By Academy Fellow Mary K. Feeney & Leonor Camarena
Dr. Jane Delgado has played a critical role in advocating for healthcare for people of color in the U.S. Her work has taken her through roles in advocacy, nonprofit work, and public sector service. Delgado is a Cuban-American who immigrated to the US as a young child and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. She earned an MA in psychology from New York University (1975), a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, and an MS in Urban and Policy Sciences from SUNY Stony Brook (1981). Dr. Delgado has devoted much of her work in public service towards bridging scientific health efforts into the lives of Hispanics with the goal of achieving the best health for all. Her influential work for people of color began while serving in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in 1979. Her work at DHHS centered on issues related to health in minority communities including serving as Special Assistant on Minority Affairs. She also played a role in developing the 1985 Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Black and Minority Health, also known as the Heckler Report.
The Heckler Report was one of the first efforts of the US government to investigate racial and ethnic health disparities. The landmark report noted a high proportion of deaths in the US due to health disparities and recommended more focused efforts on collecting health data for racial and ethnic minorities. Following her work at DHHS, Dr. Delgado continued her focus on the health disparities of racial and ethnic minorities becoming the President and CEO of the Coalition of Spanish Speaking Mental Health Organizations, now known as the National Alliance for Hispanic Health (The Alliance), one of the largest and oldest organizations of health and human service providers to Hispanics in the U.S. Her leadership has created environmental health programs and advanced technology programs for community-based organizations. Dr. Delgado’s work with The Alliance focuses on community-driven health care that considers not only the individual but the importance of culture and community.
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Dr. Delgado continues to be an influential leader, focusing advocacy efforts on informing the Hispanic community of the importance of mental health and well-being. Her more recent work with The Alliance aims to provide trusted health information to reduce barriers and increase access to vaccinations for individuals in the Hispanic community. She continues to highlight the importance of limiting health disparities in racial and ethnic minority groups and advocate for equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to Blacks and Hispanics.
Dr. Delgado draws from her expertise in psychology and her advocacy for equitable healthcare for Hispanic communities to serve in a number of roles that guide and advise the public sector including on the Board of Governors for Argonne National Labs, the Board of the Lovelace Biomedical Research Institute, and the board of the Northern Virginia Health Foundation. She has been appointed to critical public service roles on the National Biodefense Science Board (DHHS appointment) and the Mickey Leland National Urban Air Toxics Research Center (Congressional appointment). Dr. Delgado has lived a life dedicated to public service and advancing the health of diverse communities. She is a true leader and an example to us all.