Lourdes Rodriguez, New York State Health Foundation

TITLE: Program Officer

FUNDING AREAS: Diabetes prevention and primary care advancement

CONTACT: Rodriguez@NYSHealth.org, 212-584-7679

IP TAKE: If your non-profit organization or medical group is working to prevent diabetes in the state of New York, you need to get on Rodriguez's radar.

PROFILE: Diabetes prevention is the number one goal of the New York State Health Foundation, and Lourdes Rodriguez is the woman leading the charge. With an estimated 1.8 million New Yorkers suffering from diabetes and 4 million with prediabetes, that's a lot of responsibility to take on. So far, Rodriguez has proven that she's up to the challenge.

As Diabetes Prevention program officer, Rodriguez works to increase the number of programs, support proven prevention strategies, and leverage federal and private resources throughout the state. Her job duties trickle over into the Advancing Primary Care priority, as many of the foundation's primary care programs include provisions for diabetes care. Thanks to Rodriguez's management, NYS Health Foundation's target of having 3,000 physicians earn recognition for good diabetes care is well within reach.

Before joining NYS Health Foundation, Rodriguez worked with City Harvest as associate director of community partnerships. At this food program, she got plenty of practice implementing community programs to address the epidemic of diabetes and other diet-related diseases in low-income neighborhoods around the city. Rodriguez lectures at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, where she earned her doctorate in public health in 2004. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Rodriguez originally moved to the United States in 1988 to work on her master of public health degree from the University of Connecticut.

Since earning her doctorate, Rodriguez has stayed actively involved with Columbia University. She was an assistant professor of clinical sociomedical sciences there for more than six years, also serving as codirector of the urbanism and built environment masters track, and as part of the school's community research group. Through her connections at Columbia, she's worked on an Active Living Research grant with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to examine the use of public spaces.

There's no denying that her work in public health extends well beyond the confines of her job at NYS Health Foundation, but unlike some similarly situated program officers, Rodriguez doesn't spread herself too thin. Instead of serving on the boards of dozens of organizations with minimal involvement, she becomes actively involved in just a couple. She currently serves on the board of Inwood Community Services Inc., a faith-based mental health facility serving New York's Inwood and Washington Heights community. The facility also provides treatment for chemical dependency and adult literacy and youth services in three treatment clinics.

Rodriguez clearly has a passion for public health, and if your non-profit organization is working to improve it, you're likely to catch her attention. The best way to get on Rodriguez's radar is by working in the area of diabetes prevention. To learn more about the foundation's diabetes program, visit the program's website or email Rodriguez at Rodriguez@NYSHealth.org.