HARTFORD, CT -- The Connecticut Health Foundation selected 19 health leaders to participate in its ninth Health Leadership Fellows class, including Karen Hatcher Sneed, of Groton.

This 10-month program is focused on the development, practice and application of leadership skills in the complex issue of health equity for people of color in Connecticut.

"Effective leaders are essential for elevating health equity as a priority issue in Connecticut," said Lina Paredes, vice president of the program. "The class offers many opportunities for leaders to grow and expand their skillset to bring them closer to success."

Participants are selected through a competitive process, and complete a 10-month intensive program. This year's class includes:

* A dentist fluent in Spanish who advocates for all Spanish-speaking patients at the community health center where she works;

* A nurse and long-time martial arts enthusiast whose passion for health equity was ignited with the tragic loss of her mother and aunt to esophageal cancer;

* A public health specialist who came to Connecticut by way of Jamaica, and is motivated to relieve the ravages of racial and ethnic disparities across borders.

"I have learned so much in the first three months of this fellowship, but one thing that truly resonates with me is that optimum health care for all of Connecticut's residents is complex and multi-layered," says Karen Hatcher Sneed, president, Pequot Health Care/PRxN. Hatcher Sneed, a resident of Groton, is a seasoned healthcare executive interested in how population health management can improve the health and wellness of all racial and ethnic groups.

At commencement in June, the class of 2014 will join the diverse and powerful statewide network of 160 Health Leadership Fellows.

Applications for the 2015 Class will be accepted in January 2014. To learn more about the program, visit cthealth.org/fellows-program.