Employee Spotlight: A Q&A With HCM’s Yuri VelasquezBy -
Yuri Velasquez is a Senior Associate and Engagement Counselor on HCM’s Health Innovation team, primarily working with the NIH’s All of Us Research Program. Yuri brings Over ten years of experience in public health. In this role, Yuri works with HCM’s Community & Provider Gateway Initiative Partners helping educate under-represented communities on the All of Us Program. He believes success and growth happen through teamwork and collaboration with the community and is passionate about working to engage and educate underserved communities.
Q: Why did you join HCM?
A: I wanted to join a team that not only works for the community but works with the community. Community engagement is an important part of public health and working with the best group of people in this field was only logical and a no brainer. As I learned more about NIH’s Precision Medicine Initiative, I was interested in being part of the engagement team for the All of Us Research Program, and now that I’m learning more about the program, I am motivated to work even harder towards our goals. All of Us will change the face of research and enhance preventive medicine, and I want to be a part of change.
Q: What makes HCM special in your view?
A: I was involved indirectly with HCM many years ago while working with one of their clients, AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth and Families. I learned of HCM’s work and was immediately captivated by the mission and vision to better our communities. HCM has a history of influencing and changing public policy for groups that have not had their voices heard. Selflessness is a quality that very few consulting firms possess, and HCM is by far one of the few and proud.
Q: What is something unique that you bring to your work with HCM? (I.e. background, experience, unique viewpoint)
A: With almost 15 years of experience in the HIV prevention field and public health, I’ve worked closely with the community. I have worked in HIV testing, education and prevention, training, counseling, and capacity building. My community engagement ranges from the public sector to consulting with private entities. My expertise comes from personal experience dealing with the healthcare system, living with a manageable chronic condition and wanting to empower my community to speak up for themselves. One voice is strong, two voices are powerful, but many voices are unstoppable!
Q: Was there a time you saw your work affect positive change?
A: After collectively working with public school districts in two counties in Florida and being part of an STI prevention initiative, I witnessed the change we can make when working together to protect our teen’s health. The number of new cases of sexually transmitted infections significantly decreased in Miami-Dade County- a 23% decrease between 2013-2014. In Lee County, bacterial STIs saw a 3% difference from 2017-2018. Part of these changes were due to the hard work community partners, myself included, implemented to keep our youth educated, prepared, and healthy.
Q: What do you enjoy outside of work?
A: I enjoy physical activities: hiking, rock climbing, snowboarding, races (5Ks and marathons), especially obstacle races. I like to push my physical limits while staying in shape and healthy. I also enjoy traveling throughout the US to learn more about our great country. You’ll find me singing my favorites tunes at a local bar during karaoke night once a week or dancing the night away at my favorite spot. And of course, I love to do all these things and more alongside my one-of-a-kind, funny, crazy and amazing partner, Albert.