Blanca Meléndrez is the Executive Director of the Center for Community Health (CCH). She is also the Co-Chair for the UCSD Health Antiracism Taskforce, Health Disparities and Inequities Workstream, and Co-Chair for the UCSD Healthy Campus Network. Blanca has more than 20 years of experience in the non-profit and government sectors, bringing together policy decision-makers, researchers, and constituents to improve community health and reduce health disparities for low-income populations. Much of her work is conducted in partnership with communities whose experiences of trauma, both historic and current, have a significant impact on behavioral and physical health outcomes. Her work includes developing and sustaining collaborative partnerships and programs with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), US Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, First 5, and Prevention Institute, among other state and federal partners.
Blanca has also been instrumental to CCH’s growth and development over the past 20 years, securing over $80 million in grant funding from federal, state, and regional sources. CCH’s work in the last two decades began by piloting the 5-a- Day program with CDPH (known as SNAP-Ed at the federal level and CalFresh Healthy Living in California), laying the foundation for development and implementation of new programs including Live Well @ Work, Faith-Based Wellness, Healthy Schools, and Healthy Retail initiatives. Under Blanca’s leadership, CCH founded the Southern California ¡Más Fresco! More Fresh Nutrition Incentive Program, the first program of its kind in the UC System working to address food insecurity through community, food system, and health system collaboration.
Under Blanca, CCH has also led the establishment of multiple community-based collective impact coalitions and initiatives, including the Refugee Health Unit’s San Diego Refugee Communities Coalition, the Youth Advisory Council, the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative, and the Urban Food Equity Unit. These programs engage passionate young people and community leaders dedicated to improving access to education, economic mobility, food, and health for communities that have experienced historical and systemic health inequities. Throughout her work, Blanca is committed to promoting healthy communities through addressing institutional racism and racial health disparities, building local collaborations and sustainable solutions, and fighting for social justice in underserved communities.
Blanca joined the Center for Community Health in 2000.