Office of Community Outreach and Engagement
The Community Advisory Council of the Office of Community Outreach and Engagement creates a feedback loop designed to close the gap in health disparities and reduce the incidence and mortality rates from cancer and other diseases. We engage with community members across the state to improve knowledge and awareness of cancer risk factors, screening services and treatment options. By engaging with members of underrepresented communities, we discover where inequities exist, helping scientists and clinicians develop and apply new knowledge to help these at-risk communities. The more knowledge we gain, the better we are able to address the needs of different communities, further reducing health disparities.
State of Colorado
Dianne Primavera is a leading patient advocate who has spent three decades fighting for every Coloradan's access to quality, affordable health care.
As a young mom in 1988, Dianne was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her doctor told her that she had, at most, five years to live. Since her first diagnosis, Dianne has fought cancer four times and survived. Her personal battle with cancer inspired her to make it her life's work to ensure every Coloradan has access to the health care they need when they need it.
In 1990, Dianne joined the Rocky Mountain Regional Brain Injury Center, where her work focused on helping individuals dealing with serious injuries recover and resume dignified, fulfilling lives. Since then, she's held many prominent positions throughout the public and nonprofit sectors devoted to furthering life-saving medical research and connecting Coloradans who experience illness with the treatment they need to recover.
In 2006, Dianne was elected to the first of four terms in the State Legislature, representing Broomfield, Superior, and parts of Erie. Throughout her service, Dianne was highly regarded for her success working across the aisle to promote Colorado small businesses, lower prescription drug costs, and expand access to affordable health care.
Most recently, Dianne served as the CEO of Susan G. Komen Colorado, one of the largest organizations in the country dedicated to breast cancer prevention, treatment, research, and education.
Dianne is a lifelong Coloradan and a Broomfield resident. She has two adult daughters and a one-year-old granddaughter, Kailani. Dianne is also an avid country dancer - taking after her dad, who was a dedicated ballroom dancer throughout his life, even on his 95th birthday.
President & Chief Executive Officer
Valley-Wide Health Systems
Jania Arnoldi is the President and Chief Executive Officer at Valley-Wide Health Systems, a community health center that serves people from over 11 counties in rural communities of southern Colorado. As the President and CEO at Valley-Wide, Jania is responsible for strategic and operational leadership, relationship building internally and externally, as well as creating strategic partnerships at the national, state and local levels. She is ultimately responsible for all high-level decision-making at Valley-Wide. Jania has been a leader in Community Health for over 23 years. Prior to her current role, Jania was the Chief Financial Officer at two community health centers in Arizona. Throughout her career, Jania’s passion for participating with and working for organizations that focus on impacting the health and well-being of individuals and families has led her to various leadership positions and roles.
Jania attained her doctorate degree in Healthcare Administration in 2021 from AT Still University, her Master of Business Administration from The University of Phoenix in 2006 and her Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration from the University of Arizona in 2002.
Jania currently resides in Alamosa, Colorado, a rural community in the southern part of the state with her husband and six children. Jania enjoys spending time with her family and being outdoors anywhere in beautiful Colorado.
Selena L. Dunham is the Principal of Classique, LLC, a full-service company. As a professional Corporate/ Human Resources Executive, Selena has a long record of promoting equality and excellence among countless groups, excelling in staff development,
service, etiquette, international diversity, protocol training, entrepreneurial growth, and human rights. She is a dedicated champion of diversity in the workplace and community with demonstrated strong cultural awareness. Selena has a history of
community involvement, having served on numerous not-for-profit, State, local, and federal boards and political campaigns. As a breast cancer survivor, Selena is proud to participate in improving the patient-centeredness of research and contribute
to giving more patients in Colorado a voice and a role in the research process.
Selena is the Immediate Past co-chair of the Kaiser Permanente Research Bank National Community Advisory Board, a member of the Center for Excellence in Cancer and Genomics Patient Advisory Board, is a member of Colorado Patient Partners in Research Community
Advisory Board, a member of Denver Health’s Community Advisory Panel and serves as a member of the Colorado Judicial Institute Board. Selena is on the Board of Directors and Treasurer for the Colorado National Council of Jewish Women and is
also on the Board of Directors for the Aspen Theological Seminary. She prides herself on cultural awareness and continues her daily promotion of diversity in the workplace and the community. In 2016, Selena, with her colleagues, Charlene Barrientos
Ortiz, Tammy Bellofatto, Selena L. Dunham and Leslie Wright, was published for the first time for the Colorado Patient Partners in Research: Engaging at multiple intersections inpatient health poster, which was presented to the 2016 Engaging Communities
in Education and Research (ECER) Cultivating Campus-Community Partnership for a Health Colorado Conference. In 2017 Selena received an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Public Service from the Denver Institute of Urban Studies and Adult College.
