Our Mission


The Glendale Healthier Community Coalition plans and implements projects that promote disease prevention, health education, clean and safe environments, adequate housing, affordable and quality education, and community revitalization. The GHCC mission statement embraces a broad definition of health which includes the wider spectrum of environmental influences impacting the community’s well-being. GHCC has brought together 52 organizational and individual community members including 14 from health care, nine from city government, two from education, seven from business/media, 11 from non-profit agencies, several clergy, and the balance made up of other community stakeholders.

In Glendale, many shared community health concerns have been addressed, historically, through the Glendale Healthier Community Coalition. In operation since 1990, the Coalition founded Glendale Healthy Kids (GHK) as its inaugural project. GHK is an organization that provides in-kind acute, dental, and mental health care to 700 uninsured children each year. GHCC also created the Consortium of Safety Net Providers to address access to healthcare for low-income populations. Projects included installing electronic medical records at local safety net clinics. Another project of the Coalition, the Quality of Life Measures project, assesses wellness and needs among Glendale residents. The Coalition also is working on the Community Transitions project to help patients recover after they go home from the hospital by connecting them with wellness resources in our community.

Glendale Healthy Kids was founded by the Glendale Healthier Community Coalition and partners with Glendale Unified School District. We ensure that our community’s children have access to health care and health education. We serve a culturally diverse group of underprovided children who need medical care. We match these children with donated services from physicians, dentists, specialists, Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center, Verdugo Hills Hospital, and Glendale Adventist Medical Center. These amazing donors share our vision of a community in which every child has optimal health. The Coalition has our profound appreciation for starting a project that values every child in this community.

“What the Glendale Healthier Community Coalition has done for this community is simple, yet profound: Many parts have worked together as a unit. Over the course of 25 years, the Coalition’s 50 member organizations have methodically tackled universal care for Glendale children, population health in medically underserved areas, assessing community needs for quality of life, medical homes for indigent patients, and access to safety net clinics for all. The Coalition’s initiatives have resulted in significant, tangible health improvements for Glendale. The Coalition is living proof that community organizations working together for change can have a huge impact.” – Edna Karinski, GHCC President

Our Executive Committee

Edna Karinski, Community Foundation of the Verdugos

Karinski-EdnaEdna has been a member of many community organizations, including the Glendale Non-Profit Executive Coalition, the Burbank Non-Profit Executive Coalition, the Glendale Patriotism Committee and Veterans Coalition, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP – formerly NSFRE) since 1992, and the AFP Greater San Fernando Valley Chapter. Additionally, she is a graduate of the Leadership Glendale Class of 2009, chair of the Glendale Healthier Community Coalition, a 2012 Business Life Women Achievers Awardee, and a PTA columnist for the Glendale News-Press. She is also on the advisory board for the Glendale Character and Ethics Project, former Host of “Our Community Today”, a local cable access program sponsored by RightHome, and was elected to the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council (City of Los Angeles) in 2003.

Bruce Nelson, Glendale Adventist Medical Center

Nelson-BruceBruce is a health promotions and community development professional with extensive business development experience, including marketing and public relations, board development, financial planning, program design and implementation, and human resources management. A creative executive with major strengths in assessment, collaborative problem solving, visioning, and communication. Bruce has achieved success in widely differing environments by identifying and supporting mission-critical business elements. He has an M.A. from La Sierra University which had a specialized curriculum and focused on “The Dynamics of Change in Complex Environments: A Model for Leadership.” During his time there, he developed a non-linear model for creative change processes common to human experience. He is a proud board member and community affiliate for a variety of organizations that work to improve health outcomes in Glendale.

Cassie McCarty, Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center

McCarty-CassieRev. Cassie McCarty, MDiv, BCC serves as Director of Mission Integration at Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center. As the mission leader, Cassie oversees a number of areas including spiritual care, bioethics, community grants, and community benefit, all for the purpose of ensuring that the hospital’s mission and values are lived out in a robust manner. Cassie is a professionally trained health care chaplain and board-certified by the Association of Professional Chaplains. She has spoken at national conferences regarding spiritual care, served as a chaplain consultant for health care quality of life research projects, and is passionate about professional chaplaincy. Cassie holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary.  She is also a spiritual director, having received her training from the Spiritual Growth Center of the Los Angeles Roman Catholic Diocese. She serves on the Executive Board of the Glendale Healthier Community Coalition.

Christian Port, Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley

Christian Port, MPA, is a Los Angeles County native and has worked for Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley (PPPSGV) since 2012, where he currently serves as the Senior Manager of Business Development. In this role, Christian advances the mission and business initiatives of the organization by strategically expanding relationships and partnerships that enhance access to health care services and lead to greater health equity in the community. Christian has helped to bring LGBTQ+ Care to thousands of patients at PPPSGV with new services such as PrEP, PEP, and transgender hormone therapy.

Christian is deeply involved in the public health community. He currently serves as a Co-Chair of Community Benefit at City of Hope Hospital, a Board member of the San Gabriel Valley LGBTQ Center, and sits on the Huntington Hospital Community Benefit Board. He is also a founding member of the National LGBTQ Task Force Los Angeles Executive Committee.

Christian completed his Master of Public Administration at USC’s Price School of Public Policy as a Dean’s Merit Scholar and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Global/International Studies and Spanish. He worked for the University for many years providing academic programs and ADA accommodations to students with disabilities.

