Community Advisory Board

The Community Advisory Board (CAB) of the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center (SIRC) serves a variety of critically important roles in support of the Center’s mission to prevent and reduce the burden of health disparities on the overall quality of life among communities of the Southwest. 

CAB Mission

To advise SIRC leadership and serve as a liaison between SIRC and the larger community.

CAB Goals

  • To facilitate the communication and collaboration between university-based researchers and community based partners about health disparities.
  • To improve outcomes of interventions and services through the implementation of research projects that foster innovation, sustainability and translations into real world settings and daily practice.
  • To enhance public information, outreach and dissemination between community health representatives and healthcare providers, policy makers, the lay community and research investigators to develop appropriate research, education and delivery of programs.

CAB Meetings

The CAB meets four times a year in the SIRC office. Additionally, members are expected to participate on at least one of the four standing subcommittees listed below.


CAB Committees 


Recruits and nominates potential Board members. Defines criteria for membership and reviews Board structure as indicated in the CAB Manual. Oversees the general direction of the CAB as well as implementation of the work plan described in SIRC’s Community Engagement and Dissemination Core. Ensures that CAB members understand the full range and scope of SIRC’s programs and projects. Membership is comprised of the CAB Chair, Vice-Chair and Subcommittee Chairs. Responsible for election of Officers and appointment of CAB subcommittee chairs.


Increases the visibility of SIRC in the local community by providing opportunities for collaboration, presentation and partnership for SIRC faculty, students and fellows. Reviews social media activities for the purpose of the dissemination of research findings. Reviews and comments on materials developed for local community, health care providers, policymakers and the media.

Strategic Planning

Develops a strategic dissemination plan which identifies stakeholders, dissemination pathways, appropriate activities and mechanisms to ensure the sustained impact of research findings locally and nationally. Responsible for the Board Alignment Survey and the Board Satisfaction Survey.

Research and Education

Identifies and recommends critical health-related topics suitable for Issue Forums and takes an active role in planning these events including identification of panelists, co-sponsors, audience, event locations. Participates in interviews at the Forum in order to disseminate information on social media which is useful to practitioners, policymakers and the general public.

Current Members

Dulce Maria Ruelas, MPH (Chair)
College of Nursing and Health Care Professions
Grand Canyon University

Zepporah Fuller, MHA/ED., CPHQ (Vice Chair)
Director of Technical Assistance
National Council of Urban Indian Health

Jocelyn Beard, MA
Tribal Relations Manager
Arizona Department of Economic Security 

Michelle Cabanillas, LMSW
School Safety and Social Wellness Unit
Arizona Department of Education

Shayna Diamond, MA
American Cancer Society

Maggie Eng
Program Manager
Chinese Senior Center 

Omar Fabian, LMSW
School Social Worker
Roosevelt School District 

Barbara S. Garden, BS
Director of Community Relations
Terros Health

Shawna Green, MA
Marketing Specialist and Partner Liaison
Dignity Health

Shomari Jackson, MPA
Program Coordinator
Sonoran Prevention Works

Michelle Lacy, MA, LPC, PMH-C
Executive Director
Women's Health Innovations of Arizona

Nora Lozano, BS, In
Community Health Worker Supervisor
Equality Health

Gregorio Montes de Oca, MPA
Community Investment Coordinator
Arizona Community Foundation

Matthew Moody, LAC
Director, Contact Center Operations
Solari Crisis and Human Services

Nicole Neal, MPH
Health Specialist 
City of Phoenix, Early Head Start

Jeanne Nizigiyimana, MSW, MA
Co-founder and Program Manager
Refugee Women's Health Clinic
Valleywise Health

Farhia Omar, MPH
Program Manager
Mayo Clinic

Zona Pacheco, LCSW
Housing Supportive Services Coordinator
City of Phoenix 

Teresa Peña, MEd
Senior Director, Training and Diversity
Valle del Sol

Muktar Sheikh, MSL
Program Director
Somali Association of Arizona

Lena Spotleson, MA
Director, Corporate Relations
American Cancer Society

Jennifer Weller, PhD
Research Director, Child Psychiatry 
District Medical Group

Emeritus Members:

Patti Hibbeler, MA (former Chair)
Eileen Eisen-Cohen
Yvonne Fortier, LPC, LISAC
Manuel Medina
Elizabeth Ortiz de Valdez, MD
RJ Shannon