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Community Advisory Board

Lharissa JacobsLharissa Jacobs, Community Advisory Board Chair
Association Director of Community Health, YMCA of Greater Houston

Lharissa Jacobs is a passionate advocate for healthy living. As Association Director of Community Health for the YMCA of Greater Houston, she leads a portfolio of six community health programs for the YMCA of Greater Houston, and will add more programs in 2017. Her special interests include developing partnerships and collaborative relationships to further the mission of the Y. The current community health portfolio consists of:

  • The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program (an evidence based program for prevention of Type 2 diabetes)
  • LIVESTRONG at the YMCA (an evidence based program for cancer survivors) Healthy Weight and Your Child (evidence based weight management program for families)
  • Kamp K’aana (a 2 week residential camp for kids who struggle with obesity in partnership with Texas Children’s Hospital)
  • Healthy Kids for Life, a Kamp K’aana Day Program
  • EnhanceFitness (evidence based, arthritis friendly program for seniors) Adaptive Yoga and Aquatics Classes for Multiple Sclerosis through partnership with the National MS Society
Lharissa has sixteen years of leadership through teaching and volunteering in public schools, and seven years of leading efforts in chronic disease prevention at the YMCA of Greater Houston. She has a master’s degree from University of Houston in Education (M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction) and an MBA from University of Houston. She is bilingual in Spanish and English. In her free time she volunteers as a coach for a running group, and spends time with her husband and two teenagers.

Jamie FreenyJamie Freeny, MPH
Chair, Board of Directors, African American Health Coalition

Jamie Freeny, MPH, is a dedicated public health practitioner with a desire to make a difference for the health and wellbeing of others. Her nine years of experience in health education and community outreach have offered many insights for her to understand the complexities of how health is effected by where one lives, learns, works, and plays. She has also participated in and lead many efforts to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to make the choices that allow them to live a long, healthy life, regardless of their income, education, or ethnic background. Currently, Ms. Freeny is a doctoral student in the Community Health Practice division at the UT Health School Of Public Health. Her areas of research include collaborative engagement, adverse childhood experiences, and adolescent mental health. She is a Grant Project Manager in the Community Outreach Services Department of the Harris Health System. Her roles include grant writing, program development, implementation, & evaluation, health education, curriculum development, and community engagement. She co-chairs the IMPACT (Impacting Maternal and Prenatal Care Together) Collaborative of Greater Houston which brings concerned leaders and stakeholders together to discuss and implement strategies to improve maternal and birth outcomes in Harris County. She serves at the Pastoral Care Leader of the T3 (Total Temple Transformation) Health & Wellness Ministry at Windsor Village United Methodist Church which aims to promote health and increase mental health awareness in their congregation and surrounding communities. She also serves as Board Chair for the African American Health Coalition which is an education and advocacy group working to improve the health of African American communities in Houston/Harris County, TX and is the National Delegate for the Texas Society for Public Health Education (TSOPHE), a regional affiliate of the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE), a national professional service organization.


Dorothy GibbonsDorothy Gibbons
CEO and Co-Founder, The Rose

In 1986, Dorothy and Dr. Dixie Melillo founded The Rose, a Houston-based nonprofit that has provided quality breast healthcare services to over 500,000 insured and uninsured women. The mission of The Rose is saving lives by providing quality breast health services, access to care regardless of a woman's ability to pay and advocacy. Today, The Rose is the only free standing, non-hospital based facility to be recognized as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence. With two Comprehensive Diagnostic Centers and a Mobile Mammography Fleet covering Southeast and Central Texas, The Rose has become a leader in healthcare delivery and its programs are replicated nationally and internationally.

Dorothy’s leadership has led to many firsts – she introduced the concept patient navigators in 1999, established a 500 member Physicians Network that provides pro bono care for the uninsured; brought in the area’s first portable Mobile Mammography units, created the Breast Health Collaborative of Texas, was the first female to win the Community Health Leadership Award in 2008 by the Episcopal Health Charities, named Houston’s first “Fearless Woman” Awardee in 2011, the first recipient of the Trekker Award and was Yoplait’s Breast Cancer Champion in 2012.

