Mayoral candidates to discuss #Parks4All at 9/27 forum

In a nationwide assessment of city parks, Fresno ranked 97th out of 100 cities in the U.S.

The 2016 ParkScore Index takes into account each city’s park acreage, park spending, accessibility of parks to residents, and available park and recreation amenities and calculates its score based on these areas.

A community-led #Parks4All Mayoral Candidate Forum, co-hosted by the Department of Recreation Administration and Office of Community and Economic Development, among other partners, will address this and other issues related to parks, recreation, open space and community health in Fresno.

Questions about specific steps to implement and create #Parks4All in Fresno will be addressed to both Fresno mayoral candidates — Fresno City Councilmember Lee Brand and Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea.

The forum will give Fresno voters an opportunity to hear the candidates discuss the issues and offer a chance to ask questions.

“We are interested in hearing what our mayoral candidates have to say about this,” said Dr. Sam Lankford, professor and chair in the Department of Recreation Administration. “The goal is get this topic on their agenda, so that we can strategically find the places that we should build more parks to ensure access to all residents. We hope they’ll lead the charge. It can easily be done with the right leadership in the community.”

According to the Fresno Bee, park access is a sore spot for the city, with only 54 percent of residents citywide living within a half-mile, or a 10-minute walk, from a park. The national average is 69.5 percent.

The forum will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27, at the Parc Grove Commons Community Room (2674 E. Clinton Ave.) in Fresno. The event is free and open to the public, but guests are asked to register at parks4allforum/

Other event hosts and partners include Fresno Building Healthy Communities, Communities for a New California Education Fund, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, League of Women Voters of Fresno, and The Trust for Public Land.

For more information, contact Sam Lankford at 559.278.2624 or or Jenna Chilingerian at 559.278.6119 or 


View Lankford’s interviews at the following news links:

Central Valley Today (9/21/16)

KMPH Great Day (9/21/16)

Fresno State Press Release (9/14/16)

Iran Barrera selected for national leadership program to build a Culture of Health

Dr. Irán Barrera, associate professor in the Department of Social Work Education, was chosen among researchers and community leaders from across the country to collaborate and advance a Culture of Health, a framework that places well-being at the center of every aspect of life.

Through his work with Interdisciplinary Research Leaders, Barrera will work to identify significant health risks of those living in disadvantaged communities in Fresno County, with hopes that the findings will shape policy to enhance population health in the Valley.

Led by the University of Minnesota, Interdisciplinary Research Leaders will bring together teams comprised of two researchers and one community leader. Together, they will develop advanced leadership skills and identify a clear focus on health and equity, enabling them to break down silos, address health disparities and build healthier communities.

“This program is unique and the first of its kind,” Barrera said. “To be selected means that the work I have done surrounding mental health care disparities, is being recognized nationally and for that, I am excited. I look forward to the challenges and great learning opportunities offered by this innovative national leadership program.”

Utilizing a team approach, Barrera will work with Sabrina Kelley, resident services manager at the Fresno Housing Authority, and Yumiko Aratani, director of the Health and Mental Health Unit at the National Center for Children in Poverty, to investigate the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) among parents with young children living in public housing communities in Fresno.

They will also examine the impact of an evidence-based parenting program and preventive early intervention mental health support on young children, and examine how the intervention’s impact varies by the severity of parental ACEs.

Barrera and his team are one of only 15 three-person teams selected nationally.

“Through this program, we hope to identify soci-behavioral risk factors, specifically in the San Joaquin Valley, that contribute to illness, particularly mental distress,” Barrera said.

While participating in the program, all team members will continue working full-time, while applying new knowledge and leadership skills in their communities and within their respective fields.

“This program gives our fellows the tools to make their work even more relevant and potent – and to bring new leadership skills and perspective back to their communities as well,” said Dr. J Michael Oakes, director of Interdisciplinary Research Leaders and professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota. “We were overwhelmed by the commitment, diverse perspectives and innovative ideas in our applicant pool and are very excited to work with this first group to put research into action and create a lasting, on-the-ground impact.”

Additional partners providing training and coaching to fellows include: AcademyHealth, Allina Health, ISAIAH and Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

Barrera is also director of the federally funded HRSA Grant, Consejo, which trains Fresno State social work students  to serve Spanish-speaking children, adolescents, transitional aged youth (ages 16-25) and their families in areas where Latinos are a majority of the population.


