Aida Luz Maisonet Giachello is an educator and a writer and uses research to address social justice issues in the areas of health and human services. She was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She has a bachelors' degree in social sciences from the University of Puerto Rico; a masters' degree in social services administration from the University of Chicago, specializing in community organizing, planning and social policy; and a Ph.D. in medical sociology, also from the University of Chicago, specializing in Hispanic/Latino/minority health.
In 1993, she established the Midwest Latino Health Research, Training and Policy Center at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC), where she conducted health disparities research on diabetes, asthma, cancer, injury prevention, occupational health, maternal and child health with a cross-cultural focus; trained Latino/minority undergraduate, pre- and post-doctorate, junior faculty and junior investigators in research methodologies; and engaged in policy work emerging from the research findings. There she also developed community curricula and toolkits to train professionals and community health workers (health promoters) across the United States, Puerto Rico, Central and South America, Mexico and along the U.S.-Mexico borders. Before retiring from the UIC in December, 2010, she provided leadership to multiple research projects including serving as the Principal Investigator (PI) of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention national Center of Excellence for the Elimination of Disparities (CEED). CEED built a multi-sectorial partnership with community and professional organizations in the areas of housing, public health, education, economic development, environmental health, and other sectors, to engage the group in "system thinking" about how working together the coalition can develop effective strategies to address the social determinants of health. CEED is the result of CDC Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) 2010 where the Midwest Latino Health Research, Training and Policy Center developed promising/best practices to address health disparities. Most recently (in 2008-2009), Dr. Giachello visited over13 countries in Latin America studying health care reform policies and identifying models that can be transferred to the US for the Hispanic/Latino populations in the areas of health promotion and disease prevention and the management and control of chronic diseases.
In 2011, Dr. Giachello accepted a position at the Department of Preventive Medicine where she serves as Co-PI, of the Chicago Field Center of the Hispanic Community Health Study (HCHS)/Study of Latinos (SOL)-the largest cardiovascular epidemiological study ever of diverse Hispanic/Latino populations in the US under the sponsorship of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and other NIH centers and institutes.
In addition to Dr. Giachello' s research background, she has been trained as a community organizer and perceives herself as an agent of social change advocating on behalf of racial and ethnic minorities, women as a group, the poor and the elderly. Her research methods follow community based participatory action research and empowerment models which use research for community mobilization and action to address social justice issues. Dr. Giachello has been instrumental in forming numerous health and human services organizations locally, regionally and nationally, such as the Latino Alzheimer and Memory Loss Organization, the Hispanic Health Alliance, the Midwest Hispanic AIDS Coalition, the National Latino Council on Alcohol and Tobacco Prevention and Control, the National Latino Institute for Reproductive Health, the National Latino Tobacco Control Network, among others. In Chicago, she chaired in the 1980s the Chicago Commission on Women, and served on the Board of Directors of Mujeres Latinas en Acción in the 1970s. She has been appointed by government officials at the national and local levels to numerous committees, including the U S. Surgeon General's Executive Committee on Latino Health and the USDHHS Secretary's National Bone Marrow Transplant Committee. She also served as Vice Chair of the Minority Health Committee of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). She provides consultation on health disparities and on community based participatory action research methodologies to many local, state, regional, national organizations and academic institutions, and she has served on many boards and committees, including working groups at the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, Washington DC.
Dr. Giachello has presented her work at national and international conferences and has published in health policy journals. For over 30 years of local, national and international work and achievements, she has received numerous recognitions such as: in 2005 she was named as one of twenty-five most influential Hispanics/Latinos in America by TIME Magazine; one of 100 most influential Latinos by the National Hispanic Magazine and by People En Español in 2006; featured in the National Latino Leaders Magazine, Hispanic Business Magazine, and by national and Chicago area English and Spanish media such as CNBC, CNN, NBC Nightly News & Today Show; CBS-Chicago Channel 2; WGN Chicago Channel 9 September 2005 segment entitled, "Chicago's Very Own."; in 2009 and 2010 WGN News and Adelante Program; ABC Chicago Channel 7 in June, 2009; and in 2010 Univision national segment titled "Orgullo Hispano" (Hispanic Pride). She was also acknowledged in Congress in September, 2005 by Hon. U.S. Senator Durbin and in Illinois by Secretary of State, Hon. Jesse White, during the Hispanic Heritage Month; In 2007 by the US Congressional Hispanic Caucus (Hon. Hilda Solis - currently US Secretary of Labor); in 2009 she was listed as one of 20 top leaders in Health and Medicine by the Latino Leaders Magazine, and was one in ten who received in 2010 the inspired award by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) together with Clint Eastwood and Rachel Welch. Dr. Giachello's life and work was also featured in the 2009 book titled: Social Workers Changing the World, Alice Lieberman (editor). [The Giachello chapter was prepared by Margaret Sherrard Sheraden, University of Missouri St. Louis.]
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