Sandra Viera, Associate Program Director
“Prevention Institute provides tools to identify how structural drivers of inequities play out at the local level and contributes to the development of community-oriented, inclusive solutions. My role is to work with communities to identify their needs and opportunities to create healthier environments through the adoption and implementation of practices and policies that systematize health. I have the opportunity to work with communities, support them, learn what’s most important and effective at the local level, and then work with partners to bring it to scale.”
Sandra Viera’s work at Prevention Institute focuses on intersecting policy issues and practices to promote safe and healthy communities, including land use, violence prevention, youth development, equitable access to healthy foods, and increased opportunities for physical activity through built environment interventions.
Sandra is passionate about youth development and practical ways to support community wellbeing and health equity. From 2006 to 2009, she served as the associate director of policy at Latino Health Access (LHA), a nonprofit organization based in Santa Ana, California, where she coordinated multisector, long-term healthy and active living initiatives aimed at preventing chronic disease and advancing health equity. In her role at LHA, Sandra served as project manager for The California Endowment’s Healthy Eating, Active Communities (HEAC) initiative in Santa Ana, and led a successful advocacy and community mobilization campaign to help secure open, public space in one of the area’s poorest census tracts.
“My work with grassroots local organizations that support youth development and youth leadership highlighted the importance of involving young people in finding solutions and empowering them to give voice to the challenges they face.”
Sandra joined Prevention Institute in 2010 while enrolled in a full-time master’s program at the University of San Francisco. She provided technical assistance to community health initiatives funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), working with communities as a part of Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW), Community Transformation Grants (CTG), and other initiatives of the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity and Obesity. These initiatives provided capacity-building to communities, government agencies, and organizations engaged in chronic disease prevention efforts. She focused on comprehensive health food access, with an emphasis on health equity; community and stakeholder engagement; coalition building; collaborative strategic planning; and developing effective, local health policies and regulations. Between 2010 and 2012, CPPW helped 50 communities address tobacco use and chronic disease, two leading causes of preventable death and disability in the United States, reaching over 50 million people.
Sandra’s work with the St. Joseph Health Community Partnership Fund is focused on building a community of practice and leading training and technical assistance across seven regions in California. She also serves as a strategic advisor to leadership of the Fund by providing advice and consultation to the Community Benefit Department and other key St. Joseph’s Health System groups. Sandra is a lead trainer for Prevention Institute in community engagement, stakeholder engagement, coalition building, and cross-sectoral collaboration for nonprofits, government agencies, and foundations.
Sandra is also a recipient of the prestigious California Center for Public Health Advocacy’s Sarah E. Samuels Award for New Health Professionals, which acknowledges her significant contributions to the field of public health.
Sandra contributed to the CDC’s A Practitioner’s Guide to Advancing Health Equity: Community Strategies for Preventing Chronic Disease (2013). The guide highlights equity-oriented strategies to advance prevention through active living, tobacco prevention, and healthy food access. She also contributed to Prevention Institute’s publications Partnering for health equity: Grassroots organizations on collaborating with public health agencies, Walk On: Strategies to Promote Walkable Communities (2013), and the 2011 book, At Risk: Latino Children’s Health.
Sandra holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of San Francisco and a bachelor’s degree in political science from California State University, Long Beach. She has presented at numerous national and international conferences, including the American Public Health Association, the American Academy of Medicine, the National Recreation and Parks Association Joint Use Summit, and the World Safety Conference.