CCHE Staff:

Sarah Esmond, MS

ICTR Administrative Director
email: phone: (608) 263-9401
address:4241 HSLC

The Center Administrative Director, Sarah Esmond, MS, provides administrative oversight and project management to CCHE’s many community-academic partnerships, collaborations, and initiatives. She brings significant background in qualitative research methodologies and urban community-academic partnership building. Esmond serves as an academic partner to several Milwaukee-based partnerships, including the House of Peace Hmong Health Consortium, and the Urban Indian Wellness Consortium. She previously served as Project Manager for the School of Medicine and Public Health’s Center for the Study of Cultural Diversity in Healthcare (CDH).

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Dorothy Farrar-Edwards, PhD

email: phone: (608) 262-5151
address:4237 HSLC

Dorothy Farrar-Edwards, PhD, is Director of the ICTR Collaborative Center for Health Equity, Chair of Kinesiology, and is Professor in the School of Education with an appointment in the Department of Medicine at the School of Medicine and Public Health. Her multidisciplinary research addresses the effects of aging on functional independence and quality of life. The central goal of her research is to contribute to the understanding of quality of life and well-being in older adults by examining the impact of cognitive and physical impairment on performance of complex activities of everyday life. Her research explores questions of functional performance, caregiver burden, and treatment outcomes in a variety of populations ranging from normal aging to neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and stroke. She is particularly interested in the aging process in African Americans. The ultimate aim of these studies is to support the development and implementation of more effective interventions for persons with cognitive loss and their families.

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Kristen Malecki, PhD, MPH

Environmental Health Equity and Community Engagement-Milwaukee
email: phone: (608) 262-0739
address:589 WARF
610 Walnut
Madison, WI 53726

Kristen Malecki is an assistant professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences. She has a PhD in environmental epidemiology and health policy and master of public health from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Dr. Malecki serves as the associate Director for the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW), overseeing survey implementation efforts and ancillary study development. She has been a leader in the development and evaluation of indicators for environmental health risk assessment and policy. Dr. Malecki is lead co-investigator for the Network for Health Equity in Wisconsin, a program using SHOW as a tool for evaluating the impact of multilevel "natural experiments" such as the economic downturn, health care reform and community driven prevention efforts on population health and health disparities.

Dr. Malecki also works to bridge applied public health practice with academic research focusing on environmental health and health disparities using a social determinants of health model. She also serves as the Principal Investigator for a number of SHOW ancillary studies involving community-academic partnerships.

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Caitlin Scott, MS

Health Equity Outreach Specialist
email: phone: (608) 263-6982
address:4240A HSLC

Caitlin (LeValley) Scott, MS, serves as the CCHE Health Equity Outreach Specialist, providing a wide range of support to Center faculty, staff and associated research team members, as well as nationwide Scholars associated with the HELI program. She provides leadership, direction and coordination for the CCHE and HELI websites, produces all Center communications & print materials, serves as the Pilot Grant Administrator for the ICTR AHEAD Program, and acts as the initial point of contact for all visitors to the Center’s Health Sciences Learning Center suite.

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Christine Sorkness, PharmD

Associate Director
email: phone: (608) 263-2285
address:4238 HSLC

Christine Sorkness, RPh, PharmD, is ICTR Senior Associate Executive Director and oversees the Community-Academic Partnerships core, and the Pilot Grants program. She helps direct the ICTR Collaborative Center for Health Equity, and is co-PI on the P60 NCMHD Center of Excellence grant that funds CCHE. She has a special interest in health disparities in asthma, in which she has conducted both cost-effectiveness and comparative effectiveness trials.

Dr. Sorkness has a clinical practice in the Anticoagulation Clinic at the VA Hospital-Madison, and also is affiliated with the UW Allergy, Pulmonary, and Critical Care Division, with more than 20 years of NHLBI-funding as either a co-investigator or co-principal investigator. A long-standing member of the UW Health Sciences IRB, she has also served on several NHLBI-appointed Data and Safety Monitoring Boards for large multi-center national trials.

