Salud Family Health Centers has hundreds of great employees, and it’s typically a difficult decision to determine the recipient of the President’s Award. However, this year the decision was easy. The 2015 President’s Award was presented to Dr. Virgilio Licona at the annual staff picnic on Friday, August 14, 2015, in Ft. Lupton, Colorado.
Dr. Licona came from modest beginnings. He was the son of farmworkers in California. He was a political activist during the Cesar Chavez grape strike days, and ultimately found himself in Colorado to attend CSU.
After graduating from CSU, he founded and was the first administrator of a new health center in Rocky Ford, CO, serving migrant farmworkers. Faced with the frustration of not being able to find a PA to work in that health center, Dr. Licona decided to attend PA school. After graduation, he went back to southern Colorado to work at Pueblo Community Health Center. That clinic was having difficulties finding a physician, so true to form, he enrolled in medical school. Even in that, Dr. Licona was a pioneer, one of the first in a new collaborative program between a medical school in Guadalajara Mexico and rural residencies in the US. He did his family medicine residency in North Dakota, and then returned to Pueblo Community Health Center to work as a physician.
Dr. Licona has been a tireless and passionate crusader for social justice his entire life.
He has been integral to improving the health of underserved populations at all levels – in the exam room, and in policy making rooms and in front of governing bodies at the local, state, regional levels, and national levels. He is a gifted speaker, able to generate enthusiasm for the cause of social justice among audiences large and small across the United States. He has won innumerable awards, including one that has since been renamed the Virgilio Licona Award. He has been named one of 50 “superheroes” of family medicine in Colorado by the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians. Next week at the annual meeting of the National Association of Community Health Centers in Orlando Florida he’ll be receiving the Samuel Rodgers Award for Outstanding Clinical Leadership.
Dr. Licona has been appointed or elected to various local, regional, and national Boards, including the National Rural Health Advisory Committee, the national Board of Directors of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the National Advisory Council of the National Health Service Corps, the Board of Directors of the Colorado Health Foundation, and many, many others. He is truly a national legend. Wherever you go, everyone knows Dr. Licona. Salud has been tremendously fortunate to have him working for staff, for their patients and community.
If you’re interested in working for an organization that makes a difference on individuals’ lives as well as on a systematic level and advocates for long-lasting change, CHCs are for you! Check out the Mission Driven Careers Job Board or the CHAMPS JOB Bank for current opportunities at Colorado CHCs.