A Foundation of Service

This month, we're proud to recognize our Wetzel Community Leadership Awardee Herman J. Hernandez and our Spirit of Wetzel Awardee Bernice Espinoza. We also shine a spotlight on Sue Labbe of Alliance Medical Center.

Healthcare Foundation Board Member Francisco Lopez
Francisco Lopez

Dear Friends,

It is a pleasure to be writing to you today on behalf of the Healthcare Foundation’s Board of Directors and during Hispanic American Heritage Month (Sept 15 – Oct 15). There is so much to celebrate and honor in our region’s diverse and vibrant Latinx communities, and this month we have several announcements that do just that.

I joined the Healthcare Foundation Board in 2021 in order to better serve the community that I live in and to advocate for those that share my interests, because I feel that health equity is such a vital part of our society, especially in recent times.

As a proud resident of Windsor, where my wife Shauna and I are raising our two children, I am pleased to announce that the Healthcare Foundation with support from Providence will expand our community wellness center convenings to the town of Windsor. Stewarded by Nuestra Comunidad and On the Margins, this two-year community-led research and visioning process will support not only the needs but the ideas and creative engagement of Windsor’s Latinx community. Look for more updates on this project in the coming weeks!

This month’s newsletter also has details of this year’s Wetzel Awards, including profiles of our two honorees for 2022, members of our county’s diverse Latinx community who epitomize the theme of service and the spirit of the Healthcare Foundation’s mission to support equity, access and wellness for everyone in our region.

It’s wonderful to see this year’s Spirit of Wetzel Award acknowledging the critical work and vibrant creative voice of lawyer, poet and activist Bernice Espinoza, who works as an immigration removal defense attorney with Corazón Healdsburg, a stalwart community partner. 

And as a business owner myself, it gives me a particular joy to see the Wetzel Community Leadership Award bestowed on Herman J. Hernandez, a trailblazer (along with his father before him) among Latinx realtors in the Greater Bay Area who has devoted decades to community service and the inclusion and representation of Latinx voices here in Sonoma County.

I invite you to join us in honoring Bernice and Herman on November 3 at our Wetzel Award program in Healdsburg.

And speaking of stalwart community partners, below you’ll also find a conversation with Sue Labbe, a longtime leader and the newly appointed CEO at Alliance Medical Center, where she discusses her vision of a healthcare organization grounded in inclusion and community service.

I am proud to be serving an organization that is not only dedicated to health equity in northern Sonoma County but that makes a point of recognizing the unique gifts and talents each of us contribute to our cherished northern Sonoma County culture. 

Thank you for being a part of our diverse and compassionate Healthcare Foundation familia!


Francisco Lopez
Healthcare Foundation Board of Directors

Wetzel Community Leadership Award:
Herman J. Hernandez

Herman J. Hernandez

Herman J. Hernandez is a longtime Guerneville resident, broker and owner of Hernandez Realty Co., and a well-known community champion and bridge-builder. As a founding member and the board president of Los Cien—a Latinx leadership organization and Sonoma County’s leading Latinx advocacy group that convenes public and candidate forums on pressing issues like housing and mental health—Herman has been instrumental in raising the representation and involvement of Latinx residents in the political and policy decisions that impact their lives. As someone who is a trailblazer in his own right, Herman models the kind of civic engagement, inclusiveness, and pride Los Cien supports and promotes throughout Sonoma County. The Healthcare Foundation is extremely pleased to recognize his decades of service with the 2022 Wetzel Community Leadership Award.

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Spirit of Wetzel Award: Bernice Espinoza

Bernice Espinoza

Bernice “bere” Espinoza is a civil rights attorney, activist, and poet. Currently working as an immigration removal defense lawyer with Corazón Healdsburg, she is one of only two pro bono deportation defense attorneys operating in Sonoma County. A tireless advocate for immigrant rights as well as all those bearing the brunt of oppressive and unequal conditions, Bernice embodies the ethos of community service in all she does, including her extensive volunteer work during the fires and floods of recent years and the more recent Covid-19 pandemic. The Healthcare Foundation is proud to recognize her commitment to social justice and community health and wellbeing with the Spirit of Wetzel Award.

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Community Partner Spotlight

A Conversation with Sue Labbe, CEO of Alliance Medical Center

Sue Labbe

In July, the Board of Directors of Alliance Medical Center (AMC) appointed Sue Labbe as Chief Executive Officer. Sue came to California from the East Coast in 2001, working in the healthcare field with underserved populations for 15 years in the Central Valley before relocating to Sonoma County and starting her career at AMC in January of 2017. Most recently, as AMC’s Medical Director and Chief Medical Officer, Sue led AMC’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

As part of that response, AMC (in collaboration with the Healthcare Foundation and other partners) mobilized in early 2021 to join the massive vaccination effort across the region, working in concert with local community-based organizations to target outreach and services to the Latinx community which was disproportionately impacted by and vulnerable to Covid-19. These efforts reached some of our region’s most vulnerable residents, including un- and under-insured individuals, and contributed to the high county-wide vaccination rate achieved in this period.

We spoke recently with Sue Labbe about the development of her role at AMC, lessons learned during the pandemic, and her vision for AMC moving forward.

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November 3, 2022 | 8:30-10:00 AM

Dry Creek Kitchen
317 Healdsburg Ave
Healdsburg, CA 95448

Limited Tickets Available – Purchase Here

Join us for a celebratory breakfast event to honor this year’s Wetzel Community Leadership Award recipient Herman J. Hernandez and Spirit of Wetzel Award recipient Bernice Espinoza

Enjoy your choice of a plated breakfast at Dry Creek Kitchen, where iconic chef Charlie Palmer brings his signature style to the bounty of Sonoma County. The morning will include honoree recognition and a brief program. 

Each year, the Healthcare Foundation presents the Wetzel Awards to highlight individuals who demonstrate a commitment to improving health and health equity in our community. The Wetzel Community Leadership Award and Spirit of Wetzel Award are named for the late Maggie and Harry Wetzel, longtime friends of the Healthcare Foundation and generous members of our community. The memory of the Wetzels lives on through the award honorees who exemplify humanitarian leadership values in action on a daily basis.

Thank You to Our Sponsors

Community Health Builder

Big John's Market

Community Health Supporters

Costeaux French Bakery
Exchange Bank, Healdsburg
Healdsburg Running Company

Become a Hero for Community Health!

We invite you to join us as a Healthcare Hero.

As Scott Hafner, our Board Chair, shared during his remarks at Noche de Amor, “Our Healthcare Heroes give us the financial security that allows us to make consistent, impactful grant-making.” Healthcare Heroes are the “donors and friends who are with us through thick and thin, who are committed to our mission of eliminating health inequities in our region.”

With your Healthcare Hero pledge today, your partnership will be recognized on our website, at our events, in our newsletter and annual report.

An Opportunity for New Legacy Circle Members!

A generous, anonymous donor will contribute $5,000 for the first five new or newly disclosed commitments to the Healthcare Foundation’s Legacy Circle in 2022.

Contact us today to set up a meeting with Development Director Mary Ott at 707.395.4928 or mott@healthcarefoundation.net.

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