Maria Borrero, a champion for equity in health care for Hispanics-Latinos passed away this month.
Borrero’s work in health education and advocacy began in the community outreach division at Hartford Hospital.
Borrero partnered with anthropologists Stephen and Jean Schensul in working with hospitals looking for ways to overcome barriers keeping the Hispanic-Latino from quality care.
“Nobody was paying attention to the cultural and linguistic needs of Puerto Ricans then, and the increasing amounts of Central Americans that were coming into Hartford,” Stephen Schensul said of Borrero in an interview with the Hartford Courant. “That Puerto Rico Health Committee evolved into the Hispanic Health Council (HHC) first as an adjunct then its own independent organization.” Borrero was the first executive director of the HHC.
A native of Ponce, Puerto Rico, Borrero moved to New York City as a child before moving to Connecticut.
After her career in Hartford, Borrero became the director of the Department of Employment Services for Human Resources in Washington, D.C., the executive director at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and head for the mediation unit of the World Bank’s Conflict Resolution System.
“She just had this incredible spirit and determination. She just knew what she wanted and even though a lot of people probably told her things were impossible, she just kept forging ahead,” her daughter, Robin Decker, recalled to the Hartford Courant. “She just kept on knocking on doors to see which one would open. She never thought ‘I’m going to give up.’ It didn’t even occur to her.”
Borrero was 70.