CHC Announces Departure of Chief Operations Officer and Long-Time Staff Member, Sonya Vasquez

After 15 years of service, Community Health Councils (CHC) bids farewell to one of its most valued team members, Chief Operations Officer, Sonya Vasquez. Although bittersweet, CHC is excited to also share that Ms. Vasquez will be the new Director of the Center for Health Equity at the Department of Public Health, where she will continue her phenomenal leadership as a champion for social justice and equity.

Ms. Vasquez joined Community Health Councils under the mentorship of Lark Galloway-Gilliam in 2006. In 2015, after Lark’s unfortunate passing, Ms. Vasquez became part of the critical leadership that sustained CHC’s mission and vision through a tumultuous transition. Since then, in partnership with Veronica Flores, CHC’s current CEO, Ms. Vasquez has been instrumental in assuring that CHC continues its legacy of community-driven, systems-change work. During her tenure, Ms. Vasquez has worn many hats, including overseeing CHC’s Policy and Research teams and developing and leading CHC’s place-based work, including the Healthy Kids Zones initiative (HKZ). The HKZ concept was adopted in 2015 as part of the plan for a Healthy Los Angeles, the health element in the General Plan for the City of Los Angeles. Ms. Vasquez was responsible for strengthening CHC’s Health Outreach Program and promotora network. This network has helped countless under-resourced families get connected to healthcare programs and services. These programs and tasks were carried out with much zeal and selflessness. Ms. Vasquez not only led CHC’s Healthcare portfolio but also led CHC’s efforts around advancing more equitable environmental policies related to oil fields operated in South LA. Through years of advocacy, often going up against big oil, Ms. Vasquez successfully forged and managed a number of partnerships that helped sustain pressure for the closure of the Inglewood Oil Field—the largest urban oil field in the nation. These partnerships collectively played a big role, leading to the historic vote, earlier this year, by the LA County Board of Supervisors to begin phasing out the Inglewood oil field drilling.

Today, CHC is recognized as a leader in advancing health equity, whether by directly connecting families to resources, or furthering healthcare research demonstrating the ongoing drivers of disparities for South LA families. Ms. Vasquez has extensive experience in policy and systems-change work, research, healthcare systems and executive management. Ms. Vasquez will now leverage her expertise as our County’s next Director of the Center for Health Equity.

Sonya Vasquez stated, “I came to CHC to learn about policy advocacy, and in 15 years I have learned that and so much more. I strengthened my skills in community engagement, building coalitions, facilitating meetings, strategic planning, presenting to diverse groups, and translating complex issues. I developed relationships and partnerships with a variety of people, from residents to elected officials, locally and across the nation. On a personal level, because of CHC, I have my home in South LA, I have my amazing network of friends, and I have learned more about who I am and how I want to stand for my community. CHC will always have a special place in my heart and be an important part of my journey.”

“On behalf of our board and the entire CHC team, I offer a heartfelt thank you to Sonya for all her years of service and dedication to Community Health Councils, and to the families of South LA. CHC has seen challenging moments–from declining resources, to the passing of CHC’s founding Executive Director, and three years later, our beloved CFO, Rosario Blancaflor-Agmata. Sonya’s leadership and commitment to the well-being of CHC has been instrumental during these difficult times. She has played a key role in our fantastic growth. Sonya has always been one of South LA’s fiercest leaders, fighting to ensure that South LA receives its fair share of resources—efforts which have also contributed to CHC’s longevity in the fight for equity and social justice. We are excited about Sonya’s next endeavors and wish her much success,” said Veronica Flores, CHC’s CEO.

Ms. Vasquez holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology from the University of Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME), and a Master of Social Work from the University of Michigan. She currently serves on the Empowerment Congress Leadership Board and the LA County Community Prevention and Population Health Taskforce. Between 2019 and 2021, she represented CHC as member of Baldwin Hills Community Advisory Panel. She has held Board membership positions for leading organizations in community organizing and health sectors.

The Board, Management, and Staff of CHC thank Ms. Vasquez profusely for the critical role she has played in building CHC to be what it is today. We wish her the very best in all her future endeavors.