December 7th, 2011

New Mexico Community Health Workers Association Conference Held at UNM Cancer Center

By msequeira
Community health workers gather December 8-9 to discuss year’s trends and successes

Community health workers (CHWs) from around New Mexico will meet at the University of New Mexico Cancer Center on December 8 and 9 to share their experiences and celebrate their work. The 16th annual conference of the New Mexico Community Health Workers Association (NMCHWA) will feature two days of sessions highlighting the positive difference CHWs make in New Mexico, as well as CHW-led peer education lectures.

Barbara Damron, PhD, RN, Director of the Office of Community Partnerships and Cancer Health Disparities at the UNM Cancer Center, will speak at the opening session on Thursday. An awards ceremony will be held on Friday to honor CHWs and CHW advocates who have made significant contributions to the field.

The NMCHWA is a strong proponent of the CHW model, educating and training CHWs in an effort to improve the health of communities across New Mexico. CHWs, also known as promotoras de salud, navigators, ayudantes, tribal community health representatives and doulas, function as the vital link between (often) underserved communities and the health and education systems to which community members need access. Typically, CHWs are part of the communities they serve, and thus have a unique ability to both communicate within those communities and effectively navigate external systems. This “dual expertise” allows CHWs to pinpoint community health problems, address disparities in healthcare access and education and find new ways to improve community health through prevention and treatment.

The Office of Community Health Workers, part of the New Mexico Department of Health, is currently working toward compiling a registry of CHWs in the state, a task made difficult by these workers’ disparate titles and functions. However, it is the inherent diversity of background and function that allows CHWs to collectively serve so many different groups. Currently, CHWs play crucial roles within dozens of programs across New Mexico that reach people in rural communities, Pueblos and other areas. The UNM Cancer Center’s Ventanilla de Salud program employs one CHW – Mónica Toquinto, winner of last year’s Community Health Worker of the Year Award – to help connect New Mexican Hispanics with culturally relevant health education and referrals to low-cost providers. Thanks to the efforts of Toquinto and her colleagues, this highly successful program, a partnership with the Mexican Consulate in Albuquerque, has reached over 30,000 New Mexican Hispanics in just three years.

Registration Information for CHWs
It’s not too late to register! If you are a part of the CHW community and interested in participating in this year’s conference, please call (505) 255-1227 for registration information or visit

Invitation to Local Media
Members of the media interested in the role of CHWs in New Mexico are invited to attend the conference. See details below.

What: 16th Annual New Mexico Community Health Workers Association Conference

When: Thursday-Friday, December 8-9, 2011. On December 8, breakfast begins at 8 a.m., welcome begins at 8:45 a.m., speakers begin at 9:15 a.m. Sessions run until 4:30 p.m. On December 9, breakfast begins at 8 a.m., speakers begin at 8:30 a.m. Sessions run until 4:30 p.m.

Where: UNM Cancer Center Auditorium, 1201 Camino de Salud NE, Albuquerque, NM. Park in West parking lot.

How to Attend: Members of the media should RSVP to the media contact listed below. Please note that this conference is open to community health workers who have registered for the event, rather than the general public.

For More Information: Visit

To RSVP: Contact Dorothy Hornbeck, JKPR, by phone at (505) 797-6673 or by email at

Tags: community, outreach, Press Release Archive 2011