Cal-IHEA Team

Erica Browne, DrPH, MPH

Faculty Affiliate sends e-mail)(link sends e-mail) 

Erica Browne is a faculty affiliate with Cal-IHEA. Her research interests focus on private nonprofit hospital community investments, social inequities in health, and public health leadership and practice. For over 15 years she has led community health programs on behalf of Kaiser Permanente, Charles Drew University of Medicine & Science, the University Health Services at UC Berkeley, and multiple nonprofit organizations. She has contributed to health equity projects sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, PolicyLink, and the Othering and Belonging Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Browne received her DrPH from UC Berkeley, MPH in Community Health Sciences from UCLA, and B.A. in Development Studies from UC Berkeley. She is a member of the Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science and volunteers with the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.

Jesus Chavarin-Rivas

Health Policy Fellow

Jesus Chavarin-Rivas is a second-year MPP student at the Goldman School of Public Policy. He earned his B.A at UC Berkeley, where he majored in Political Science and minored in Education. Upon graduating, he pursued his interests in civil service and health policy by joining the California Department of Health Care Services. As an Associate Governmental Program Analyst, he became a lead policy analyst within the Medi-Cal Dental Services Division, where he worked to directly address health disparities for California’s most marginalized communities. In this position, he directed provider and beneficiary communications, health policy assessments, program evaluation, and bill analysis for the division. Jesus’s work was critical in the development and implementation of the Dental Transformation Initiative, a five-year waiver project aimed at improving the dental health of approximately 6 million Medi-Cal enrolled children.

His main interest include Medicaid policy, improving access to care for underserved
communities, and health policy impacting immigrant communities.

Camille Cooley

Health Policy Fellow

Camille Cooley is a first-year MPH student in Health Policy and Management. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Northwestern University, where she studied Human Development and Psychological Services, with a minor in Global Health studies. Camille has experience conducting health services research focused on delivery system transformation. Prior to graduate school, Camille spent time at Northshore University Health Systems’ Research Institute where she focused on research aimed at optimizing disease diagnosis and care management. She later transitioned into a role at NORC at the University of Chicago where she spent two years working as a research analyst in their healthcare department, supporting federal and state evaluations for agencies like CMS and PCORI. Her interests include disability policy, particularly for adults and their aging caregivers, improving access to care for low-income populations and immigrant communities, accountable care organizations, alternative payment models, and Medicaid policy.

Elleni Hailu

Health Policy Fellow

Elleni Hailu is a second year PhD student in the Division of Epidemiology. Her interests are in addressing the biopsychosocial mechanisms by which indicators of structural racism (eg. mass incarceration) are embodied across the lifecourse to influence racial disparities in adverse cardiovascular and maternal health outcomes. She aims to employ interdisciplinary theories along with novel data analytic methods to conduct research that informs policies. Her current work examines multi-level stressors and their influence on adverse health outcomes in multi-center and intergenerational cohorts. 

Alein Y. Haro, MPH

Pre-Doctoral Research Fellow sends e-mail)(link sends e-mail)(link sends e-mail) 

Alein Y. Haro, MPH is a doctoral student in the Health Policy PhD program, University of California, Berkeley, who aims to develop avenues for change in health policy and healthcare practice to improve equity. Alein is a UCLA MPH and BA graduate whose area of study focuses on the manner in which immigrants navigate through the health sector despite federal laws that limit their healthcare access. Most recently, she conducted immigrant health research at the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment.  She also worked with the General Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles to explore how local agencies collaborated along with the consulate’s Ventanillas de Salud to integrate and facilitate the access of health services for low-income Latino populations.  Her research interests include legal status as a social determinant, health policy, and structural racism, and seeks to use her training to effectively address health inequalities and enable structural change across the nation.  

Camila Hurtado

Research Fellow

Camila Hurtado, MS is a medical and graduate student of the UCSF-UC Berkeley Joint Medical Program and PRIME-US program. Her graduate work is focused on developing policy solutions to increase the affordability of insulin for low-income populations across California. Camila also serves as the Vice President of Policy for the northwest region of the Latino Medical Student Association, and is a founding member and grant writer of the White Coats for Black Lives chapter at UC Berkeley. She became dedicated to working towards equity through health administration and policy after working at a Federally Qualified Health Center and earning an MS from UCSF in Global Health Sciences. Her interests include addressing social determinants of health through medicine, health administration, and health policy. 

Martin Kyalwazi

Health Policy Analyst sends e-mail)

Martin Kyalwazi is a health policy analyst for the California Initiative for Health Equity and Action (Cal-IHEA) and a recent graduate from Columbia University, having received his B.A. in Neuroscience and Behavior in May 2019. Originally from Sacramento, California, Martin is an aspiring physician-researcher who aims to study how state and national policy can incentivize innovative healthcare delivery systems that are well-positioned to drive improved health outcomes and meet the holistic needs of marginalized communities. Prior to joining Cal-IHEA, Martin had wide range of health care and research experiences, including but not limited to work with the NYC Department of Health, Ariadne Labs of Harvard University’s School of Public Health , and ICAP at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. 

Dora L. Mairena

Administrative Assistant sends e-mail)(link sends e-mail)(link sends e-mail)


Dora Mairena has more than 25 years of administrative experience, with a particular expertise in grant proposals and health-and-welfare benefits. Mairena currently works as the administrative assistant for both the California Initiative for Health Equity & Action (Cal-IHEA) and the Center for Healthcare Organizational and Innovation Research (CHOIR) at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health.

