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The Community Research Advisory Board (CRAB) is a group of diverse community members. CRAB members partner with the HEALTH Center for Addictions Research and Cancer Prevention at the University of Houston (UH) to provide affiliated investigators with feedback on their research projects from conception and design through disseminating results.


The CRAB comprises individuals who are addiction recovery advocates, cancer survivors/caregivers, or otherwise passionate about addressing unique health challenges that disproportionately burden community members. We strive for diversity across disciplines and life experiences. CRAB members represent themselves, not their affiliate organizations or employers.  


The CRAB members receive training from the Community Engagement Core of the HEALTH Center for Addictions Research ​and Cancer Prevention regarding research ethics, design, and execution. CRAB members provide their knowledge, experience, and insights in the review of research projects to:

  • Ensure cultural appropriateness of the research questions, measures and assessments utilized.

  • Confirm relevance of the protocol to the best interests of the targeted community or communities.

  • Problem-solve issues and potential barriers to study design or implementation.

  • Optimize participant recruitment strategies and materials.

  • Optimize participant retention strategies.

  • Ensure results and their implications are disseminated back to the communities in an understandable way.


The CRAB works to enhance research projects (all stages) and proposals to ensure their feasibility within the community and assist researchers to translate their work back into the community in a timely manner.


The CRAB comprises community members from diverse organizational walks of life who serve as community scientists and provide researchers affiliated with the HEALTH Center for Addictions Research and Cancer Prevention with insights into:


  • Obtaining information on potential project designs that best address community needs and reach communities of interest.

  • Reviewing project materials for lay-friendliness and clarity.

  • Providing feedback on research progress designed to enhance community participation and impact.

  • Facilitating investigators’ ability to present their research to a lay audience for maximal clarity and effect.

  • Providing feedback on dissemination materials promoted to the community.​

The CRAB meets on demand, but convenes a maximum of 2 times per month. Meetings last no more than 1.5 hours each. View the current CRAB calendar here.   



Frequently asked questions

about the CRAB



Kirstene Butler
Program Specialist
Texas Southern University

Ms. Butler is a Texas Certified Teacher who has a passion for Special Education. Her current position is in the Student Accessibility Services Office at Texas Southern University, which provides the opportunity to encourage and advocate for the population diagnosed as having a disability. As a long time business owner, working with diverse populations is a passion of Ms. Butler's. Her interests include cooking, dancing, and all types of music.

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Diane Arms, MA
Center for Co-Occurring Disorders | The Council
on Recovery 

Ms. Arms serves as the Director at the Center for Co-occurring Disorders at The Council on Recovery. She is dedicated to serving the Latino population in the Health Field, including Mental Health and Substance Use. She received both her Bachelor and Master of Arts Degrees in Clinical Psychology from the University of Texas at El Paso. She has facilitated leadership meetings amongst local Federally Qualified Health Centers to identify, address, and resolve systemic issues. In addition, she has implemented programs like Multisystemic Therapy and Transition Age Youth, assisting clients transitioning from children to adult services in the mental health system. Funded projects consist of identifying relationships between stress, depression, and anxiety to Latinos' substance use and parenting styles, investigating chronic illness effects on children's health-related quality of life in an impoverished neighborhood along the Texas-Mexico border, and exploring decision-making aids for colorectal cancer in the Latino population. She is a fellow of the American Leadership Forum and a graduate of the Mujeres de HACE program.

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Allison Rosen, MS
n Cancer Society 

Ms. Rosen is a Houston, TX native and colorectal cancer survivor. She dedicates her life to using her voice and platform to educate, advocate, and continuously learn how best to represent the collective colorectal cancer community. Ms. Rosen is the Director of Project ECHO at the American Cancer Society. She has 15 years' combined experience in the oncology space, focusing on designing, implementing, and evaluating public health programs and initiatives to address cancer awareness and disparities among the medically underserved. Ms. Rosen serves as a patient advocate working with Fight Colorectal Cancer, the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, American Cancer Society-Cancer Action Network, Colorectal Cancer Alliance, Colon Cancer Coalition, Southwest Oncology Group Cancer Research Network, and volunteers at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Through her own experience at beating stage 2 colorectal cancer, she bridges the gap between the healthcare system and the communities served. Ms. Rosen has a love for nature, music, dancing, and travel. She will never say no to an adventure. ​

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Darrien Skinner, MS
Texas He
alth & Human Services Commission

Mr. Skinner has worked in tobacco prevention and control for over ten years, since the age of 15. He has a master's degree in Health Behavior & Health Education from the University of Texas at Austin. Mr. Skinner has worked with state and national tobacco prevention campaigns to curb youth tobacco and nicotine addiction. He started his career as a youth advocate and is now passionate about finding new opportunities for youth to be engaged in public health. He is also passionate about finding creative solutions to improve health communication and promotion efforts. Mr. Skinner believes that to continue improving health outcomes, we must continue to work towards health equity, actively including diverse communities in the health communication and promotion process. His hobbies include obsessing over politics, popular culture, technology, social media, and all things Texas.


