SWCAHEC Community Health Worker Curriculum Development Project: Community Advisory Board

SWCAHEC is proud to partner with Centura Health and the Rocky Mountain Health Foundation to develop a Community Health Worker (CHW) training program for Southwestern Colorado. This certificate program, created as a collaboration between SWCAHEC and Fort Lewis College, can be either a stackable or terminal degree that will give students the skills and knowledge to work as a CHW in SW Colorado.

SWCAHEC is working to develop a Community Health Worker program that facilitates student success in the healthcare professions, increases diversity in the healthcare and community health arenas, and addresses workforce issues by filling community health openings with highly trained and qualified staff. This program will solidify the curriculum and processes for a Community Health Worker program at Fort Lewis by using a diverse community advisory group to both pilot the program and to inform the programming through cultural knowledge and lived experiences during coursework and the Community-based practicum. The SWCAHEC Curriculum Community Advisory Board will train to become CHWs and advise on the development of the next community-based health workforce in our region. With their perspectives, SWCAHEC and partners hope to expand health workforce capacity and address health inequities in Southwestern Colorado.

Community Advisory Board

Hello, I am Jessica Sanchez from Santo Domingo Pueblo, go by the pronouns she/her, and I am a member of the Navajo Nation. I am a student at Fort Lewis College pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Public Health with a minor in Chemistry and will graduate in the Spring of 2023. In the future, I plan on continuing my education by pursuing a graduate degree with a focus on Public Health. With my interest in achieving health equity and addressing disparities apparent within marginalized communities, I would like to continue work toward advocating for the health of future generations. I am passionate about working in the community and my involvement as a community advisory board member will further prepare me as I enter the next stages of my professional journey.

Jessica joins Chelsie, community health programs associate of SWCAHEC, in visiting the students at Montezuma-Cortez High School. They cook three sisters stir fry dish and students learn about how to create a cost-efficient meal using Indigenous foods. Students also gain knowledge about careers in nutrition and dietetics.

Jessica attends a Motivational Interviewing Workshop hosted by the Southern Ute Behavioral Health Center and SWCAHEC. The workshop is facilitated by Dr. Brian Burke, Ph. D and focuses on introducing concepts and strategies for utilizing motivational interviewing techniques to encourage positive behavior change. Jessica is able to learn effective tools and techniques to help motivate individuals to take action and make positive changes


Hello, my name is Lynelle Slim and I am part of the Community Health Worker Curriculum Advisory Board. I am from St. Michaels, AZ and I am part of the Navajo Nation Tribe. I am currently in my 2nd year at Fort Lewis College, majoring in Exercise Physiology and minoring in Nutrition. I enjoy hobbies like running, playing volleyball, baking, and watching football and basketball games. I am excited to be part of this team.

Lynelle is in the process of creating a website dedicated to physical therapy career pathways. To ensure that her work accurately reflects health career education, she consults with the team at SWCAHEC as well as physical therapists from Tomsic Physical Therapy in Durango. Her work is aimed at providing community members with an informative resource on physical therapy.

Lynelle is taking the virtual dementia tour training, giving her a first-person perspective of what dementia could be like for a client. This is a great training to help her better communicate with clients with dementia and gain a better understanding of what they’re going through.


Hi, my name is Gabriela Meraz-Fishbein and I’m currently a sophomore at Fort Lewis College. I am from Albuquerque, New Mexico and am double majoring in public health and borders and languages. In my free time I enjoy playing sports, spending time outside, and reading.

Gabby creates a graphic to give a general overview of what a Community Health Worker is. This graphic can be utilized to inform the community about the profession and the character traits needed for the profession.

She also designs a graphic to illustrate the benefits of obtaining a Community Health Worker certificate. Gabby’s graphic contains a summary of the positive impacts Community Health Workers have on the communities they serve.


Hello, my name is April Chavez. I am from the Navajo Nation Tribe. I originally lived in Sawmill, Arizona and now reside in Ignacio, Colorado. I graduated with a BA of Public Health from Fort Lewis College in 2018. I work for the Southern Ute Community and Home Health Services as a Community Health Representative. My passion is helping the native communities with their health needs, providing health education, and promoting healthy lifestyles. My hobbies are crocheting, weightlifting, and cooking new recipes with my family. I am excited to take part of SWCOAHEC Community Health Worker Curriculum Advisory Board Member. With this role I believe I can gain more knowledge to implement ideas and strategies to the Southern Ute Tribe and surrounding native communities.


