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Who We Are

The Collaborative is led by a small team of staff, seasonal volunteers and interns, and a volunteer Steering Committee. The Steering Committee provides financial and strategic oversight and support to ABHC staff, and represents the Network in setting strategic direction for the Collaborative.

As ABHC representatives, we make the following commitments during our tenure:

  • We work with joy and generosity.
  • We support a safe and welcoming environment for people of all races, ethnicities, cultures, religions, genders, languages, abilities, and identities. This includes:
    • Demonstrate interest and willingness to listen to and learn from others.
    • Communicate respectfully and with dignity with people we interact with. 
    • Not make assumptions about a person’s identity, including their gender or pronouns, orientation, language or heritage.
    • Communicate, when needed, that hateful/harmful/discriminatory language or actions are not accepted in any ABHC-hosted activity or event. 
  • We respond to direct communications within a respectful timeframe and/or as specified.
  • We accept that we are solely responsible for our actions and our personal property in any ABHC-hosted activity or event.

Staff

Anna Leslie

Anna Leslie, MPH (she/her)

Position: Director
Email: anna.leslie@abhealthcollab.org
Categories: Staff
Anna has developed expertise in community organizing and coalition building, membership development and retention, fundraising, and program implementation. She has led ABHC since its founding, growing the role from half-time Coordinator to full-time Director. Anna supports and partners with ABHC team members and neighborhood residents to identify and improve Allston-Brighton’s public health priorities; leads ABHC’s communication, operations and finances, and strategic growth aspects; and cultivates and grows a cross-sector collaborative membership that reflects the neighborhood’s strengths and opportunities. Born and raised across the river in Cambridge, Anna earned her BA at the University of Montana, Missoula in 2007. She worked in education in New Orleans before earning her Masters of Public Health from the Colorado School of Public Health in 2012, before returning to Boston in 2013. She lives in Somerville with her husband, and together they spend time in central Vermont cross-country skiing and repairing their civil war era farm house.

Anna Leslie, MPH (she/her)

Director
Jess Rubin

Jess Rubin (she/her)

Position: Food Access Coordinator, Farmers Market Manager
Email: jessi.rubin@abhealthcollab.org
Categories: Staff

Jessi has a passion in food access and sustainable agriculture and believes the two go hand in hand to create an equitable food system. Since 2018, Jessi has grown the Brighton Farmers Market to one of the largest in the city. She also manages ABHC’s farm share program and supports member organizations and community residents to develop and sustain affordable and accessible food access options in the neighborhood.

Jessi earned her BA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 2010. She also received a Certification in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Policy from the Friedman School of Nutrition and Science and Policy at Tufts University.

Jessi lives in Newton with her partner and their pooch, Cooper. Many moons ago she played competitive ice hockey and really enjoys keeping the skating passion alive by searching for beautiful ponds to skate on during the winter.

Jess Rubin (she/her)

Food Access Coordinator, Farmers Market Manager
Jonathan Lee

Jonathan Y. Lee, MPH, MUP (he/him)

Position: Transportation and Mobility Coordinator
Email: jonathan.lee@abhealthcollab.org
Categories: Staff

Trained in both urban planning and public health, Jonathan is passionate about designing healthy neighborhoods. He first joined ABHC as a Transportation and Mobility Committee (TMC) member, then as a Mobility Advocate. Now, as a Coordinator for the committee, he helps support fellow advocates in all things transportation and mobility in Allston-Brighton. He is a proud resident of Allston and shares the vision of the TMC in creating an equitable, sustainable, and healthy transportation and mobility system for all residents of the neighborhood.

Prior to moving to Boston, Jonathan worked in the affordable housing and community development space in Los Angeles and has experience in case management and providing social services for vulnerable populations. He grew up moving back and forth between Seoul, Korea and San Francisco, California as a child, which sparked his love for cities and curiosity for the built environment.

Jonathan Y. Lee, MPH, MUP (he/him)

Transportation and Mobility Coordinator
Alex Shames

Alex Shames (he/him)

Position: Community Engagement Coordinator
Email: alex.shames@abhealthcollab.org
Categories: Staff

Alex is a community organizer and educator passionate about making political organizing spaces more accessible for everyone. Most recently, Alex spent 3 years doing hyper-local mobility justice organizing in neighborhoods across Boston that helped lead to the introduction of electric Bluebikes, a historic 10 miles of new safe street infrastructure in 2023, and more robust City responses to MBTA shutdowns (he also started getting recognized in public as “the Boston Cyclists Union Tik Tok guy”). Alex has a degree in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry and has also previously organized with the Sunrise Movement and Defund NPD, and also has experience teaching ESOL and Mandarin, working in Special Education, and teaching 10th grade chemistry.