Interdisciplinary Research Leaders is one of four new leadership development programs launched this year by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and represent a four-year, multimillion dollar investment. Learn more at the link.

Save the Date: Faculty Welcome & Recognition Reception, Sept. 27



Next week, we’ll be hosting a reception to welcome our four new faculty members and also, to congratulate our four newly promoted faculty. We invite ALL CHHS faculty and staff to join us at this second annual event! It will be a great way to connect with your colleagues and learn more about the great work each of you are doing in the college.

Date: Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Time: 4 – 6 p.m. / Welcome 4:30 p.m.

Location: Smittcamp Alumni House, 2625 E. Matoian Way, Fresno 93740

Parking: Use lot P2 and enter parking code: 291703


(use code: Reception).


Fresno State encourages persons with all abilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodations, please call 559.278.4004 in advance of your visit.

Alumni Spotlight: Katie Williamson helps others find balance to live well

Katie Williamson, 2012 Kinesiology alumna.

In 2012, Katie Williamson stood on stage of the Save Mart Center in front of thousands of her peers as she accepted the Graduate Deans’ Medalist award for the College of Health and Human Services. Four years later, she’s back on stage at the Save Mart Center. This time, she’s addressing faculty and staff at the President’s fall 2016 assembly, in her role as chair of the Fresno State Staff Assembly Executive Committee.

Since receiving her master’s degree in Sport Psychology at Fresno State, Williamson has been making moves on campus as the Professional Development and Wellness Coordinator, in addition to her involvement on the staff assembly. As coordinator, she designs professional development and wellness workshops designed to help employees at Fresno State become healthy physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially and occupationally, while using a more holistic approach.

Williamson, at the fall assembly, talking about one of the ways she lives well – riding her motorcycle!

“Through the Office of Organizational Excellence, we host about 20-30 classes on a monthly basis,” Williamson said. “We try to be intentional in offering classes that fill a need that people have whether it’s specific to a job skill or looking at the wellness wheel that identifies the seven dimensions of wellness. I try to find topics related to those, plus I’m always listening for new ideas as I talk to people on campus.”

Williamson’s educational background has played an integral role in her expertise today. In addition to a master’s degree, she also obtained her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Fresno State in 2009. She says she initially built her workshops based on the Applied Behavior Analysis principles she learned in her undergraduate course work.

Williamson with President Castro and First Lady, Mary Castro, and Director of Governmental Relations, Larry Salinas, at a campus event.

Williamson also regularly returns to the classroom, as a guest speaker for introductory sport psychology classes. She has also partnered with the nutrition program on campus to offer senior dietetic students the opportunity to experience nutrition coaching and teaching prior to graduation.

A native of Kingsburg, Williamson has always had a strong desire to help others through her work on campus, as well as her own personal passion project – life coaching. For the past two years, she has worked with the Fresno Rescue Mission to develop a holistic wellness curriculum for individuals receiving services there. Her curriculum, The Life I Now Live, focuses on helping others realize their own strength and value in regards to physical health, mental skills and spirituality.

“From using this curriculum,I was able to see women break through barriers they had and overcome limiting beliefs in their physical, spiritual, and emotional lives,” Williamson said. “The curriculum actually came from my thesis research from my experience at Fresno State and to see it five years later come to fruition is a great experience. It works really well and now I am able to get it out farther to reach more people. It just does not get any better for me.”

Williamson will be among the many speakers at the Central California Women’s Conference Sept. 20.

Williamson will release her curriculum for purchase on her website, Sept. 20. That day she’ll also be a speaking at the Central California Women’s Conference in a workshop entitled, “How to reclaim your self, sanity and sparkle.”

“It is about practical strategies that can be used when experiencing very difficult circumstances in life,” Williamson said of her workshop. “I will teach others how they can train their minds and body to really build their life, get to place where they can feel confident and ready to take on whatever comes before them.”

Regardless of where she’s headed next, Williamson continues to live her life fueled by an innate passion to help others discover the best parts of themselves. She said her strong faith is the main motivation behind her work – as well as her desire to create meaningful relationships with those she comes across.

“My hope for the future is that I always take the time to meet people where they are at,” Williamson reflects. “I want to always take the time to invest in people around me and build relationships because I have found that there is no job or material possession that surpasses those connections. It drives the work I do at work and outside of work.”

