Take Action at UI Cancer Center
Bringing high-quality cancer awareness and care to everyone and reducing cancer disparities is at the heart of the University of Illinois Cancer Center.
At UI Cancer Center, we accomplish this by developing partnerships with our community, including UI Health and local and national organizations.
Every year, we work with our partners on cancer prevention, care, and research — and we have seen positive results in our community:
Dr. Wells and the navigation team changed my life with the smoking cessation support. I believe the program and the support was God-sent to improve my life and the health of my family.
Jonathan Mason, former smoker, speaking at the Nobody Quits Like Chicago town hall about his participation in a smoking cessation program run by the partnership of the UI Cancer Center and Mile Square Health Center
The Community Engagement & Health Equity Office
Our vision is to create equitable access to cancer awareness and cancer care in minority and underrepresented communities.
The UI Cancer Center Community Engagement and Health Equity Office (CEHE) is a unique community-centered office that engages communities within our catchment area and beyond to decrease cancer burden and increase cancer awareness and access across the cancer care continuum.
Our team carefully investigates the needs of our community members, and fosters services and research to meet those needs. Our role at the UI Cancer Center is to:
- Build relationships with community partners
- Conduct best practices through community navigation to increase access to cancer screening and cancer care
- Disseminate project outcomes to UI Cancer Center programs
- Advocate for policy changes that are responsive to the communities we serve
We utilize an integrated population health and health disparities framework to ensure that those outcomes inform UI Cancer Center programmatic research.
The mission of the CEHE office is to be a resource in developing, supporting, and integrating community focused cancer prevention initiatives and research to reduce cancer inequities.
In order to execute the vision and mission of the office, we have identified four priorities:
- Develop strategic community-academic partnerships to facilitate community engagement and project development, implementation, and dissemination of research conducted by cancer center members.
- Conduct best practices for patient navigation across the cancer continuum of care relevant to the catchment area and beyond to reduce cancer burden.
- Inform research priorities and development through community outreach and engagement collaborations and dissemination of findings to community stakeholders and cancer center programs (Cancer Biology, Translational Oncology, and Cancer Prevention and Control).
- Identify, develop, and influence policy recommendations and advocacy efforts that are relevant to the catchment population, federally qualified health centers, community organizations, and other cancer care stakeholders.
How We Can Help Your Organization and Community
Every partnership is unique. We work with each of our partners to understand their needs and how we can collaborate to ultimately improve health outcomes for the communities we serve. Our resources and areas of expertise include:
- Partnership assessment and identifying areas of intersection
- Bi-directional collaboration
- Connecting partners with researchers
- Sharing the needs of the community based on partners feedback
- Participating in community engagement activities to share cancer prevention education
- Developing multi-media culturally and geographically tailored health education materials
- Dissemination of research outcomes
Our Partnerships and Collaborations
The UI Cancer Center partners with UI Health/Mile Square Health Center, and more than 55 community and national organizations, to increase cancer screening and community engagement.
Become a Partner
We always welcome the opportunity to form new partnerships. Learn about how you can become a partner and work hand-in-hand with the CEHE to further your organization’s mission.
Download our recent reports to learn more about the differences that our partnerships have made in and beyond the communities we serve.
Christine Jonel Adley
Christine is an award-winning advocate, living on the south side of Chicago, devoted to her work as the Project Coordinator for the YAAS! Grant. Paired with her background and her comprehensive knowledge in patient advocacy, she is committed to promoting health equity and reducing health disparities, in underrepresented communities. She is a public speaker and aspiring author, committed to using her experience to serve as a driving force of change to others.
Leslie Carnahan, PhD, MPH, a health disparities population researcher, is a Research Scientist at the Office of Community Engagement and Health Equity at the University of Illinois Cancer Center and a Research Assistant Professor at the UIC School of Public Health in the Division of Community Health Sciences. Specifically, her work is focused on understanding how the quality, structures, and different levels (community-level, network, and interpersonal) of social factors contribute to differences in survival and quality of life outcomes among cancer survivors and caregivers. She is also engaged in evaluations for a number of cancer prevention and health promotion programs in Illinois. Dr. Carnahan’s research specialties include expertise in quantitative (survival analysis, latent class analysis), qualitative, and mixed methods, program evaluation, and community-engaged research.
Carla Luisa Da Goia Pinto
Carla Luisa Da Goia Pinto M.B.B.S, MPH a Medical Physician and Public Health graduate from the University of Illinois at Chicago, is a Research Specialist at the University of Illinois Cancer Center and at Mile Square Health Center. As part of a Research Core team at Mile Square, her work is focused on collaborating with Principal Investigators and their teams to establish research and quality improvement projects in a primary care setting. She is engaged in grant and manuscript writing, data analysis, designing standard of operations for various funded projects that address the social determinants of health to improve the healthcare of patients from underserved communities in Chicago. She manages projects focused on Diabetes Prevention, Diabetes Management and Control, Behavioral Health andCOVID-19. Dr. Da Goia Pinto is also engaged in studying the nuances of a mobile application support system designed to meet the needs of LatineX cancer survivors and caregivers in Chicago.
