As the Executive Director of the Center for Community Health (CCH), Blanca Meléndrez leverages two decades of leadership within a university-based center focused on community-engaged public health practice. She is deeply committed to addressing health disparities and advocating for health equity, particularly within communities of color. Blanca’s work is rooted in personal experiences as an immigrant from Mexico, facing firsthand the challenges within healthcare systems and the impacts of social determinants of health. Blanca’s career has been characterized by the development of pioneering health programs and the establishment of critical community-based coalitions, securing over $80 million in funding to enhance community health and reduce disparities. This work is underpinned by a deep-seated belief in social justice and equity, driving her to advocate for health as a fundamental right for all.

Blanca’s journey at CCH began with the foundational SNAP-Education Program, initially through the 5-a-Day pilot in partnership with the California Department of Public Health. This early work laid the groundwork for innovative initiatives like workplace wellness, faith-based wellness, healthy schools, and healthy retail projects. Among these, the Southern California ¡Más Fresco! Nutrition Incentive Program stands out as a flagship effort, marking the first of its kind in the University of California System to combat food insecurity through a collaborative approach involving community, food systems, and health systems.

Furthermore, under Blanca’s leadership, CCH has been instrumental in establishing and leading various community-based collective impact coalitions and initiatives that embed just research and evaluation of programs, including the San Diego Refugee Communities Coalition, Advancing Health Literacy, Healthy4You, Youth Advisory Council, and San Diego County Obesity Initiative. These initiatives aim to embrace young people and community leaders in co-creating new ways to improve access to education, economic opportunities, and health, particularly for communities that have been historically marginalized and affected by systemic health inequities.

Rooted in a commitment to social justice and equity, Blanca continues to lead with the conviction that health is a right, not a privilege. She is driven by the belief in the power of community-informed interventions to transform health outcomes and advocate for sustainable health equity for all.

Blanca joined the Center for Community Health in 2001.


Join our mailing list

Access our
newsletter archive.

Join the Live Well @ Work newsletter

Privacy Policy