The AHEC (Area Health Education Centers) program was developed by Congress in 1971. The goal of this federally funded program is to improve health care access through the training, recruitment, and retention of diverse health professionals who are committed to helping underserved populations. By applying academic medicine resources, the AHEC program aims to contribute to addressing local community health needs.

The way they are structured, AHECs can be flexible and creative when adapting national health initiatives to the particular needs of the nation’s most vulnerable communities. Most AHEC programs receive both state and federal funding. Today, 54 AHEC programs with more than 200 centers operate in almost every state, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, and Micronesia. At present, AHECs work collaboratively with approximately 120 medical schools and 600 nursing and allied health schools to improve health for underserved and underrepresented populations.

The imbalance in the quality of health and access to health care across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups is reflected in racial and ethnic disparities in health status. It is also evident in the underrepresentation of disadvantaged and minority individuals in the health care workforce.

AHECs play an important role in correcting these inequities and strengthening the nation’s health care safety net. Through community-based training programs, AHEC creates and trains a diverse workforce of health care professionals and inspires them to practice in communities that need them the most.

In 1995, the Connecticut General Assembly established the Connecticut AHEC Program. The program received its initial federal funding from the Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in 1997. Southwestern AHEC, Inc. was then established in 1998 as a center at Housatonic Community College to serve southern Fairfield and New Haven counties. With federal funding set to decrease in 2002, Southwestern AHEC, Inc. moved to Sacred Heart University for the purpose of seeking other funding sources and to become a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization. In January of 2006, Southwestern AHEC, Inc. left Sacred Heart University to reconfigure and implement its 501(c)(3) status.

Service Areas

Fairfield and New Haven counties


Meet our Board of Directors

Mike Simko - President


Vacant - Vice President


Vacant - Secretary


Karen Smith, LCSW - Treasurer

Mental Health Therapist

Michelle Rodgers, LCSW - Board Member

IICAPS Site Coordinator

Yeritza Vega - Board Member

Health Care Coordinator & Manager

Meet Our Team


Fernando Executive Director

Fernando Morales

Executive Director

Vanesa Roddriguez-San Andres - Administration - Admin Assistant-HR

Vanesa Rodriguez – San Andres

Administrative Assistant/HR 

Immunization Action Plan Program

Sarah Altieri - IAP Pogram Coordinator

Sarah Altieri, BS, C.H.E.S.

  Program Coordinator 

Fatawu Mahama - IAP - Community Health Worker

Fatawu Mahama, BS

Community Health Worker


Maggie Litwin, MPH

Program Manager

Anthony Mills - IAP - COVID-19 Program Coordinator

Anthony Mills

      CHW Coordinator

Adebola Idowu - IAP Program - COVID-19 Community Health Worker

Adebola Idowu

Community Health Worker 

Be the Change -- Connecticut

Shanica Jackson - OMG - Be the Change-CT - Program Manager

Shanica Jackson

Program Manager  

Keturah Pascal - OMH Be the Change-CT Program Assistant-Data Coordinator

Keturah Pascal

Program Assistant/Data Coordinator


HealthForward AmeriCorps



HealthForward Pipeline Coordinator



HealthForward Pipeline Coordinator