Alison Cerezo PI and Lead Strategy Evaluator for the California Department of Public Health’s LBTQ Health Equity Initiative

Monday, September 19, 2022
Alison Cerezo, Paris DaSilva, and Eric Cortez

PI Alison Cerezo and staff members Paris DaSilva and Eric Cortez for the California Department of Public Health’s LBTQ Health Equity Initiative

Alison Cerezo of UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School is the PI and Lead Strategy Evaluator for the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) LBTQ Health Equity Initiative. This directive prioritizes LBTQ+ women and nonbinary Californians, with an emphasis on aiding the youth, the elderly, and BIPOC members in the community. The goal is to direct people to culturally and linguistically appropriate care and to fund projects to build up equitable access to health care.

CDPH is implementing a new $17,500,000 initiative to address health inequities experienced by 2.5 million Californians who identify as lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LBTQ). The LBTQ Health Equity Initiative (LBTQ Initiative) will address well-documented but largely unaddressed health inequities that result from a range of challenges including deeply rooted systemic anti-LBTQ bias, lack of culturally responsive care, and an alarming lack of medical services and research tailored to lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer women as well as transgender men, non-binary, and gender non-conforming persons. Funding for the LBTQ Health Equity Initiative was appropriated by the legislature in 2019 after stakeholders presented compelling evidence of these inequities.

The initiative will work to improve healthcare access and community outreach along with service provider capacity building. It will sponsor new LBTQ research projects and the evaluation work by Cerezo and her team.

Cerezo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology at UC Santa Barbara. Dr. Cerezo’s primary line of research centers on reducing social and health disparities for Latinx and African American sexual and gender diverse communities. Dr. Cerezo uses qualitative, quantitative and mixed methodologies and has carried out research on sexual and gender diverse communities in the U.S. and Mexico.

París DaSilva and Eric D. Cortez have been brought on as staff members to work on the project. DaSilva is the LBTQ+ Health Disparities Technical Research Coordinator. A transgender Latina, DaSilva received her dual BS/BA in Molecular Biology and Spanish from California State University, Monterey Bay, where she studied the cell cycle and growth control pathways of S. cerevisiae and sociolinguistic barriers to healthcare for monolingual Spanish speakers. She recently obtained her MPH in Epidemiology from San Diego State University, where she also worked as an investigator on healthcare barriers and disparities for the LGBTQ+ community.

Cortez is the grant administrator for the project. He received his Master of Science degree in Clinical Psychology from California State University, Fullerton. His research focuses on the mental health and overall well-being of the Latinx LGBTQ+ community.

Five graduate student researchers from UCSB’s Department of Counseling, Clinical and School Psychology are also working on the project: Jacquelyn Chin, M.A., Isaiah Jay Jones, Amaranta Ramirez, M.A., Nicole Ramirez, David B. Rivera, M.A.

[Members of this project are available for interviews; contact George Yatchisin at]