Leadership | Altamed

Our Leadership

Cástulo de la Rocha

President and CEO

Cástulo de la Rocha

President and CEO

As President and CEO of AltaMed Health Services Corporation, Cástulo de la Rocha is an enduring trailblazer in community health. Under his visionary leadership, AltaMed has transformed from a storefront barrio clinic in East Los Angeles into the largest Federally Qualified Health Center in the nation.

In 1977, Mr. de la Rocha recognized that people in low-income neighborhoods throughout Southern California were significantly underserved by essential health resources—the Barrio Free Clinic in his neighborhood often had a line of people wound around the block. By acknowledging that the health of a neighborhood is tied to its prosperity, he changed the face of one community, then another, until AltaMed became one of the area’s largest health care systems, with approximately 50 medical, dental and Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) sites staffed by 3,200 employees, providing compassionate care to more than 300,000 patients each year.

Mr. de la Rocha’s “whole community” approach to health care has earned him the Leader in Action award from the PRIME Program at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (2016). In 2017, he was honored alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda with a Medallion of Excellence from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI). In 2018, he received the Aaron L. Brown Memorial Public Service Award from the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), and in 2019, he was recognized as a distinguished alumnus of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Mr. de la Rocha frequently lends his expertise in aligning best practices in health care, public policy, and social advocacy. He currently serves on the boards of National Medical Fellowships and America’s Physician Groups, and in 2020, joined the Health Tech 4 Medicaid Expert Council.

An avid believer in the healing power of art, Mr. de la Rocha has spent 30 years assembling the AltaMed Art Collection. It champions the works of emerging and established artists who reflect the history, achievements, and struggles of underserved communities, and lives on rotating display across AltaMed’s network. In 2018, Mr. de la Rocha led the launch of Building Bridges: Chicano/Mexican Art from Los Angeles to Mexico, an event spanning nearly two years across seven sites, encompassing an exhibit of Chicano art as well as accompanying panels discussing art’s influence on U.S./Mexico relations. He has been recognized by the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) and is a member of the Getty Pacific Standard Time Business Leaders Council.

Education:
J.D. University of California, Berkeley School of Law
B.A. Political Science, University of California, Santa Barbara
Certificate in Management, Stanford University

Zoila D. Escobar

Executive Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer, and President of the AltaMed Foundation

Zoila D. Escobar

Executive Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer, and President of the AltaMed Foundation

As Executive Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer and President of the AltaMed Foundation, Zoila D. Escobar oversees corporate communications, branding, development, patient experience, culture and language, human resources, facilities management & development, government relations, and strategic planning and execution at AltaMed Health Services. A prolific fundraiser, her fund development experience dates back to 1984 at the American Cancer Society (ACS) as Director of Development for Special Populations. While at ACS, Ms. Escobar also helped develop national policy in uterine and breast cancer screening, smoking cessation, and HIV/AIDS for Spanish-speaking populations. Some of her most important contributions include helping change attitudes around philanthropic giving in the Latino community and steering an employee giving effort to engage 100% of the AltaMed workforce.

Ms. Escobar has a long and illustrious history focusing on AIDS awareness and prevention, with positions including Program Director of the first Latinas and AIDS program in Los Angeles County, with AIDS Project Los Angeles; and Clinic Administrator for HIV Services at the UCLA Family Planning Clinic. Ms. Escobar was also involved in policy work that led to the Ryan White Act's development and played a role in the inclusion of HIV/AIDS in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Additionally, Ms. Escobar also has HIV International experience working with the World Hemophilia Federation and the World Health Organization.

Ms. Escobar currently sits on the University of La Verne board of trustees, the California Health Care Foundation board, and the American Nurses Foundation.

A graduate of the University of La Verne, Ms. Escobar holds an MBA and a B.S. in Health Services Administration. Ms. Escobar is continuing her education, working toward her doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne.

Education:
MBA, University of La Verne
B.S. Health Services Administration, University of La Verne

José U. Esparza

Senior Vice President of Finance & Chief Financial Officer

José U. Esparza

Senior Vice President of Finance & Chief Financial Officer

José U. Esparza serves as Senior Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer for AltaMed, overseeing close to 100 professionals in departments ranging from Finance and Accounting to Government and Risk Management. Both directly and indirectly, he touches nearly every single financial transaction spanning from revenue and accounts receivable to payables, claims and all expenses in addition to AltaMed’s portfolio of investments.

In 1994, Mr. Esparza joined AltaMed, where he has been essential to the system’s success – both by negotiating reimbursement for its major programs and by ensuring day-to-day operational resources are well utilized for the delivery of services. He has maintained a robust fiscal outlook for large scale projects, such as the recent opening of new community health centers in Westlake
and the City of Commerce.