Read more about Williamson on her blog, “#OurFunnyLives: Tales of Adventure, Redemption, and Love” or follow her on twitter at @kwill220. You can also purchase her official curriculum at

-Written by Sierra Frank, CHHS Communications Student Assistant

Fresno State rises through the ranks

This article is reprinted from Fresno State News, as written by Kathleen Schock. Originally published Sept. 14, 2016.


Academics at Fresno State are garnering national attention with the release of rankings from Washington Monthly Magazine and U.S. News and World Report.

Last month, Washington Monthly selected Fresno State alongside seven Ivy League institutions, five University of California campuses and Stanford University on a list of the top 30 national universities. The D.C.-based magazine known for its annual rankings of American colleges and universities placed Fresno State No. 25 in the nation.

Washington Monthly has been ranking colleges and universities for 11 years with what it calls “a different kind of college ranking,” focusing on three pillars: social mobility, research and service.

The University was cited as an “instructive example” of schools that enroll many low-income students and help them graduate. Given the high number of undergraduates that are first-generation students and the fact that the majority have incomes low enough to qualify for a federal Pell Grant, Fresno State “has a higher graduation rate than is typical, given those demographics, and a highly affordable net price,” the magazine reported.

Fresno State’s graduation rates were also recognized by U.S. News and World Report, which identified it as the nation’s best public university in graduation rate performance in the 2017 Best College rankings, issued September 13.

The graduation rate performance category uses the university’s actual performance as compared to predicted performance based on student demographics, including spending per student, admissions selectivity and the proportion of undergraduates receiving Pell grants. Fresno State scored highest among public universities and was No. 3 overall.

“This national recognition is more evidence of Fresno State’s positive academic and athletic trajectory. We are living our new Strategic Plan’s mission to boldly educate and empower our students for success,” said Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro. “Our faculty and staff use their extraordinary gifts to develop the next generation of leaders for the Central Valley and beyond.

“We’ve chosen to work as one with our community, and our partnerships with Fresno State alumni and many philanthropic friends have made an enormous difference in our success,” Castro said.

U.S. News and World Report evaluates campuses on multiple factors. The magazine gives the most weight to graduation and retention rates and undergraduate academic reputation, followed by faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rate performance and alumni giving.

Fresno State’s reclassification as a doctoral university means it has joined the top research universities in the nation in rankings produced by the magazine. This year the University ranked in the first tier of all schools and was No. 220 in the nation.

Fresno State achieved a strong showing despite reporting far lower educational expenditure per student than most universities. Yale, which ranked No. 3 overall, spends the most, an average of $222,546 per student each year. The national average is $37,373, while Fresno State spends just $12,030 per student each year.

“Fresno State is providing life changing educational opportunities for our students, more than two-thirds of whom will be the first in their families to earn a college degree,” said Provost Lynnette Zelezny. “Our inclusion in the national rankings speaks to the growing academic distinction of our students and faculty.”

 View original press releases:

U.S. News ranks Fresno State nation’s top public university in graduation rate performance (Sept. 14, 2016)

Fresno State ranked No. 25 in nation by Washington Monthly (Aug. 29, 2016)

Recreation students bridge customs & cultures in Taipei

Broten (l) and Cha (r) spent two months in Taipei.

Recreation Administration seniors, Cora Cha and Lishen Broten, spent a part of their summer across the globe in the capital city of Taiwan on a once-in-a-lifetime trip where they learned to teach and apply what they’ve learned in a real-world setting. From May 30 thrugh July 30, Cha and Broten served as instructors to the young kids attending the Taipei American School’s day camp. This gave them the unique opportunity to teach American culture to the kids while also taking in the richness of the Taiwanese culture for themselves.

“The Taipei Youth Program Association, which hosted the day camp, wanted American students, like us, to come to their program in order to integrate our two cultures,” Cha said. “They wanted the kids to have an idea of what Americans do at their summer camps.”

Cha and Broten worked as instructors to the students, who ranged from ages 6-12. They worked alongside other instructors and counselors native to the region, who brought their own expertise. However, because Cha and Broten were the only American instructors, their main task was to introduce the Taiwanese students to activities and lessons that take place at American day camps.

Beginning at 9 a.m. each day, Cha and Broten went over the top 10 rules for the campers to follow. Next, the large group of kids broke off into five smaller groups, categorized by age. Each instructor, including Cha and Broten, rotated groups and saw as many as 100 students a day.

