Community Health Centers, Inc. Celebrates Marie-Jose Francois’ 2010 Lifetime Achievement in Migrant Health Award


Winter Garden, FL. Each year the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) honors outstanding men and women who possess extraordinary leadership within the Migrant Health Community. Community Health Centers, Inc. is pleased to announce that on May 6, 2010, Marie-Jose Francois received the 2010 Lifetime Achievement in Migrant Health Award.  This award recognizes Marie’s outstanding achievements and contributions to the migrant health center mission and to community-based health care overall.  Community Health Centers, Inc. believes that there is no one more deserving of the Lifetime Achievement in Migrant Health Award than our own Marie-Jose Francois!   Marie is a tireless advocate for the migrants, farmworkers, and underserved populations of Central Florida and the world and is very deserving of this award.

Mrs. Francois holds the position of Community Relations and Outreach Coordinator.  She had previously been the OB Coordinator for the Apopka and Pine Hills Family Health Centers, working closely with the large population of female migrant and seasonal farmworkers within this area.   Mrs. Francois was a physician in Haiti, holding a Masters Degree in Public Health with a concentration in Health Promotion and Health Education, and is a certified Health Education Specialist.  As Mrs. Francois is trained in both medicine and public health, she approaches community health issues from both a clinical and social standpoint. This approach is especially significant for understanding and addressing health disparities in medically underserved communities in which Marie has worked for the past 24 years in Central Florida.

Marie has long been effectively engaged in efforts to address and improve health care delivery and positive health outcomes for hard-working, low-income, minority populations in the communities in Central Florida and around the state.  The Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF) has had a productive, mutually-beneficial, and positive relationship with Mrs. Francois for close to 20 years, and has witnessed her deep commitment to providing access to quality and affordable health care for the marginalized members of the community.  Most recently, Mrs. Francois has dedicated her time to co-conducting trainings for farmworker community clinics in various parts of the state on the recognition, diagnosis, treatment and reporting of pesticide related illnesses among agricultural workers.

With FWAF, she has worked in and with the migrant and farmworker community for close to two decades and this experience gives her a unique and profound understanding of the special circumstances surrounding migrant and farmworker health care issues and needs.  Farmworkers are under-recognized as a group. Mrs. Francois has extensive experience in understanding the barriers that confront health care delivery to this community.  She has made it her life’s work to develop and carry out programs that will reach out to families and individuals that are all too often locked out of access to traditional health care avenues.  Through her years of dedication to her work, Mrs. Francois has touched many lives and made a significant difference in her community.

Marie has been recognized by state and national agencies in advocating for funding to address HIV among the migrant population and the utilization of indigenous populations to spread the HIV prevention message.

Awards for her dedicated service to the migrant community include:

1994Migrant Clinician Network Unsung Hero Award
2004State of Florida, Unsung Hero in Health Care
2004State of Florida Red Ribbon Award
2005 & 2006Orange County Distinguished Citizen of the year
2007Florida Outstanding Woman in Public Health
2009Bank of America, Local Hero Award
2010National Association of Community Health Centers’

Lifetime Achievement in Migrant Health Award

Marie is involved in nearly every aspect of community health in the Central Florida area.  This includes participation in the following:

  • Area 7 Community Planning Partnership (member)
  • Center for Multicultural Wellness & Prevention (Board member)
  • FL HIV Minority Task Force (member)
  • Orange County Healthy Start Coalition (Board member)
  • State of FL Closing the Gap Among Racial Ethnic Minorities (Advisory Committee member)
  • First Haitian Community Center of Central Florida (member)
  • Orange County Haitian Task Force (member)
  • Orange County Superintendent’s African American Advisory Committee (member)
  • HIV/AIDS Black Leadership advisory group (member)
  • National Farmworker Health Services (Board member)
  • American Heart Association, Greater Orlando Area (Board member)
  • Catholic Charities (Advisory Board member)
  • Orange County Primary Care Access Network (Community Awareness Committee member)

Most recently Marie has immersed herself into the Haiti Earthquake relief efforts.  Immediately following the earthquake, she could be found at the Sanford airport 3 times a week from 9:30 pm to 3:30 am providing interpretation services to the Haitian refugees who did not speak English.  For the past 3 years she has been a part of the Refugees Task force for Central Florida.  She helped to put a group of crisis counselor professionals (English and Creole speaking) together to provide crisis counseling to the Haitian families who lost a family member in the earthquake; also provided crisis counseling for the refugees who have been in Haiti during the earthquake.  She participated as a crisis counselor professional on the radio on Saturday January 30, 2010 from 2 pm to 4 pm and talked about grieving and answered call-in questions.  She organized a Haitian Pastors meeting held on Monday, February 1, 2010 at 5:30 pm at the Center for Multicultural Wellness and Prevention, where a group of mental health counselors talked about the grieving process and offered their services to go to different churches and conduct group sessions by age: less than 18 years of age, adults, and geriatrics.  Marie helped in the collection of different items to be sent to Haiti.  All items were given to the New Covenant Church, where their Reverend took them to Haiti on Tuesday January 26, 2010.  She is assisting the Haitians in Central Florida in need of TPS (Temporary Protective Status) at the Center for Multicultural Wellness and Prevention.  And, in collaboration with the Haitian Chamber of Commerce, Haitian Consulate, Center for Multicultural Wellness and Prevention and Tele Kreyol, she helped to organize a town hall meeting in regards to Temporary Protective Status, where the Director of Immigration Services in Orlando was the guest speaker.

Community Health Centers, Inc. is a private, nonprofit organization that provides primary and preventive medical, dental and pharmaceutical services to insured, uninsured, underinsured, and underserved children and adults within Central Florida.   CHC has ten clinics which are the Apopka Family and Children’s Health Centers, Pine Hills Family Health Center, Winter Garden Family and Children’s Health Centers, Eatonville Family Health Center, South Lake Family Health Center, Leesburg Community Health Center, Zellwood Family Health Center, and the Lake Ellenor Dental Center.  Last year 47,364 patients received care at Community Health Center sites.  CHC accepts Medicaid, Medicare and many private insurance plans.

For more information contact:
Community Health Centers, Inc.