Mary Lou de Leon Siantz, a professor at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis, was honored for her commitment to serving the health needs of the growing Hispanic communities in the U.S. The National Hispanic Health Foundation (NHHF) recognized de Leon Siantz and five other health care professionals as outstanding role models who have transformed their government agencies, health professions schools, research, community agencies and media to advance health care to underserved communities. De Leon Siantz is the only nurse recognized this year.
“Accepting this award is a magical moment for the daughter of Mexican immigrants,” de Leon Siantz said. “This is recognition that nursing leadership is critical to an interdisciplinary vision to eliminate the health disparities Hispanics experience, inspire the next generation to collaborate and lead research for public policies to advocate for underrepresented minorities.”
De Leon Siantz is nationally recognized for her interdisciplinary efforts to prepare health and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals in leadership and policy, which recognizes the basic and social science background that nurses have, but also de Leon Siantz’s visionary leadership and experience in diversity, inclusion and institutional transformation to promote diversity in STEM science starting with Hispanics.
She is internationally respected for her research in migrant population health and serves as the founding director of the UC Davis Center for the Advancement of Multicultural Perspectives on Science (CAMPOS). She is also the associate director of the Latino Aging Research Resource Center’s Mentorship Core, a National Institutes of Health Resource Center for Minority Aging focused on the study of the cognitive health of Latino elderly and the development of faculty who will study this phenomenon.
“Mary Lou’s commitment to both mentoring future health scientists and leaders regarding the needs of Hispanic populations, along with her dedicated research focus on migrant populations, promotes the School of Nursing’s core value of cultural inclusion,” said Terri Harvath, School of Nursing executive associate dean. “We recognize the importance of producing nurses, physician assistants, family nurse practitioners and educators who mirror the populations we serve. Mary Lou’s perspective is valuable both in the classroom and in our communities.”
She is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and an expert panel member for the National Academy of Science Institute of Medicine, Health of Immigrant Children and Immigrant Children’s Health, and most recently recognized as a fellow of the Western Academy of Nursing for her research on Mexican immigrant families and contributions to the education of nurses and population health. She is a founding member and former president of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses.
NHHF is a nonprofit foundation established by the National Hispanic Medical Association in 1994 to improve the health of Hispanics and other underserved through research, education and charitable activities.
Hispanics face the greatest health disparities according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Health Disparities Report - due to lack of health insurance and limited culturally competent providers and language services in health care facilities. Hispanics are more than twice as likely as non-Hispanic Whites to face diabetes and obesity leading to less quality of life, more sick days at work, higher health care expenses and dependency on caregiving from family members.