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

CRAB details



Daniel Barrientos

Mr. Barrientos joined Billy T. Cattan Recovery Outreach as the Executive Director in 2014. Under his leadership, several new programs have been added to the service array. Additionally, the annual budget has increased by 45%. He has over 23 years of leadership experience in the non-profit sector, specifically in substance use prevention and substance use disorder treatment. Mr. Barrientos has a true passion for helping people find sobriety. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Houston-Victoria. He is a licensed Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Intervention Instructor and a Certified Prevention Specialist. Mr. Barrientos has been active in the community for many years, including volunteering and serving on several non-profit boards. Currently, he serves on the Board of Directors for the Association of Substance Abuse Programs in Austin, TX. Away from work, Daniel enjoys spending time with his wife of 17 years and their two school-aged daughters.

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Mary Beck, LMSW, CAI

Ms. Beck has served as a leader in addiction services for nearly 20 years. Her background includes organization development, change management, and strategic leadership. Ms. Beck currently serves as Executive Vice President for The Council on Recovery, which serves over 55,000 people annually. Prior to joining The Council, Mary served as Director of the Center for Organizational Research and Effectiveness at the University of Houston, providing nonprofit evaluation and consulting services. She represents The Council on Recovery and is on the Board of Network of Behavioral Health Providers and the Executive Team of Healthy Women Houston. She is also a member of the Texas Association of Substance Abuse Programs and serves as an American Leadership Forum Senior Fellow. Ms. Beck earned her master's degree in Social Work in 1998 from the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, where she also serves as an adjunct faculty member. 


Kirstene Butler

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.


Rosie Butler

When her youngest son was born with a terminal liver disease and finding herself facing 3 terminal illnesses of her own, Ms. Butler decided to dedicate her time and efforts to raising funds for the medical community. Over the last 30 years, Ms. Butler has raised over $22 million towards this effort and has become a veritable force in fundraising in Birmingham, Alabama, and Texas. She is currently the Executive Director for the Texas Division of the American Liver Foundation. Ms. Butler oversees the operations of the Dallas and Houston offices and staff. Six months after taking over, she has elevated the Texas Division to first place overall; raising over $450,000 for the Texas division for American Liver Foundation. 


Andrea Caracostis, MD, MPH

Dr. Caracostis is a physician and has a master's degree in Public Health from Texas A&M and 25 years’ experience in health care. In 2007, Dr. Caracostis stepped into the leadership role as the CEO of HOPE Clinic, a Federally Qualified Health Center, which provides care to the large multicultural and multilingual community in Southwest Houston. HOPE Clinic serves over 20,000 unique patients with over 100,000 visits annually. Dr. Caracostis's career has centered on quality healthcare access with a passion for eliminating disparities and improving the health status of underserved communities. She has made tremendous contributions to HOPE Clinic’s success, and her important work has made a transformative difference to the community. Dr. Caracostis has served as a board member of the Susan G. Komen Medical Board, the Asian American Pacific Islander Community Health Centers, and the MD Anderson Institutional Review Board. She is currently a board member of Harris Health System and the Texas Association of Community Health Centers.

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Allison Rosen, MS

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 a Project Director at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, focusing on colorectal prevention. 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

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.


Elma Saenz, LMSW, LCDC

Mrs. Saenz is the Clinical Coordinator with Billy T. Cattan Recovery Outreach (BTCRO). She provides day-to-day oversight to the adult outpatient substance use treatment program and its counselors in her role. Mrs. Saenz was instrumental in helping secure funding to expand services to include co-occurring psychiatric and substance use treatment. Through BTCRO, Mrs. Saenz collaborated with Taking Texas Tobacco Free and the Cancer and Research Institute of Texas to make Nicotine Replacement Therapy available to clients and staff. She holds a master’s degree in Social Work from Texas State University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She has dedicated her life to helping others and has worked in various social service roles. Mrs. Saenz hopes to continue this mission in her work with the Health Center for Addictions Research and Cancer Prevention. She is encouraged and supported by her husband of 21 years and her three children.  


Rev. Marilyn White, MDiv

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

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.


Cody Dolan, MA

Mr. Dolan has more than 15 years' experience helping non-profits in the Houston area raise money through grant writing. His career started at MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he was part of a writing team that raised money for the South Campus Research Initiative. His next stop was at the Menninger Clinic, a world-renowned inpatient psychiatric facility that treats adults and adolescents with complex mental illnesses. Mr. Dolan moved to Legacy Community Health in 2011. Since then, he has been part of a team that raises money for new clinics and programs across the Greater Houston Area. During Mr. Dolan's time with the agency, Legacy Community Health has grown from 4 clinics in Houston to nearly 40 clinics in Houston, Baytown, Beaumont, and Deer Park. Mr. Dolan earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English and History and his Master of Arts degree in English from Texas A&M University. Before joining Legacy, Mr. Dolan taught composition and technical writing at Texas A&M, Blinn College, and the University of Houston-Downtown.