The Medical Organization for Latino Advancement (MOLA) is a 501 © (3) non-profit association of Hispanic/Latinx physicians and health professionals working for career advancement, linguistic and cultural competency, personal wellness, and health equity for the good of the entire Hispanic/Latinx community.

Wellness & Advancement
Public Health
Education & Research
International Health Graduate
A message from our President DR. JOAQUIN ESTRADA, MD FACS FASCRS

Our mission is executed by means of seven core programs: Education & Research, Mentorship, Public Health, Advocacy, International Health Graduates, Medical Students, and Wellness & Advancement. We measure our own success through metrics that demonstrate our ability to collaborate, unite, and impact the community of Latinx health professionals as well as the Latinx community at large.

2020 was a year like no other.  MOLA had bold and aggressive plans that were meant to take the organization and the community that we serve to new heights. However, on January 20th, 2020 the first case of Covid-19 was reported in the US and by March Covid-19 had directly affected MOLA’s 2020 strategic plan. Undeterred in the face of adversity, MOLA pivoted from in-person events to creating a virtual environment that would serve our members and our community during this time of need.  This virtual platform would flourish and give life to exciting and new partnerships. It would build tighter bonds between existing partners and take the organization to uncharted territories. MOLA would not only survive but we would thrive despite this unprecedented year.

MOLA is proud to present our 2020 Outcomes report. We invite you to review what we have accomplished in our fourth year as an organization through the measurable outcomes of each of our programs. We thank you for your enduring support and welcome your greater involvement as we continue to promote MOLA’s Mission.

Joaquin J. Estrada, MD FACS FASCRS
President of Medical Organization for Latino Advancement


4 years since founding
21 Board Members
841 Members
7 Programmatic Committees
4 Management Committees
16 Events conducted
205 Volunteers
US$ 77,168 invested in education
  • The Education and Research Program hosted MOLA’s 4th Annual and first virtual Latino Health Symposium with guest speakers and experts  from all around the country. The speakers list included Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García; Dr. Mario Mendoza, MD; Dr. Narjust Duma, MD; Dr. William McDade, MD, PhD; Dr. Kathy Tossas Milligan, PhD; and Dr. Alicia Fernández, MD.
  • In partnership with the Michael Reese Foundation, MOLA has continued expanding its Scholars Program, with 13 Scholars completing and presenting academic projects on Latinx health themes at MOLA’s 2020 Symposium, “Más allá de la Salud”. Three Scholars, medical students Santiago Avila (University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine), Reniell Iniguez, and Karen Dueñas Ruiz (University of Illinois College of Medicine), received best poster recognition for their contribution to the Latinx research.
  • The Mentorship Program revamped its unique Casas model to provide a more intimate and focused mentor/mentee pairing. This more personalized approach is structured around  monthly mentorship events that provide mentees the tools to actualize their dreams in healthcare careers . The program’s curriculum includes workshops on building winning applications, MCAT preparation, personal wellness, racism in the workplace, and financial literacy and resources.
  • The Wellness & Advancement Program hosted numerous  virtual events to increase mental health awareness among the Latinx community, building resilience in residency and hone mindfulness strategies. The principles of the Wellness committee were also incorporated during the 2020 Latino Health Symposium by creating  mindfulness yoga breaks throughout the academic event. In addition, the MOLA’s Clinical Lecture Series, in partnership with AstraZeneca, was created.  The first event was attended by over 50 members, highlighting the importance of clinical skills in dealing with diabetes and the protective factors of prevention and latest developments in management of the condition.
  • The Advocacy Program publicly promoted a MOLA’s Black Lives Matter position statement, partnered with the International Health Graduate (IHG) Committee on the  petition to allow International Medical Graduates (IMGs) to contribute to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, and supported current medical student and Advocacy Co-Chair Yanina Guevara on their initiative to advocate for vaccinating the immigrant community on the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • The Public Health Program actively communicated MOLA’s message about breast cancer across it’s  social media channels  to thousands of subscribers,  organized a virtual panel on LGBTQ health in the Latinx community, and led a discussion of the role of Latinas  during the pandemic in the “Latina Expo” in Chicago.
  • The International Health Graduate Program hosted the Beyond USM LE Workshop aiming to provide tools to build a match-readiness curriculum and created a petition support Letter to Remove Barriers for Medical Graduates (IMGs) In Illinois To Help Fight Covid-19 during the Pandemic referenced above.
  • The Medical Student Program hosted mentorship events with MOLA healthcare professionals and our medical students as part of our Cenas series. MOLA experienced a significant growth in medical student membership by adding 48 % growth in student membership achieving a total of 560 students to our membership base.

