Community Representatives

Alex Pirie (Immigrant Service Providers Group/Health)
Alex Pirie is the Coordinator of the Immigrant Service Providers Group/Health (ISPG/H) in Somerville, MA. The ISPG/H is a networking and advocacy group composed of immigrant direct service providers, health care professionals who serve immigrant communities, and immigrant health care professionals. The ISPG/H undertakes specific community projects such as flu clinics and health fairs, and conducts advocacy work on behalf of immigrants. He is currently the Co-Principle Investigator on “Assessing and Preventing Obesity in New Immigrants” (NIMHD), a coordinator of community partner activity on “Assessing and Controlling Occupational Health Risks for Immigrants in Somerville, MA” (NIOSH),  and was a consultant on a Harvard Catalyst Pilot grant examining the consequences of ICE Raids and law enforcement behavior on immigrant health in Everett, MA and a preliminary Catalyst grant looking at dysmenorrhea in Brazilian immigrant adolescents. He is a member of the planning groups for an April 2010 APTR Harvard Catalyst conference in Boston, “Taking it to the Curbside,” and the “Building Your Capacity” community partner education course conducted by ARCH Tufts CTSI under an Administrative Supplement grant. He serves on the steering committees of the Tufts Community Research Center, the Somerville Youth Workers Network, and the Asian Data Working Group and serves as an advisor to Save Our Somerville, a youth led advocacy group. He is a member of the Ward 6 Democratic Committee as well as the Progressive Democrats of Somerville and is a board member of the Welcome Project, a non-profit serving the tenants of the Mystic Public Housing Development and Somerville’s immigrant community. He also serves on the Regulatory and Ethics Subcommittee for the Harvard Clinical Translational Science Institute and on three Community-Campus Partnerships for Health Working Groups: Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA) members, Community Forum Planning Group (national and local) and CTSA/Key Function Group for Community Engagement. Mr. Pirie’s primary interests center on the empowerment and education of immigrant community members in relation to health research and health disparities particularly through Community-Based Participatory Research mechanisms.

Ellin Reisner (Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership)
Ellin Reisner, Ph.D. is the President of the Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership (STEP), an organization of community residents working to improve transportation and air quality for residents and workers in Somerville. She is a sociologist who consults and conducts research on Human Resources, transportation, organizational, and work and family issues. She is a co-author of the Family Caregiving Handbook: Finding Elder Care Resources in Massachusetts, published January 2007, by the Workplace Center at the MIT Sloan School. Ellin worked at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in a variety of training, workforce planning and community relations positions. In her role as a community relations liaison she was instrumental in starting the Bikes on the T Program. From 1993 through 1997 she was the Manager of Training and Organizational Development at Massport. Ellin has conducted research on transportation in relation to work and family life at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University and has taught undergraduate and graduate level organizational development and community organizing courses at Boston University and Springfield College. Ellin recently completed a study for the Transportation Research Board (TRB) on Benchmarking Human Resource Activities in state Departments of Transportation and she is now working on another TRB project: Tools to Aid State DOTs in Responding to Workforce Challenges.

Jennifer Taub (Heading Home, Inc.)
Jennifer Taub, Ph.D. received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Vermont in 2000, and moved to Boston to complete her postdoctoral fellowship at Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School from 2000-2. She is a licensed Clinical Psychologist specializing in children and families, and has over 15 years of experience in program evaluation in human services, including work in schools, health care, and community programming with low income and immigrant populations. She has worked in academia and community non-profits, and currently is an evaluation consultant and does private practice. She is interested in bringing evidence-based practices into “the real world”. Dr. Taub first became involved with the TCRC when working as the Director of Evaluation at Boston Chinatown Neighborhood center, and was co-investigator on a TCRC funded research project examining needs of recent immigrant Chinese youth. She can be reached at

