Hispanic Leadership Development Fellowship Program

The Hispanic Leadership Development Fellowship Program, sponsored by the Office of Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in partnership with the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA), is offering graduate students and recent graduates a paid one-year leadership fellowship to accelerate their careers within HHS and the federal sector.

Meet NHMA's 2022-2023 Leadership Fellows!

The Hispanic Leadership Development Fellowship program provides our fellows the opportunity to work on-site at an Health and Human Services (HHS) office in Washington, D.C. to further cultivate their interest in working for the federal government.


Lizmarie Alicea-Ramirez
Lizmarie Alicea-Ramirez was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She attended the University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez Campus where she pursued her Bachelor’s in Chemistry. She found her passion for public health after witnessing the adverse circumstances and health outcomes that occurred after Hurricane Maria. Thereafter, she decided to pursue her Master’s in Public Health with a focus in Environmental Health at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. She remained in Michigan where she worked in the Ingham County Health Department as a Site Coordinator for COVID-19 vaccine clinics and eventually transitioned to a Sanitarian position where she enforced environmental laws and regulations. 
She is passionate about environmental justice and health equity. Her goal is to decrease language barriers and guarantee access to information and opportunities for Spanish-language and other non-English dominant communities to participate in decisions that affect their environment and health. In her free time, Lizmarie likes to hike, read, and spend time with her cat.

Karen Y. Bermudez

Karen Bermudez is a social worker that is driven by the Latinx community’s need for health equity and justice. She earned her MSSW from the University of Texas at Austin (UT) and also received a certification in healthcare social work. Additionally, she was a fellow for the Council on Social Work Education’s Minority Fellowship Program to address the need for trained individuals to work with underrepresented and underserved racial/ethnic minority populations at risk for mental health and substance abuse disorders. Prior to this, she was a Disability Specialist at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and Social Security Administration where through her interaction with the community, she saw the people’s need for assistance to navigate the healthcare system and the additional time and services that the Hispanic population required.

Karen has also taken different roles in a wide range of social workspaces: a case manager at a skilled rehabilitation hospital (The Center at Palmer); a rehabilitation specialist with the local mental health authority (Integral Care) within their outpatient treatment program and the community-based mobile health team (Mobile, Medical, and Mental Health Care Team) consisting of the local mental health authority (Integral Care), a community health care center (Community Care), and data scientists from the local medical school (Dell Medical School) that serves those experiencing chronic homelessness, chronic medical conditions, serious mental health illness, and substance use disorders; a marketing and communication specialist at the medical school’s population health department focused on community engagement and health equity (Division of Community Engagement and Health Equity); a Qualified Mental Health Professional with a mobile crisis outreach team (Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD); and a member of the Latinx/Chicanx Behavioral Health Network.

Maria Del Mar Blanes

Maria Del Mar Blanes Garcia was born and raised in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. She attended the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, where she completed her undergraduate degree with a Bachelor’s in Science. Subsequently, she is certified as a histotechnologist and has worked in pathology laboratories for several years. As she furthered her career development, she wanted to be more engaged with minority groups and health disparities, leading her to pursue a Master’s degree in Public Health specialized in Epidemiology from the Ponce Health Science University.

Thanks to the National Hispanic Medical Association and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, she will join the Hispanic Leadership Development Fellowship Program. She will be working with the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health. Her office placements will be in the HHS/Office of the Secretary, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in Rockville, MD.

Alejandro Delgado

Alejandro Delgado is from El Paso, Texas and is a graduate student of civil engineering, specializing in the environmental field. He is finishing his Master's degree in Industrial, Manufacturing, and Systems engineering. He is always inspired to participate in projects that will help his community.

