June 29, 2023 | Carla Gonzalez
The DAPM Handoff recently interviewed Carla Gonzalez, DAPM OAST & Project Manager, and Co-Chair of La Comunidad—the Latinx/Hispanic Affinity Group of the UCLA Office of Health, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (HEDI)—about her involvement with La Comunidad and its sponsorship of a recent panel and networking event.
Can you tell us more details about the event? Who was there, and what was its purpose?
La Comunidad hosted the leadership panel and networking event called “Leadership Pathways: The Power of Building Community in the Workplace” with the Southern California Chapter of the National Association of Latino Healthcare Executives (NALHE SoCal) on June 29, 2023, in the Neuroscience Building Auditorium at UCLA. The goal was to have experts in the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) space discuss how they build community through Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), and how they empower administrative and allied clinical staff who are underrepresented in leadership.
As we closed out National Immigrant Heritage Month, the highlight of the event was conversations around how strengthening your diverse leadership community can create opportunities for professional growth. Our panelists also discussed the importance of increasing the pipeline to better represent the communities we serve. The panel was preceded by a networking session dedicated to building on and expanding your professional connections.
We had three wonderful speakers: (1) Seira Santizo-Greenwood, CESLAC, Chief of Staff, MEDPEP Director at UCLA, (2) Luz Nuñez, Director, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, (3) Hana Mizban, Director, Community Integration, Adventist Health White Memorial.
Guests included staff from UCLA (Health System, DGSOM, Anderson, and more!), USC, UC Irvine, and CHLA.
What is the purpose of the La Comunidad, the Latinx/Hispanic Affinity Group at UCLA? Who is involved with it, and how did it come to be?
UCLA Health’s HEDI holds many affinity groups, and La Comunidad is one of them. I believe it was developed during year 2 of the pandemic when awareness of social and cultural issues increased. La Comunidad means “The Community” in Spanish, and the purpose of the affinity group is to provide a safe space, a sense of belonging, where we can celebrate our culture and work on projects to help and advocate for our staff and patients.
Members include administrative staff, faculty, nurses, EVS and facilities workers, as well as parking services staff (support services). This year, Nydia Flores and I are Co-Chairs. And I am proud to say that Anabel Barajas from our Academic Personnel Office is a member as well.
Can you describe for us your involvement with the LatinX Affinity Group (now and over the past few years)?
This is my second year with La Comunidad and my first year as Co-Chair. I have had the pleasure of helping put together events for UCLA Health starting with Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) in 2022, during which we hosted panels on Imposter Syndrome (Anabel Barajas was one of our panelists), a “Cooking Lesson with Chef Julia” from UCLA, “Paletas and Mariachi” at UCLA-Santa Monica Hospital, and special menus with music on Thursdays at the Santa Monica Hospital and Ronald Reagan Medical Center cafeterias (including Cubano sandwiches, pupusas, churros, enchiladas, Peruvian food, and much much more). We also organized a partnership with UCLA’s Hispanic Serving Institution and a panel with Students from UCLA’s Chicano Studies that spotlighted their work in the community through the Freedom Summer Project. Other projects included Language Access Justice, which reviewed UCLA Health’s translation policies and menus for patients, and Professional Development for the Latinx/Hispanic community, with the goal of encouraging its representation in leadership roles.
What do you enjoy the most about being a part of the group?
This is a special group that is very moving and passionate about empowering staff to use their voice and understand their value. We all volunteer our time to bring special programming to UCLA staff and our allies. This year, we have started working on the celebrations for Hispanic Heritage Month and on expanding collaborations. My colleagues in La Comunidad have made a huge impact on me—we have cried and laughed together. We stand together. Our goal is to reach more staff and let them know that we are here to support them.