As a founder and former executive director, Carmela helped build the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC) into a leading voice for equitable, accessible, and affordable quality health care for Latinos and all underserved communities in California. With her background in public interest law and advocacy and a unique ability to mobilize local and statewide coalitions of like-minded partners, she helped develop LCHC into a central clearinghouse for the creation and promotion of community-based, multicultural health policy and advocacy for state and national health reform.
Carmela was also instrumental in the formation of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN), a multicultural statewide advocacy organization that works to improve the health of communities of color. As the Executive Director of LCHC, she joined the leaders of other health-based ethnic communities to advocate on health care reform issues at the state and federal levels to provide a voice for communities of color. To this day, CPEHN remains the leading voice for California’s communities of color on healthcare access issues.
Today, with Carmela’s continued participation in leadership, LCHC is focused on addressing the persistent and widespread inequities in health care quality and the unconscionable disparities in health status that characterize many Latino and other at-risk communities. Carmela was also instrumental in the formation of the Latino Health Alliance (LHA). LHA, comprised of the California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC); California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ); the California Primary Care Association (CPCA); Consejo de Federaciones Mexicanas (COFEM); Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC); Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF); and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), seeks to provide a unified voice for the Latino community in critical issues affecting the health of Latinos in California. With her successful coalition-building and advocacy skills, Carmela continues to play an instrumental role in bringing a Latino perspective to the forefront in the health policy arena in California. (Read more about LCHC’s current work and its long record of achievements in health policy for the underserved at www.LCHC.org.)
CPCA is perhaps the greatest embodiment of Carmela’s multi-cultural healthcare vision. CPCA’s member health centers serve a very diverse patient population that is 54% Hispanic and 90% comprised of people of color. As CEO of CPCA, her role is to define a collective vision for the diverse population served by California’s CHCs, thereby achieving their political empowerment by providing a well-respected and unified voice in the legislature and the halls of Congress.