He loves to serve people to try and make a change in the world. He participated in some environmental and sustainability projects during his college years. His vocation lies in serving others and caring for the environment.


autumne headshot

Autumne Lee

Autumne Lee is a recent graduate of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, where she focused in sociomedical sciences and the epidemiology of chronic disease. During her time there, among other major projects, she became most proud of her thesis on Black maternal mortality in the US, her practicum experience on women’s reentry services, and her brief documentary on the untold stories in public health related to racism. Currently, she interns for the communications and policy development team at Trust for America’s Health. As a public health professional, Autumne believes in the power of empathy, humanity, and autonomy that connects us all. These underlie policy work, advocacy, research, healthcare, and every sector of public health. As a leader, she values empowered communities and individuals, equity, transparency, and open communication. She hopes to take these skills, along with her knowledge and experiences, into her public health career to improve social determinants of health, health disparities, and chronic disease.


Angelina Ortega

Angelina is a Dominican Native who immigrated to the United States at the age of seven. She is the youngest of two daughters, and became the first one in her family to graduate with a bachelor and later on from one of the most prestigious schools in the world. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Health Administration where she worked as a patient care coordinator upon graduating. She realized the gap in care for those uninsured and lacking basic necessities so she decided to pursue higher education and completed her Master’s in Public Health from New York University amid the pandemic. Although she missed out on studying abroad and networking events among fellow classmates, she nonetheless got to work in both the public and nonprofit sectors to help address and combat the health inequities among the vulnerable populations of New York; including homeless, immigrants, LGBTQ+, and veterans to name a few.

Her most recent role was in international development where she got to work alongside passionate individuals and partner with low budgeted and locally run NGOs in Central America to strengthen their impact in their communities through disbursing unrestricted grants. She’s had experience in empowering communities through project engagement, education and capacity building to help address current issues within communities and on a regional basis both domestically and internationally. She’s looking forward to working alongside experts in their respective fields and continuing to grow both professionally and personally in this once in a lifetime opportunity to continue to be the change she would like to see.

Michelle Paucar

Michelle Paucar was born in Queens, New York, and raised in Ambato, Ecuador, and Brooklyn, New York. As a daughter of undocumented immigrants, she understands the unique challenges faced by undocumented individuals concerning their eligibility to health coverage and care. Based on her experiences, Michelle is committed to advocating for access to quality, affordable health care coverage and services for immigrant populations in the United States. In pursuit of her commitment, she received a Master of Public Health, with a concentration in Public Health Policy, from the NYU School of Global Public Health. Michelle received her bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Community Health at Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY).

Her health policy experience has been shaped by her local and federal traineeships at the U.S. House of Representatives, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). As a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Graduate Fellow, Michelle managed Congresswoman Roybal-Allard’s health legislative portfolio and conducted legislative research, with a focus on maternity care, reproductive rights, substance use, among other related issues affecting the U.S. and California’s 40th Congressional District. At the CDC’s Evaluation and Analysis Branch, she supported the program evaluation and performance measurement of the CDC’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) cooperative agreement. At the NYC DOHMH, Michelle informed the decision-making process of minority-focused initiatives and emergency preparedness projects by performing policy analysis, applied research, and community engagement/outreach.


cindy headshot

Cindy Rodriguez

A native of Aurora, Illinois, Cindy Rodriguez attended Aurora University as an undergraduate and graduate student. She pursued a Bachelors of Science in Biology with a minor in physiology as well as a Bachelors of Science in Health Science. She served as president and vice president of the Science Organization. She was then accepted into Aurora University's accelerated master's program and graduated in less than a year with a Masters in Business Administration with a focus in Public Administration. Cindy knew at an early age that she wanted to work in the public health sector; at 19, she worked for a nonprofit nursing facility, confirming her passion for the field. Later, having completed her training as a registered behavior technician, she was able to work with a wide range of individuals with mental health and developmental disabilities. Her graduate studies were complemented by an internship teaching STEAM-based courses to underserved communities in Aurora, Illinois. Her experience working through the covid-19 pandemic led her to further observe health disparities in the Hispanic community. It is her goal to contribute to the reduction of health disparities and the achievement of health equity. As she continues to cultivate her knowledge, Cindy strives to empower and positively impact others. Her aim is to be in a position where she can educate, advocate for, and continue learning throughout her career.

This program is supported by the Office of Minority Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (H.H.S.) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $750,000 with 100 percent funded by the Office of Minority Health/OASH/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by the Office of Minority Health/OASH/HHS, or the U.S. Government.