Who We Are

The Community Health Ambassador Program (CHAMP) is comprised of individuals who are compassionate, resilient, and committed to promoting resident-driven health initiatives, supporting resident empowerment and leadership. They also serve as a feedback loop for the Community Wellness Program to provide the best practices within the Hope SF communities. 

The Peer Health leader Program, now known as the CHAMP initiative transitioned to San Francisco’s Department of Public Health in 2014. Since the Urban Services YMCA acquired the contract in June 2016, the program continues to thrive and positively impact more Hope SF residents.  Within a few years, the team has grown from one director to a team of 16. The Community Health Ambassador Program is committed to creating health and wellness programs within the Hope SF communities, in addition to empowering health ambassadors as they become experienced Community Health Workers.


Our Vision:

Our Urban Services YMCA Community Health Ambassador Program is committed to building equity through our diversity, inclusion and engagement efforts. We work to ensure that everyone, regardless of ability, age, cultural background, ethnicity, faith, gender, gender identity, ideology, income, national origin, race or sexual orientation has the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.

Our Values:


We choose to place people before program. The Community members are our foundation, without them, we would not be able to differentiate between the actual needs of the community and our perceived needs of the community. 


We value diversity while understanding that difference and distance can create discord. We look to break down these barriers and get to know individuals in the communities we serve and to help them better understand our commonalities and differences. We strive to create an environment where all are welcome and supported regardless of their background. 


We strive to bring together individuals and organizations with different and complementary skills, resources, methods, and needs, for the purpose of mutual collaboration and community benefit.


We continuously strive to create a safe space within the communities we serve. We have an open-door policy and invite all community and San Francisco residents to partake in our initiatives, services, activities, and events.

A Catalyst for Change

Current Programs:

University of California San Francisco - Practicum Students

The Community Health Ambassador Program (CHAMP) is enthusiastic to work with the University of California San Francisco’s Master of Public Health (MPH) Practicum graduate students.  The Practicum students are soon to be graduates who commit 300 hours of student service-learning, community-based fieldwork within the Urban Service YMCA project sites. The graduate students and Ambassadors work side-by-side to create and implement effective outreach strategies to engage the community and promote the Community Wellness Center Program services, activities, and events. This dynamic team primarily focuses on health equity, community assessments, and prevention of chronic diseases. They also develop activities that support optimal physical/behavioral holistic health among San Francisco’s Black/African, Hispanic, and Chinese American/Immigrant community and all residents of HOPE SF sites.

American Heart Association - Check. Change. Control.

In partnership with the American Heart Association (AHA), Jenny Lee, a Master of Public Health candidate at the University of San Francisco's School of Nursing and Health Professions, Community Health Ambassadors, and the Community Wellness Centers have implemented AHA’s Check. Change. Control Program. The target is to reach 1000+ adults at the four different sites to support the identification of high blood pressure in high-risk neighborhoods. Community Health Ambassadors have been trained to provide health education within their scope of practice and will provide resources to their community’s residents to improve health outcomes. The program will support healthy living and lower risk of high blood pressure through wellness classes and events.

Coaction Institute

Community Health Ambassadors (CHA’s) are trained and assessed by Dr. Dory Escobar of the Coaction Institute.  The Coaction Institute builds community and institutional capacity focused on Trauma Informed Care. This training allows our CHA’s to better care for themselves and their community members by providing trauma reducing methods, which will ultimately contribute to individual and communal resiliency, mental, and behavioral health.

City College of San Francisco

The Community Health Ambassadors (CHA’s) are currently enrolled in the City College of San Francisco’s (CCSF) Community Health Worker (CHW) Certificate Program. The goal of the Community Health Worker Certificate Program is to prepare and train CHA’s to better understand community-oriented health, provide proper health education, and promote client advocacy in both clinic and community settings. The CHW program has allowed the CHAs to practice what they learn in the classroom within their community.

