corporate foundations. He serves as Secretary of the CHW Section of American Public Health Association (APHA) and on the Advisory Committee of the American Association of CHWs. He is a member of the APHA Education Board and Governing Council. His earlier experience includes over 20 years as a grant maker, researcher, and management consultant. He holds a Master of Regional Planning degree from Cornell University.

Nadia Sawaya

Nadia leads initiatives in the areas of diversity, cultural competency, customer relationship management, organizational change, and leadership development. She has developed and implemented them in organizations such as Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins Medicine institutions. In 2004, Nadia launched the Johns Hopkins Hospital's first formal Cultural Competency Program and established their 24-hour telephone interpretation service. She developed and implemented CLAS curriculum that provided over 3,000 people with training needed to meet Joint Commission standards.Currently, Nadia is employed as Director of the Center for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services at New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation.

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