Rochester, NY – The African American and Latino Health Coalitions held the Speak Life! 2023 Health Equity Conference, at the Strathallan Hotel today to a capacity crowd. The event, themed "¡Acción ahora! / Action now!," aimed to unite, teach, reach, and motivate community members to take action toward healing and moving forward in hope. The annual conference also honored three local leaders with this year's Community Equity Champion Awards.

The 2023 Rev. Dr. Weldon Thomas Faith and Medicine Award was presented to Dr. Gina Cuyler, Primary Care Physician and Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center. This award is named for Rev. Thomas, pastor of New Bethel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Rochester from 2005 to 2019. The award is given to a credentialed health professional who has improved the health of marginalized racial and ethnic groups in the nine-county Finger Lakes region.

The 2023 Dr. Constantino Fernandez Community Leadership award was presented to Lucia Colindres, Chief Program Officer at the Ibero-American Action League, Inc. This award honors Dr. Fernandez, who was a clinical associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The award is given to an individual who has demonstrated an exemplary level of leadership, advocacy, and community engagement to positively impact the health of marginalized racial and ethnic groups in the Finger Lakes region.

The inaugural Edgar Santa Cruz Outstanding Coalition Member Award was presented to Carlos Santana, Community Builder at Action for a Better Community, Inc. This special recognition is named for Edgar Santa Cruz, a Latino Health Coalition member and an adult social worker at Cameron Community Ministries who was tragically killed in December while walking his dog – the victim of a hit-and-run.

The Speak Life! 2023 Health Equity Conference is made possible by the generous support of presenting sponsor Excellus BlueCross BlueShield and keynote sponsor Greater Rochester Health Foundation.

For more information on this year’s conference, visit  


About Common Ground Health

Founded in 1974, Common Ground Health is the health research and planning organization for the nine-county Rochester-Finger Lakes region. We bring together leaders from health care, education, business, government and other sectors to find common ground on health challenges. Learn more at