December 1, 2021
Meet our New Health Program Officer: Yadira Montoya MSPH
Yadira comes to the Fry Foundation with over 14 years of experience in community and public health practice with a focus on medical and social science research, health education, and community engagement. She is a founding member of La BROCHA, a Chicago based art program for Latinx older adults, individuals living with dementia, and their caregivers. In 2019, Yadira was named a Culture of Health Leader by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Leaders are selected from the private, public, nonprofit and social sectors and have a demonstrated record of improving the health and equity within their communities.
You grew up in Chicago. Are there any formative experiences that you would like to share?
When I was five years old my family immigrated from Mexico to the U.S. and settled in Little Village, where I still live. A community that I describe as vibrant, historically resilient, and institutionally underserved. In Little Village my family was able to access readily available medical care at one of the federally qualifies health centers (FQHC’s) located within walking distance in the community. Being part of this community also meant having a firsthand experience with structural racism and the City’s disinvestment in communities of color from an early age. I often say that growing up in Chicago’s west side taught me many valuable public health lessons and instilled the belief that health is a basic human right, long before I obtained my public health training. Living here, then and now, continues to shape who I am as a person and as a public health leader.
How did you get on a path towards arts education and public health?
My family’s personal experiences navigating the health care system motivated me to pursue a career in public health and continues to drive me to support work that advances health equity and racial justice. Prior to joining the Fry Foundation team, I worked with small nonprofits, national health organizations, and research centers to advance their capacity to serve older adults, particularly the growing Latinx aging population. In my new role with the Foundation, I am excited about helping to address health and racial inequalities, repairing harm, and building healthier and stronger communities for all BIPOC of all ages across the city.