April is doing her practicum at Shining Mountain Health and Wellness! She has been helping with material development for Breast Feeding and Parent Support classes in Ignacio, Colorado. This class happens once a month and it involves delicious food, goodies, health education, and great company. February’s health education topic was Heart Healthy.


Hello, I am Gabriela Rosas but I prefer to go by my middle name, Adi. I come from an immigrant family who is really important to me. I love to learn new ways to help people out. I also enjoy working with my community! Fun fact: I am very fluent in both Spanish and English and I’m starting to learn ASL, my goal is to one day be fluent in it as well!



My name is Tyra Johnson. I am from Kayenta, Arizona located on the Navajo Reservation. I am currently pursuing my Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health here at Fort Lewis College, in Durango, Colorado. I am glad to be apart of Southwestern Colorado Area Health Education Center as a Community Health Worker!



Hello, my name is Amberleigh Lorenzetti! I am of my senior year of public health, with a concentration on science communication. I am originally from Rock Point, AZ, but living in Norfolk, VA. I am an implementation research assistant on sexual reproduction and an advocate for domestic violence. It has been a pleasure working with SWCAHEC! Ákót’éego diné asdzáán nishł, a’héhee’.


Hello, My name is Sunflower Huskie. I’m from Tuba City, Arizona. I’m a sophomore at Fort Lewis College, and I’m majoring in Public Health.

Sunflower is actively supporting the Native American Nursing Pipeline by joining the Nursing conversation at the FLC campus. She is contributing to the discussions surrounding the Pre- Nursing curriculum, offering her own ideas to be considered for inclusion.



My name is Luis Ramirez. I am a third-year student at Fort Lewis College. I look to serve underrepresented communities in my studies and work as a Public Health Major. I like to spend my free time doing physical activities and being outdoors.


Luis co-presents the Influence of Culture: Healing Health Disparities in Native Americans with Chelsie Begoody, Dyllon Mills, Imo Succo, MSW, and Sammy Antez Jr.! Over 30 high school students statewide are joining us to learn about cultural humility and how awareness of Native American culture can help improve health and reduce health disparities and substance use addiction in Southwestern Colorado. They’ll also gain insight into the native food system.


Luis is working with Chelsie to pilot the Collaborative Community Messaging Development project. This project is based on the boot camp translation process that is a tool to engage patients, community, and providers for patient centered outcomes. They are wanting to develop a message that is tailored to a specific community. The messaging focuses on reducing stigma around opioid use disorder and promoting Narcan trainings. Participants will receive Narcan after being Narcan trained.


My name is Tehani Waahila and I am from the Big Island of Hawaii. I currently reside in Durango, Colorado, with an anticipated graduation in the Spring of 2023 from Fort Lewis College. After I graduate, I intend to get my master’s degree in public health through the John Hopkins program. I am a loyal contributor to my community and education, in many ways than one. I love making new connections and putting my time to use, in return, making my community thrive. I am thankful for this CHW program from the generosity of SWCAHEC to enable young, minded individuals (like myself) to have the opportunity to learn about how we can be proactive in creating safe spaces for everyone.


Yá’át’ééh!  My name is Lane Franklin, and I am originally from Window Rock, Arizona. I graduated from Fort Lewis College in 2017 with an Exercise Physiology Degree. Since then, I’ve worked a multitude of jobs ranging from an exercise specialist to most recently a wildland firefighter.  It brings me great excitement to participate in this pilot program.  I cherish any opportunity to help my community and to gain invaluable knowledge along the way. Aside from work, you can find me spending my free time gardening, building stuff, and shooting my bow.

Lane starts his practicum at Ohana Physical Therapy. Lane is interested in applying to physical therapy school and is gaining observation hours at Ohana. He also hopes to utilize his community health worker knowledge by bolstering patient completion of rehabilitation programs with motivational interviewing. He is excited to see how impactful a community health worker knowledge can be in a physical therapy setting.

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