Our Staff & Board

Laura Elizabeth López
Executive Director
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Laura Lopez (previously Laura Perez – name changed as of November 2009) started out as a volunteer at Street Level, was invited to be board treasurer, and is now the Director of Street Level Health Project and a founding member of the Oakland Workers’ Center Consortium. Laura immigrated to the US at the age of 18. Working as a housecleaner and childcare worker in these early years gave her firsthand experience of the challenges and discrimination faced by low-wage and immigrant workers.
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In 1999, Laura moved to California and began working in the health field. She began working for the UCSF Community Occupational Health Project in 2003 as a Clinic and Outreach Coordinator, and organized a highly successful outreach program to janitors and nail salon workers. In 2005, she assumed the Directorship of the Street Level Health Project and has been a driving force in expanding the program’s free health screening clinic and in developing a range of case management, mental health, nutritional, social and advocacy programs for under-served urban immigrants. In honor of her tireless work in the community, Laura was the recipient of the Community Justice Award presented by Centro Legal de la Raza and the Barbara Lee Special Congressional Recognition for Community Justice. In September 2007, Laura was selected as one of the top 10 Community Health Leaders across the country by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Laura’s story was recently highlighted in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Joel Aguiar
Director of Development and Communications
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Joel was born in Mexico, but he immigrated to the US at a young age. Having been an undocumented laborer himself, he experienced the barriers many immigrants face in accessing health care and obtaining employment. While he worked in unsafe conditions for less than minimum wage because of his immigration status, his dad was exposed to pesticides in the field as a farm worker and his mom has been denied health services because of her lack of insurance.
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These experiences grounded him, fostered his dedication, and gave him a community-centered perspective to problem solving.While studying English literature at UC Berkeley, he organized for undocumented students’ rights and for a humane immigration reform. He co-founded a student group in Berkeley, Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education (RISE), to support and empower undocumented students. As Director of the San Francisco Day Labor Program (DLP) for over three years, he managed and supervised all services including those relating to health and safety; for example, free on-site weekly medical consultations, monthly chiropractic services, HIV testing, and vocational health and safety trainings.

Kim Barstow
Health Access Program Manager
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Kim grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and moved to Oakland in 2003, with a desire to continue working in the areas of community health and youth education. Kim came to Street Level as a volunteer in February 2008, and volunteered in the health screening clinic before joining the staff in October 2008. Kim worked for 3½ years at the Women’s Choice Clinic in downtown Oakland, as a health worker, clinic coordinator, office manager, and laboratory coordinator.
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This work has helped make Kim passionate about putting healthcare back into the hands of community members, by valuing each person’s knowledge and expertise about their own body and health, and by empowering communities through mutually respectful health education.’Kim also spent 4 years working and volunteering with Cycles of Change, an East Bay youth bicycle education organization, and ran programs for middle schoolers about bicycle repair, riding safety, and bicycle field trips. Kim rides a bike to Street Level Health Project every day, and loves to volunteer at The Bikery, Street Level’s neighbor, community partner, and favorite local bike shop.

Norma Calmo
Mam and Spanish Interpreter

I am a Mam speaker. I came here to better my life. I was born in Guatemala, and I feel proud of my roots and I give thanks to my parents for giving me life. I have faith. I believe in God who has given me everything I have. I’m surrounded by people who are understanding and hard working. Besides working in Street Level, I also work in the East Bay Agency for Children helping interpret for Mam speakers and assisting teachers.
Read In Spanish

Soy Maya hablante. Vine aqui para superarme mas. Naci en Guatemala y me siento orgullosa de mi raza y mis padres que me dieron la vida. Tengo mucho fe, creo en Dios que me ha dado todo que he sonado. Soy rodeada de personas carasmaticas, comprensivas y trabajadoras. Ademas de mi trabajo en Street Level, trabajo tambien en EBAC (East Bay Agency for Children) ayudando en la escuela como interprete Mam y asistente de maestros.”

Otgonchimeg Damdinsuren
Mongolian Health Access Program Coordinator
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Otgonchimeg moved from her native country of Mongolia 6 years ago. In California, she completed a Certificate Program in Finance from UC Berkeley as well as a Health Care Interpreter Program from City College San Francisco. Otgo has been active in the Mongolian Community since her arrival. She developed healthcare experience and an understanding of the Mongolian health care system while taking care of a young niece when her widowed mom was working as a nurse at a Mongolian hospital.
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In Mongolia Otgo worked as a loan officer for XAC Bank, one of the largest banks in Mongolia. Although her major in school and professional career has been Finance and Accounting, she has a deep passion for helping other people.

