ASU Office of Community Health, Engagement, and Resiliency



ASU’s Office of Community Health, Engagement, and Resiliency’s (ASU OCHER) mission is to co-create interventions with communities that focus on inherent strengths and assets that promote resiliency, especially with underserved communities of color, and to create or strengthen pathways of opportunity for all people to achieve their full potential.


As such, we are deeply embedded in communities to promote health, well-being, and resiliency hand-in-hand with our community partners. Our work aims to build community capacity and solve complex social problems through partnership in order that we are all stronger, communities are empowered, and together we achieve positive social change.







Mary-Ellen Brown, Director

Dr. Mary-Ellen Brown, Director

Mary Ellen Brown, PhD, MSW, MPA, LCSW is the founder and Director of OCHER and an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University. Dr. Brown received her MSW from the University of South Carolina, and her MPA and PhD from Louisiana State University, where she was a Senior Research Associate in the Office of Social Service Research and Development. Prior to earning her doctorate, she had a decade of social work practice experience in school- and community-based programming for underserved, minority families and children, supporting school readiness to career educational and workforce outcomes, positive health outcomes, and non-profit capacity building. Through varied in-depth experiences, Dr. Brown has a robust background in research and measurement of community health, trauma and resiliency, and neighborhood planning and revitalization interventions. Dr. Brown has expertise in community-based participatory action research (CBPR), and is experienced in CBPR with Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, and urban Native American populations. Dr. Brown’s research focuses on methods innovation, implementation science, and dissemination science to reduce health disparities and address the adverse determinants of health. Dr. Brown’s areas of scholarship include examining social determinants of health embedded in components of community health, toxic stress and trauma, and systems that perpetuate poverty, violence, and community stress. This includes special emphasis on developing valid and reliable measures for determining the effectiveness of community-engaged prevention and intervention efforts intending to promote health equity and combat minority health inequities.
Jennifer Granados is an Education Outreach Specialist with ASU OCHER. With a background in education, Jenny joined ASU OCHER in August 2021 and is currently working on the Tucson Community Based Crime Reduction initiative/Thrive in the 05, as well as the Center for Community Health and Resilience.

Mattea Pezza, BS is a Clinical Training and Research Specialist, and a former AmeriCorps VISTA with ASU OCHER. In May of 2018, Mattea received Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Justice Systems from Truman State University. From 2018-2020, Mattea served as a Youth Development Volunteer with the Peace Corps in Ukraine. With OCHER since July of 2020, Mattea is involved with the implementation and research of the Community Resiliency Model, the coordination of community volunteers for the REACH-AZ warmline, and supporting the OCHER team in community outreach and research activities. Mattea is a Certified Teacher of the Community Resiliency Model. Mattea's research interests include a focus on trauma, chronic stress, and resilience.

Nadia Roubicek, BA is the Program Manager for the Tucson Community Based Crime Reduction initiative in OCHER. She has a BA in Sociology from the University of Arizona and is currently studying to receive her Master of Social Work from Arizona State University. Nadia has spent her career working in grass-roots community organizing, community-driven social work, program planning and evaluation, coalition building, education and outreach. She has worked with the Tucson community for over a decade to help community members advocate for and gain access to information and resources about safety, community building, food security, mental health and sexuality education. Currently, Nadia works closely with law enforcement and first responders to reduce crime, improve safety and better connect community, governments and residents to each other and the first responders they rely on. Personally, and professionally, Nadia has spent many years learning how powerful a tool mindfulness and meditation can be to help individuals and communities heal and grow in positive ways and she hopes to integrate this, along with resiliency and trauma-informed approaches, into the social work she continues to do with a diverse set of communities and populations across Pima County and beyond.
Valerie Sanchez is the Community Outreach Manager for ASU OCHER. Valerie’s professional history and lived experience informs her work and is rooted in advancing equity and social justice solutions in rural and urban communities. Valerie has extensive experience working with diverse populations and underserved communities to address racial, social, and economic barriers. Her background includes advocacy, community organizing, youth development and prevention, policy, marketing, and governmental relations. Valerie's mantra: Together We Rise
ASU OCHER AmeriCorps Team Members:
Ebony Aiken, BA is a Research and Evaluation Specialist and an AmeriCorps Public Ally with ASU OCHER. Ebony earned her Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations in 2018 from the University of Houston, and is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Public Policy from the University of Arizona. Ebony currently works on the Tucson Community-Based Crime Reduction Project.

Guadalupe "Lupita" Del Carmen Durazo, BA is a Program and Evaluation Specialist and an Arizona Serve AmeriCorps team member with ASU OCHERLupita works on the Thrive in the 05/Community-Based Crime Reduction initiative.

Madison "Grae" Pollard, BSW is a Program Development and Research Specialist and an AmeriCorps VISTA with ASU OCHER. Grae joined our team in August of 2021, and is currently working on the Center for Community Health and Resilience and Tucson CARES for Health projects.

Robert "Bob" Purvis, BA is a Communications and Outreach Specialist and an AmeriCorps Public Ally with ASU OCHER. Bob joined our team in September of 2021, and is working on the Tucson CARES for Health project.

Daniela Rivera, BA is a Community Outreach and Evaluation Specialist and an AmeriCorps Public Ally with ASU OCHER. Daniela joined ASU OCHER in September 2021, and is working on the Thrive in the 05/Community-Based Crime Reduction Initiative.

