Teresa Córdova

Teresa Córdova is Director of UIC’s Great Cities Institute (GCI). GCI sponsors research, service, and educational programs aimed at improving the quality of life of people living in Chicago, its metropolitan region, and other great cities of the world. In carrying out its work the Institute engages closely with government institutions, businesses and their membership organizations, foundations and grant-making agencies, and organizations devoted to the social, cultural, and economic vitality of cities, local communities and neighborhoods. It serves as a research laboratory and meeting place for scholars, policymakers, and citizens who share an interest in finding answers to the question, "What can cities and regions do to make themselves into great places?

She is also Professor of Urban Planning and Policy in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs (CUPPA).  Professor Córdova received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.  Before her appointment as the third permanent Great Cities Director, she was department Chair and Professor of Community and Regional Planning at the University of New Mexico.  

Dr. Córdova is a former elected official on the Bernalillo County (New Mexico) Board of Commissioners.  While a County Commissioner, she served on the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority; The Metropolitan Transportation Board; and was Chair of The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Government Commission. While Commissioner, she brought needed infrastructure projects and improvements, economic development, amenities such as open space and parks, a medical clinic, youth facilities and various services to her district. She also initiated several long range planning projects.

She is founder and former Director of the Resource Center for Raza Planning in the College of Architecture and Planning at UNM. While director, the Center engaged students in research, policy writing and analysis, public participation, design, strategic and sector planning, and curriculum related to issues of economic development, infrastructure (water, sewer, drainage and road improvement), land use, neighborhood stabilization, agricultural preservation and youth development.  

She was a National Research Council Fellow and has received multiple leadership awards and recognitions for her role in community economic development and infrastructure planning. She has sat on numerous national and local boards and steering committees of community development corporations, planning organizations, policy groups, and campus committees. 

Professor Córdova is currently President of the Board of Directors of The Praxis Project, a national, nonprofit organization that provides research, technical assistance and financial support to tackle issues impacting the well being of communities.  She is currently the elected Secretary of the Governing Board of the Association for Collegiate Schools of Planning, a consortium of university –based programs offering credentials in urban and regional planning.

JoAnn K. Chase, JD, Treasurer

JoAnn Chase, a Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Indian, was born and raised on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in central North Dakota.  After a stellar academic career that included undergraduate work at Boston University, a legislative fellowship with Congresswoman Barbara Boxer and law school and law review editorial board at the University of New Mexico School of Law, she had a distinguished law career devoted to legal advocacy to promote and protect the rights of tribal nations and their citizens.  JoAnn served as the Executive Director for the National Congress of American Indians, the oldest and largest national Indian organization.  During her tenure, the organization’s membership and budget tripled and NCAI enjoyed unprecedented visibility and viability.  JoAnn left NCAI to become Executive Director of the National Network of Grantmakers, an organization dedicated to moving more philanthropic dollars to economic and social justice initiatives.  After her tenure there, she started The Chase Group where she puts together strategic funding partnerships with foundations, major donors and others to advance equity and social justice.

Dileep G. Bal, M.D., M.S., M.P.H.

Dr. Dileep G. Bal began working for the Hawaii State Department of Health in September 2005, as the District Health Officer for the Island of Kauai, and as Special Advisor to the Director of the Department on Cancer, Chronic Disease, Tobacco and Nutrition. He is a Clinical Professor at both the University of Hawaii Cancer Center and the Department of Family and Community Medicine of the College of Medicine (University of Hawaii).

Dr. Bal had been with the State of California for over two decades, where he served as the Chief of the Cancer Control Branch within the Department of Health Services. With the advent of Proposition 99, which added a $.25 tax on each package of cigarettes sold in California, he became responsible for implementing California’s tobacco control efforts.  This tobacco use prevention and cessation program was one of the largest of its kind in the world and has been universally acclaimed for its innovations and effectiveness. He is the founder/director of California’s Tobacco Control and Obesity Control efforts. His branch’s annual budget was in excess of 250 million dollars.

Since 1981 Dr. Bal had held an appointment as a Clinical Professor at the medical school of the University of California at Davis, where he was active in the teaching and research programs.  He has published extensively in the areas of cancer prevention and control, especially about diet and cancer, tobacco, and cancer and the underserved.  Dr. Bal has been Principal Investigator on several large National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control cancer prevention and control projects. Dr. Bal serves on the Advisory Committee to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control. Currently he is on the editorial board or, is an active reviewer, for several peer-reviewed medical journals as well as for the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.  Dr. Bal is a frequent speaker on public health, medical and social issues, both nationally and internationally. He was the commencement speaker at Brown University Medical School in May 2005. Dr. Bal is a Regent Emeritus of the University of Hawaii.

