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 Bal, MD

Dileep G. Bal, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., served more than 20 years as the Chief of the Cancer

Control Branch within the Department of Health Services. His responsibilities include cancer prevention and control and the statewide tumor registry. With the advent of Proposition 99,

which added a $.25 tax on each package of cigarettes sold in California, he is responsible for implementing California’s tobacco control efforts.  This tobacco use prevention and cessation program is one of the largest of its kind in the world and has been universally acclaimed for its

innovations and effectiveness.  Dr. Bal has been Principal Investigator on several large national Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control cancer prevention and control projects. This includes California’s Breast and Cervix Cancer Screening Programs, the California statewide population-based tumor registry, the Nutrition and Cancer Program, and the Cancer Research Program.  Dr. Bal also has an appointment as a Clinical Professor at the medical school of the University of California at Davis, where he is 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. Currently he is on the editorial board or a reviewer for several peer-reviewed medical journals. Prior to coming 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.

Dr. Bal and his wife, Muktha, reside in Kauai, Hawaii where he serves as District Health Officer.

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

Ajamu is Executive Director, US Human Rights Network. An experienced grassroots organizer, activist, and educator, Ajamu Baraka currently serves as Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network, a US based network of over 250 human rights and social justice organizations committed to ending US Global impunity and "exceptionalism." Ajamu's human rights work, teaching and activism spans more than three decades with a number of national and international organizations and academic institutions. Ajamu has taught political science at several universities including Clark Atlanta University. In 1998, Ajamu was honored by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as one of the 300 human rights defenders from around the world.


Dr. Estevan Flores

Dr. Flores, a sociologist, is Chief of Population Science and Cancer Control at the Nevada Cancer Institute in Las Vegas. Previously he was Executive Director of the Latino/a Research & Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Denver (1997-2007), and an Associate Professor in the Department of Health and Behavioral Sciences. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.

He recently left Denver where he was PI of an NCI funded project the "Colorado Front Range Latino Community Network," 2005 -2010. His fields of expertise include Latino/a health, social action and intervention research, cancer prevention and health disparities. He completed a survey on Latinos and tobacco use in Colorado for the State of Colorado Department of Public Health in 2006 with Dr. Michael Zinser.

Professor Flores has published articles in U.S. journals like Cancer (2006), American journal of Preventive Medicine, (2006, 2004), International Migration Review, Houston Journal of International Law, Human Organization and the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences while also publishing in Mexico in Frontera Norte and Historia y Sociedad. Three articles were published in the the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (1995) and one in the Journal of Preventive Medicine (1996) which was reprinted in Biomedicina (1998). He co-authored a monograph The Migration and Settlement of Undocumented Immigrant Women with Gilbert Cardenas in 1986.

He has also worked in the field of cultural-competency leadership training with the United Food and Commercial Worker's Union International. His work in the field of race and ethnic relations focuses on race, class, gender, labor, leadership and health issues as well as Chicano/a Studies.
Professor Flores was a Kellogg National Leadership Fellow (1990-93) and served on the "National Minority Advisory Committee" to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2000 - 2004) to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities. He also served on the Colorado Board of Public Health and Environment (1994-99) and the board of the Rocky Mountain Health Leadership Institute (1998-2000). He was a Trustee of the Board of Denver's "9Health Fair, Inc."

Dr. Flores has written over 70 opinion-editorial pieces for the popular press such as the Denver Post and the Dallas Morning News. Dr. Flores appears in the media as he often responds to issues on health, cancer prevention, immigration and Latino demographic change.

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.

Janet Louise Perkins

Janet is an independent nonprofit consultant based in Little Rock, Arkansas.  She served eight years as Senior Program Director of the Southern Partners Fund, a public foundation created to serve southern communities and organizations seeking social, economic, and environmental justice by providing them with financial resources, technical assistance and training and access to systems of information and power.

Janet's career as an advocate for social justice started in 1985 as a staff member of the Women's Project located in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Women's Project is a community-based, non-profit organization committed to the elimination of sexism and racism. While on the staff of the Women's project Janet created a training program to assist women in developing the necessary skills and confidence to work in occupations generally held by men. She has provided workshops on eliminating violence against women and children, undoing racism and HIV/AIDS preventative education to community groups, college students, female and male inmates in the Arkansas Department of Corrections and church groups. Janet continues to provide technical assistance to support non-profit groups in organizational development.

Janet received a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and did graduate work in the field of Counseling Psychology at the University of Central Arkansas.

Lawrence Wallack, DrPH

Lawrence Wallack, DrPH, is Dean, College of Urban and Public Affairs, Portland State University and Emeritus Professor, Public Health, University of California, Berkeley. He was the founding director of the Prevention Research Center (1983-86) which was the first federally funded national alcohol research center with a primary emphasis on prevention.  From 1986 to 1993 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 public health.  He has published extensively and lectures frequently on the news media and public health policy issues.  He is the principal author of News for a Change:  An Advocate’s Guide to Working with the Media, (Sage, 1999) and  Media Advocacy and Public Health:  Power for Prevention (Sage, 1993).  He is also co-editor of Mass Media and Public Health: Complexities and Conflicts (Sage, 1990).

Dr. Wallack is currently serving on two committees of the National Academies, Institute of Medicine (Health Communication for Diverse Populations in the 21st Century and The Consequences of Uninsurance).

Dr. Wallack is the recipient of several awards, including the:

  • Innovators Combating Substance Abuse Award, Robert Wood Johnson   Foundation, 2000 - 2003.
  • Distinguished Wellness Lecturer, University of California, Berkeley (1997)
  • Alfred W. Childs Distinguished Award for Faculty Service, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley (1996-97) 
  • University of California Health Net Wellness Award Lecturer (1994)
  • Early Career Award, Community Health Education Section, American Public Health Association (1984)
  • Peer Recognition Award, Society of Public Health Educators, Northern California (1983)
  • Beryl Roberts Prize in Health Education (1980)


Makani Themba-Nixon (Ex Officio/Executive Director)

Makani Themba-Nixon 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.