ASU OCHER Former AmeriCorps Team Members:
Alessandra Cebreros, BA is a former Program and Evaluation Specialist and AmeriCorps Public Ally with ASU OCHER. Alessandra received her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Affairs from Northern Arizona University in 2019. 
Vivian Morrison is a former Digital Marketing Manager and Volunteer Organizer and AmeriCorps Public Ally with ASU OCHER. Vivan studied astronomy at the University of Arizona, and has served as a NASA Space Intern and Image Processing Analyst for the OSIRIS-REX Image Processing Working Group in the Lunar Planetary Lab in Tucson, Arizona.

ASU OCHER Student Interns

Nnamdi Anyaeji, ASU MSW Foundation Year Student (2021-2022)

Zoe Somerville, ASU BSW Student (2021-2022)

Samuel Collins, ASU MSW Foundation Year Student (2020-2021)

Giovanni Hernandez- De La Pena, UArizona Honors Student, Health and Human Values (2021)

Albert Murietta, ASU MSW Foundation Year Student (2021)

Jordan Prather, ASU MSW Foundation Year Student (2019-2020)

Nancy Roberts, ASU MSW Foundation Year Student (2020-2021)

Diana RoDee, High School Intern (2019-2020)

McMillan Salik, ASU MSW Advanced Year Student (2021)

Kathleen Tapia, MSW Advanced Year Student (2020)

ASU OCHER Faculty Research Affiliates

Birgitta Baker, PhD, Associate Professor, College of Health and Human Services, Penn State University

Juan Bartherlemy, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Houston

Shanondora Billiot, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Arizona State University

Julie Hibdon, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Southern Illinois University

Matt Ignacio, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Arizona State University

Katie Stalker, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Social Work, University of Buffalo. 

Cody Telep, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Arizona State University

Ada Wilkinson-Lee, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Mexican American Studies, University of Arizona


THRIVE in the 05

ASU OCHER founded the Thrive in the 05 initiative in Tucson, Arizona in 2017. This initiative

Tucson Community Based Crime Reduction

The Tucson Community-Based Crime Reduction initiative, led by ASU OCHER, is a place-based initiative that promotes safety and addresses the drivers of crime in partnership with residents and other community stakeholders. The initiative has four aims: 1) Reduce crime and improve community safety as part of a broader, comprehensive effort to advance neighborhood revitalization; 2) Effectively use data and research to understand the drivers of crime around hot spots and use evidence to design a continuum of innovative and effective implementation strategies; 3) Increase community engagement and empower youth and adult residents as leaders in shaping crime prevention and revitalization efforts; 4) Build the capacity of residents and cross-sector partners to address and prevent youth-involved crime.

Tucson CHOICE Neighborhoods

The Choice Neighborhoods project aims to address the needs of the distressed Tucson House public housing community and surrounding THRIVE in the 05 neighborhoods. This place-based, comprehensive planning and action project will result in a transformation plan to build assets and holistically address needs across housing, people, education, and neighborhood outcome areas. ASU OCHER serves as the research partner and lead for the CHOICE People and Education component.


ASU OCHER launched REACH AZ in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. REACH AZ is a warm helpline for older adults in Tucson to connect to volunteers in order to promote social connection and to prevent isolation and loneliness. Older adults in Tucson can call 1-833-REACH AZ and connect with a REACH AZ volunteer. Individuals can also sign up for weekly social calls where a volunteer will call them, check in, and chat.

Helping Hands Care Project

COVID-19 has exacerbated needs for everyday essential items among Thrive in the 05 community members. To respond to this need, we launched the Helping Hands initiative, which focuses on delivering essential supplies to Thrive in the 05 households in need. In July 2020, we were awarded a $20,000 COVID-19 Relief grant from the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona to support our Helping Hands initiative. To date, we have delivered close to 1,000 helping hands care packages to residents throughout the community, including the Tucson House residents and in the Old Pascua neighborhood.

Thrive in the 05 Resource Café

THRIVE in the 05 Resource Cafés began in May 2020 as a way for local organizations to communicate with Thrive residents about services, supports, and resources, especially related to COVID-19 resources. The Thrive in the 05 Resource Café features short interviews with community organizations. Residents can access the Resource Café via phone by calling into the Zoom webinar, via @asuocher on Facebook Live, or through the Thrive in the 05 website. To date, Resource Cafes have featured the local school district, government, health department, tribal council, library, food bank, utility providers, first responders, and a number of nonprofit groups serving families, children, older adults, and small businesses.

Shreveport Community Based Crime Reduction

ASU OCHER is the research partner for the Community Based Crime Reduction (CBCR) initiative in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Shreveport CBCR Project is working toward building a neighborhood that is safe, healthy, vibrant and thriving where residents, law enforcement officers and community partners work collectively to ensure every child, youth and adult has the opportunity to maximize their life outcomes. To achieve that vision, Shreveport CBCR has four goals: 1) Positively influence factors that foster social disorganization and drivers of crime, and integrate crime control, public safety and prevention efforts with housing, education, health and economic development strategies of the Shreveport Choice Neighborhood; 2) Effectively use data and research to examine the drivers of crime around hot spots, assess community members’ perceptions of crime, guide the development of innovative and effective strategies, and evaluate implementation to guide future programming and assess effectiveness; 3) Increase community engagement and empower residents as leaders in shaping crime prevention and revitalization efforts by building collective efficacy, social cohesion and trusting relationships between residents, law enforcement and cross-sector partners; 4) Build capacity of residents, partners and City leadership to address and prevent crime, and to promote sustainable collaboration through a collective impact framework with cross-sector partners to tackle problems from multiple angles with a multitude of leveraged and aligned resources.


ASU OCHER Earns 2021 ASU President's Medal for Social Embeddedness

PDF icon 2020 ASU OCHER Social Impact Report

Social Impact