“As a breast cancer survivor, I want to give back to Kaiser and my community. I am dedicated to KPBR NCAB because I want to encourage and promote positive research, especially in communities of diversity.”
Early Childhood Education Manager
Centennial BCOES Migrant Education
Erika Escalera is committed to helping those who have been excluded by social structures and institutions become leaders in their community. Both of Erika's parents are immigrants from Mexico. As the oldest, and being bilingual, Erika was usually the one translating and advocating for herself and her family. She understood from a young age that she wanted to continue positively connecting the people she loved and cared about to the world around them.
Erika began her professional career as an English as a Second Language Teacher at a 5th-6th Grade School in Fort Morgan. During this time, she was able to connect with immigrant students and their families. With a clear vision in mind of helping others while dismantling systemic oppression, she moved her work to the Fort Morgan High School where she served as a Collegiate Advisor. There she created trusting relationships and guided first-generation and low-income students academically and helped them gain access to higher education. Erika has also served as a community organizer in Morgan County dedicating her time to build leadership and power in the immigrant community to pass laws and policies based on the community's collective health needs. Erika graduated from the University of Northern Colorado in Spanish and TESL K-12 Education, and later received her master's in Higher Education Administration and Leadership from Adams State University. Erika believes her story and background will mobilize others to take action and live a healthier life.
Spirit of the Sun
Shannon Francis, is a Hopi and Dineh from the Southwest homelands of Arizona and New Mexico. She is Towering House clan born for Red Running into the Water clan. Her Hopi clans are Massau’, Bear Sand, and Snake Clan. Shannon comes from twelve generations of earth caretakers, ethnobotanists, and seed keepers. A certified Permaculture Design Instructor, Shannon weaves TEK Traditional Ecological Knowledge with innovative science. She loves to educate on caretaking of land, water, and soil resources; preserving Native heirloom GMO-free seeds, zero-waste philosophy, and how to live more harmoniously with nature. Shannon is the Executive Director for Spirit of the Sun, Inc. in Denver. Spirit of the Sun received the 2020 Human Rights Award from Youth Celebrate Diversity. Shannon co-created and led an Indigenous Permaculture Community Garden Project with the Four Winds American Indian Council. Shannon has received the Justin B. Willie humanitarian award (2014) on the Navajo Nation as well as the Cesar E. Chavez female leadership award (2015) for her work with Indigenous gardening, food justice, and community building projects. Shannon co-created the Indigenous agricultural project at Woodbine Ecology Center in Sedalia, CO. She taught Indigenous gardening workshops Native communities at the Denver Indian Center. She has presented at the Front Range Bioneers, the Star School, Indigenous Farming Conference White Earth, MN, The Denver Green Festivals, Dartmouth College, Haskell Indian Nations College, Fort Lewis College AISES Conference, and the Teaching Outside the Box Environmental Education Conference. Shannon has six wonderful children and three amazing grandchildren that are her inspiration to make this a better world for all future generations to come.
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Dr. Cynthia Hazel is a Doctor of Public Health and Executive Director of the Gyedi Project. She leads projects focused on health equity innovation, cultural competency training for health professionals, maternal and child health, and community-engaged program evaluation. She was nominated for the Colorado Public Health Association’s Excellence in the Promotion of Health Equity Award in 2021.
Dr. Hazel received her Masters in Public Health Policy from Durham University in the United Kingdom, and her Doctor of Public Health degree from the University of Colorado School of Public Health, where she specialized in Community and Behavioral Health. Originally from Ghana, Dr. Hazel has also been involved in health promotion efforts focused on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in her city of Aurora, Colorado, especially the African immigrant and refugee community. Her recent work involves designing a community-led health literacy improvement curriculum for training health professionals, reducing inequities in COVID-19 vaccine distribution, and BIPOC patient empowerment programs for provider engagement.
Dr. Cynthia Hazel is a 2023 Aspen Ideas: Health Fellow, and currently serves on the Colorado Vaccine Equity Taskforce, as well as the Community Advisory Council of the University of Colorado Cancer Center.
Program Coordinator – Women’s Wellness Connection
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Ivy Hontz is a Program Coordinator for the Women’s Wellness Connection in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. She has worked for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for over ten years as a program coordinator in the breast and cervical cancer program. Her focus remains on community and community engagement. Prior to CDPHE she worked for the Asian Pacific Development Center, and the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services. She has been involved in numerous academic/community partnerships and is currently working with Emory University’s Rollin’s School of Public Health as they evaluate the community outreach strategy for the CDC. She served on the board of numerous nonprofits, all focused on community.
