Current Leader

Araceli Lucio

Araceli Lucio
Location: Chicago, Illinois Cohort Start Year: 2020 Project Topics: Community/Civic Engagement, Education, Health Care Access, Health Care Quality, Immigrants and Refugees, IT/Technology, Leadership Development, Public, Population and Community Health, Social Sector/Non-Profit Populations Served: Adults (21-64 years), Hispanic/Latino/Latinx, Immigrants and Refugees, Low-Income Communities, Older Adults (65+), Women's Health
Community Health Advocate
The Resurrection Project/ELLAS

Fifty-nine percent of Latina women are diagnosed during the last stage of breast cancer which is the number one cause of death for Latina women in Chicago. These startling statistics result from a lack of resources and substantial barriers that Latina women may face, such as the lack of health insurance, unfamiliarity with technology, or worse, not being able to read or write in the given language.

Araceli Lucio’s vision is that Latina women in Chicago be screened for breast cancer early in order to change late diagnosis statistics and mortality rates and improve the quality of life for uninsured Latina breast cancer survivors. Her goal is to ensure that Latina women can access early screenings and exams no matter their income, immigration status, whether they have insurance or not, or whether English is their first language. Araceli, who has been a community health organizer since 2006, is building a culture of health that includes Latina women.

To improve outcomes, Araceli connects Latina women with technology and training, breast cancer education, outreach classes and advocacy. Her practical support includes providing tablets to ensure they can make appointments and opening access to online platforms and tools such as Zoom and Google. This ensures that survivors can access information and resources to find support groups and healthcare, register for the services available to them in the community and even access screening and diagnosis results. Araceli’s approach is a multi-generational strategy as connecting Latina women to technology and services often improves healthcare access for the whole family. These tools and strategies help to empower Latina women as they learn how to advocate for themselves and their families.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: ELLAS Open Café to Support Breast Cancer Survivors
I created the ELLAS Open Café is a strategic initiative and platform where breast cancer survivors can connect with other survivors, gain access to breast cancer resources, and train together to become leaders and advocates to fight against breast cancer and to fight for quality healthcare services. These women will be able to advocate for others in their community as they address disparate health outcomes for Latina women with breast cancer. Many of the women we serve may be reluctant to go to a healthcare provider for preventative cancer screenings based on previous negative interactions with medical professionals or cultural stigmas. Our program helps women navigate the complex healthcare system and provides access to free screenings through our partnership with the Illinois Breast & Cervical Cancer Program. Women referred to screenings also receive free transportation to screenings. The ELLAS Open Café will be used to educate and empower women with breast cancer and will be a safe space for breast cancer survivors and fighters to convene and share experiences. The women we train will be able to counsel and mentor other women facing a cancer diagnosis and will be able to connect them to resources and support.

Araceli’s focus on breast cancer screening stems from a conversation she had with her mother when she was 55 years old. Her mother had never had a mammogram even though there was a family history of breast cancer. Araceli’s mother was scared to be tested because she didn’t know how she would pay for it even though the Chicago area has good programs to access screenings (often women don’t know about them or how to apply or there are language barriers).

Araceli immigrated from San Luis Potosi, Mexico where her education and early career were focused on the health and wellbeing of mothers with young children. She continues this work today as an organizer for the Resurrection Project and a Culture of Health Leader. Araceli works with different clinics, hospitals, and initiatives such as Healthy Illinois to address health disparities and advocate for insurance and medical services for everyone. She also created a group of Promotoras de Salud of ELLAS (community health workers) to give information and resources in Spanish, as well as training leaders who would continue advocating for programs to help the community with health disparities.

Click here to watch Araceli’s Legacy Project video.