Sherab Dolma
Financial and Human Resource Manager
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Sherab Dolma was born in a refugee camp in India to a second generation of Tibetan refugee parents. She graduated from an Indian University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, through scholarship from Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). In 2009, she was the first Tibetan woman employee to compete for the joint secretary position by taking the required examination and get selected. She served the Tibetan Refugee Community for 15 years, starting as a line-staff to become a manager and supervised the Nepal Audit Branch Office. Read More

In 2002, she received her tax consultant certificate from the Indian income tax department and has handled tax cases of 17 non-profit organizations under CTA. She also volunteered for the Tibetan Fulbright Alumni Association and served as an active executive member. She has travelled to many Tibetan refugee camps in India as well as Europe and USA, to do auditing. Sherab first came to USA in 2005 on a Fulbright Scholarship by the US State Department and studied at University of San Francisco (USF) and went back to India in 2007 to serve her community. In 2011, she immigrated to USA as an undocumented person, facing many challenges and with no family support. She work as a financial and human resource manager at SLHP.

Leah Fraimow-Wong
Community Resources and Meal Program Coordinator
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Leah is an East Bay native and came to Street Level Health Project in 2012, serving as a volunteer in the clinic for nearly a year before joining the staff. Prior to Street Level, Leah worked for the City of San Francisco, helping City Departments improve their services through research, evaluation and training. Leah studied Public Policy and Economics at Brown University, where she also served as a tutor for recently immigrated refugees, organized conferences on international affairs and supported women forming cooperatives in rural Nicaragua. Read More

Leah is passionate about community-based healthcare and making social supports accessible to all, regardless of citizenship. Leah is also a member of the Women and Transgender Services section of the Berkeley Free Clinic, where she provides free STD testing and counseling.

Jessica Fuentes
Community Relations Manager
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Jessica immigrated to the Bay Area from Mexico at the age of four. She is the eldest of two sisters, and a first generation college graduate from UC Berkeley. The barriers she and her family faced in accessing health and higher education opportunities have shaped Jessica into an immigrant rights leader. As an undergraduate, she advocated for undocumented student rights’ to higher education, volunteered at various bay area health organizations, and spent a semester in Washington D.C. interning and researching the intersection between health and immigration policies. Read More

Jessica came to Street Level as a volunteer in the summer of 2009. She served both as a health navigator and as a clinic volunteer. Jessica was involved in the planning of the Oakland Workers’ Collective and Street Level’s 10th year anniversary event. Jessica plans to return to school in the near future to pursue a Master of Public Health degree. During the academic year, Jessica, along with her sister, coordinates the AB540 Mentoring Program she founded at Leadership Public High School to educate and prepare undocumented high school students for college. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, going salsa dancing, and spending time outdoors.

Gabriela Galicia
Community Engagement Program Manager
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Gabriela graduated from UC Berkeley in December 2009 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and a minor in Ethnic Studies with a concentration in Chicano Studies. For the past five years she has been involved in fighting for social justice with student groups at UC Berkeley, working in areas such as immigrant rights, the DREAM Act and other local Bay Area issues. Her interest for the community continues with her work at Street Level Health Project, working with different immigrant communities in the Fruitvale / San Antonio area. In the future, Gabriela wants to pursue a law degree in public interest law, with an emphasis in civil rights and immigration, to continue fighting against the struggles that immigrant communities face.

Francisco Pablo Matias
Mam/Spanish Interpreter

Francisco Pablo is from Todos Santos, Guatemala, and he has lived in California for more than twenty years. He speaks Mam, Spanish and English. He began work with Street Level as a volunteer, and is now a member of our street outreach team and works in the clinic as a trilingual translator. “I love talking to people and building trust with Mam-speakers, who are more comfortable speaking in their own language, and often do not have access to healthcare and other social services because many organizations and institutions speak only Spanish and English. I hope to serve my community with Street Level for many years to come.”Francisco lives in Oakland with his wife, Isábel, and his children.

Alice Vasquez
Volunteer Coordinator

Alice is originally from Southern California and has been living in the bay area for over 3 years. Alice has worked with families and youth in various capacities including in-home services, after-school programs and clinical settings. Alice is passionate about using the arts as a means to promote social justice and support within under-served and underrepresented communities. In recent years, she was worked with LGBTQ youth and their families providing counseling and case management. Alice is excited to be a part of Street Level’s newest member, serving as the volunteer coordinator.

