Jennifer Ruiz, MBA
Jennifer was born and raised in Fresno/Clovis, California and is an enrolled member of the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians of Coarsegold, California. Jennifer has over ten years progressive experience working in Indian Health and nonprofit programs. She earned bachelor’s degrees in cultural anthropology and history, and then a Master’s in Business Administration at California State University, Fresno.
Jennifer also has a passion for inspiring youth towards higher education, and so she enthusiastically serves on her tribe’s Education Committee as Vice Chairperson. Jennifer and her husband recently welcomed their first child into the world – a daughter! She loves animals (has two dogs and two cats), technology, and working/volunteering for nonprofit programs that make a difference in the community.
Nancy Pierce, RN,BSN,MPH
As the Public Health Nurse here at Fresno American Indian Health Project, I can’t ask for a more rewarding position. I have been working in the public health field for over 12 years, and have been a nurse for more than 20 years. Public health is definitely my love and my calling. When I was attending California State University Fresno, where I completed my nursing degree, I worked with Central Valley Indian Health and the Native Americans up in our hills near Auberry and Friant, never knowing that I would return someday to work with Native Americans again. I enjoy the people and the challenges and hope to help them, and touch a few lives along the way.
On a personal note, I have been married for 14 years, have twin daughters ( you will hear many stories about them) who are 7 and a step son, 4 cats, and a dog. Our family spends most of our fun time camping and fishing, four wheel driving and playing on the beach. We go as often as we can. I love gardening and outdoors in general, I feel most alive in spirit and body when I am in the outdoors, especially the mountains.
I truly believe that I was guided to this position by a higher power, and every day brings a new adventure in life. Thank you for this opportunity.
Somer Shaw, M.Ed.
Director of Youth Services
Somer was raised in Tollhouse, California (foothills northeast of Fresno). Somer obtained both her bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Masters’ in Education – Curriculum and Instruction from California State University, Fresno. She currently lives in Fresno with her husband, daughter and two cats (Nog Champa and Lolo).
Somer brings the experience of working with Sierra Unified providing summer enrichment at Cold Springs Rancheria; Fresno City College providing assistance to incoming students in Registration and Orientation; Fresno State as a Graduate Student Assistant with the NASA Education Resource Center and as a lecturer for the Literacy, Early, Bilingual, and Special Education Department; and the Bureau of Land Management as a Natural Resource Specialist at Piedras Blancas Lighthouse and as an Interpretive Park Ranger (a position she has returned to recently while continuing to provide support to Clubhouse). Somer enjoys learning California ethno botany, coloring and reading with her daughter and going hiking with her husband.
“It is my heritage (Muscogee and Hawaiian) and the stories of my own family that inspired me to go to college and the reason why I believe learning is a lifelong process. I’ve always valued my heritage and am proud to be a Native American woman; it is from this perspective that I hope to inspire Clubhouse youth and my daughter (born in 2012) to find their path to success in school and in life.”
Joyce Burel, MA
Joyce received a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology and a Masters in Counseling from Sonoma State University. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 25 years of experience. In addition to her years of service as a therapist working with individuals, couples and families, a job she considers both a privilege and an honor, she is also trained and certified as a Mediator.
She has taught intercultural communication, negotiation and mediation to federal, state and local agencies and Indian tribes throughout the United States. She is a member of the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians and lives on trust land that has been in her family for over 100 years. Joyce also serves on the Native American Advisory Council to the Phoebe Hearst Museum at University of California, Berkeley.
Cynthia Igasan, BS, PSY
Community Health Worker – CBANS
Before given the opportunity to be employed with FAIHP, Cynthia had attended CBANS support groups and kept close communication with the friendly and caring staff. Cynthia felt like FAIHP was her home away from home. Cynthia also had the pleasure of being a Community Volunteer at FAIHP. Now as the Community Health Worker at FAIHP she can’t express how passionate she is about Giving back to the Community, as the genuine care, and support was once given to her.
As the Community Health Worker; Cynthia oversees the CBANS program, organizes and facilitates support groups, emphasizing Healthy Mental Wellness in Fresno county, including Big Sandy and Cold Springs Rancherias, she also reaches out to the community through outreach informational booths, educating the Native and Non Native Community on Mental Wellness and Mental Health prevention and early intervention. She enjoys talking to and learning about each unique individual, and is eager to be of help to whomever may need a helping hand…
Cynthia has earned a BA Degree in Psychology, at California State University Fresno. She plans to pursue her education with an MA in Social Work. Cynthia is a Mother of two grown children and a Grandmother of the new Love and Joy of her life. She enjoys cooking, traveling, singing karaoke, photography, writing, fishing, and spending quality time with her family and friends.
CBANS Peer Support Specilaist
Band of Pomo Indians
Ruben is a member of the Manchester-Point Arena Band of Pomo Indians. He spent the first half of his life living on the Point Arena Rancheria, and for the other half he has resided in Fresno. He joined the FAIHP team under the CBANS program.
