Araceli Gutiérrez, CHCI-PepsiCo Foundation Health Graduate Fellow
Hello everyone! It has been a little over two months now since I began working as a CHCI Graduate Health Fellow and what a great learning experience so far. I’d like to share some of the interesting things I’ve been working on in the office of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, as well as a few highlights from our CHCI programming sessions.
As a CHCI Health Fellow, it’s been a pleasure learning about the Congresswoman’s district and getting to know all of the welcoming and knowledgeable staff members in her office. Over the past two months, I’ve worked closely with the Congresswoman’s Health Policy Advisor, Debbie Jessup, who has been a great mentor and a valuable wealth of knowledge and experience. I have enjoyed learning from and working with her on health-related issues and topics.
While Congress was in session, I’ve had the opportunity to perform background research, analyze and follow a variety of bills presented to the floor as well as watch votes. I have attended Whip meetings and have made vote recommendations that are aligned with the Congresswoman’s values and ideologies. I’ve also had the opportunity to serve as a representative of the office at various briefings and meetings. I’ve been able to work with staff in other Congressional offices to promote, circulate, and garner support on some of the Congresswoman’s health-related letters and bills. Currently, I am working on drafting remarks for the Congresswoman for an upcoming speaking engagement on health disparities, an issue I am very passionate about.
One of the biggest highlights of my fellowship experience to date occurred during the CHCI Public Policy Conference, where I had the pleasure of introducing Congresswoman Roybal-Allard. As Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Health Task Force this year, Congresswoman Roybal-Allard took the lead in presenting the Tri-Caucus strategy to address health disparities. As the Co-Chair of the CHCI Health Summit titled “Advancing Health Equity in Latino Communities,” the Congresswoman highlighted her Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA), HR 5294 as well as the efforts of other agencies and industry leaders, addressing and reducing health disparities. To this end, I am currently working with Tri-Caucus members and the Latina Center for Reproductive Rights to coordinate an upcoming briefing, lobby day, and reception on the HEAA bill in mid-November. I am looking forward to it!
In addition to my work on the Hill, I’ve also attended CHCI's weekly programming sessions, which have exposed me to some of the most influential and interesting leaders and organizations in Washington, D.C. Our discussions with Chris Lu, deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Labor and Mark Lopez, director of Hispanic research at the Pew Research Center, were especially memorable and insightful. Deputy Secretary Lu, was very candid in sharing his experience and career trajectory, from a former classmate of President Obama at Harvard Law School to his current position at the Department of Labor. Dr. Lopez provided a fascinating glimpse of the Hispanic millennial population, their values and political ideologies, and also presented the Pew Hispanic Center’s findings at the CHCI Public Policy conference.
In addition to working with and learning from the other CHCI Graduate and Public Policy Fellows, I have also had more opportunities to meet and work with some of the CHCI Fall Interns. They are an energetic and impressive group of Latino leaders that will be returning back to school this month. I look forward to hearing about the great things they accomplish in the future.
Thank you for taking the time to read what I have been up to in Washington, D.C. I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my placement—preparing for congressional hearings and learning more about the congressional reauthorization and appropriations process. Until next time!