Carmela has been the CEO of CPCA for more than 20 years. In that time, Carmela has seen little increase in the number of female CEOs in the nonprofit and trade association spaces and is determined to make an impact in this area. Carmela is dedicated to mentoring young women and empowering them to reach their highest potential. She has been lucky to have had mentors along the way to guide her in her journey to becoming a CEO and continues the tradition by doing the same for the generation of leaders coming up behind her.

She has made a concentrated effort to meet with and mentor young women and speak to diverse groups of youth throughout the state. It’s important to her that young women know they can be leaders, they can be CEOs, and they can do anything they put their minds to. As the CEO of CPCA and President of CFF, Carmela has numerous speaking engagements throughout California and nationwide. She works to promote this message at every possible occasion. Additionally, the creation of this website was in part to be a visual representation of this work and serve as an example to young Latinas that they too can be leaders.

Most recently, Carmela worked with CPCA leadership to develop a new position focused on investing in the next generation of leaders. Under Carmela’s direction, CPCA’s new Vice President of Human and Organizational Development will work to create a model for employee recruitment, training, engagement and retention for nonprofits statewide.


Empowering diverse leaders across the nonprofit sectors continues to be a goal for Carmela through her work in philanthropy and as the CEO of CPCA. As President of the Castellano Family Foundation (CFF), she oversees the priorities and mission of the organization of which leadership development is a priority. Specifically, the development of Latino leaders which the Foundation sees as critical to furthering the Latino community as a whole. CFF also supports Latino-led nonprofit organizations and has a requirement that the boards and leadership of the organizations they support reflect the community served. 

As the CEO of CPCA, she has worked to increase diversity within the organization. Under her leadership and guidance, the CPCA Board of Directors voted in 2016 to adopt a policy that fosters diversity within the Association. Additionally, she continues to promote a more diverse healthcare workforce as well, working to increase the diversity and cultural competency at all levels of the health care system, with the goal of diversifying and growing all levels of the care team as a way to ensure that the primary care workforce better reflects diverse and underserved communities.

In addition, under Carmela’s leadership, CPCA has led the convening of a Healthcare Workforce Policy Coalition. The Coalition continues to build commitment from multiple sector partners toward the common goal of addressing the primary care workforce gap by engaging and supporting California’s diverse communities. There is an urgent need for greater efforts to expand and diversify the entire primary care workforce across California’s health care delivery system. By prioritizing work in the areas of pipeline, residency and communications, the Coalition is poised to accelerate policy change in health workforce and achieve a primary care future that is inclusive of and responsive to the communities they serve.


During her tenure at CPCA, Carmela has worked to strengthen the organization, growing the staff from four people in 1997 to nearly 50 individuals within four departments. Through her entrepreneurial drive, she continues to build partnerships with vendors nationwide to bring the best programs and services to CPCA members – helping them to strengthen their own organizations and improving their bottom line.

Under her leadership, CPCA has developed a robust training and technical assistance program aimed at ensuring community health centers are successful within the larger health care system. Each year, CPCA staff provide thousands of instances of phone, email, and in-person technical assistance. The organization’s Health Center Operations Department continues to grow and helps to facilitate relationships with the state and the Department of Health Care Services to assist health centers in navigating regulations and ensuring they receive compensation in a timely manner.

In the two decades Carmela has led CPCA, the organization has been instrumental in the financial strength and overall growth of community health centers in the state. In fact, during her tenure community health centers have had significant income growth, increasing their collective income by more than 600 percent from $795 million in 1997 to over $5 billion in 2016.  Patients served increased more than 275 percent during this same period from 2.4 million to more than 6.6 million, and total annual encounters grew by more than 12 million. Under her leadership, Federal funding to CHCs has increased from $105 million to $686 million and the number of health center sites has more than doubled to over 1,300 sites in 2016.

In large part, CPCA’s growth and development success is largely due to Carmela’s entrepreneurial drive and the support of CPCA’s COO and Director of Development. Identifying early on that the organization would need additional funding to sustain the innovative work she was building toward, Carmela worked to diversify the revenue of the organization through forward-thinking strategic partnerships and critical service lines. Through this work, health centers have only become stronger within the larger delivery system and despite the continually changing environment, health centers are not only surviving – but thriving. In doing so, Carmela has propelled CPCA – one of the youngest state PCAs – into the national spotlight as one of the strongest and most forward-thinking PCAs in the nation.

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