Xiomara Sosa: Leading the Way

Since childhood, Xiomara A. Sosa has felt simpatia for those who suffer. “My parents raised numerous foster kids in our Bronx, N.Y., home,” she remembers. “They all came from broken families, had mental health issues and struggled.”

Sosa quickly noticed that her family wasn’t the only one facing these challenges: Gente from her community were also needlessly dealing with relatives’ mental illness on their own. By her late teens, Sosa was advocating health and wellness treatments and distributing information in her barrio.

After establishing a successful career for herself as a consultant and the president and CEO of the National Society for Hispanic Professionals, Sosa wanted to get back to her advocacy roots. She founded Get-Right.org, as well as the nonprofit Get-Right! organization, as a means of providing information about nutrition, exercise and positive attitude. She’s also collaborating with several community organizations across the U.S. to combat issues as varied as homophobia, bullying, stress and harassment on campus in their areas.

Sosa is getting Latinos the help they need by changing the way they think about counseling. “You’re not a loca if you seek counseling,” she says. “I’m breaking down those barriers and negative stereotyping that are getting in the way.” Healing your mind, she points out, is as important as treating a physical health issue. “If you have a toe infection, you go to the professional to get rid of it,” she says. “You don’t wait for it to spread.”

by Shirley Velásquez