The Preterm Birth Initiative

In collaboration with San Francisco State University and UCSF Benioff Community Innovation Project, three Community Innovators examined inadequately housed low-income pregnant women in San Francisco. The Community Innovators completed close to 60 interviews with program staff and key systems representatives and held 10 Mama Sharing sessions with over 60 women who have experienced pregnancy, inadequate housing and in many cases, preterm birth. This project concluded in producing an Action Agenda to embark on a campaign to raise awareness and catalyze change.

Tobacco-Free Project

The Tobacco-Free Project is a community-based project focused on social justice, health equity, and developing Emerging Community Leaders in multi-housing developments, to assess the health and environmental needs of these communities. The Tobacco-Free Project prioritized and led educational and organizational campaigns for tobacco control initiatives, including limiting availability and promotion of tobacco products, developing smoke-free multi-housing units, capacity building of community partners, cessation programs, Health Retail SF, and many others.


USF Practicum Students

Amy Ma

“I am a second-year graduate student at the University of San Francisco pursuing a master’s in public health and behavioral health. I am especially passionate about mental health among the Asian population because I experience the effects of mental illness first-hand in my family and have heard many stories about the struggles of mental illness from Asian friends and their families. There is a large Asian population in San Francisco and a huge need for culturally appropriate mental health services. My hope for interning with Urban Services is to develop a program that leads to improved mental health for the Asian community in San Francisco."

Jenny Lee

Jenny Lee is a Master of Public Health candidate at the University of San Francisco's School of Nursing and Health Professions. She received her Bachelor of Science in Clinical Nutrition from UC Davis and is a certified Dietetic Technician, Registered. As a San Francisco native, she enjoys walking and bike-riding throughout the city, namely Golden Gate Park, and going to Farmers' Markets on the weekend. She is on a mission to bring about a healthier San Francisco by establishing community resilience within Urban Services Y sites. Jenny (right) facilitated our Urban Services Y Community-based Check. Change. Control program in partnership with the American Heart Association. Attached you can find research she conducted while serving as a practicum student with Urban Services YMCA.

Shaina Alves

"Hello! I am a graduate student in the Master of Public Health program at the University of San Francisco. I am interested in issues related to housing and I am particularly passionate about helping those experiencing homelessness. Upon completion of the MPH program, I am looking to explore a career in research, data analysis, and/or policy work. I am excited to be working with Urban Services YMCA on a project to improve upon the current implementation of the American Heart Association’s Check. Change. Control. blood pressure monitoring program for HOPE SF residents. Our goal is to improve data collection and analysis to ensure linkage to care."

Carlee Balzaretti

"I have been a nurse for almost 15 years and am also a board-certified family nurse practitioner, having worked in the hospital and urgent care settings, as well as participated in disaster relief, both domestically and abroad. In addition to being a graduate student in the MPH program, I am also an Assistant Professor of undergraduate nursing. One of my passions is for enhancing wellness through outreach and education, particularly in vulnerable populations. As a Bay Area native, I am excited to have this opportunity to serve San Francisco communities!"

Strategies for Community Engagement

  • Urban Mobile Wellness Outreach

  • Community-Based Focus Groups

  • CBO Networking & Collaboration

  • Door-to-Door Outreach

  • Phone Calls to residents

  • Referrals and/or word-of-mouth

  • Flyers

  • Workshops and classes

  • Community Events

  • Health Fairs


Collaboration has been a key to building a strong community presence and providing effective and efficient services. Across the four Hope SF communities, we have been able to collaborate with many community partners and San Francisco organizations.

Community Collaborations

Alice Griffith

  • Candlestick State Parks (Ambassador Program, Community Walk, and Community Garden)
  • Ambassador Program – Alice Griffith Community Health Ambassadors (CHA's) and CHA's from other sites participated in the Candlestick State Park Health Workers. A 40+ hour training to be certified by state parks which enabled them to work with state parks.
  • Bayview Senior Services (Referrals, Community Events, and Outreach Support)
  • 100% College Prep (Program Support, Outreach, and Community Events)
  • Urban Strategies (Referrals, Community Events, Outreach Support, Logistics Support) 
  • SF Phoenix Project 
  • Literacy for Environmental Justice 
  • Five Keys Charter School- A mobile truck that provides free GED completion courses to Hope SF residents. We have several of our ambassadors in their program; we have helped with outreach and have referred residents to theirs classes.
  • El Centro Bayview Family Resource Center
  • Tzu Chi Foundation