Prior to going to California in 1981, Dr. Bal was in Tucson, Arizona for ten years, where he was the Director of the Pima County Health Department and on the full-time faculty of the University of Arizona, College of Medicine.  Dr. Bal was born and educated mainly in New Delhi, India.  His medical degree is from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.  He also has graduate degrees in Public Health from Columbia and Harvard Universities. He has been board certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine since 1975.

Dr. Bal is very active with the American Cancer Society at the local, state, and national levels.  He has been a member of the National Board of Directors and a National Officer, in addition to being an Honorary Life Member, and Past President of both the Sacramento Unit and the California Division of the American Cancer Society.  In 2000-2001, Dr. Bal was the National President of the American Cancer Society.

Dr. Bal and his wife Muktha have two children. Their son Vijay who has degrees from Harvard, University of Rochester and University of San Diego works in Los Angeles. Their daughter Suniti has a degree from the University of California and works in Washington, D.C.

Maria Luisa Alaniz

Maria is Professor and Chair of the Social Science Department at San Jose State University. She is also Director of Social Science Teacher Education. Maria received a BA, MA and Pupil Personnel Credential from San Jose State University and received an Ed.S. and Ph.D. in Sociology of Education from Stanford University. She conducted research on alcohol outlet density and youth violence in Mexican American communities at the Prevention Research Center in Berkeley from 1991 to 2000. Maria was the Co-Principal Investigator of studies funded by NIH, the California Wellness Foundation and the California Endowment.

 Her numerous articles on alcohol use among Mexican Americans, ethnic and gender specific targeted advertising and drinking patterns among women have been published in national and international scholarly journals in the alcohol field. Maria was raised in a farm worker family of all women in Stockton, California. Her latest research project, based in Stockton, investigates the effect of public policy on personal lives. Her hobbies include travel, hiking and reading.

Ajamu Baraka, Vice Chair

An internationally recognized  human rights defender whose experience spans four decades of domestic and international education and activism, Ajamu Baraka is a veteran grassroots organizer whose roots are in the Black Liberation Movement.  

As an activist and human rights organizer, Ajamu  has been at the forefront of efforts to develop and apply a radical “People-Centered” human rights framework to social justice organizing and advocacy in the U.S. for more than 25 years.  Ajamu was the Founding Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network (USHRN) from July 2004 until June 2011. The USHRN was the first domestic human rights formation in the United States explicitly committed to the application of international human rights standards to the U.S.

Baraka is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C. and editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report.  He is also a contributing writer with various outlets including Commondreams, The Nation, Pambazaka, Dissident Voice, Counterpunch Magazine and Black Commentator.

A geo-political analyst and commentator, Baraka has appeared on and been covered in a wide-range of print, broadcast, and digital media outlets such as CNN, BBC, the Tavis Smiley Show, Telemundo,  ABC’s World News Tonight, TeleSue TV,  Black Commentator, Russia Today, the Washington Post and the New York Times.


Dr. Estevan Flores

Dr. Flores is Principal of Flores Consulting, LLC. He was Academic and Faculty Director at Regis University’s Dual Language Campus. A sociologist, Dr. Flores was Executive Director of the Latino/a Research & Policy Center (LRPC) at the University of Colorado Denver (1997-2007), where he was also Associate Professor in the Department of Health and Behavioral Sciences.  He was Chief of Population Science and Cancer Control at the Nevada Cancer Institute to July, 2008. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas (Austin) and MA from the U. of Notre Dame.

His fields include public health and health disparities, race and ethnic relations, cancer control, leadership, community-based research, and dual language university programs. Dr. Flores published work appears in U.S. journals and in Mexico as well. Dr. Flores has published over 75 op-eds and his career funding is $7.5M in research grants on health and cancer prevention. His 2005-10 NCI grant brought 12 counties and 25 community based organizations and leaders into a prevention Network to save lives. He served on the first national Minority Advisory Committee to eliminate health disparities for the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services and for a decade on the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

His current consulting work in Dallas and Denver is with city and state elected officials, university administrators, hospital leadership, and community based organizations and leaders. He was an Advisor to the Mexican government from 2006 to 2008.  In Colorado he has been an activist and co-founded organizations like the Hispanic Health Coalition, the Hispanic League, the Latino Education Campaign, and the Colorado Latino Forum.

He now serves on Denver’s Clinica Tepeyac’s Board of Directors (a gateway health facility for the underserved). Estevan received the Community Health Research Leadership Award from the National Cancer Institute (2005) and the “Cesar Chavez Leadership Award” in 2014 by Denver’s Peace and Justice Committee.


Frank J. Omowale Satterwhite, Ph.D.

 Frank J. Omowale Satterwhite founded NCDI in 2000 and shaped the mission, methodology, and values of the organization through his role as President and CEO. In 2007, Omowale shifted his role to Founder and Senior Advisor, allowing him to devote a greater amount of his time to field work, writing, public speaking and community engagement.