Her non-profit experience involves healthcare, education and women’s issues. She has served on the founding boards for the Breast Health Collaborative of Texas, the North Pasadena Community Outreach, the Breast Care Center in Washington DC., Gateway to Care and the Texas Medical Centers Women’s Health Network in Houston. She has served on the boards of the American Leadership Forum, the Texas Executive Women’s, Brigid’s Place and was an organizer of the Mary Magdalene Community started in 2005.

Dorothy is a passionate advocate for women and her first book: The Women of The Rose was published with rave reviews and ranked number one in Cancer E-books. She is a wife, a mother, a yoga instructor, lecturer on Mary Magdalene and rancher, holds a BA in communications with extended studies of women’s roles in world religions, mythology and history.


Henry GomezHenry F. Gomez, MD
Vice-President, Hispanic Health Coalition

Dr. Gomez is an accomplished, quality-focused professional, formally trained as a physician, with an outstanding record of achievement in clinical research. Recognized throughout his career for his leadership abilities, creative thinking, ability to be a team player, problem solving, excellent analytical and project management skills and meticulous attention to detail, Dr. Gomez brings novel approaches to creating solutions from problems, and is compassionate in dealing with patients and research subjects.

As Program Director in the Department of Epidemiology at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Gomez is responsible for all operational aspects of the Mano a Mano cohort study, the largest health study of its kind with individuals of Mexican origin, and also serves as a liaison with the Mexican American community. As author, and co-author of numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals, Dr. Gomez has traveled extensively presenting his research findings at national and international conferences. His research projects have received funding from the National Institute of Health, the American Heart Association, the Children's Miracle Network and several other funding agencies. Dr. Gomez was also awarded the Young Investigator Award in the 8th International Conference of the International Society for Research on Human Milk and Lactation in Plymouth, MA. His original research in the immune system of alligators has been shown on local and national TV stations as well as National Geographic’s Explorer. Consequent with his Jesuit formation, he remains actively involved in the community leading multiple volunteer organizations and initiatives, including youth education via Boy Scouts of America, youth sports via Braes Bayou Little League and Kyle Chapman PONY League, environment via Brazos Bend State Park Volunteer Organization, and the Hispanic Health Coalition.

Dr. Gomez is a graduate of the FBI Outstanding Citizens Academy and received the Patrice Johnson Distinguished Alumnus Award for Exemplary Leadership Skills Class XX-Leadership Houston. He is very passionate about research and giving a voice to those he feels are voiceless.


Kaylan HendersonKaylan Henderson, MSPH
Administration Manager, Houston Health Department

Kaylan Henderson is a public servant who has spent 16 years in Public Health where she has primarily focused on community health and identification of program outcomes and effectiveness. Kaylan Henderson received her Bachelor of Arts in Science from Hampton University and her Masters of Science in Public Health from Meharry Medical College.

Kaylan began her Public Health career in Nashville, Tennessee with the Tennessee Department of Health where she served as Director of Policy and Legislation. Kaylan returned home to Houston to work with the Department of Aging and Disability Services as a Compliance Monitor for Quality Assurance. Kaylan worked with SUNNY Futures Healthy Start, a program within Neighborhood Centers, Inc. as a Health Education Coordinator. The programs primary focus was to reduce infant mortality in the Houston community. Kaylan served as the Committee Chair for the Access to Care Subcommittee and participated in the Public Information Committee within Sunny Futures Healthy Start Consortium. After working with Neighborhood Centers, Inc. Kaylan accepted the position of Executive Director for a private company that advocated for individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Her career path has led her to the Houston Health Department where she currently is an Administration Manager for the Care Coordination Program. The Care Coordination Program is an 1115 Waiver Program working to expand Medicaid Managed Care. The Care Coordination program provides care navigation services to clients who are frequent users of crisis care systems, individuals who need to be connected or re-connected to a medical home and those who need support to effectively utilize a medical home. In addition, the program addresses the social and physical environments of its clients by providing services that address barriers to access and utilization of primary care, due to the complexity of the health care system, resulting in better outcomes by engaging and developing the whole person.

