Juana Ballesteros, MPH, BSN

Knowing she wanted her career to be of service to others, Juana obtained a bachelor's in nursing and master's in public health both from the University of Illinois.  She believes wholeheartedly in Martin Luther King’s quote, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane” and through her nearly 20 year career has been addressing health inequalities in HIV/AIDS, women’s health, behavioral health, diabetes, and asthma.  In her current capacity with the Illinois Department of Public Health Juana plans outreach initiatives that meet the needs of Illinois’ diverse communities and makes position recommendations on related legislation.

Leticia Boughton-Price

Network Coordinator, IL CHW Association

Valerie Brown-Smith, MBA, CPHP

Valerie Brown-Smith is an office administrator and communications manager for the Midwest Latino Health Research, Training and Policy Center since 2010. She has an MBA and a certification in Community Public Health Practice (CPHP) from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. Currently she manages staff and daily administrative functions including the Diabetes Empowerment Education Program (DEEP). Her experience in various capacities of public health research includes: managing communications and promotions for the center’s products and services, coordinating curricula development for and about CHWs, coordinating and conducting research project activities (recruitment, data entry, focus groups, reporting, interviewing, consenting, screening, surveying and piloting, IRB applications and updates) and coordinating the activities of two CHW committees. Formerly, Valerie worked as an IT data network manager & technical writer, IT business manager, and health IT intern for Federal Reserve Bank, AT&T, and CHITREC.

Amparo Castillo, MD, PhD, MS

Dr. Castillo was a primary care physician for underserved and indigenous communities in her native Colombia. She received training in complementary and integrative medicine, and later obtained a master’s degree in physiology from Maharishi University of Management, in Fairfield, IA, where she was Assistant Professor and conducted research on meditation and cardiovascular disease. In 2003 she joined the Midwest Latino Health Research Training and Policy Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, obtained a PhD in community health sciences from the UIC-School of Public Health, and became co-author and Master Trainer of the Diabetes Empowerment Education Program (DEEP). Dr. Castillo’s research focuses on health education, community health workers, diabetes, and quality of life interventions for minorities.

Kim Erwin

Associate Director, University of Illinois at Chicago Population Health Services, and Research Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Design

Kasey Franco, MA

Kasey Franco joined NAMI Chicago as the Training and Outreach Coordinator in February 2017. She earned a Master of Arts degree specializing in forensic psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Kasey has experience in the criminal justice system, residential settings, inpatient psychiatric hospitals, outpatient centers, and community mental health. She has extensive experience working with individuals who have experienced trauma and mental illness.

Melissa Gutierrez Kapheim, MS

Melissa Gutierrez Kapheim, MS, is a PhD candidate in community health science in the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research focuses on health disparities and multi-level health interventions that addresses health systems and communities. She previously worked at both the Sinai Urban Health Institute and University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System where she oversaw the implementation and evaluation of several interventions that examined the effects of the community health worker (CHW) model on improving health outcomes. She has authored several papers on best practices of CHW interventions. She also served as co-chair of the Illinois Community Health Worker Advisory Board.

Alexa James

Executive Director, NAMI Chicago

Molly A Martin, MD, MAPP

Molly Martin, MD, MAPP, is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and a Fellow in the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Martin is an established leader in behavioral intervention design and testing, and community health workers (CHWs). Her research focuses on community models to improve health, specifically the CHW model. She serves on the Executive Committee for CHW Section of the American Public Health Association. Dr. Martin was a member of the State of Illinois CHW Advisory Board that developed recommendations for the CHW workforce requirements in Illinois.

Soo Na, MSW

Soo Na has over 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. She has broad experience in philanthropy, social services, and public health, including mental health. Her career in philanthropy is distinguished by the leadership in creating and managing the health grantmaking program for the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation. As a funder and a collaborator, she partnered with grantee organizations in identifying and addressing common problems through strategic collaborations; developed framework for strong business and finance models; and implemented evaluation practices and measurements as overall organizational strategies. She has strong working knowledge of the practical issues that health care and social services face. Her passion is to help organizations align mission, impact, program and financial strategies. She has a M.S.W from Loyola University of Chicago and holds a B.A. from DePaul University.

Jackie Rouse, MHA

Jackie brings more than 25 years of community health management experience. At Trinity Hospital, she developed several innovative community health programs including a job shadowing program for high school students and a program network of faith and health organizations. Jackie also developed Advocate Health Care’s first community health worker (CHW) program which extends beyond the walls of the hospital. 


Jackie holds a bachelor’s degree in medical technology from University of North Texas, a master’s degree in health care administration from Texas Women’s University and received a doctorate of public health degree at Walden University.

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