California’s rapid cultural diversity growth is both the cause and the force that has driven Carmela. She is passionate about a wide range of issues such as employment, wage equity, women’s rights, education, workforce diversity, health care reform,  affordable access to health care for Latinos and other underserved populations, and the strengthening of the state’s health care safety net. By listening to the voices of diverse communities and promoting their collective empowerment and direct participation through her organizational leadership, she has helped advance the powerful idea that the model of multicultural health and health equity is synonymous to that of a vibrant, healthy, and equitable future for all Californians.


Carmela founded the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC)—the only statewide organization with a specific emphasis on Latino health—in 1992 along with health care providers, consumers and advocates to impact Latino health by focusing on policy development, providing enhanced information, and community involvement.

LCHC accomplishes its mission by working to address inequities in quality of health care; building advocacy for high quality, culturally relevant, and linguistically appropriate health care and prevention services; informing the public to make choices that favor better health outcomes; and empowering communities to fully participate in health planning, implementation, evaluation, and advocacy. Three major functions provide essential focus to the organization’s work: public policy and advocacy; community education; and health equity research. These functions complement LCHC’s work in four key strategic areas: chronic disease prevention, safe & vibrant communities, health care access, and immigration reform.

Carmela served as the Executive Director of the LCHC from 1992-1997, before joining CPCA, and later as the Volunteer Executive Director in 2011, wherein she played a leadership role in ensuring the continued vitality of the organization. She continues to play an active role on the LCHC Board of Directors.

LCHC is currently led by Dr. Jeffrey Reynoso, DRPH, MPH.  He received his Doctorate in Public Health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, an MPH at UC Berkeley, and BA at UCLA.


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. During her time 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 health care access issues.

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