Professor, Disability and Human Development
Professor, Department Head, Occupational Therapy
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 obesity prevention interventions for Latinos with disabilities; the study of cultural competence and diversity as it relates to outreach, development of culturally relevant interventions, and research conducted in collaboration with people from diverse backgrounds; and the study of community capacity building for evaluation. Her research is conducted within a community-based participatory research and empowerment approach. She is currently directing a research project supported by The Chicago Community Trust in which she is examining the impact of a culturally tailored health promotion community intervention. 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
“Benefits of a culturally tailored health promotion program for Latino youth with disabilities and their families”, American Journal of Occupational Therapy
“Unpacking university-community partnerships to advance scholarship of practice.”, Occupational Therapy in Health Care
Chapter 31: Functional Analysis of Community Concerns in Participatory Action Research in Handbook of Methodological Approaches to Community-Based Research, Oxford University Press
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 progr, 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