Organizing for Public Health Leadership Academy (OPHLA)

Organizing for Public Health Leadership Academy is an innovative two-year leadership program, designed and co-led by CPEHN and Human Impact Partners. OPHLA was created during the COVID-19 pandemic in witness to the institutional failure in responding to some of the most devasting public health crises of our times, and in tribute to how community rooted service and advocacy organizations and mutual aid networks showed up to protect our people, especially Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), disability-impacted, unhoused, justice-involved, and LGBTQ+ communities. 

OPHLA is a co-learning space where community leaders build power with each other to deepen their public health work. The program recognizes and honors the lived expertise and wisdom of communities in self-determining and safeguarding their own health. It also incorporates and leverages the theories, analyses, tools, and relationships available through the traditional public health field. It is our belief and hope that when we combine the two, we can create powerful catalysts to move towards our collective health and liberation.  

For this program’s purpose, CPEHN uses the following (working) definitions: 

  • A leader is someone who is consciously wielding their power in their community to shape narratives, inspire change and mobilize for actions. Their leadership is defined by their deep attunement to the strengths and challenges in their community and commitment to addressing injustices and inequities. It is less about holding a traditional position of power. 
  • Public health is the art and science to achieve our collective health and wellbeing. It is a practice in which we actively create the upstream conditions where people can live and thrive, and resist the harmful assumptions that health is the mere result of individual biomedical or behavioral factors. It is a value with which we measure social progress. 
  • Organizing is the strategy and action of involving a group of people in efforts to change their circumstances, such as through building coalitions, speaking to elected officials and decision makers, influencing laws, policies and practices, and changing narratives. Organizing and base building are forms of leadership and activities central to community power building.  

As this new cohort progresses, we will make our materials open to the public through OPHLA’s Learning Library. Do not hesitate to reach out to CPEHN team if you want to chat or collaborate about this work! 

Meet Our 2024-2025 Leaders!

Allegra Heath-Stout


Senior and Disability Action
Director of Emergent Campaigns


Allegra Heath-Stout (she/her) serves as Director of Emergent Campaigns at Senior and Disability Action in San Francisco. As part of this role, she organizes Masks for Equity, a powerful grassroots group fighting for Covid precautions. Prior to coming to SDA in 2023, Allegra spent seven years training Jewish young adults in community organizing at JOIN for Justice, the Jewish Organizing Institute and Network. Highlights of her work at JOIN included developing new fellowships specifically for disabled Jewish organizers, and elevating access as a priority across all of JOIN’s programs. Previously, Allegra organized low-income people with disabilities at the Boston Center for Independent Living, and led a campaign that won over one million dollars in new state funding for affordable housing. Allegra lives in San Francisco with her partner and toddler, and enjoys hiking and exploring new parts of the Bay Area.

Angela “Angie” Parks


MILPA Collective
Finance and Operations Manager


Hello, my name is Angela Parks (she/her) but I go by Angie. First and foremost, I am a mother, a sister, a daughter and advocate for my sisters behind the walls. I was raised by my father Herman, who was from the Cherokee Nation and raised in West Virginia and my mother Myong, who is first generation here in the United States from Seoul, South Korea. I grew up in Seaside, CA until the age of 16 where I moved down to Southern California and have resided since. I also have 3 little cocker spaniels who are my world! I work for a community based organization called MILPA (Motivating Individual Leadership for Public Advancement) where I am the Finance and Operations Manager. I am also a facilitator and advocate for the community where I grew up and the community in which I reside. I am currently in college majoring in Public Health. Advocating for my community comes from growing up in a city where people of color were at a huge disadvantage for services and the school to prison pipeline was very real, even in those days. I too, have experienced incarceration for 13 years and was an advocate inside for all of the women inside. Using my voice to amplify others was my source of energy. I also saw first hand how ineffective the medical system was and knew we deserved better. This carried out with me into the community hence my desire and need to be a part of this Public Health Leadership Academy. In my free time, I love to golf. It also provides me with a chance to be in nature and to learn from the land and animals as they are such good teachers. I also love to cook as that is one of the ways I show my love for people. I am also taking beginning Cherokee language classes and learning more about my Indigenous roots daily.

