Healthy Communities Initiative

4th Annual Arizona Healthy Communities Conference: Building Community of Health and Opportunity

Mesa, Arizona

March 29, 2017

This year’s conference held a special emphasis on building communities of health and opportunity. Our keynote speaker, Dr. Manuel Pastor from the University of Southern California, addressed the audience from his most recent book, Equity, Growth and Community, and explore demographic shifts, economic challenges, and the future for community development and healthy communities.  Interactive sessions were held where attendees learned new narratives that stress the centrality of equity, new skills that bridge gaps by place and race, and new approaches to creating and sustaining healthy communities.

Conference Sponsors:

8:00 a.m. Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:30 a.m. Welcome and Introduction

Val Iverson, Executive Director, Arizona Housing Alliance

8:45 a.m. JPMorgan Chase – Platinum Sponsor

Raymond Junior, Vice President, Banker for Community Development Banking in the West

9:00 a.m. Demographic Shifts, Economic Challenges, and the Future of Healthy Communities of Opportunity

In the past decade, the U.S. has been buffeted by demographic change and challenged by economic inequality. Yet a look past the short-term political polarization that has resulted suggests some real possibilities. Many leaders are realizing that diversity is a strength not a threat. Economists are increasingly suggesting that tackling inequality is key to growth. And, in many metro regions, civic actors have learned to find solutions by dialoguing across differences. Drawing on his most recent book, Equity, Growth, and Community, Dr. Pastor explores the implications of these trends for community developers. He suggests that we need new narratives that will stress the centrality of equity, new skills that can bridge gaps by place and race, and new approaches to healthy communities that can ensure that the current “comeback” of many of our cities does not result in the displacement of those who most need opportunity.

Keynote Speaker, Dr. Manuel Pastor, Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity, University of Southern California

10:00 a.m. Break

10:15 a.m. Understanding Structural Oppression & Health Equity

Poverty is not an accident. It is the direct result of systemic oppression, like sexism, racism, and classism. These forms of oppression are woven into the fabric of our society. From our first days as a nation to today, we reinforce these systems in many ways, from our public policy to the very programs meant to end poverty. Most of the time we do this without even realizing that we are undermining our own success and the success of others. In this session we will track how inequality has embedded itself in our consciousness, culture, and policy from both a historical and contemporary perspective. After a brief presentation we will break into small groups to discuss how the systems we have created and participate in create a lack of health equity in our daily lives. Finally we will imagine together what a community based in health equity would look like.

Presenter, Michael Soto, Economic Equity Policy Manager, Arizona Community Action Association

12:00 p.m. Healthy Communities Poster Displays/Exhibits

A Reflection of Healthy Communities in Action—EVIT Main Lobby

12:30 p.m. Lunch

1:00 p.m. Connecting Communities To Opportunity

Public transportation plays a vital role in connecting people to opportunity and in building healthy, equitable communities. Hear from Scott Smith, CEO of Valley Metro, the regional public transportation authority for greater Phoenix, about how transit options have helped to improve community health. Valley Metro plans, develops, and operates the regional bus and light rail systems and alternative transportation programs for commuters, seniors, and people with disabilities. Mr. Smith has local and national perspectives of how transportation impacts communities, as he served as the Mayor of Mesa and president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors prior to taking the helm at Valley Metro.

Lunch Speaker, Scott Smith, CEO, Valley Metro

1:30 p.m. Break

1:45 p.m. Using Fair Housing to Achieve Health Equity

Living in segregated communities creates major barriers to health equity. Higher levels of segregation are commonly linked to neighborhood economic deprivation and disinvestment, lower home values, concentrations of toxic hazards and nuisances, higher density of fast food restaurants, and a lack of grocery stores and spaces for physical activity. These neighborhood conditions make it difficult to live healthy lives. Several affordable housing planning and financing tools can be used to improve health equity for low income communities and communities of color including the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, Community Development Financial Institutions, and Choice Neighborhoods. Hear about the history of housing segregation, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, and how today’s affordable housing programs are working to undue these health inequities.

  • Arlie Adkins, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Landscape Architecture and Planning, University of Arizona
  • Woo Kim, AICP, Senior Associate, Wallace Robert & Todd
  • Silvia Urrutia, Managing Partner, U Developing, LLC
  • Jay Young, Executive Director, Southwest Fair Housing Council

2:45 p.m. Where Do We Go From Here?

To wrap up this year’s Healthy Communities Conference, the Arizona Partnership for Healthy Communities will share local and national data that can be used to demonstrate health gaps and help all of us strive for equity. Vitalyst Health Foundation will discuss the 2017 Year of Healthy Communities efforts to identify, lift up, and celebrate work being done to improve community health. Learn how to connect with other sectors, engage hearts and minds, and influence policy and systems change to improve health equity in Arizona.


Serena Unrein, Director, Arizona Partnership for Healthy Communities and Jon Ford, Director, Communications, Vitalyst Health Foundation

4:00 p.m. Adjourn

Keynote Speaker:

Dr. Manuel Pastor, Professor, Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity; Director, Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE); co-Director, Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII), University of Southern California

Dr. Pastor’s most recent books include Equity, Growth, and Community: What the Nation Can Learn from America’s Metro Areas; Just Growth: Inclusion and Prosperity in America’s Metropolitan Regions; and Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America’s Future. Dr. Pastor received the 2012 Wally Marks Changemaker of the Year from the Liberty Hill Foundation in Los Angeles and he currently holds the Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change at USC.

