ACHD Annual Awards 2022


CONTACT: Cathy Martin

(916) 296-2607

The Association of California Healthcare Districts Recognizes Top Healthcare Leaders

California healthcare district CEO, trustee and district of the year announced

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 26, 2022 – The Association of California Healthcare Districts (ACHD) recently recognized three leaders in health care during its 70th Annual Meeting. Palomar Health was recognized as Healthcare District of the Year; Dr. Conrado Bárzaga of Desert Healthcare District and Foundation was named CEO of the Year; and Leticia De Lara of the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation was named Trustee of the Year.

The honorees were evaluated based on their contributions to the communities they serve including, outstanding leadership and initiatives to better the health and well-being of district residents. 

“As we celebrated 70 years of ACHD and the collective work of healthcare districts, we could not be more honored to recognize the outstanding work of these leaders,” said Cathy Martin, CEO of ACHD.

Read more about each distinguished honoree:

District of the Year: Palomar Health

Palomar Health was the first to open a hospital-based crisis stabilization unit (CSU) in San Diego County. The location of this facility was specifically chosen adjacent to the emergency room at the hospital creating convenient and quick access to the patient and allowing law enforcement to return to the community quicker. The CSU is also staffed with Peer Support Specialists who are employees with past experiences similar to the patient’s and are an integral component of the care team and patient recovery.

CEO of the Year: Conrado Bárzaga, Desert Healthcare District and Foundation

Less than a year into the role of CEO, Dr. Bárzaga’s commitment to equity and collaboration was unexpectedly required and amplified in early 2020 as a response to the coronavirus. Under his leadership, Desert Healthcare District and Foundation founded the Coachella Valley Equity Collaborative in partnership with the Riverside County Department of Public Health in 2020. A primary objective of the Collaborative is to foster access to COVID-19 resources by removing the barriers of language, technology, transportation and more.

Trustee of the Year: Leticia De Lara, Desert Healthcare District and Foundation

Ms. De Lara brings a breadth and wealth of experience to the Board of Trustees as a former high-level staff member for two Riverside County supervisors. She now serves as CEO of the Regional Access Project Foundation, which provides oversight, funding and other empowering resources to community-based nonprofits. She served as the district’s Board President from 2020 to 2022 and continues to serve as a Board Director.

To learn more about all Award Nominees, click here.

Applications were evaluated and honorees were selected by an independent panel of judges including Lisa Maas, Executive Director of Californians Allied for Patient Protection, Kyle Packham, Advocacy & Public Affairs Director of the California Special Districts Association and Larry Walker, President of the Walker Company.


The Association of California Healthcare Districts (ACHD) represents Healthcare Districts throughout California. ACHD works with numerous state and local entities to promote the profound role Healthcare Districts play in responding to the specialized health needs of tens of millions of Californians while also having direct accountability to the communities that Districts serve.

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