Professor, Department Head, Occupational Therapy
Professor, Disability and Human Development
1919 W. Taylor St., 354 AHSB
Dr. Suarez-Balcazar is professor and head of the Department of Occupational Therapy. She received her PhD from the University of Kansas in Child and Developmental Psychology, with a concentration in Community Psychology. She holds an affiliate appointment in the Department of Psychology at UIC. Her research interest and expertise covers several interrelated areas: Development, implementation, and evaluation of community-based healthy lifestyles interventions for youth and young adults with disabilities and their families; the study of cultural competency and its role in addressing health disparities; and the study of community capacity building for evaluation. Her research is conducted within a community-based participatory research approach and empowerment framework. She is currently directing a community engagement research project supported by The Chicago Community Trust in which she is examining the impact of a culturally tailored health promotion community intervention. This work is being conducted in partnership with El Valor. She was elected President-elect of the Society for Community Research and Action (APA, Division 27).
The Chicago Community Trust, Healthy Families: Community Coalition to Promote Healthy Lifestyles among Latino Youth with Disabilities and their Families, PI
DHHS, NIDILRR, Administration for Community Living, Advanced Training in Translational and Community-Engaged Scholarship to Improve Community Living and Participation of People with Disabilities, PI
Building Evaluation Capacity to Engage in Empowerment Evaluation: A Case of Organizational Transformation, Empowerment Evaluation (Editors, Fetterman, Kaftarian, & Wandersman, 2015).
Service to the Community
Yolanda serves as a volunteer consultant to El Valor, a community-based organization serving individuals with disabilities. She is a member of the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC). She co-chairs the OTD international advanced placement at the Center Ann Sullivan of Peru (CASP). She developed the collaboration with CASP in 2008 and often consults for CASP.
Leadership in the Profession
Society for Community Research and Action (APA, Division 27), President-elect
US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Hispanic Workgroup Member - Consults on cultural competency and often delivers webinars on the topic
American Occupational Therapy Association Obesity Prevention Workgroup, Member
The Annie E. Casey Foundation - Leaders in Equitable Evaluation and Diversity (LEEAD) Scholars program, Lead mentor (2016)
2016 - AHS Professor of the Year, UIC College of Applied Health Science
2015 - Leaders and Legacies Society, American Occupational Therapy Foundation
2015 - Influential Hispanics in Chicago, Who is Who in Hispanic Business
2012 - AHS Leadership Award, UIC College of Applied Health Sciences
PhD, Developmental and Child Psychology, University of Kansas
MA, Developmental and Child Psychology, University of Kansas
BA, Psychology, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogota, Colombia