Conference Speakers


Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola

Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, MD, PhD, is Professor of Clinical Internal Medicine, the Founding Director of the University of California, Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities, the Director of the Community Engagement Program of the UC Davis Clinical Translational Science Center, and Co-Director of the National Institute of Aging-funded Latino Aging Research and Resource Center. He has nearly 30 years of experience working in the mental health field as a researcher, clinician, professor, and advocate. Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola has created a substantive applied research program that focuses on cross-cultural comparative epidemiologic research on patterns and correlates of mental disorders, substance abuse and health conditions; the identification of unmet health and mental needs and associated risk and protective factors in underserved populations; community-engaged approaches to reducing health disparities in underserved populations; and quality of care improvement through the provision of culturally and linguistically appropriate services.  Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola’s most recent work is focused on translating and bridging research with services delivery and policy development.  He has been appointed to numerous policy and research advisory boards, at the local, state, national and international levels, including a four-year appointment to the National Advisory Mental Health Council of the National Institute of Mental Health and the World Health Organization.  In 2005 he was awarded the U.S. Office of Minority Health's National Minority Health Community Leader Award (Hispanic Community). Video


Gino Aisenberg

Gino Aisenberg, PhD, MSW, an Associate Professor at the University of Washington (UW) School of Social Work, is a bilingual/bicultural Latino mental health researcher. His interests focus on three interrelated areas impacting underserved ethnic minority populations: 1) traumatic exposure of children and families to community violence and associated post-traumatic stress disorder, 2) depression care for adults, and 3) evidence-based practice. Since coming to the UW in 2002, Dr. Aisenberg’s research and teaching have been deeply informed by culture and context. He is staunchly committed to addressing disparities in the access and utilization of behavioral health services by diverse populations. Also, Dr. Aisenberg engages in important partnerships with community-based agencies serving marginalized and rural communities. In 2013, Dr. Aisenberg was named Associate Dean, the Graduate School, to provide leadership in promoting Diversity and Community Partnerships. He is co-director of the newly established research center, Latino Center for Health. Video



Mayra E. Alvarez, MHA, is the Associate Director for the Office of Minority Health (OMH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
(HHS).  As an OMH senior staff member, Ms. Alvarez is leading the coordination of OMH’s work related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), community health workers and promotores de salud, and language access, as well as serving as the Project Director of OMH’s Center for Linguistic and Cultural Competency in Health Care.  Previously, Ms. Alvarez served as Director of Public Health Policy in the Office of Health Reform at HHS where she was responsible for coordinated and timely implementation of the public health, prevention, and health care workforce policy provisions in the ACA. Previously, Ms. Alvarez served as a Legislative Assistant for Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Majority Whip of the U.S. Senate, where she advised the Senator and helped develop his legislative agenda on health issues. Before that, she served as a Legislative Assistant for then-Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis, the chair of the Health Task Force for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Ms. Alvarez began her work in Washington D.C. as a David A. Winston Health Policy Fellow in the office of then-Senator Barack Obama.  She completed her graduate education at the School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her undergraduate education at the University of California at Berkeley. She is originally from outside San Diego, CA. Video


Maria Benavides

Maria Benavides, MEd, is the Director of Outreach for the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic.  She is bilingual, bicultural, and has over 20 years of experience working in healthcare in the Yakima Valley.  She has experience in program implementation, working with federal, state, and private grants, and has vast knowledge in collaborating with social service agencies, school districts, and institutions of higher education.  Ms. Benavides received her Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and Master of Education in Program Administration degrees from Heritage University in Toppenish, WA.



Sam Byrd

Sam Byrd currently serves as the director of the Centro de Comunidad y Justicia, a nonprofit community-based organization.  Since 1996, Centro has worked to achieve social, educational, and economic justice for Latinos in Idaho.  Mr. Byrd has more than 30 years of experience in working with a variety of public and private sector organizations.  He speaks English and Spanish fluently, is a dynamic public speaker, adept at strategic planning and an expert in diversity issues. Mr. Byrd has been the recipient of a number of awards including the Larry G. Selland Humanitarian Award by the Boise State University Women’s Center, the national Howard Swearer Humanitarian Award by the Campus Compact, the University of Idaho President’s Medallion and the Distinguished Leadership in Human Rights award by Hewlett-Packard. Video

