Editor’s note: Throughout the year, Jeffrey Lewis, President of Legacy Health Endowment, honors different healthcare professionals and/or community leaders who continually make a positive impact on the community at large.
Michelle Allen is the CEO of the Society for disABILITIES, a nonprofit based in Modesto that serves a large swath of the Central Valley. She also serves as CEO of the Miracle League of Stanislaus County, overseeing adaptive recreation programs, workforce development, education and outreach services, and much more.
As everyone knows, families with disabled children and adults have difficult jobs inside and outside the home. It is a tough job, 24/7, every day of the year, and is often thankless. But the care given by these families is exceptional. And it is often buttressed by Michelle and her organization, creating solutions and solving problems to help families with disabled children and adults. Michelle leads a team of quiet angels who live to serve and help people in need.
What you also want to know about Michelle is that her personal and professional life is grounded in four core principles: passion, commitment, determination, and brilliance. It is hard to believe all four of these qualities could shine through one person; however, when you meet Michelle, you realize how incredibly special she is.
Michelle can best be described as the engine that will get it done. She is relentless in her advocacy for the disabled; she is passionate in explaining why helping each person maximize independence is so critically important; she is determined to help families caring for disabled children and adults, and she finds solutions when other people have given up. Michelle never gives up, she refuses to accept no, and to her, every problem is a solution waiting to happen. She has a unique skill of being able to fill the gaps, launching new programs for disabled community members, creating job networks, and managing a loan closet for medical equipment lead by her passion to make sure families have what they need.
When she is not working, Michelle can be found volunteering alongside her son and husband. No grass grows under her feet. She is a woman of action, who is determined to change the status quo for disabled children, adults, and their families.
Working alongside Michelle, you quickly learn that her energy and passion are infectious. She is always thinking about making life better for someone. Few people touch as many lives as Michelle, and when she does, you feel honored. I know I do!
Yamilet Valladolid is the Government Affairs Manager for Golden Valley Health Centers, a non-profit organization that offers health care to families in Merced, Stanislaus, and San Joaquin counties. She is responsible for managing and building relationships with community and elected officials and other community leaders, building collaborations to increase access to healthcare and making sure the public understands where healthcare, dental care, and pediatric services are available, regardless of income.
No one job can truly define Yamilet. She is the person you meet who is completely involved in community activities, intensely focused on helping people find healthcare and mental health services. She is a tireless advocate for those who have no voice. Her typical schedule is 60-70 hours a week and sometimes more. Regardless of the hours, she loves what she does and where she works. Helping people is part of the fabric of who Yamilet is and will always be.
While she has won several awards, she is humble, lives a modest life, and is a dedicated family member helping ensure that her youngest sibling has everything she needs to survive and soar in college. Part mom, sister, auntie, caretaker, and caregiver, Yamilet lives to care for people. Wherever she is, it is a sunny day, because she brings out the best in everyone whose life she touches.
Most important, Yamilet is every CEO’s dream employee. She is strategic in her thinking, passionate about creating solutions, determined in what she does, and incredibly caring in all aspects of her personal and professional life. She is that shining star who makes you proud to know her and work with her.
There is another side to Yamilet focused on changing the healthcare landscape. Whether it is Sacramento, Modesto, or Washington DC, Yamilet is always thinking about how she can educate more elected officials about the needs of the uninsured, Medi-Cal patients, or Medicare recipients. She believes healthcare is a right, not a privilege, and is determined to make the laws help more people in need.
Her passion and dedication are amazing. Her relentless efforts for the uninsured are inspiring. And when she walks into a room, every head turns simply out of respect. Yamilet is someone you can count on every day!
— Jeffrey Lewis is the President of Legacy Health Endowment. The views expressed are his own.