Elisa Cecaci


East Oakland Collective
Wellness, Resources, Outreach Coordinator


Elisa Cecaci is a 3rd generation Oakland native, mother, wife & community activist. Elisa graduated from St. Elizabeth High School and went on to earn an Associate Teacher Certificate in Early Childhood Development from Merritt College. Elisa first was exposed to activism in grade school when her parents were actively involved in OCO (Oakland Community Organization). In high school, Elisa got involved with Ceasar Chavez’s grape boycott, speaking out against the dangers of pesticides for immigrant farmworkers. Elisa first started volunteering with The East Oakland Collective, in 2017, shortly after experiencing a traumatic housing displacement. As an active EOC member, Elisa was part of the Rapid Response Team, helping provide unhoused individuals with support for their urgent needs. Elisa continues to serve as a caravan ambassador for EOC, bringing volunteers into curbside communities to offer food, hygiene kits, and face-to-face engagement during bi-monthly “Feed The Hood” events. In 2020 Elisa sat on the Advisory Council for RAHEEM to help inform a police use of force policy in Oakland. In 2020 Elisa also supported Oakland’s Reimagining Public Safety process by participating in the Centering Racial Justice Working Group. Elisa remains steadfast in her commitment to serve & support those most marginalized in her East Oakland community. Elisa is excited to continue to support COVID vaccine equity efforts as a Community Navigator, a role she has held since early 2020. As East Oakland Collective’s Wellness, Resource & Outreach Coordinator Elisa remains steadfast in her commitment to serve & support those most marginalized by providing vaccine literacy, PPE resources, and other much-needed resources to those most marginalized and impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Evan Johnson


TransFamily Support Services
Director of Education and Advocacy


Evan Johnson (they/them/theirs) is a nonbinary person of Romani descent and the Director of Education and Advocacy for TransFamily Support Services (TFSS). They’ve fostered connection and understanding over the past eight years by sharing their own journey as transgender youth, student, and young professional with many audiences, from national conferences to local organizations. Evan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and helps train people in all settings — healthcare, legal, education, and other environments — on gender diversity and policy. They are dedicated to educating, advocating, learning, and listening to create a safer world for all trans and gender diverse youth.

Fernanda Vega


Imperial Valley Equity and Justice Coalition
Community Organizer


Fernanda (she/her/ella) is from Westmorland in Imperial County and a Community Organizer with the Imperial Valley Equity & Justice Coalition. Fernanda, with a Sociology background, is deeply committed to advocating for public health and environmental & social justice movements. Throughout her time as an organizer she has engaged and advocated for the frontline communities who are getting ready to house lithium developments. She continues to learn about her communities and new ways to organize all while building trust and relationships. Outside of work Fernanda likes to rewatch her favorite shows and attempt to catch up to the WWE universe.

Dylan Castillo


Imperial Valley Equity and Justice Coalition
Community Organizer


 Dylan Castillo is a community organizer for the Imperial Valley Equity and Justice Coalition. He serves as Planning Commissioner for the City of Calexico. A graduate from Calexico High School rooted in his community, Dylan is empowered by his participation in local Black Lives Matter-Imperial Valley protests calling for justice for George Floyd, the most significant community call to consciousness in the Imperial Valley since the Civil Rights Movement. Dylan found his way into community advocacy roles soon thereafter as a co-founder of Calexico Needs Change, a newly formed mutual aid organization, and joined forces with Imperial Valley Equity and Justice Coalition to advance COVID-19 health equity initiatives. Dylan applied his direct style of community engagement to the successful community actions that halted the construction of President Trump’s proposed second border wall in the City of Calexico, highlighting the need to improve living conditions of unhoused farm workers and successfully helping the community overcome the complicitness of local leaders in Calexico on the subject to this day. Dylan aspires to improve community access to resources and decision making spaces and tools by directly expanding the Imperial Valley Equity and Justice Coalition’s capacity to perpetuate the cycle of meaningful community engagement and power building at a local level.

