Compassion & Choices Launches African-American, Latino Leadership Councils

Council Members to Guide Expansion of Nationwide Outreach to All Americans
November 1, 2017

Brandi Alexander, Compassion & Choices National Constituency Director

To commemorate National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, Compassion & Choices today announced the launch of its African-American and Latino Leadership Councils as part of its expanding outreach to all Americans nationwide about their end-of-life care options. These options include hospice, palliative care and medical aid in dying.

The councils are an extension of Compassion & Choices’ successful outreach to communities of color that was key to winning campaigns to pass laws authorizing medical aid in dying in California in 2015, and Colorado and the District of Columbia in 2016.

Medical aid-in-dying laws allow terminally ill adults to request a prescription for medication they can voluntarily decide to self-ingest to die peacefully in their sleep if their suffering becomes unbearable. Reports show these laws spur conversations between terminally ill adults, their doctors and their loved ones about all end-of-life care options, including hospice and palliative care, and better utilization of these options.

“We could not have passed recent medical aid-in-dying laws in California, Colorado and the District of Columbia without the partnership, support and voices of multicultural communities,” said Compassion & Choices Chief Program Officer Kim Callinan. “These councils will guide our efforts to provide culturally appropriate information to terminally ill people to facilitate conversations with their doctors about all their end-of-life care options, so they can make fully informed decisions that align with their values.”

Both national and state polls show strong support for medical aid in dying across the ethnic, political and religious spectrum, including 69 percent of Latinos nationwide and 53 percent of African-Americans.

The African-American Leadership Council includes:

  • Lucille Ridgill, MD, Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Care, California
  • Rev. Madison Shockley, United Church of Christ, California
  • Jason Gaulden, communications director, America Succeeds, Colorado
  • Shawn Perry, host, The Senior Zone radio show, Maryland
  • Delores Lewis, senior advisor to the City Council, New Jersey
  • Channte’ Keith, director of programs, National African-American Tobacco Prevention Network (NAATPN) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, North Carolina
  • Omega Silva, MD, Endocrinology and Internal Medicine, Washington, D.C.
  • Sultan Shakir, executive director, Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL), Washington, D.C.
  • Shirley Tabb, licensed social worker, Washington, D.C.

The Latino Leadership Council includes:

  • Dolores Huerta, civil rights leader, California
  • Dan Diaz, husband of late medical aid-in-dying advocate Brittany Maynard, California
  • Revs. Sergio Camacho and Ignacio Castuera, Ph.D., United Methodist Church, California
  • Dr. Robert Olvera, physician and father of the late Emily Rose Olvera, California
  • Mauricio Ochmann, actor, Mexico
  • Irisaida “Isa” Mendez, communications professional, Florida
  • Father Luis Barrios, pastor, Grace Church, New York
  • Nilsa Centeno, mother of late medical aid-in-dying advocate Miguel Carrasquillo, Puerto Rico
  • Dr. Yanira Cruz, CEO, National Hispanic Council on Aging, Washington, D.C.
  • Maria D. Ulloa Otero, Immigrant, Health Educator, Activist, New Mexico
  • Jorge Lambrinos, founding director, Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging, University of Southern California (USC), California

The leadership councils are led by National Constituency Director Brandi Alexander and National Latino Communications and Constituency Director Patricia A. González-Portillo.

“Most of our Latino council members already have advocated that terminally ill Latinos from California to Puerto Rico should have access to the full range of end-of-life care options,” said González-Portillo. “Their powerful stories about the need for medical aid in dying to peacefully end intolerable suffering have helped strengthen public support for this practice among both Latinos and Latino lawmakers, and they will continue inspire others to endorse it.”

For additional information, please visit,

Compassion & Choices
Media Contacts

Sean Crowley
Media Relations Director
[email protected]

Patricia A. González-Portillo
National Latino Media Director
[email protected]
(323) 819 0310

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