Debbie Chen (Planner of Asian Community Development Corporation)
Debbie Chen is the Community Planner at Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC or AsianCDC), a Chinatown community based organization that has developed over 300 affordable homes for residents of Boston’s Chinatown and its “satellite Chinatowns” of Quincy and Malden. Debbie designs and leads planning and policy projects that empower residents and community members to actively shape their neighborhoods and combat gentrification and displacement. She oversaw the Parcel 12 Chinatown community visioning campaign and spearheaded the SaturPLAY creative placemaking project in Chinatown Park, as well as led ACDC’s inaugural civic engagement and planning efforts in Quincy. Debbie also assists Real Estate Director Angie Liou in real estate asset management and development projects. Previously, Debbie conducted research and analysis for the Greater Malden Asian American Community Coalition’s needs assessment (regression analysis using Stata), the San Francisco Chinatown Community Development Center’s business clustering project (spatial analysis using GIS), and the Harvard Business School U.S. Competitiveness Project (macroeconomic trends analysis using Microsoft Excel and Powerpoint). Debbie received her Masters from Harvard University, where she studied Urban Policy, and her B.A. in Economics,magna cum laude, from Wellesley College.

Alicia Hunt (Director of Energy & Environment and Environmental Agent for the City of Medford)
Alicia is the Director of Energy & Environment and Environmental Agent for the City of Medford. AS the Director of a department that touches every aspect of life, she actively engages with all of the departments throughout the city. In 2002, she and her husband bought a house in North Medford and are actively engaged in the community. Alicia is an member of Grace Episcopal Church in Medford where she teaches Sunday School and is the Co-chair of the Greening Grace Committee. Alicia runs the GreenUp CleanUp program on behalf of Grace Church, which partners with organizations and residents throughout the City to clean up Medford’s park and open spaces. As a parent of 3, Alicia is involved with the PTO at one of the local elementary schools, Medford Youth Soccer, Medford Cub Scouts, Boys Scouts & Girl Scouts, the Medford Family Network and the Medford Boys & Girls Club. As the City’s Energy Director, Alicia works frequently with environmental and civically minded organizations throughout the city and enjoys connecting people and groups and groups to each other in order to strengthen community throughout Medford.

Annie Chin-Louie (ADAPT Project Manager)
Annie joined Tufts CTSI in November 2015 as the Project Manager for ADAPT (Addressing Disparities in Asian Populations through Translational Research), a community-academic partnership whose mission is to assess, improve and promote health and well-being among underserved Asian-American communities in the Greater Boston area through research, education and advocacy.  Annie has extensive experience in community engagement as well as deep knowledge in addressing the social, economic, and educational needs of underserved communities and vulnerable populations.  Prior to joining Tufts CTSI, Annie worked as Director of Community Impact at the United Way of Massachusetts and Merrimack Valley and had held teaching and program administration positions with the Asian American Civic Association.  Annie holds a B.A. from Smith College and an MBA from Simmons Graduate School of Management.

Susan Chinsen
Susan Chinsen was raised in the Greater Boston area and graduated from Tufts University where she majored in American Studies with a focus on Media and Asian Americans. In 2013, she joined the Chinese Historical Society of New England as the Managing Director, focusing on documenting, promoting and preserving the experiences of Chinese in the region–with a primary focus on Boston’s Chinatown.  She is the establishing director of the Boston Asian American Film Festival/BAAFF (a project of Asian American Resource Workshop), seeking to use films to expand awareness of issues impacting Asian Americans.   She also serves on the Board of Directors at South Cove Community Health Center, with an interest in contributing back to a community center that was critical in helping her family access needed healthcare upon immigrating to the US.

Ben Echevarría (TCRC Co-Chair, The Welcome Project)
Ben Echevarría is the Executive Director of The Welcome Project (TWP), a community-based organization in Somerville, MA, that works to build the voice and collective power of Somerville immigrants to participate in and shape community decisions. TWP offers ESOL courses, manages a multi-ethnic community garden, provides interpretation services, and empowers bilingual youth to take leadership roles through the Liaison Interpreter Program of Somerville (LIPS). To maximize TWP’s impact, Ben has partnered with faculty, students, and staff at Tufts and other institutions to facilitate community-led and community-engaged research, education, and advocacy projects. Aside from TWP, Ben is a Pastor for El Luz Del World Ministries and the former Youth Pastor for Elm Street Baptist Church.