Chief of Research
VA Western Colorado Health Care System – Grand Junction, CO
Dr. Marty Jacobson is the Chief of Research for the Grand Junction VA Medical Center where he is focused on developing clinical research programs that will offer Colorado Western Slope and Eastern Utah Veterans opportunities to participate in new and exciting clinical trials locally, close to home, and allow local VA clinician and non-clinician scientists opportunities to seek new and innovative ways to improve clinical diagnoses and care delivery that will benefit Veterans and provide high-value healthcare. Prior to joining the VA, Dr. Jacobson held progressive clinical research leadership roles from 2009 to 2022 as Director and Regional Director overseeing the development and operations of clinical trial research programs at SCL Health’s St. Mary’s Hospital & Medical Center in Grand Junction, CO. Dr. Jacobson also served first as Principal Scientist, then Director and Principal Investigator for St. Mary’s Saccomanno Research Institute (SRI) from 2006 to 2022 conducting basic and translational cancer research. SRI houses the Saccomanno Uranium Miner Archive: a tissue collection consisting of sputum cytology slide samples and tissue blocks from a cohort of over 17,000 uranium miners primarily from the Colorado Plateau (Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah), assembled over an approx. 45 year period by Dr. Geno Saccomanno. In 2016, Dr. Jacobson was one of three Colorado researchers invited by Colorado Public Radio to discuss/gauge ongoing efforts in Colorado in the search for a cure for cancer; The ‘Moonshot’ Against Cancer, Where Does Colorado Stand?
With a background in molecular/cell biology, prior to joining to St. Mary’s Medical Center Dr. Jacobson spent nearly 20 years conducting molecular and cellular biology research in academic, non-profit and biotech research organizations. Dr. Jacobson received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Master’s degree from the University of British Columbia-Vancouver, PhD from the North Carolina State University- Raleigh, and did postdoctoral training as a NIH NRSA Fellow at the Virginia Polytechnic & State University-Blacksburg.
CEO and Executive Director
Center for African American Health
Deidre Johnson is the CEO and Executive Director of the Center for African-American Health, a community-based organization dedicated to empowering the Black community to make informed health decisions that benefit the whole person through education, collaboration, and advocacy.
Johnson is an ASCEND Aspen Institute Fellow, a Transformative Leadership for Change Fellow, a Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Livingston Fellow, and an Adjunct Professor in the University of Denver, University College Nonprofit Leadership Program.
A results-oriented executive, Johnson has an extensive background in strategic planning, grant making, grants management, fund raising, program development, project management, strategic learning and systems evaluation. She has been recognized among peers as an exceptionally creative, innovative, collaborative, adaptive leader who consistently achieves professional and organizational goals.
Johnson currently serves on the following boards and steering committees: Rose Community Foundation Community Grantmaking Committee, Colorado School of Public Health Advisory Board, Transition Advisory Group (TAG) for the new Colorado Department of Early Childhood, Colorado Behavioral Health Task Force,Mile High Health Alliance, Yale Philanthropy Conference Advisory Board, Ascend at the Aspen Institute 2Gen Prenatal – 3 Learning and Action Community (2Gen P3 LAC), Colorado Maternal Health Task Force, and Colorado State Senator James Coleman’s Health Care Policy Cabinet.
A Denver native, Johnson graduated from St. Mary’s Academy, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Yale School of Management.
Mayra Juárez-Denis is a native of San Antonio, TX and was raised in Monterrey, Mexico. She is a product of the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD), obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Texas A&M University - College Station and a Master of Science in Social Work from The University of Texas at Austin. She has lived long-term in Mexico, the U.S., Spain, and Belgium.
She brings 15 years of non-profit experience (local, national and international) in leadership development, multicultural communication, immigration advocacy, institutional civic engagement, and talent identification. Mayra was also trained under the broad-based organizing model, as a grassroots community organizer, by the Industrial Areas Foundation. She is fluent in Spanish, English, and French. Elisa, her daughter, is her most precious treasure and pride.
Cancer Program Manager
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Ian Kahn leads the Colorectal Cancer Control and Comprehensive Cancer Programs at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Ian’s work and these programs focus on cancer prevention through preventive screening, building community-clinical linkages and promoting cancer prevention across Colorado. Previously, Ian worked with health plans, state departments of health, local health departments and quality improvement organizations to reduce the burden of cancer in Colorado through improving cancer screening and HPV vaccinations rates with provider trainings and other evidence based interventions at the American Cancer Society. Ian is an active member of the Colorado Cancer Coalition and co-chair of the Colorectal Cancer Task Force. In his free time Ian enjoys tending to his yard, hiking, camping and spending time with his wife and three dogs.
