— Public Health Institute Values

"Health is a fundamental human right. Just societies ensure equitable health outcomes for everyone."


Carmen R. Nevarez, MD, MPH, Director

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Carmen Nevarez, MD, MPH, is PHI's Vice President for External Relations and Preventive Medicine Advisor and the Director of the Center for Health Leadership and Practice.
A long-standing voice for the public's health, Nevarez is responsible for developing relationships with health and public health organizations and interests, advocating for public health, and incubating new project areas at the PHI. She positions the organization for further partnerships and initiatives both domestically and internationally.
Nevarez is also the creator of Dialogue4Health, a web-based conferencing center that uses webinars, a social network, and other resources to encourage collaboration between the prevention community and those communities whose work impacts health. 
Dr. Nevarez has also served in numerous appointed and elected leadership positions.  She has served as Director of Health and Human Services Department and Health Officer for the City of Berkeley, medical director of La Clinica de la Raza, an Oakland-based Federally Qualified Health Center, and medical director of the San Diego based Beach Area Community Clinic. She also was elected President of the American Public Health Association in 2009, and has served as Chair of the Board of Latino Coalition for a Healthy  California, President of California Public Health Association – North, and founding chair of the Center for Public Health Advocacy.
Her areas of expertise include teenage pregnancy prevention, health disparities, Latino health, chronic disease prevention, and health reform. A gynecologist and preventive medicine specialist, Nevarez maintains a part-time clinical practice.

Karya Lustig, MA, ISS, Deputy Director

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Karya Lustig, MA, ISS is the Deputy Director for the Center for Health Leadership and Practice (CHLP) at the Public Health Institute (PHI).  Karya is responsible for developing and implementing strategy, direction, and overall operations for CHLP, including its academies, learning and development activities and other programs.  Karya approaches her work from a systems approach and applies this methodology to all of her work.  She works with leaders from a triple impact approach, coaching the leaders to impact both their organizations and their teams.  She is adept at working with a large variety of stakeholders to gain buy-in and foster win-win solutions.  Karya thrives in a working environment based on partnerships in order to create more effective organizations and teams.
She has over 19 years experience in community health, the nonprofit sector, and school-based programs and family centers. She has provided training, facilitation, organizational development, and strategic and program planning to many organizations. Karya began her career providing direct services to disenfranchised individuals and communities and has maintained a commitment to public health throughout her career. She ran her own consulting business for seven years, providing program development and evaluation services to family literacy programs, working as a lead consultant for Family Support California and doing program development, training, and strategic planning for many other organizations.  Prior to joining PHI, Karya worked at a community health center where she successfully developed and ran the first staff training department in a community health center in California (one of very few nationwide), offering training to over 700 staff in three counties.    Karya earned her Masters in Adult Education and Integrated Services Specialist Certificate at San Francisco State University and her Organizational Development Certificate from the Triple Impact Practitioners Program. She received her BA from Hampshire College.  Outside of work, Karya loves the outdoors, local cultural events and museums, reading, and spending time with her friends and family (husband and two girls).

Amy Max headshot

Amy Max, MPH, Program Manager

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Amy Max, MPH, is Program Manager for the Center for Health Leadership and Practice at the Public Health Institute (PHI). Her current work focuses on opioid safety where she helps run the California Opioid Safety Network, a community of multi-sector coalitions working across California to reduce opioid addiction and deaths. In 2017, Amy led a statewide assessment of opioid safety efforts on behalf of the California Health Care Foundation, and helped launch a new “accelerator” program that provides coaching and technical support to 24 coalitions covering more than 30 counties. Her background spans research, program design and management in a range of subject areas including reproductive health, global epidemiology, community health improvement, and public health innovation. Prior to joining PHI, Amy served as a Public Health Prevention Service Fellow with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She received her B.A. from Brown University and her MPH from Columbia University, where she was a Rosenfield Scholar in Population and Family Health

