In 2015, Compassion & Choices began a concerted effort to inform the Latino and Hispanic communities about the full breadth of end-of-life options. With its roots in California, where notable Latinos such as Dolores Huerta, Jorge Ramos and Maurico Ochmann advocated for the passage of the California End of Life Option Act, in 2017 Compassion & Choices formed the Latino Leadership Council and took this work national. The council advises Compassion & Choices to ensure that Latinos are empowered to take charge of their end-of-life care care.

This includes:

  • Lifting the voices of Latinos
  • Collaborating with leading national organizations
  • Adopting a public health model (Ecological Model) and offering Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and training to certified community health workers (Promotores) around advance care planning and end-of-life options
  • Identifying storytellers to share their personal experiences

Nuestra Voz, Nuestras Historias (Our Voices, Our Stories) Project: C&C’s Cross-Country Trip to Capture the Latino Perspective

The goal of this two-year project led by National Director of Community Engagement Brandi Alexander was to film Latinos speaking about various topics:

  1. The importance of end-of-life planning
  2. The power of cultural values and faith
  3. Facing dementia
  4. Latino reluctance to talk about death and medical aid in dying.


Take Action

Join us in our movement to empower more Latinos to take charge at the end of life:



Our advocates include highly respected Latinos who support increased efforts to empower the Latino community to take charge of their end-of-life experience.

Dolores Huerta, Civil Rights ActivistDolores Huerta has been a powerful advocate for ensuring that more Latinos are educated about the importance of advance care planning and the full breadth of end-of-life options including advocating for passing medical aid-in-dying laws across the country. She serves on the Latino Leadership Council and has authored op-eds, lobbied legislators, spoken at events, and traveled coast-to-coast to ensure end-of-life humanity for all. In 2022, we honored her with our first Mission and Vision Award, which will carry her name and be given annually to other advocates who share her commitment to this movement.
Mauricio Ochmann, Popular Telenovela ActorMauricio Ochmann, a member of our Latino Leadership Council, has lent his voice and star-appeal to educate Latinos about the importance of end-of-life options. He has written op-eds and appeared in videos, public service announcements and our magazine.
Jorge Ramos, Top Spanish-American News AnchorJorge Ramos, the spokesperson of nearly 12 million Latinos, was a powerful voice for passage of the California End of Life Option Act. He publicly endorsed the bill in an interview with Dan Diaz, Brittany Maynard’s husband, before it was signed into law in October 2015. Jorge reiterated his support for authorizing medical aid in dying by writing an editorial in support of Brittany’s decision to die peacefully, and airing special news segments that exclusively focused on medical aid in dying.

Latino Leadership Council

The Latino Leadership Council represents diverse groups of professionals, community and faith leaders, and experts in the fields of medicine, estate planning, and more. They: 

  • Bring visibility to the movement through various media outlets.
  • Meet with lawmakers to advance C&C’s legislative efforts.
  • Hold webinars and events for underserved communities.
  • Secure endorsements from diverse organizations.
  • Share their stories.

Together, we will:

  • Strategize enhancements to Compassion & Choices’ policies and priorities, specific to the needs of our community.
  • Identify materials that will be needed to empower Latinos around end-of-life decision-making.
  • Reframe what end-of-life options means and correct misconceptions about  hospice and palliative care.

Latino Leadership Council


Compassion & Choices' many efforts have gained support from several leading national organizations that represent the Latino community.

