Yadira Montoya

Yadira Montoya
Location: Chicago, Illinois Cohort Start Year: 2019 Project Topics: Arts in Health and Healing, Elder Care, Immigrants and Refugees Populations Served: Hispanic/Latino/Latinx, Immigrants and Refugees, Low-Income Communities, Older Adults (65+)
Health Program Officer
Lloyd A. Fry Foundation

Yadira’s interest in health, and her belief that healthcare is a basic human right, began as a young girl when she served as her parents’ ad hoc advocate, interpreter, and “care coordinator.” In high school, her interest expanded to advocating for the health of her community—La Villita—when she became involved in an environmental health justice campaign. While she has held many roles in the nonprofit, research, and philanthropy sector, her true passion is working with elders in her community. She is deeply interested and committed to working to improve the lives of the growing number of Latinx older adults, especially of families living with dementia. By 2060, there will be 19.9 million Latinx people aged 65 and older living in the U.S., about 21 percent of the total 65 and older population. The number of Latinx living with Alzheimer’s disease is projected at 3.5 million by 2060—a growth of 832 percent. In 2016, Yadira became a founding member of La BROCHA (Latinas/os Buscando Refugio y Optimismo Cuando Hacen Arte), a community art program for Spanish-speaking families. Since then, La BROCHA has provided quality culturally relevant art programming to Latinx adults over 60 years old with memory loss, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease, living in disinvested communities in Chicago and surrounding suburbs.

Yadira is a public health leader who believes that healthcare is a basic human right. As a Mexican immigrant raised in Chicago’s La Villita neighborhood, Yadira’s social justice and health equity values are informed by her experiences helping her family and community navigate the health system. This deep knowledge and awareness of structures and systems that are set up to exclude certain groups have allowed Yadira to be an effective health equity advocate and bring a grounded perspective to her various roles in the nonprofit, academia, and most recently, the philanthropy sector.


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