Our History

CAHC grew out of the initiative, commitment, and perseverance of a core group of individuals who attended a four-state conference held in 1995 to review states’ efforts to promote adolescent health. At that time, there was no existing statewide organization in California with a mission to address adolescent health and well-being from a non-categorical, multidisciplinary perspective. This core group continued to meet regularly and involve new members. By January 2001, with support from the California State Department of Health Services, Maternal and Child Health Branch, CAHC released California’s first statewide strategic plan for adolescent health, Investing in Adolescent Health: A Social Imperative for California’s Future. The plan has served as a model for adolescent health initiatives in California’s counties and in other states.

Originally, CAHC was a public-private statewide coalition of individuals and organizations. The Collaborative provided convenings, technical assistance and education, resource and data dissemination, and advocacy on policies related to adolescent health statewide. We served as the administrative body for the inter­disciplinary, public­-private California Adolescent Sexual Health Work Group (ASHWG).

 
 

Our Mission

CAHC is focused on improving the well-being of California’s youth by utilizing multidisciplinary and equity-informed approaches. With strategic partnerships, CAHC works to improve the knowledge and skills of adolescents to be leaders in their communities and have healthy transitions to adulthood.

 
 
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"If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together."

— Lilla Watson, Visual Artist

Our Values

Our values inform our current work, partnerships, internal team functioning, and future directions:

Youth: Youth are valued partners in all our work, they hold meaningful decision-making roles in our programs and our teams. We reject adultism and the systemic stigmatization of adolescents.

Collaboration: We engage with people, organizations and movements as allies. We strategically lead, partner, or follow in our collaborative initiatives. We are students of collective impact.

Health: We ascribe to the WHO definition of health: Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Social Justice: We recognize that patterns of health and illness are shaped by social structures and systems; to improve and protect our health, youth health, and community health we must change systems.

Innovation: In order to make change, we need to change the way we do business. We use research methods to answer new questions and innovate new solutions. 

Equity Focused: With limited resources we strategically focus on identifying populations and communities with the greatest opportunity to add value.

Scrappiness: We believe in our work, are passionate about quality and outcomes, and are responsible stewards of resources that have been entrusted to us.

Humor: Humor is essential to wellness, communication, and team chemistry. 

Cultural Humility: We choose to be humble, curious, and always learning.

 

Our Team

CAHC has worked with many wonderful people over the course of its service to the youth of California. Currently, CAHC's team has staff based in the Bay Area and the Central Valley.

 
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Director

Susan Watson

Susan Watson is the Program Director for both the California Adolescent Health Collaborative that works to improve the wellness of youth across California, and the CA4Health community of practice to advance chronic disease prevention and health equity across California. Her career has prioritized working on issues related to equity, community health, and the elimination of racial and ethnic disparities. Susan has many years of experience in various sectors of public health that has included work on a variety of issues in the academic/research, government, non-profit, and community arenas (both rural and urban). She has managed efforts with community based organizations, county and state health departments, and community coalitions. Susan grew up in Daly City, and has a MPH from the University of Michigan and a BA from Stanford University. Outside of work, you might find Susan at a concert or riding her bike on paths and trails around the Bay Area.

Email: Susan.Watson@phi.org

 
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Program Manager

Robert Lee

Robert Lee has been working as a program manager, education specialist, and curriculum developer in adolescent health for two years. Robert has years of experience in developing curriculum and educating urban youth in both math and the physical sciences. He is passionate about empowering youth through mentoring, youth leadership development, teen health awareness, and emphasizing college-bound education. In addition, he has experience working as a community health volunteer for the Berkeley Free Clinic for over a decade. Robert is a Sacramento native, but loves the Bay Area. When he is not busy working hard, he is running obstacle-course races (like Tough Mudder and the Spartan Races), hiking around the Yosemite Valley, or disc golfing around the Bay Area.

Email: Robert.Lee@phi.org

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Finance & Operations Manager

Chelsey Fitzgerald

Chelsey Fitzgerald came to the California Adolescent Health Collaborative with over five years of contract and budget management experience. She is passionate about systems creation and implementation. She enjoys facilitating and overseeing complicated procedures/processes and enjoys supporting CAHC in this capacity. Chelsey grew up in Austin, Texas as one of five children in a low income household with one primary breadwinner. The first in her family to go to college, she graduated from Stanford University with Distinction and a BA in English Literature. Having benefited from the generosity and diligent attention of caring adults during her own adolescence, Chelsey is well aware of the village it can take to bring resources, opportunities, and helpful information to otherwise underserved or unsupported youth. For this reason, she is excited to be able to work behind the scenes to support CAHC projects and goals.

Email: Chelsey.Fitzgerald@phi.org

 
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Program manager

German Zavalza

German Zavalza joins CAHC with a background in higher education. German moved to the Central Valley in early adolescence, and his lived experience compliments his passion for ensuring that youth have the tools that they need to be successful. He is a huge advocate for education and strongly believes that the road to an improved lifestyle is paved by it. German enjoys living a healthy lifestyle and spending time with his family.

Email: German.Zavalza@phi.org

 
 
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Program Coordinator

Marianne Ceballos

With nearly a decade in the non-profit and higher education sectors, Marianne is passionate about providing access, advising and support to youth, ensuring they have the resources needed to help them succeed. Marianne is very proud of her Central Valley roots, and though she lived in a number of different cities, she is happy to return home. She received her BA in Economics and Communication from UC Davis and a MA in Educational Leadership from Sacramento State. Marianne has a variety of hobbies including writing, hiking and karaoke (particularly in Spanish)! She loves attending various community, arts and educational events which celebrate cultures and enrich our lives.

Email: Marianne.Ceballos@phi.org