Mr. Esparza plays a strategic role by helping determine corporate direction and leading the implementation of key business plans and initiatives. Thanks to Mr. Esparza’s oversight, one of AltaMed’s biggest successes has been the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). Over the years, the organization took well-planned steps to enhance the program, adding even more health care and social services that improve the health of its participants, thereby preventing the need for institutionalization. PACE has since become the most robust program of its kind in Southern California.

Previously, Mr. Esparza held positions in public accounting, where he managed independent audits and issued certified financial statements for both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Early in his career, Mr. Esparza worked as a controller at Northeast Valley Health Corporation, one of Los Angeles’ largest Federally Qualified Health Centers. Here he found a sense of professional satisfaction that had been missing from his work in other industries, and he came to personally embrace the mission of eliminating health care disparities. As a Southern California resident who spent the last three decades living in Los Angeles, he has a true affinity for how diverse cultures enrich local communities.

Education:
MBA. University of Phoenix
B.A. Accounting, California State University, Los Angeles

Cristian Rico, MD

Interim Chief Medical Officer, Health Services

Cristian Rico, MD

Interim Chief Medical Officer, Health Services

In July 2020, Dr. Cristian Rico was named Chief Medical Officer of Health Services at AltaMed. In this role, he oversees AltaMed’s medical leadership, encompassing areas such as telehealth, women’s health, quality and population health, and complex care. Dr. Rico previously served as AltaMed’s Vice President of Medical Groups, overseeing the recruitment and performance of providers at all primary clinics, dental services, and HIV services. Dr. Rico also serves as an AltaMed media spokesperson, often offering subject matter expertise on a variety of topics, including the Affordable Care Act, culturally competent care, medically underserved areas and community needs. He joined AltaMed’s Executive Governance Leadership Committee in August 2019.

A native of Southern California, Dr. Rico has dedicated his career to the underserved communities of East Los Angeles by improving quality, patient experience and satisfaction, and access to care. He joined AltaMed Health Services as a staff physician in 2004, served as Medical Director for AltaMed Medical and Dental Group — El Monte from 2005 to 2010, and served as Regional Medical Director (RMD) for Los Angeles County from 2010 to 2015.

As an RMD, Dr. Rico’s first task was to improve medical provider recruitment. He was able to create an efficient and sustainable process to recruit competent providers with desirable attributes, and identify emerging leaders who have gone on to become medical and regional medical directors. He has also worked with several medical, nurse practitioner, and physician assistant schools to provide students with firsthand experience in community medicine at AltaMed.

Education:
M.D., Charles R. Drew/UCLA School of Medicine 
B.S., Biology, University of California, Riverside

Efrain Talamantes, MD, MBA, MSc

Chief Operating Officer, Health Services

Efrain Talamantes, MD, MBA, MSc

Chief Operating Officer, Health Services

In July 2020, Dr. Efrain Talamantes was named Chief Operating Officer of Health Services at AltaMed. For the two years prior, he served as Medical Director for the AltaMed Institute for Health Equity (AIHE) and Medical Education, leading health services and community-partnered research and training to advance health equity and medical education at AltaMed. Under Dr. Talamantes’ leadership, the Institute received Patient Centered Outcomes Research funding, enabling a community partnership that has informed AltaMed’s research priorities. Dr. Talamantes also serves as the inaugural Designated Institutional Officer (DIO) for the AltaMed Graduate Medical Education Committee and as a member of AltaMed’s Executive Governance Leadership Committee.

Dr. Talamantes has been critical in re-designing all of AltaMed’s Medical Education programs, including the Health Resource Services Administration Health Careers Opportunity Program. As DIO, e led the application process for Accreditation Council or Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accreditation. He is also involved in curriculum design and faculty training for AltaMed’s Family Medicine Residency Program. In addition, he is focused on developing methods to best support evidence-based practice, including the use of an electronic medical records system (Epic) implemented in 2019. Dr. Talamantes, the Institute, and AltaMed’s Medical Education teams are dedicated to creating various provider training tools, workshops, and modules to eliminate health disparities.

Dr. Talamantes previously served as Associate Director for the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health isparities and Associate Program Director for the Internal Medicine Residency Program. He also co-directed the Center for a Diverse Healthcare Workforce (CDHW), is the co-founder of MiMentor.org, and leads initiatives throughout the country to enhance leadership and diversity in the health care workforce.

Education:
MSc. David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles
Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Fellowship, University of California, Los Angeles
MBA. Emory University Goizueta Business School
B.S. Psychobiology, University of California, Los Angeles

Veronica Gomez

Vice President, Human Resources

Veronica Gomez

Vice President, Human Resources

Veronica Gomez was named Vice President of Human Resources for AltaMed Health Services in September 2020. She is a skillful leader with more than 25 years of human resources experience leading both national and international organizations of up to 45,000 employees.

