About Us

Mission Statement

The mission of the Black Health Equity Collaborative (BHEC) is to address health inequities and disparities in Black communities through one powerful voice.

BHEC seeks to accomplish this mission by:

  • Acknowledging and addressing the social determinants of health that contribute to health outcomes in Black communities. These determinants include but are not limited to racism and discrimination, housing insecurity, and access to educational, economic, and health opportunities.
  • Developing a model for support for physical and mental health across the lifespan in Black communities.
  • Developing systems of accountability for healthcare for Black health equity.
  • Enhancing access to resources to advance health
  • Promoting diverse forms of wellness.
  • Providing information and advocacy for Black health equity.
  • Sustaining community engagement

Black Health Equity Fund Team

Gwendolyn Manning

Gwendolyn has served for 22 years as a preventive health leader at the City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services. Gwendolyn currently oversees implementation of the Black Infant Health (BIH) Program, a Sister Circle group intervention aimed at improving the birth outcomes of Black infants and mothers. Gwendolyn currently leads the development and implementation of the Black Health Equity Fund, a million-dollar CARES Act allocation, to provide COVID-19 support services to Long Beach Black residents via grant funding for local Black-serving nonprofits and microbusinesses.

Amber Johnson, PhD, MPH

Dr. Amber Johnson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Science at California State University at Long Beach. She earned both her PhD and MPH in Community Health Education received her BA in Psychology. Her love for epidemiology also motivated her to pursue a Post-Bac Certificate in Epidemiology. Dr. Johnson’s research focuses on social epidemiology and is guided by the weathering hypothesis, which posits that stress associated with racial inequities may cause health deterioration among African Americans as early as young adulthood, leading to racial disparities in health outcomes over the life span. Dr. Johnson also has experience working with community-based participatory research projects, HIV prevention, cardiovascular prevention education at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and community health assessment and outreach.

Andrea Lee, MPH

Andrea Lee is a Fund Development Specialist in the City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services. She leads development efforts with DHHS to promote health equity in Long Beach, including grant writing, data analysis, and relationship cultivation to ensure program sustainability. Prior to joining the City of Long Beach, Andrea was the Director of Development and Community Relations and co-founder of a charter school in Oakland, Ca. She built partnerships with the school district, county social service department, and community organizations to deliver school-based services and realize the vision for a neighborhood school that serves historically disenfranchised children. She has a Master’s in Public Health from University of California, Berkeley and Bachelor’s degree from University of Southern California.

Connie Rivera, MSW

Connie Rivera is currently a Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Bureau Grants Project Manager for the City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services. Connie’s experience and dedicated passion lies in social justice, mental health, equity, as well as having a diverse and inclusive community. As a member of the Black Health Equity team, she uses a collective impact lens to address systemic issues and to promote social change and innovation. Connie received her Master’s of Social Work from USC and her B.A. in Political Economy from UC Berkeley.

Victoria A. Davis

Victoria A. Davis is a current candidate for the Master’s in Public Health degree with a focus in community health education at California State University, Long Beach. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology with a minor in counseling and social change from San Diego State University. Victoria has transitioned from an intern position to a supporting role on the city side. She now serves as the BHE Assistant Coordinator, working on program development, accounting, and more. After completing her Master’s program, Victoria plans on continuing her education and obtaining a doctoral degree in public health with an emphasis in a social science. Her career goal is to conduct health equity research in service of the Black community.

Noemi Mendez

Noemi Mendez is currently a Master’s in Public Health candidate at California State University, Long Beach. She has a BA in Sociology from UCLA where she further developed her passion for leading community centered approaches to achieve optimal health in Black and Latinx communities. Noemi has extensive experience with coalition building, community outreach, partnership development, facilitating health education classes, community organizing and evaluation of health education programs. Noemi also enjoys cooking new recipes for her family and is looking forward to spending more time with them soon.

Chelsea Okundolor

Chelsea Okundolor received her undergraduate degree from California State University, Long Beach in Health Science with an emphasis in community health education. She is currently an intern for the Black Health Equity Collaborative and has other varied experiences within the healthcare field.

Aden Tefera

Aden Tefera graduated from California State University, Long Beach where she received her degree in Health Science and completed coursework in chemistry and human biology. She is currently an intern for the Black Health Equity Collaborative. She possesses strong interpersonal skills and thrives in a fast-paced environment where she can engage members in the community.

Tobechi Udeh

Tobechi Udeh graduated from California State University Long Beach with BS in Health Science and an option in community education. She is passionate about pursuing a career in the healthcare field where she can work with minority populations in the pursuit of health equity. Tobechi is a current intern for the Black Health Equity Collaborative.

Black Health Equity Fund Awardees

  • Ginger Lavender Therapy
  • Compassionate Counseling
  • The Center for Best Living
  • Advantage Health Now, LLC
  • The G.R.E.E.N. Foundation
  • Elite Skills Development Inc.
  • Agape Children’s Museum
  • The Swazi Shop
  • Colorband Shoes Inc. DBA April Parker Shoes
  • John O. Parker III DBA Parker Interactive
  • Project Optimism, Inc.
  • Wesley Holder DBA The Salt Lounge LLC.
  • Adventures to Dreams Enrichment
  • Afrikan Restoration Project
  • California Aquatic Therapy & Wellness Center
  • Care Closet LBC
  • Craft & Light Arts Studio
  • DemoChicks
  • Earthlodge Center for Transformation
  • ESP Education & Leadership Institute
  • Love Beyond Limits
  • Play Nice Long Beach
  • Slice of Jamaica

In The Press

How you can manage your emotions during the holidays and beyond

December 14, 2021

The holidays are rough for a lot of people for a variety of reasons. For me, my father passed on December 15, 2015, and his birthday is Christmas Day. The holidays haven’t been the same since. For others, it may be loneliness, or even feeling pressure to make sure all the needs of your friends and family are met during the holiday season. Whatever the reason, sometimes the holidays can be emotionally overwhelming.

Here’s what’s driving this CSULB professor to achieve Black health equity in Long Beach

April 27, 2021

When Dr. Amber Johnson, an assistant health science professor, caught wind of the City of Long Beach’s plans to hold town halls on Black health equity, she wanted to get involved.  

COVID-19 Take Care Kits for Black Long Beach Residents

March 23, 2021

The April Parker Foundation, in partnership with City of Long Beach Black Health Equity Fund (BHEF), Coalition for Involved African American Families (CIAAP), Project Optimism and Agape Children’s Museum, is providing COVID-19 Take Care Kits to Black/African American Long Beach residents.

Long Beach Black Health Equity team holds first town hall meeting to address health disparities

February 26, 2021

In a partnership between the city’s Black community, Long Beach State and city officials, the Black Health Equity Collaborative discussed ways to address health disparities faced by Black individuals in the city during its first town hall event Thursday evening.

City Announces Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling Services for Black Residents

December 10, 2020

Long Beach, CA – The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services (Health Department) has awarded contracts to licensed behavioral health clinicians to provide culturally affirming mental health and substance abuse counseling services to uninsured or underinsured Black residents during the pandemic.

City Announces Request for Proposals for Black Health Equity Services

November 25, 2020

Long Beach, CA – The City of Long Beach is seeking proposals to develop collaborative partnerships among Black-serving provider agencies to promote health and wellness among Long Beach Black residents, who are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible organizations are encouraged to apply through the City of Long Beach’s Vendor Portal, PlanetBids, by 11:00 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 7.

Mayor proposes initiative to improve health in Black community

June 29, 2020

The mayor said he will propose spending $1 million on a new initiative to improve health disparities in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths experienced by the Black community.

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