Diverse personal, academic, and professional experiences
place me in a uniquely equipped position for my career
in public health, medical anthropology, and health equity. My interest in culture and equity
was born during my residence on the Navajo Nation in Arizona (1983-1987).
Having spent my childhood in a conservative, homogeneous New England
town, my family's move to the reservation marks a life turning
point. For the first time, I lived among a minority group; for the first time, I lived as a minority myself, one of few non-Navajo
in the heart of the reservation. I learned much about discrimination
and diversity, balance and beauty, listening and learning.
I gave my valedictory speech in Navajo and left for college set
on studying anthropology and education.
B.A. in anthropology/social sciences and education from Stanford
provided me with both academic depth and the opportunity to live
and conduct research in Santiago, Chile (1990) and Chiapas, Mexico
(1989-1992) under the tutelage of
anthropologist-Latin Americanist George A. Collier. My
subsequent six-year residence (1994-2000) in Comitán, Chiapas,
allowed me to truly master the Spanish language,
acquire in-depth knowledge of local culture, and build strong
personal and professional relationships. I am now completely bilingual
and comfortably bicultural.
my time in Mexico, I worked as a full-time researcher and project coordinator
at the Comitán Center for Health Research (Centro de Investigaciones en Salud de Comitán, CISC, www.cisc.org.mx).
CISC, founded in 1990, is a non-profit organization dedicated
to promoting health care access and rights, equitable gender relations,
and information exchange among institutions and populations in
Chiapas. At CISC, I gained extensive, first-hand experience in
all stages of social science research, including developing protocols,
collecting and analyzing data, writing up and presenting results
to multiple audiences, and coordinating the activities of a research
team. Years of work on health, culture, and equity prompted me, in 2000,
to complement my practical experience with focused instruction
in medical anthropology, international health, and gender via
an M.A. (2003) and Ph.D. (2007) from the University of Arizona, advised by medical anthropologist Mark Nichter.
My master's work centered on pregnancy and childbirth in Tojolabal communities surrounding Comitán. For my dissertation, I returned to Comitán to address the
emerging need for elder health research and intervention. The
urgency of the topic and my familiarity with the community paved
the way for CISC, health care providers, and elders to embrace
the project. All were receptive to the formative research approach,
such that we became co-collaborators in the process.
To apply my graduate degree to health in the U.S., I have worked as Health Planner at Boulder Public Health (www.bouldercounty.org/health/) since 2008. In this role, I co-coordinate the county-wide public health improvement process, coordinate the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, respond to data requests, and work with all public health program coordinators to develop operational plans. In 2012, I received an Associate Professor Adjunct faculty appointment at the Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado in Boulder. This allows me to facilitate exchange of insight between the two organizations – Boulder County Public Health and the University of Colorado – and the two fields of public health and applied anthropology.
of my principal strengths is my ability to infuse public
health and health disparity projects with a medical
anthropology perspective. While such pursuit entails becoming
a part of communities with whom I work, I recognize that the process
ultimately belongs to them. I plan on continuing this scholar-activist
trajectory, conducting formative research and cultivating skills
among students and colleagues as a springboard for their sustained