At AltaMed, her responsibilities will include developing key strategies for growth, retention, talent acquisition, policy development, and culture change. Ms. Gomez’s areas of expertise include establishing the overall human resources structure and strategies for organizations, including strategic planning and analysis, budget development, education and training, and benefits. She is Six Sigma certified and a Senior Professional in Human Resources® from the HR Certification Institute® demonstrating her mastery of the strategic and policy- making aspects of human resources management. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in business administration.

Prior to this role, Ms. Gomez served as the Chief of Staff to Zoila D. Escobar, AltaMed Chief Administrative Officer. In this capacity, Ms. Gomez was instrumental in overseeing multiple administrative programs and projects to help further develop and enhance AltaMed’s work and business strategies.

Before joining AltaMed, Ms. Gomez served in multiple administrative and leadership roles at various companies and organizations, most recently as Vice President of Human Resources for True Fresh, HPP and True Food Innovations in Buena Park, California, where she organized, developed, and implemented all aspects of the human resource department for both entities. She was instrumental in recruiting for the organizations, establishing training programs for staff and leaders, as well as formalizing benefit enrollment and workers compensation programs.

Throughout her extensive and considerable career, Ms. Gomez has maintained various roles and tasks associated with the growth and development of human resources departments for both national and international companies. Her strengths and accomplishments include recruitment efforts across the United States and abroad; developing and implementing global change initiatives to drive business alignment; implementing key performance indicators for leadership development programs; establishing education and training initiatives and programs; benefits administration; and improvement of employee satisfaction by developing cohesive company culture programs and standards.

Education:
B.S. Experimental Psychology, University of California, San Diego
Executive Leadership Certification, Center for Creative Leadership Human Resource Management, University of California, Los Angeles

Raymond Lowe

Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer

Raymond Lowe

Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer

Raymond Lowe joined AltaMed Health Services in January 2018 as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer. He is an accomplished healthcare Information Systems (IS) & Information Technology (IT) executive with extensive experience in complex system delivery and operations. At AltaMed, he is responsible for all aspects of IS and IT for the organization, including strategy, innovation, delivery, operations, cybersecurity, data reporting, health plan and clinical applications, and merger and acquisition activities.

Among his many accomplishments at AltaMed, Mr. Lowe has been integral in the organization’s clinical systems transformation from the legacy system to EPIC, implementing the new Electronic Medical Record (EMR) platform system-wide, while meeting strict timeline and budgetary parameters. He also spearheaded the establishment of foundational infrastructure, cybersecurity enhancements, and application stabilization required to support the enterprise organization.

Prior to joining AltaMed, Mr. Lowe spent several years with Dignity Health as their Senior Director of Technology and Infrastructure. There he was responsible for the strategic design and delivery of IT transformation and optimization, including their Data Center, Network Consolidation, Unified Communication, and application rationalization. He also served as the Senior Director of Clinical Applications and Implementations for the Cerner EMR at seven Dignity Health hospitals.

Mr. Lowe has more than 20 years of knowledge and experience in healthcare IS/IT leadership including roles with Providence Health Services’ California Region and as Chief Information Officer for Kaiser Permanente Information Technology – Los Angeles Metro Area. Throughout his career, Mr. Lowe has been recognized with such distinguished honors as Becker’s 100 Top CIOs to Watch in 2019 and 2020, and BT150’s Most Transformational Leaders in 2019 among other noted recognitions.

Education:
M.S. Engineering Management, University of Southern California
B.S. Electrical Engineering, University of Southern California

Henry A. Holguin

Senior Vice President and General Counsel

Henry A. Holguin

Senior Vice President and General Counsel

Henry A. Holguin serves as AltaMed’s General Counsel. In this position, he advises AltaMed executive leadership on the company’s strategic initiatives and provides legal counsel to the AltaMed Board of Directors. He also oversees the efforts of AltaMed’s outside legal teams. Matters under his purview include health care, corporate governance, real estate, human resources, finance, and compliance.

While Mr. Holguin’s business acumen and experience in health care made him an excellent fit for AltaMed, it’s his personal history that gives him a deeper affinity for the company. Having grown up in East Los Angeles, Mr. Holguin has fond memories of being a teenager, and accompanying his grandmother to the local AltaMed clinic. The fact that his grandmother received personal care, in her own language, and was treated with dignity left a lasting impression on him, and he immediately seized the opportunity to join AltaMed when it arose. A profound respect for the AltaMed mission, as well as Mr. de la Rocha’s leadership and civic engagement, helped close the deal. Like the AltaMed CEO, Mr. Holguin was raised in Chihuahua, MX and later grew up in the same East L.A. neighborhood, so he was keenly aware of how crucial the health system’s work is in the community.

