For over two decades, MACHW has created space for Community Health Workers to connect, advocate, and celebrate their work while making systematic changes that advance health equity. MACHW champions the systemic integration of CHWs into all aspects of primary care, behavioral health, and substance recovery services. We raise awareness of social determinants of health and the need for culturally competent healthcare. We support policy and organizational development efforts which center CHW needs. We constantly fight against biases that shape a profession mainly composed of working people of color. However, the constant engagement of our members to shape our priorities and service in leadership positions alongside committed staff makes it possible for MACHW to not only survive, but to thrive!
2000: A committed group of Community Health Workers (CHWs) and allies join forces to create the Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers (MACHW), the first CHW professional association in the country.
2006: MACHW shapes the MA Health Care Reform Law, highlighting the importance of CHWs and the need to strengthen the development of the CHW workforce through investment in training, certification, financing mechanisms, and state infrastructure.
2010: MACHW succeeds in passing landmark legislation creating a pathway for voluntary certification of CHWs across the state.
2012: MACHW works closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to formally adopt core competencies for Community Health Workers, becoming one of the first states in the nation to do so.
2016: The first regional CHW hub started in the Southeast, including Cape Cod, Fall River, and New Bedford. The coalition is now called SUN (Southeast United Network).
2017: In collaboration with CHWs, MACHW designs the MA Code of Ethics.
2020: MACHW picked up the legacy of CHW Appreciation Day from Boston City Hospital and the Boston Community Health Education Center (CHEC) to create an annual statewide celebration.
Lissette Blondet, Executive Director
Email: [email protected]
Lissette Blondet is the Director of the Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers (MACHW). She has dedicated most of her professional life to anchoring CHWs as public health professionals. In 1993 she founded the Community Health Education Center (CHEC), one of the country’s first training and resource centers for CHWs. The program was so successful that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health funded its expansion to the northeast region in 1997. CHEC Boston and CHEC Northeast centers are still thriving. More recently, Lissette provided technical assistance to the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund on community health and Community Health Workers. She also previously served as Director of Community Benefits for Cape Cod Healthcare. As the director of MACHW, Lissette brings all her experience and skills to strengthen the association and strategically position the workforce to seize the many opportunities now available through healthcare reform, including reimbursement and broad recognition of the attributes and competencies of CHWs.
Shanina Rosado, Manager of Member Engagement
Email: [email protected]
Shanina has over 30 years of experience working in the community. Born and raised in Springfield, MA, Shanina has had a passion for serving the community and CHW work. As Puerto Rican female she was able to watch and learn from other community health workers who became her mentors in which molded her into the CHW she is today. Shanina obtained her BSW from Elms College and quickly learned that she didn’t choose to be CHW but that it chose her. She has worked as an Information and Referral Specialist, which was considered the frontline of the agency that assisted people to navigate and obtain appropriate services. She then moved on as a CHW in a ACO pilot program in which she was able to work with a clinical team to provide supports and services that would help reduce emergency department use and connect them the primary care and specialists needed to increase their quality of health. Shanina then transitioned to role as a Behavioral Health Discharge Coordinator, in which she connected with several hospitals across the state to ensure patients had the necessary support during their stay at the hospitals and after discharge. Shanina has embarked on a journey alongside MACHW in May of 2022 as the Manager of Member Engagement to help other CHWs who have a desire to learn and grow within and beyond the scope of CHW role. Shanina has dedicated herself to being a lifelong learner as well as to use her torch to ignite others.
Vanessa Bernecer, M.Ed; LCSW, was born in Guayama, Puerto Rico, and grew up in Paterson, New Jersey. She lives in Springfield, Massachusetts, working as a Director of Community Health Workers at a health plan supporting CHWs in assisting individuals with Social Determinant of Health Needs. She found her passion in Social Work as a Teacher Assistant at a preschool in Paterson, NJ. She realized that many students and their families needed help meeting their basic needs (housing, transportation, food insecurity, and access to adequate healthcare). Vanessa obtained her Bachelor’s in Social Work from La Universidad del Turabo in Cayey, PR, a Master of Education in Psychological Studies from Cambridge College, and a Master’s in Social Work from Capella University. She has worked in various organizations in Western Massachusetts, providing services to families, children, individuals with disabilities, and elders in various settings. In 2017, Vanessa was awarded the Paul Winske Award from Stavros for her exceptional service to persons with disabilities. Vanessa joined MACHW in June 2023 to provide consulting services and development of MACHWs Employer Resource page.
Board of Directors
Our Advisory Board has 13 members, each serving between two and six years. The Advisory Board meets 6 times yearly and attends workgroups to address specific issues.
Each year, MACHW adds new Advisory Board members at our Annual Meeting. A selection of new Advisory Board members is done by MACHW staff and existing Advisory Board members according to established criteria. Please contact Lissette Blondet at [email protected] to be considered as a candidate.
