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The California Wellness Foundation Board Welcomes "Community Heroes"

Thursday, November 12, 2015

NCG member The California Wellness Foundation (Cal Wellness) announced three new board members are joining its mission improving the health of people living in California. Xóchitl Castañeda, Arnold X.C. Perkins and Pamela J. Simms-Mackey, M.D., FAAP (pictured left to right) will begin their board service in January 2016. 

Elizabeth M. Gomez, Cal Wellness's current Board Chair had this to say about the new appointments, "We are thrilled to expand our Board by welcoming three influential community heroes from the Bay Area. Xóchitl, Arnold and Pamela exhibit steadfast commitment to health equity and advancing wellness for all Californians, particularly within the most underserved communities. We all look forward to working with them and learning from their unique perspectives."

Read a snapshot of the new board member responses below:

Since 2001, Castañeda has served as the director of the Health Initiative of the Americas within University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health. She 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. Castañeda has also led a variety of research projects for universities, foundations and other institutions involved in data analysis and advocacy. 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. 

For Castañeda, joining Cal Wellness’ Board is a natural fit. Both Castañeda and the Foundation have been longtime champions of improving the health and wellness of Latino immigrant people, including the undocumented. She specifically noted her respect for the Foundation’s commitment to increasing the number and diversity of culturally competent health care professionals serving immigrant communities.

Perkins was the director of the Alameda County Public Health Department from 1994 through 2006, where he led an organizational shift to reflect a community development orientation. Currently, he is a consultant and speaker in a number of areas, including youth development, intergenerational work in African American communities, HIV and AIDS, organizational change and community engagement. He works with diverse institutions, including foundations, government agencies, community groups, law enforcement, hospitals and school districts. In 2014, The California Endowment awarded Perkins with the Health Equity Founders Award and created the Arnold X. Perkins Award for Outstanding Health Equity Practices in his honor. 

For years, Perkins said, he has admired Cal Wellness’ dedication to addressing some of the most controversial and unconventional issues affecting Californians while using a public health lens, recalling that Cal Wellness was one of the first funders to invest in violence prevention among boys and men of color.

Simms-Mackey is the associate director of graduate medical education at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, as well as an attending physician of the hospital’s Primary Care Center. She also serves as an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco’s School of Medicine. Previously, Simms-Mackey was the director and a physician facilitator for the Multicultural Curriculum Program at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. She was honored as one of the recipients of the 2013 Women of the Year Award from Nancy Skinner’s Assembly district office and is the recipient of the Stanley Higashino MD Award and the Charles R. Drew MD Award for Clinical Excellence from UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland and the Charles R. Drew Medical Education Program, respectively. Simms-Mackey earned her bachelor’s degree in human biology from Stanford University and her doctorate in medicine from UCLA/Drew Medical Education Program. 

Simms-Mackey is excited to work with the rest of the Board of Directors and the Foundation on advancing wellness in the state. She said she appreciates the focus the Foundation places on health equity and making sure that all Californians have access to quality health care.


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