Carmela Castellano-Garcia, Esq., is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the California Primary Care Association (CPCA), overseeing a membership association of approximately 1,370 nonprofit, community clinics and health centers (CCHCs) which serve nearly 7.4 million patients a year. Ms. Castellano-Garcia has been committed to advancing multi-cultural health policy issues for nearly 30 years, focusing on areas such as cultural and linguistic competency in health care delivery, ensuring the viability of safety net providers, health care reform, and access to care for vulnerable populations.
During her tenure at CPCA, community health centers have had significant income growth, more than tripling their collective income from $795 million in 1997 to over $6.5 billion in 2019. Patients served increased more than 300 percent during this same period from 2.4 to 7.4 million, and total annual encounters grew by more than 12 million. Under her leadership, Federal funding to CCHCs has increased from $105M to $776M annually, and the number of health center sites has more than doubled to 1,370 sites in 2019.
In 2015, Carmela oversaw the creation of a new 501(c)4 CPCA affiliate corporation – CaliforniaHealth+ Advocates, a social welfare organization that is dedicated to advancing the mission of community health centers through state and federal advocacy. CaliforniaHealth+ Advocates is governed by a Board of Directors who have been designated by the CPCA Board of Directors. Carmela Castellano-Garcia is the President and CEO and leads a team of government affairs professionals.
Prior to joining CPCA, Ms. Castellano-Garcia served as the Founder and Executive Director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC), a healthcare policy and advocacy organization seeking to improve access to health and human services for California’s Latino population. She was the Executive Director in 1992-1997 and she served as the Volunteer Executive Director in 2011, wherein she played a leadership role in ensuring the continued vitality of the organization.
Ms. Castellano-Garcia’s legal background includes six years as a Staff Attorney and Managing Attorney with Public Advocates, Inc., a public interest law firm in San Francisco. Ms. Castellano-Garcia has litigated in the areas of employment discrimination, insurance redlining, and ensuring access to the information superhighway for California’s minority, low-income populations.
Ms. Castellano-Garcia is a founder and continues to serve on the Board of the California Health Information Partnership and Services Organization (CalHIPSO), the Regional Extension Center for California. She also sits on the Board of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC), and the National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP). She also serves on a number of Advisory Boards, including:Insure the Uninsured Project (ITUP), California Program on Access to Care (CPAC), and the Health Initiative of the Americas (HIA).
In the past, Carmela Castellano-Garcia has served as a member of the Oral Health Access Council (OHAC), the California Health Workforce Alliance (CHWA), the National Health Service Corp’s National Advisory Council, and the California Adolescent Nutrition and Fitness Program; and on the Boards of the Public Health Institute, Mission Neighborhood Health Center, and the Chicana Latina Foundation.
Ms. Castellano-Garcia was recognized with the 2018 Yale Law School Merit Award, Touro University California’s 2018 Mosaic Achievement Award, and the 2018 Mexican American Bar Foundation Community Impact Award for her more than 25 years of dedication to addressing health disparities within the state. She was also inducted into the National Association of Community Health Centers’ Grassroots Hall of Fame in 2018 for successfully leading the health center movement in California for more than two decades.
Additional awards and honors include: the Hispanic Health Leadership Award granted by the National Hispanic Medical Association in 2009, the Public Advocate’s Voices of Conscience award in 2005, and the Impact Award by Alta Med Health Services in 2004. She was also a 2007 Finalist for Hispanic Business Magazine’s Woman of the Year Award, and was listed in the February 1996 issue of the Medical Herald’s Who’s Who Top 20 in Latino Medicine, and the Hispanic Business list of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in the U.S.
Ms. Castellano-Garcia is a graduate of Yale Law School and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley. While a student, she spent a year at La Universidad Central de Venezuela as a Rotary Foundation International Scholar.