Leadership Institute

Maria Mercedes AvilaMaria Mercedes Avila, Ph.D.


Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Multicultural Director VT-LEND Program
University of Vermont College of Medicine

Area of Expertise

  • Cultural and Linguistic Competence
  • Addressing/Eliminating Health Disparities
  • Undoing Racism/Privilege
  • Culturally Responsive Care/Practice
  • Working with Refugee/Immigrant Populations

Interest and Desire to Mentor

I have been fortunate enough to have had amazing mentors across my career. These mentors have listened to my goals, shared similar values, and had seasoned experience in the field of cultural and linguistic competence that allowed me to develop my leadership skills. I have also had the opportunity to connect with many people in the field at the national level and have created networks that have furthered my experience in the field. I strongly believe in sharing my knowledge and helping others. I furthermore believe in diversifying the workforce (at all levels) and helping others succeed. Every year I work with more than 200 students in addressing and eliminating health disparities at the University of Vermont and have trained more than 1000 providers on culturally responsive care. I look forward to motivating others through this new initiative.

Values and Approaches to Mentoring

A good mentor is someone who leads by example; is respected and sought after by colleagues; is not afraid to speak up against oppression; is able to navigate the complex politics around issues of oppression, disparities, and inequities; is a successful agent of change and has demonstrated effective mentoring skills in the field.  A mentor must also be a good listener; willing to share knowledge and expertise; has an established network of good contacts in the field; has the ability to motivate others; wants others to succeed; and above all; is a continuous learner with up-to-date knowledge.