The CBANS program is a culturally based peer support navigation program. As a Peer Support Specialist he is here to provide prevention and early intervention,connecting the Native American community to the right resources that they need to live a less stressful and healthier life. CBANS focus is to improve the knowledge of mental health and the availability of services in the community. Not only to inform, also to connect our community with the proper services through peer support and navigation.
“As a member of the FAIHP team and as a community member I enjoy nothing more than serving the Native Community.”
Valerie has over 15 years of on-the-job experience in the Business Field especially in Bookkeeping and Accounting. She was born in Fresno California and has remained in the Fresno/Clovis area all of her life. She has two brothers and one sister, and many nephews, nieces, great-nephews, and great nieces. “My greatest enjoyment is spending time with them.”
She is very involved with her Church “The Church at the Southgate” which reaches out to the Southeast Community of Fresno.
Mike Colvard, BA, GD
Social Marketing Coordinator
As Social Marketing Coordinator Mike is responsible for getting out information about what’s going on at FAIHP and our Community via traditional and social media like; Newsletters and flyers, brochures and signs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Website and others. He also enjoys teaching the youth about design, social media, photography and computers.
Mike graduated from California State University, Fresno and is a member of the Eastern Shawnee tribe of Oklahoma. His Great Grandfather, Bluejacket was a Chief. Mike has worked in every facet of the advertising design & web industry and enjoys working as a team to help others. “Every organization can benefit from Good Design.”
He is married to Kandra and has three wonderful children;Alexandra, Hayley & Luke, 2 dogs, 2 tortoises, enjoys the outdoors, cycling, fishing, painting, skateboarding, surfing, playing and watching volleyball and being a self-proclaimed computer geek.
Paula Davila joined FAIHP in July 2011 doing work experience through the Tribal TANF WEX Program (Work Experience Training Program) and was then hired in December 2011 as the Peer Support Specialist part-time. Through the WEX Program, she worked at the FAIHP Clubhouse, planning events, tutoring the youth and assisting them in craft-making. As the Peer Support Specialist for the Circles of Care Project, she served as an advisor for which the team can vet ideas, methodology, and reports prior to presenting it to the Community Advisory Committee and the Youth Council. She is well connected to the community and really enjoys working with the community in promoting their well-being.
She enjoys spending time with her family and is an avid fan of football.
Amber Huhndorf, BS, CHES
She earned her bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University in Public Health and is currently working towards a Master’s of Public Health at Fresno State. Her previous experience was with her tribal clinic as a Wellness Educator developing, implementing, and evaluating health programs.
Amber enjoys family gatherings, beach walking, and subsistence fishing for Sockeye Salmon in Alaska. She believes in her tribal traditional values: Self-sufficiency and Hard Work, Care and Provision for the Family, Family Relations and Unity, Love for Children, Village Cooperation and Responsibility to Village, Humor, Honesty and Fairness Sharing and Caring, Respect for Elders and Others.
David is the transporter for Clubhouse and the Health Project and each year for summer camp. He enjoys driving, fishing and helping people in our community. David retired from a 30 year law enforcement career. He is our “GO-TO” guy whenever we need anything from food to supplies. His lovely wife Elena volunteers at FAIHP as well.
Ruby Mateos, MPH, MJ
Over 12 years of experience in community involvement, provider relationships, program management, public policy, public health and health law.
Throughout her career, she has promoted and developed working relationship with county, local, state agencies and other organizations to facilitate coordinated programs and to exchange information and solve mutual problems.
She earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines and was one of the 10 Outstanding Business Administration Graduates, Masters in Public Health – Magna cum Laude from TUI University and Master of Jurisprudence in Health Law from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
She is also active in the community and serves as a Member of the Board for Our Lady of Victory School and a Volunteer Mentor for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Ruby has 2 handsome boys and loves to travel and dine with the family.
Mihaela Pickering MPH, RD
Registered Dietitian/Health Ed
Mihaela was born and raised in Transylvania, Romania (“yes, it honestly is a real place!”) and moved to US thirty years ago. After living in Southern California for most of those years, Mihaela decided to make Fresno her home and be closer to her family. She earned her Master of Public Health degree and completed her dietetic internship from Loma Linda University in 2007. For the past 5 years, Mihaela has worked as a Registered Dietitian providing individualized nutrition counseling in both clinical and community settings, encouraging, empowering and educating patients to manage and improve their health outcomes .
Mihaela is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and serves on the Board of the Central Valley Dietetic Association. She has a soft spot for animals, especially her own dog and enjoys spending time with her husband, family and friends, traveling, sailing and healthy cooking.
Rachel Ramirez, BSW
Peer Support Specialist
Rachel is a member of the Wukchumni Tribe and resides in Fresno, California where she grew up. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work in 2012 from California State University, Fresno. Her education emphasized on Cultural Competency as well as Drug and Alcohol Studies.
Rachel enjoys spending time with her friends and family. She also enjoys learning new skills and attempting new things including skateboarding, rock-climbing, and playing the guitar. She truly enjoys assisting and being a member of the Native community.