Maria Vigil
Office Manager and Financial Assistant
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Maria manages the office, assists with the finances, and currently volunteers as a health worker in Street Level’s screening clinic. She was first given the opportunity to volunteer at Street Level Health Project in November 2006, and soon became a member of the staff. Over the past year and a half, Maria has received training in basic bookkeeping and utilizing QuickBooks for non-profits. Maria is interested in the medical field and aspires to one day become a pediatrician. “Every day is a new beginning here at Street Level Health Project,” says Maria, “every day brings something new to learn.”

Consultants

 

Doris Molina
Mental Health Program Coordinator
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Doris Molina emigrated from Mexico City to the United States in 2003. She graduated from the Iberoamericana University (U.I.A) with a Bachelor’s degree in Clinical Psychology and a Master’s degree in Orientation and Development of Couples. Looking for a support group, she found La Clínica de la Raza where she volunteered as a Health Promoter for three years, giving health, mental and personal development trainings to the Latino community.
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During these three years, she discovered that there was not enough mental health assistance and information for Spanish speakers, that members of the Latino community suffered from loneliness, isolation, and rejection, and that they did not know when to ask for help with mental health issues. At the same time, she became a Certified Rape Crisis Counselor and volunteered at BAWAR, counseling immigrants who suffered from sexual assault and rape.In 2007 she met Laura, and volunteered for SLHP giving support to immigrants who were experiencing personal crisis and depression. After eight months of being a volunteer for SLHP, she became part of the staff as the Coordinator of the Mental Health Program, where she planned, organized, and facilitated a program called “A Better Way of Living.” This program was created to offer new strategies to immigrants for improving their mental health, valuing their own abilities, and developing their capacity to keep a positive attitude under challenging circumstances.

William Wallin, M.D.
Medical Director

After graduating from the University of Minnesota, Dr. Wallin served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal, and then spent several more years studying Buddhist Meditation and traveling through Asia. He received his M.D. from the University of Minnesota medical school and completed his family practice residency at San Francisco General Hospital. While serving in the National Health Service, he set up a non-profit medical clinic 50 miles from the nearest hospital.
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After residency, he worked as a physician serving residents of Alameda County in the psychiatric wards, county jail, Fairmont inpatient wards, and all six of the Community Medical Clinics where he specialized in the care of refugee and immigrant patients.His patients have come from countries throughout the world, but especially Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Nepal, China, and Central and South America. He has had additional training in hypnosis, family therapy, posttraumatic stress disorder and acupuncture. Dr. Wallin speaks medical Spanish and some Nepali and strives to provide care that addresses both the medical and emotional concerns of his patients.

Michelle Steinberg, M.S.
Nutritionist and Herbalist
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Michelle Steinberg began Consultas Naturistas, the nutrition and herbal medicine program at Street Level Health Project, in November 2009. The program has since flourished, providing free client-centered holistic healthcare to those who could not otherwise access it. Michelle graduated with her Master’s of Science in Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport in December 2011 and completed a three-year course in herbal medicine at the Ohlone Center of Herbal Studies in 2009, with subsequent supervision from the Northeastern School of Botanical Medicine. Read More

Michelle grew up in Washington D.C. and relocated to the Bay Area in 1995. Prior to her work in healthcare, Michelle initiated a program to offer English-as-Second-Language classes at Street Level in 2002, having previously started an ESL collective at the San Francisco Day Labor Program. She taught ESL for a number of years with the Oakland Unified School District and presently teaches in South San Francisco. She is also active in local Indigenous peoples’ land struggles and recently completed a documentary, Buried Voices, about a current fight to protect an Ohlone/Miwok sacred area.

Board

Juan Herrera
Board President

Juan was born in Guatemala and immigrated to Los Angeles with his family at age six. Juan is a doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley in the department of Ethnic Studies, with a focus on analyzing immigrant experiences, particularly of Latino day laborers in Oakland. “I have always been influenced by my parent’s hard work and this has definitely shaped my academic interests in Oakland’s informal labor economy…I think part of my commitment to doing work on immigration is this desire to make my work personal, political, and always engaged with the insights and experiences of people like my own family members whose stories sometimes unintentionally inform much of my academic research.”