In his free time, Alex likes making and seeking out art, watching horrible/amazing reality television, checking out Boston’s queer nightlife scene, and spending time with his friends and family.

Alex Shames (he/him)

Community Engagement Coordinator

Steering Committee

Jo-Ann Barbour

Jo-Ann Barbour (she/her)

Position: Chair, Steering Committee
Email: joannbarbour@charlesviewcommunity.org
Categories: Steering Committee

Ms. Barbour is a Licensed, Independent, Clinical, Social Worker (LICSW) with over 30 years of casework, supervisory, administrative, and program development experience in the field of human services. She has worked in a number of community-based nonprofit and public sector organizations specializing in community-based services for diverse populations.

For the last 25 years, Ms. Barbour has worked in the field of affordable/mixed income housing, as both a staff member of national nonprofits and a consultant/trainer to regional and national real estate management firms and service providers interested in developing and implementing resident service programs. Her experience includes multifamily, senior, special needs, affordable, HOPE VI, and mixed income housing. She has extensive experience as a senior level resident service director overseeing the development, financing and implementation of integrated resident service, self-sufficiency and supported housing programs.

Ms. Barbour earned a Masters degree in Social work at Boston University School of Social Work and has a B.S. degree from Utica College of Syracuse University, Utica, New York.

Jo-Ann Barbour (she/her)

Chair, Steering Committee
Ruby Barnard Mayers

Ruby Barnard-Mayers (she/her)

Position: Member, Steering Committee
Email: rbarnardmayers@gmail.com
Categories: Steering Committee

Ruby is an Epidemiology PhD Candidate at Boston University School of Public Health. Her research focuses on the health of birthing people and conducting meaningful research to improve risk communication for those planning on giving birth. Ruby is the communications co-chair of the Student and PostDoc Committee for the Society for Epidemiologic Research. She is a member of the Society for Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiologic Research, the American Public Health Association, and the Association of Teachers of Maternal and Child Health. She has been an Allston-Brighton resident for 5 years as a renter and is very passionate about improving the safety and health of this community. Ruby is a year-round bike commuter and (when Boston weather fails her plans) an MBTA rider.

Ruby grew up in Vermont, where she was surrounded by a strong community that helped get her to where she is today. She holds a Masters in Public Health in Epidemiology & Biostatistics and Maternal & Child Health and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Grinnell College in Mathematics & Statistics and Anthropology. In her free time, Ruby enjoys biking, running, sewing, and playing soccer!

Ruby Barnard-Mayers (she/her)

Member, Steering Committee
Alex Cornacchini

Alex Cornacchini (he/him)

Position: Member, Steering Committee
Email: alex@allstonvillage.com
Categories: Steering Committee

Alex Cornacchini currently serves as the Executive Director of Allston Village Main Streets, a nonprofit working to promote, beautify, and economically develop Allston. He was born and raised in the Greater Boston area, and grew up hiking, skating, biking and traveling to visit family in Europe. Alex moved to Washington DC where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, Law, Economics, and Government from American University, and worked at one of DC’s premier Business Improvement Districts. He then moved back up to Boston and got involved in Allston-Brighton community development work in his role with AVMS in 2019. He lives with his girlfriend and pet cats, Mo and Bobby, and when he’s not working hard to beautify Allston, you can find him biking around and exploring New England.

Alex Cornacchini (he/him)

Member, Steering Committee
Jen Cruz

Jen Cruz, MPH (she/her)

Position: Member, Steering Committee
Email: jencruz@g.harvard.edu
Categories: Steering Committee

Jen is a Population Health Sciences PhD student in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is passionate about the intersection of community, public health, and equity. She is a predoctoral fellow at the Harvard/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Educational Program in Cancer Prevention and member of the FXB Center for Health & Human Rights doctoral cohort. She also supports community-based participatory research focused on capacity building in community-based organizations. Outside of her graduate studies, she is an active resident member of the Allston-Brighton community.

Jen was born and raised in Wapato, WA – a small, rural community located on the Yakama Reservation that continues to inspire her academic work and organizing efforts. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Seattle University and her Masters of Public Health in Global Health Epidemiology from the University of Michigan School of Public Health. She was also a Fulbright-Nehru Student Research grant recipient.

Jen Cruz, MPH (she/her)

Member, Steering Committee
Walae Hayek

Walae Hayek (she/they)

Position: Member, Steering Committee
Email: walae.hayek@gmail.com
Categories: Steering Committee

Walae Hayek is a first generation Arab American and Boston native who is passionate about building and bridging community and creating welcoming spaces. Currently working in health policy, Walae serves as the Manager for Healthcare Policy at Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association where she focuses on statewide equitable access to behavioral health.

