Annual Latino Health Conference

Centro SOL 10th Anniversary Latino Health Conference

Making it Stick: Advancing and Sustaining Community Health Work in Maryland

The 2024 Centro SOL’s annual Latino Health Conference will convene clinicians, public health professionals, community leaders, and other stakeholders in the critical prevention work community health workers (CHWs) / promotoras are doing in Maryland, especially in its immigrant and Latino communities.  The central idea for the conference is Making it Stick, or moving beyond just making the case for CHWs to creating equitable and sustainable infrastructure for the CHW workforce to keep our communities healthy. Join the half-day conference at Baltimore’s Creative Alliance for the afternoon and stay for Centro SOL’s 10th anniversary celebration event immediately following.

News and updates

We thank the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute for supporting this conference.

Download the press release — for inquiries, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at

Update APRIL 30th 2024 – Due to the overwhelming response, we have reached full capacity, and registration for our conference is now closed. Stay tuned to our social media for updates. Thank you

Conference information


Monday, May 13th, 2024 – conference and anniversary celebration

12:00PM – 8:00PM


Keynote Speakers and Panelists

Carlos Rodríguez-Díaz, PhD

Boston University School of Public Health. Pronouns (He, Him, El.)

Keynote Speaker

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Dr. Carlos Rodriguez-Diaz’s professional work focuses on engaging the social determinants of health to address health inequities among populations made vulnerable by factors such as incarceration status, gender identity, sexual orientation, and HIV status. He conducts community-based participatory research in Puerto Rico, with Latino communities in the US and the Caribbean region. He has several funded projects to improve HIV prevention services, including interventions to enhance continuity of care for justice-involved people and primary care for Latinx and sexual and gender minority populations. He serves as Chair of the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health.

Laura Gutierrez

Small Business and Community Development Comptroller of Maryland. Pronouns (She, Her, Ella)

Keynote Speaker

Laura Gutierrez, the Director of Small Business and Community Development at the Comptroller of Maryland, wears multiple hats. As the MBE/VSBE/SBR liaison for the agency, she champions small and minority-owned businesses. Her role involves reviewing internal processes, devising programmatic and policy initiatives, and supporting community development. She also assists businesses in navigating state resources and discovering new pathways for growth within Maryland. Prior to this role, Gutierrez led the Office of Community Services in the City of Annapolis, acted as the City’s Hispanic Liaison, and spearheaded the successful Take Care/Cuidate Annapolis program during the pandemic, which garnered state and national recognition and funding for her impactful work.

Ashley Woolard, Esq.

Lead attorney, Public Justice Center’s Health and Benefits Equity Project. Pronouns (She, Her, Hers)


Ashley Woolard is the lead attorney for the Public Justice Center’s Health and Benefits Equity Project, which supports policies and practices that promote the overall health of Marylanders struggling to make ends meet. The Project seeks to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare access and health outcomes. Before joining the Public Justice Center in 2018, Ashley worked at Disability Rights Maryland (formerly Maryland Disability Law Center) as a mental health attorney. In that role, she provided direct representation and brief legal services to individuals with behavioral health disabilities in civil rights issues and advocated for systemic changes to Maryland’s behavioral health system to improve the lives of behavioral health consumers.

Ashley graduated from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law with her Juris Doctor and the Health Law Certificate in 2015. She received the Public Service Award in recognition of her legal work that significantly advanced the public interest during her law school career.

Gabriela D. Lemus, PhD

Executive Director, Maryland Latinos Unidos (MLU), a program partner of MD Nonprofits. Pronouns (She, Her, Hers)


Dr. Gabriela Lemus is a passionate advocate for the Latine community at the intersection of social justice and economic growth. Her career spans more than 20 years in senior strategic leadership roles in congressional and government affairs, non-profit management, policy advocacy, and community/civic engagement. She joined Maryland Latinos Unidos (MLU) as the founding Executive Director in 2020 after launching – Revolution Strategy US – a management and communications strategy consultancy where she advised clients on best practices for building multi-racial coalitions and advocacy campaigns, advancing public policy and civic engagement. In her first year as Executive Director of MLU, she co-founded and administers the Mid-Atlantic Latinx Vaccine Equity Coalition (MALVEC), now the Latino Health Equity Alliance (LHEA).

