Staff

Executive Director: Margaret Lynn Yonekura, MD
In addition to leading LA Best Babies Network, Dr. Yonekura is Director of Community Benefits for California Hospital Medical Center. Dr. Yonekura is an Associate Professor of Clinical Ob-Gyn of both USC and UCLA Schools of Medicine, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, with a research focus in infectious diseases in Ob-Gyn and perinatal substance abuse. She continues to oversee Options for Recovery: Harbor-South Bay, the comprehensive perinatal substance abuse treatment program she established over 20 years ago at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. She also teaches Ob-Gyn residents and Maternal-Fetal Medicine fellows at Harbor-UCLA. Over the course of her career, Dr. Yonekura has received numerous awards for teaching excellence, and has been recognized at the local, state, and national levels for her service to the community and for the programs that she directs. Dr. Yonekura serves on the Los Angeles County Women’s Health Policy Council, the Board of Trustees of Pomona College, and the Good Hope Medical Foundation.

Director of Programs: Janice French, CNM, MS
With a long history of working clinically as a nurse-midwife and as a researcher in the areas of women's health and preterm birth prevention, Janice is a nationally recognized speaker on the prevention of preterm birth. She is a past faculty member at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center School of Nursing, Nurse Midwifery faculty and School of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Her passion is to translate information from research into practice in order to help more women have healthy pregnancies, and to see more babies be born healthy.

Terrie-May Anciano, BS, is Administrative Coordinator. She graduated from California Baptist University with a Degree in Science and a concentration in Health Education. Prior to working at LABBN, she interned at Kaiser Permanente as a Diabetes Health Educator and has volunteered at Dignity Health - California Hospital Medical Center in the postpartum, pediatrics and emergency departments to gain practical knowledge and experience in the medical field. She always wanted to have a career that enabled her to help people in need, and she is grateful to have that opportunity at LABBN. 

Mallika Bhandarkar, MPH, is Public Health Research Associate. She earned her Master of Public Health in Health Promotion from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Mallika has worked on a variety of community-based public health research projects from an academic setting. She is passionate about finding public health solutions that contribute to more equitable health outcomes for all.

Thorony (Toni) Chy, BA, is Data Technical Assistance Coordinator. She conducts Stronger Families LA Database trainings, provides technical support, and performs database management. Prior to joining LABBN, she was a Research Assistant at Matrix Institute on Addictions. She also assisted in research for the NIH STEM lab at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where she earned her BA in Psychology. There she assisted with research on stigma and stereotype and its relationship to health, education and career achievement among women in STEM. Toni believes in empowering underprivileged and underserved populations through education and social support. She plans to further her education in Psychology and continue her work serving the community.

Vanessa Delgadillo, BS, is Database Administrative Coordinator. She provides database development support, facilitation of meetings, and project timeline management for the Stronger Families LA Database, the case management and data collection system for the Welcome Baby and home visiting programs. She received her BS in Community Health Education from California State University Long Beach. Prior to joining LABBN, she provided family support in a domestic violence shelter serving women and children. She provided research and data assistance during an internship at Partners in Care Foundation. She also was a Data Manager for the Best Babies Collaborative and assisted the Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program (CPSP), Title X, and EMR during her time at St. John’s Well Child and Family Center. Her passion is working with underserved communities and women and children.

Michaela Ferrari, MPH, is LABBN's Director of Policy and the Coordinator of the LA County Perinatal and Early Childhood Home Visitation Consortium. Michaela earned her MPH in Maternal and Child Health from UC Berkeley, with an emphasis on health policy and health care reform. Before joining LABBN, she worked as a Research Analyst and Project Manager at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research in the Health Economics and Evaluation Research (HEER) program, designing and conducting evaluations and redesigns of publicly-funded insurance programs, including the Low Income Health Program (LIHP) and California Children’s Services, as well as for the UCLA-First 5 LA 21st Century Dental Homes Project. At UC Berkeley, she worked as the Affordable Care Act Coordinator for the Women’s Community Clinic in San Francisco, helping prepare the Clinic and its predominantly under- and uninsured clients for the rollout of health care reform. Prior to completing her MPH, Michaela worked for several years at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), a research program of UCSF, as the Coordinator of a national, longitudinal study of abortion access, among other reproductive health research projects. Michaela also designed and conducted her own interview-based study of attitudes toward and access to family planning in the republic of Georgia as a Fulbright Fellow.