Tufts Representatives

Doug Brugge (TCRC Co-Chair, Public Health and Community Medicine)
Douglas M. Brugge, Ph.D., M.S. has a PhD in cellular and developmental biology from Harvard University and a MS in industrial hygiene from the Harvard School of Public Health. He is currently a Professor in the Department of Public Health and Family Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. He is director of the Navajo Uranium Miner Project and of the Tufts Community Research Center. He has worked in community-collaborations with many neighborhoods of Boston and with Navajo communities. His research has largely employed the model of community-based participatory research and methodologically has involved focus groups, oral histories, surveys, environmental sampling and clinical assessment. His research includes studies of asthma; of the impact of culture and language on health communication; the impact of environmental tobacco smoke; motor vehicle related injuries; and the impact of uranium mining and processing on Native Americans. In 2007 he testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on uranium contamination in the Navajo areas. He has published over 100 academic publications that include original research, reviews, policy and historical analysis. He is co-editor (with Pat Hynes) of Community Research in Environmental Health (Ashgate Publishing Group, UK, 2005) and co-editor (with Esther Yazzie-Lewis and Timothy Benally) of The Navajo People and Uranium Mining (University of New Mexico Press, 2006).

Peter Levine (Associate Dean for Research, Tisch College)
Peter Levine, Ph.D. ( is the Associate Dean for Research of Tufts University’s Jonathan Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service and Director of CIRCLE, The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. He has a secondary appointment in the Tufts philosophy department. Levine graduated from Yale in 1989 with a degree in philosophy. He studied philosophy at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, receiving his doctorate in 1992. From 1991 until 1993, he was a research associate at Common Cause. In the late 1990s, he was Deputy Director of the National Commission on Civic Renewal. Levine is the author of the forthcoming book We are the Ones We have been Waiting for: The Promise of Civic Renewal in America (Oxford University Press, fall 2013), five other scholarly books on philosophy and politics, and a novel. He has served on the boards or steering committees of AmericaSpeaks, Street Law Inc., the Newspaper Association of America Foundation, the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, the Kettering Foundation, the American Bar Association Committee’s for Public Education, the Paul J. Aicher Foundation, and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium.

Shirley Mark (Director of Community Partnerships, Tisch College)
Shirley Mark directs the Lincoln Filene Center for Community Partnerships at the Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service. The Lincoln Filene Center creates resources and opportunities to strengthen and build campus-community partnerships between Tufts University and the local communities of Boston, Medford and Somerville. Prior to Tufts, Shirley worked in philanthropy and has extensive experience with community organizations and public agencies. Shirley received a Bachelors of Arts degree from Hampshire College and a Masters in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jayanthi Mistry (Child Development)
Jayanthi Mistry, Ph.D. received her doctorate in Child Development from Purdue University in 1983, and completed a two year NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah in 1985. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University. Prior to joining Tufts University in 1990, she worked at the Center for the Development of Early Education at Kamehameha Schools in Honolulu, where she was engaged in research and program development projects for early childhood education. Since then, Prof. Mistry has maintained a commitment to developing effective collaborations with practitioners in educational and community based human service settings. Her research and teaching interests include: cultural perspectives on children’s development, with a focus on ethnic minority, immigrant, and under-represented communities in the United States; the development of cultural/ethnic/racial identities; and qualitative/interpretive methods in the study of children and families. Prof. Mistry has written several published papers on the cultural context of children’s development, including chapters in the Handbook of Psychology and the Handbook of Applied Developmental Science. She is co-Principal Investigator of the Tufts Massachusetts Healthy Families Evaluation project. She is a member of the Steering Committee of the Tufts Community Research Center, and is engaged in a community-based participatory research project.