Kaylan is an active member of the Missouri City Chapter of the Links, Inc.; a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; The American Public Health Association; and St. Mary’s of the Purification Catholic Church.


Lynne NguyenLynne H. Nguyen, MPH
Founder and Board Member, Asian American Health Coalition

Lynne Nguyen is Director of the Community & Populations Core in the Center for Community-Engaged Translational Research at MD Anderson Cancer Center. She leads MD Anderson’s efforts to increase minorities & women’s awareness, understanding, and participation in cancer clinical trials. In addition to monitoring and reporting on clinical trial participation trends and patterns, advising research teams on strategies to increase participation of minorities and women to clinical trials, and helping with recruitment planning and grant writing, Lynne leads a team of community health engagement experts that facilitate long-term, equitable research partnerships between MD Anderson researchers and community-based organizations. Her expertise and background includes more than 20 years’ experience facilitating community-academic research partnerships, community planning and needs assessment, program planning, implementation and evaluation, and health literacy and cultural competency training, with specific focus on addressing health disparities in medically underserved populations.

A passionate community volunteer and health advocate, Lynne founded the Asian American Health Coalition, the parent organization of HOPE Clinic in Houston. From its beginnings as a 4-hour a month volunteer-led clinic in 2002, HOPE Clinic is now a fully-staffed Federally Qualified Community Health Center that serves all patients regardless of insurance or income status. Today HOPE serves as the medical home for more than 9000 patients, providing care during more than 45,000 patient visits in 2014. She also serves on the boards and leadership committees of local and statewide organizations focused on women’s health, demographics, literacy, and comprehensive cancer control planning. Lynne received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Houston and her Master in Public Health from the University of Texas School of Public Health here in Houston.


Sarah OussarSara Oussar, M.S.
Director of Development, American Diabetes Association

Sara Oussar is passionate about health care access and equity. As a Director of Development for the American Diabetes Association, her focus is to increase and diversify sources of revenue to support the mission of the Association, to prevent and cure diabetes and improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. 

Sara has 12 years of non-profit management and fundraising experience. She is a contributing member of PARTNERS supporting nurses’ education at UTHealth, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Planned Giving Council of Houston, ACLU, and the UN-Houston Chapter. She is a past conversationalist at the University of Houston annual Table Talk and a panelist at the Houston Women’s Conference.


Courtney TaylorCourtney Taylor, MBA
Vice President and Community Development Officer, Green Bank

Courtney Taylor is the Vice President and Community Development Officer for Green Bank. She is responsible developing partnerships with nonprofit organizations, creating volunteer opportunities for the bank, and seeking innovative ways to impact the community. Courtney serves on the advisory council for the Fifth Ward Enrichment Program, Inc., Chairperson for the San Jacinto College District Business Management Advisory Committee, and Advisory Board Member to Kids r Strong 2 Cancer Non-Profit Organization, Mentor for Dress for Success Women 2 Women Mentoring Program, and is a current member of the Junior League of Greater Houston.  She is previous board member for the National Black MBA Association Houston Chapter, Houston Area Urban League of Young Professionals (HAULYP), alumna of United Way of Greater Houston Project Blueprint : Class XXXI, alumna of Houston Black Leadership Institute Class III,  and was recognized as one of Houston’s Top 30 Under 30 in 2013 . Courtney holds a Bachelors of Arts in Public Relations from University of Texas at San Antonio and an MBA from Texas Woman’s University. Courtney’s expertise is in community development, nonprofit management, grant writing, communications, and community outreach.