Opening Plenary: The Colorado Health Foundation’s Karen McNeil-Miller and Tepeyac Community Health Center’s Jim Garcia discuss health equity


Shane Ersland


The Colorado Health Foundation President and CEO Karen McNeil-Miller and Tepeyac Community Health Center CEO and founder Jim Garcia discussed health equity during the 2023 Colorado State of Reform Health Policy Conference’s opening plenary last month. 

McNeil-Miller said the foundation, which invests in nonprofits and communities to advance health equity, prioritizes people of color because they suffer the worst health outcomes. 

“And we do everything being informed by our community. Those of you who know us know it’s not just grant-making, but we (do) convening, capacity building, (and) advocacy in policy agenda. We certainly believe that there should be health in every policy, and there should be equity in every policy. Our healthcare focus is in access to integrated primary care. We also have a heavy focus on social and environmental determinants.”

— McNeil-Miller

The foundation made a funding commitment that began in 2021 that at least 50 percent of its new funding will support organizations in which at least 50 percent of the people it serves are people of color, McNeil-Miller said. 

“Another commitment of ours is that our capacity building funding through the next few years would be heavily focused on organizations that are BIPOC-led, BIPOC-serving, and accountable to BIPOC communities.”

— McNeil-Miller

Tepeyac works to improve health equity as well. Garcia discussed the organization’s new 25,000-square-foot clinical facility that opened at 48th and Vine Street in Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhood in February. The facility provides affordable housing in its upper level, and a fresh food market will open there this year, Garcia said.

“When you think of the social determinants of health, and what that means for a community, it made perfect sense for us to expand our services. We knew we needed expanded access to integrated healthcare. But we also knew there were critical needs the community was saying were not being met as they related to affordable housing and access to fresh food. So with this effort, we were able to address those issues.”

— Garcia

Tepeyac’s new clinical facility offers six dental operatories and a dedicated behavioral health suite with the capacity for seven bilingual behavioral health providers.

“It has allowed us to greatly expand our medical services.”

— Garcia