Ponce, Puerto Rico
Bravery | Resilience | Kindness
Vanessa Rodriguez serves both Hispanic Alliance and LiveWell Greenville as the Community Action Coordinator in an innovative partnership funded by the 2019 BUILD Health Grant. She comes to this project with over twenty years of communications and public relationships experience in governmental agencies, corporations, and nonprofit organizations.
Vanessa is originally from Ponce, Puerto Rico, and served her government as the Director of the Public Relations Commission of Women’s Affairs for the Governor of Puerto Rico, and the Communications and Press Director for the Office of the Women’s Advocacy in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Like many of her fellow Puertoriqueños, Vanessa and her family were hit hard by Hurricane María in 2017, which devastated the island’s economy and infrastructure. Though they tried to persevere in their home, they were drawn to Greenville after being invited by friends to visit. Over time her husband and she found jobs in the city, and their son, Lorenzo loves to play on the CESA soccer fields.
Vanessa’s extensive cross-sector experience will assist her in the complex role she will play in our BUILD Health initiative to understand the high rates of childhood obesity in our Hispanic Community, particularly in young boys. She will help to coordinate the efforts of multiple health and research institutions in this effort. Her strategies will use the existing network of bi-cultural community health workers to survey the health behaviors and needs of Hispanic residents, returning vital information to participants and researchers at the same time.
With a heart as large and strong as her life experience, Vanessa creates personal initiatives to encourage women and develop leadership in the Hispanic community. Her personal blog, DESCALZA on Facebook and Instagram shares daily messages of optimism and faith with more than 5,600 Hispanic followers. Through social media and mentorship, she works to ease the way for Hispanic women and their families, who are walking the challenging path she has already traveled.