5. HEALTH / PUBLIC HEALTH: ROOM 403
Elisa Orona, MS, Executive Director
Health Improvement Partnership of Santa Cruz County (HIP)
Elisa Orona has worked across multiple sectors, including non-profit healthcare, local government, and the arts, with a focus on community empowerment and collaboration. Since 2015, Elisa has lead HIP as its Executive Director. Elisa began her career in healthcare at a San Jose-based Federally Qualified Health Center where she managed clinic quality improvement, as well as a federally funded Patient Navigation Center. Prior to her jump to healthcare, Elisa worked on behalf of the City of San Jose to catalyze a struggling cultural center into a thriving multicultural arts education non-profit. Elisa holds a B.A. in Rhetoric from UC Berkeley and an M.S. in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. Elisa’s masters concentration in Geographic Information Systems served her well in Peace Corps Guatemala, where she trained fellow volunteers and their Guatemalan counterparts in the creation and analysis of digital maps.
Elisa serves on the boards of FoodWhat?!, Santa Cruz Community Ventures and the Santa Cruz Health Information Organization. In 2019, Elisa was appointed to the Santa Cruz County Workforce Development Board.
Elsa Mendoza Jimenez, MPH, Director of Health
Monterey County Health Department
Elsa Mendoza Jimenez currently serves as the Director of the Monterey County Health Department, responsible for the administration of a broad array of health services. Her public health career spans 20 plus years, serving in an array of administrative and programmatic roles. She earned her Master of Public Health degree from San Jose State University and her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Santa Clara University. Mrs. Jimenez was born and raised in South Monterey County and is proud to be serving the residents of her County.
Gail Newel, MD, MPH, Health Officer
County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency (HSA)
Dr. Gail Newel is currently serving as Health Officer for the County of Santa Cruz, based in the Public Health Division of the Health Services Agency. She is an obstetrician-gynecologist with a strong interest and growing experience in public health and policy/advocacy work. She attended UC Berkeley for undergraduate work and UC Irvine for medical school before returning home to Central California to the UC San Francisco-Fresno OB-GYN residency program. Her strong interest in public health led her back to UC Berkeley for her Master in Public Health degree, with an emphasis in Maternal Child Health.
Dr. Newel worked in clinical practice for over 30 years in a variety of settings – in private practice, at Kaiser Permanente, as clinical faculty, and in public health. During that time, she maintained a clinical faculty status with the UCSF-Fresno training program and is currently an Associate Clinical Professor with UC San Francisco in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Dr. Newel served as Fresno County’s first MCAH Medical Director at the Department of Public Health, helping to bring to light the health inequities of the Central Valley. During this time, she was instrumental in bringing the UCSF Preterm Birth Initiative to Fresno. For the past five years she has served as an expert advisor to their Collective Impact effort, and is a Co-Investigator on a research project involving a unique model of group prenatal care. This project was recently awarded a $5.6 million grant from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute to expand its services throughout Fresno County.
Dr. Newel relocated to Santa Cruz five years ago when her wife, Dr. Kelli Beingesser, also an obstetrician-gynecologist, joined the Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group. During this time, Dr. Newel served as Health Officer to San Benito County. Among other efforts there, she formed the San Benito County Opioid Task Force, a cross-collaborative, county-wide effort which she has co-chaired. In addition, during this time, she worked as an OB-GYN hospitalist at both the Sutter Maternity and Surgical Center and Dominican Hospital.
During her tenure as a Health Officer, Dr. Newel has been active in policy and advocacy work at a State level. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Coalition of California Health Officers (CCLHO), and is Chair of the CCLHO Maternal Child and Adolescent Health Committee. She also serves on the Legislative Committee for the Health Officers Association of California. In addition, she chairs the Committee on Healthcare for Underserved Women for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, District IX (California), and serves on their Legislative Committee and Advisory Council.
Dr. Newel has served on many regional, state and national working groups on public health issues. Her areas of special interest include public policy and advocacy for health equity, family health, opioid use disorder, reproductive rights, breastfeeding and LGBTQ healthcare. Having spent most of her life in Fresno, she has a special place in her heart for the Central Valley and immigrant rights.