Ethnic Health Institute

EHI was founded in 1997 as a hospital-based community benefit program to address disparities in chronic diseases that disproportionately affect ethnic and underserved communities in the Bay Area. EHI joined Samuel Merritt University in 2016, where its mission of educational outreach, coalition building, partnering on research, and engaging students, faculty, and staff in community service aligned with the university's core values. 


EHI's mission is to promote the health and wellness of all people, focusing on underserved and ethnic populations who experience inequities in health care, education, and career attainment.


EHI will become a national model for university and community-based partnerships that benefit underserved and ethnic community member; prepare and support SMU students to serve diverse communities, impact health equity and increase workforce diversity. 

What We Do

Student Engagement

  • Wellness Corps—A yearlong community service program that connects students with local community-based organizations providing hands-on learning and service opportunities.

Coalition Building

  • Asian Outreach—Brings together representatives from various Asian groups to inform EHI’s health initiatives to better address the health needs and concerns of Asian communities throughout the East Bay
  • Cancer Committee—A collaborative effort including leading individuals and organizations working together to increase community awareness of cancer screening and treatment with an emphasis in breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer
  • Health Ministry—Collaborations with faith-based communities to develop health promotion programs to improve the wellness of their members and the surrounding communities
  • Taking Control Committee—Committed to minimizing the prevalence of stroke, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes in underserved communities through collaboration and prevention-driven approaches

Collective Impact

  • In addition to the coalition building efforts  listed above, EHI is continuously seeking opportunities to engage and convene community members, leaders, and organizations to work together in identifying solutions to emerging and persistent community health problems. 

Our Impact

In 2016, EHI connected with more than 7,000 community members through a variety of programs including: 

  • Hypertension Sunday—Screened and educated 1,037 community members
  • Oakland Chinatown StreetFest—Assessed and educated 946 people about diabetes
  • Nursing Symposium—Free event for 101 school nurses covering adolescent health 
  • Cancer Outreach—Educated 230 community members about breast, colon, and prostate screenings
  • Shoo the Flu—Educated 500 members of the faith community about the flu shot
  • Asian Outreach—Spoke with 548 Chinese patients in their language at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center to ease the hospital transition for those with limited English proficiency

Our advisory board is made up of health care and academic professionals who advise and support EHI’s efforts and goals. 

John Simmons, MD, Chairperson
Retired Medical Oncologist

Mildred Crear, RN, MPH
Community and Education Chair, Bay Area Black Nurses Association

Carol D'Onofrio, DrPH, MPH
Professor Emeritus, School of Public Health, UC Berkeley

Gloria Harmon, MS
Retired Administrator, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center

Mindy Landmark
Sutter Health Community Benefit Manager

Bessanderson McNeil, MPH
Retired Public Health 

Lawrence Ng, MD
Asian & Pacific Islander Committee Chair, Community Physician
Executive Director, Chinese American Physicians' Society

Arnold Perkins, MPH
Retired Director, Alameda County Public Health Department
California Wellness Board

Anita Siegel, MPH
Retired Director, Alameda County Public Health Department

Frank Staggers, Jr., MD
Medical Director, Berkeley Addiction Treatment Services Center

Shirley Strong, MEd.
Chief Diversity Officer, Samuel Merritt University

Arlene Swinderman, MPA
Program Director, Ethnic Health Institute

Local Community Outreach

Check out this video where we were featured for our community work by Sutter Health.