 In a typical year, Omowale provides management services to over 50 social justice, health/human service, community development and philanthropic organizations around the country; he conducts training programs for about 100 organizational leaders, resident leaders/activists and consultants working in urban and rural communities of color; he works with comprehensive community initiatives in several cities; and he serves on the boards of local, regional and national organizations in the community-building field.

 Prior to founding NCDI, Omowale served as President of the Community Development Institute (CDI) which he founded in East Palo Alto, California in 1979. CDI’s mission is to combat the causes of racism and poverty in diverse, low-income communities. The lessons learned at the community level at CDI led to the formation of NCDI and to the development of NCDI’s capacity-building methodology that is now being practiced in every region of the county.
Omowale was previously employed as Associate Director, Western Regional Office, College Entrance Examination Board; Associate Dean and Chairman of African American Studies, Oberlin College; Assistant to the Superintendent and Acting Superintendent, Ravenswood City School District; and President, Institute for the Study of Community Economic Development.
Omowale has served on numerous boards, including the Applied Research Center and Urban Habitat (Oakland, CA); Community Development Institute, Teen Home and Girls Club of the Mid-Peninsula (East Palo Alto); and Praxis Project (Washington, D.C.). He has also served on the East Palo Alto City Council and the San Mateo County Planning Commission.  Omowale is currently the Board Chair of the Alliance for Nonprofit Management.
Omowale has received numerous awards for his public service including an Unsung Hero Award from KQED Public Television; Unsung Hero Award from the Peninsula Community Foundation; and Community Service Person of the Year Award from the National Council of Negro Women, Golden Gate Section.
Omowale completed his undergraduate degree at Howard University, a Master's Degree at Southern Illinois University and a doctoral degree at Stanford University.


Xavier Morales, Ph.D., MRP

Xavier is the executive director for the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California.  He is a longtime advocate for community-driven initiatives to achieve health equity and environmental justice. Taking an expansive view of what constitutes good health and community wellness, he diligently works to enable opportunities for youth development, workforce development, college access, prisoner reentry, early childhood development, affordable housing, and expanding access to culturally and linguistically appropriate heath care for all Californians.  Xavier currently serves on the boards of The Praxis Project and The California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, and also on the advisory boards for the Diabetes Coalition of California and the California Department of Public Health's Biobank Community Values Panel.  He was also a member of the Berkeley vs. Big Soda steering committee that passed the first local tax on sugary sweetened beverages to begin to address the diabetes epidemic in the Latino community.  He is also in a leadership role in the efforts to pass legislation for a sugar sweetened beverage tax at the state level in California.  Xavier often provides testimony in the California State Legislature and is also frequent speaker at legislative briefings, health conferences, health justice gatherings, and in college/university settings.  Xavier, a former Peace Corps volunteer (Hungary-3), is originally from Sanger, California and studied environmental sciences at the University of California, Berkeley and city and regional planning at Cornell University.

Alex T. Tom

Alex T. Tom is a second generation Chinese American born and raised in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Alex got politicized in high school youth programs in the Bay Area and spent nearly a decade organizing youth and college students in San Diego and the U.S./Mexico Border Region. He is currently the Executive Director of the Chinese Progressive Association in San Francisco and has played a leadership role in building CPA’s service, organizing, and civic engagement programs. Before becoming Executive Director, Alex served as the Campaign Coordinator where he built the CPA Worker Organizing Center and led campaigns to organize workers in the garment and restaurant industries, winning over a million dollars in back wages.

Alex has also played a key role in local and national movement building. On a local level, Alex serves on the Leadership Committee of the San Francisco Rising Alliance, a nine-member grassroots multiracial electoral movement building alliance. He serves on the Board of Directors of the School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL) and is on the Coordinating Committee of Grassroots APIs Risings, a new national initiative for grassroots AAPI organizations. Last summer, CPA launched Seeding Change: A Center for Asian American Movement Building, CPA's national project that includes building a national pipeline for the next generation of organizers; creating an infrastructure for grassroots organizing; and building power and scale for our movements toward a vibrant social and economic justice movement. Alex has a BA in Political Science and Ethnic studies with a minor in Education from the University of California, San Diego.

Carla Sparks, MPH

is the Director, Patient Centered Initiatives and Community Engagement at the Center for Health Literacy (CHL), University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), Little Rock, AR.   Previously, she served as a Community Liaison and Health Policy and Management Department adjunct faculty member at the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, UAMS. Ms. Sparks received her BS in Mathematics from Philander Smith College of Little Rock, AR and her Master of Public Health (MPH) from the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, UAMS. Ms. Sparks has over 20 years experience in training and organization development through her work in the corporate/private sector. Ms. Sparks has served on a campus-wide taskforce focused on reducing racial and ethnic health disparities, and as a leader and member of the Boards of several different nonprofit/community-based organizations such as Better Community Development, the Arkansas Literacy Council, and University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, Center for Community Philanthropy Advisory Board. Ms. Sparks is an organization development consultant that provides capacity building training and technical assistance to community-based organizations in the State.