Mher Kesheshian, All 4 Health

Mher Kesheshian, FGMD, joined All For Health in 2016 as Quality Improvement & Quality Management Director.

In 2018, All For Health (AFH) was recognized by CMS as an exemplary practice for quality improvements achieved in Diabetes management, depression screening via participation in the Los Angeles Practice Transformation Network. Mher has also been recognized for his leadership in implementing the Patient Center Medical Home (PCMH) criteria in AFH clinical practices. Additionally, Mher established the food insecurity program for patients and families experiencing hunger and organized AFH’s emergency preparedness initiative. Mher has an MD degree from YSMU, in Armenia, and represents AFH at the Health Educators and Quality Improvement roundtables in the Community Clinic Association Of Los Angeles County, where he serves as a member of the Health Center Controlled Network Advisory Group. Under his quality management leadership, All For Health received the 2019 Health Services Quality Leader award from the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA).

Tara Peterson, Glendale YWCA

Tara Peterson was appointed Executive Director of YWCA Glendale in 2016. She is responsible for the executive and administrative leadership of the YWCA Glendale, which strives to eliminate racism and empower women, and has played a pivotal role in revitalizing the agency’s 93-year legacy of supporting local women and girls by expanding programs and reach, but also set forth a change in the culture and conversation around domestic violence in Glendale and surrounding communities. Likewise, she is responsible for ensuring high quality outcomes, financial sustainability, organizational viability, and exceptional service delivery and has grown the organization’s operating budget from 1.3 million to 2.7 million.

Tara brings more than 20 years of experience addressing domestic violence, youth violence, sexual assault, and reproductive rights. She spent a decade working at the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, including five years as its Executive Director, leading statewide policy, legislative, and budget advocacy efforts. Tara is a fierce advocate and has a long track record of successfully advocating for legislative change on behalf of domestic violence victims and their children and leading system change initiatives to increase access to domestic violence services to underserved communities.

Throughout her involvement in the Violence Against Women Movement, Tara has been called upon to advocate at the federal and state level to secure resources and funding to address the social justice issues exemplified by the YWCA mission. She represents YWCA Glendale in advocacy efforts at the California State Capitol and with legislative policy makers in Washington D.C.

As a recognized expert in the field of Violence Against Women, encompassing the intersection of domestic violence and communities of color, Tara has been called upon to deliver speeches on these topics and has presented at several state and national conferences.

Tara obtained her bachelor’s degree from California State University, Sacramento in Ethnic Studies while on a full-ride softball scholarship. She also holds a master’s degree in Multi-Cultural Education.

Laura E. Duncan, Ascencia

Dr. Laura Duncan, Ph.D., joined Ascencia in 2014 as the Director of Programs after working in the non-profit and education sectors since 1977, including in a leadership capacity since 1989. She became Ascencia’s Executive Director in November 2018, and under her leadership the operating budget has grown by nearly 25%. Laura’s range of experience includes clinical services, residential treatment, adjunct faculty, vocational rehabilitation, workforce investment, non-public education, Veteran’s services, and homeless services.  Previously, as Interim Vice President at Goodwill Industries, programs grew from $9 million to $21 million within three years. Laura also served as Director of Programs for the Salvation Army’s Haven program for veterans, where she mentored the case management team to dramatically improve results in a VA-funded project for homeless veterans. Dr. Duncan holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from Alliant University; her B.A. in Psychology and M.S. in Counseling degrees are from California State University, Fullerton. Laura is a state-approved instructor and multi-certified administrator for residential facilities with expertise in Title 22 regulations. Her written course outlines were selected as the State of California’s Best Practice Model in 2017. She has championed numerous third-party accreditations with the Board of Education, and the Commission on Accreditation for Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), which achieved best possible outcomes.

George Saikali, YMCA

George started his YMCA career in December 1985 at the Glendale YMCA and moved since to serve 4 other YMCA’s in LA County to finally come back in 2010 as President & CEO of the YMCA of Glendale.

George has always been interested in the YMCA ability to positively impact the lives of people who live in the community.  George is a graduate of North Carolina University with a degree in Political Science and minor in Business Administration. His 32 year career included 3 major capital campaigns in Gardena, Burbank and now in Glendale.  Major accomplishments were to reverse the financial situation of 4 of the 5 YMCA’s served in from negative to a strong performance by repositioning the YMCA to serve the community with relevancy.

Our Vision Statement


A healthy community is achieved when the opportunity exists for the highest quality of life to be experienced by every resident.

Every resident of Glendale deserves the opportunity to live in a healthy community. A healthy community is defined as one in which the optimum health of each individual is realized.

Everyone must be allowed to grow economically, educationally, emotionally, mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually. This growth should include an appreciation of the community’s diversity, arts, culture, the environment and involvement in the governmental process.

Providing a healthy community must be the responsibility of the entire community beginning with each individual and family and include: local government, social service agencies, religious communities, health care providers, the business community, the local school and college districts, the criminal justice system, the media and families. These entities should work together with individuals to facilitate programs, activities and care.

The goal of becoming a healthy community will require:

  • a safe community
  • fiscally sound programs
  • further development of the volunteer spirit and active citizenship
  • new and innovative thinking
  • preventive and other approaches to good health
  • and an emphasis on collaborative methods

Glendale desires to be a healthy community.