Kaiser Permanente's Berta Bejarano wins 2019 Latino Business Leadership Awards

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Berta Alicia Bejarano

Director of language services, ADA, equity, inclusion and diversity for orthopedics, podiatry and physical medicine

National President of Kaiser Permanente's Latinx Employee Resource Group

99 Montecillo Road, San Rafael 94903


Find out more about the other 2019 Latino Business Leadership Awards winners.

Professional background: Court interpreter; federal and state linguist; Equity/Inclusion and Diversity Subject Matter expert

Education: Bachelor of Art, Spanish, University of California, Berkeley; Master of Arts, Stanford Univeristy; MBA, SMU.

Staff: 25+ Biography:

Berta Alicia Bejarano is an experienced leader in the field of linguistics she has a deep understanding of Latinx community and issues. She brings depth on issues related to equity and community health.

Her commitment to service and the Latino community runs deep. Her family is from Colima Mexico and raised in Oakland. Her childhood exposed her to the challenges of an under resourced urban neighborhood and inspired her to be the first one in her family to go to college.

While seeing how hard her father worked raising four children with only one income, she was inspired by the power of community health workers and became committed to the critical work of providing language serves to all our Limited English Proficient patients to affect systemic and enduring changes to improve the wellbeing of communities. As a federal and state court interpreter, bridging the gap of language, communication transparency and ensuring quality language services has propelled her strong work ethic to create equity for all our patients.

Berta Alicia Bejarano has over 20 years of solid experience working with community leaders, language services, equity, diversity and inclusion, and foundations to bring about large scale, transformational changes that have impacted the lives of people.

For the past 10 years, she has worked as the Director of Language Services for Kaiser Permanente San Rafael where she has launched and establish one of the most robust language services department in Northern California and serves on several internal and external councils as a linguistic subject matter expert.

“It is an incredible honor and privilege to work in the community I serve and work with extraordinary Kaiser Permanente San Rafael leadership, colleagues, physicians and staff at a pivotal time of growth for Latinos in California. I look forward to partnering with our community and Kaiser Permanente leaders from across our communities to push forward solutions that will bring about greater equity for the Latinx community. This is a historic time for Californians and a perfect opportunity to showcase how investing and elevating Latinos will benefit the economic vitality of the state and serve as a model for the rest of the nation.”

Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?

In 2019 Berta Bejarano led the implementation and execution across Kaiser Permanente Regions in Northern, California the Video Remote Interpreter program. Which is a video telecommunication service that uses devices such as web cameras with PCs, videophones or iPads to provide sign language or spoken language interpreting services within 60 seconds or less to our patients on site.

Berta Alicia Bejarano

Director of language services, ADA, equity, inclusion and diversity for orthopedics, podiatry and physical medicine

National President of Kaiser Permanente's Latinx Employee Resource Group

99 Montecillo Road, San Rafael 94903


Find out more about the other 2019 Latino Business Leadership Awards winners.

We were able to implement this program to all KP medical centers across our region ensuring cultural competency and language access within 60 seconds or less 365 days a year 24/7. That was a significant accomplishment and rewarding to lead.

What is the achievement you are most proud of?

My boys, Pepe, Emilio and Mateo, they make my heart smile.

What makes me the most proud is being able to teach my children, our language, our culture and traditions to be carried on.

What is your biggest challenge today?

To hear rhetoric about our Latinx community is heartbreaking to see and hear. I do not like to feed from hate or stereotypes. My love for languages is solid. In my own way have used the negatives into positives. I love the richness of my language and am proud of my heritage. Latinx buying power in 2016 reached $1.4 trillion and it expected to reach $1.8 trillion in 2021.

“The entrepreneurial rate of the Latino community far exceeds the rate of other communities in the United States,” said Steve Forbes Jr. in Forbes.

Our community is strong and significantly contributed to the economy of California and the U.S.

What are you most proud of regarding the achievements of the area Latino business community and what are the greatest challenges faced by that community?

I am part of a sisterhood of comadres. It’s a community within our communities, leaning and learning from each other. I’m proud to celebrate our hard-working padres, our amigos, our vecindad, nuestra gente linda, our struggles against ignorance and lack of knowledge to immigration, our history and our contributions to our communities.

I do not limit myself and the work I enjoy bringing on new challenges and enhancing my knowledge and experiences.

Words that best describe you: Connector. Collaborator. A Thought Leader. An Innovator. Determined. Influencer. Loyal. Direct. Dedicated. Strong Work Ethic. Generous. Bright. Passionate about children, friends, family and colleagues.

As a successful professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?

When told I am I cannot accomplish something my willingness to take on the challenge propels my energy and determination to prove not only to myself but to my children that anything is possible. Always trying to stay positive no matter what the circumstance is while learning from my mentors and sponsors and seeking assistance when I am need of assistance. Seeking help is not a weakness but rather a strong point to learn from experts.

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?

Language Services is ever so evolving, five years ago, it was only a concept on paper to launch and provide via video remote language interpreters within seconds to our patients and members. Now it’s a reality we are able to bridge innovative technology. In five years technology will be even more innovative and easier for all to access.

Who was your most important mentor?

Patricia Kendall, medical group administrator, and Lynne Behr, RN director, Kaiser Permanente San Rafael. These two mujeres are strong, brilliant, passionate woman and dedicated. Their mentorship has been symbiotic and that is why its rare.

I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to learn firsthand from both women. It is not a class. It is not I teach you and then you’re done. It is an experience. And the greatest lessons come from simple being in the presence of someone who possesses the qualities I hope to one day embody fully.

What I have learned from them has been one part industry related, one part self-development focused, and one part “refined rebellion” (that is the best way I can phrase it). It wasn’t so much their working knowledge of health care or their mastery over the art of networking that rubbed off on me. It has been their mindsets. I truly value that.

Tell us about your community involvement: I strongly believe in being involved in my community, the community where I work, my community where I live and making an impact. I serve on numerous board of directors, Circulo de Vida Cancer Resources & Services within the Latino Community, California Health Care Interpreter Council and California Diversity Council.

I interpret and provide translation services volunteering in my communities. Providing translation services to our neighboring organizations such as Schurig Center Concussion Program for the translation of documents for patients who have suffered concussions is important work to provide equity of information and services in Spanish to our Latinx community.

What advice would you give to a young person today?

Work strong, establish yourself and be known for the work you do and BE THE BOLD AND REAL UNAPLOGETICALLY!

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Jorge Ramos, Univision Journalist-His candor, his authenticity and he proudly represents the Latinx community. I admire Jorge Ramos because he isn’t so much bipartisan as he is pro-Latino.

He is by far the most influential journalist in the Latino community. He also accepts the responsibility of being ‘a voice for the voiceless,’ as he’s been called, and he uses it to foster Latino participation in politics, in particular voter turnout and engagement and right now this can be quite the challenge to do.

Current reading:

“La Casa de los Espiritus,” by Isabel Allende

Most want to meet: I would love to meet Michelle Obama in person. She is inspirational.

Stress relievers: Enjoying great food with family and my circle of friends

Favorite hobbies: Traveling to new places and hanging out where the locals are and having delicious food in my travels. As well as going to see a outstanding concert, music makes me happy and seeing an exceptional artist in concert makes me happy.

Is there something we didn’t ask that you would like to add?

My pride cannot be limited to the kind of the food that we cook, or the multitude of languages we can speak. It is the incredible resiliency of our people when we face hardship and obstacles, the sense of community we can have regardless of the color of our skin, the rich diversity of culture that is unparalleled, and the genuine love that we can have for one another, especially familia.

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