Compassion & Choices Praises African American, Latino Leadership Councils for Advancing End-of-Life Healthcare Education

Councils Secure Endorsements, Protect Medical Aid-in-Dying Laws
November 27, 2018

The African American Leadership Council

Compassion & Choices today praised its African American and Latino Leadership Councils on their one-year anniversary for securing endorsements of medical aid-in-dying legislation and for advancing end-of-life healthcare education across the country. These options include advance care planning, hospice, palliative care, and medical aid in dying.

Compassion & Choices created the Councils to improve end-of life care outreach to communities of color. Members were recruited to advance the organization’s strategic goal to empower all Americans nationwide about their healthcare options at life’s end.

“These multicultural community leaders, executives and physicians have served as our partners in educating communities of color about end of life care and choice,said Compassion & Choices Chief Executive Officer Kim Callinan. “Their authoritative voices have helped to ensure that communities of color have access to the full range of end-of-life care options in the United States.”

Since the joint launch in November 2017, the Council members have been instrumental in helping Compassion & Choices defeat attempts to repeal the Death with Dignity Act in the District of Columbia, and legislative initiatives to weaken medical aid-in-dying laws in California and Colorado.

Medical aid-in-dying laws allow terminally ill adults to request a doctor’s 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.

Council members have engaged in national outreach through community engagement with National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Urban League (NUL), National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and National Black Nurses Association (NBNA). Council members also secured endorsements for medical aid in dying from the National Hispanic Council on Aging, Latino Commission on AIDS, Hispanic Health Network and Latinos for Healthcare Equity in New York, a state with 18 percent of Hispanics.

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.
  • Christy Davis Jackson, attorney, New Jersey
  • Al Thomas, co-founder South Jersey Journal, New Jersey
  • Khadine Bennett, Director of Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs, ACLU of Illinois, Illinois
  • Rev. Dr. Paul Smith, Civil Rights Veteran, Minister, Educator, Author, Diversity Role Model, Maryland
  • Rev. Charles McNeill, Pastor Unity Baptist Church; President, National Capital Baptist Convention, Washington, D.C.

The Latino Leadership Council includes:

  • Dan Diaz, husband of late medical aid-in-dying advocate Brittany  Maynard, California
  • Dr. Daniel Turner-Lloveras, physician, California
  • Dolores Huerta, civil rights leader, California
  • Dr. Jaime R. Torres, President, Latinos for Healthcare Equity, New York
  • Father Luis Barrios, Episcopal priest, Grace Church, New York
  • Guillermo Chacon, president, Latino Commission on AIDS; founder, Hispanic Health Network, New York
  • Irisaida “Isa” Mendez, communications professional, Florida
  • Jorge Lambrinos, founding director, Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging, University of Southern California (USC), California
  • Mauricio Ochmann, actor, California
  • María D. Otero, Founder/Director, Nuestra Salud, New Mexico
  • María Lemus, Executive Director, Visión y Compromiso, California
  • Nilsa Centeno, mother of late medical aid-in-dying advocate Miguel Carrasquillo, Puerto Rico
  • Pastor Sergio Camacho, Latino Ministry, United Methodist Church, California
  • Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, State Representative, Utah
  • Rev. Dr. Ignacio Castuera, Ph. D., United Methodist Church, California
  • Dr. Yanira Cruz, CEO & President, National Hispanic Council on Aging, Washington, D.C.

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

“Our African American Leadership Council has engaged in valuable outreach to the community and stressed the importance of having  informed healthcare conversations,” said Alexander.”There is a real need for advancing end-of-life care options for African Americans throughout the United States.”

“More Latinos throughout the country are coming forward to support medical aid in dying, thanks to our Latino council members,” said González-Portillo. “This powerful group of leaders is helping to guide new work to reach and engage more Hispanics in the United States, its territories and various islands. Their mission is to ensure our terminally ill Latino brothers and sisters can have the end-of-life care options they desire, including the option to die peacefully without unbearable suffering.”

For a complete list of members and 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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VICTORY: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed the improved End-of-Life Options Act.