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  • Bruce Baker

CHEER Hires Staff and Moves into New Office

CHEER has hired three new staff members and moved into office space in the Central Square Shopping Center in Long Branch on Piney Branch Road and Arliss Street (8545B Piney Branch Road, Silver Spring, MD 20901). The office is located in the interior of the shopping center next to IMPACT Silver Spring. The new staff include Nailah Gobern Lee, community coordinator, Dawn Valentine, research associate, and Gia Mejia Naranjo, research consultant. Below are detailed biographies of the new CHEER staff.

Thanks to a generous capacity building grant from the Healthcare Initiative Foundation these new staff members will be supporting the work of the Long Branch Health Enterprise Zone to reduce health disparities, improve population health, and reduce health care costs. They will also be engaged in the Takoma Park and Long Branch Community Improvement Process to empower communities and improve quality of life in Takoma Park and Long Branch neighborhoods.

Nailah, Gia, Bruce, and Dawn in the new CHEER office

Nailah Gobern Lee, a native of the Republic of Panama, is a licensed social worker in the State of Maryland. She began her professional studies at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida where she acquired a Bachelor’s in Psychology. After working for the Department of Children and Families for a year, she decided to try a totally new environment and moved to Maryland to fulfill her graduate studies. She attended the University of Maryland Graduate School of Social Work and acquired an MSW with a concentration in Management and Community Organizing. In 2007, she was awarded the Julie Kryder-Coe Award for her achievements in Social Justice and Community Practice. Her professional career has been focused in health, information & referral, and social justice including immigration reform.

Nailah is married to Jamal Lee and they both enjoy traveling, dancing, and trying new foods.

Dawn Valentine has nine years of experience in community based social science research and more than ten years of experience in health management and continuous quality improvement. She has worked as the Project Coordinator/Director on multiple research projects funded by NIH and CDC. Ms. Valentine is proficient in survey design, database design, creating and training in data management systems and protocols, and creating and training in data collection interview tools and protocols. Additionally, Ms. Valentine has also been a Program Director for residential facilities servicing adults with developmental disabilities. Working in this community she has refined her expertise in project management, process flow documentation, process improvement and data analysis. Ms. Valentine received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Healthcare Administration from Washington Adventist University, MPA from Walden University and her MPH in Epidemiology from George Washington University (anticipated graduation fall 2013).

Gia Mejia Naranjo is a part-time research consultant at CHEER who is passionate about empowering communities to achieve equitable access to quality health, education and social services. She has extensive experience working with low-income, urban, and minority communities in the U.S. and globally. For example, she managed youth programs at America Reads and the Harlem Children’s Zone in Harlem, NY, and Inwood House, a residence for pregnant and parenting teen moms in the Bronx, NY. She has also worked with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to plan refugee camp consolidations in Nepal; with Human Rights Watch (HRW) to monitor and research human rights abuses in prisons; and with the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) to improve human rights monitoring and protections and services for vulnerable populations in Uganda. Gia has a Master of Public Administration and a M.A. in International Relations degrees from Syracuse University and a B.A. in Political Science from Columbia University in 2008. When not working at CHEER, Gia is a Public Health Analyst at the National Cancer Institute / NIH. Having previously tutored and worked in Takoma Park, Gia looks forward to learning from and having a positive impact in the Takoma Park and Long Branch communities through CHEER.

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