Education and Research Program

  • Pilar Ortega, MD
  • Arielle Guzmán, MPH
Scholarship Sub-Committee Chair:
  • Jonathan Moreira, MD
Symposium Medical Student Co-Chairs:
  • Itzel López-Hinojosa, medical student
  • Richard Gómez, medical student

The Education & Research Program develops strategies to support our members’ career development through educational programming and research opportunities, exposure, and training. The education and Research program  is interested in addressing the health disparities that the Hispanic/Latinx community experiences within a local, regional, national and international reach.

The first-at-MOLA experience of having a fully virtual Symposium gathered medical experts, government officials, and nationally acclaimed activists to provide educational opportunities for physician, health professionals, and student attendees. Fitting to the current disparities of COVID-19 in our Latino communities, the 2020 Symposium theme was “Beyond Health: Más allá de la salud” to inspire our student and physician members to take action beyond caring for patients in a clinical setting, and  continue working to advance the health of our community as a component of their healthcare mission.

The conference objectives were for participants to be able to:

1) Understand key issues in Hispanic/Latino/a/x health and health disparities on a local, regional, or national level, including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,

2) Identify evidence-based strategies to address gaps and barriers in Latino/a/x health and discuss options for implementation of “best practices” with Latino/a/x patients and communities,

3) Describe innovative strategies that are being realized or proposed in current academic research, community practice, or educational development that have an impact on improving Latino/a/x health equity,

4) Discuss strategies in health policy or education that address increased equity and representation of Latinos/as/xs in medical careers and other areas of health professional advancement.

Key 2020 Facts
  • Over 50 volunteers for our educational and scholarship programs & Symposium.
  • 1st Symposium Hosted Through an All-Virtual Platform Model.
  • 191 Registrants of the Virtual Symposium.
  • 40% of Symposium Attendees were first-time participants.
  • 25 Poster Presentations.
  • 11 Speakers with a national reach.
  • 13 MOLA Scholars.
  • $51, 500 Scholarship Dollars Awarded to MOLA Scholars.
  • 1:1 MOLA Scholar Program Mentor to Mentee Ratio.
Screenshot of our Symposium
Screenshot of our Symposium
MOLA Scholar Academic Publications:
  • Itzel López-Hinojosa, medical student Evaluation of a Medical Spanish Musculoskeletal and Dermatologic Educational Module, Published in the MedEdPORTALl.
MOLA Scholar Poster Presentation Awards/Notable Conference Presentations
  • Itzel López-Hinojosa, medical student – Evaluation of a Medical Spanish Musculoskeletal and Dermatologic Educational Module, Presented at the National Association for Medical Spanish Summit 2020.
  • Virginia Alvarado Jones, medical student – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Latinx Health: Common Dermatologic Conditions Examined in Chicago, Accepted for oral presentation at the 16th Annual Skin of Color Society Scientific Symposium.
  • Santiago Avila, medical student – Patient Perceptions of Clinician Medical Spanish Skills, 1st Place Poster Presentation, MOLA 4th Annual Latino Health Symposium.
  • Reniell Iniguez, medical student – Workshop on Diabetes for Pre-health and Health Professions Students, 2nd Place Poster Presentation, MOLA 4th Annual Latino Health Symposium.
  • Karen Dueñas Ruiz, medical student – Systematic Review of Nutritional Education Interventions for Latinx Adults in the United States and Latin America, 3rd Place Poster Presentation, MOLA 4th Annual Latino Health Symposium.
Thirteen 2020 MOLA SCHOLARS, principal sponsor Michael Reese Research and Education Foundation
  • Santiago Avila, MS2 (Scholar Mentor: Pilar Ortega, MD)
  • Richard Gómez, MS4 (Scholar Mentor: Joseph Cooper, MD)
  • Yanina Guevara, MS3 (Scholar Mentor: Mario Mendoza, MD)
  • Reniell Iniguez, MS2 (Scholar Mentor: Pilar Ortega, MD)
  • David Mata Vaca, MS3 (Scholar Mentor: Tanya López, MS; David was additionally awarded American Medical Association [AMA] Internship)
  • José Peláez, Undergraduate Student (Scholar Mentor: Arielle Guzmán, MPH)
  • Ana Reyes, MS3 (Scholar Mentor: Jonathan Moreira, MD)
  • María Gabriela Valle Coto, MS2 (Scholar Mentors: Lourdes Shanjani, MD, MS, and Arielle Guzmán, MPH)
  • Ivonne Beltrán Lara, MS4 (Scholar Mentor: Alicia Olave-Pichón, MD, MPH)
  • Jackelyn Cantoral, Graduate Student (Scholar Mentor: Arielle Guzmán, MPH)
  • Karen Dueñas Ruiz, MS4 (Scholar Mentor: Óscar Iván Zambrano, MPH, MBA)
  • Damaris García Sandoval, MS3 (Scholar Mentors: Tanya López, MS and Pilar Ortega, MD; Damaris was additionally awarded AMA Internship)
  • Jaquelín Solís, MS2 (Scholar Mentor: Joaquín Estrada, MD)