At AltaMed, Mr. Holgiun’s biggest priority is expanding health care access to even more people throughout Southern California—which means removing barriers to care, and growing AltaMed’s lines of services. He’s been instrumental in the development of innovative programs that put comprehensive medical services within reach of traditionally overlooked communities in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

Mr. Holguin’s experience with a broad array of industries and clients helped him develop the business savvy that is such a significant asset for AltaMed. He spent 23 years as the founding partner of Miller & Holguin, a law firm dealing with corporate transactions, mergers & acquisitions, business, health care, and real estate matters. After this firm merged with a larger legal practice, Mr. Holguin joined Kelly, Lytton & Williams, LLP, a boutique law firm dealing with business, health care, real estate, land use, and governmental relations. He has been a member of the State Bar of California since 1976, and is admitted to practice before the United States Central District Court of California and the United States Tax Court.

Since 2007, Mr. Holguin has served on the Board of Trustees of the AltaMed Foundation, the health system’s fundraising arm that annually procures between $40-$46 million in donations and grants. In 2008, Hispanic Business magazine named him one of the 40 Most Influential Hispanics in Los Angeles, and one of the 100 most Influential Hispanics in the United States.

Education:
J.D. University of California at Davis
B.S. Business Administration, University of Southern California
Certificate in International Economics, Cambridge University, England

Frederick D. Knight, MBA, CHC, CCEP

Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer

Frederick D. Knight, MBA, CHC, CCEP

Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer

Frederick D. Knight joined AltaMed in June 2019 as Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer. In this capacity, Mr. Knight is responsible for AltaMed’s Compliance, Risk Management, and Privacy operations and is tasked with leading an enterprise-wide risk management strategy, including audits, regulatory challenges, and growth opportunities. With nearly 30 years of experience, Mr. Knight is a compliance and regulatory leader experienced in developing and executing sustainable compliance programs through advanced education, robust reporting, and risk management. He is dedicated to creating the next generation of ethics and compliance programs by driving transparency, quality, and accountability.

Prior to joining AltaMed, Mr. Knight served as Vice President, Compliance, Ethics & Legal for Centene Corporation in Dallas, Texas. There, he was responsible for providing oversight in reviewing, recommending, continually enhancing, and implementing changes to Centene’s ethics and compliance program in accordance with applicable laws and regulations for their Commercial, Behavioral Health, Digital Health, Disease Management, Nurse Triage, and Employee Assistance Program. Mr. Knight also spent several years with the McKesson Corporation in Jacksonville, Florida, as their Senior Director of Ethics and Compliance where he was responsible for the overall development and implementation of the organization’s corporate compliance program for their 9,000 employees.

Mr. Knight is affiliated with several professional and philanthropic organizations, including serving as past Board Members for the Dallas Federal Credit Union and the Centene Political Action Committee, and as an Advisory Board Member for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Collin County. He is also a published author in the Journal for Health Care Compliance.

Education:
MBA, Health Care Administration, Jacksonville University
B.S. Finance, Alabama A&M University
Executive Certificate — Transformational Leadership, Georgetown University

Berenice Núñez Constant

Vice President, Government Affairs and Civic Engagement

Berenice Núñez Constant

Vice President, Government Affairs and Civic Engagement

Berenice Núñez Constant is the Vice President of Government Affairs and Civic Engagement at AltaMed Health Services Corporation. In 2017, she joined AltaMed as Vice President of Government Relations, leading legislative and policy advocacy strategies to advance state initiatives to eliminate disparities in health care access and outcomes. Ms. Núñez Constant also helped spearhead the formation of AltaMed’s Civic Engagement Program, inclusive of the My Vote. My Health. campaign, as well as a campaign to boost Census 2020 participation. In her current role, Ms. Núñez Constant continues to lead policy and civic engagement initiatives aimed at impacting the social determinants affecting many of AltaMed’s patients and communities, and engaging communities in Los Angeles and Orange counties in the electoral process.

Collectively, Ms. Núñez Constant has nearly 20 years of experience in the health care sector, working at both federal and state levels to support the health care needs of underserved populations. Prior to joining AltaMed, she worked with Molina Healthcare, Inc., one of our nation’s largest health plans. There, she served as Associate Vice President of Government Contracts, leading regulatory and advocacy strategies to initiate and advance state and federal initiatives to support the health care needs of underserved populations enrolled or eligible to enroll in government sponsored programs. She also supported new business development expansion opportunities in current and prospective markets nationally. Further, she established the company’s Latino legislative advocacy strategy to promote and advance policies for Latinos within Molina’s national advocacy agenda.

In 2010, Ms. Núñez Constant was a recipient of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Health Policy Graduate Fellowship. She also serves on various boards, coalitions, and committees, including the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, and the SELA Collaborative, and was appointed to the State of California’s Master Plan for Aging Stakeholder Advisory Committee in 2019.

Education:
B.A., Sociology, California State University, Long Beach
MPH, University of California, Los Angeles