The day camp also included field trips to amusement parks and the Tapei Zoo.

Both were tasked with coming up with their own lesson plans and activities for each day’s activities.

“I did various instructing like camp songs, sign language and groovy ice breaker games, as a way to get to know everyone,” Cha said. “We also did arts and crafts, including making t-shirts and paper mâchés. We had free reign to create whatever we wanted to do, while the other instructors who were older and had more experience had specific areas of instruction.”

Broten’s activities incorporated more elements of physical activity and sports to play, including soccer, basketball and dodgeball.

“On Tuesdays we did ‘run wild’ activities,” Broten said. “We were outside all day with the kids. These activities included water fights, water relays and slip and slide – activities to keep them preoccupied and having a good time.”

This was the first time Fresno State had the opportunity to collaborate on this overseas project. Back in May, the Department of Recreation Administration extended this opportunity to qualified students willing to travel across the globe to explore new cultures and customs, much different from their own.

Cha and Broten with their fellow camp instructors and counselors.

Brandon Taylor, a faculty member in the recreation administration department, chose Cha and Broten for this opportunity, due to their great academic standing, involvement within the major and their desire to participate.

“Cora and Lishen are both quality students who exemplify the type of students our department attracts and wants to send out into the work environment after graduation,” Taylor said. “Additionally, both had previously traveled out of the country, which helped ease apprehension in taking a major trip.”

Cha described her biggest challenge was maintaining effective communication with the teen counselors of the Taipei American School. Because the counselors once went through the program themselves, they offered a unique perspective in interacting with the current students, but it was Cha and Broten that were able to teach them a few things.

Sightseeing by bike!

“Sometimes they forgot why they were there, which was to observe and interact with the kids,” Cha said. “Most of time, the counselors did not have previous experience working with kids, so they just needed an example from us of how to do certain things.”

This was an important trip that helped Cha and Broten expand their horizons, personally and professionally. For Cha, teaching was a new a brand new skill for her.

“When were given this opportunity, I did not know that we were going to be instructors,” Cha said. “This experience taught me how to properly instruct a class and how to approach unique situations.”

Broten also had a very good learning experience, while abroad in Taipei.

“I learned better leadership skills, not just with the kids, but also with the bosses,” Broten said. “I learned how to communicate with them about what needs to be done and I was able to better involve myself with the campers, creating relationships and bonds.”

Both feel their experience abroad is beneficial to their future career and academic goals. Cha, studying commercial and event planning, aspires to work with nonprofits and charities in the future on events and programs.  Teaching and creating lessons in Taipei strengthened her skills in that area, she said.

Broten, studying community and youth services, wants to work with kids in the future, following in the footsteps of her mother, who is a longtime teacher. This experience provided her a rare, but special, experience.

Broten said her experience at the day camp will benefit her future career in community and youth service.

“The goal of the project was to provide students with the experience of providing services to diverse communities and populations,” Taylor said. “They were able to plan, implement, and evaluate programs and activities, as well as gain an understanding of other cultures. These aspects of TYPA makes it an ideal location for students to apply the book learning gained through course work into a real work setting.”

Both Cha and Broten have expressed interest in presenting their experiences to other Recreation Administration students in the hopes that increased interest would make it possible to send a larger number of students to Taipei in the future.

“This trip really opened our minds to different experiences and cultures,” Broten said.

To learn more about this opportunity, contact Brandon Taylor at

-Written by Sierra Frank, CHHS Communication Student Assistant

Larry Rand focuses his passion on preterm birth

Dr. Larry Rand is spearheading preterm birth efforts nationwide. Photo Credit: UCSF

Dr. Larry Rand speaks with passion and purpose. As the director of Perinatal Services at the UCSF Fetal Treatment Center, he has a responsibility to care for very young lives and be an advocate for, and on behalf, of mothers. In his position as an obstetrician and gynecologist, specializing in maternal-fetal medicine and high-risk pregnancy – the life of the baby and mother is vital to him.

On Sept. 1st, he served as the keynote speaker at the fifth annual State of our Children breakfast, hosted by the Children’s Movement of Fresno.  There, he talked about the important role that the collective impact approach will play in reducing preterm birth rates in Fresno County.


The Fresno County Preterm Birth Collective Impact Initiative, a local collaborative effort to reduce the number of babies born prematurely in Fresno County, has been making waves in the Valley since it was first introduced in 2015.

