Meet the Restuccia Health Justice Fellows 

2024-25 National Cohort
National Cohort (2024-25) 
A group of four people pose in an office hallway. From left to right: person is wearing a black top and beige dress with a necklace. The second person is wearing earrings, a long blue tunic top with black pants and a multi-colored robe. The third person is wearing a top with an assortment of flower graphics and black pants and a flower hair clip. The fourth person is wearing a pink dress with a necklace.
Ailla Lokebol, Michelle Pedro and Melisa Laelan with Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese have been chosen as 2024-2025 Fellows, with senior staff support from Jenitha Debrum (pictured second from the right).

Community Catalyst is thrilled to welcome its 2024-2025 cohort of the Restuccia Health Justice Fellowship: Taller Salud, Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese and Be Inc. Collective. 

For the first time in the Fellowship’s history, each organization was asked to have three Fellows and one senior support staff member that will provide support to Fellows during their Fellowship engagement.

Taller Salud 

Taller Salud is a Puerto Rico community-based feminist organization dedicated to improving women’s access to health care, reducing violence within the community and encouraging economic growth through education and activism. The organization’s mission is to elevate women’s leadership in order to co-create well-being, integral health and opportunities for individual and collective development.  

Taller Salud’s goal during the Fellowship is to develop a new strategic plan, including disaster planning, to support the implementation of new staffing structures and workplans through a values-based lens. 


  • Angela Cruz 
  • Lourdes Inoa
  • Yamilin Rivera 

Senior Support Staff:

  • Tania Rosario Mendez

Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese (ACOM)

Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese (ACOM) empowers the Marshallese community through culturally sensitive programs on education, leadership, policy advocacy and holistic services. The organization works to improve the health and wellness of the Marshallese community with a focus on diabetes prevention, access to health care and teaching a healthy lifestyle.  

During the Fellowship, ACOM plans to create a new strategic plan to guide their efforts, driving future organizational change and encompassing updated human resources policies and practices. They also plan to integrate the effects of historical harms and foster relearning through a framework of race equity, health justice and healing justice. 

ACOM strives to help Marshallese integrate in the social fabric of their community and proudly share the story and culture of the Marshallese. 


  • Melisa Laelan 
  • Ailla Lyla Lokebol
  • Michelle Pedro 

Senior Support Staff:

  • Jenitha Debrum

Be Inc. Collective 

The mission of Be Inc. Collective (Be Inc). is to empower families to thrive, rather than simply survive. Be Inc. is committed to supporting the mental health and well-being of Black and Brown communities through cultivating healing-centered spaces where families can embark on their journey toward collective healing.  

The organization serves the communities of Sewell, New Jersey, the surrounding South Jersey communities, and the greater Philadelphia area.   


  • Geneva Brown McDowell 
  • Shia Tekhna
  • Siomara Wedderburn 

Senior Support Staff:

  • Sondi Lee

For more information about the newest Fellowship cohort, learn more here. 

2022-23 National Cohort
National Cohort (2022-23) 

Better Family Life (BLF) 

Focused on individuals, youth and families within St. Louis, Missouri, and East St. Louis, Illinois, Better Family Life’s mission is to build strong families and communities by providing hope, comprehensive services and meaningful opportunities. 

As part of the Fellowship, fellows from BLF delivered the first iteration of the Evidence-Based Whole Identity Responsive Model to increase utilization of the organization’s services. Their research focused on the local community with the goal of increasing the organization’s cultural responsiveness. A culturally responsive service delivery model is the commitment and practice of intentionally honoring and acknowledging each client’s lived and historical experiences to ensure that their voice is integrated into their treatment. 


  • Candace Brown, MSW, LMSW, Therapist/Practicum Coordinator 
  • Terrance L Cauley, Sr. Director of Youth, Family and Clinical Services 
  • Simona Charles, MSW, BBM, Sexual Risk Avoidance Education Project Manager/ Employment and Training Coordinator 

Disability Policy Consortium (DPC)  
Disability Policy Consortium’s mission is to ensure the voice of people with disabilities is heard on key issues, to support the health of the community through participatory research and expert policy analysis and to empower grassroots disability leaders to transform their communities. DPC’s credo is “About Us, By Us,” which is the belief that when decisions are made about people with disabilities, people with disabilities must play a lead role in making them. 

As part of the Fellowship, fellows from DPC created a prototype of a scalable community outreach framework that fostered deep, visible cultural change at all levels of operations. This shift included priority setting goals and a strategic implementation of racial justice frameworks and practices. 


  • Kimberly Bradshaw, Director of Human Resources 
  • Leslie Diaz, My Ombudsman Director 
  • Jeremy (Jerry) Marcel, Lead Ombudsman, My Ombudsman Program 

Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC) 

Latino Coalition for a Healthy California’s mission is to advance and protect Latinx health through policy and advocacy to build healthy communities in California. LCHC achieves its mission through culturally-tailored and community-centered programming, policy advocacy, coalition-building and strategic health communications. 

