Executive Director

Rod Lew, MPH, is the Founder and Executive Director of APPEAL. Prior to APPEAL, Rod was the Health Education Director at Asian Health Services and the Associate Director for the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations. Rod was a contributing author to the 1998 Surgeon General’s Report on Tobacco Use and has written and published widely on tobacco and health disparities. Rod provided testimony to the U.S. Congressional Committee on Commerce on the impact of national tobacco policy in 1999 and to the U.S. Surgeon General in 2004. He has also served on numerous national health advisory committees, including the State of California Tobacco Education and Research Oversight Committee (2000-2006), American Public Health Association (APHA) Equal Health Opportunity Committee (2005-6) and APHA Asian Pacific Islander Caucus, where he served as Chair (1998-2000). Rod was the 2002 recipient of the Christopher Jenkins Cancer Control Award. In 2009, he also received the Lester Breslow Lifetime Achievement Award from the UCLA School of Public Health, his alma mater.


Senior Program Manager

Marielle A. Reataza, MD, MS, is a 1.5 generation immigrant from the Philippines. In college at UC Irvine, she studied Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and was trained in interdisciplinary research methods as a research fellow. After graduating, she joined Teach For America in Los Angeles to teach high school science and designed integrative science curriculum for high school Forensic Science, while obtaining her Secondary Science Teaching Credential from California State University Dominguez Hills. Seeking to better understand and work with other foundational systems, she attended UC Irvine School of Medicine and subsequently became a researcher, which led her to pursue a Masters in Health Policy and Law from UCSF/UC Hastings to better understand the US healthcare system and other models of healthcare. Marielle is passionate about community engagement and community health, as well as interdisciplinary means to make healthcare in the US more accessible, affordable, and equitable. In her free time, she loves to sing, play guitar, dance, paint, practice yoga and pilates, ride her bike, and cook. Marielle is based in Los Angeles.


ASPIRE Program Coordinator

Michelle holds a Masters in Public Health with a concentration in Health Management and Policy from Drexel University with graduate work focused on improving patient care rounding in hospitals and access to language services for limited English proficient patients. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Civilizations with a minor in Biochemistry which translated into research on Greek and Roman public health and medicine from the University of Tennessee. She attended medical school at Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine in New Mexico before returning to her passions in health policy, health access, and mental health. She has worked in health administration, oncology, and quality improvement at various hospitals and clinics in TN and PA to ensure better health care delivery to vulnerable populations. She hopes to empower AANHPI communities and to inspire individuals from her Cantonese and Memphis/Delta Chinese heritage to advocate for health through social justice and health equity policies and programs. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys hiking, kayaking, cooking, photography, painting, yoga, martial arts, and billiards.


Communications Manager

Rachel earned her Bachelors and Masters degree at Stanislaus State University in Stanislaus County. For over 10 years, she has volunteered with various groups and organizations to build equity around underserved communities. She is an elected city councilmember and serves on various boards to bring more “seats” to the table for AA and NHPI young leaders. She leads with communication and empathy which has allowed her to amplify communications for nonprofits. She is always ready to get to work, but practices self-care with exercise and playing with her two rescue dogs!


ASPIRE Program Associate

Hurjessica, also known as Jess recevied her Masters in Public Health from Touro University California and holds a Bachelor’s in Science in Family and Consumer Sciences in Food and Nutrition from California State University, Sacramento. Hurjessica is passionate about advocating for policies and programs that work to provide social justice and promote a tobacco-free AANHPI community. She is dedicated to educating and inspiring other youth in the Punjabi-Indian community to advocate for their health and wellness. In her pastime, she enjoys exploring new adventures such as hiking, trail running, or kayaking.


SPARC Program Associate

Priya graduated with a Bachelor’s in Health Sciences- Concentration in Public Health from California State University, East Bay.Her interest lies in representing underserved AA & NHPI communities through community-based participatory research (CBPR), advocacy, and creating culturally competent resources.She aspires to get her Master’s in Public Health and to use her experiences to inspire new leaders in her community to advocate for health and representation. In her free time, she enjoys working with her mentor and lab mates studying Indo-Fijian health behaviors and beliefs along.