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.

My 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.

During 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.

One 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 self improvement.

Vision | Lifework