Today, Dr. Sorkness holds professorships in both the School of Pharmacy and the School of Medicine and Public Health. Having guided the Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum through the UW academic approval process, she had the expertise to manage approvals for the ICTR graduate programs in clinical investigation. She serves on the ICTR Faculty Governance Committee and teaches two graduate courses, background for her oversight of the ICTR Research Education and Career Development core as well.

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Dr. Carmen Valdez

Carmen Valdez, PhD

Faculty Director, AHEAD
email: phone: (608) 263-4493
address:301 Education Building
1000 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706-1326

Dr. Carmen R. Valdez is the faculty director of the Advancing Health Equity and Diversity (AHEAD) program. In this role, she leads the five affiliated AHEAD Program Directors in developing a ‘community of scholarship’ in which research career development and networking opportunities for early to mid-career scholars reflect:

  • Structured opportunities to acquire familiarity about health equity research occurring within and across the 5 AHEAD affiliated programs;

  • Access to the research programs of UW faculty who share similar research interests; and

  • Sharing successful strategies for advancing health equity research at UW-Madison

  • Mentoring in the areas of academia, tenure, and promotion.

Dr. Valdez is a licensed professional psychologist and an associate professor with a primary affiliation to the Department of Counseling Psychology. Her research addresses the impact of family stress and sociocultural context on Latino children’s academic, social, and emotional functioning, as well as developing community-based, family-focused interventions for Latino immigrant families experiencing stress.

To learn more about Dr. Valdez, please see her School of Education biography.

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Community Engagement/Research Ambassadors:

Al Castro, MS, BSW

Program Director at the UCC
email: phone:
address: United Community Center
1028 South 9th St.
Milwaukee, WI 53204

In his role as Program Director at the United Community Center, Al Castro manages the Latino Geriatric Center and the Health Research Program at the UCC.   The Latino Geriatric Center has a Memory Clinic that serves Latinos, and the Health Research Programs conduct academic/community research projects in the Latino community in collaboration with local and state universities.

Mr. Castro has 37 years of experience in various social services and community services roles with populations ranging from young children, teenagers, families to elderly individuals, in social worker, management or executive director positions.  Mr. Castro has over 17 years experience implementing and managing various human services programs and research projects in the Milwaukee area.  He is a member of the Underserved Population Services Coalition, the Milwaukee Aging Consortium and is on the Board of Directors for the Alzheimer’s Association—SE Wisconsin Chapter.

Mr. Castro holds a BS degree in Social Work from Carroll University in Waukesha WI, and a MS degree in Business Management from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, WI. He is a licensed social worker in the State of Wisconsin.

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Mirtha Sosa Pacheco

Mirtha Sosa Pacheco

Health Research Program Coordinator
email: phone:
address:United Community Center
1028 South 9th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53204

Mirtha Sosa Pacheco, BA is the Health Research Program Coordinator in the Health Research Department at the United Community Center (UCC). She graduated from Marquette University in 2014, with an interdisciplinary academic background of Spanish Language, Literature and Culture, Social Welfare and Justice, and Health Studies. Following graduation, she began working as the Milwaukee Southside Coordinator (then Milwaukee Project Coordinator) at the WI Bike Fed, a statewide nonprofit advocacy and education organization focused on promoting bicycling and walking in Wisconsin. Mirtha was responsible for a variety of projects in the city, including but not limited to the roles of health intervention coach/Co-PI in a Biking for Health study partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin, and lead planner/manager of Milwaukee's first ever Open Streets initiative(s) of which she executed 3. As the current Program Coordinator of Health Research at the UCC, she is responsible for the coordination of UCC-academic community engaged research partnerships in the metro-Milwaukee Latino community, and associated project development and implementation of health and wellness research endeavors. Mirtha has personal, academic, and professional experience, connections and awareness of the Latino community of Milwaukee. From her previous research experience she has proven capabilities in engaging Latinos into health research, and in collaborating with academic researchers and diverse community stakeholders, for the purpose of creating systemic space and access for Milwaukee's Latino/immigrant community to be empowered and healthy.

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