Skip to main content

CHWAP logoThe Community Health Workers for Advancing Public Health within Immigrant/Refugee and Native American Communities Program


Welcome to the Community Health Workers for Advancing Public Health within Immigrant/Refugee and Native American Communities Program, also known as CHWAP, funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

This program is an academic-community collaborative led by The Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at UC San Diego and with involvement of the UC San Diego Extended Studies, UC San Diego Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute (ACTRI) Center for Community Health, and Somail Family Service. Additionally, more than 14 community organization partners are also represented as part of our team, along with collaborations with the California Consortium for Urban Indian Health, the San Diego Workforce Partnership, the County of San Diego, Health Center Partners of Southern California, the Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties, and Family Health Centers of San Diego.

CHWAP group posing for camera outdoors.

Purpose and Goals

Four people talking while sitting at a table looking at a map

The purpose of the CHWAP program is to train community health workers and health support workers from underserved refugee and immigrant population of African, Afro-Caribbean, Asian and Middle Eastern backgrounds and American Indian communities through development and implementation of a streamlined recruitment, training and placement program grounded in academic-community partnership. Community health workers and health support workers trained through the program will then be a resource for their communities to address health care access and inequities through supporting linkages to care and public health education across key health topics related to COVID-19 and chronic conditions disproportionately impacting these communities.

Large group of CHWAP participants standing together facing camera.

Key Goals: 

Goal 1: Increase the Community Health Worker (CHW)/Health Support Worker (HSW) workforce among refugee and American Indian communities in San Diego and California, respectively.

Goal 2: Develop, refine, implement, and expand curricular options for CHWs/HSWs specifically designed to meet the needs of target communities in public health education and services (e.g., support vaccination campaigns) including COVID-19.

Goal 3: Expand and improve the quality of the workforce of CHWs/HSWs providing healthcare support and public health services, with the aspiration to influence health inequities in our target communities.


Person speaking in front of a classroom during CHWAP training

As part of CWHAP, we will recruit up to 200 community health workers and train them through certified training programs offered by UC San Diego to address gaps in health care access and health education in underserved local communities. The summer 2023 training cohort is full. Enrollment for the January 2024 cohort is now open.

The aim is to address health inequity within local refugee, immigrant and American Indian communities. The community health workers and health support workers training will involve one basic module in community health training and three advanced modules in 1) health support, 2) soft skills development, and 3) leadership and self-care. Following training, the CWHAP program will support internship and apprenticeship placements to support job placement for those who are qualified. Select trainees will also receive higher level training to themselves become trainers of other CHWs in their respective communities.

All the expenses for this training will be covered by the program, including applicable tuition and other costs such as travel, child care, and other expenses incurred to attend training. For more details or if you are interested in participating, J.W. Wiebe-Anderson, program manager at, or fill out the online enrollment application.

Three people work on a poster on a table.

Meet the Team

CHWAP team sitting a dinner table facing camera

Wael Al-Delaimy, MD PhD, Director
Dr. Al-Delaimy is a professor of public health and global health at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health with experience working with diverse communities nationally and internationally. He has a medical degree from his native Iraq and is fluent in Arabic. Dr. Al-Delaimy also has a Doctor of Philosophy in Epidemiology from New Zealand where he worked with indigenous Maori populations and completed his post-doctoral training in nutritional epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Eric Hekler, PhD, Co-Director
Dr. Hekler is director of the graduate specialization in design at the UC San Design lab and brings extensive expertise in managing educational programs. He is also associate dean of community partnerships and a professor of public health at the UC San Diego Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health, leading a team of faculty and staff to establish community partners locally and across the border in Mexico.

Blanca Melendrez, MA, Co-Director
Ms. Melendrez is executive director for the ACTRI Center for Community Health and co-chair of the Antiracism Health Disparities and Inequities Workstream at UC San Diego Health. She brings more than 20 years of experience in the non-profit and government sectors bringing together policy decision-makers, researchers and constituents to improve community health and reduce health disparities for low-income populations. Her work includes promoting healthy communities such as addressing institutional racism, racial health disparities, fighting for social justices in underserved communities, and building community collaborations and training resources.

Jeremiah (J.W.) Wiebe-Anderson, MPH, Program Manager
Mr. Wiebe-Anderson brings nearly 10 years of experience working with and serving American Indian communities in California in clinical, academic and volunteer capacities, most recently as an evaluation research assistant with the California American Indian Tobacco Initiative Evaluation. His work is informed by a Bacholer of Arts in Sociology from Cal Poly Humboldt and a Master of Public Health with a concentration in public mental health and an emphasis on health behaviors from UC San Diego. His research has included such topics as collaborative solutions to rural American Indian food insecurity and the community dynamics that influence commercial tobacco control policy change on American Indian lands.

Amina Sheik Mohamed, MPH, Community Recruitment and Education Lead 
Ms. Sheik Mohamed is the Refugee Health Unit director within at the ACTRI Center for Community Health. Amina has gained recognition for her work with multicultural populations, particularly Arab, African, and African American women, youth and children in San Diego County and across California. She is founding director for the Refugee Health Unit and Youth Advisory Council.

Chag Lowery, MEd, Native American Community Outreach
Mr. Lowery is of Yurok, Maidu, and Achumawi native ancestry from California and is the current administrative director of the California American Indian Tobacco Initiative Evaluation program based at UC San Diego and involving 14 tribes in California. He is an active member of multiple Indigenous communities and Native American tribal governments throughout California, and has authored numerous publications on native history, culture, language and health.

Najla Ibrahim, MPHEducation and Community Recruitment Lead
Ms. Ibrahim is the Somali Family Services Health & Wellness program director and its principal investigator on this project. Herself a refugee from Somalia, Ms. Ibrahim has first-hand experience working with refugee communities in the San Diego region. She has a Master of Public Health and more than 10 years of experience in community public health initiatives.

Ruth Teseyem Tadesse, MPH, Community Recruitment & Education Staff
Ms. Tadesse serves as a community health project specialist within the Refugee Health Unit at the ACTRI Center for Community Health. She uses data to identify community needs prior to planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating programs designed to encourage healthy lifestyles, policies and environments.  Ms. Tadesse contributes to community based participatory research by working with various stakeholders, such as the San Diego Refugees Communities Coalition, to support community led data collection and data desegregation efforts to improve barriers to understanding refugees' behavioral health and health care needs.

HRSA Funding

This program is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $3,000,000 with 0% financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official view of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit