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Arnold School of Public Health

Lulú Hernandez selected as ambassador for National Community Health Worker Association

June 16, 2023 | Erin Bluvas,

Only 13 community health workers were selected from a nationwide call to serve as ambassadors for the National Community Health Worker Association. Luisa (Lulú) Hernandez, a community health worker with PASOs and statewide ambassador with the Community Health Worker Institute (both part of the Arnold School’s Center for Community Health Alignment), was chosen for one of the competitive spots.

Committed to service

During the two-year appointment, Hernandez will serve as a liaison between the Association and local, state and regional community health worker networks and associations. She will also be a part of a committee comprised of ambassadors and elected board members who advise the Association

Lulu Hernandez
Lulú Hernandez is a community health worker with PASOs and statewide ambassador with the Community Health Worker Institute.

“Lulú is a conscientious and hardworking professional and is an inspiration to me and to all the CHWs that get the opportunity to work alongside her,” says Julie Smithwick, founder of PASOs and director for the Center for Community Health Alignment. “I have always been impressed with how she finds common ground with anyone she meets, helps others feel comfortable when they’re around her, and is persistent and resilient. She is also an advocate for those she serves, always going the extra mile to find a solution, even when doors close or access is limited.”

Hernandez’s path to becoming a community health worker began with her work at a children’s home in her native Colombia. For 14 years, she served on the board of directors, leading teachers and workers to ensure that children under the age of five received the best care and attention possible. Hernandez also led a scout group, helping children and adolescents develop skills and enjoy outdoor activities in a safe environment.

“The desire to serve was always present and so when I arrived in the U.S. in 2017, I looked for ways to continue this work,” she says. “I found PASOs, and it gave me the opportunity to serve the Latino community through volunteering and becoming a community health worker.”

A new model for health

Along with three other colleagues, Hernandez serves the Midlands region of South Carolina, including Richland, Lexington, Saluda and Greenwood counties. She specializes in connecting community members with health care providers to bridge the gap between health care systems and residents. Specifically, Hernandez works with the Connections for Child Development program, making home visits and conducting assessments to identify needs for early intervention services.

I love having the opportunity to make a significant impact in my community by providing support and resources to underserved populations.

Lulú Hernandez

Hernandez’s additional role as an ambassador will expand her impact even further. She is looking forward to raising the visibility and enhancing the reach of community health workers, whom she says are extremely important not only for linking communities with health services but also for providing advocacy and social support.

“Community health workers can advocate for policy changes or community initiatives that improve access to health care, increase awareness of health issues, and address social determinants of health, such as poverty and lack of access to healthy food options,” Hernandez explains. “We also provide emotional and social support to community members, such as connecting people to social services or providing companionship to elderly or isolated individuals.”

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