Our Speakers

Alicia Cowdrey, MD
Outpatient Medical Director, Behavioral Health Services

Doctor Alicia Cowdrey is the Outpatient Medical Director of Behavioral Health Services at Valleywise Health. She also serves as Associate Program Director of the Adult Psychiatry Residency Program, training the next generation of psychiatrists through Creighton University Arizona Health Education Alliance. Prior to her current work, she was the Medical Director of the First Episode Center. Prior to medical school, she worked in the valley community health mental health system in a variety of roles, including case management, program development, ACT teams, and administration. She values person-centered care, shared decision making, education, and recovery, as her primary health care philosophies.


Daniel Derksen, MD

Daniel Derksen, MD - is the University of Arizona Health Sciences Associate Vice President for Health Equity, Outreach & Interprofessional Activities. He is a tenured Professor of Public Health in the Community, Environment & Policy Department, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with joint appointments in the Family Medicine Department at the College of Medicine-Tucson and in the College of Nursing.Dr. Derksen is the Walter H. Pearce Endowed Chair and Director of the Arizona Center for Rural Health and the Acting Director of the Arizona Area Health Education Center Program. He leads the U Arizona Health Sciences Strategic Plan initiative on Interprofessional Education. He served as president of the Arizona Academy of Family Physicians (2017-18) and is currently on its Board of Directors, chairing the AzAFP Legislative Task Force. He is a member of the Arizona Medical Association, the Arizona Public Health Association, and the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association – where he is on the AzHHA Small Rural Hospital Constituency Group. He serves on the Arizona Rural Health Association Board of Directors. Dr. Derksen was born in Phoenix, attended the University of Arizona for both his B.S. (1979) and M.D. (1984) degrees, completed his family medicine residency at the University of New Mexico (1987), and served on the UNM School of Medicine Family & Community Medicine Department faculty for 25 years. He returned to the University of Arizona as faculty in 2012. In 2018 he received the UNM Napolitano Alumni Award, and in 2019 was awarded the 2019 University of Arizona College of Medicine Alumnus of the Year.As principal investigator of state, federal, foundation, contracts, and grants of over $65 million in his academic career, Dr. Derksen’s service, research and education activities include informing legislative, regulatory, and program policy to improve health equity; increasing health insurance coverage; reducing the uninsured; narrowing health disparities; developing, implementing and evaluating interprofessional serving-learning sites; and working to assure a well-trained and distributed health workforce to meet the health needs of all Arizonans.


Rafael Martinez
Director of Behavioral Health – Circle the City

Rafael Martinez is the Director of Behavioral Health at Circle the City, an agency that provides high quality, holistic healthcare to people experiencing homelessness in Maricopa County. Rafael has been with Circle the City since January of 2020, and has worked in local agencies that serve the Phoenix Metro community since graduating from ASU in 1995 with a Masters in Social Work. The agencies include NOAH, Chicanos Por la Causa, Hospice of the Valley, The Crisis Nursery and Department of Children’s Services.


Mark Martz, PhD

Mark P. Martz, PhD, serves as the Director of the Arizona Center for Tobacco Cessation and is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the University of Arizona in November 2018, Dr. Martz served for five years at the Arizona Department of Health Services. While at the Arizona Department of Health Services, Mark served as a policy consultant, contract manager, and as the Office Chief for Tobacco Prevention and Cessation. Mark received his master’s in public administration from Wichita State University in 2007 and doctorate in public administration and policy from Arizona State University in 2013. Dr. Martz’s research and applied practice focus area centers on developing, implementing, and analyzing systems-level interventions that improve health and well-being at an individual, community, and population level.


Aris Mosley, MD 
Medical Director of the Valleywise Health First Episode Center

Aris Mosley, MD is the Medical Director of the Valleywise Health First Episode Center. She is board certified in both adult psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry. Her goal when working with individuals that have a brain health disorder is to allow them to take an active role in their treatment and recovery through shared decision making.


Jeanne F. Nizigiyimana, MSW, MA
Co-founder and Program Manager of the Refugee Women’s Health Clinic (RWHC) at Valleywise Health Medical Center

Jeanne is the Co-founder and Program Manager of the Refugee Women’s Health Clinic (RWHC) at Valleywise Health Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ where she also chairs the Refugee Women’s Health Community Advisory Coalition (RWHCAC). Originally from Burundi, her refugee journey and resilience inspire a passionate work that impacts the lives of underserved women globally. Her work involves the design and coordination of culturally-grounded health literacy projects, community partner for research activities that are co-designed and co-implemented by an interdisciplinary, multicultural staff, volunteers and community members. In this capacity, she launched a robust and innovative team of Cultural Health Navigators, nationally recognized and a first of its kind in Arizona to ensure a seamless transition for refugees in navigating the health care system. Additionally Ms. Nizigiyimana developed a Train the Trainer Curriculum and adapted screening and assessment tools for Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) Advocates to adequately address intimate partner and sexual violence in Minority and Refugee Populations. She facilitated a community partnered approach to implement the use of Refugee Health Screener (RHS-15) to assess and evaluate refugee women for behavioral health concerns. Ms. Nizigiyimana serves on several boards, earned various awards with the most recent being Non-Physician Finalist for Health Care Heroes in 2019, and Outstanding Woman in Business in 2020 by the Phoenix Business Journal.