Jeanette Santana Gonzalez
Jeanette Santana González is currently a Senior Research Specialist for the University of Illinois Cancer Center, Office of Community Engagement and Health Equity (CEHE). She currently serves as the Project Director for the University of Illinois Cancer Screening; Access; Awareness; Navigation (UI CAAN) project which is a community-focused cancer education, prevention, screening and navigation program aimed at addressing the elevated burden of cancer, specifically cervical and colorectal cancer among marginalized communities in the University of Illinois Cancer Center (UICC) catchment. In her role, Jeanette oversees day to day operation of the project team, partnership development and project administration.
Tamara Hamlish, PhD is a research scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a medical anthropologist conducting research on cancer survivorship research, an emphasis on cancer survivor experience and doctor-patient communication. Her research explores the critical role of survivor and co-survivor experiences for addressing disparities in cancer health outcomes and care across the cancer continuum, from prevention and screening to palliative care and hospice. She has also worked on multi-disciplinary teams to build healthcare capacity and workforce development for survivorship care in communities that experience structural and systemic barriers to high quality care.
Vida Henderson, PhD, PharmD, MPH, MFA is a minority health and health disparities researcher whose research is focused on health services utilization, cancer prevention, and early detection. Her primary goal is to ameliorate gender and racial health inequities by exploring associations between the social determinants of physical and mental health and behavioral outcomes. Dr. Henderson specializes in women’s health, qualitative methods, program evaluation, community-engaged research and health communication. She is currently Senior Research Scientist and Director of the Office of Community Engagement and Health Equity at the University of Illinois Cancer Center and Research Assistant Professor at the UI School of Public Health Community Health Science division.
Le’Chaun J Kendall
Le’Chaun Kendall, MPH is a Research Associate II and Project Coordinator. As a part of the Office of Community Engagement and Health Equity, Ms. Kendall supports an NCI K01 funded grant focused on breast cancer disparities research. Ms. Kendall is also responsible for data collection, analysis techniques, and administrative projects. Le’Chaun has co-authored multiple publications focusing on health disparities among African American.
Jessica M. Madrigal, PhD contributes to the team on a limited basis by providing analytic support to facilitate dissemination of existing evaluation projects. In March 2020, Dr. Madrigal transitioned to a position as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute where she is focused on GIS-based environmental exposure analyses/methods projects and epidemiologic risk analyses.
Nasima A. Mannan, MPH is an experienced public health specialist focusing on health education, health promotion, healthcare access and utilization in underserved communities. Nasima ardently unites policy makers, healthcare funders and providers, and community members in order to promote health equity for the most vulnerable populations. As a project director for multiple community-based cancer screening programs, Nasima develops and implements programs that address social determinants of health while providing access to care to underserved populations. Currently, she is the Senior Research Specialist and Patient Navigation Program Manager at the Office of Community Engagement and Health Equity at the University of Illinois Cancer Center.
Erica Martinez, MBA, MPH, is the associate director for the Office of Community Engagement and Health Equity (CEHE) at the University of Illinois Cancer Center. She is a bilingual (Spanish) senior management professional with more than twelve years of experience, leading solution driven initiatives and strategic implementation projects. She is passionate about addressing health inequities, has the proven ability to lead teams, build team cohesion with a focus on improving the quality of individual lives and communities.
Theresa Mobley is currently a Community Health Navigator for the University of Illinois Cancer Center under project UI CAAN (University of Illinois Cancer Screening; Access; Awareness; Navigation). Theresa works with UI Cancer Center community partners in the Austin Community, primarily The Loretto Hospital to help identify women who are in need of access to care including cervical cancer screenings. Theresa has a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work, with a minor in Women’s Studies. She is also a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) and has worked in the field over 20 yrs. with clients who have Substance Use Disorders.
Miguel A Negrete
Miguel Negrete is a Clinical Research Coordinator at the University of Illinois Cancer Center with a research concentration on breast, cervical, lung, and colorectal cancer. He has a passion for working with resilient communities and eliminating social inequities that widen the health disparity gap. After completing his master’s degree in Community Health Sciences, he plans to pursue a doctoral degree focused on effectively utilizing physical activity to not just teach but to prevent compounding health issues and understand social, cultural, and environmental determinants of diet-related morbidities and mental health in low income communities.