Susan Ostrander (Professor Emeritus, Sociology)
Susan Ostrander, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus in the Tufts Department of Sociology. Her most recent book is Citizenship and Governance in a Changing City, Somerville, MA, which is an ethnographic multi-year study of civic engagement in a local context. The book addresses questions about immigrant incorporation and the voluntary associations in urban democracy. She has published widely about social justice philanthropy and the contradictory role of philanthropy and foundations in both reinforcing and challenging social inequalities. She has also published about elite women in leadership positions in charitable organizations, and gender dynamics in women’s and in mixed-gender community organizations. Ostrander has been recognized on campus and nationally for her teaching and research on civic engagement and higher education, and founded the Tufts University Civic Engagement Research Group in 2003 which she co-led the until 2008. Ostrander has co-chaired the board of the International Women’s Funding Network, and served as a board member of the Association for Research on Nonprofits and Voluntary Action. She is also involved in her local community having served as a board member of the Boston Women’s Fund from 1997 to 2001 and again from 2007 to 2011, as a Cambridge Human Rights Commissioner from 1997 to 2011, and presently serving on the board and chairing the Fundraising Committee of a Somerville immigrant advocacy organization called The Welcome Project. In 2013, Susan chaired TCRC’s Strategic Planning Subcommittee.

Barbara Rubel (Community Relations)
Barbara Rubel is Director of Community Relations for Tufts University and sits on the boards of directors of the Chambers of Commerce of both Medford and Somerville as well as Medford Health Matter, Community Action Agency of Somerville, and SCM Community Transportation, inc.  As a former Steering Committee member of The Chinatown Coalition, she also advises current steering committee members. She has a B.A. in English from Carnegie Mellon University, a M.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and a M.Ed. from Tufts University. She has worked in community relations at Tufts since 1973 and been director since 1983.

Penn Loh (Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning)
Penn Loh, Ph.D. is Lecturer and Director of the Masters in Public Policy Program and Community Practice at Tufts University’s Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning. From 1996 to 2009, he served in various roles, including Executive Director since 1999, at Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE), a Roxbury-based environmental justice group. He holds an M.S. in environmental science and policy from Energy and Resources Group of the University of California at Berkeley and a B.S. in electrical engineering from MIT. Before joining ACE, he was Research Associate at the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in Oakland, California and a Research Analyst at the Tellus Institute for Resource and Environmental Strategies in Boston. He has published broadly on environmental and social justice issues. He has served on the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council’s Health and Research Subcommittee, the Massachusetts Environmental Justice Advisory Committee, and on the boards of the Environmental Support Center, the Environmental Leadership Program, New World Foundation, and Community Labor United. He is currently a trustee of the Hyams Foundation and member of the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board and the Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Advisory Council.

Alex Blanchette (Anthropology)
Alex Blanchette, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the department of Anthropology. His research and teaching interests revolve around the politics of labor and nature, biotechnology, animal life, working class history, and industrialization. His current book project, tentatively titled Porkopolis: An Ethnography of Standardized Life, is based on two years of ethnographic research in the workplaces and wake of some of the world’s largest “factory” hog farms and slaughterhouses. He is developing a second ethnographic research project on leather tanning, rural-urban connections, and the history of manual labor in the United States. Though not an applied anthropologist by training, he occasionally undertook community-directed side-projects over the course of his ethnographic fieldwork, and looks forward to learning from the many collaborations happening through the TCRC. He has also worked for many years as a community activist on issues ranging from food politics to labor justice.

Sara Folta (Friedman School of Nutrition)

Sara C. Folta, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts.  Shehas research interests in community-based interventions, public health nutrition, theories of behavior change, and obesity prevention. Her work has included the design and evaluation of a community-based heart health program for women, StrongWomen – Healthy Hearts. She has worked with various community partners to evaluate the dissemination of the program.  Current research projects include a pilot study to develop a six-month intervention for African American women that focuses primarily on civic engagement and secondarily on classic nutrition education, hypothesizing that women will improve their own health outcomes as they work together to create more systemic, community-level change. She is also co-Principal Investigator on a qualitative study, supported by a Tufts Collaborates seed grant, to examine African American women’s perspectives on how diet and physical activity behaviors and cardiovascular disease risk are affected by cultural and psychosocial processes, historical and social contexts, and physical and economic environments. Folta is a 2014-2015 Tisch Faculty Fellow. She received a B.A. in biology from Middlebury College; an M.S. in cell and molecular biology from the University of Vermont; and a Ph.D. in nutrition from Tufts University.