Tonya Hammond, MPH, Manager of Operations and Programs

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Tonya Hammond is the Center for Health Leadership and Practice’s (CHLP) Manager of Operations and Programs. She is responsible for onsite operations, including technology, as well as the various communications platforms that connect program fellows to tools, strategies, and innovations that further their efforts in cross-sector collaboration. In this position, Tonya invests in understanding leadership teams’ aspirations and supports their development. She is responsible for producing webinars, facilitating Communities of Practice networks, and developing weekly programmatic newsletters. These activities support the advancement of leadership development through the delivery of curriculum via long-distance learning. With over a decade of experience in public health and health equity work, Tonya came to CHLP from the Public Health Institute’s central office and, prior to that, its program, Partnership for the Public’s Health, which focused on childhood obesity prevention. Her career also includes food access work with the Alameda County Community Food Bank. Tonya holds a Master of Public Health from San Francisco State University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Claremont McKenna College.

headshot of Elva Castellanos in garden

Elva Castellanos, Project Coordinator

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Elva Castellanos is the project coordinator for the Center for Health Leadership and Practice. She started her career with the Public Health Institute in 2008, working with the Mesoamerican Health Initiative (MHI) as program coordinator and has worked in several other PHI programs since. Most recently, she worked with the California Adolescent Health Collaborative (CAHC) supporting their programs in a variety of ways, including working with and training health educators and case managers in the Central Valley in the Fourth R curriculum for the H-REP program, and facilitating community mapping sessions for the Young Mother Researchers Program which focused on engaging breast-feeding young mothers in community based participatory research. She holds a Master Trainer Certificate from the University of Western Ontario on the Fourth R program. Elva enjoys dancing, traveling to exotic places with her son and daughter, and spending time with her family.

Gail Lancaster, Administrative Assistant

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Ms. Lancaster, who joined the Center for Health Leadership and Practice (CHLP) in 2012 as an Administrative Assistant, works at the epicenter and supports CHLP’s fast-paced, dynamic team.  In her day-to-day role, Ms. Lancaster is responsible for preparing correspondence, arranging partner-facing meetings/events, and maintaining quality office operations.  In this customer-service, quality oriented role, Ms. Lancaster promotes the Center’s values and contributes to a work environment that is thriving and collaborative.  Prior to CHLP, Ms. Lancaster served as Assistant to the Vice President of External Relations of the Public Health Institute for 13 years.  She was responsible for providing executive-level support, managing the interconnection between programmatic and administrative functions.  Ms. Lancaster holds a degree from Berkeley City College.

Lia Randazzo, MPH, Program Coordinator

Lia Randazzo, MPH, is a Program Coordinator for the Center for Health Leadership and Practice (CHLP) at the Public Health Institute (PHI). Her current work focuses on developing weekly and monthly programmatic newsletters, supporting webinar production, and facilitating communication to the members of CHLP’s leadership programs and alumni networks. Prior to joining CHLP, Lia worked as a qualitative research assistant on a NIH-funded project investigating provider-patient relationships as they relate to confidential adolescent sexual health services. She has also worked for Kaiser Permanente in Santa Clara, California in the Chronic Conditions Management program. Outside of work, Lia enjoys cooking, traveling, exploring outdoors with her boyfriend and dog, and coaching track and field. Lia holds a Master of Public Health from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Bachelor of Science in Anthropology & Geography from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.


Alex Medina

Alex Medina, Communications Specialist

Alex is a designer with 13 years of experience working at the intersection of UX, digital strategy, and health. As Communications Specialist, he is working to transform branding and marketing of programs, people, and impact at the Center for Health Leadership and Practice (CHLP).

Prior to joining CHLP, Alex has been the driver of all things design and digital at youth health nonprofits and programs, including Sex, Etc., YTH, and the California School-Based Health Alliance. With deep experience in social media, communications, and psychology, Alex leads by aligning his colleagues around a vision for design and crafting practical, elegant solutions that solve communication challenges on a wide range of health issues.

Kasey Deems, MA, Program Coordinator

Kasey Deems is a Program Coordinator for the Center for Health Leadership and Practice (CHLP). Kasey produces and facilitates program webinars, supports the technical operations of CHLP, including website and database management, and leads planning for many of CHLP’s retreats and events. Prior to joining CHLP, Kasey worked at San Francisco State University in the Disability Programs and Resource Center and brings a disability justice perspective to public health. Kasey received her BA from Seattle University, and received her MA from the University of East Anglia as a Fulbright postgraduate scholar, researching late medieval experiences of disability and disfigurement. Outside of work, Kasey enjoys spending time with her fiance and their cat Olive, watching and playing soccer, and beachcombing.