Frederico Cruz-Uribe

Federico Cruz-Uribe, MD, MPH, has had a 25-year career in public health.  He has managed public health departments in four states at the local and state levels.  Most recently, Dr. Cruz-Uribe was the director of the Tacoma/Pierce County Health Department for 15 years (1992-2007).  From 2008 to 2013, he and his wife established and ran a diabetes control project in southern Nicaragua.  For the last 12 months, Dr. Cruz-Uribe has been working as the Vice President of Clinical Affairs for Sea Mar Community Health Centers based in Seattle.  His current projects involve developing specialty care services and a care management system for Sea Mar.  Video

Mary DisisMary L. (Nora) Disis, MD, is the Athena Distinguished Professor of Breast Cancer Research, Associate Dean for Translational Health Sciences in the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine, Professor of Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Pathology and Obstetrics and Gynecology at UW, and a Member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.  She is the Director of the Institute of Translational Health Science and the Center for Translational Medicine in Women’s Health at UW.  Dr. Disis is an expert in breast and ovarian cancer immunology and translational research.  Her research interest is in the discovery of new molecular immunologic targets in breast and ovarian cancer for the development of vaccine and cellular therapy for the treatment and prevention of those malignancies.  In addition, her group evaluates the use of the immune system to aid in the diagnosis of cancer and develops novel assays and approaches to quantitate and characterize human immunity.  She holds several patents in the field of targeted cancer therapy and cancer diagnostics.  Dr. Disis is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, the American Society of Clinical Investigation, and the Association of American Physicians.  She is the Deputy Editor for the Journal of Clinical Oncology. 



Luis Fraga

Luis Ricardo Fraga, PhD, is Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement, Russell F. Stark University Professor, Director of the Diversity Research Institute, and Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington (UW). He works directly with the Provost, deans, and department chairs to develop strategies of outreach, assessment, recruitment, and retention to build an inclusive faculty at the UW.  He has authored and co-authored five books including Latinos in the New Millennium: an Almanac of Opinion, Behavior, and Policy Preferences
(Cambridge 2012) and Latino Lives in America: Making It Home (Temple 2010).  He has also published extensively in journals and edited volumes.  In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed him to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.  He was also named one of the “100 Influentials” by Hispanic Business magazine that year.  The Fulcrum Foundation named him one of the “Champions of Catholic Education” in 2012.  He is currently working on another co-authored book entitled Invisible No More: Latino Identities in American Politics. Video


Jennie McLaurin

Jennie McLaurin, MD, MPH, is a Specialist in Child and Migrant Health, Bioethics for Migrant Clinicians Network, with 30 years of experience in migrant and community health. She is a board-certified pediatrician with a master in public health and in bioethics and has worked at the local, state, and national levels.  Her career includes work as an outreach worker, physician, clinic medical director, state medical director of migrant health, and federal consultant and program planner on a variety of topics related to health disparities, social determinants of health, child health, cultural competency and Patient-Centered Medical Homes. She has authored, edited, and reviewed a number of journal publications, books, monographs, and abstracts on migrant health care.  Her teaching experience includes graduate level course development and frequent lectures in university and public settings. Dr. McLaurin worked in North Carolina for most of her clinical career but has lived in Ferndale, WA, for the past twelve years and works across the nation with Migrant Clinicians Network and as a HRSA consultant. Video


Leo Morales

Leo Sergio Morales, MD, PhD, MPH, FACP, is Director of the Institute for Translational Health Sciences Hispanic Outreach Program and founding co-Director of the newly established Latino Health Center at the University of Washington (UW).  He received his MD and MPH degrees from the UW and his PhD degree from the RAND Graduate School in Policy Analysis.  After completing a residency in primary care internal medicine at the UCSF/San Francisco General Hospital, he was recruited to the UCLA School of Medicine where he held faculty positions as assistant and associate professor, and co-directed the UCLA Resource Center for Minority Aging Research. He is a past recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Minority Foundation Medical Faculty Development Award and a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Investigator Award.  His research focuses on racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in health and the measurement of patient resorted outcomes in diverse population settings. In recognition of his research contributions, he was inducted into the American Society for Clinical Investigation in 2007.  Starting June 1, 2014, Dr. Morales will serve as Chief Diversity Officer and Director of the Center for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the UW School of Medicine. Video