Other speakers:

Arlie Adkins, PhD. Assistant Professor, School of Landscape Architecture and Planning, University of Arizona

Dr. Adkins’ research focuses on understanding the interconnectedness of transportation equity, affordable housing, and public health. He has a PhD from Portland State University and a master’s degree in city planning from University of California Berkeley. He teaches transportation planning, planning theory, and the planning master’s capstone studio. He is currently a co-Principal Investigator of the Physical Activity Policy Research Network (PAPRN+) collaborating center at UA. Dr. Adkins previously worked in the planning department at TriMet (the transit agency for the Portland, Oregon region) and for Flexcar, a pioneer of car sharing in North America.

Jon Ford, Director, Communications, Vitalyst Health Foundation

Jon Ford oversees the evolution and growth of all communications functions, platforms, vehicles, products and tools. He regularly interacts with advocacy partners and the media to facilitate earned and purchased media related to policy and systems change, healthy community design, community development, and systems innovations interests. He is particularly focused on fostering strong relationships and effective framing to catalyze innovation as well as systems and policy change. Jon helps to develop and produce Vitalyst Health Foundation’s publications, including issue briefs, policy primers, and research findings.

Raymond Junior, Vice President, Community Development Banking, Chase Bank

Raymond Junior is responsible for originating construction and permanent loans for the development of affordable housing in Arizona and California. Raymond started his career with JPMorgan Securities in 2000 in the Mergers and Acquisitions group. He subsequently became an underwriter for Community Development Banking in New York and was promoted to VP and Regional Head of Underwriting for the Southwest Region and later New York metro. In 2007 he became VP of Acquisitions for JPMorgan Chase in the Mid-Atlantic Region. He holds a MBA from UCLA and a B.S. in Business Administration from University of Southern California.

Woo Kim, AICP, Senior Associate, Wallace Roberts & Todd

Trained as an architect and a planner, Woo Kim’s skill as an urban designer and planner is rooted in his ability to move from the architectural scale of housing and mixed-use development to large-scale city planning. He brings an interdisciplinary perspective to all of his work, with an emphasis on understanding the economic, environmental, and social issues of place making in the plans that he creates. He serves as project manager for WRT’s housing and neighborhood plans as well as downtown redevelopment and revitalization plans. His collaborative spirit and commitment to urbanism has garnered the respect of his public and private clients and the admiration of the teams that he leads.

Scott Smith, CEO, Valley Metro

Scott Smith is responsible for the planning, design, construction and operation of an expanding regional transit network in metro Phoenix, Arizona. The Valley Metro system is a partnership of 16 cities, towns and Maricopa County, offering bus, light rail, paratransit and vanpool services to more than 73 million riders annually. Smith’s leadership is a continuation of his public service as the former Mayor of Mesa and president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the only Arizona mayor to have served in this position. As Mayor, he strategically guided the city to an economic rebound between 2008 and 2014. He also worked in the private sector as a certified public accountant, lawyer, and CEO of a regional homebuilding and development company.

Michael S.C. Soto, Economic Equity Policy Manager, Arizona Community Action Association

Michael Soto has been a social justice professional for more than 15 years. In his role at ACAA he develops economic equity and justice curriculum, advocacy tools, and policy analysis for a wide range of economic issues. Previously, he worked in the private sector, public sector, and non-profit agencies including the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Arizona Citizens for the Arts, Equality Arizona, and the National Center for Transgender Equality. Mr. Soto studied at Arizona State University for both graduate and undergraduate degrees in Justice Studies and Women and Gender Studies, respectively.

Serena Unrein, Director, Arizona Partnership for Healthy Communities

Serena Unrein has led the Partnership since it launched in November 2014. Prior to joining the Partnership, she worked for the Arizona Public Interest Research Group, where she ran advocacy campaigns to make measurable improvements in the health and livelihoods of Arizonans and for the Arizona Students’ Association, where she led successful efforts to increase state-based financial aid and improve college affordability. She has been quoted in The New York Times, The Arizona Republic, and numerous other media outlets. Ms. Unrein graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing.

Silvia Urrutia, Managing Partner, U Developing, LLC

Silvia Urrutia provides consulting services for the development of housing and healthcare projects. Formerly, Ms. Urrutia was the Director of Housing & Healthcare Finance for RAZA Development Fund where she led their strategic investment portfolio in the housing and healthcare sectors with emphasis on affordability and access. She coordinated business development, client relations, project assessment, and financing nationwide. She also managed the $25 million Sustainable Communities Fund.

Jay Young, Executive Director, Southwest Fair Housing Council

Jay Young has co-authored five Analyses of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice, The American Nightmare: Foreclosures and their Impact in Metropolitan Tucson, and the Northeastern Arizona Fair Housing and Equity Assessment. Before coming to SWFHC, he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras, worked for Humane Borders in Tucson, and co-founded Just Communities Inc. He holds a BA in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MS in Planning from the University of Arizona.

Healthy Communities Brochure 2017

Conference Event Page (with downloadable presentations)