Note: MS denotes “medical student” and the number indicates year in medical school (e.g., MS2 denotes “second-year medical student”)

Post-Conference Feedback from Attendees:

Mentorship Program

  • Angelina Palomino, medical student,
  • Joaquin Estrada, MD, President of MOLA

The MOLA Mentorship Program aims to build a pipeline to healthcare careers for motivated students whose dreams aim to become agents of change as healthcare professionals. Mentorship is structured by groups led in formal and well structured settings with group and individual activities through the concept of homes “Casas”.

2020 outcomes
  • The Casas mentorship structure comprises 16 Casas including:
    • 35 mentees
    • 3 high school students
    • 12 undergraduate students
    • 5 post-college students
    • 12 medical students
    • 7 IMGs
  • 17 mentors
    • 9 physicians (including 3 IMGs)
    • 5 medical students
    • 2 public health experts
    • 1 post-graduate student
  • Organized 3 events with an average of 32 mentees attending each event, The events included a Welcoming session, Post Graduate Admissions 101, and Wellness & Mental Health.
  • Partnered with the International Health Graduate (IHG) Program on residency application workshop session, where expert panelists discussed what it takes to create a competitive application and how to execute a successful residency interview.

Wellness & Advancement Program

2020 Co-Chairs:
  • Benito Ibarra
  • Óscar Iván Zambrano, MPH, MBA

The Wellness & Advancement Program aims to create opportunities for Latinx professionals to interact and expand their networks, minimize provider burnout and reinforce their personal, financial, and career wellbeing.

2020 outcomes
  • The Resilience resident event with Dr. Fabiana Araujo, PhD of University of Chicago was attended by 40 members.
  • Wellness package distribution to MOLA members Cafectios series: Financial Literacy Webinar Loan forgiveness was attended by 49 members.
  • Volunteer appreciation brunch was attended by 50 members.
  • “Real Talk” Race and Justice in Health and Law panel Hosted by Cook County Physician Association, Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, Illinois Association of Health Attorneys, The Hispanic National BAR Association and MOLA, attended by over 100 from the professional communities.
  • Clinical lecture series: Diabetes Education for the Latinx Physician,in partnership with AstraZeneca, was attended by 50 members.

Advocacy Program

Focused on highlighting locally relevant issues in healthcare education, access and provision of health services, particularly for the Hispanic/Latinx community as well as advocating for having Latinx participation in local policy making.