Lawrence Wallack, DrPH (Secretary)

Lawrence Wallack is currently Professor and Director, Center for Public Health Studies at Portland State and Distinguished Fellow of the Moore Institute for Nutrition and Wellness at Oregon Health and Science University.  He served for nine years (2004-13) as Dean, College of Urban and Public Affairs at Portland State University. He is also Emeritus Professor of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley.

He was the founding director of the Prevention Research Center (1983-86), the first federally funded national alcohol research center with a primary emphasis on prevention.  From 1986 to 1995 he was the principal investigator for the California site of the Community Intervention Trial to Reduce Smoking (COMMIT).  This project funded by the National Cancer Institute was the largest randomized community trial ever developed for the prevention of smoking.  In 1993 he was the founding director of the Berkeley Media Studies Group, an organization conducting research and training in the use of media to promote healthy public policies.  Dr. Wallack is one of the primary architects of media advocacy -- an innovative approach to working with mass media to advance social and public health issues.  He has published extensively and lectures frequently on the news media and public health policy issues. 

Dr. Wallack has been honored with various awards and was one of the original recipients of the Innovators Award (2000-05) from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  This award recognized lifetime achievement and innovation in the area of prevention.

He is past Chair, Board of Trustees, World Affairs Council of Oregon and served for five years on the Board of Governors, City Club of Portland.  He currently serves on the governing boards of, Upstream Public Health (Portland, OR), and The Praxis Project (Washington, DC). He also serves on the National Advisory Committee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program.  He was a member of several Institute of Medicine committees and is a Lifetime National Associate of the National Academies based on “extraordinary contributions through pro-bono service to National Research Council and Institute of Medicine.”

Dr. Wallack’s current work focuses on translating the science of developmental origins of health and disease into public health policy and practice on a community, regional, and statewide level in Oregon.  He is also part of the team evaluating Voices for Healthy Kids, a national effort funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association to reduce childhood obesity through passing and implementing policies at the local and state level. 


Moises Gonzales

Moises Gonzales is an Assistant Professor in the Community and Regional Planning Program at the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of New Mexico.  He also serves as the Director of the Resource Center for Raza Planning, which is a community outreach center within the School of Architecture and Planning whose mission is to provide technical assistance in the areas of community development, design, and natural resource planning for traditional communities throughout New Mexico.  Mr. Gonzales currently serves on the board of the Carnuel Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association in addition to serving as the Secretary for the Cañon de Carnue Land Grant Board. 

Moises Gonzales holds a Post Professional Master’s Degree in Urban Design from the College of Architecture and Planning from the University of Colorado, Denver as well as a Professional Planning Degree in the Masters of Community and Regional Planning Program at the University of New Mexico.  In 2008, He was awarded the Post Graduate Loeb Fellowship at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University where he studied sustainable urban design.  In addition to being an Assistant Professor, Mr. Gonzales is the Principal and owner of Chimal Designs which has over 14 years of experience in working in community planning, land use, and design projects throughout the state of New Mexico.  Moises Gonzales teaches courses in the Physical Planning Concentration of the Community and Regional Planning Program which include; Advanced Planning Studio, Human Settlements, Urban Design Theory, Environmental Design Studio, and Introduction to GIS.


Makani Themba (Ex Officio/Executive Director)

Makani Themba is executive director of The Praxis Project, a nonprofit organization helping communities use media and policy advocacy to advance health justice.  Under her leadership, The Praxis Project has raised more than $20 million for advocacy organizations working in communities of color nationwide. 

Makani was previously director of the Transnational Racial Justice Initiative (TRJI), an international project to build capacity among advocates to more effectively address structural racism and leverage tools and best practices from around the world. While at TRJI, she co-authored and edited a "shadow report" on institutional racism and white privilege – the first of its kind.

 Makani has published numerous articles and case studies on race, class, media, policy advocacy and public health. She is author of Making Policy, Making Change, and co-author of Media Advocacy and Public Health: Power for Prevention, a contributor to the volumes Community Based Participatory Research for Health, Prevention is Primary: Strategies for Community well Being, We the Media along with many other edited book projects.  Her publications have helped set the standard for policy advocacy work and contributed significantly to the field’s current emphasis on media and policy advocacy to address health problems.  She has also co-authored with Hunter Cutting is Talking the Walk: Communications Guide for Racial Justice. Her latest book, a collaboration under The Praxis Project with contributions from Malkia Cyril and others, is Fair Game: A Strategy Guide for Racial Justice Communications in the Obama Era.