Michael Parchman

Michael L. Parchman, MD, MPH, is Director of the MacColl Center for Health Care Innovation within Group Health Research Institute. Prior to joining GHRI and MacColl, he was Director of the primary care Practice-Based Research Initiative and a Senior Advisor for Primary Care at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in Rockville, Maryland. The focus of his work over the past decade has been improving outcomes for patients with chronic illness in primary care settings. His areas of interest include dissemination and implementation research in primary care using complex adaptive systems theory, practice-based research network (PBRN) development and methodologies, and strategies for developing a sustainable infrastructure for ongoing quality improvement in primary care. He has experience in primary care redesign and PCMH implementation in small primary care office settings using practice facilitation/coaching strategies. Video



Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, MD, is Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine and Director of the Medical Effectiveness Research Center for Diverse Populations at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine. He is a native of Cuba and has degrees from the University of Miami (BA and MD). He trained in primary care general internal medicine at UCSF, and completed a research fellowship before being appointed Assistant Professor in July 1983. He practices continuity general internal medicine following a panel of about 200 patients and teaches residents and students in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Dr. Pérez-Stable's research has focused on health and health care disparities by race and ethnicity in the areas of tobacco use and cessation, cancer control and aging. He has special expertise in development of risk factor reduction interventions for Latinos.


Rogelio Riojas

Rogelio Riojas, MHA, has served as President and CEO of Sea Mar Community Health Centers since 1978.  Sea Mar is a health and human services non-profit organization committed to providing quality, comprehensive health, human and housing services to diverse communities, specializing in service to Latinos. Under his leadership, the organization has grown from a small community clinic in the South Park neighborhood of Seattle, to a large multi-faceted health and human services organization serving more than 240,000 individuals annually in 10 counties throughout Washington state. Mr. Riojas currently serves on the University of Washington (UW) Board of Regents and the Sound Community Bank Board as Audit Committee Chair and a member of the Loan Committee. Mr. Riojas is a graduate of the UW, with bachelor’s degrees in economics and political science and a master’s degree in health administration. He and his wife Leticia have four children and three grandchildren and live in Seattle.


Rudy Rodriguez

Rudy Rodriguez, MD, is the Director of Hospital and Specialty Medicine at the VA Puget Sound Health Care Systems and Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Washington (UW). He is a nephrologist and serves as the UW Nephrology Fellowship Program Director. He is the chair of the VA-wide Renal Field Advisory Committee, which is a leading an effort to transform the renal programs within the VA including the education of providers and patients.  His academic interests include health disparities, kidney disease among underserved populations, and increasing diversity in academic medicine. He is the UW School of Medicine Course Director for the Hispanic Health and Health Care Disparities Course. He previously was a faculty member at the University of California San Francisco and worked as a nephrologist at San Francisco General Hospital. Video


nina Wallerstein

Nina Wallerstein, DrPH, professor of Public Health, School of Medicine, University of New Mexico, has been developing participatory research methodologies and empowerment intervention research for more than thirty years.  Her written work includes a co-edited volume, Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) in Health, 2nd edition, five books, and over 120 articles and chapters. Since 1999, she has worked in collaboration with tribal communities to assess and strengthen community capacity, public health infrastructure, and measures of social capital.  She has also co-developed an intergenerational culturally-centered intervention to reduce child risky  behaviors with several New Mexican tribes. Dr. Wallerstein has worked with the Pan American Health Organization to develop empowerment trainings and participatory evaluation of healthy municipalities throughout the continent. She has been funded for the past seven years to co-lead a national effort to refine scientific models and measures to assess associations between participatory partnership processes with CBPR and health outcomes.  Her overall research interests focus on community capacity development in tribal communities, culturally centered translational intervention research, healthy communities, and community based participatory research processes and outcomes to enhance the science of CBPR. Video


Vickie Ybarra

Vickie Ybarra, PhC, MPH, RN, is currently a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Doctoral Fellow and Doctoral Candidate in Political Science at the University of New Mexico.  Her research interests include health policy, the social determinants of health, immigration policy, and Latino politics.  She holds previous degrees in Nursing and Public Health from the University of Washington.  

Prior to returning to school to pursue her doctoral degree, Ms. Ybarra worked for 21 years in healthcare as a public health nurse and administrator at the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic. In addition, she served as Governor Gregoire’s first Chair of the Governor’s Council on Health Disparities from 2006 to 2010, and in that role oversaw the development of Washington state’s first “State Policy Action Plan to Eliminate Health Disparities” that was delivered to the Governor and Legislature in 2010.  

Vickie looks forward to returning home to Washington full time after finishing her studies in 2015.



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