Ed King was treated for Head and Neck Cancer and Melanoma at Anschutz during late 2014 early 2015. Following his treatments, he organized a Head and Neck Cancer support group in northern Colorado which continues with members from not only northern Colorado healthcare institutions but individuals who were treated in other states.
Professionally he is a member of a Canadian company, SpectraDigital Corporation, which develops infectious disease diagnostics for both humans and dairy cattle. They are currently involved with malaria projects in Southeast Asia, a virus-related cancer
project in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and a dairy project headquartered in Buffalo New York.
Prior to SpectraDigital, he was the Director of Government, Trade and Community Relations at Walgreens for 27 years, and preceding that he was the Chief Legislative Assistant for a United States Senator and the Executive Director of a Council of Governments.
Currently, he is the Secretary for the C R Walgreen III and Kathleen B Walgreen Foundation, a board member of The First Ladies Health Initiative, and the Walgreens Historical Foundation. He is also a member of the Windsor Rotary Club
His wife and he have three adult children. Two of whom live in northern Colorado and the other residing in Southern California.
Ed holds a BA From the University of Tulsa, and a JD from the University of Tulsa College of Law.
Chief Medical Officer
High Plains Community Health Center
Dr. Claire Reed was born in Zomba, Malawi, to British parents. They lived in Canada, Australia, South Africa and Great Britain before immigrating to America. She became a naturalized citizen of the US in 1988.
Dr. Reed received her Doctor of Medicine from Texas A&M University College of Medicine in 1993 and completed residency training in Family Medicine in Wichita, Kansas, in 1996. She is board certified in Family Medicine and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Practice. She practiced in Kansas, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and Colorado. Dr. Reed recently joined High Plains Community Health Center in Lamar, Colorado, as the Chief Medical Officer. For the past 12 years, she has focused her career in Federally Qualified Health Centers and she is passionate about ensuring quality, comprehensive care to underserved populations and those who face barriers to care as well as growing and mentoring the next generation of providers.
Dr. Reed lives in Las Animas, Colorado, with her husband. They have 5 children and 8 grandchildren.
Colorado Black Health Collaborative
Dr. Richardson was born in Atlanta, Georgia and grew up in Northeast Denver. She attended Stanford University where she received a BS in biology. She received her M.D. degree from Yale University School of Medicine and completed a residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. After completing her residency, she worked at Eastside Health Center, Denver Health for 17 years. She worked another 17 years at Kaiser Permanente Colorado. She retired from clinical practice June 30,2021.
Dr. Richardson has over 34 years of experience as a clinician, health educator, mentor and volunteer in the health arena. She considers herself a “community doctor” and is passionate about the health of the Black community. She remains active in health-related community endeavors. She enjoys serving the community in this way.
Dr. Richardson is a member of several volunteer boards. She currently is the Vice Chair of the Colorado Black Health Collaborative (CBHC) and chair of CBHC’s Health Access Committee. She is an active member of the Mile High Medical Society. She also serves as an informal mentor to students at various levels.
Preferred pronouns: he/him/his
CEO & Co-Founder
Colorado Alliance for Health Equity and Practice
Dr. Alok Sarwal co-founded the Colorado Alliance for Health Equity and Practice in 2006.
Director – Office of Health Equity
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Arlen Zamula is the Director for Health Equity in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. She has over 15 years of public health experience focusing on health equity, capacity building, and community engagement. Over her career she has worked in many different sectors including education, corporate, nonprofit and government.
Before joining the Office of Health Equity in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, she served as Director of Health Equity Capacity Building in the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, working on a large portfolio that included working with schools and communities on social determinants of health, including food insecurity, built environment, research and evaluation, as well as operations and administration. During her time in NYC, her proudest accomplishments were working with colleagues and community members on a participatory grantmaking program focusing on neighborhood resilience and equity, and her multi-year, emergency activation for the COVID-19 response as the Health Systems Support Branch Director and Vaccine Site Lead. In her bio photo, you can see Arlen at the American Museum of Natural History, where many people got vaccinated under the big blue whale!
Now working in the Office of Health Equity, Arlen manages an amazing team whose portfolio includes community partnership and engagement, grants program, tribal relations and language access and justice. The Office of Health Equity also does extensive work with sister agencies and communities through the Health Equity Commission on policies, reports, and programming focusing on the social determinants and public health equity.
Arlen graduated from New York University with a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Hunter College with a Master of Public Health - Nutrition.