Hunters View: 

  • Bay View YMCA

  • George Davis Senior Center Adult Day Center

  • JUMP Bikes

  • Community Youth Center

  • San Francisco Dental Association for Cavity Free Children and the Silver Avenue Dental Clinic

  • Office of Community Infrastructure & Investment, OCII

  • Homeless Prenatal Program

  • Black Infant Health

  • District Attorney's Office

  • San Francisco's Black Firefighters


  • Visitacion Valley Strong Families

  • Bayview YMCA

  • Mercy Housing

  • Sunnydale Boys & Girls Club

  • Sunnydale Tenants Association

  • Urban Sprouts

  • Family Service Agency

  • Instituto Familiar de la Raza of San Francisco’s SPARK Program

  • YMCA Bayview Family Resource Center and Services

  • Samoan Community Development Center (SCDC)

  • Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco

  • Together United Committed Forever (TURF)

  • Wu Yee Children’s Services

  • Phoenix Project

  • Bay Area Legal Services

  • River of Life Church

  • George C. Davis Senior Center

Potrero Hill

  • Urban Services Potrero Hill Family Resource Center


Organization Collaborations

  • Department of Public Health

  • Hope SF

  • San Francisco Mayor's Office

  • American Heart Association

  • Community College San Francisco

  • University of San Francisco

  • Coaction Institute

  • JUMP Bikes


Collective Impact meetings are very important to attend. These meetings are facilitated by HopeSF. This meeting is normally comprised of: community members, community partners, housing developers, and the police. 


First Thursday of every month, 10:00am -12:00pm
Samoan Community Development Center, 2055 Sunnydale Ave., SF, 94134

Alice Griffith

Third Wednesday of every month, 1:00pm - 3:00pm
Alice Griffith Community room, 2600 Arelious Walker Drive, SF, 94124

CWP Meetings

2nd and 4th Friday of every month, 9:30am - 11:30am
Sunnydale Community Wellness Center

Urban Services YMCA Managers Meeting

Monday and Friday every week, 11:30am -1:00pm
Rotating Sites


Jonathan Portney

Community Health Ambassador Program Director 

My career in Global Public Health continues to provide me with the opportunity to develop and work in communities, clinics, and hospitals both domestically and internationally. Before moving to San Francisco, I worked with Loma Linda University as an international missionary serving in Sierra Leone, West Africa at their Waterloo Adventist Hospital. I have had the privilege of serving in Brazil, Belize, Peru, Honduras, Mexico, and the Philippines. I'm fortunate to work with the Urban Services YMCA Peer Health Leadership Program. The YMCA organization, staff, and the communities we serve share similar values, and that is inclusion, compassion, and grit.


Sandy Singh

Associate Director

Starting my career in marketing for corporate America, I turned my attention to international development when I moved to India and scaled a social enterprise program throughout the country. In my hometown of Turlock, California, I advocated for the creation of programs both supporting the homeless and preventing homelessness. While working at an international non-profit, I spent three years connecting volunteers working at tech companies to grassroots level nonprofits working on issues like human trafficking and the refugee crisis. While at Urban Services YMCA, I am most excited to serve my local community and continue to fight against racial disparities and gender inequality.


Peter Wagner

Administrative Assistant

Peter is from Michigan – ask him, and he’ll point to where he’s from on his hand. The Bay Area’s warmth lured him here in 2015, and since he’s been helping the YMCA create strong communities and growing the skills of people who call San Francisco home.


