OUR HISTORY

In October 19th, 1999, Perinatal Network of Monroe County extended an invitation to several Community Health Workers from the Rochester area to attend a conference in Baltimore, Maryland.  The conference covered a range of important issues focusing on the importance of outreach in the new millennium.  One presentation of interest was by the Community Outreach Workers Association of Maryland known as COWAM.  COWAM is an association that provides an outlet for CHW's to network as well as acknowledge the importance and benefits of outreach in our communities.  Based on the information gathered during the conference by the CHWs that attended, they began to think about the advantages of having a similar group in the Rochester area.  The group also received information about the Center for Sustainable Health Outreach's conference.

Community health workers are liaisons who help mitigate health disparities, increase access to care, improve quality of care, and lower healthcare costs. 

In February 2000, Healthy Start Rochester invited representatives from CSHO to address outreach related issues within the Rochester community.  Convinced that a local association made good sense, in June of 2000, three CHW's gave birth to the Rochester Outreach Workers Association (ROWA) now known as Community Health Workers Association of Rochester, Inc. (CHWAR).  Board Members of CHWAR are trained community health workers with a combined total of over 60 years of outreach in the field of perinatal, pediatrics, immunization, HIV, substance abuse, mental health, social services, homelessness, parenting, adolescence, elderly care, immigration, poverty, community resources.

MEET THE BOARD

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Lucia Colindres-Vasquez 

Executive Director

Lucia worked as a Community Health Worker for the Monroe County Department of Health in 1999, a home visiting program for pregnant women and their children. During that time, she became involved with CHWAR, formerly known as ROWA. She is one of the original members since the group organized in 1999. Currently she is the Board of Directors Chair for CHWAR. Lucia has over 23 years of experience working in health care and public health initiatives addressing the needs of underserved populations.  In addition has experience with program development in the following areas: Community and street outreach, prevention and education, care management services, and Community Health Worker program development. She currently works at Rochester Regional Health and previously was a Co-Chair of the Latino Health Coalition at Common Ground health. 

Lucia's Involvement

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Shannon Kelly

Chair

Shannon received her Master’s degree in Public Health with a focus on Community Health and Health Behavior at University at Buffalo in 2017. Prior to that Shannon got a crash course in Community Health Work with her time in the Peace Corps, from that experience has continued to learn and work with various communities in Rochester. First, in 2010 at Trillium Health (formerly AIDS Care) as a care manager and then provided outreach and enrollment with the launch of the Affordable Care Act. Shannon’s experience includes outreach work with Migrant Farm Workers and programming within the Seneca Nation Health Department. Shannon has over 10 years of direct experience working in the community, doing home visits, advocating for individuals and families and navigating various social support systems. More recently Shannon supervised a team of Community Health Workers through Rochester Regional Health and previously was supervising a team of COVID-19 Contact Tracers. Currently, Shannon works for Action for a Better Community as a Protect Your Circle Coordinator.

Shannon's Involvement

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Jacqueline Sweeney

Vice Chair & CHW Training Coordinator

Jacqueline has been a CHW with URMC Social Work Division’s Baby Love Program since 1994 working with pregnant women to ensure healthy birth outcomes.  She served on the Mercy Residential Board from 1994-1999, as a Steering Committee Member of the Rochester Area Family Life Education from 1994-2004, as a Family Development Credential Field Advisor from 2000-2015, on the Advisory Group of the Eastman Dental Home Project from 2005-2009, and on the Advisory Board for the Adapting Collaborative Care Perinatal Depression Treatment to a Pediatric Setting in 2008.  Jacqueline is currently on the Parents As Teachers Advisory Committee and is serving on the Town of Irondequoit’s ICARE Program on Racial Equity.  

Jacqueline's Involvement

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Jayslynn Antonetti

Development Officer

Jayslynn is currently the Community Relations Specialist for Fidelis Care which allows her to focus on Monroe County community addressing SDOH and insurance needs for all its population. It is because of her focus and direct contacts with the community that she has been able to connect with and assist a large portion of the most vulnerable and underserved in and out of her immediate market. She has organized and participated in specialized events that have brought affordable health care to many and educated many
more on their options. Jayslynn has over 13 years experience as a CHW and continues to pledge her support to those she serves by maintaining these resource connections and creating new ones as she moves along this journey. Jayslynn is able to break down the confusing world of health insurance with a person centered approach that connects individuals and families to coverage that is most appropriate, going above and beyond to connect people to medical care. In addition to serving her community as a Community
Relations Specialist, Jayslynn owns her own photo booth business and manages Avalon Roc with her family, a beautiful community event space!

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Amy Mincer

Community Engagement Officer

Amy is a graduate of CHWAR’s first HPOG CHW Training Program Cohort in 2019.  Currently Amy works at MC Collaborative as a community health worker; she has spent most of the last few months working directly with the homeless population in Rochester. Prior to completing her CHW training, Amy volunteered at Health Reach and was a member of the consumer council. Amy’s goal is to one day open a re-entry shelter for women coming out of prison. Amy is very active in community outreach and can be seen all around Rochester connecting individuals to services. Amy is our newest Board Member.

Amy's Involvement

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Pamela Anderson 

Board Member

Pamela Anderson has worked for the University of Rochester Medical Center Social Work Division for 13 years as a Community Health Worker. Most of those 13 years have been with the Baby Love program, working with at risk pregnant women. The Baby Love program was recently featured in the American Journal of Public Health Association on “Perinatal Health Outcomes Following a Community Health Worker- Supported Home Visiting Program.” Pamela provides support and empowerment to many of the clients she serves. Pamela is highly respected by her co-workers for her level headed calmness and wisdom.
Pamela shares that community health work is a God given gift that she takes no credit for because as a young girl you would often find her helping those in the neighborhood in which she lived. Pamela has noticed that community health work has changed over the years. CHW’s are increasingly being acknowledged for their professionalism, and as valuable members of the health care workforce as part of a patient-centered team– based in clinical care. Pamela shares that as life is ever changing, Community Health Workers are uniquely equipped to help the community cope with challenges faced on a daily basis
especially during the COVID-19 Pandemic. CHW’s were there to listen, educate and dispel myths about COVID-19, coordinate services and assist patients with their needs.

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Sean Bemont

Board Member

Sean is graduate of the CHWAR/HPOG CHW Training 2021 CHW Training and currently works as a CHW at Oak Orchard Health, where he mainly serves the Latinx/Hispanic communities in Monroe, Orleans, Genesee, Steuben and Wyoming counties, including the regional MSFW population. Sean is also a credentialed medical interpreter and interprets for patients in medical, dental, optical and behavioral health appointments both at the clinic as well as at referral appointments with area specialists, hospitals and EDs. Sean has spent nearly half of his adult life living overseas in countries such as Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Thailand and Russia, which has helped to expand his multicultural awareness and lent him a unique perspective and ability to connect with people of varied backgrounds, personal histories, and all walks of life.

 
Advisory COUNCIL

Nancy Bennett

Director of the Center for Community Health and Health Prevention at the University of Rochester

Beatriz LeBron

Commissioner, Rochester City School

Michael Mancenido, MD

Physician at Trillium Health

Holly Russell, MD

Hightland Family Medicine and Assistant Professor at Center for Community Health and Prevention

Diane Morse

Women's Initiative Supporting Health-Transitions Clinic (WISH-TC) at the University of Rochester

Yolanda Villa

Immigration Lawyer

 

Sicily Mitchell

Community Health Worker