Britt Rios-Ellis, professor and co-director of the graduate program for the Department of Health Science, has been named California State University, Long Beach's (CSULB) 2013 Outstanding Professor.
Established in 1980, the Outstanding Professor Award is designed to reward and publicly acknowledge outstanding professorial performance. It is the only honor given by Cal State Long Beach that recognizes excellence in three specific areas–instruction and instructionally-related activities, scholarly and creative activities and professional service.
Rios-Ellis began her CSULB career in 1994, attaining full professorship in 2006. In 2005, she founded and continues to direct the National Council of La Raza (NCLR)/CSULB Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation and Leadership Training. From 1995-2010, she directed the successful Latino Healthcare Professionals Project.
“Being able to create alliances with the National Council of La Raza, the National Institutes of Health Office of AIDS Research, and other national organizations working toward the creation of Latino health and educational equity has enabled me to engage with community based organizations on the ground throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, experience first-hand the contexts of barriers to health and education and risks that underserved populations battle on a daily basis, and when I am lucky, be a catalyst for positive change,” said Rios-Ellis.
Her community and student-level work targeting health and education issues facing Latinos has resulted in more than $20 million in funding. Rios-Ellis has been principal or co-principal investigator on more than a dozen grants since 2006. Currently, she oversees the award for Sanos y Fuertes, Transdisciplinary Graduate Education and Training to Prevent Latino Childhood Obesity funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the HSI STEM Project funded by the U.S. Department of Education, and the Hispanic Health Opportunities Learning Alliance (H2OLA) funded by the National Institutes of Minority Health and Health Disparities.
Her expertise has garnered three invitations from the White House and has been commissioned to serve on federal level advisory committees, including the CDC/HRSA HIV Advisory Committee for HIV/AIDS and STI Prevention and Treatment. A prominent bilingual and bicultural spokesperson, she has appeared on regional and national broadcast shows for Univision, Telemundo, CNN and CNN en Español, and "ABC World News Tonight."
In 2009, she helped found the National Institutes of Health, Office of AIDS Research, Hispanic Advisory Group. In 2010, the National Hispanic Business Women’s Association awarded her "Woman of the Year" honors, as did the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in 2009. In 2005, she won the CSULB Outstanding Community Service Award. Her husband, Enrique, lectures in the Chicano/Latino Studies Department at CSULB, and her children Xochitl (15), Enrique (13), and Itzel (10) attend Long Beach public schools.
She earned a bachelor of arts in political science and Spanish, a master of science in health and fitness management and a Ph.D. in community health at the University of Oregon.
In terms of her successful work in developing educational programs for first generation-educated Latino students, Rios-Ellis stated, “I am very proud to have been involved in the mentoring of many students and young professionals and to have been blessed with the opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives, particularly when they are first in their families to have attended college.
“Almost 20 years ago in 1994, I turned down a post-doctoral opportunity at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health as well as a tenure track professorship at the University of Maryland College Park to assume the position of assistant professor at CSULB,” she continued. “I was attracted to CSULB’s Department of Health Science for several reasons, but the diversity and enthusiasm of the student population without a doubt was the primary impetus behind my decision.”