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Xóchitl Castañeda, Board Member, The California Wellness Foundation

In September 2015, Xóchitl Castañeda was elected to The California Wellness Foundation’s Board of Directors. Since 2001, she has served as the director of the Health Initiative of the Americas within University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health. Castañeda is also a coassociate director of the University of California Global Health Institute’s Center of Expertise on Migration and Health and codirector of University of California, Davis’ Migration and Health Research Center.

She has led a variety of research projects for universities, foundations and other institutions involved in data analysis and advocacy. Previously, she was a professor of public health sciences and a researcher at Mexico's National Institute of Public Health, where she directed the Department of Reproductive Health, for more than seven years.

In 2015, Castañeda was honored by the San Francisco Department of Public Health with the Public Health Hero award, and in 2010 the California Latino Legislative Caucus awarded her with the Latino Spirit Award. She was also recognized by the California State Legislature with the Distinctive Award for Improving Access to Health Care for the Most Vulnerable and Underserved Populations in 2006, and in 1999 she received the National Research Award on Social Science and Medicine. She has been twice elected as an advisor to the Institute for Mexicans Abroad.

Castañeda has served on numerous boards and advisory committees. She is currently treasurer and development board chair for Latino Coalition for a Healthy California; a member of the University of California HIV/AIDS Research Program’s Advisory Council; and a member of the Médica Sur Hospital’s board of directors in Mexico.

Castañeda received her bachelor’s degree in social psychology from San Carlos University in Guatemala and her master’s degree in social anthropology from the National School of Anthropology and History in Mexico. She was also a postdoctoral fellow in medical anthropology at Harvard University and a postdoctoral fellow in international reproductive health policy at the University of California, San Francisco. Currently, Castañeda is a Ph.D. candidate in the medical anthropology program at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Our Guiding Principles

Guided by our mission, we pursue the following goals through our grantmaking:

  • To address the particular health needs of traditionally underserved populations, including low-income individuals, people of color, youth and residents of rural areas.
  • To support and strengthen nonprofit organizations that seek to improve the health of underserved populations.
  • To recognize and encourage leaders who are working to increase health and wellness within their communities.
  • To inform policymakers and opinion leaders about important wellness and health care issues.


The mission of The California Wellness Foundation is to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention.

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