Xóchitl Castañeda is the Founding Director of Health Initiative of the Americas (HIA) at the School of Public Health, University of California (UC) Berkeley. A medical anthropologist by training, Xóchitl was educated in Guatemala and Mexico and completed three post-doctoral fellowships: UC San Francisco, Harvard and Amsterdam University. She directed the Reproductive Health Department at Mexico’s National School of Public Health for seven years. Since 2008, she has served as a professor on Migration and Health at various UC campuses. Her fundraising efforts are significant, as she has received over 100 grants, from private entities, and state and federal agencies.
Her leadership to improve the health and the quality of life of underserved populations is widely recognized. In 2020 she received the National Health Award, under the “Without Borders” category. In 2019, she received the Othli Award, one of the most prestigious distinction presented by the Mexican Government to a person who have positively affected the lives of Mexican nationals in the United States. In 2010, the California Latino Legislative Caucus honored her with the National Sprit Award for her leadership to improve the health of Latino immigrants in the U.S. In 1999, she received the National Mexican Award on Social Science and Medicine.
Xóchitl has over 200 publications and has served as a consultant for more than 40 national and international institutions. She has also served in the Boards of Directors, and other honorable membership positions of 20 organizations and programs including, the California Wellness Foundation; California Immigrant Policy Center; CDC National Diabetes Education Program; the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California; and the National Council of Mexican Federations in North America (COFEM). She has contributed to the editorial board to 15 professional publications. She has presented the results of her academic and advocacy work in over 500 national/international conferences, symposiums, policy briefings, and other events.
Xochitl’s vision and commitment has led to the creation of nationally recognized health programs for underserved populations. Under her direction, HIA has coordinated for 20 consecutive years Binational Health Week, one of the largest mobilization efforts in the Americas to improve the wellbeing of Latino immigrants. She has created of the Annual Binational Policy Forum on Migration and Global Health, a collaboration among 30 Universities and over 200 agencies. She is also the founder of the “Athenea Network” a world organization for Mental Health of Mobile Populations. She has signed 50 Memorandums of Understandings with local, state and federal institutions. Through all these strategies, hundreds of thousands of low-income families have been served.