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Erica Andrade

El Centro Removes Generational Barriers Through Education, Community Health & Advocacy 


Language can be a barrier that goes beyond words. Culture, understanding, and trust can be lost in translation. For Erica Andrade, President and CEO of El Centro, it is crucial to be unapologetically Spanish-first and represent Latino communities that are sometimes deprioritized due to lack of representation. Breaking down this barrier will tremendously impact the community’s health.

Andrade has lived a life of advocacy for the Latino community. “I am a proud daughter to immigrant parents. I saw my mother struggle all her life, having to serve as her interpreter and advocate for her entire life. I always wanted to ensure others had that support,” Andrade said.

After an extensive search, Andrade was selected as President and CEO after 22 years of service with El Centro and the Kansas City, KS community. “This is truly a culmination of my life’s work, and I look forward to continuing to serve our Latino community and working towards equitable opportunities for all who call this place home,” Andrade said.

El Centro focuses on a core of information, education, and engagement. In the post-covid era, many present issues became more apparent in Kansas City’s Latino community. “The pandemic really did highlight those health disparities between communities, especially communities of color,” Andrade said. Poverty and low wages can generationally affect health equity and outcomes.

Specifically, the non-profit has launched a campaign called “¡Ni Uno Más! (Not One More!),” focused on advocating for policy changes to provide cancer care for all. The campaign advocates for uninsured people who don’t qualify for public insurance and are turned away from care after receiving a life-threatening cancer diagnosis because they cannot pay.

Leading the organization as a Spanish-first organization is a pride point for Andrade but also creates a misconception within the community. “Our communication is all done in Spanish first and then translated to English. This ensures a culture fit and instills trust. However, our community needs to know that we exist to serve the entire community. We will truly serve anybody who walks through those doors. We have built our system to give everybody the same dignity, respect, and service that everybody else receives,” Andrade said.

Andrade has championed multiple healthcare initiatives and has started to expand El Centro’s reach beyond Kansas City. “Our Voces de Medicaid program extended out to Western Kansas this last year and provided our training to a team of motivated women out there,” Andrade said. “This is a model that can be implemented anywhere. Where a bigger organization lends a hand and reinforces them to continue to make that impact.”

By championing community strength and cultural support, Andrade and El Centro are engaging the Latino communities throughout the Midwest to be heard, take control of their health, and advance the stability and strength of the community.


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