In September 2015, Xóchitl Castañeda was elected to The California Wellness Foundation’s Board of Directors. She is the Founding Director of the Health Initiative of the Americas within University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health, a program she founded in 2001.
Her leadership to improve the health and the quality of life of underserved populations is widely recognized. In 2020 Castaneda received the Mexican National Award of Health in the category of “Sin Fronteras” (No Borders) for her lifetime of work to improve the health of Mexicans living abroad. In 2019, she received the Othli Award, one of the most prestigious distinction presented by the Mexican Government to a person who has positively affected the lives of immigrants in the United States. In 2010, the California Latino Legislative Caucus honored her with the National Spirit Award for her leadership to improve the health of Latinos in the U.S. In 1999, she received the National Mexican Award on Social Science and Medicine.
Castañeda has served on numerous boards and advisory committees. She is currently treasurer and development board chair for the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California; a member of the California Immigrant Policy Center; a Board Member of the National Council of Mexican Federations in North America (COFEM) and a member of the Médica Sur Hospital’s Board of Directors in Mexico.
Xochitl’s vision and commitment has led to the creation of nationally recognized health programs for underserved populations. Under her direction, Binational Health Week, one of the largest mobilization efforts in the Americas to improve the wellbeing of Latino immigrants, has been celebrated for 20 consecutive years. She created the Annual Binational Policy Forum on Migration and Global Health, a collaboration among 30 Universities and over 200 agencies. She is also the founder of the “Athenea Network” a world organization for Mental Health of Mobile Populations.
A medical anthropologist by training, Xóchitl was educated in Guatemala and Mexico and completed three post-doctoral fellowships: UC San Francisco, Harvard and Amsterdam University. Since 2008, she has served as a Professor of Migration and Health at UC Berkeley.