Nishea Trinidad


Mighty Community Advocacy
Executive Director


Nishea Trinidad (she/her), is the Executive Director and Chief Advocacy Officer for Mighty Community Advocacy. Nishea is a descendant of the rebellion CHamorru families and believes in the sovereignty of land. She is a biological mother to a 17 year old daughter who is a Senior in high school. Nishea considers herself to be the community mom in the communities she serves thru Mighty. Nishea is also an artist, along with an amateur herbalist. Nishea has been a single parent 6 months pregnant to run from her abusive relationship. Nishea went into an 18 month long custody battle as she learned about DV advocacy at the age of 21 with a 1 year old baby. After advocating for herself in family court, learning legalease and how to understand court orders, Nishea began to support other moms that needed help walking through family court and domestic violence survivor support. Nishea became a Certified California Sexual Assault Response Team Advocate and began on call services in Santa Clara County of sitting with survivors in medical exams, court testimonies, police investigative meetings, and hospital/doctors office accompaniment. Individually, Nishea created Paint Nights for Foster Youth and partnered with foster care agencies in Fresno County to bring paint nights to their group homes and their teenagers in resource homes. In 2020, at the height of the pandemic and in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Nishea decided that community building was where she could become more supportive of our community. Using her personal stimulus checks Nishea officially formed Mighty Community Advocacy and created a 501c3. In 2021 and 2022 legislation was put into place to provide support to pregnant people in California by the adoption of doula services as a non-medical service billable by community organizations and individual providers. Expanding on the support and care Nishea needed as a teen in trauma, the care and support she gave herself as a young single mom, and really leaning on her trauma-informed training of crisis response and SART advocacy years we created Mighty’s Pregnant Youth Program. For 2023, Nishea and Mighty Community Advocacy has been breaking barriers and providing affordable accessible support to pregnant youth.

Flandra Williams-Grim


Amelia Ann Adams Whole Life Center Housing Justice Program Manager


Flandra is a proud Stockton native, mother of five, educator, and perpetual learner. Growing up under the guidance of a single mother, she understands the challenges of adversity and the importance of resilience. After graduating from A. A. Stagg High School, she pursued her passion for understanding human behavior, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology followed by a Master’s in Educational Leadership from the University of Phoenix.

Driven by a deep commitment to social justice and community service, Flandra has dedicated her career to creating positive change. As a Housing Justice Program Manager at the Amelia Ann Adams Whole Life Center (AAAWLC), she leverages her lived experience with homelessness to bring a unique perspective to her work. Through her role, she strives to inspire others to realize their full potential and make meaningful contributions to society.

Beyond her professional endeavors, Flandra is an active member of her community, serving on committees and acting as a facilitator for discussions on important issues. As a mother, she is deeply invested in creating a better future not only for her own children but for all children in her community. Her journey as a lifelong learner fuels her desire to continuously grow, evolve, and make a difference in the lives of those around her.

Flandra firmly believes that love, social connection, and a sense of belonging are essential in all aspects of life. Guided by these principles and her faith, she ensures that her service to others is led with compassion and empathy. She is excited to be part of a legacy that continues to strengthen, driven by a shared purpose of empowerment through service.

Ronaldo Villeda


Executive Director


Ronaldo Villeda (he/him/his) is the Founder and Executive Director of Hoops4Justice, an LA-based non-profit organization specializing in establishing tangible youth development frameworks to create continuity of care for systems involved youth in Southern California and beyond. He sits on the Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board in the State of California appointed by Attorney General Becerra. Chief Operating Officer of the 1901 Project in Santa Ana, CA. Ronaldo is a first generation American born of Guatemalan immigrants.

Participants from the 2022-2023 Cohort

  • Lee Lo, Asian American Liberation Network   
  • Dr Kandi, Asian Solidarity Collective  
  • Liz Blum and Mack Wilson, Decarcerate Sacramento  
  • Jimina Afoula, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities  
  • Daniela Flores, Imperial Valley Equity and Justice Coalition   
  • Vanessa Terán, Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project  
  • Nawal Mohammad, Partnerships for the Advancement of New Americans  
  • Jayra Cervera, Pomona Economic Opportunity Center  
  • Jamaica Sowell, Roots Community Health Center  
  • Natalie Santamaria and Norma Benítez, Visión Y Compromiso  

Watch this video to see what the past cohort participants thought of the program:


We thank our funders for supporting this important work. The 2024-2025 cohort is funded by Community Catalyst. The 2022-2023 cohort was funded by the Kellogg Foundation. 

Special thanks to Megan Gaydos, Ana Tellez, Amber Akemi Piatt and Rehana Lerandeau (past Human Impact Partners staff) for their brilliant minds and hearts that inspired this program. 

Questions: please reach out to Weiyu Zhang ( and Navneet Virk ( at CPEHN.