CPC hosts Woman Innovator Zara Marselian

San Diego’s own woman innovator Zara Marselian featured at Women Innovator Initiative’s second dialogue


Dialogue with Women Innovators is a series of dialogues with current women social entrepreneurs, industry experts, and USD students to address challenges and opportunities surrounding female leadership, social innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Our second guest speaker, Zara Marselian, is founder and CEO of La Maestra Community Health Centers, a network of clinics offering comprehensive health services regardless of ability to pay. La Maestra targets underserved, ethnically diverse communities, including immigrants, and delivers culturally competent health services. A child of refugee and immigrant parents, Marselian founded La Maestra to offer multicultural health care and social services to immigrants and refugees in inner city San Diego.

Programs at La Maestra revolve around three themes: education, case management, and social services. Using their ‘Circle of Care’ integrated approach, La Maestra ensures clients can get interrelated services all at one location. Overall, La Maestra’s ‘Circle of Care’ provides a supportive system where new skills, higher self-esteem, independence, and most importantly a healing environment can flourish. This grass-roots example for social transformation walked participants through how La Maestra came to align services with community needs. Additionally, Marselian emphasized the need to prioritize needs based on underlying social barriers.

Often, physical and mental issues go unresolved because of environmental, cultural, economic, and personal factors that inhibit the effectiveness of programs. Community input has led to La Maestra placing significant importance on culture and language unlike many other regional and national social services. Moreover, La Maestra employees mirror the ethnic background of patrons and the 23 languages that they speak. The latter facilitates the trust and respect needed to build community relationship and loyalty. Participants were given an opportunity to review the logic behind Marselian's ideation, action, and refining experiences in creating and building La Maestra.

In speaking passionately from her heart and through highlighed moments in her journey, Marselian's humble authenticity and relentlessness for social justice soon left a packed room ready to help, probe, and innovate for the common good.  

We will resume our women innovator dialogue Spring 2016. Thank you to all who have been in attendance, we hope to see you next year.