We just completed our 2022 Annual Report/2023 Impact Report, which we will be publishing on our website in November. In the meantime, I am pleased to relate that in 2022-2023 we distributed about $1.4M in grants (59 grants total) to local grassroots organizations and clinics on the front lines of health equity, bringing our strategic granting total to more than $23.4M for the region since 2001.
Over the last year, the Healthcare Foundation launched several initiatives with our community partners aimed at improving both our systems of care and the lived experiences of our residents, which we know are interlocking parts of overall health and longevity.
All of which speaks to this month’s theme of solidarity. As reflected in the articles we offer below, the Healthcare Foundation is focused on building community power in all we do. We believe that by acting in solidarity with the historically underserved and marginalized communities of our region-—namely, by centering community concerns, knowledge, and agency in our grantmaking and programming—we arrive at the best solutions and outcomes to promote health equity in northern Sonoma County.
This solidarity is perhaps best represented by the aspiring professionals in our Mental Health Talent Pipeline. We have a beautiful example in this month’s conversation with Aarón Solorio, one of our latest scholarship recipients, who began his graduate studies in counseling psychology at USF Santa Rosa in August.
As the calendar closes on Hispanic Heritage Month, the Healthcare Foundation staff and I are reflecting on Los Cien’s powerful State of the Latinx Community Address, which we attended along with more than 500 people, at Sonoma State University on September 28. Its theme, “The Power of Belonging, Shifting Mindsets and Transforming Communities,” resonated greatly with our own work and could not have been more pressing. Below we offer a conversation we had with Los Cien’s executive director, Herman G. Hernandez, on the significance of this year’s address.
You may recall that his father, Herman J. Hernandez, a founder of Los Cien, was the worthy recipient of last year’s Wetzel Community Leadership Award. Our Wetzel Awardees this year are three more exceptional community leaders who we are also proud to call partners in our effort to ensure health equity for our region. You can find last month’s conversation with 2023 Wetzel Community Leadership Awardees Ari and Dawnelise Rosen here.
For this year’s Spirit of Wetzel Award, we are very pleased to recognize Doctora Daniela Domínguez. Below, we share a recent conversation with Dra. Domínguez, professor of clinical psychology at USF Santa Rosa and CEO of On the Margins, whose tireless service to her students and clients embodies her commitment to and solidarity with those at the margins.
There are still a few tickets left for the Wetzel Awards breakfast event being held on November 2. You can find more information here. We would love to see you there!
Mental Health Talent Pipeline Spotlight: Meet Aarón Solorio
Aarón Solorio entered the graduate program in counseling psychology at USF Santa Rosa in August, with support from the Healthcare Foundation’s Mental Health Talent Pipeline scholarship program. Aarón is one of three new scholarship recipients who started their graduate studies this fall as aspiring bilingual, bicultural mental health professionals committed to serving the northern Sonoma County community.
“I’m definitely looking forward to being a resource to my community,” says Aarón. “At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.”
Born and raised in Sonoma County, Aarón attended middle school and high school in the Rohnert Park / Cotati area. His parents had immigrated to the US from Michoacan, after which his father first found work as a farmworker at a winery in Geyserville.
“That was the job that a lot of family members or close friends would go into,” remembers Aarón. “Folks coming to the States would go to work as farm workers until things got a little bit better in their situation.”
Aarón is the first in his family to attend college and, now, graduate school. He describes himself as a nontraditional student who took some time to recognize the value and opportunity in higher education.
“My high school experience wasn’t the best,” he admits. “It took me a few years after I graduated to navigate life, struggle a little bit, to come to the understanding that the things that I was doing in those gap years were not working out. I decided to give education another shot, to see if it could be a better experience this time.”
Aarón started at the junior college in 2015, transferring to UC Berkeley in 2018, from where he would graduate with a degree in sociology and a focus on access to higher education. He says going back to school first introduced him to the subject of mental health and sparked his interest in mental health as a profession.