Annissa Reed, MPH

Annissa Reed is an Arizona Grassroots Manager at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the advocacy arm of the American Cancer Society. She works with volunteers to fight for local, state, and federal legislation that supports cancer patients and their families. Annissa previously worked at the American Lung Association as a Health Promotions Manager, Mercy Care as a Transition-Age Youth Coordinator, and Valle del Sol as Transition Facilitator Team Lead. Her experience working in behavioral health inspired her to fight for policies that support vulnerable populations. Annissa currently serves on the board of the Arizona’s Children Association, and is a volunteer mentor at New Pathways for Youth. Annissa received her Master’s in Public Health from the University of New England, and her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona. Annissa lives in Phoenix, AZ with her cat named Meatball, dog named Panini, and husband.


rachel roberts

Rachel Roberts, MPH, CHES 
Community Health Engagement & Strategy Manager at the Institute for Healthcare Advancement

Rachel is the Community Health Engagement & Strategy Manager at the Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHA) where she is responsible for creating self-care education programs, identifying research opportunities, evaluating programs, and acting as a liaison for the Move More, Eat Healthy (MMEH) initiative. She also assists with creating and rewriting low-literacy patient and consumer health-related materials.

Rachel received her Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science and Master’s Degree in Public Health from California State University, Long Beach, with an emphasis in community health education. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). As a bilingual health educator, Rachel has worked alongside healthcare professionals and providers to design disease management and health promotion programs. She has taught a variety of topics ranging from prenatal care to diabetes management. Over the years, Rachel has worked in a various clinical and community-based settings including the Orange County Health Care Agency, Mission Hospital’s Camino Health Center, Orange County Community Clinics and the American Diabetes Association.

In addition to working at IHA, Rachel is a part-time faculty member at California State University, Fullerton where she teaches in the Public Health and Kinesiology departments. Over the last 13 years, Rachel has taught numerous courses including program design in kinesiology and health promotion, children’s health, and worksite health promotion.


Jill Rowland, M.Ed, LPC
Chief Clinical Officer, AHCCCS - Office of the Director

Jill Rowland is the Chief Clinical Officer for AHCCCS and is responsible for overseeing the public behavioral health system and its major initiatives, including continuing work to improve services for our members with SMI, GMH/SU, and children and their families as well as furthering integration of physical and behavioral health services.

Jill has extensive clinical and executive leadership history working in the public behavioral health system in Arizona. Most recently she served as the Chief Operations Officer for Marc Community Resources and the Director of Medical Management and Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) for Partners in Recovery (PIR). She has nine years experience across the Managed Care Organizations in Arizona Medicaid, working for the previous Maricopa RBHAs Magellan and Value Options as well as Mercy Care Plan-ALTCS. Jill has her Master of Education and is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Arizona.


Laurie Thomas, MPA
Program Manager for Healthy Aging for Maricopa County Department of Public Health

A 30-year healthcare professional, Laurie Thomas is committed to helping individuals make healthy choices. She currently serves as Program Manager for Healthy Aging for Maricopa County Department of Public Health. Laurie is passionate about aging issues such as Alzheimer’s and related dementias, caregivers, falls, chronic disease, housing and emergency food and utilities. Most recently, she has been assigned to the emergency COVID response team for the 7,500 individuals sheltered and unsheltered experiencing homelessness in Maricopa County. Previously, she managed healthcare issues at the state and county levels, educating about the risks of tobacco and nicotine use, the benefits of smoking cessation, keeping tobacco away from underage kids and promoting smoke-free indoor air. Laurie also has a background in hospital administration in marketing, physician relations and community outreach. In addition to being published in scholarly journals, Laurie has served on several healthcare boards, coalitions and workgroups. Laurie earned a Master of Public Administration from Western International University and a bachelor’s degree in communications from Brigham Young University.


Michael Villaire, MSLM

Michael is President and Chief Executive Officer for the Institute for Healthcare Advancement, a nonprofit healthcare 501(c)(3) public charity dedicated to empowering people to better health, with a major mission emphasis on health literacy.Mr. Villaire has written numerous articles on various aspects of health literacy, and lectures nationally on health literacy. He is co-author of the textbook, Health Literacy in Primary Care: A Clinician’s Guide, published by Springer in 2007, and the self-help health book, What To Do When Your Child Is Heavy, published by IHA in 2009. His background includes 20 years as managing editor for peer-reviewed journals in nursing and medicine, hospital publications, physician news magazines, and an online healthcare portal experiment for WebMD. He has helped redesign and launch several medical and nursing journals and managed the development of a multimedia, interactive curriculum in critical care.Mr. Villaire earned his baccalaureate degrees in English (Journalism) and in Communications from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Mich. He earned his Master’s of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management from the University of La Verne, La Verne, Calif., in 2006. His thesis examined health literacy in community clinics in regard to adequacy of patient education materials.As its CEO, Mr. Villaire leads IHA’s health literacy initiatives, which include the self-help health book series, “What To Do For Health,” all of which are written at a 3rd- to 5th-grade reading level; IHA’s annual continuing education health literacy conference; and IHA’s consulting service, which includes rewrite services, organizational assessment/systems change, document writing, video production, focus group/testing, conference management, training/curriculum development, and IHA’s growing research agenda in health literacy.