Community Health Center Leaders to Attend State of the Union Address

For Immediate Release: 

February 3, 2020

Contact Amy Simmons Farber


Washington, D. C. – Tonight, six Community Health Center leaders from across the country will have a coveted ticket to history as invited guests to the State of the Union Address (SOTU). The health center leaders will attend as guests of key Members of Congress from California, New Jersey, Michigan, Arizona, and New Hampshire. The health center guests – which includes two clinicians – are ambassadors of a federal health program that spans more than five decades, delivers affordable health care to 29 million people nationwide and saves taxpayer dollars by preventing costly care at hospital emergency rooms and elsewhere.

The SOTU guests are:

Sherry Hirota, Chief Executive Officer, Asian Health Services, Oakland, CA, attending as the guest of U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee.
Jillian Hudspeth, President and CEO of New Jersey Primary Care Association, as the guest of U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone. “Across the nation, Federally Qualified Health Centers provide affordable and quality health care to the medically underserved populations who need it the most… We must work together to build on the advancements we have made and ensure all New Jerseyans receive the health care they need and deserve,” said Hudspeth in a press release issued by Pallone’s office. 
Elisa Nicholas, MD, Chief Executive Officer and pediatrician, TCC Family Health in Long Beach, CA, attending as the guest of U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal.
Tara Plese, Chief External Affairs Officer, the Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers, attending as a guest of U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran. “Congressman O’Halleran recognizes the need for funding to ensure that community health centers can continue to provide quality, preventative and primary health care while responding to changing health care needs in their communities. We are thankful for his tireless support,” said Plese in a press release issued by O’Halleran’s office.
Lara Quiroga, Director of Strategic Initiatives for Children at Amoskeag Health, Manchester, NH, as the guest of U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas. Quiroga started the first ACERT program in Manchester, working in collaboration with the Manchester Police Department and YWCA. The program connects with local child specialists and professionals to intervene and mitigate the impacts of childhood trauma, according to a press release issued by Pappas’ office.
Felix M. Valbuena, Jr., MD, Chief Executive Officer, the Community Health and Social Services (CHASS) Center, Detroit, MI, attending as the guest of U.S. Rep Brenda Lawrence. “I would like to thank Congresswoman Lawrence for highlighting the importance of Community Health Centers and thank her for her leadership as a member of the Appropriations Committee,” said Dr. Valbuena, in a press release issued by Lawrence’s office.

Community Health Centers are urging Congress to pass long-term, stable funding in order to continue providing innovative, comprehensive care without interruption.


Established in 1971, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) serves as the national voice for America’s Health Centers and as an advocate for health care access for the medically underserved and uninsured.

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Community Health Center Leaders to Attend State of the Union Address