Return to Interviews with Latino Leaders in Hartford

Jeannette B. DeJesús – Exec. Dir. – Hispanic Health Council

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Interview with Janet DeJesus

The Hispanic Health Council focuses its efforts on the improvement of Hartford’s Latino community. Through health advocacy, research and community outreach, the Hispanic Health Council has established itself as a leading and vital voice of the diverse Latino population in Connecticut’s capital city and beyond. Founded in 1978, due to the communities’ dire need for Latino health services, HHC facilitates the organizing of the community through an appreciation and dedication to overall social well-being and justice. The HHC is currently involved in a plethora of programs. These include research projects that study some of the issues plaguing the Latino community, such as diabetes, nutrition, prenatal and infant care, sexually transmitted diseases and drug-use. HHC is also committed to empowering the individuals of the community through direct social service and political advocacy in the field of health.

This interview involved the participation of three women employed by the Hispanic Health Council, each of whom has a diverse and significant role in the organization. Executive director, Jeannette B. DeJesús, researcher in the center for community nutrition, Sonia Vega-Lopez, and the supervisor of the Comadrona/Healthy Start program, Grace Baker provided significant insight into the inner workings of the organization and their commitment to HHC. Jeannette DeJesús comes from a community similar to Hartford in New Jersey. From her background in business and social justice, she has spent the last five years at the HHC improving upon its legacy. Sonia Vega- Lopez left Mexico to continue her study of biochemistry at the University of Connecticut. She was recruited to HHC in order to link her scientific expertise to the needs of the Latino community. Grace Baker, originally from California was brought to Connecticut and HHC through her graduate study in social work. A variety of topics were discussed, mainly focusing on the composition of the Latino community in Hartford and their role in this community. These women discussed everything from HHC’s daily regiment to the Council’s broader goals. The perspectives and insights of these women reflect the dynamic nature of Hartford’s ever-growing minority and the important work of the Hispanic Health Council.