Geovanni Vazquez, PhD.
Geovanni Vazquez, Ph.D. has over ten years of experience providing mental health care in a variety of clinical, residential, and public settings. Throughout his career, he has developed innovative counseling programs that focus on reducing recidivism and improving the quality of life for his clients. Compassion and comprehensive mental health care are hallmarks of his commitment to helping others. Geovanni is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC I) and trained in Psychoanalysis, CBT, DBT, NLP, and EMDR. The work of Geovanni is focused on helping adults who suffer from anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and trauma of various levels. Among his specialties are individual psychodynamic and supportive psychotherapy, psychodrama, substance abuse treatment, trauma treatment, anxiety reduction, and conflict resolution. He also works with couples and families, supervising and training other mental health professionals. Geovanni also provides workshops and seminars to organizations on mental health topics.
Jamila Xible is the Director for Health Education and Access Initiatives at the Cambridge Health Alliance. Jamila is responsible for the oversight of a number of programs including the Volunteer Health Advisors, Aging Wisely Everett, Senior Suicide Prevention, MA Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, the COVID-19 Community Education & Vaccination Programs, and the Community Health Improvement Learning Institute, which regularly offers Community Health Worker training. In this role, Jamila develops strategies to provide culturally responsive health education and outreach to underserved and hard-to-reach populations. The goal is to address social influencers of health, and to support the adoption of healthy behaviors and access resources. Jamila holds a Masters of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from Tufts University and, in addition to her native Portuguese, Jamila speaks English and is conversant in Spanish. Jamila is a dual-certified (youth and adult) Mental Health First-Aid instructor as well as a Cultural Humility trainer. I am uniquely qualified for this position as I have extensive experience fostering collaborative relationships and partnerships with community organizations and other stakeholders to solve problems and develop culturally responsive programs that benefit vulnerable individuals and communities. In my current role, I manage a number of programs designed to promote wellness, community engagement and collaborations. These programs include the Volunteer Health Advisors, Aging Wisely Everett, Senior Suicide Prevention, MA Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, the COVID-19 Community Education & Vaccination Programs, and the Community Health Improvement Learning Institute, which regularly offers Community Health Worker training. I hold a Masters of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from Tufts University and, in addition to my native Portuguese, I speak English and am conversant in Spanish. I am a dual-certified (youth and adult) Mental Health First-Aid instructor as well as a Cultural Humility trainer. Managerial experience has been a constant throughout my professional life. I have been a manager in multiple settings, including corporate market research and municipal government. I have expertise in team-building, project management, and engaging stakeholders across countries and cultures to achieve common goals. My career has also benefited from my volunteer work in a number of non-profit and educational institutions, including ethnic and cultural organizations. My combined experience has allowed me to develop a diversified skill set effective in helping individuals and organizations to perform at their best.
Kerry Mello (she/hers)
Kerry Mello brings decades of experience in community outreach and community health improvement. As Community Benefits Manager at Southcoast Health, a large, regional, health system, she helped organize and lead coalitions and initiatives to address pressing health and social issues on the South Coast, including healthy youth development, food injustice and housing and homelessness. She currently helps coordinate the Mental Health First Aid Training program at the Cambridge Health Alliance. She has been a member of the MCAHW Advisory Board for over seven years and has helped develop training programs and support services for Community Health Workers both regionally and statewide. She has helped advocate for expanded recognition of the Community Health Worker profession as an essential role in health care. A Wareham resident, she has helped lead fundraising efforts for the Wareham Library Foundation in support of public library system in town.
Luz is a dynamic program director with the City of New Bedford, where she oversees a harm grant and provides vital leadership to the Southeast United Network of CHW. Drawing on her deep interest in Hispanic/Latino community development, Luz is committed to providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services to underserved populations. Her passion for equity and inclusion drives her work, and she consistently impresses colleagues with her ability to build strong relationships and drive meaningful change. Whether she is spearheading an outreach campaign or mentoring new professionals, Luz is a tremendous asset to any team working to improve the lives of the communities they serve. Luz was born and raised in Puerto Rico and moved to New Bedford at the age of 20 with her son. She faced significant challenges in a foreign country where she couldn’t speak or understand the language, and there were not many resources available to her at the time. Over the years, Luz was able to overcome the challenges and obtained a certificate in program management, as well as her certification in medical and community interpreting. Simultaneously, she joined the New Bedford Health Department as a Community Health Worker, where she eventually advanced to the role of substance use prevention coordinator. Her work included collaborating with youth and Hispanic and Latino communities to create and implement substance use and prevention programs. In addition, Luz has experience in designing and executing culturally and linguistically appropriate data collection tools for assessing Hispanic and Latino communities in New Bedford. Her diverse array of professional experiences highlights her deep commitment to serving her community and advocating for the needs of those around her. Luz was also the assistant director for a nonprofit called United New Bedford where she was able to impact many families through equity and advocacy work.
