2019 Durbin Community Health Worker of the Year Award: Esperanza Dodge


June 4, 2019

Media Contact: Diana Pando, Communications Specialist
Direct: 312-379-8229

HealthConnect One is pleased to announce the 2019 Durbin Community Health Worker of the Year Awardee: Esperanza Dodge, Co-Founder of the New Mexico Doula Association and Operations Director of Young Women United. The award will be presented at HealthConnect One’s Every Baby Our Baby 2019 Bash on Thursday, June 6th at Floating World Gallery. “We have selected Esperanza Dodge because she is a leader in maternal health working tirelessly in her community to encourage more people of color to become birth workers, advance birth equity and improve the quality of care for women,” said Brenda Blasingame, Executive Director of HealthConnect One. This award by HealthConnect One is championed by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) because it recognizes a Community Health Worker who is making a tremendous impact on maternal and child health. “Esperanza means hope and it’s a fitting name for a remarkable woman who is a champion of reproductive health and justice by and for women of color,” said Senator Durbin. “She believes that every woman and baby should have access to excellent and affordable healthcare including women struggling with poverty, addiction, or other challenges.”

Esperanza began organizing as a community member at the age of 19 with Young Women United (YWU), an organization that leads policy change, research, place-based community organizing, and culture shift by and for women and people of color in New Mexico. She is proud to work on reproductive justice issues by and for women of color. Esperanza believes birth and parenting justice should include those most impacted, including women and families living through addiction, and young parents. Her greatest adventures are with her 11-yr old son, Julián, who inspires her to continue doing this meaningful work every day. Esperanza earned her MSW in Bilingual/Bicultural Social Work from New Mexico Highlands University.

About Doulas and Community Health Workers
Community Health Workers around the world assist individuals and communities to adopt healthy behaviors; they provide social support, informal counseling, and information on available resources; they may gather data to help identify community health needs; they advocate for individuals and community health; and they are trusted members of the communities they serve, often bridging cultural and language barriers to support their clients in communicating with health care systems. HealthConnect One coined the phrase “community-based doula” more than 20 years ago to describe a community health worker who provides doula support to families in her own community.

About the Award
The Award was created in 2014 and is named after Senator Richard J. Durbin from Illinois, who has consistently demonstrated his support for community health workers, bringing public awareness to the value of community health workers generally and community-based doulas specifically.

“It’s important that every woman is able to receive excellent affordable quality healthcare during pregnancy, when the baby is born, and afterwards,” said Senator Durbin. “This is what HealthConnect is all about. These success are well worth celebrating and expanding.”

About HealthConnect One
HealthConnect One has collaborated with over 50 communities in 20 states to pioneer their award-winning Community-Based Doula Program model.

The Durbin CHW of the Year Award will be presented at HealthConnect One’s

Every Baby Our Baby Bash:

Thursday, June 6, 2019 – 6:00 PM
Floating World Gallery
1925 N. Halsted Street, Chicago IL 60614
Tickets available at http://bit.ly/EBOB2019