As part of the Fellowship, Fellows from LCHC implemented a racial equity framework that applies to human resource practices and policies, recruitment and retention and individual giving campaigns. 


  • Seciah Aquino, DrPH, MS, Executive Director 
  • Rosa L. Flores, Director of Programs 
  • Mar Velez, MPH, MCP, Director of Policy
2022-23 New York Cohort
New York Cohort (2022-23) 

The first inaugural cohort of regional Fellows brings together a community of emerging health advocacy leaders from organizations working on harm reduction, healthcare access, youth mental health, and Asian American and Pacific Island and immigrant equity.

As part of the Fellowship, each organization engages in an advocacy capstone project:

JED Foundation 

The Jed Foundation (JED) is a nonprofit headquartered in New York City that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. Founded over 20 years ago, JED’s pioneering mental health and suicide prevention programs have served millions of students at thousands of high schools, colleges and universities nationwide. 

As part of the Fellowship, the JED Foundation worked to strengthen New York’s school-based mental health services by developing state policies that support higher education institutions’ approach to mental health and suicide prevention, intervention, postvention and equitable access. 


  • Manuela McDonough, Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy 

Make the Road New York 

Make the Road New York builds the power of Latino and working-class communities to achieve 

dignity and justice through organizing, policy innovation, transformative education and 

survival services. Make the Road New York works at the New York City and state level. 

As part of the Fellowship, Make the Road New York implemented an advocacy capstone project that sought to enable access to health care coverage for all immigrants by expanding New York’s Essential Health Plan for all New Yorkers with low-income who qualify. 


  • Luisa Cuautle, Health Campaigns Associate 

Peer Network New York (PNNY) 

Comprised of people with lived experience, Peer Network New York has a long-standing history in the South Bronx and East Harlem, New York. The mission of PNNY is to support the work of peers in New York state through education and training, leadership development and advocacy. 


As part of the Fellowship, PNNY implemented an advocacy capstone project that aimed to advance equity and inclusivity for peer workers in New York by changing policy and practices at New York public health agencies to gain access to better pay and benefits. 


  • Marilyn Reyes, Co-Director 

Coalition of Asian American Children and Families (CACF) 

The mission of the Coalition of Asian American Children and Families is to advocate for equity and opportunity for marginalized Asian American and Pacific Islander children and families. Its vision is for all children and families, including the AAPI community, in New York City to be safe, healthy and able to reach their full potential in life. 

As part of the Fellowship, CACF developed an advocacy capstone project to improve access, quality and oversight of language services in New York City’s healthcare system through a pilot to use a Community Language Advisory Board within New York City’s Health and Hospitals Corporation (H+H). 


  • Medha Ghosh, Senior Policy Coordinator for Health 

Children’s Defense Fund New York (CDF-NY) 

The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind ® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and a successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. Children’s Defense Fund – New York is committed to advancing racial equity and leveling the playing field for New York state’s under-resourced children and youth. 

As part of the Fellowship, CDF-NY worked to address New York’s youth mental health crisis by expanding access to school behavioral health services under Medicaid. 


  • Melissa (Missy) Genadri, Policy Manager 
2021-22 National Cohort
National Cohort (2021-22) 

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR)  

ICIRR is dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social and political life of our diverse society. ICIRR’s primary constituency in Chicago, Illinois, is Latino immigrants and refugees.  

As part of the Fellowship, fellows from ICIRR focused on strategic planning and the creation of the first-in-the-nation Immigrant Health Academy, which seeks to overcome barriers and empower communities.  


  • Edith Avila Olea, Policy Manager 
  • Brandon Lee, Director of Communications 
  • Luvia Quiñones, Director of Health Policy  

Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength (MOSES) 

MOSES is a community-organizing nonprofit serving residents of Detroit, Michigan, and its surrounding metropolitan region. MOSES supports the development of strong grassroots leaders and facilitates campaigns to address social justice issues. MOSES organizes Detroit metro communities to deal with burning social justice issues by finding and coaching strong grassroots leaders and mounting broad coalitions. They pinpoint exactly who has the power to change public policy for the better, and they get things done for the common good. 

As part of the Fellowship, fellows from MOSES identified and implemented practices that supported the organization’s strategic development and focused on staff recruitment, leadership development and board retainment, coupled with knowledge management. 


  • Ponsella Hardaway, Executive Director 
  • DeJuan Bland, Lead Organizer 
  • Adebanke (Banke) Ilori, Lead Program Organizer 

The Afiya Center (TAC) 

Located in Dallas, Texas, The Afiya Center’s mission is to serve Black women and girls by transforming their relationship with their sexual and reproductive health by addressing the consequences of reproduction oppression.  

As part of the Fellowship, fellows from TAC focused on internal organizational structure, development and knowledge management. With this transformation, TAC successfully built sustainable internal structures, developed best practices and expanded its capacity. These internal changes improved their efficiency and increased their output. 


  • Michelle Anderson, Policy Associate 
  • Ebony Johnson, Volunteer Coordinator  
  • Marsha Jones, Co-Founder and Executive Director