Cora Roelofs (Community Health)
Cora Roelofts, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts Medical School and teaches full time in the Community Health Program on the Medford Campus. Her classes include Social Movements for Health, Immigrant and Refugee Health and Public Health in the Global Economy. She conducts occupational health research in collaboration with immigrant and refugee community organizations to better illuminate their experience and draw attention to the need to provide better protection, particularly for those exposed to chemical and safety hazards at work. Currently she is working with the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Lowell to survey Cambodian refugees who have worked as asbestos removers.

Ninian Stein (Environmental Studies)

Nina Stein is an anthropological-archaeologist and an environmental scientist. Her research and teaching spans three areas — environmental policy and communication, landscape change, and environmental justice. Many of her classes and much of her research looks at environmental policy and communication through the lens of science and policy. At the heart of Prof. Stein’s work is the idea of “landscape literacy” which suggests that if we can read the past of a place we are better able to plan for its future. Her current research draws on systems thinking, science and design to create new collaborative decision-making frameworks for communities seeking to increase their sustainability and more effectively utilize and preserve local environmental resources. Her team is partnering with Grove Hall Main Streets and other community organizations to field-test the Bioregional Urbanist methodology in the Grove Hall neighborhood in Dorchester and Roxbury, Massachusetts. She is also finishing a manuscript based on her environmental and anthropological study of a textile mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and its transformation into an artists’ community. The manuscript offers techniques for transforming old industrial buildings into vibrant spaces for community building. This work represents a concrete way to link environmental studies with the concerns of local communities.

Danielle Ngo (Graduate Student)

Danielle Ngo is a dual-degree masters student at Tufts University in Urban and Environmental Policy & Planning (Medford/Somerville) and Agriculture, Food and the Environment (Boston). Originally from California, she was involved with the UC Berkeley Public Service Center for four years, coordinating service-learning trips and community-based internships in CA, NV, AZ, OR, and LA. Her research background is in agroecology, with her undergraduate thesis centered on the soil remediation of an urban agriculture project in the Vietnamese-American community of New Orleans, LA. Danielle was a CORE and Tisch Summer Fellow at the Chinese Progressive Association, supporting the Chinatown Community Land Trust. Currently, she is interning at PolicyLink (Oakland, CA) on a health equity data disaggregation project. After Tufts, she hopes to work in urban food policy and planning to increase food security and sovereignty.

Melissa Baptista (Undergraduate Student)

Melissa Baptista is a rising sophomore undergraduate student at Tufts University. She is undeclared at the moment, but Community Health is one of her main choices for her major. Her interest in Public Health derived from wanting to understand and change the health disparities within lower socioeconomic populations. With this in mind, she sought out the opportunity to work with Dr. Doug Brugge on the CAFEH study this past summer. There she explored the realities of particulate matter and the negative health effects it entails in the very populations that are the most vulnerable. Melissa was born and raised in Somerville and feels personally connected to the pollution and other public health factors affecting both her community and the country. Currently, she participates on the Women’s Basketball team, is a Latino Peer Leader, and a part of the United for Immigrant Justice Club. Looking forward she wants to be an active citizen in closing these gaps in health between the various demographics. She feels that becoming a part of the TCRC will engage her in the true activism and learning process that will hopefully help navigate her path into public health work.

Nicole Holland (Assistant Professor, Public Health & Community Service)

Nicole Holland, DDS, MS is a dentist, assistant professor, and Director of Health Communication, Education, and Promotion at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM). Her research interests include the intersection of health literacy, culture, and oral health as well as the impact of oral health messaging in the media. She currently is a member of the American Dental Association National Oral Health Literacy Advisory Committee and directs the TUSDM Health Literacy Intensive for pre-doctoral dental students. Holland was a 2013-2014 Tisch Faculty Fellow. She received her B.S. in Biological Anthropology and Anatomy from Duke University; a D.D.S. from New York University College of Dentistry; and an M.S. in Health Communication from Tufts University School of Medicine.