With the annual Wetzel Awards, the Healthcare Foundation is proud to highlight individuals who demonstrate a commitment to improving health and health equity in our community. We are thrilled to announce that this year’s Spirit of Wetzel Award recipient is Montserrat Archila, a brilliant and deeply devoted member of our Sonoma County community, and an inspiring example of local leadership that champions community voices in working for the health and wellbeing of our region.
Montserrat has worked at Providence St. Joseph Health for the past 16 years, collaborating with and serving the diverse communities that comprise Sonoma County. As the Mission Integration Manager for Petaluma Valley and Healdsburg Hospitals and Physician Enterprise in Sonoma County, her focus is to ensure that the mission and values of the Providence organization are integrated into every interaction with patients, families, caregivers, co-workers, and the community at large. In supporting her fellow caregivers, she is a resource for whole-person wellbeing whose work actively contributes toward a just culture within the organization.
She received her BA in Psychology and is currently completing a certificate in Interior Architecture and Design with an emphasis on Trauma-Informed Spaces. A graduate of the Stanford’s prestigious d.school, Montserrat champions human-centered design, an approach to problem solving that develops solutions by involving the human perspective in all steps of the process.
As a child, Montserrat immigrated with her family to the U.S. from El Salvador. Throughout that transition, Montserrat says her family was an important model for her.
“My family, parents, grandma, aunts, and uncles have all been influential in my life,” she says. “As they left behind their lives in our war-torn country of El Salvador and started anew in the United States, I was struck by their resilience, enduring positive spirit and faith. No matter the circumstances, my family approached life with grace, humility, and a quiet strength that I hope continues to live through me today.”
Montserrat resides in Windsor with her husband Issa and son Julian, and calls her county a “wonderfully diverse place.”
“My work has taken me across the county,” explains Montserrat, “sometimes all in one day! And I love and appreciate the unique attributes that make up each community. We have so many talented and skilled individuals throughout Sonoma County who come together to talk about how to best support their communities.”
Montserrat joins this effort to serve Sonoma County in many additional capacities as well, including as a co-founder of the DALE! Youth Educational Justice Project, a member of the board of the Latino Health Forum, a board member of La Familia Sana, and much more, including recently serving on the Healthcare Foundation’s strategic planning committee as an invaluable expert and community liaison.
“I feel incredibly honored to be in service to all,” says Montserrat, “to have the opportunity to create and launch initiatives that invite story and aim to create meaningful change. I am honored to serve alongside my colleagues on boards and committees whose sole focus is to improve the health and wellbeing of our communities. I am humbled by our DALE! youth who demand social and educational justice for their and future generations. I am also grateful for the opportunity to work in an organization whose mission and commitment to service align with my personal beliefs.”
In explaining her own dedication to community health and wellbeing, Montserrat points to an early and formative experience when she was ten years old.
“My aunt, a gifted seamstress, was trying to buy fabric at the local shop and could not communicate with the lady behind the counter,” recalls Montserrat. “Frustrated that my aunt could only speak broken English, she looked at me and asked me if I could ‘translate’ in an unfriendly tone.”
Looking back on it now, Montserrat sees that brief but sharp encounter as formative.
“I remember that day vividly because it dawned on me that not having mastery of a language was negatively impacting someone I cared about. As I interpreted for my aunt, I realized how often this must happen to others in circumstances far more important, like talking to a doctor or in a time of crisis. This newfound awareness led me to understanding how I could use my voice and skills to advocate for others. I feel like this was the moment I was called to service.”