2020 outcomes
2020 Chairs:
  • Yanina Guevara, medical student
  • Gabriela Saldaña
  • Joaquin Estrada, MD
  • Reached out to dozens of members with important information regarding the 2020 census, Covid-19, and the 2020 presidential election by creating the Advocacy site. The page provides relevant content for the most pressing relevant Latinx advocacy issues.
  • Created an informational hub to better inform our DACA recipient members and others in the community. The dedicated web page dedicated provides DACA students resources and opportunities.
  • Partnered with IHG Program to create a petition to allow IMGs to assist in the COVID-19 crisis by expediting the certification process to become licensed doctors in the US
  • MOLA’s Black Lives Matter Statement helped shape the conversation on race and will guide future actions and projects.
  • Equitable Relief for Latino Community Beyond COVID-19 blog. The post focused on the communities left behind by COVID-19 and why we should continue to advocate for them.
  • MOLA Advocacy Co-Chair, Yanina Guevara, Advocates for Vaccinations at the Border. The outreach gave MOLA a presence and platform to advocate for the health of Latinos and allowed interactions with dozens of other organizations and potential partners with an aligned vision.
Organizers in San Diego at the Border Patrol's headquarters and detention facility
Organizers in San Diego at the Border Patrol's headquarters and detention facility

Public Health Program

The Public Health Program is dedicated to developing partnerships and nurturing collaborations with the shared minded organizations aiming to reduce health disparities that impact the Latinx community with a primary focus on organizational partnerships and educational content generation.. Our efforts are guided by the values of supporting existing community organizations and other MOLA programs by gathering and providing expertise, educational resources to implement and support research and public health interventions.

2020 Co-Chairs
  • Katya Cruz-Madrid, MD
  • Lourdes Shanjani, MD, MS
2020 outcomes
  • Breast Cancer Awareness Blog Post on multiple social media platforms. Over 50 people interacted with the blog post.
  • LGBTQ+ Panel: Virtual panel discussing LGBTQ health and what Latinx healthcare workers/ physicians can do to understand and improve patient health outcomes. Participants reported having gained better understanding on LGBTQ+ health and how to treat LGBTQ+ patients. This event also provided content for MOLA’s Youtube and social media channels.
  • Latina Expo: Virtual event organized by local organizations with MOLA’s Public Health Committee members invited guest speakers. Primary topics included COVID-19 and vaccine information and the role of Latinas during the pandemic.

International Health Graduate (IHG) Program

2020 Co-Chairs:
  • Shojanny Salazar, MD
  • Miguel Carabaño, MD
2020 outcomes
  • BEYOND USMLE Workshop. Leading a panel of IHGs in different stages of their careers to discuss for an audience how to conduct a better Match season under the current pandemic situation in collaboration with Dr. Eduardo Correa MD, Dr. Sebastian Arruarana MD, Andrés Giovannetti MD.
  • Participated in the panel “The Growing Need for Diversity in Healthcare” by the University of Phoenix Media, Chicago, IL. Dr. Shojanny Salazar
  • Miguel Carabaño organized and assisted in a First responders Workshop in collaboration with Dr. Veronica Velázquez, from the Trauma Responders Unify to Empower Communities TRUE program and Dr. Orestes Motiño.
  • Shojanny Salazar wrote and won the 1st place of the MOLA blog contest with the blog “As the Hispanic/Latinx Community in America is Among the Hardest Hit by COVID-19, Spanish-Speaking International Medical Graduates Remain One of America’s Most Valuable Untapped Resources.” Online Publication at Chicago MOLA. https://www.chicagomola.com/shoja-salazar/
  • Issued an online petition support letter to Remove Barriers for Medical Graduates (IMGs) In Illinois To Help Fight Covid-19 Pandemic. (https://www.change.org/p/j-b-pritzker-removing-barriers-for-medical-graduates-in-illinois-to-help-fight-covid-19?utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=custom_url&recruited_by_id=2dbfdae0-9882-11ea-be87-cf7fa5052a19)
Key 2020 Facts
  • 2 Events conducted.
  • 3 Board members Shojanny Salazar, MD, Miguel Carabaño, MD, and Janeth Castaño, MD.
  • Over 20 volunteers.
Dr. Shojanny Salazar (MOLA's IHG committee Co-Chair), Dr. Margarita Mankus (MOLA Membership Secretary), Dr. Andrés Sánchez (MOLA's IHG member) and other MOLA volunteer members collaborating and assisting in a Health Fair created by the Chicago Ecuadorian Lions Club to promote healthy lifestyles in the uninsured Spanish speaking community (2020)