Walae has many years of experience in healthcare delivery, research, and grassroots advocacy. Walae’s previous experience includes Emergency Medical Services (EMS) direct care and education, psychiatric clinical research exploring disparities in care delivery in acute settings, emergency management during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as various consulting services in higher education institutions.

In 2020, Walae founded ROYA, a nonprofit organization, dedicated to building creative community for social advocacy through bridging the arts with public health to Educate, Advocate, and Empower. She is a Board Member of the West End House Boys and Girls Club and serves in an advisory capacity for other local organizations and collaboratives focusing on resources for BIPOC and historically marginalized peoples.

Walae has a BSc in Behavioral Neuroscience from Tufts University and MPH in Community Assessment, Program Development and Evaluation with a focus in Health Policy from Boston University School of Public Health. Walae finds joy in the arts, reading, writing, and bringing people together.

Walae Hayek (she/they)

Member, Steering Committee
Nicolasa Lopez

Nicolasa López (she/her)

Position: Member, Steering Committee
Email: nlopez@bostonpublicschools.org
Categories: Steering Committee

Nicolasa López is the Family Engagement Director at Gardner Pilot Academy, a community school in the heart of Allston, MA. Nicolasa has a Masters Degree in Education from Northeastern University. For over 20 years she has been working with underserved and immigrant families in the Boston area; connecting families with the most needed resources such as housing, health, food, etc. Studies have shown that when families don’t have to worry about these things, their children do better in school. More than a job she sees her job as a labor of love! She believes in humanity and the good of it, so amidst everything that is taking place in today’s world, She believes we are in a better place than we were 30-40 years ago. Yet, she knows that there still is a long road ahead of us to make things equitable for all!

Nicolasa López (she/her)

Member, Steering Committee
Samilla Quiroa

Samilla Quiroa (she/her)

Position: Member, Steering Committee
Email: vaconsulting101@gmail.com
Categories: Steering Committee

Samilla has a passion for empowering immigrant communities and making sure all children have access to systems of support. As a result of her efforts, in 2014 she was recognized as the Parent Partner of the year by the Boston Family Engagement Network, in 2020 received the Allston-Brighton Community Leader Award by the Allston-Brighton Community Development Corporation and most recently, has been the recipient of the 2021 Changemaker Awards by the Institute for Nonprofit Practices.
Her experience sits around non-profit agencies/organizations whose focus are families and children. Samilla is the founder of VA Consulting & Languages Solutions LLC where she applies her knowledge and expertise across different sectors through an open-minded vision and problem-solving approach to create better program flows and systems to better support their clients and data collection.

Samilla holds a certificate in community, medical and legal interpreting and translation from Boston University and a certificate in Advocacy and Leadership for child-centered communities from Urban College. In her free time, Samilla loves catching up with her friends, traveling with her family and trying new culinaries.

Samilla Quiroa (she/her)

Member, Steering Committee
Siobhian Sprott

Siobhian Sprott, DDS, MPA, MPH (she/her)

Position: Member, Steering Committee
Email: ssprott@franciscanchildrens.org
Categories: Steering Committee

Siobhian is a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist who presently serves at the Director of Dental Services at Franciscan Children’s which is the only pediatric post-acute hospital in New England. Additionally she is a clinical lecturer of Pediatric Dentistry at the Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine. Prior to her appointment at Franciscan Children’s, she was the Chief Resident in Pediatric Dentistry at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine where she earned the Dr. Leonard Carapezza Pediatric Dental Scholarship in 2020, which is awarded to the resident who has exceeded in achievements during their Pediatric Dental Residency Program. Before moving to Massachusetts, she worked as a Regional Dental Director for a national Dental Support Organization in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and has over 10 years of clinical experience. Dr. Sprott strivesto make public health an integral part of her clinical practice; she has a strong motivation for understanding oral health care delivery from an organizational management perspective that engages the community. She currently serves on the Oral Health Advisory Committee for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and sits on the executive boards of the Bay State Chapter of the National Dental Association and the Allston-Brighton Health Collaborative.

Dr. Sprott was a 2020-2021 Joseph L. Henry Oral Health Fellow in Minority Health Policy at Harvard Medical School and obtained her Master of Public Health Degree from Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health with a concentration in Public Health Leadership in May 2021. She received her dental degree from Howard University College of Dentistry in 2008 and completed a General Practice residency at Howard University Hospital in 2009. She also earned both her Bachelor of Science and Master of Public Administration degrees from Southern University and A&M College, Baton Rouge, LA, in 2002 and 2004 respectively.

Siobhian Sprott, DDS, MPA, MPH (she/her)

Member, Steering Committee