OrganizationMore Information
Ventanilla de Salud logoVentanilla de Salud is a program developed by the Government of Mexico to provide reliable information on health topics, counseling and health-services referrals for Mexican and Hispanic families living in the United States. Joining forces with Ventanilla de Salud has given Compassion & Choices access, through Mexico’s entire consular network in the United States, to literally millions of people in one of our nation’s fastest-growing populations
Dolores Huerta Foundation for Community Organizing logoThe Dolores Huerta Foundation for Community Organizing aims to inspire communities to build volunteer organizations empowered to pursue social justice. Its grassroots work focuses on civic engagement, education equity, health and safety, and LGBTQIA+ equality. They believe that those most directly impacted by inequity have the knowledge to implement community-driven solutions when empowered with the tools, training and resources.
Latinos for Healthcare Equity logoLatinos for Healthcare Equity is a national organization working to improve access to quality affordable healthcare for the Latino community. They have partnered with us on efforts to educate the Latinos about advance care planning, endorsed medical aid in dying, and served as a collaborator and thought partner on our work to address inequities in end-of-life care.
The Latino Commission on AIDS logoThe Latino Commission on AIDS is a nonprofit organization acting in response to the critical, unmet need for HIV prevention and care for Latinos. The Commission realizes its mission by spearheading health advocacy for Latinos, promoting HIV education, developing model prevention programs for high-risk communities, and by building capacity in community organizations. The Latino Commission on AIDS has proudly served the Latino LGBTQ population and is committed to creating and promoting a safe space. The Commission founded the Hispanic Health Network, dedicated to eradicating health disparities in our the Latino community. Guillermo Chacon, its president and CEO, serves on Compassion & Choices’ Latino Leadership Council and provides guidance on the many cultural issues affecting patients and families at the end of life.
The Latinx National Task Force logoThe Latinx National Task Force is an independent grassroots coalition of national, state and local organizations/members coming together to address gaps in resources, bilingual information, data, policy and funding. Compassion & Choices partners with the task force to strategically articulate, bridge and connect Latino/Hispanic people with end-of-life care resources.
Research, Education and Access for Community Health logoResearch, Education and Access for Community Health (R.E.A.C.H.) is a nonprofit organization that provides evidenced-based research, information, development and implementation of programs to improve community health services and access to care in the state of Nevada. This collaboration aids in mass dissemination of educational materials about end-of-life care options within the Hispanic/Latino community.
The National Hispanic Council on Aging LogoThe National Hispanic Council on Aging has worked with Compassion & Choices to advance the full range of end-of-life options for nearly a decade. Their support has included translation assistance, op-eds and participation in our leadership council by their president, Dr. Yanira Cruz; an endorsement of medical aid in dying; and collaboration in our work to reduce inequities in end-of-life care.
New Mexico Community Health Worker Association/ Nuestra Salud logoNew Mexico Community Health Worker Association/ Nuestra Salud is a nonprofit organization by and for community health workers whose mission is to nurture the Community Health Worker Model to collectively improve access and quality of healthcare for people by advocating for and empowering its members. Compassion & Choices collaborates with the association by providing capacity-building training to Latino Community Health Workers/ Promotoras de Salud about end-of-life and advance healthcare planning.
Latina SHARE logoLatina SHARE is a national nonprofit organization that supports, educates and empowers anyone who has been diagnosed with women’s cancers, and provides outreach to the general public about signs and symptoms. Latina SHARE has collaborated with Compassion & Choices on the Nuestra Voz Nuestras Historias (Our Voice Our Stories) initiative to give voice to the Latino population at the end of life.
The Mexican Coalition for the Empowerment of Youth and Families logoThe Mexican Coalition for the Empowerment of Youth and Families’ mission is to develop the individual, organizational and community capacities that will enable Latinos and Mexican Americans to realize their full civic, cultural and political integration into American society in the Latino community in New York. Compassion & Choices and Coalicion Mexicana joined forces to provide capacity-building training to Latino community health workers about end-of-life and advanced healthcare planning in New York.
Howard Brown Health logoHoward Brown Health is one of the nation’s leading LGBTQ organizations. Through our partnership with their elder services program, we are able to better serve and participate in conversations regarding end-of-life care options in both English and Spanish.
HHF logoThe Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) is an award-winning nonprofit that identifies, inspires, prepares and positions Latino leaders in the classroom, community and workforce to meet America’s priorities. The HHF was established by the White House in 1988. Compassion & Choices is teaming up with HHF to get people talking about end-of-life planning, hospice, life support, medical power of attorney and medical aid-in-dying. Their involvement has included op-eds and a social media campaign to promote the End-of-Life Decisions Guide and Toolkit in both Spanish and English.

