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The California American Indian Tobacco Initiative Evaluation (CAITIE) team is based in the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at UC San Diego.  We are the evaluators of the California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program’s (CTCP), California American Indian Initiative to Reduce Tobacco-Related Disparities statewide funding initiative, referred to as the ‘American Indian Initiative’. 

About CAITIE Evaluation

Our goal with the CAITIE evaluation is to conduct an independent examination of the impact and outcomes of the American Indian Tobacco Initiative.  Conducting the evaluation offers multiple benefits, including contributing to the initiative’s accountability to its stakeholders, recognizing successes as well as areas for improvement, and identifying lessons learned on how necessary changes and enhancements to the program can be successfully implemented. In addition, the evaluation data may enhance current knowledge about the effectiveness of policy and system change campaigns for the prevention and reduction of tobacco use in American Indian tribal communities in California. Lastly, by providing evidence on the effectiveness of the policy and system change campaigns, evaluation results can assist American Indian tribes and tribe-serving organizations in acquiring future funding to support the continuation or expansion of their tobacco reduction and prevention efforts.

We are reliant on input from key informants with first-hand knowledge of the funded projects and the communities that are being impacted by their new tobacco reduction and prevention efforts.  Through a series of surveys and interviews at three different points in time, and through a small number of focus groups, we are gathering views, experiences, and stories from people about the process, successes, and lessons learned from across the participating tribal programs throughout California. This will help build a picture of how the overall Initiative is doing and to provide future recommendations to CTCP.

For more information, please contact the CAITIE Administrative Director, Rachel Berquist: rberquist@ucsd.edu

Meet the Team

aldelaimy2.jpgWael Al-Delaimy, MD, MPH
Principle Investigator
Dr. Al-Delaimy is a multidisciplinary epidemiologist of chronic diseases and Professor of Global Health and Epidemiology in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health (FMPH) at UC San Diego. He directed the multi-million dollar CDPH-funded California Tobacco Surveys (CTS) and California Smokers Cohort (CSC) between 2004 and 2017 and provides 20 years of experience in tobacco control research, policy, and surveys. He led more than 10 staff and senior faculty in tobacco control research and successfully implemented complex projects and engaged different community, policy, and academic stakeholders. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and several reports, including five CTS reports. Dr. Al-Delaimy provides knowledge of relevant California tobacco control policies, expertise in partnering with community-based organizations, expertise in large population data analysis and interpretation, and experience in dissemination of study results to broad audiences.

Sarkin_Andrew-Picture.jpgAndy Sarkin, PhD
Director of Evaluation
Dr. Sarkin is a clinical psychologist and expert in the measurement and assessment of health and behavioral outcomes with over 20 years of experience in program evaluation.  He is currently the Health Services Research Center (HSRC) Director of Evaluation Research. Dr. Sarkin provides expertise in evaluating policy and systems change, evaluating community engagement, collaboration, and partnerships, and evaluating study design. He also has experience in key informant interview data collection, conducting evaluation of health programs that target priority populations, longitudinal qualitative data analysis, and data dissemination.

gina.pngGina Misch, MPA, MA
Evaluation Coordinator
Gina has been utilizing data analysis tools to improve the outcomes of social services, health organizations, and businesses since 1997. Her many years of project management and data analytics have given her expertise in the fields of economic development, program and process evaluation, social and policy research, business development, child, youth, and family services, mental health, developmental services, and grant writing.  Gina is the project lead for the evaluation of San Diego County's Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) programs and the California American Indian Tobacco Initiative. She provides assistance to a variety of other projects through evaluation design, program support, data management, provider training, quantitative and qualitative analysis, and reporting. Additionally, she serves as an intern supervisor supporting continued learning for college students.

lowry.jpgChag Lowry, M.Ed
Administrative Director
Chag Lowry is of Yurok, Maidu, and Achumawi Native ancestry from California.  He is the main point of contact for CAITIE and facilitates outreach to Tribes, Rancherias, Native clinics, and Native health-care and service organizations who are partnering with the team.  He is responsible for coordinating the community engagement and research goals for the CAITIE project.  He also engages the team’s California state partners and agencies to integrate the Indigenous perspective into the project goals, mission, and evaluation.        

