The California Wellness Foundation is proud to honor its 2005 Champions of Health Professions Diversity Award recipients. Each will receive a $25,000 grant acknowledging his or her commitment to increasing diversity in the health professions.
Elia V. Gallardo, Esq. — Sacramento
As director of government affairs at the California Primary Care Association (CPCA), Elia V. Gallardo plays a critical role in advancing the interests of more than 600 California community clinics and health centers and the many patients they serve. At CPCA, Gallardo successfully advocated on behalf of a loan repayment program for culturally and linguistically competent physicians and dentists working in underserved areas and is assisting health care professionals from other countries who want to continue their work in the United States.
Sherry M. Hirota — Oakland
For nearly 30 years, Sherry M. Hirota has worked to improve the health of underserved communities by diversifying the health care workforce. Chief executive officer of Asian Health Services (AHS) since 1982, Hirota has been instrumental in advancing the concepts of linguistic and cultural competence. Under her leadership, the AHS budget has increased from $100,000 with a staff of nine to $16 million with a staff of 160; 99 percent of whom speak both English and at least one additional language.
Martin Waukazoo — Oakland
Martin Waukazoo’s vision of a healthier community has inspired many young Native Americans to pursue careers in the health professions. Chief executive officer of the Native American Health Center (NAHC), which serves diverse Native tribes as well as all other underserved communities, Waukazoo’s leadership helped the organization grow from a budget of $827,000 and a staff of 14 to a budget of nearly $14 million and a staff of 170. The Oakland-based organization has clinics in San Francisco and Sacramento, and has helped launch a clinic in Fresno. NAHC is now one of the country’s largest providers of health care and prevention services to the urban Indian community.