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Board of Advisors

Alexina Cather, MPH 

Alexina Cather is the deputy director of the Hunter College New York City Food Policy Center. She previously worked as a project manager at the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health at Columbia University Medical Center, as a family resource coordinator at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, and as a contributing writer for Food Tank.

Additionally, Alexina has a background in working with low-income families to gain access to nutritious, affordable food and other resources, and research surrounding the power of our food choices.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Integrative Biology and a minor in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and a Master of Public Health from the University of San Francisco.

Tracy Dennis-Tiwary Ph.D.

Dr. Tracy Dennis-Tiwary (Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University) is a Professor in the Psychology Department at Hunter College, The City University of New York, Co-Director of the Hunter College Center for Stress, Anxiety, and Resilience Research (STARR), a faculty member in the Health Psychology and Clinical Science and the Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience doctoral programs, and a member of the Hunter College Center for Translational and Basic Research. She has received cross-disciplinary training in clinical psychology, affective-cognitive neuroscience, and developmental psychopathology. Current projects include an NIH-funded clinical trial of biobehavioral mechanisms in a computerized cognitive behavioral modification treatment for anxiety and stress, and the development of digital mental health tools that overcome treatment barriers and increase engagement and acceptability of treatment options. She is also conducting research on school-based methods for teaching youth mindfulness-based stress and anxiety reduction, which is the topic of the documentary film “Changing Minds at Concord High.” Read more about her work at dennis-tiwary.com.

Sonia K. Gonzalez, DrPH, MPH

Drawing from her training at The CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and The University of Texas at Austin, and 20 years of public health experience, Sonia K. González has a proven track record working with adolescents and young adults in HIV prevention and college health. She is particularly interested in health-tech research concerning poor young people of color to improve health education and connection to clinical services.

Among her many achievements, Dr. González co-founded the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition, and served as Deputy Director for Love Heals, and as a Board of Director for the Red Hook Initiative in New York City. She has earned an Interactive Technology Pedagogy (ITP) Certificate and was a New Media Lab fellow at the Graduate Center, and a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Fellow (NIMH, F31MH099924). She has taught as an Adjunct Professor in the Physician Assistant Program at the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at City College, Brooklyn College in the Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies in the Healthcare Administration Certificate Program, and currently at the NYU College of Global Public Health, and Hunter College in the Department of Community Health. Most recently, she served as the Health Technology Project Director with the Healthy CUNY Initiative where she drew from a design thinking approach to develop and pilot the Healthy CUNY web-based app on five CUNY campuses with a team of 17 undergraduate and 7 graduate students. When not working, she is traveling, doing yoga, or enjoying good food in Brooklyn.

Amy Kwan, DrPH, MPH

Amy Kwan has over a decade of research and evaluation experience focused on understanding how community and youth engagement, technology, and media support health interventions and social change. She received a doctoral degree in Public Health at the CUNY School of Public Health and Health Policy, where she was also in the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy (ITP) Certificate Program, which aims to advance the use of technology to improve teaching, learning, and research. She has managed numerous public health projects, including conducting qualitative research with South Bronx youth focused on the food environment, school food, and health inequalities. Prior to joining the doctoral program, she worked at FilmAid International, a non-profit organization that uses film and video to promote health and strengthen communities, and the Harlem Health Promotion Center, where she managed the development and evaluation of a community-based health information and social networking website. Most recently, she was at The Young Foundation, a leading center for disruptive social innovation in London. Amy received her MPH in Sociomedical Sciences from Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University with a focus on community-based participatory research, and her BA in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University.

Khursheed Navder, PhD, RD, FAND

Dr. Navder is a consummate nutritional professional who has made numerous contributions in a career that spans over a quarter century as a professor at Hunter College. She joined Hunter in 1988.

Dr. Navder is the Director of the accredited didactic program (DP) in Nutrition and Dietetics at Hunter College and has been serving in this capacity for over 15 yearsShe has served as the Director of the Nutrition program where she oversaw the BS, dual BS-MS, MS, MPH and Dietetic Internship Programs. The MS Nutrition Program that she created and directs is a unique, dynamic graduate program that is the first within CUNY, and is one of only eight programs in the country, to offer didactic dietetics education at the graduate level and provides evidence of her ability to think creatively and futuristically.

She is credited for creating unique pathways that make it less onerous for inner-city students to pursue a full time, day program. Through the cohort model of structured, sequential learning she has been successful at creating a stimulating and intellectually challenging program that promotes a sense of community with near perfect graduation rates in her undergraduate and graduate tracks. She is also the advisor to the Kappa Omicron Nu Honor Society for Nutrition students and has created a vibrant Nutrition Club.

Dr. Navder’s research area has involved studying the effects of various food components on biochemical and metabolic regulations of lipid and alcohol metabolism. She has also looked at ethnic differences in fat distribution patterns in children and neonates, and has examined the effect of maternal diet and obesity on fetal growth and offspring adiposity. She encourages active student involvement on research projects and has built a strong research foundation for students she mentors.

Dr. Navder has been a recipient of the national Outstanding Dietetic Educator Award from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She has served as the Chair of the Nutrition and Dietetic Educators and Preceptors, a Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy and is currently serving as a Commissioner with the Commission on Dietetic Registration (2014-17).


Christina Zarcadoolas PhD

Christina Zarcadoolas PhD is a sociolinguist and expert in public understanding of health and science. She focuses on analyzing and closing the gaps between expert & lay knowledge and understanding of health and safety information. Chris is a Professor of Linguistics in the Anthropology Dept., Hunter College and prior to that she was on the faculty at the CUNY School of Public Health and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She had a long tenure on the faculty at Brown University’s Center for Environmental Studies. She is the Founder and Director of the New York Roundtable on Public Health Literacy. She is currently writing a textbook, Health Navigation: Putting it Into Practice (Jones & Bartlett Learning, publication 1/2017) as well as a book entitled, The Simplicity Complex, exploring the limits of simplifying information in a complex world.

Chris recently created the healthliteracylab.com – an ever-expanding free online library of animated lessons for health and safety communicators.

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