Corrinne Berryman, MPHberryman.jpg
Program Evaluation Specialist
Corinne Berryman received a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Health Promotion and Behavior from the University of Georgia. She is currently provides evaluation services, such as data management, analysis, and reporting, for the CAITIE and the County of San Diego’s Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) projects.


lirio.jpgLouielyn Lirio, MPH
Research Associate
Louielyn has a Master's degree in Public Health with a concentration in Global Health from California State University San Marcos. She provides program evaluation services such as, evaluation design, program support, data management, analysis, and reporting on multiple projects, including the evaluation of San Diego County's Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) programs and the CAITIE project.

song.jpgMe Young Song, BS
Research Associate
Me Young received a Bachelor of Science in Public Health at UC San Diego and is currently a candidate for the Master in Public Health graduate program at UC San Diego.  She is currently working on the CAITIE, Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI), La Maestra – SAMHSA grants, and Data De-Identification projects at the Health Services Research Center (HSRC).

esquerio.jpgAnah Esquerio, BS
Research Associate
Anah recently graduated from UC San Diego with a B.S. in Global Health and is now pursuing her Master’s at San Diego State University in Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology. After COVID-19, she saw the health impact disproportionately affecting the Navajo Nation and the underserved communities in this country which furthered her resolve to be an Epidemiologist in the future. Anah also currently holds CAITIE’s Evaluation Research Intern position, and works with the team on survey and interview data collection and analysis.

CTCP’s American Indian Initiative

American Indians in California are disproportionately impacted by high smoking prevalence and have low smoking cessation rates compared to the rest of California. They are an important, yet hard to reach, priority population. In order to address these concerns, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH)/California Tobacco Control Program (CTCP) developed the California Tribal Grants to Reduce Tobacco-Related Disparities (American Indian Initiative). The American Indian Initiative focuses on reducing commercial tobacco-related disparities affecting the American Indian population. It was created following recommendations from the State of California’s 2018-2020 Tobacco Education and Research Oversight (TEROC) Committee’s Master Plan: New Challenges, New Promises for All. 

Commercial tobacco is manufactured by companies for recreational and habitual use in cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco, cigars, hookahs, and other tobacco products. Commercial tobacco is mass-produced and sold for profit. Through four American Indian Initiative waves of grants, CDPH/CTCP is funding 13 American Indian Tribes and five American Indian serving non-profit community-based organizations, as well as a statewide Tribal Community Coordinating.

A new tribe-focused approach to reducing commercial tobacco use disparities

The goal of the American Indian Initiative is to promote tribal approaches to reducing tobacco-related health disparities from commercial tobacco use among California’s American Indian/Alaskan Native population to more effectively address these problems.  It does not seek to impinge upon the sacred use of traditional or ceremonial tobacco in American Indian communities.

The American Indian Initiative aims to do this through providing grants and technical support to California tribes and tribe-serving community organizations to direct their own commercial tobacco product use prevention and reduction efforts focusing on collaboration and community engagement.  These efforts include:

  • Building the capacity and skills for Tribal communities and Indian Serving Community Organizations to implement tobacco use prevention and reduction interventions and provide health education services.

  • Mobilizing and engaging the community residents and Tribal government organizations to support policy and system changes on the prevention and reduction of tobacco use.

  • Improving the implementation, support, and evaluation of Tribal project policy system change campaigns on the prevention and reduction of tobacco use.

It is doing this through a three-prong approach that includes:

  1. Establishing a Statewide Tribal Communities Coordinating Center to provide technical and educational assistance to funded efforts,

  2. Providing grants directly to California American Indian Tribes to direct their own commercial tobacco reduction and prevention efforts, and

  3. Providing grants non-profit non-governmental organizations serving California’s American Indian/Alaskan Native populations to direct commercial tobacco reduction and prevention efforts within the tribal communities they serve.

Past Team Members

berquist.pngRachel Berquist, PhD
Administrative Director
Rachel previously worked with Dr. Al-Delaimy as the California Tobacco Survey’s Program Coordinator and has also been involved in coordinating a variety of other research projects over the years, in addition to utilizing her biological sciences background asa researcher.  During this time has accumulated a wealth of expertise in managing and administering programs, and providing support to facilitate the work of project personnel, subcontractors and consultants. She is also a scientific writer and contributes to grants and manuscripts and other project dissemination materials. Rachel is the point of contact for the CAITIE evaluation.

resari.pngAlex Resari, MA
Research Associate
Alex conducts evaluation activities for CAITIE and the County of San Diego’s Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) programs. She is also the training coordinator for the PEI team, where she is responsible for coordinating workshops and providing technical assistance to County mental health programs on how to collect, analyze, and use data from the Mental Health Outcomes Management System (mHOMS). Alex has a Master’s degree in Psychology with a co-concentration in Health Behavior Research and Evaluation from Claremont Graduate University.