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Hands United
Hands United at the Commission David García, Ed.D., M.P.H.
Director of Capacity Building, Research & Evaluation
(646) 375.4413

Staff Bios

David Garcia David Garcia, Ed.D., M.P.H.
Director of Capacity Building, Research & Evaluation

Dr. Garcia is a bi-cultural, Latino transplant to New York from Texas, via the Midwest and Seattle. He possesses over fifteen years of experience in health research and community health education for HIV prevention and treatment. His background is in in research, program management, policy analysis, evaluation, and cultural competency. He earned a Doctorate in Health Education and Behavior from Columbia University and a Master in Public Health from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. Dr. Garcia is dedicated to working with diverse communities to reduce racial ethnic health disparities.

Gabriela Betancourt Gabriela Santana Betancourt, MA, MPH
Deputy Director of Research and Evaluation

Gabriela has over 12 years of experience as a public health researcher. She completed a BA in Sociology from Binghamton University, an MA in Latin American & Caribbean Studies from NYU, and an MPH in Epidemiology from Columbia University. She is currently completing her DrPH in Epidemiology at the CUNY Graduate Center. Prior to entering the world of research, she provided direct services as a health educator and counselor to at-risk youth, as well as a foster care case manager. Her research explores the causal pathways between social and structural determinants of health, the effects of trauma early in the life course, sexual and reproductive health outcomes, mental health outcomes, and overall quality of life and well-being for immigrants, African-American and Latino youth in New York City, and youth in the foster care system. She is a native of the Bronx, born to Cuban and Spanish parents, and resides in Brooklyn.

Bolivar Nieto Bolivar Nieto
Deputy Director of Capacity Building Assistance Program

Bolivar has an extensive experience in developing and implementing capacity building tools and providing direct services to address homophobia in the Latino community. He was the former director of Juntos Construyendo, a network of organizations, grassroots and college LGBT groups that serve the LGBT Latino community in New York State. Bolivar holds an engineering degree in Information Systems Statistics; however, his passion is divided between communications and creative marketing, as well as the scientific study of organizations and work structures towards the development of ways to improve the productivity and quality of life of people at work, thus his current education pursue in the Industrial and Organizational Psychology field. He enjoys traveling, music, cooking, and thrill adventures.

Michael Diaz Michael Diaz
Behavioral Specialist

For the last eight years, Mr. Diaz has held multiple roles in the field of HIV from Qualitative researcher and prevention programs design to program implementation, access to care, and capacity building assistance. He has worked extensively with LGBTQ youth of color and Latino Gay and Bisexual Men addressing psychosocial needs and coordinating behavioral interventions. Previously, Mr. Diaz was a Fellow at the National Sexuality Resource Center and a Research Assistant at the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality based in San Francisco. Mr. Diaz holds a B.A. in International Relations from Brown University and an M.A. in Sexuality Studies from San Francisco State University. His research interests include gender studies, power, privilege and social determinants of health.

Zeena Hazuri Zeena Hazuri
CBA Specialist

Zeena has been working in HIV/AIDS for the past 4 years providing programming of several Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) EBIs and public health strategies. Zeena earned her B.S. in Public Health from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She enjoys sewing, comic books, and yoga.

DeMarkis Bonner DeMarkis Bonner
CBA Specialist

A native of Buffalo, DeMarkis Bonner graduated for Buffalo State College with a BA in Anthropology. Prior to his current job as a Capacity Building Assistance Specialist, he served as Manager of Prevention Programs & Services at The MOCHA Center in Buffalo, NY. Mr. Bonner has been working in non-profit field for the past 6 years, with a focus on the LGBTQ community, and special sub-populations. His current focus includes organizational infrastructure and program sustainability.

Hope Zewou Hope Zewou
CBA Specialist

Hope received her B.A in Political Science and her Masters in Public Health from Hofstra University. Hope has been working in the HIV/AIDS field for the past three years, with a focus on prevention and harm reduction services. Her interests are rooted in health promotion, health policy and global health.

Tony Ochoa Tony Ochoa
NLAAD Director

Raised in a first-generation Mexican neighborhood in Los Angeles, Tony Ochoa has a strong passion for addressing health disparities amongst underserved populations. He received a BS in Product Design Engineering from Stanford University, where he was a member of numerous Latino community-based and student organizations that worked with underprivileged youth and higher education. He brings his professional background in design engineering to bear on his work in the community, in order to build the capacity of organizations that service communities living with HIV/AIDS. He enjoys cooking, travelling, reading, personal fitness, and watching documentary/independent films.

Carlos Maldonado Carlos Maldonado
Puente Para la Salud
Program Director

Carlos manages "Puente para la Salud", a capacity building program design to enhance services rendered to the Latino LGBT community; as well as Treatment Now (Tratamiento Ahora) providing health education, treatment updates, information and treatment advocacy. Carlos participated as a guest speaker at the First and Second National Vaccine Conference, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Ruben Rios Ruben Rios
Data Manager

Ruben serves as the Data Manager of the agency. He is a part of the HEARD Institute. He actively supports the Commission in fundraising events for the LGBT Community, workshops and different volunteering activities alongside the Latino LGBT Community. He has a Bachelor Degree in Human Resources with 4 years of experience in the field.

Expertise on Public Health Strategies
Social Network Strategy (SNS)
The Social Network Strategy (SNS) is an evidence supported approach to recruiting high-risk people. SNS is based on the underlying principles that people in the same social network share the same risks and risk behaviors for HIV.

Anti-Retroviral Treatment and Access to Services (ARTAS)
This intervention is an individual-level, multi-session, time-limited intervention with the goal of linking recently diagnosed persons with HIV to medical care soon after receiving their positive test result.

Couples HIV Testing and Counseling (CHTC)
Couples HIV Testing and Counseling (CHTC) occurs when two or more persons who are inor are planning to be ina sexual relationship receive all elements of HIV testing and counseling together. This includes HIV prevention counseling, receipt of test results, and linkage to follow-up services.

Expertise on Behavioral Interventions
Choosing Life: Empowerment! Action! Results! (CLEAR)
This intervention is an evidence-based, health promotion intervention for males and females ages 16 and older living with HIV/AIDS or at high-risk for HIV. CLEAR is a client-centered program delivered one-on-one using cognitive behavioral techniques to change behavior.

CDC DISCLAIMER: This site contains HIV prevention messages that may not be appropriate for all audiences. If you are not seeking such information or may be offended by such materials, please exit this website. Since HIV infection is spread primarily through sexual practices or by sharing. needles, prevention messages and programs may address these topics. Individuals who are mentioned or whose photographs appear on this site are not necessarily HIV positive or have AIDS. This site is not designed to provide medical care, if you are ill, please seek medical advice from a licensed practioner. HIV prevention materials funded by CDC must be approved by local program review panels, however, the materials may be considered controversial by some viewers.