Niem is a Bilingual -Bi-cultural Community Health Worker at Lowell Community Health Center (LCHC). She has worked in many departments at Lowell CHC, her most recent work was in pediatric behavioral health. During her 15 plus years with the Health Center, she has supported programs for refugees/immigrants, teen clinics, prenatal care/OBGYN case management, breast health education and Chronic Disease prevention/education program (CCH REACH 2010). Niem has transferred from working on Contract Tracing/Case investigation work for CHC and DPH’s Contact Tracing Initiative to fight and stop the spread of COVID-19 to join the REACH LoWELL program team at the end of 2020 to now. Niem is an active volunteer and works to improve the lives and health of people in the community.
Patrice was born in NY and raised in Haiti. She speaks 5 languages: English, French, Haitian Creole, Conversation Spanish, and American Sign Language. She started interpreting in Haiti for journalists at the age of 17. She moved permanently to the United States at the age of 18 in NY and graduated high school. After 1 year she moved to South Florida and worked with Haitian Immigrants as an interpreter/Paralegal aide for about 7 years and then did interpreting for worker’s comp and auto accident until 2010 when she moved to Massachusetts. Patrice worked at a group home funded by the Department of Mental Health for 2 years and then became a house manager for a deaf/blind house for adults funded by the Department of Developmental Services for 5 years.
Patrice is a great advocate for the individuals she served and did various community activities with them including fairs, Plays, Disney on Ice, Cruise, trip to NY just to name a few. She became a Children’s Coordinator for the Department of Developmental Services, DDS, with over 200 children on her caseload for over 2 years. She later heard about the various ACO programs that were launching at various hospitals working as a Community Wellness Advocate and worked for Boston Medical Center, BMC, program for 5 years helping families around social determinants of health. While at BMC she became a DDS Guardian. Currently she’s a guardian for 15 individuals and is a Care Coordinator with the Department of Public Health with about 95 children with complex care needs. Patrice has been on the MACHW board for almost 5 years.
Peggy Hogarty is the former Program Director of the Community Health Education Center (CHEC) for the Boston Public Health Commission. She oversaw many innovations at CHEC, designing core competency and specialized training programs for community health workers and their supervisors. Curricula addressed racial justice and health equity, public health preparedness, and chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. She has collaborated widely with partners at BPHC and agencies locally, statewide and nationally. She co-chaired the statewide Workforce and Training Workgroup of the legislatively mandated CHW Advisory Board which authored the influential report, “Community Health Workers in Massachusetts: Improving Health Care and Public Health.” She sat on the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Board of Certification of Community Health Workers, advocating for new training and certification standards that met the needs of the workforce.
Rainelle Walker-White, B.S. in Human Service, serves as the Associate Director of Health Equity Programs at the Family Van. For over 30 years, Rainelle has improved equitable access to care for hard-to-reach communities. As a Community Health Worker, she utilizes a client-led, strength-based and relationship-centered approach to care that is rooted in love and compassion. She counsels clients with complex health and social needs and empowers them to live healthier, happier lives. She is skilled in offering culturally-responsive health screening and education related to cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, mental health, and cancer. Rainelle has trained and mentored hundreds of aspiring health professionals in how to care for clients with cultural humility. She leads and oversees the direct service team, supervising Community Health Workers, students and volunteers. Rainelle believes in community partnership and is always nurturing new connections and strengthening existing partnerships to improve the health of the whole community. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and her grandson Brandon as well as cooking, singing and praying for others.
Smith Guillame H. Lamothe
Smith Guillaume H. Lamothe, is a trained Community Health Worker with CHA and currently serves on the MACHW Board. He is an IHI trained Improvement Advisor. He has been a long time Community Champion with Vital Village and most recently joined Vital Village Network as a Program Associate. He has expertise in Public Relations, Clinical Health Education, Case Management, and Program Coordination in the health sector. He, along with his wife live in Boston and are the proud parents of three young men. Smith Guillaume is active in the Haitian American Community of Boston. She is also a member of Family Ministry in Action where he serves as its Executive Director.
Yoann Sophie Antoine, she/her/hers
Yoann Sophie Antoine, MPH, CHES is a public health professional & consultant with expertise in community health, food safety, substance use disorder, health education, and environmental health. She currently serves as the Health Equity coordinator for the city of Medford, Massachusetts. In this capacity She provides advocacy for the protection and advancement of public health within the community. She is a member of Cohort 3 of the Diverse Executives Leading in Public Health (DELPH) program through the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the Satcher Health Leadership Institute (SHLI) at Morehouse School of Medicine. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Hispanic and Iberian studies with a concentration in Spanish translation and interpretation from the University of Massachusetts Boston and a Master of Public Health from Nova Southeastern University.