Founder and CEO
Attorney, social justice activist, nonprofit executive director, and adjunct professor in the Health Education Dept. at UNM. Maria brought her extensive background supporting and advocating for the Latino immigrant population to found Latino Healthcare Access (LHA). Discovering this passion during law school, she spent the next eight years directing efforts to serve the legal and social services needs of the migrant farmworker population.
Most recently, Maria served as an on-site Spanish/English medical interpreter to medical practices and healthcare systems in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, NM. Through this experience she witnessed first-hand the critical need for better cultural and linguistic access to healthcare by the local Spanish-speaking population. Through LHA, Maria seeks to fill the acute needs for access in the areas of diabetes education, perinatal care and behavioral health services, as well as other specialties and disciplines requiring more individualized care and treatment.
She also serves on the American Diabetes Association National Committee on Health Disparities.
Medical Interpreter and Translator
Judi was raised in the state of Arizona, which is home. Graduated from Ashford University in Clinton Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts Magna Cum Laude in Psychology with a minor in Social and Criminal Justice and a Master of Arts in Organizational Management with a Specialty in Organizational Leadership.
Judi's previous positions include working in Illinois as a gallery manager of imported works of art from Spain. She relocated to New Mexico to serve as a theatre Program Manager for a local organization targeting Latino communities in the state - her love for the arts helped make this transition an easy one.
Judi has always made a conscientious effort to make a difference in the Latino Communities. When she became aware of the need for Interpreters in both the legal and medical fields, she made career move and became a Spanish/ English On-Site Interpreter seven- plus years ago.
Judi currently resides in Río Rancho with her son and daughter. In her spare time she enjoys cooking healthy meals for family and friends, travel and baseball.
Steve Araiza is of Mexican ancestry and was born in San Jose, CA. Raised in north central California, he spent delightful summers as a teenager working alongside migrant workers in the beautiful San Joaquin Valley. For the past 25 years, Steve has been engaged in medical interpreting for the Spanish-speaking communities from New York to New Mexico, specializing in hematology and trauma. As graduate of Bridging the Gap training program for medical interpreters, hHe interprets for each patient as if they were members of his own family.
Janette (Janie) Estrada-Martínez is a native New Mexican who was raised in Ensenada, a very small town north of Santa Fe, which is about 30 miles south of the Colorado/New Mexico border. The languages of Spanish, much of it originating from 16th century Spanish, and English were simultaneously introduced to her throughout her childhood within her community of friends and family.
Her undergraduate degrees in Elementary Education and Bilingual Education were obtained at the University of New Mexico, and her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership was from Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico. She completed the Bridging the Gap training for Medical Interpreters in the Fall of 2014 and is HIPAA certified.
Janette is a retired teacher who taught at the elementary and secondary levels for 27 years. She worked in Bilingual programs and Dual Language programs, where she taught Spanish Language Arts, Social Studies and Science to grades 6, 7 and 8. During the time she was teaching, she also worked as a Family Liaison in the community for families who were mostly Spanish monolingual, doing interpretation for school meetings, events such as student conferences, and also helped guide parents as needed in their new country. After retiring, she decided to continue working with families through the medical field. Language has always been her passion, and working within the medical community has provided the means to feed that passion in a very different environment from which she retired.
Hadith earned her bachelor of science in nursing from Texas A & M International University, and brings experience as a patient educator, health coach and school nurse. Originally from Laredo, TX she is fully bilingual in English and Spanish, she is at home interpreting in any medical setting. Hadith serves Latino Healthcare's Ruidoso office.
A graduate of Valley Community Interpreters program in Medical Interpreting, and a background as medical interpreter, rehabilitation tech, certified nurse's aide and social justice activist, Hector Colunga brings his five years of Healthcare experience to the Latino Healthcare Access team. He is currently a student at UNM/CNM studying to become a Physical Therapist. Born in Sonora, Mexico and raised in Arizona, Hector strives to become a better advocate for healthcare access and quality of care for the Latino community.
Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Encarnación graduated from Colombia-American Center College in the Bilingual Administrative Assistant program. Since coming to the US more than 20 years ago, she has worked as a Spanish-English interpreter. She spent many years serving in a broad spectrum interpreting fields, including extensive work in medical settings, as well as social services, education, and local city and county courts. Approximately four years ago she received training as a medical interpreter, and worked both in clinics and in hospitals. Her recent medical interpreting experience includes complicated dialysis/diabetes and even kidney transplant cases interpreting for multi-disciplinary medical teams.
Encarnación lives with her husband in Rio Rancho. She spends her free time working out at the gym, jogging, hiking, camping, and traveling. She is also very active in her church.
Ingrid was born in Chihuahua, Mexico but immigrated to the U.S. with her family when she was 10 years old. She is currently a UNM student and a special education teacher in the South Valley. Ingrid graduated from the Valley Community Interpreters program as a community interpreter in the medical, educational and social services settings. She is passionate about helping people and giving back to the community, she has participated in various organizations as a volunteer and an activist since she was a high school student.
She hopes for a world where people are kind to one another.
Born in Guatemala City, from a young age Ale was interested in helping and getting involved with the community. In 2011 she founded a custom made shoe company designing and assembling shoes with women throughout Guatemala using fabrics and recycled materials with colors traditional to Guatemalan culture. In 2014. Ale moved to the US and began her medical interpreting career, working in New Mexico and Oregon. Her training includes completion of Bridging the Gap and a 64-hr Medical Interpreter Program in Oregon through OHCIA. As a Qualified Medical Interpreter, Ale continues working toward National Medical Interpreter Certification. She loves this work and is grateful for the opportunity to help the Latino population with their medical interpreting needs. In her free time she enjoys the outdoors camping, hiking, bike riding, spending time with her dog, taking pictures, traveling and experimenting in the kitchen with flavors from different parts of the world.
Briana has experienced both sides of the language barrier from a young age and this first-hand experience taught her the power of effective communication in the medical setting. Patients need to convey important information and fully understand provider recommendations. She considers it an honor and a privilege to serve in her role as a bridge to improve health outcomes through facilitating effective communication.
Briana served as a teaching assistant for a medical interpretation course at UNM, and has done ER interpreting as well. She is pursuing certification as a medical interpreter and working to finish the MCAT/Medical school application process.