Sharlene Gozalians, DrPH, MPH, CHES, is Assistant Director of Programs. She earned her Masters of Public Health in Health Education and Promotion at the University of Southern California; she continued her education to earn her Doctorate in Public Health at Loma Linda University. Her professional background includes working with healthy food access and the built environment issues in Los Angeles County, creating healthy communities, youth empowerment and advocacy, corner store conversions, program planning and evaluation and teaching. Her volunteer experience includes working in Tanzania, Brazil and Armenia addressing prevention, health education and maternal and child health issues. Sharlene’s passion for public health addresses the needs of underserved and vulnerable populations.

Amanda Helvie, BA, is Communications Specialist. Before joining LABBN, Amanda spent eight years with Centre for Neuro Skills, as the Director of Public Relations and Branding and as a Community Liaison. Serving on the Board of the California Brain Injury Association, she supported advocacy and fundraising efforts to re-launch the organization. She was a marketing consultant for several healthcare companies specializing in Hepatitis C Treatment and Compliance Programs, Home Health Care and Nurse Case Management. Prior to her work in healthcare, she completed a post-graduate Fellowship in Leadership and Service with the United States Golf Association and worked in youth-service for the Tiger Woods Foundation. Amanda graduated from the University of Southern California with a BA in Public Relations and Psychology.

Jonathan Jimenez, BA, is Data Technical Assistance Coordinator. Prior to joining LA Best Babies Network, he was a data analyst for a cloud-based POS company. With a background in volunteer work for immigrant groups and others in need, Jonathan says he is happy to be working for an organization whose mission comports with his passion for helping underserved communities. He earned his degree in Business Management from California State University Northridge and hopes to pursue an MBA in the healthcare field in the near future.

Stephanie Kiesow, MA, MPH, is Training Coordinator. A graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, Stephanie holds both a Master of Arts in Developmental Psychology and a Master of Public Health. Stephanie also holds a lecturer position at UCLA where she weaves together clinical experience in women’s health with evidence-based research. With a background in maternal and child health domestically and abroad, Stephanie has recently sought to expand her work by earning DONA certification as a birth doula. Stephanie believes strongly in empowering women to make informed choices for their personal health as well as for the health of their children.

Larisa Malek, BS, is Grants Manager. Larisa studied accounting at California State University, Los Angeles, and is responsible for LABBN's financial budget. She works closely with the Director of Administration managing day-to-day operations. Larisa is an innovative and driven accounting professional who is eager to take on new challenges.

Steve Nish, MA, is Communications Specialist. With 20 years of experience in the communications field, he has led national and global communications campaigns in education, corporate ethics, and community building. Prior to working with LABBN, he was Senior Editor of the Los Angeles-based Josephson Institute, where he focused on sustainability and ethics in business and on character development in schools and youth service programs. He did his undergraduate work at UC Santa Barbara and has a master's from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

Jessica Perez is Office Manager. She has a wide range of experience in the administrative and medical fields. Prior to joining LABBN, she was an administrative coordinator at a family planning and reproductive health office. With skills in graphic arts and photography, she works closely with the communications team to produce support materials as well as managing their inventory and distribution through the network of Welcome Baby hospitals, community organizations, and home visiting services.

Delisa Young, MA, is Senior Research Analyst. Delisa earned her master’s degree in Experimental Psychology from California State University, San Bernardino. Her professional background includes working as a Research Specialist at Five Acres, a child welfare agency that promotes permanency, safety, and well-being for children and families. She supported continuous quality improvement efforts by partnering with the IT department to make the electronic health record system useful for all staff to meet the agency’s mission goals, and by providing useful reports to senior leadership to make data-informed decisions. Delisa also has experience conducting health disparities research, which has helped frame her interpretation of data when examining underserved populations. Delisa is passionate about eliminating education and health disparities, and wants to contribute to this cause by using her research and data skills.