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Immigrant Voices:Public Health for Whom? Exploring Challenges and Opportunities in Health Justice

Immigrant Voices:Public Health for Whom? Exploring Challenges and Opportunities in Health Justice



Jossie Flor Sapanur, CASA Communication Director – Moderator Communications Director Jossie Flor Sapunar is a social justice warrior and award-winning bilingual communication professional. She tackles inequity at the intersection of power and privilege, speaking out on behalf of those who don’t have either. She serves as CASA’s first-ever communications director, leading the organization’s recognition, branding, and advocacy to a broader network of allies, members, and supporters. She has grown the communications team to eight staff and launched the organization’s first-ever communications intern program. In addition, she oversaw the overhaul of the website redesign, which won an award for design and functionality, as well as the website refresh.

In the past, Jossie advocated for the Latino community at LULAC, international human rights at Catholic Relief Services, and the American people at the U.S. House of Representatives. Her bilingual work has won the PRSA Silver Anvil Honorable Mention, and her writing Johns Hopkins’ Severn Teackle Wallis Award. She currently serves on CASA’s LGBT Committee and communications chair of Woodbridge Valley Pool. She was previously the racial equity advisor on the Justice Committee at St. John’s Grace United Church of Christ. She holds bachelor’s degrees in international studies as well as Spanish language and literature, focusing on economic development in Latin America, from the Johns Hopkins University. She is a single mom living in Baltimore with her son, dogs Marshmallow and Charlie, and three rabbits.

Dr. Michelle Larue, CASA Health and Human Services Director
Dr. LaRue is an experienced public health professional with over 20 years of experience. Dr. LaRue holds an MD and has spearheaded a number of public health initiatives both internationally and while working for a number of national non-profit organizations in the US focusing on health literacy, health inequities, healthcare access, cultural competency, case management, health navigation and health education.

Michelle LaRue, M.D. oversees the Health and Human Services Department at CASA across CASA’s entire footprint, which spans Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. She is responsible for the development, implementation, expansion and overseeing all programmatic and financial aspects of multi-site, multi-year, national, public health programs funded by both public and private sources with the aim to increase awareness of various health topics with emphasis on prevention, early detection, management, and survivorship, as well as increasing utilization of health services in immigrant communities.

Dr. LaRue has also represented CASA on a number of local and state advisory groups, most notably Governor-elect Northam’s Transition team. Dr. LaRue also serves as the health expert and spokesperson for CASA having conducted countless interviews with both domestic and international media outlets, in both Spanish and English.

Kony Serrano, CASA Health Policy Analyst Kony Serrano is a Research and Policy Analyst at CASA the largest immigrant advocacy organization in the mid-Atlantic region. Representing over 100,000 Black and Brown immigrants and working families, she is leading healthcare expansion efforts in Prince George’s County and the state the Maryland. Kony believes that healthcare is a human right and that having access to care is crucial to the development of entire communities. Some of Kony’s previous work includes providing social services to DACA and undocumented youth in Langley Park and Washington, D.C. Kony has also worked on several campaigns at state and county levels in Maryland, Ohio and Washington, D.C. Kony is originally from El Salvador and currently resides in Edmonston, Maryland with her dog, Kahlo.


Leidi Garcia, CASA Manager of Health Navigation and Social Services Senior Social Service Coordinator Leidi Garcia brings more than seven years of experience in the public health sector addressing issues and struggles immigrant families face arriving to a new country. Leidi has assisted hundreds of low-income working-class families obtaining essential public and health services in the state. As an immigrant herself, she recognizes the struggles immigrant families face when trying to access essential services. She believes the community needs to cross over the barrier gap in order to be able to facilitate and even eliminate those systematic barriers, so she considers herself “the bridge” that aids the community in overcoming the challanges immigrants face. From the language barrier to understanding how the system oportates. Her expertise in different areas provides her with the ability to accomplish outcomes for what the majority of the members she has assisted in the past, have described in their own words as, ‘life changing solutions.” Leidi is a certified billing and coding assistant with emphasis in administration, she is currently pursuing a career in the business and management sector at the University of Maryland Global Campus.

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