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About Us

Meet Our Staff

Professionally, the Samuels Center staff have strong and diverse backgrounds in the social sciences and public health. The Samuels Center’s Executive Director, Sallie Yoshida, provides overall strategic, operational, and financial direction for the center. Senior Associate Mariah Lafleur and Associate Bryden Johnston, provide leadership and conduct in a wide variety of research projects. Rob Nicholson, our Grants Associate, manages our grants, contracts and budgets. Our data team includes Heidi Skolnik and Laura Torres, and Office Administrator, Keiko Kanayama, keeps our office running smoothly.

Collectively, we are experienced in qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, including conceptualizing research questions and identifying key indicators as outcome measures for comprehensive evaluation plans, developing innovative tools and instruments, conducting on the ground data collection, database management and analysis, and logic modeling. We also have internal capacity to conduct data collection in various languages such as Spanish.


Our Focus

Established in 1994, our research emphasis is on building the evidence on effective ways to improve the environments where people live, work, learn and play for health promotion and disease prevention. Our work also focuses on supporting the development and enactment of public health policies that work to improve population health. Our areas of expertise span nutrition and physical activity, tobacco prevention and control, prevention of chronic disease, women’s health, community health, preventive care, and policy issues in public health. Our research and evaluation findings have been disseminated widely through policy briefs, reports, scholarly journal articles, scientific and community presentations, webinars, and media outlets.


Impact of our Work

Through environmental assessments and community surveys, we have been instrumental in defining the context and developing research to support advocacy for getting junk foods and beverages out of schools and neighborhoods. Through program and policy recommendations, we have helped communities design interventions to improve the choices for healthy eating and physical activity and tobacco prevention. Our reports and policy briefs inform decision-makers about evidence-based strategies and model policies and programs for improving health. Our work has resulted in legislation, policy changes and programs that have reshaped the environment, creating opportunities for healthier choices. Learn more about our projects here.


Who We Work With

We work collaboratively with a wide array of clients, including foundations, non-profit organizations, state and county public health departments, public and private sector partners, school districts and universities. Click here to see our funders and partners.


Our Collaborative Philosophy

A strong part of our research philosophy is ensuring full participation of all stakeholders in the evaluation design and in the interpretation of research and evaluation findings. Our ultimate goal is to support and build our client’s capacity by developing tools and reports that can easily be used by programs for replication, monitoring, and/or dissemination. Clients have used our products to refine program efforts, gain visibility, leverage additional funding, replicate successful models, and sustain improvements through policy implementation. If you would like to learn more, please feel free to contact us.