Previously Mairena worked for the University of California Office of the President, where she handled administrative duties ranging from academic planning and retirement administration to research grants and the University of California’s health-benefits system.

Mairena is currently a student at Merritt College in Oakland. She is bilingual in Spanish and English.

Teja Pattabhiraman

Undergraduate Assistant

Teja Pattabhiraman is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley studying Public Health and Biology with an emphasis in Neurobiology. She is involved with research at the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health, where she works towards characterizing the exposure of various food dyes and PFAS chemicals in California, and previously, has done research on the social determinants of mental health. She is interested in the intersection of environmental health and health equity, and aims to drive change in this domain by engaging in research and policy.

Denise D. Payán, PhD, MPP

Deputy Director and Assistant Professor of Health Policy

 Dr. Denise D. Payán is Cal-IHEA’s Deputy Director and is an Assistant Professor of Health Policy in the Department of Public Health at UC Merced. Her research interests include examining the health policymaking process; evaluating interventions to address obesity and nutrition-related health disparities; and understanding how policy impacts health behavior. She also conducts state and local policy surveillance research and is committed to advancing community health and policy research to address existing health inequities.

Dr. Payán obtained a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Management from USC Sol Price School of Public Policy and an M.P.P. from Harvard Kennedy School. She received a B.A. in History and Science from Harvard College. She was also a Health Services Research post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Health Policy and Management at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and the RAND Corporation.

Morrise Richardson

Health Policy Fellow sends e-mail)

Morrise Richardson is currently a graduate student in the Health Policy and Management program, UC Berkeley, who seeks to promote policies that address social determinants within California's healthcare system. Morrise is a graduate of UC Riverside with a double major in Public Policy and Ethnic Studies. The majority of his policy experience was accumulated  in policy positions, such as Legislative Fellow through the Capitol Fellows Program and Lobbyist within the California Hospital Association. His areas of focus have been social determinants, behavioral health, and labor. 

Juan Rivera

Undergraduate Assistant

Juan Rivera is a third year undergraduate at UC Berkeley working toward a B.A. in Neurobiology and Legal Studies. He has previously done research at the Berkeley Human Rights Center and is involved with several on-campus administrative committees to promote undergraduate mental health and wellness. His interests involve the intersection between public policy and health, particularly in immigrant communities.

Hector P. Rodriguez, PhD, MPH

Faculty Director and Professor of Health Policy and Management sends e-mail)(link sends e-mail)(link sends e-mail)

(510) 642-4578

Dr. Hector P. Rodriguez is Cal-IHEA's Faculty Director and the Henry J. Kaiser Endowed Chair in Organized Health Systems, Professor of Health Policy and Management, and co-Director of the Center for Healthcare Organizational and Innovation Research (CHOIR) at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.  His expertise is in organizational analysis and performance measurement in health care delivery and local public health systems. He has published extensively on the measurement of patient care experiences, the impact of delivery system interventions on patient outcomes, and health care disparities among U.S. Latinos.

Prior to his academic career, he was a management consultant for The Permanente Medical Group where he worked with leaders and clinicians in Northern California to implement primary care practice redesign and evaluate their impact on patient care.  He is a board member of the Health Care Partners Institute for Applied Research and Education, a non-profit research organization focused on improving clinical outcomes and patient experience through delivery system redesign, health policy, and education.  

He received is BA in Urban Studies and Planning from UC San Diego, MPH in Health Policy and Administration from UC Berkeley, and PhD in Health Policy/ Medical Sociology from Harvard University.  He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and recipient of the Association of University Programs in Health Administration’s Prize.

Karen Shore, PhD

Policy and Evaluation Consultant sends e-mail)(link sends e-mail)(link sends e-mail) 

(510) 384-2509

Karen Shore, PhD, is a Cal-IHEA consultant and has over 25 years of experience in health policy and health services research. Prior to her work with Cal-IHEA, she led the California Health Policy Forum, which provided an independent platform for education, idea sharing, and conversations among legislative and executive branch staff on health policy issues. She previously directed a project supporting 24 communities across the U.S. working to improve health care quality and manage costs.  Dr. Shore was also previously a principal research scientist with the American Institutes for Research's Health Program, a consultant at Reden & Anders, a senior project manager at the Pacific Business Group on Health, and a health policy analyst for the Prospective Payment Assessment Commission in Washington, DC. Dr. Shore has a master's degree in health services.

Denzel Tongue

Denzel Tongue is an Oakland native and a first-year MPP student at the Goldman School of Public Policy. He graduated Cum Laude from Occidental College with a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Public Health. Following graduation, he returned to his hometown to work on health equity initiatives in Alameda County. While serving as the Health Equity Fellow at The Greenlining Institute he led Greenlining's workforce development and Boys and Men of Color portfolios. Following the completion of his fellowship, he transitioned into a role with The California Immigrant Policy center where he spent two years helping lead a statewide campaign focused on expanding Medi-Cal access to undocumented immigrants. Denzel is a dogged health equity advocate who aspires to improve health outcomes for BIPOC and low-income communities in the East Bay Area. He currently serves as an opinion columnist with The California Health Report. Denzel's interests include eliminating structural health inequities through health policy and racial equity initiatives.