The vision is for Lancaster to become the healthiest community in the state of California. The mission is to provide children and families with access to healthcare, healthful food and educational opportunities that lead them to healthy, physically-active lifestyles. The council is focused on leading and coordinating the implementation of innovative, evidence-based practices and programs committed to alleviating health disparities in Lancaster. The council also works to provide community connections, strengthen civic engagement, and form valuable alliances.
Dr. Alvarez is native to Los Angeles and has been actively involved in the field of public health and community engagement for over 15 years. As an Area Health Officer for Service Planning Area 1 (Antelope Valley) & 2 (San Fernando Valley) the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, he oversees a team of public health professionals to provide clinical services, conduct surveillance and medical case management of reportable communicable diseases, contain the spread of communicable diseases and provide outreach activities to engage the community. Dr. Alvarez is dedicated to strengthen the Mayor’s Health and Wellness Council programs through leadership guidance in the areas of community research, population health and health trend reports production.
Dr. Arul has been a resident of the Antelope Valley for about 37 years and has practiced medicine for over 49 years. He currently serves as Medical Director of the Antelope Valley Community Clinic and holds an extensive record for serving the community at local and international capacities, especially as it relates to health. From founding the Children's Center of the Antelope Valley to working directly with refuges in India to teaching at different prestigious medical schools, Dr. Arul has become a true champion of health for the Antelope Valley. He will make large contributions to the Mayor's Health and Wellness Council through his rich clinical experience and leadership abilities.
Dr. Bowers is native to Lancaster and has over 23 years of experience in educational leadership and community engagement. As Superintendent, Dr. Bowers is responsible for shaping the culture of the 21 elementary and middle schools within the district, and will be influential in promoting Mayor's Health and Wellness Council programs and resources to a breadth of communities across the Antelope Valley. She is fully committed to improving community and individual health by inspiring all students and their families to establish and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
A current resident of Santa Clarita, Dr. Bronstein has served as the Physician in Charge at the Palmdale medical building of Kaiser Permanente for 5 years and the Physician Service Champion for Kaiser Permanente in the Antelope Valley for 3 years. He has also been the Chair of Pediatrics at AV Hospital for the past 4 years.He has led community flu prevention initiatives in the Antelope Valley by collaborating with community members and the local governments. Dr. Bronstein holds a uniquely qualified background and a strong record of child health improvement for diverse communities, especially in the Antelope Valley.
Mr.Burke is native to Boston, MA and has over 40 years of experience in nursing and hospital management. As Chief Operating Officer of the Antelope Valley Hospital, Mr. Burke has been at the forefront of treating urgent healthcare problems through his role in hospital administration. Mr. Burke will contribute his strong healthcare management background to support and sustain the Mayor’s Health and Wellness Council programs and help improve community wellness for the Antelope Valley.
Mr. Derryberry is a Lancaster native and has over 9 years of experience practicing law and developing strong community relationships. He currently serves as the Chairperson of the Lancaster Neighborhood Vitalization Commission, where he garners community support and works with Lancaster City Council and City administration to form stronger neighborhood alliances. He is also the president of the Lancaster Performing Arts Center Foundation. As a parent himself, he is fully committed to maintaining child health at the forefront of the Mayor’s Health and Wellness Council conversations, initiatives, and overall agenda through community, clinical, financial, and political collaborations.
From Bangalore, India, Ms. Kakde has been a resident of the Antelope Valley for 8 years and has over 17 years of experience in the field of nutrition, food science, and public health. As the Clinical Nutrition Manager at the Antelope Valley Hospital, she oversees the dietary operations and works with different health professionals to improve patient short-term and long-term nutrition goals. In the community, she has provided nutrition classes to educate the public on healthier eating habits and also teaches nutrition courses to students at Antelope Valley College. Ms. Kakde’s expertise will help guide the community nutritional aspects of the Mayor’s Health Academy and other future programs developed by the Mayor’s Health and Wellness Council.
Ms. Kiefer has over 22 years of experience in the field of finance and accounting centering on the health and wellness industry. Ms. Kiefer is responsible for the day-to-day management of Antelope Valley Partners for Health (AVPH), providing administrative oversight, grant writing, strategic planning and acting as community health and services liaison to both Lancaster and Palmdale City officials. Under the direction and oversight of Michelle Kiefer, AVPH has increased its strength as the collaborating agency in the Antelope Valley that focuses on improving the health and wellness of the community. Her leadership and involvement in the community will be vital in promoting the Health Academy in wellness homes of at-risk neighborhoods, as well as leading future initiatives of the Mayor’s Health and Wellness Council.
