Sana Chehimi, Director of Policy and Advocacy
“While Prevention Institute is headquartered in California, our work has always been national in scope. Being in Washington, DC allows me to leverage Prevention Institute’s voice and expertise more intentionally across a number of different policy and advocacy areas. There’s a real opportunity to shift these conversations towards a greater focus on community, equity, and primary prevention.”
Sana Chehimi joined Prevention Institute in 2003. After ten years in the Oakland office, she moved to Washington DC to establish PI’s East Coast office. Sana is passionate about advancing primary prevention to improve community wellbeing and health equity.
“I first learned of the Spectrum of Prevention during a presentation in a grad school class. I remember thinking, ‘This is why I went to grad school.’ That’s why I applied to work here.”
Sana leads Prevention Institute’s federal engagement and partnership outreach efforts by directing the organization’s policy and advocacy portfolio, aimed at supporting upstream prevention policies and investments to advance health, safety, wellbeing, and health equity.
“Prevention Institute’s understanding of how structural drivers of health inequity such as racism, sexism, and income inequality disproportionately impact communities informs our work to catalyze change and contribute to healthier, safer, and more equitable communities.”
As part of the Health Systems Transformation team, much of Sana’s work focuses on shifting perspectives on policy, strategic communications, and developing partnerships to promote community prevention practice nationally. She provides core staffing to the Convergence Partnership, a collaboration of seven leading foundation and healthcare institutions working to foster healthier and more equitable environments for all children and families.
“Prevention Institute worked to reframe the debate on food, activity, and chronic disease away from a notion of purely personal responsibility to look at upstream factors and corporate and industry responsibilities at a time when this approach was far from the accepted norm. I really gravitated toward this work because it allowed us to apply values-based messaging in a strategic way to shape and frame the conversation.”
Early in her tenure at Prevention Institute, Sana played a critical role in coordinating the Strategic Alliance for Healthy Food and Activity Environments, a network of organizations that helped shift public debate by shining a light on the role of corporate and government practices on the food and activity environments in which people live, work, play, and learn. Sana was involved in developing and piloting ENACT, a web-based Environmental Nutrition and Activity Community Tool designed to improve local nutrition and physical activity environments. Applying her passion for communications, Sana shaped the establishment of an online Prevention Rapid Response Media Network and, over time, grew the organization’s capacity and staffing to engage in media advocacy and strategic communications activities across each of PI’s areas of focus.
Sana provides training and technical assistance to philanthropies, government agencies, coalitions, and community-based organizations on cutting-edge prevention practices and strategy development to address underlying community determinants of health and improve community health and equity. She co-edited one of the first academic texts on primary prevention, Prevention Is Primary: Strategies for Community Wellbeing (jointly published by Jossey-Bass/Wiley and the American Public Health Association in 2007 and 2010), with PI Founder Larry Cohen and Dr. Vivian Chavez of San Francisco State University. She is lead writer of and contributor to numerous articles and publications on community wellbeing and comprehensive primary prevention strategies to advance social justice and promote healthy communities.
Before joining Prevention Institute, Sana worked in the HIV field as an outreach and education associate. She leveraged her background in biology and research to support the development of California’s first statewide certificate program for HIV Education, and conducted local, state, and national HIV health education trainings for health and human service providers.
Sana is a regular presenter and contributor at workshops and conferences on public health across the United States, including annual meetings of the American Public Health Association. She holds a master’s degree in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley and a BA from Columbia University.