Medical Students Representative Program

2020 Co-Chairs:
  • Itzel López-Hinojosa, medical student
  • Richard Gómez, medical student

The Medical Student Committee serves as a bridge between the programs and events that MOLA offers with the needs and interests of our medical student membership. From its clinical lectures, mentorship programs, and service events, this committee ensures to receive and implement recommendations and feedback amongst medical students in the Chicago and Illinois regions. Beyond this, we provide mentorship events specifically for our medical students as part of our Cenas series, an event series that allows students to sit down and speak at an informal setting with our prominent physician and healthcare leaders that are part of the MOLA membership.

This year, the medical student committee hosted two Cenas events, one in person, and the other one virtual, for our medical student representatives. The first Cenas event was hosted by MOLA resident, Dr. Joaquin Estrada. Dr. Estrada is a double board-certified Colon and Rectal Surgeon who serves as the surgical director of the Digestive Health Institute at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical center in Chicago, IL. Dr. Estrada is an assistant clinical professor in the Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He also serves as core teaching faculty at the University of Illinois Metropolitan Group Hospital Residency in General Surgery.

Our second Cenas event was hosted by MOLA’s Membership Secretary, Dr. Jonathan Moreira. Dr. Moreira is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. He is also Northwestern University’s Research and Education Core Co-lead for the Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative (ChicagoCHEC), a National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer partnership led by the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, Northeastern Illinois University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Screenshot of our 2nd Cenas Dinner Event, hosted by Dr. Jonathan Moreira!
2020 outcomes
  • Expanded our Illinois Medical School community with the established partnership with Southern Illinois University Medical School.
  • Growth in medical student membership by adding 48 % growth in student membership achieving a total of 560 students to our membership base.
  • 21 Medical Students were selected to present at the 4th Annual Latino Health Symposium

Social Media Stats

LinkedIn: 836 connections

Facebook: 798 followers

Twitter: 625 followers

Instagram: 745 followers

YouTube: 43 subscribers

MOLA members involved in MOLA Board Leadership Roles in 2020:

Oscar Zambrano, MPH
Joaquin Estrada, MD
Immediate Past President
Jonathan Moreira, MD
Pilar Ortega, MD
Communications Secretary
Gabriela Saldaña
Arielle Guzmán, MPH
Recording Secretary
Janeth Castaño, MD
Board Member
Emma Olivera, MD
Board Member
Erik Tarula, MD
Board Member
Geovani Barraza, MBA, CPA
Board Member
Javier Macías
Board Member
Paulina Guzmán, MA
Board Member
Willaim J Sierraalta, MD
Board Member
Geraldine Luna, MD
Membership Secretary
Alicia Olave-Pichon, MD, MPH
Board Member
Francisco Iacobelli, PhD, MSc
Board Member
Benito Ibarra
Board Member
Alejandra Escobar, JD
Board Member
Honored MOLA Members
  • Lourdes Shanjani, MD, MS, one of MOLA’s board directors, served as a member of the Diversity in Health Care Professions Task Force, filling the position of public health practitioner.
  • Patricia Téllez-Girón, a Wisconsin MOLA leader, was named one of Time’s 27 People Bridging Divides Across America.
  • Lourdes Shanjani, MD, MS, has a new position as Health Education Coordinator with Public Health Madison and Dane County.
  • Iris Romero, MD, MS, was promoted to Professor in the Section of General Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
  • Joaquin J. Estrada, MD, FASCRS, is the new President of MOLA.
  • Ricardo Correa, MD, Program Director of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism Fellowship, Diversity Director, Graduate Medical Educationwas recognized in “Cell Mentor” as one of 100 Inspiring Hispanic/Latinx Scientists in America.
  • Ivonne Beltrán Lara, a 2020 MOLA Scholar, was awarded the DREAM MD Equity Scholarship by the American Medical Association. The DREAM MD Equity Scholarship recognizes the unique experiences of DACA-recipient medical students and other first-generation immigrants.
  • Marina Del Ríos, MD, Dr. Melissa Simon, MD, and Dr. Wen-ho Yang, MD, were recognized as Crain’s 2020 Notable Healthcare Heroes.
  • Pilar Ortega, MD, MOLA’s Immediate Past President and Founder and President of the National Association of Medical Spanish (NAMS), and Dr. Lisa Diamond, MD, MPH, Assistant Attending Physician in the Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities Service in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, were awarded $149,971 for their project “Medical Spanish Proficiency Assessment: Evaluating Physician Communication with Spanish-speaking Patients in Medical Education Settings.” The project will be funded by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Stemmler Fund.
  • Geraldine Luna, MD, MPH, MOLA Treasurer, has a new role as Medical Director of the City of Chicago’s Covid-19 Response Team, whose work will focus on community engagement and outreach, targeting Chicago’s Latinx community. Dr Luna’s position will be instrumental in the execution of MOLA’s Public Health program.
  • Ricardo Correa, MD, FACP, was awarded for the American College of Physicians Arizona Chapter early career physician.
  • Melissa Simon, MD, was featured in Northwestern Magazine and acknowledged for her work as a trail blazer for health equity.
  • María Mora Pinzón, MD, MS, FCPM, obtained a scholarship at the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM).
  • Five MOLA medical student members from the University of Illinois College of Medicine were inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS): Damaris García Sandoval, Daniel Hong, Karen Dueñas Ruiz, Elizabeth García, and Virginia Alvarado Jones. The mission of GHHS is to recognize individuals who practice humanistic patient care and who can serve as role models, mentors, and leaders in medicine.
  • David Mata Vaca, second year medical student at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine, was named 2020-21 Schweitzer Fellow. David Mata Vaca proposes to engage LGBTQ+ homeless youth (ages 18-24) by coaching and providing workshops to increase self-sufficiency at El Rescate Transitional Living Program in Humboldt Park.
2020 Partnerships
  • Michael Reese Research and Education Foundation. Main supporter of MOLA’s Scholarship
  • Howard Brown Health
  • American Medical Association (AMA)
  • Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center
  • Esperanza Health Centers
  • Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) – Midwest;
  • The National Association of Medical Spanish (NAMS)
  • Psicólogos Latinos Avanzando Nuestros Servicios PLANS
  • Rosalind Franklin University INSPIRE PMP Programs
  • MOLA Wisconsin
  • “I am Abel” Foundation
  • Michael Reese Education and Research Foundation
  • American Medical Association
  • Howard Brown Health Center
  • Peter Amaro
  • Lizandra Anzo
  • Angelina Palomino
  • AstraZeneca
  • BlueCross BlueShield
  • Illinois Masonic Advocate Health
  • Ivonne Beltrán Lara
  • Jesus González
  • Andrea Anampa
  • Emily Jiménez
  • Brandon Pérez
MOLA in the News

MOLA Members participated in various Spanish media interviews to provide high quality health information about staying safe during COVID19 pandemic with our Spanish-speaking community. Dr. Pilar Ortega, Dr. Jonathan Moreira,  Dr. Geraldine Luna, Dr. Fidel Castillo, Dr. Francis Bauman, and others were interviewed and reported information regarding our current COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Fidel Castillo: “Hacer gárgaras con desinfectantes es altamente peligroso, advierten expertos”
Dr. Pilar Ortega: “Usar mascarillas durante COVID-19”