Click here to see my report “At the Day Labor Hiring Zone: The Politics of Immigrant Illegality and the Regulation Of Informal Labor.”

Andrew Herring, MD
Board Vice President and SLHP Co-founder

“Working with Kathy and our other partners to get the Street Level Health Project off the ground was one the most challenging and rewarding things I have ever done,” says Andrew Herring, emergency physician at Highland General Hospital and co-founder of Street Level Health Project.
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“Kathy Ahoy showed me a vision of how to realize compassion and activism in a practical, sustainable way. She forced us all to never lose sight of the everyday lived experiences of our patients and to not artificially separate medical needs from the social context of displacement and marginalization in our community.”Andrew received his MD from Harvard Medical School, where he worked on health projects in Boston, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Cuba, and Costa Rica. As a Fulbright Scholar in Costa Rica, he worked with a team of Costa Rican physicians and the International Office for Migration to develop a program that brings health care services to migrant indigenous Guaymi workers on remote coffee plantations, with funding from the World Bank.”Public health exists in a global context. When coffee prices crashed in the late 1990′s in Central America we felt it directly in Oakland with hundreds of migrants arriving in just a few months. The traditional public health infrastructure is often too slow to respond to this kind of emerging population and its complex humanitarian needs. This is where grass-roots organizations like the Street Level Health Project can have such a huge impact.”Andrew is looking forward to ongoing work with Street Level Health Project and a career in Emergency Medicine, global health, and health equity research. “Street Level Health Project models an ideal community-based health project, combining social justice, empowerment, and medical intervention. Its ongoing growth and success is a great inspiration to me personally,” he concludes.
 Click here to see my report “Insurance Status of U.S. Organ Donors and Transplant Recipients: The Uninsured Give, But Rarely Receive .”

John Puccini
Board Treasurer

John Puccini is an East Bay native who came to Street Level Health Project in 2005 while working on the science pre-requisites that would ultimately allow him to change careers into a medical field after spending 8 years at PeopleSoft Inc. working as a software consultant. He had had no prior medical experience, but had studied abroad in Spanish speaking countries on multiple occasions and had a desire to work in the local Latino community.
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Initially he volunteered as a health worker in the SLHP screening clinic, but this experience had a profound effect on him and he found himself devoting more time to helping the screening clinic be more self-sustainable.With the help of another former volunteer and board member whom John met while in school, they took on a personal challenge to switch from paper to electronic tracking of patients and services. Electronic records allow the organization to do real time reporting on the services that the organization is providing to its community.John considers working at Street Level an honor and a pleasure.

“The wonderful people from many different immigrant backgrounds that we see and the small bit of support that we may provide are what give me satisfaction at Street Level. Giving folks access to health care and some control over how they want their health care to be performed is very empowering for our visitors. It is also really inspiring to see all of the other folks who are committed and devote so much of their free time to keeping this organization going strong. I’m happy to be a part of that”. John is currently a student at Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, CA working towards a Masters of Physician Assistant. He enjoys coaching youth with Special Olympics of Alameda, and instructing snow and water skiing with Disabled Sports Far West in Lake Tahoe. He is constantly changing diapers on his newborn son and is an avid snow skier and cyclist.

Robert Harrison, MD, MPH
Board Member

Robert graduated from the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in 1979, and is currently a Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF, in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Steve Krank
Board Member

Stephen’s career included collateral production and promotions for national producers of various consumer products. His clients included Coca Cola USA, Stewart Andersons, The Southland Corporation, Miller Brewing Company, Sprint, Continental Airlines, Ford Motor Company and The Ford Dealer Advertising Association, Shell – Consumer Oil Products Division, and Exxon Chemical.
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As early as 17 he began an avocation of working with young people with behavior issues, disabilities and addiction. He continued this work while he pursued his career in production and promotions until 1994, when he decided to work with the underserved fulltime.

His experience in serving those in need has ranged from Project Coordinator of an IPTC (In Prison Therapeutic Community) based on the behavior modification of Therapeutic Community to the management of 170-bed social model detoxification and recovery program for street alcoholics.Stephen became involved with the UCSF Community Health Project, and later joined the board of became Street Level Health Project because of the organization’s tangible efforts to reach and provide the systemic support needed by the underserved through the provision of resources and navigation to the most vulnerable; the recent immigrants in Fruitvale and beyond.

