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The Center Welcomes Dr. Melawhy Garcia as New Co-Director

Published August 26, 2019

Letter from Co-Director Dr. Mara Bird

Dear Colleagues,

I am delighted to announce that Dr. Melawhy Garcia will assume the role as Co-Director for the CSULB Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation, and Leadership Training beginning in fall 2019. Dr. Garcia holds a Doctorate of Public Health from the University of California, San Diego, San Diego State University Joint Doctoral Program. She joined the Department of Health Science at CSULB as an Assistant Professor in 2018. However, her tenure with the CSULB Center for Latino Community Health goes back to 2005, the year the Center opened and Melawhy was one of its first undergraduate interns. Her dedication to Latino community health, commitment to social justice through health programming and mentoring, and ability to organize and multi-task enabled her to quickly move through a myriad of positions at the Center. After completing her bachelor’s degree at CSULB, she was promoted to Research Associate at the Center, and soon after completed her Master’s of Public Health degree. In 2010, she was promoted to Associate Director, a role that she held until beginning her doctoral studies. During her time at the Center, she collaborated on numerous successful research proposals, oversaw grant funded research projects focused on Latino health disparities, and trained interdisciplinary groups of students and community health workers in community based research. We are proud to welcome Dr. Garcia as the Co-Director to continue her leadership role at CSULB and in the community with the Center for Latino Community Health. Dr. Garcia and I will work together to serve as Co-Directors to guide the Center’s development to achieve positive impacts on the state of Latino health and education. In a discussion with Founding Director, Dr. Britt Rios-Ellis, she reaffirmed Dr. Garcia’s appointment as speaking to the essence of the Center. “Dr. Garcia epitomizes the Center’s purpose and intention. Having the opportunity to participate in and witness the development of her professional career as a student, a Chancellor’s Office Doctoral Incentive Program mentee, and a cherished colleague, I am humbled by her intelligence, skills, and commitment to both research and student development. It is wonderful to witness the impact of the Center full-circle.” Please join me in congratulating Dr. Garcia on this appointment and welcoming her to this role. 
- Mara Bird, PhD
Co-Director  |  CSULB Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation and Leadership Training 

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Melawhy L. Garcia, MPH, PhD

Melawhy Garcia is an Assistant Professor of Health Science at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) and a Co-Director of the CSULB Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation, and Leadership Training. She received a B.A. in Psychology and an M.P.H. in Community Health Science from CSULB. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego/ San Diego State University (UCSD/SDSU) Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health with an emphasis in Health Behavior Research. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Women’s Cardiovascular Research Center in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UCSD. She has experience with multidisciplinary epidemiological and applied research through her work at CSULB Center for Latino Community Health as well as SDSU’s Institute for Behavioral and Community Health and the South Bay Latino Research Center. At SDSU, she collaborated on the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL), a prospective cohort study funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, as well as applied research through her work on numerous randomized controlled trials addressing childhood obesity and diabetes management. She has had the unique opportunity to work closely with numerous experts in the field of Hispanic/Latino health through active participation with various research teams. Her research program includes a variety of methodological approaches to examine the multidimensional factors that contribute to health disparities among underserved racial/ethnic minority and low-income populations with an emphasis on cardiometabolic health risk factors and diabetes. Some of her research has involved analyzing data from small, community-based, mixed methods research projects; large NIH-funded randomized controlled trials (RCTs); electronic health records (EHR); and a large epidemiological longitudinal cohort study with 16,000 Hispanic/Latinos in four U.S. cities. Dr. Garcia teaches undergraduate courses focused on community needs assessments, program planning, curriculum development and statistics. She also teaches a graduate seminar focused on Latino nutrition, health, and chronic disease prevention.