Newsroom | 20 February 2013

Hispanic Health Council Founding Director Maria Borrero is Cigna GO YOU Award Nominee


Cigna Corporation
Judy Hartling, 860-226-6272
Hispanic Health Council
Joan Cruz, 860-527-0856

  • GO YOU Award recognizes individuals who make an impact on our communities
  • Awards include Cigna Foundation grants totaling $130,000 per year
  • Hispanic Health Council embodies the vision of original director, Maria Borrero

BLOOMFIELD, Conn., February 20, 2013 - Cigna (NYSE: CI) has designated Maria Borrero, founding director of the Hispanic Health Council (HHC), its third GO YOU Award nominee. The nomination comes with a Cigna Foundation grant of $20,000 for the charity.

Maria Borrero, founding director of Hispanic Health Council in Hartford, Conn., has been named a Cigna GO YOU Award designee. The Hispanic Health Council gets $20,000 in her honor. (Photo: Cigna Corporation)

The Hispanic Health Council, based in Hartford, Conn., works to improve the health and social well-being of Latinos and other diverse communities though programs that address the health disparities that impact the Latino community.

Borrero led the drive to address the barriers Latinos face in health care situations in response to a tragedy, the 1973 death of 8-month-old Rosa Maria Rivera. Rosa Maria's mother had sought help for her ill daughter at Hartford hospitals, but felt that, because she could not speak English well, the gravity of the child's illness was not realized. Rosa Maria died of dehydration before she could get the help she needed.

Spurred on by the loss of Rosa Maria, Maria Borrero formed the Puerto Rican Health Committee, a precursor to the Hispanic Health Council. In 1978, the HCC was born and Borrero became its first director. She partnered with anthropologists Stephen and Jean Schensul, who researched the issues in the community that affect health care, and they worked with hospitals to come up with solutions.

"Cigna is committed to eliminating health disparities so all of our customers can get the help and support they need," said David Cordani, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cigna, a global health service company, and member of the Cigna Foundation board of directors. "Maria's vision exemplifies what Cigna's GO YOU Award is all about. Her work through the Hispanic Health Council demonstrates the impact a single individual can make to help improve the health and well-being of an entire community, and we are proud to support the Council's efforts to meaningfully address health disparities."

"I'm so proud of what the Hispanic Health Council - my baby - has accomplished over the years, but health disparities remain, so the work continues," Borrero said. "It's gratifying to know that Cigna recognizes this and supports the Council's mission to improve the health and well-being of Latinos and other diverse communities. I'm honored to be a GO YOU designee and I'm thrilled that the grant will help the Council continue to address these issues."

Today, the Council helps by identifying disparity-related problems and solutions, developing and evaluating services designed to achieve those solutions, policy advocacy to address disparities at the systems level, and cross cultural training of service providers to address health care disparities.

"Maria put forth a vision when she helped start the Hispanic Health Council and became its first director. She wanted to level the field so Latinos have quality access to the same levels of health care services others enjoy," said Jose Ortiz, current President and CEO of the Hispanic Health Council. "Cigna's generous grant will help us continue with our existing programs and further our mission."

The GO YOU Award recognizes exemplary people who have harnessed the power of the individual to create or grow nonprofit organizations that contribute to personal, family and community health. The award is an extension of Cigna's focus on encouraging people to be true to themselves and meeting their individual needs.

Nominations are made four times a year, with the annual GO YOU Award recipient to be voted on by Cigna employees from among the four nominees. Because of this recognition, the Hispanic Health Council is eligible to receive the additional $50,000 Cigna Foundation grant to be given to the highest vote-getter - the annual GO YOU Award winner.

To determine who will receive a GO YOU Award nomination, a panel consisting of Cigna Foundation officers and others within the company with expertise in the field of health-related philanthropy selects finalists based on recommendations from both internal and external sources. The panel considers both the personal story of the potential individual recipient and the effectiveness of their nonprofit organization.

The first finalist designee was Susan Hester, the founder of Mautner Project, and the second was Clarissa Black, founder of Pets for Vets.

About Cigna and the Cigna Foundation

The Cigna Foundation is a private foundation funded by contributions from Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) and its subsidiaries. The Cigna Foundation supports organizations sharing its commitment to enhancing the health of individuals and families, and the well-being of their communities, with a special focus on those communities where Cigna employees live and work. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit