Diabetes Forecast

The Healthy Living Magazine

Reaching Out to the Native American Community

Kelly Concho-Hayes embraces Native American culture at work and with her family.

Kelly Concho-Hayes, MEd, thought her work as the American Diabetes Association's Native American outreach manager in southern California would last only a few weeks. Now months later, she's received awards for serving hundreds of people and shows no sign of slowing down.

Concho-Hayes is Navajo and Acoma Indian. Her heritage and experiences growing up on a reservation enable her to share information about diabetes with people in the Native American community, whose risk for type 2 diabetes is more than twice that of non-Hispanic whites. In her first few months on the job, Concho-Hayes, 33, and the ADA received the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Yawa' Award for health for her work educating more than 1,300 people throughout southern California. Concho-Hayes uses stories of her own family and friends, often told in her language, to reach out and make it personal. "My one goal was to let our Indian people know that the ADA is a resource," Concho-Hayes says. "I'm here to help our Indian people, not preach to them about what they should have done. In terms of working with Native Americans, I can honestly say I relate."

In the coming months, Concho-Hayes will continue to meet with people and host Awakening the Spirit diabetes education events. She'll also work to solidify partnerships between the ADA and organizations that work primarily with Native Americans. Liz Cornejo Jinks, associate director of the ADA's San Diego andInland Empire office, says Concho-Hayes has been an integral part of reaching the Native American community. "She's very inspiring," Cornejo Jinks says. "People are very drawn to her. That helped us to jump-start those relationships."


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