Kelly Velazquez-Umaña, CCHW, MPH, DrPH (c)

Founder, Umana Public Health Solutions, LLC. Pronouns (She, Her, Ella)


Kelly Velazquez-Umaña is a public health professional with over eight years of experience in public, private, government, and non-profit settings. She has worked across multiple public health topics with expertise in implementing community-based programs and community engagement, focusing on health equity. Kelly has worked in maternal and child health, neuroscience research, community health center value-based care programs, grassroots community health worker initiatives, and migrant and preventative health. During the pandemic, she led a team of community health workers serving our most underserved communities and those who were significantly impacted by COVID-19. She has advocated enhancing the community health worker workforce at the local and state level. In October 2023, she completed a Health Equity Fellowship at the Bureau of Primary Health Care, Health Resources and Services Administration (BPHC-HRSA) and is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Public Health program at the Milken Institute of School of Public Health. She received her Bachelor of Science in Public Health Science and Master of Public Health in Public Health Practice and Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park. She was appointed to the Maryland Department of Health, Community Health Worker Advisory Committee in 2022.

The power of stories – photovoice expo

Chidinma A. Ibe, PhD

Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Pronouns (She, Her, Hers)


Dr. Chidinma Ibe is a socio-behavioral scientist with substantive experience developing, implementing, and evaluating community health worker (CHW)-led interventions. Her program of research investigates the roles that CHWs play in addressing social risk factors among patients and families with multiple comorbid conditions who reside in structurally disadvantaged neighborhoods. She employs community-based participatory research approaches and implementation science to characterize multilevel, intersecting determinants of CHWs’ incorporation into medical and public health systems. Dr. Ibe is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Internal Medicine, at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She serves as the Associate Director for Community Engagement at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity. She is also a member of the leadership team of the Community Health Worker Center for Research and Evaluation. Dr. Ibe received her Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Linda Flores, CCHW

Community Health Worker. Pronouns (She, Her, Hers, Ella)


Linda Flores is originally from El Salvador in the Department of San Miguel, where she was a physical therapist for many years. After coming to the United States, she has been serving her Latino community and learning how to connect with the patients she works with effectively. Mrs. Flores has been a certified community health worker by the State of Maryland since 2023. Mrs. Flores is passionate about providing access to health care and assisting individuals and families, referring them to the services and advocating for them.

She is the mother of two daughters. She enjoys dancing Zumba, folk dancing, singing, decorating, writing novels, and is a fan of the seventh art. Passionate about movies; likes to learn new things from different fields

Yeiny Alvarez, CCHW

Community Health Worker. Pronouns (She, Her, Ella)


Yeini Alvarez is originally from Honduras, moved to the US at a young age, and joined the Navy at the age of 18. During her seven years of service, she gained invaluable experience working with multicultural families overseas. It was during this time that she discovered her passion for helping people. For the last ten years, Yeini has been working tirelessly with Hispanic community in Baltimore, making a positive impact on their lives. She is a devoted mother, wife, sister, and faithful member of her church, Church U. Mrs. Alvarez believes that individuals can make a difference in their communities. She is proof that one person’s desire to help can have a lasting impact on the world. Her story reminds us that no matter how small our efforts may seem, they can make a significant difference in the lives of those around us.