Cecilia Vasquez-Vigil

Dec 17, 2021, 02:01 AM
“I wish I had known these resources were available to me and my family at the outset. I hope by sharing my story, others will understand and use these resources.”
COVID-19 heightened the importance of advance care planning for Cecilia Vasquez-Vigil, an otherwise healthy Texas woman.
Cecilia Vasquez-Vigil contracted COVID-19 in March of 2020. COVID-19 heightened the importance of advance care planning for Cecilia, an otherwise healthy Texas woman.
Title : Cecilia Vasquez-Vigil
Featured Media Type : Image
Include on Homepage : No
Include on Testimonial Page : No

The following was published in Compassion & Choices’ Fall 2020 magazine (page 8).

When Cecilia Vasquez-Vigil and her husband Paul took a road trip to Mount Rushmore and Las Vegas for

a spring break vacation in March, the novel coronavirus still seemed very far away. They were supposed to travel to Europe, but with the onset of the pandemic, they canceled. At the time, South Dakota and Nevada had very limited COVID-19 cases and both seemed like safe options. Cecilia, an educator from Brownsville, Texas, was happy to get away. They left for a week of sightseeing, shows, great dining and relaxation. They ended up with more than they bargained for.

After their return home, Cecilia’s symptoms started: a cough, body aches and severe fatigue. The cough was dry and the fever was as high as 105 degrees. At 8 a.m. on March 21, Paul rushed Cecilia to Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital near Houston. As a doctor administered the COVID-19 test, he said the words she feared most: “I’m pretty sure you have it. Your X-rays show pneumonia in the lobes. I’m admitting you and treating you as positive.”

What followed were 34 days of anxiety and desperation, knowing that there was no cure or vaccine for the virus that had already killed nearly 13,000 people worldwide. When Compassion & Choices spoke to Cecilia in June, more than 507,000 people around the globe had died from this horrible disease.

Cecilia is grateful that no one in her family — Paul, her stepdaughters or her son — contracted COVID-19. Still, the experience was simply terrifying. She did not think she would survive. She lay in bed in an already overwhelmed hospital for four days coughing up blood, hallucinating, with no sense of taste.

She knew that if she died, she’d likely die alone, or at best with medical staff who were supportive but not family. The fear of dying alone weighed heavily and got Cecilia thinking about her advance care planning. “One thing I wished I had done before getting sick and being hospitalized was to fill out and share my advance care directive with my family and healthcare providers,” she said.

Advance care planning documents spell out what care you do and don’t want, and designate a proxy to make medical decisions for you in case you can’t speak for yourself. In the event that your proxy can’t be with you at the hospital, you can bring a copy of your advance directive with you and record a short video on your phone about your end-of-life wishes to show medical providers.

Previously, Cecilia had not really considered end-of-life planning a priority. But as a former hospice volunteer, she understood the impact of that decision once she got sick. From the hospital, she called her cousin. “Take care of Max,” she said. “Take care of Mom,” she said, trying to manage whatever details she could. 

Next, she called her attorney. 

Contracting and dealing with COVID-19 started Cecilia and her family on a journey of end-of-life discussions and planning. After working with her attorney, Cecilia contacted a friend who works at Compassion & Choices and learned of the free bilingual resources available on our website. “I wish I had known these resources were available to me and my family at the outset,” she said. “I hope by sharing my story, others will understand and use these resources.”

With limited beds for COVID-19 patients, the hospital discharged Cecilia after six days to make room for someone in more acute need. She spent the next 24 days recovering at home, isolated in one room. She was unable to hug her son or husband, and was still in a lot of pain, suffering from high fevers. “I endured over a month of anxiety,” she recalled.