Mr. Mashore has been a resident of the Antelope Valley for over 50 years and has 13 years of extensive experience teaching healthcare professionals and others about the impact of trauma on individuals and society and how to create positive change. As the co-founder of the Creating a Healing Society (CHS) program and the current Chief Executive Officer of The Catalyst Foundation, Mr. Mashore has worked with at-risk and low income populations, including youth and adults, and has implemented creative community programs that focus on healthier eating, gardening and physical activity. His leadership as a current commissioner on the Neighborhood Vitalization Commission and passion for community wellness in low-income areas will be a vital contribution to the Mayor’s Health and Wellness Council for current and future health initiatives.
Mrs. Moore is native to Los Angeles and has over 13 years of leadership experience in community and individual fitness. As Director of Fitness for High Desert Medical Group, Mrs. Moore has spearheaded the design and implementation of an innovative program that aims to address physical inactivity of children by re-introducing them to creative outdoor activities. She has an unparalleled understanding of effective and efficient fitness strategies that will inspire all Mayor’s Health Academy program participants to pursue and maintain a physically-fit life.
Originally from El, Paso Texas, Dr. Don Parazo has dedicated 30 years of his life to serving the healthcare needs of individuals and communities. Dr. Parazo has a wide range of medical experience and leadership, and currently holds several roles at High Desert Medical Group. As a Primary Care Physician, he sees patients and maintains an extensive Family Practice. Dr. Parazo is also Associate Medical Director, Department Chief of Family Practice, Medical Director for Community Affairs and Medical Director for High Desert Medical Group. Within the community, Dr. Parazo continues to serve the public an elected Board of Director for Antelope Valley Healthcare District. Outside the community, as immediate past president of the Association of California Healthcare Districts, he brings a wealth of information concerning best practices of healthcare districts throughout California. Dr. Parazo will further his commitment to community wellness by providing unique clinical and community leadership for the Mayor’s Health and Wellness Council.
Mrs. Wiese is a current resident of Santa Clarita and has been involved in community health improvement initiatives for over 9 years. As the Community Benefit Manager for Kaiser Permanente, Ms. Wiese’s role is to assist Kaiser Permanente with leveraging their resources across the community such as impact-driven grants, in kind donations and involvement of physicians and staff in community health improvement programs. Her extensive involvement with community affairs and grant-management will be essential when planning program-measurements and sustainability strategies for the Mayor’s Health and Wellness Council programs, especially the Mayor’s Health Academy. She is passionate about developing collaborative community coalitions and using available health data to inform planning and the decision making process when looking at strategies to improve community health.
Jikky Thankachan relocated to Lancaster, CA from Coral Springs, FL. She recently graduated from the University of Florida and holds two Bachelor’s degrees in Biological Psychology and Sociology, as well as a minor in Health Disparities. She chose to serve on the Mayor’s Health and Wellness Council because health inequity in any community troubles her, and she strives to create a community where an individual’s position on the social ladder does not determine his/her health outcomes. After the completion of her VISTA term, she aspires to attend graduate school in pursuit of a Master of Public Health degree, with concentrations in health policy and global health.
Catie Lorenzini, of Escondido, CA, earned her Bachelor of Science in Public Health from Saint Louis University. Catie has a passion for service and community engagement and has years of volunteer experience assisting underserved populations, both domestically and internationally. This year, she aims to work closely with the Lancaster community to meet health needs by assisting citizens in obtaining valuable knowledge of healthy behaviors and increasing access to key resources in the community. After this year of service, Catie hopes to pursue a Master’s degree in Environmental Health.
Jessica Perales, from Vista, CA, received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Brown University. Throughout her undergraduate years she volunteered at the Rhode Island Free Clinic and Progreso Latino, where she served diverse low income populations. Through these experiences she discovered her passion for health and volunteerism. She looks forward to her year as an AmeriCorps VISTA and hopes to make a lasting impact within the Lancaster community.
According to 2013 Key Indicators of Health published by Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, diabetes in the Antelope Valley has a death rate of 40.6 per 100,000. Diabetes, often referred to by doctors as diabetes mellitus, describes a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar), either because insulin production is inadequate, or because the body's cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both. Research studies have found that moderate weight loss and exercise can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes among adults at high-risk of diabetes.