Legislators Townhall

Pamela Collins, MD, MPH

Bloomberg Centennial Professor and Chair | Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Pronouns (She, Her, Hers)


Pamela Collins, MD, MPH, is Bloomberg Centennial Professor and Chair of the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Formerly holding faculty and leadership positions at Columbia University, University of Washington, and NIMH, her vision has led to the launch of global health educational programs and of research initiatives to extend mental health services in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, as well as research to reduce mental health disparities among diverse racial and ethnic groups and Indigenous communities in the United States.

Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk, D21

Chair House Health and Government Operations Committee, Maryland General Assembly. Pronouns (She, Her, Hers)


Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk is a dedicated public servant from Maryland Legislative District 21, residing in College Park as a devoted wife and mother of three. Born in the Dominican Republic, she overcame challenges, becoming the first in her family to graduate from college. With a background in law, she served as a prosecutor and defense attorney before entering politics. Since 2006, Joseline has been a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, championing over 80 bills into law and serving as Chair of the Health and Government Operations Committee. As the highest-ranking Latina in Maryland’s General Assembly history, she co-founded the Maryland Legislative Latino Caucus and holds key positions in various other caucuses. Joseline is known for her commitment to healthcare policy, focusing on equitable access and mental health reform to serve all Marylanders.

Carlos O. Garrido, PhD, MS, MPH

Program Officer, Social and Behavioral Sciences Administrator, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities


Dr. Carlos Garrido is a Social and Behavioral Sciences Administrator (Program Officer) in the Division of Integrative Biological and Behavioral Sciences at NIMHD. He is a quantitative social psychologist studying health behavior/promotion. Dr. Garrido’s research is characterized by identifying psychosocial assets and barriers to health promotive behaviors to develop psychological interventions that promote healthy living and reduce the chronic disease burden.

As the principal investigator, Dr. Garrido has conducted research spanning from the basic science of person perception and social cognition to psychosocial determinants of health. A major aim of his current work is to reduce health disparities and benefit segments of the population that have typically been underrepresented and/or underserved in public health research. His research areas also include shared decision making in clinical settings, health communication, health behavior trends, nutrition as intervention, and health economics.

Dr. Garrido earned his Ph.D. in social psychology from The Pennsylvania State University-University Park in 2017.

Conference Planning Committee

Alexandra Moran, MD

Founder and CEO. Thriving Juntos LLC. Pronouns (she, her, ella)

Panel Moderator

Madelin Martinez

MPH Student at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Former Executive Director Maryland Legislative Latino Caucus. Pronouns (she, her, ella)

Lisa Stambolis, MSN, PNP

Senior Project Manager, Neighborhood Nursing Program. Pronouns (she, her, they)

Ellen Molino, BBA

Program Manager, Centro SOL. Pronouns (she, her, hers)

Marzena Maksym, MA

Senior Program Coordinator, Centro SOL. Pronouns (she, her, ella)

Rachel Duncan, MBA

Operations Manager, Centro SOL. Pronouns (she, her)

Sarah Polk, MD, ScM 

Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Co-Director, Centro SOL. Pronouns (she, her)

Monica Guerrero Vazquez, MS, MPH, DrPH (c)

Executive Director, Centro SOL. Pronouns (she, her, ella)

Agenda: May 13th 2024

This agenda is subject to change without advance notice until the day of the event. For questions or to confirm the most up-to-date agenda, please email

12.00 PM –
12.30 PM

Lunch and expo

12.30 PM –
12.50 PM

Opening remarks and conference goals

12.50 PM –
01.45 PM

Keynote Session #1: Best Practices for Community Health Work

01:45 PM –
01.55 PM


01.55 PM –
02.50 PM

Keynote Session #2: From Programs to Policies

02.50 PM –
03.00 PM


03.00 PM –
04.10 PM

Panel: Tying it all Together

04.10 PM –
04.30 PM

Conference conclusion and Photovoice opening

04.30 PM –
05.30 PM

Legislator and Policy Champion Town Hall

Report on CHW and closing remarks

05.30 PM –
08.00 PM

Centro SOL 10th Anniversary Celebration

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