The AHA Launches 2nd Webinar in a Series Discussing Impact of COVID-19 on Communities of Color

Long before the pandemic, systemic challenges have contributed to disparities that impede some people from living long, healthy lives. Your ZIP code should not determine how long you live, but it does.

Social factors, which are shaped by the distribution of money, power, and resources, as well as immigration status, occupation, and language preference, have been mostly responsible for the unfair and avoidable difference in health status.

On Wednesday, June 10 from 3-4 p.m. EST, the American Heart Association will launch the second of a webinar series designed to discuss the impact of COVID-19 in communities of color that will focus on the Latino community. To register, visit:

During our series, we will:

  • Explore the implications of COVID-19 from the perspective of education, physical and mental health.
  • Explain the connection between social factors, health disparities, and inequities related to COVID-19.
  • Explore solutions to address the current COVID-19 crisis and its future implications.

The webinar features the following leaders from the AHA and across the health, as well as finance fields:

Samer Kottiech, M.D., F.A.C.C. is a board-certified cardiologist at Mount Sinai Health System. Trained in Venezuela and Florida, he holds certifications from the American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Board of Cardiovascular Diseases, the Board of Nuclear Cardiology, the American Board of Echocardiography, and the American Board of Obesity Medicine. Dr. Kotteich was awarded his medical degree from Universidad Nacional Del Zulia and completed his residency in internal medicine and his fellowship in cardiology at Mount Sinai Medical Center of Florida. He is the founder of Corazon en Forma, a private cardiology practice located in Washington Heights, that focuses on chronic diseases including cardiovascular diseases and obesity among Hispanics. A published researcher, Dr. Kottiech is a member of the American College of Cardiology, the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, and the American Society of Internal Medicine. Dr. Kottiech is also a COVID-19 survivor and a committed community educator and volunteer with the American Heart Association.

Carmen Ramirez, Ph.D., RN is the executive director of Community Capital Corporation, a supporting organization of adult immigrant education and integration. She received a BSN from the University of Texas at Austin, MSN and PNP from the University of California, San Francisco, and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Oregon. Dr. Ramirez has taught nursing in university settings, provided out-patient childcare in migrant labor camp clinics, directed the Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs in Washington D.C., and directed federal grants to increase the number of Hispanic and other minority nurses in the US. Recently she directed the establishment of the first bilingual professional nursing program (BSN and MSN) in the state of Maryland, and the third in the U.S. for the Ana G. Mendez University System. Dr. Ramirez is chairperson of the Health Advisory Committee for the Carlos Rosario International Charter School. She is an active member of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, and has served as president of the Washington, D.C. chapter.

Elena V. Rios, M.D., M.S.P.H., F.A.C.P. is president & CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA) representing 50,000 Hispanic physicians in the United States, with the mission of to improve the health of Hispanics. She is president of NHMA’s National Hispanic Health Foundation, directing educational and research activities. Dr. Rios also serves on the Care First Blue Cross Blue Shield, Better Medicare Alliance and the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda boards of directors, Centene Health Policy Advisory Committee, Cancer Treatment Centers for America Hispanic Advisory Council, Office of Research on Women’s Health Advisory Committee, NIH, US Department of Health and Human Services, and the VA National Academic Affiliations Council. She has lectured, published articles and received several leadership awards, including from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Congressional Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American Caucuses, American Public Health Association Latino Caucus, Association of Hispanic Health Executives, Minority Health Month, Inc., Hispanic Magazine, Verizon’s First Pollin Community Service Award, and Amerigroup.

Anderson G. Torres, Ph.D., LCSW-R was born in Ponce Puerto Rico and raised in the Bronx. He is currently the president and CEO of R.A.I.N. TOTAL CARE, INC. R.A.I.N.’s services include 12 senior center, home-delivered meals, home care services, serving homebound persons of all ages, integrated care coordination, housing, case management, advocacy, support groups for the elderly and their caregivers, Alzheimer’s initiatives, transportation, and intergenerational programs. Dr. Torres secured his master’s in social work from the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, and his doctorate in behavioral psychology with a focus on environmental design for Latinos and Alzheimer’s. He has been in the field of health care for 30 years in mental health, senior care, academia, government, and administration. Dr. Torres serves on the New York State Public Health and Health Planning Council and provides lectures on the topic of Alzheimer’s disease and related disparities.

Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., MPH, FAAFP serves as chief medical officer (CMO) for prevention and chief of the Center for Health Metrics and Evaluation for the American Heart Association (AHA). He currently serves as Chair of the Texas Public Health Coalition (TPHC) and the National Commission on Prevention Priorities (NCPP). He co-chairs the Dallas Health and Wellness Alliance for Children. He serves on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Roundtable on Obesity Solutions and on the Board of Directors of Trust for America’s Health, AcademyHealth, and the CATCH Global Foundation. He is a member of the National Quality Forum (NQF) Disparities Standing Committee on and the IOM Committee on Evaluating Approaches to Assessing Prevalence and Trends in Obesity. He serves on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow Advisory Board. Dr. Sanchez is the recipient of the 2011 Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) Alumni Award and the 2011 Texas Public Health Association (TPHA) James E. Peavy Memorial Award. In 2005, he was awarded the Texas School Health Association (TSHA) John P. McGovern Award and the 2005 American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Public Health Award.

Nicole Aiello Sapio, Ed.D. is the executive vice president of the Eastern States region of the American Heart Association. Eastern States is made up of over 400 staff and tens of thousands of volunteers serving the eastern seaboard of the United States from Maine to Virginia, a region made up of 13 states and the District of Columbia. Nicole has been in the nonprofit arena for over 25 years, serving the American Heart Association in various positions of progressive responsibility since 1995. Nicole spent nearly ten years as the executive vice president of the Great Rivers Affiliate of the American Heart Association, based out of Pittsburgh, PA, after serving 15 years in the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate in Washington, DC, in various roles of progressive responsibility. Nicole was named the executive vice president of the Eastern States region in April 2019.