The board of directors of Centro Hispano of Dane County is excited to announce that Karen Menendez Coller has been named the organization's executive director. Her start date will be Aug. 26.
“We are happy to welcome Karen Menendez Coller to Centro Hispano of Dane County as our new executive director,” says Centro Board of Directors President Gloria Reyes. “Her research background and experience in grant funding will allow Centro Hispano to continue to grow with our Latino community. We are confident that her leadership will embrace the diverse community that we serve.”
Centro Hispano works to improve the quality of life for Latinos and others living in Dane County by empowering youth, strengthening families, and engaging the community. Menendez Coller will become the eighth executive director in the agency's 30-year history.
Menendez Coller is a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) and has been working in the public health field for close to 15 years, including in academic, local, and state government settings. She earned her MPH from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and her PhD from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Originally from El Salvador, her passion has long centered on how public health programs can successfully improve social determinants of health, especially for Latino families in the United States. She has received several sources of funding for her work through the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, HRSA/ Maternal and Child Health Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Dr. Menendez Coller has a breadth of experience — she has led projects addressing unintended pregnancy in the Latino community, collaborated with organizations working to improved teen mental health, and has provided technical assistance on the development of sustainable community-based partnerships. Most recently, while faculty at UCLA, she directed collaborative projects with high-achieving high schools in Los Angeles, Calif., to understand the impact of family and the educational environment on risk-taking behaviors and aspirations for Latino youth.
“I am excited to have relocated to such a vibrant community as is Madison, and proud to be working alongside such dedicated staff and supporters of Centro Hispano of Dane County,” Menendez Coller says. “I look forward to engaging policy makers, community advocates, and educators to achieve the vision of Centro Hispano and to promote the success of the large and emerging Latino population in Madison and across the Midwest.”