Skip to Main Content

Activist in Residence Program

Mission Statement

The Activist in Residence program is a new initiative offered through the U.S. Health Justice Concentration at Yale School of Public Health. The mission of the program is to bring activists from around the country to Yale, that are engaging in current and impactful social justice issues that intersect with public health. The program seeks to advance the activist’s platform, allow the activist to utilize the infrastructure and resources at Yale, and also provide Yale students, faculty and staff with the opportunity to work on social justice issues that impact public health.

Meet our Grief and Trauma Specialist, Activist in Residence, Nelba Márquez-Greene

Nelba holds a Bachelor of Music from the Hartt School and a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from St. Joseph College. Nelba taught and supervised at the Family Therapy program at the University of Winnipeg’s Aurora Family Therapy Centre and later worked as the Coordinator for Klingberg Family Therapy Center’s outpatient child and adolescent psychiatric clinic. She also served as adjunct faculty at Central Connecticut State University.

Nelba founded the CTAMFT (Connecticut Association for Marriage and Family Therapy) Diversity Committee and served on the CTAMFT Board of Directors. For her advocacy, she received the 2004 Minority Fellowship Award by the AAMFT, the 2004 Distinguished Professional Service Award, and the 2013 Service to Families Award by the CTAMFT. In 2017 she was awarded the Key to the Centre award at the Aurora family Therapy Centre in Winnipeg, MB.

In 2018, she was profiled as one of “100 Women of Color” and a YWCA (CT) Women’s Leadership Award recipient. She was featured in People Magazine’s October 2019 issue as one of Ten Women Changing the World and also recognized by Chelsea Clinton and Hillary Clinton in their Book of Gutsy Women.

Nelba has testified and advocated at the state and federal levels on many different mental health initiatives, hosted TEDx talks, and is a nationally sought after speaker. In the many years that have followed, stints in advocacy, public policy, community care, etc. have affirmed her core belief that in order to change the world through policy and research we must also take care of people. Public health practices can do both.

Learn more about Nelba Márquez-Greene.

Meet our inaugural Activist in Residence, Angelo Pinto

Angelo Pinto has been called a Social Justice warrior, policy guru, movement lawyer and one of the most brilliant minds of our time by some of today’s most notable, respected leaders of the social justice movement.

Veteran activist, attorney and political strategist Angelo Pinto is the program’s inaugural activist. Pinto, 39, of Teaneck, New Jersey, is a co-founder of Until Freedom, an organization devoted to police accountability and criminal justice reform.

Angelo Pinto – an NAACP Image Award-winner who has been named to the Black Enterprise 40 under 40 and the Ebony Magazine Power 100 – has devoted much of his adult life to the cause of justice. Among other things, he co-created a teach-in at Occupy Wall Street about the prison-industrial complex; co-founded Justice League NYC, which led mass demonstrations in the wake of Eric Garner’s death at the hands of the New York Police Department; and helped gain the release of rapper Meek Mill from prison.

Angelo Pinto grew up in Elmont, New York – just across the border from Queens – and earned his B.A. in Criminal Justice/Sociology from Clark Atlanta University after transferring from Norfolk State University, and his J.D. from the City University of New York School of Law.

Learn more about Angelo Pinto.

For more information on the Activist in Residence Program, please email Dr. Ijeoma Opara.

A program like this is essential because it trains the next generation of the public health work force to not just be public health practitioners, but to engage in activism with our communities to make real change in law and policy.