The Fresno initiative is part of the larger $100-million, 10-year Preterm Birth Initiative (PTBi) led by UCSF, and funded by Lynne and Marc Benioff and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Fresno County is one of six sites selected for the Preterm Birth Initiative, and the only site implementing the collective impact model. Alameda County and San Francisco are the other two U.S. locations, with international sites that include Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

Dr. Rand speaking at the State of our Children breakfast, Sept. 1, 2016.

The Central California Center for Health and Human Services at Fresno State serves as the backbone organization, helping to drive all major local efforts of the initiative.

As the principal investigator, Dr. Rand has taken a lead role in this very important project. We talked to him about some of the local efforts:

CHHS: What is the impact of preterm birth?

Larry Rand:  Preterm Birth is a massive health problem. 15 million preterm births occur worldwide each year, and one million preterm babies do not survive. In fact, prematurity is now the leading cause of childhood death (under 5 years old) across the world.

CHHS: Why act now?

Larry Rand:  Although we have been doing research on prematurity for many years, we haven’t made NEARLY the progress we need to, and have never seen more alarming statistics. Of the 14 million children who survive each year, the majority face major health risks: making it to their first birthday; childhood complications; and adult diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

CHHS: What is the importance of the mother’s health?

Larry Rand:  When you look carefully at the risk factors for prematurity, it’s clear that they span a woman’s reproductive life course — including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, her diet, substance/medication use, environmental exposures, and especially her general health before pregnancy, even how far apart her pregnancies are spaced, and once she’s pregnant, how early and often she gets prenatal care, the quality of that care, and availability/implementation of any existing interventions that might help reduce her risk. During labor and birth, being in the right hospital and getting the right care make all the difference for outcomes, and of course, the care of a preemie is extremely complicated and also very much determines outcomes.

CHHS: Why was Fresno one of the six sites selected internationally?

Larry Rand:  The statistics in Fresno County are unfortunately alarming — it has one of the highest number of preterm births in the state, costing over $78 million annually. It also has some of the most dedicated and “can-do” leaders we have ever met, who are willing to come to the table, roll up their sleeves and work together to try to change these terrible statistics. The question for us quickly became “how could we not chose Fresno?”.

CHHS: Why enact collective impact efforts for this particular area?

Larry Rand:  The PTBi could only formally support a major collective impact effort in one county and it was clear that Fresno was the place that needed it most — but also had incredibly motivated and willing senior leaders who are among the most energetic “can-do” people I have ever come across! It has been an honor to get to know the members of this incredible Steering Committee, who are all doing what they do for the right reasons, who care about the mothers/babies and families of Fresno and want to see a better future and outcome at one of the most critical moments in any child/person’s life — the beginning of life!

We firmly believe that by working together effectively, we can address social- and health-system disparities across the county and demonstrate to the rest of the state and nation how to turn the curve on this stubborn and tragic epidemic.

CHHS: What are ultimate goals of the PTBi efforts?

Larry Rand:  The Steering Committee has set its goal of ensuring that all women in Fresno County are in the best health before, during, and after pregnancy (across the “reproductive life course”) so that more babies are born healthy. With the support of the Central California Centers for Health and Human Services, we will engage many key stakeholders — affected women and communities, government, businesses, schools, universities, community colleges, churches, nonprofit organizations, and healthcare providers, and monitor our progress. We will adjust the strategy as needed so that by 2025, many fewer babies will be born prematurely in Fresno County as a result of good health for all women before, during, and after pregnancy.

The next few months will offer more opportunities to learn about preterm birth. On November 17, Fresno State will host World Prematurity Day to bring awareness to this health concern that affects so many women and children right here in the Valley. Stay connected to the College of Health and Human Services blog for the latest information!



Fresno Bee: Fresno County picked for global initiative to reduce preterm birth (5/29/15)

Fresno State News: Fresno County Preterm Birth Initiative names new director (7/18/16)

Jweekly.Com: Labor of love: UCSF’s ‘billboard doctor’ leads study on infant mortality (6/26/14)




Our College empowers students to take a whole body approach to improving the quality of life. Our faculty and students are dedicated to helping Central California live well. Click through the slideshow to the right to learn about each of our seven departments within our college: Communicative Disorders and Deaf Studies, Kinesiology, Physical Therapy, Public Health, Recreation Administration, School of Nursing and Social Work Education and Gerontology.