Rev. Marilyn White, MDiv
Senior Pastor 
Trinity East United Methodist Church

Reverend White is an Elder in Full Connection as a member of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. She currently serves as Senior Pastor at Trinity East UMC, Houston, TX. Rev. White also serves as President of the Third Ward Community Cloth Fund Management Organization and treasurer of the Emancipation Economic Development Council. She also serves as the Conference Relations Chairperson for the United Methodist Church. Rev. White is a member of the Third Ward Assistance Ministries Task Force, the Trinity East Village Community Development Corporation, and the Advisory Committee for the Emancipation Community Development Partnership. Rev. White earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from LeTourneau University and a master’s degree in Divinity from the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. Rev. White is married to Leroy White and has two children and four grandchildren who are the joy of her life.


Rev. Linda Davis, MBA, MDiv
Senior Pastor
Boynton United
Methodist Church

Reverend Linda Davis is a native of St. Louis, MO. She has over 25 years' experience in Labor and Employment Law. After years of experience in the corporate field and several years serving as an Associate Pastor, she was called to serve as a Senior Pastor. She currently serves as Senior Pastor of Boynton Chapel United Methodist Church in Houston, TX. She received her bachelor's degree in Business Management and a master's degree in Business Administration from LeTourneau University. She holds a master’s degree in Divinity from Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. Rev. Davis has served on the Board of Trustees for Family Promise of Bryan-College Station and Fort Bend. She currently serves as the Chairperson for the Faith in Action Workgroup of the Emancipation Economic Development Council and is a Steering Committee member of the Northern Third Ward Implementation Project.


Dior Burns
Buckner Family

Hope Center 

Dior Burns joined Buckner in 2018 and serves as the Director of Administration and Operations for Houston. Dior earned her Bachelor of Science in Public Relations with a minor in Marketing from the University of Houston and has worked in the non-profit industry for over 15 years having previously served as the Executive Director of the non-profit organization, Reach for Kids, and as the Health Care Service Coordinator for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Dior is a Houston native and has two children, one adopted and one biological, along with a rescue dog.


Marlen J. Trujillo, PhD
Spring Branch Community Health Center

Dr. Marlen Trujillo has over 15 years of experience in community health addressing health disparities in medically underserved areas and years of strong community partnerships with community leaders, non-profits, schools, places of worship, local government, and philanthropic groups supporting health access. Dr. Trujillo possesses extensive expertise in healthcare delivery, finance, strategy, board governance, systems change, advocacy, marketing, health equity, and population health.


Adrienne Gilmore–Thomas, PhD
Program Manager
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Dr. Gilmore–Thomas serves as the Program Manager of the HEARTS (HIV Education, Awareness, Referral and Treatment for Substance use disorders) project at UTHealth Science Center at Houston, which provides treatment for substance use disorders, HIV prevention, and HIV screening. As the Program Manager, Dr. Gilmore–Thomas coordinates all aspects of the program, acts as a liaison between the program and partnering organizations, and also serves as a therapist. Dr. Gilmore–Thomas is an alumnus of Prairie View A&M University and is a fellow of the APA’s Psychology Summer Institute and the Addiction Scientists Strengthened through Education and Training (ASSET) fellowship program at San Diego State University. She also is an active member of the Texas Developmental Center for AIDS Research (D-CFAR) and its Substance Use Scientific Working Group (SU-SWG). Her research interests include co-occurring substance use and psychological disorders, comorbidities of mental and physical illnesses, as well as addressing mental health disparities for racial, gender, and sexual minorities. Her population of interest is adults with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders who are at-risk for HIV or living with HIV.


Amanda M. Williams
Community Health Worker Tilman J. Fertitta Family
College of Medicine
University of Houston

Amanda M. Williams is a Healthy Connections Program Community Health Worker (CHW) at the University of Houston Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine. Amanda graduated with a B.S. in Special Education with an emphasis on Deaf Education from Southern University A & M. Amanda is a CODA (Child of a Deaf Adult) and her first language is ASL (American Sign Language) and SEE (Signing Exact English). Her Father was Deaf, but a brilliant business owner; while her mother is hearing but never learned ASL. Amanda’s parents were dedicated to instilling the importance of community, advocacy, giving back to those in need, and standing up for any and all injustices. Prior to transferring to the Health and Human Service Commission in the Centralized Benefits Unit, Amanda worked as Educator for over 12 years at the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin and was also Chair of the Special Needs Department Fundraising committee. Currently, as a CHW for UH College of Medicine, Amanda is dedicated to advocacy for Houston Wards and committed to their access to health resources and education.

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