Mercedes Avila, Ph.D. is a health equity scholar, with specialization in social determinants of health, social medicine, and National CLAS Standards. She has been involved in 20+ HRSA, PCORI, SAMHSA, NIH, ACL and OMH grants related to health equity, mental health promotion, substance abuse prevention, children with special health needs, workforce diversity and development, and maternal and child health leadership training for health professionals. Academically, Dr. Avila is a Professor of Pediatrics, and PI/Program Director of two HRSA grants: the Vermont Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (VT LEND) Interdisciplinary Training Program and the Vermont Trauma, Resiliency, and Equity Education (VT-TREE) initiative for diversifying the interprofessional behavioral health workforce; both programs at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. For two decades, Dr. Avila has worked with refugee/immigrant, Hispanic/Latinx, and Native Indigenous communities on projects related to advancing health equity in unserved and underserved communities. Dr. Avila was appointed by the state Governor to the Vermont Racial Equity Task force in 2020, by the Vermont Lt. Governor to the Green Mountain Care Board Nominating Committee in 2021, and by the U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, J.D., as one of 20 new members of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) in 2021. Through her local, state, and national work, she has received 13 national, regional, and state teaching, service, and research awards; including the Western Connecticut Health Network Global Health Leadership and Humanitarian Award, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) Director’s Award, UVM’s Outstanding Contribution to Medical Education, and the Vermont Women in Higher Education Sister Elizabeth Candon Award for Distinguished Service. In 2020, the Vermont Association of Public Health recognized Dr. Avila’s work in addressing health disparities during COVID-19 with the Vermont Public Health Champion Award. She is also being recognized with 2023 Bi-State Board of Directors' Chair Award for my work with underserved communities.