The Power of Belonging
Herman G. Hernandez on Los Cien’s 10th Annual State of the Latinx Community Address
On September 28, the Healthcare Foundation staff attended a rousing set of conversations as part of Los Cien’s annual State of the Latinx Community Address, which this year bore the title, “The Power of Belonging, Shifting Mindsets, and Transforming Communities.”
There was so much in the half-day event of relevance to the Healthcare Foundation’s focus on public health, health equity, and a community power-building approach that we reached out to Los Cien’s executive director, Herman G. Hernandez, in the days following the address to help us share some of the highlights and understand some of the history that went into this community conversation.
As some of our readers may already know, Herman is the son of Los Cien’s founder Herman J. Hernandez, who the Healthcare Foundation was pleased to recognize last year with the Wetzel Community Leadership Award.
This was the 10th annual address. Can you tell us about its origins?
When it started, it was really focused on the economic impact that Latino community members had in Sonoma County and the North Bay. I believe the original address featured the CEO of the Press Democrat at the time, Steve Falk, the chief editor of the Press Democrat, Cathy Barnett, and the superintendent of Santa Rosa City Schools, Socorro Shiels. It’s evolved a lot over the last ten years. They were planning this event in November ten years ago when, in October, Andy Lopez was murdered by sheriff’s deputy Gelhaus in Moorland. Los Cien led a community conversation as soon as that happened, with the chief of police and the sheriff at the time, Steve Freitas, and District Attorney Jill Ravitch. That was the impetus for Los Cien moving meetings to the Flamingo Hotel. That allowed us to have more than 20 people in the back room of Mary’s Pizza Shack, and to evolve into the way we congregate now where there’s 200 or 300 people at the programs.
Spirit of Wetzel Award: Dra. Daniela Domínguez
A champion of health, wellbeing and liberation for communities on the margins
Dra. Daniela “Danny” Domínguez is a licensed psychologist and professional clinical counselor with a special interest in liberation psychology, anti-racism, migrant justice, and gender and sexuality matters. As CEO of On the Margins and assistant professor at the University of San Francisco, Danny has been a stalwart ally and collaborative partner in several key Healthcare Foundation initiatives, including our Mental Health Talent Pipeline scholarship program and, most recently, a new Bicultural Clinical Training Program.
Born in Mexico City and raised in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Dra. Domínguez brings a range of expertise and lived experience to the work she does. And as Assistant Professor in Counseling Psychology and USF, she emphasizes to her students the importance of drawing on their own lived experience and cultural inheritance as a vital knowledge base in their work as therapists.
As a licensed psychologist and clinician, Dra. Domínguez works to create liberatory spaces of creativity and belonging. Applying this approach to the community level, she founded On the Margins as an eclectic and collaborative group of health professionals, artists, researchers, and consultants with the aim of supporting transformative justice and healing justice efforts.
That includes, among much else, counseling and coaching services; youth-oriented programs like ¡DALE! (Development, Advocacy, Leadership & Engagement), launched in 2021 to empower high school students with the tools and knowledge to be leaders and advocates for change in their communities; and Nepantlah, a program launched this year (as part of the Healthcare Foundation’s Bicultural Clinical Training Program initiative) to cultivate a virtual network of knowledge-sharing and support for bilingual mental health practitioners, community health workers, and psychology students.
In her roles as teacher and mentor, scholar and clinician, program developer and community advocate, Danny continues to make an extraordinary contribution to the mental health and wellbeing of our region at the individual, professional, institutional, and community level. The Healthcare Foundation is proud to recognize Dr. Daniela Domínguez’s extensive service to her students and clients, and her untiring commitment to those on the margins, with the 2023 Spirit of Wetzel Award.
We asked her recently about the influences, legacies and values that undergird her extensive commitments to community health, health equity and social justice.
2023 WETZEL AWARDS
Thursday, November 2nd 8:30-10:00am
Dry Creek Kitchen, Healdsburg
Please join us for a celebratory breakfast reception and ceremony honoring this year’s Wetzel Community Leadership Award recipients Dawnelise and Ari Rosen and Spirit of Wetzel Award recipient Dra. Daniela Domínguez. These inspiring community leaders demonstrate extraordinary community leadership in support of health and wellness in our region.
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