For the last ten years, Stephen has been part of The Society of St. Vincent de Paul in positions ranging from program development of the Champion Guidance Center to his current position as Director of Vincentian Support for the parish-based branches of the Society in Contra Costa County.

Megan Woods
Board Member

Meggie Woods graduated from Brown University with a degree in International Relations and Latin American Studies. Afterwards, she worked for two years as a bilingual HIV Case Manager outside of Boston. Meggie is currently a second year medical student at University of California San Francisco. She spent the summer of 2009 in Kenya working on pregnant women’s adherence rates to HIV/AIDS treatment.

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Meggie started volunteering at Street Level Health Project in the fall of 2006 while completing a post-baccalaureate premedical program at Mills College. She became the Volunteer Coordinator shortly after, and in the fall of 2007 became SLHP’s first Case Manager and Clinic Coordinator.

 

Marc Philpart
Board Member

Marc Philpart, Senior Program Associate, supports the Boys and Men of Color team and leads the PolicyLink Black Male Achievement team. He has specific expertise in supporting and developing networks that advance policy and practice to strengthen the field and further race and gender equity in the areas of health, education, employment and juvenile justice. Prior to joining PolicyLink, Philpart worked in the president’s office at PATH, a non-profit global health organization. He holds masters degrees in public affairs and public health from the University of Washington in Seattle and earned his BA in History from Xavier University of Louisiana.

 

Kathy Ahoy
SLHP Founder and Public Health Nursing Partner

Kathy Ahoy, Public Health Nurse of Alameda County, co-founded Street Level Health Project to serve the communities of Oakland in 2000, and the project quickly became more than health care. Kathy actively nurtured the sharing of knowledge, resources and skills, built relationships that bonded all together in the work of caring for and responding to the particular health disparities and health issues of the growing immigration population. Through her work, Kathy is committed to human flourishing and working for the common good of all. Her passion and compassion to serve the most vulnerable people in our community derives from her own life history and background.
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Kathy came to the USA as a refugee/immigrant from India and speaks Nepali, Hindi and some Chinese.Born in Kalimpong, India, Kathy and her family were unjustly jailed and interned in India for three-and-a-half years, due to a border dispute between India and China. Sponsored out of the internment camp by the Loreto Sisters of Calcutta, the city where her mother was born and raised, Kathy and her classmates were put to work taking care of the orphans. They were also required to help in the work of Mother Theresa and her Sisters of Charity by giving out food and dispensing Dapsone to the Hanson disease clients outside the walls of the school compound. Perhaps this was the beginning of Kathy’s predilection to care for the poor and needy.

She graduated from UCSF with a Masters in Community and Cross-cultural Nursing. Currently, she is mentor/preceptor for many health care students. Hunger and homelessness are no stranger to Kathy. Her history/memory of poverty, hunger and injustice equips Kathy with a fierce determination to bring justice, understanding and compassion to the underprivileged and disadvantaged whom she seeks out and serves. In 1986, she worked in Africa (Sudan and Eritrea) with the famine refugees. Kathy has put her eager energy into implementing the vision of Public Health, trying to find, motivate and collaborate with willing and resourceful partners to provide and improve health and quality of life for the whole community.

Dennis Hsieh
Board Member

Dennis Hsieh is a PGY-1 in the Emergency Medicine training program at the Alameda County Medical Center, Highland General Hospital. He is originally from Southern California and has an interest in the social and economic determinants of health. Dennis spent 2 years working in South Los Angeles and Compton as a legal services attorney at two different federally qualified health centers prior to starting residency.

Sofia Navarro
Board Member

Sofia Navarro serves as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for The Unity Council. Sofia oversees the management of all programs, projects, and administrative operations for the non-profit. Included are programs such as Head Start, Early Head Start, Development Play Groups, State Funded Pre-Kindergarten, AmeriCorps, Workforce Development, Fruitvale Business Improvement District, Real Estate Development, Property Management, Latino Men and Boys, Home Ownership Center, Peralta Service Corporation, Senior Services, and the Fruitvale Public Market.Read More

Concurrent with her role as COO, Sofia is the Executive Co-Chair of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals (OMCCYP), member of the BART Title VI/Environmental Justice Advisory Committee, which ensures that BART reasonably incorporates the committee’s principles in its transportation decisions-making process, and is also on Assemblymember Rob Bonta’s Women of Color Advisory Committee. She holds a Masters in Leadership and BA in Sociology from Saint Mary’s College of California.