Ahna Ballonoff Suleiman is the new executive director of the Center for Regional Change, photo by: Jael Mackendorf, UC Davis
Ahna Ballonoff Suleiman is the new executive director of the Center for Regional Change, photo by: Jael Mackendorf, UC Davis

UC Davis Center for Regional Change Welcomes New Executive Director

Ahna Ballonoff Suleiman has been selected as the new executive director of the UC Davis Center for Regional Change (CRC), a hub for innovative, collaborative and action-oriented research.

Suleiman, who started Nov. 15, was most recently an independent consultant focused on adolescent development and youth engagement. Among her clients included Hopelab, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, where she advised on ways to engage youth in developing technology solutions to improve the mental health and well-being of young people.

She previously spent two years as an assistant professor with the Department of Public Health at California State University, Sacramento, and taught courses in public health and youth development at UC Davis and UC Berkeley.

With her extensive background in public health, youth and community engagement and developmental science, Suleiman is excited to build upon the work CRC has been excelling in, including in the areas of housing, transportation, poverty and environmental justice.

“We’re in a challenging time, with climate change and other natural environment issues,” Suleiman said. “I would love to see the CRC as a positive force that brings people from diverse disciplines together to bring a new framework to solve some of these tough problems.”

Suleiman completed her postdoctoral training and interdisciplinary Doctorate in Public Health at UC Berkeley and earned her master’s degree at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Currently, she’s a member of the Yolo County Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Advisory Board, and has served as chair of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine’s Youth Engagement Committee.

She’ll be working with Catherine Brinkley, faculty director for the CRC and associate professor with the Department of Human Ecology. Together, they will help guide efforts to support the CRC’s goal to support the building of healthy, prosperous, sustainable and equitable regions in California and beyond.

“Ahna is a delight of a human to work alongside, and we are thrilled to have her join our team,” Brinkley said. “She brings deep expertise in youth and health disparity work along with strong regional and philanthropic partnerships—meeting demands on campus from students, faculty, staff—and our rich network of community partners.”

Housed within the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the CRC has created tools and conducted community-engaged research that focuses on social justice and sustainable development. Suleiman said she’s looking forward to finding ways to strengthen the bridge that the CRC has built with the community by offering valuable services and resources.

“I’m excited to have a strong history to build on, and to work on a path forward; and the philosophy of the CRC is to create an integrative framework that can create transformation, and if we do the work right, that is what will happen,” Suleiman said.

Suleiman succeeds Bernadette Austin, who left earlier this year after six years with the CRC and is now executive director of the nonprofit, CivicWell. Anna Rosenbaum graciously served as interim executive director while a search for a permanent replacement was underway. Rosenbaum is a program coordinator for the Perinatal Origins of Disparities Center at UC Davis and is on the Board of Directors for the Sacramento nonprofit, Food Literacy Center.

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