Jennifer M Newsome
Jennifer Newsome, MS is an experienced leader in administration with expertise in pre-award, post-award, and project/study management. Ms. Newsome provides 10+ years’ experience in laboratory, clinical and community-based settings. Jennifer has a proven track record in operational management across multiple federal and investigator-initiated studies which focus on health equity in medically underserved communities.
Maria Olivero is currently a Community Health Navigator for the University of Illinois Cancer Center under project UI CAAN (University of Illinois Cancer Screening; Access; Awareness; Navigation). Maria works with UI Cancer Center community partners in the Humboldt Park, primarily Norwegian-American Hospital to help identify women who are in need of access to care including cervical cancer screenings. Maria has a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Northeastern Illinois University Chicago. She also holds a certification as a medical interpreter from Cross Cultural Interpreting Services. Maria has worked with community partners in the Latino Community for more than 30 years providing health education and community outreach. Maria’s goal is to try to educate Latinas women about the importance of cervical cancer screenings, a cancer that if detected early, is treatable.
Research Specialist Sarah Rittner’s work comprises nearly two decades of project management experience, concentrating on health equity and community-engaged research at the local, state, and federal levels. She has overseen more than 60 research projects in her work with vulnerable populations, many of which have been related to health disparities, social determinants of health, health information technology, and community-based participatory research. She is a graduate of Michigan State University (MA and BA), specializing in medical sociology and health communication and is Board President of Gilda’s Club Chicago’s Associate Board and a member of the Chicago Department of Public Health Institutional Review Board.
Tonya Shani Roberson
Tonya has over fifteen years of biobehavioral and social sciences research experience with extensive recruitment and selection capability experience. She has a particular expertise in methods to address health inequalities, health promotion theories, and models to assess the holistic health of African Americans in the urban centers. Tonya also has vast knowledge in biomedical research, culturally tailoring initiatives, community engagement and practice, survey design, extensive research recruitment, independent consulting and evaluation and is well connected and trusted in the Chicagoland communities.
Kimberly Silva, MPH is a Research Specialist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Community Engagement and Health Equity (CEHE) Office. As a public health and maternal and child health practitioner, Kimberly stokes her dedication to social justice and health equity by using research, communication, and policy to improve the health and wellbeing of women, children, and families in disenfranchised communities. She currently carries out day-to-day research activities on the Pfizer Oncology sponsored project LivingWith TM Spanish Adaptation of a Support System Application for Cancer Survivors.
Ryan S Stratton
Ryan Stratton, BA, is a Clinical Research Coordinator working on the Improving Cancer Survival and Reducing Treatment Variations with Protocols for Emergency Care (ICARE) project in the UI Health Emergency Department. Her current role as a Clinical Research Coordinator with ICARE is to act as a bridge between cancer survivors that seek care in the UI Health Emergency Department and primary care follow up but is also well versed in breast, colorectal, and lung cancer screening. In addition to ICARE, Ryan is passionate about addressing health disparities, specifically in the African American community, and promoting health equity.
Paola Torres is a Clinical Research Coordinator for the University of Illinois Cancer Center with a research concentration on breast, cervical, lung, and colorectal cancer. She is passionate about addressing health disparities and empowering communities with knowledge, expertise, and resources. Paola is also a graduate student in the School of Public Health and received a Bachelor’s degree in Community Health from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a double concentration in Health Education and Promotion & Health Planning and Administration.
Ana Williams, DDS, MHA, MPH is a Senior Research Specialist at the Office of Community Engagement and Health Equity at the University of Illinois Cancer Center. She is an experienced public health practitioner currently working as project manager implementing initiatives and interventions that promote best practices for health education and promotion in cancer prevention. Her passion and commitment to reducing minority health disparities increased after earning a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue her master’s degree in Public Health: Health Policy and Administration at UIC School of Public Health. Her professional goals include addressing the social determinants of health to promote health equity across the most vulnerable populations and communities.
Barbara J. Williams, MPH is currently a Research Specialist for the University of Illinois Cancer Center with a research concentration of colorectal health. She currently serves as the coordinator for projects UI CAAN (University of Illinois Cancer Screening; Access; Awareness; Navigation) and the University of Illinois Cancer Center Citizen Scientist Program working alongside community partners on the South Side of Chicago to engage and educate people in the community about the importance of colorectal cancer screenings and health. Barbara previously was the team lead for patient navigation in specialties of Breast, Cervical, Colorectal, and Lung health while working at Mile Square Clinic sites: Englewood, Main, and South Shore, as well as a Co-Facilitator of the Freedom from Smoking Program. As a Public Health practitioner, Barbara strives to create new strategies to address issues for better quality of care and education to prevent health disparities.