Islara Souto, CHW, MPH
Regional Director for Equity and Multicultural Initiatives
American Heart Association

Islara Souto is Regional Director for Equity and Multicultural Initiatives at the American Heart Association. She has 27 years of experience in medicine and public health with specialties in advocacy and parity for minorities, elders, and persons with disabilities. Her expertise includes community health assessments, strategic planning, health and the built environment, and health education and promotion that maximize health and wellness. Her strategies focus on building stakeholder consensus and creating partnerships to identify and resolve public health and social issues via collaborative processes. She has extensive local, regional, and national networks in academia, government, non-profit organizations, and large/small businesses. She has held numerous leadership positions in public health at both regional and national levels.

Ms. Souto is widely spreading the message throughout Miami of the ability to prevent, treat, and survive cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Due to the high rate of hypertension in the Hispanic community, she is developing “Check.Change.Control!,” a new chronic disease self-management program that is designed to raise awareness and train individuals on managing and tracking their blood pressure. The program uses trained volunteers, including key C-Suite business leaders and a cadre of 20 MPH/PhD interns. The grassroots public health program is implemented at worksites, colleges, community-based organizations, municipalities, and churches in underserved communities.

Ms. Souto helped to create the first community health worker (CHW) program in the state of Florida. She teaches the CHW curriculum at the Miami Dade College-Medical Campus. Since July 2015, over 200 physicians, engineers, social workers, gang members, and low-literacy persons have completed the curriculum and became board certified CHWs.

Ms. Souto is a published writer with an extensive set of publications. She is well recognized in the policy and public-speaking arenas. Her teaching experience includes public health topics at the college level. She is a member of several community and regional boards and is an American Red Cross volunteer. She is originally from Spain, but was raised in the United States. She is multicultural and multi-lingual and has lived in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, and Florida. She and her husband recently became new grandparents. They currently reside with their four dogs in Little Havana in a 1926 home.