Ijeoma Opara
Assistant Professor of Public Health (Social and Behavioral Sciences)


  • Associate Professor of Public Health (Social and Behavioral Sciences)

    Research Interests
    • Housing
    • Social Justice
    • Qualitative Research
    • Racism
    • Health Equity
    Danya Keene is an Associate Professor of Social Behavioral Sciences at the Yale School of Public Health. Her research examines housing and housing policy as determinants of population health equity. Moving beyond a focus on housing and individual health, her work considers how an ongoing history of racially discriminatory housing and urban policies have constrained housing access for non-white Americans, and thus contribute to racial health equity. Her work has examined a range of topics including public housing demolition, home foreclosure, the stigmatization of  marginalized communities, and the housing experiences of formerly incarcerated individuals. Much of her current work is focused on examining the population health implications of the affordable rental housing crisis. For example, she is using local and nationally representative data to explore whether and how access to federal rental assistance can improve type 2 diabetes management and outcomes. In other work, she is investigating  the impact of eviction prevention policies during the COVID 19 pandemic. Dr. Keene is recognized as an expert in qualitative methods and frequently employs both qualitative and quantitative approaches in her work. She teaches a core MPH course called Social Justice and Health Equity and is the founding director of YSPH's US Health Justice Concentration.
  • Department Chair and Susan Dwight Bliss Professor of Public Health (Social and Behavioral Sciences); Affiliated Faculty, Yale Institute for Global Health

    Research Interests
    • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
    • Epidemiology
    • HIV
    • India
    • Public Health
    • Sexually Transmitted Diseases
    • Global Health
    • Maternal-Fetal Relations
    • Risk Reduction Behavior
    Trace Kershaw, PhD, focuses on the social and structural determinants of health (e.g., sexual health, substance use, mental health, reproductive health) among adolescents and emerging adults. His current focus is using innovative technologic methods to understand how social (e.g., how ones friends, partners, and family) and geographic context (e.g., how the places one goes and lives) influences their behaviors and health. Further, he is an expert in developing interventions aimed to improve the health and well being of adolescents and emerging adults.He is the Chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the Director of two HIV Training Grants (Yale AIDS Prevention Training, Research Education Institute for Diverse Scholars), and Director of the  the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA). He has twice won Mentor of the Year. He also serves on expert panels for the NIH and CDC and on several journal editorial boards.
  • Associate Professor of Public Health (Social and Behavioral Sciences); Director, The SASH Lab, Yale School of Public Health; Co-Director of Yale AIDS Prevention Training Program (T32), Yale School of Public Health; Associate Director, Justice, Community Capacity, Equity (JuCCE) Core, Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS, Yale University

    Dr. Ijeoma Opara is an Associate Professor of Public Health in the Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences at the School of Public Health. She is also the founder and director of the Substance Abuse & Sexual Health Lab ( Her research interests focus on HIV/AIDS, STI, and substance use prevention for urban youth, racial and gender specific prevention interventions for Black girls, and community-based participatory research with urban youth. Dr. Opara has received many awards for her work in prevention research from the American Public Health Association, National Council on Family Relations, and AcademyHealth. Most recently, Dr. Opara was named the 2023 recipient of the NIDA Racial Equity Initiative Visionary Pioneer Award to conduct community-based participatory work in Paterson and East Orange, New Jersey. In 2020, Dr. Opara was named the NIH Director's Early Independence Award, which funds her 5-year community-based study on youth substance use, mental health outcomes, and neighborhoods in Paterson, New Jersey. The Early Independence Award is given to junior scientists through the High Risk-High Reward program, whom who have demonstrated exceptional ability to engage in independent research and Dr. Opara was the first social worker to ever receive this award. Dr. Opara's teaching experiences includes her former appointment as an Assistant Professor at Stony Brook University School of Social Welfare from 2019-2021, where she taught graduate-level child and family social work practice courses. She also worked as an adjunct professor at Columbia University School of Social Work teaching a graduate level adolescent development course and at Rutgers University Bloustein School of Planning & Social Policy where she taught an undergraduate social justice in public health course. Dr. Opara received her PhD in Family Science & Human Development at Montclair State University, a Master of Social Work from New York University (with a specialization in Primary & Behavioral Health Integrated Care), a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from New York Medical College, and a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from New Jersey City University. During her doctoral studies, Dr. Opara received an external pre-doctoral fellowship from the Behavioral Sciences Training on Drug Abuse Research housed at New York University funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse which funded her dissertation research and doctoral training.