Cecilia’s gratitude — and frustration — are apparent. “I thank Jesus for helping me survive this horrible illness, and I pray to God that my Hispanic brothers and sisters and all people who are suffering will survive this pandemic. Unfortunately, Hispanics and people of color are dying at a disproportionate rate from the coronavirus compared to other Americans. We have to do better for everyone.”

Cecilia finally tested negative twice, as required to break quarantine, in mid-April and received her letter from the state confirming that she had completed her state-mandated isolation. Three months later, Cecilia was still suffering from the effects of the illness. She has scarring on her right lung. She is losing her hair, and her hearing is slightly impaired as a result of having had COVID-19. Her respiratory system will never be the same again.

One good thing has come out of this: Cecilia’s affairs are in order. She has also inspired those around her to complete their end-of-life planning. Paul has put plans in place for himself. Cecilia’s ex-husband worked with her to complete their documentation, since they co-parent a son. After some resistance, Cecilia’s brother Carlos made his plans, as well. He named her executor of his will and sent an email with the subject line, “My Wishes,” documenting how he wanted to be laid to rest. Even Cecilia’s 90-year-old mother finally agreed to discuss her wishes for her burial.

Note: A few months after Cecilia’s ordeal with COVID-19, both her brother and mother contracted the virus. Her mother was intubated for two weeks before dying alone in a hospital room in Brownsville, Texas, on July 30, 2020.

Resources for end-of-life care planning:

My End-of-Life Decisions: An Advance Planning Guide and Toolkit

This guide helps you work through your end-of-life priorities and empowers you to have meaningful discussions with your family and healthcare providers. The toolkit includes forms for advance-care planning that can supplement your advance directive. In addition, our website links you to state-specific advance directives. The guide is available in both English and Spanish.

COVID-19 Toolkit

This guide will help you and your loved ones navigate the current healthcare system and explore how to approach your advance care planning if you or a loved one were to fall ill during the coronavirus pandemic. The guide is available in both English and Spanish.

Read More:

Brownsville Herald - COMMENTARY: A year after mom’s death, COVID-19 is spiking again

Public News Service - COVID-19: TX Families Urged to Discuss End-of-Life Planning Over Holidays

States :
  • Texas
Communities (internal only) :
  • Latinx

In The News

  • People en Españolpublished an exclusive interview with the iconic Dolores Huerta and the Mission and Vision Award. The online story includes the video interview with Dolores and photos we provided with our logo. The story is also available on YAHOO! news.
  • EFE, a Spanish version of Associated Press, published another story, a more in-depth piece about Dolores' work throughout their career. The story, which ran in the San Diego Tribune en Español, also mentions her work for the end-of-life options movement. It also includes a photo by our storyteller Amanda Villegas, courtesy of Compassion & Choices, who shot some amazing photos at the event in Sacramento.
  • El Diario NY and La Opinion (Los Angeles) published an op-ed by Antonio Tijerino and Dr. Yanira Cruz: Let’s Create a  Culture Shift in the Way We Prepare for the End of Our Lives
  • Spanish interview with Pat Portillo with Public News Service for Spanish News Release: Group Files Motion to Intervene & Oppose Federal Suit to Invalidate CA Medical Aid-in-Dying Law
  • Los Angeles Times en Español published op-ed by Maria Otero.
  • El Diario NY published story: News Conference To Urge NY  Legislature to Pass Medical Aid in Dying Act in 2022
  • LA RAZA (Chicago) published op-ed by Nilsa Centeno: Six Years Without My Son, Miguel
  • La Opinion (LA ) published Spanish op-ed by Nilsa Centeno: Six Years Without My Son, Miguel
  • We were on the red carpet in Hollywood with Mauricio Ochmann for the premiere of his new film, mentioned in: