Membership Chair

Kim Handloser

Kim Handloser currently serves as the SoCal SOPHE membership chair.   As the membership chair, her goal is to reach out to professionals and students throughout the healthcare profession because she believes health education is a key component in all areas of healthcare.  By providing a diverse, dynamic membership with networking and professional opportunities, members not only gain professionally and personally, but so does the field of public health.  Contact Kim for information about joining SoCal SOPHE.

Kim is a research assistant from the School of Community and Global Health at Claremont Graduate University and an evaluation assistant from the Claremont Evaluation Center, an evaluation and applied research methods unit at Claremont Graduate University.  She is completing the Masters in Applied Psychology (health behavior research & evaluation) and Master of Public Health (MPH; health promotion, education, and evaluation) dual degree program at Claremont Graduate University.

Kim became interested in obtaining an advanced degree in healthcare while working in customer service for a not-for-profit insurance company in the Pacific Northwest.  Her interests were in patient advocacy, negative health outcomes from early life stress and trauma, and the development and effect of age identity on physical activity and health.  She completed a B.S. in Psychology from Southern Oregon University in Ashland, OR, before moving to Claremont to attend graduate school.  Her career interests have expanded into sedentary behavior in the workplace and to effectively diffusing policies and programs.   She previously earned a B.A. in Comparative Literature from San Diego State University.

Kim is an avid runner and loves to explore new places, often combining the two.


Immediate Past President


Frank Hernandez

Frank Hernandez earned his Master’s Degree in Public Health from California State University Long Beach.  He is currently employed by the County of Orange Health Care Agency’s Division of Health Promotion and holds a teaching position at Santa Ana College at the Public Service Institute (PSI).   His work with Health Promotion and the college spans over a decade providing technical assistance to community-based organizations, nongovernmental agencies, and consultant agencies.  He has worked with the community to provide strategic planning, asset mapping, program evaluation , grant monitoring and negotiation and community collaborative building, just to mention a few.  Frank has worked with the Mexican Consulates local office to plan health interventions and prevention activities for the County’s migrant population during the annual “National Health Week.”

Frank believes the social determinants of health have a huge influence on the long-term prosperity of communities.  His passion is to provide communities suffering with low health outcomes that are vital to attain optimal health with adequate resources, education and strategies to overcome adversity.


Membership Chair

Carissa Beatty

Carissa Beatty is the SoCal SOPHE membership chair for 2013-2014. In this role, she is responsible for recruiting new members and engaging our diverse group of existing members in the many networking and professional development opportunities that SoCal SOPHE offers. Contact Carissa if you have questions about joining SoCal SOPHE.

In her role as a Senior Program Associate at the Emory Centers for Training and Technical Assistance, based at Emory University in Atlanta, Carissa contributes to the development, implementation, and evaluation of a number of public health training programs and products for national, state, and local organizations. She is the instructor for two of the Emory Centers’ online courses, Logic Model Essentials and Fundamentals of Evaluation. She is an expert in the management of professional networks such as the Tobacco Control Network (TCN), and in creating engaging, interactive online trainings and e-communications. While her training and technical assistance work has been primarily in the field of tobacco prevention and control for several years, her public health interests span into chronic disease prevention, policy, and health equity, among others.

Carissa is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), and holds an MPH from Emory University. She resides in Newport Beach and enjoys camping and distance running.


Social Chair

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Newsletter and Social Media


Gaby Gregg, CHES

Gaby Gregg is currently the Project Coordinator for the Rethink Your Drink Campaign, a part of the Network for a Healthy California Nutrition Education & Obesity Prevention Branch. In this role, Gaby promotes the consumption of water and awareness of sugar-sweetened beverages. She also served as Regional Manager for the Network for a Healthy California—Children’s Power Play! Campaign, promoting increased consumption of fruits and vegetables and increased levels of physical activity among 9- to 11 year-old children.  Since 2003, she has worked in the community within a variety of fields, including law enforcement, crime prevention, community outreach, and nutrition, health, and wellness.

For over five years, Gaby also served as a volunteer tutor and mentor for at-risk youth. She received her Associate of Arts degree in Graphic Design with an emphasis in Entertainment Marketing from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), and a Bachelor of Science in Health Science with a concentration in Health Education and a certificate in Nutrition from TUI University. Currently, she is a student in the Master of Public Health program at the University of New England. She believes social media plays an important role in the dissemination of health messages, reaching people where they work, live, eat, and play!

Job Board Chair


Deborah Messina-Kleinman, MPH

Deborah earned her Master’s degree in Public Health from UCLA and a BS in Health Education from UNLV. She is both a school and community health educator, health promotion consultant, and the co-author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Quitting Smoking”. Deborah is currently working at a New Tech Network high school in San Diego County teaching BioFitness, an integrated health, physical education, and biology course that involves project-based learning and authentic community connections and assessment.  She has also worked as a Health Educator in a variety of settings, including academia and research, community organizations, schools and school districts, worksites, and healthcare.

She has made significant contributions in the areas of health promotion and disease prevention for organizations such as the Los Angeles County Tobacco Control Program, American Lung Association, Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems, Kaiser Permanente, American Legacy Foundation, the Johns Hopkins and UCLA Medical Centers, Contra Costa County Tobacco Prevention Project, San Ramon Valley Unified School District, and Arizona State University.

Deborah’s areas of special interest include tobacco use prevention and smoking cessation, fitness assessment and training, adolescent sexuality education, and alcohol and drug prevention education. She has served as the past chairperson for the Southern California SOPHE Tobacco SIG and as a member of the Materials Review Board for the California Healthy Kids Resource Center, funded by the California Departments of Education and Public Health.

If you have any questions or job postings for the SC SOPHE Job Board, please contact Deb at

Chapter Delegate

Lana Nicole Clay, MSHS

Lana Nicole Clay is a young, ambitious health professional. She has earned her Master’s degree in Health Sciences, emphasizing in Community Health Education and Health Professions from Western University of Health Sciences and a Bachelor’s degree in Clinical Health from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Lana is an Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia survivor, which has set forth her passion to contribute to the eradication of the disease. Lana is an oncological researcher and philanthropist who prides herself on her participation in various community health education projects, health promotion campaigns, and wellness opportunities.

Her contributions in pediatric oncology have led her to collaborate with various non for profits, foundations and medical universities, including the Ronald McDonald House of Orange, American Cancer Society, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Honored Hero, UCLA Medical Centers, The City of Hope, UCI, the Chan Harvard School of Public Health and the Placentia-Yorba Lind School District.

Lana currently serves as a committee member for the LLS Socal Cancer Connection and the Cancer Awareness Club at Cal Poly Pomona.



Joanna Conde

Joanna Conde is currently a 4th year student at California State University Long Beach (CSULB) studying Health Science with an emphasis on Community Health Education. Joanna is currently employed by the Whittier City Union School District as a Substitute Instructional Aide. She is currently a volunteer for the UCLA Intern Extenders Program in hopes she can gain clinical experience and gain more knowledge related to public health. In addition, she is also volunteering with the Student Health Services at CSULB as a “Wellness Warrior” to help set up and support health related events on campus.

Joanna earned her Associate of Arts Degree in 2013 in General Studies: Social Behavior and Self Development from Rio Hondo College. She was a Webmaster for an organization at CSULB called Students Active in Community Health from 2012-2013. She was also involved with student government and was employed by Associated Students Inc., as Entertainment Commissioner from 2012-2014. In addition, she has developed experience working with children and tutoring in different academic subjects.

Joanna’s primary insterests related to public health are mental health, adolescent health, and nutrition and physical activity. She has a passion for health and wellness and hopes to someday contribute to create awareness about the importantance of public health.


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Laura Keene, MPH

As treasurer, Laura Keene manages SoCal SOPHE’s finances.

Laura owns and operates Keene Insights where she provides training, planning support, database development and program evaluation to public health organizations. With each project, she helps her clients find their inner data geek, harness the power of data, and have a greater impact on the communities they serve.

Laura first discovered her love for this work about ten years ago as an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley. She was an intern working on an evaluation of a child abuse prevention program, helping staff figure out what was working and what wasn’t.  From that experience, she was hooked and has continued to help organizations gather, understand, and use data.

Not long after leaving her undergraduate program, Laura also discovered that she had a passion for public health. Over the years, she has worked in a variety of areas within field. She helped HIV prevention programs in Rhode Island, substance abuse treatment organizations in Massachusetts and palliative care units at hospitals in Southern California conduct evaluations. She built databases for HIV/AIDS care and treatment programs in Africa. She helped the health department in Minnesota gather information about resident and family satisfaction at every nursing home in the state. And, in 2009, she earned her Master of Public Health from Columbia University.

President-Elect, Continuing Education, and Newsletter Chair


Khathy Hoang, MPH

Khathy is the current President-Elect, Continuing Education, and Newsletter Chair. She graduated in the Community Public Health program at California State University Northridge and currently conducts research with the Olive View-UCLA Education and Research Institute, part of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.  She has an extensive background across disciplines, and is energetic about chronic disease prevention with education.

Advocacy Chair


Erika Vargas, CHES

Erika is currently a program coordinator for the Move More Eat Healthy Campaign through St. Jude Medical Center’s Healthy Weight Initiative. In this role, she facilitates and operates nutrition education and physical activity opportunities in North Orange County providing the community with access to resources promoting health and a healthy lifestyle.

She became involved in the community after two years of volunteering at The Whole Child, were she assisted in coordinating community eventse and overlooked operations at health fairs. She soon became interested in nutrition and dietetics where she then volunteered for St. Jude’s Food and Nutrition Services for another two years. She also has experience working as a school garden coordinator promoting nutrition to elementary aged children and conducting research to demonstrate behavioral improvements toward fruit and vegetable consumption. Her involvement in the community and interest in nutrition and health has been the driving force for continuing her career.

Erika received a Bachelor of Science in Health Science from California State University, Fullerton and is a Certified Health Education Specialist. Her next goal is to complete a graduate level degree in nutrition and become a Registered Dietetian.


President for 2015

Hamida Askaryar, MPH, RDH, CHES 

Hamida was the Health Services Manager for the UCLA Early Head Start program for 7 ½ years at the David Geffen School of Medicine. As the Health Services Manager she was responsible for maintaining that the Federally regulated children’s program is current and in compliance with all Federal and State child regulations in the areas of health, nutrition and safety. Her other duties included staff education, parent training, grant writing, budget analysis, emergency preparedness, and health screenings. Hamida also participated in creating and conducting an UCLA campus wide health survey through UCLA’s healthy campus initiative.

In her current role as the Project Manager for the UCLA Pediatric Residency Dental Program (aka: ‘SPICE-PD’- Strategic Partnership for Interprofessional Collaborative Education in Pediatric Dentistry) she contributes to the development, implementation, and evaluation of the interprofessional pediatric residency program. Her public health interests span into chronic disease prevention, policy, and health equity, among others.

She is also the current President of  the Southern California Chapter of SOPHE (Society for Public Health Education). Prior to her career in public health she was a registered dental hygienist and worked for several dentists in the San Fernando Valley for many years. She is also a former clinical dental hygiene instructor and an experienced  corporate health and wellness screener.

She has a passion for health and wellness  and is currently training for her next 5 K run at UCLA!

Hamida is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and holds an MPH from California State University Northridge.