Dante Casuga

Alice Griffith Site-Coordinator

As the Community Health Ambassador Program Coordinator at Alice Griffith’s Community Wellness Program, I  began my career in community work advocating for workers’ rights as a Union Organizer at San Francisco International Airport. While attending San Francisco State University, I had the opportunity to work for the YMCA Bayview Beacon youth program facilitating programming in arts, and health and wellness. I decided to focus my last several years of work addressing the health inequalities impacting youth in the Bayview District. I completed my time with the Bayview Beacon as the HEPA (Healthy Eating Physical Activity) Coordinator supporting six youth programs. I decided to continue my career trajectory in community health and health equity, while finding my current position with Alice Griffith Hope SF residents and families, many whom I’ve worked with in the past.


Stephanie Won

Sunnydale Site-Coordinator

After many years in the high tech industry and while doing pro-bono, nonprofit consulting, I fell in love with organizations that were making a difference in human lives, as well as being a voice for those that don’t have a voice. Social justice and diversity and inclusion became my raison D’etre. Inspired by Oprah, I felt it was my calling to serve others as I’ve always done. I’m so lucky to have found my calling here at the Sunnydale Wellness Center. As the Site Coordinator, I look forward to  building long-term relationships with my community, supporters, and partners. My goal is to start the conversation and empower the community to be better, healthier versions of themselves and to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Kayshawn Wallace

Outreach & Engagement Specialist: Hunters View

As a Boston Native, I have previous experience working with the youth population in high schools in Boston. Continuing my passion, I worked for a positive-self development program which connected mentors to community of at-risk youth. My dedication to the revitalization of the Hunters View community and my passion for youth development and engagement, is what motivates me.  As the Outreach & Engagement Coordinator, I look to bring about positive change and influence on my quest to establish healthy individuals within the community.

Roshawn Finley

Outreach & Engagement Specialist: Sunnydale

For the past four years, I have been working with Urban Services YMCA as a Peer Health Leader. Recently, I was promoted to the Outreach & Engagement Coordinator for our Sunnydale Wellness Center. I motivate and advocate for residents and connect them to appropriate services to better their healthy lifestyles. Working and living in the same community can be challenging, but it brings me joy being apart of an organization that values residents and their personal and professional growth. The YMCA organization has instilled in me the importance of compassion and love, and because of this, I am better able to relate and engage with the community I serve -- I love my community!

Betty Hunter

Community Health Ambassador:  Sunnydale

As the Community Health Ambassador, I help with creating and implementing effective strategies to assist with the outreach for the Wellness Center Programs. While operating the Urban Mobile Clinic within the community, and facilitating various health and wellness programs, I connect community members to resources at the Wellness Center. I am currently finishing my Bachelor of Arts degree, and I look forward to applying the skills I have learned in the classroom to my community.

Priscilla Wilson

Outreach & Engagement Coordinator at Huntersview

I am a native San Franciscan and have experienced the many challenges and beauty living here in the city I love and grew up in. As a Community Health Ambassador, I love to  help people in every way that I can. It brings me joy and happiness to help others in my community. That’s why I chose to do this type of work so that I can enhance health and wellness in the community where I live.

Evelyn Winterstein

I am working as Community Health Ambassador in Hunters View. Born and raised in Hunters View, I have experienced first-hand the trials and tribulations my community faces. My ultimate goal is to bring health and wellness to my community so that all residents, including myself, can live life to our fullest potential. I am determined to be a change agent here in Hunters View, and I will now and forever put my best foot forward to establish community resilience.

Jazmina Sequeria

Community Health Ambassador: Alice Griffith

As a Community Health Ambassador at Alice Griffith working with Dante Casuga, I host a healthy eating class, co-facilitate a zumba and yoga class, and many other classes. I enjoy  helping my community members be more healthy. My passion is helping others and making sure they have the resources and support that they need.

Walltinisha Ennon

Community Health Ambassador: Alice Griffith

I am a Community Health Ambassador at  Alice Griffith. Being an advocate and working in the same community that I grew up in, brings me great honor. I bring my first-hand experience and can relate on a deeper level with the members that I serve. I enjoy teaching them about being healthy and helping them to practice peace within themselves. An area that I am working on within my community, is to foster mutual respect and to reduce hate crimes - especially black-on-black crimes.