Maria Cordova of Roseville has a pretty unique job
She is a promotora with the non-profit Latino Leadership Council. A promotora which in English means promoter is a trained para-professional community member who works with families as a sort of cultural broker, helping social service agencies in Placer County connect with Latino parents and children.
Cordova’s assignment varies from day to day, but always includes a similar theme: Educating and advocating for families navigating a maze of services. One day she’s driving a child to see the dentist, another day she’s leading a motivational support group for immigrant women, another day she’s providing job leads to an unemployed father, and on yet another day, she’s coaching a young mother with the questions to be asked at a doctor’s appointment.
‘As promotoras, we tackle the socioeconomic and cultural differences that often result in disparities in health and well being,’ says Cordova, a retired school psychologist, ‘and at the same time we build the cultural proficiency of the agencies that provide services to the families.’
Many of Cordova’s tasks are focused on helping Latino immigrants improve their access to health-care providers, and teach them how to live a healthier lifestyle.
As the Promotora Manager, she identifies trusted and gifted leaders in the community and trains and mentors them to perform community education. One of her ‘students,’ promotora Silvia Lopez, started a Zumba fitness class for women in Auburn, which has grown to include nutrition education and topics covering overall mental and physical wellness.
‘The work of the Latino Leadership Council is helping us to minimize stress and prevent diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol,’ said Lopez. As a result of the work being done by Cordova and other promotoras, several women who participate in the in the Latino Leadership Council’s programs report they are improving their health by exercising more and being more conscious about what they eat; some are even losing weight. ‘Maria has really motivated us to want to be healthy and to take on leadership roles so our communities benefit from our shared knowledge,’ Lopez said.
The Latino Leadership Council is supported by grants, including $25,000 from Kaiser Permanente.
‘We are deeply committed to improving the health of the communities in which we serve, and that includes supporting the promotora program, which we know is making a positive difference for families in Placer County,’ said Edward S. Glavis, senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser Permanente in Roseville and Sacramento. ‘Promotoras are successfully providing information that helps families access care and lead a healthy lifestyle.’