Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar

Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar

Professor, Occupational Therapy

Professor, Disability and Human Development

Office Phone



1919 W. Taylor St., 307 AHSB

Mail Code


Office Hours

By appointment


Dr. Suarez-Balcazar is a professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy and affiliate faculty in the Department of Disability and Human Development and Department of Psychology. She received her PhD from the University of Kansas in Developmental and Child Psychology with a concentration in community psychology. Her community-engaged research focuses on the nexus between race, culture, disability and understanding and addressing health disparities experienced by underrepresented families of youth with disabilities. She has contributed to the design and evaluation of culturally tailored health promotion programs for Latinx families of children with disabilities and the design and implementation of training programs on cultural humility and cultural relevance for health professionals. She embraces a community-based participatory research approach and a Social Determinants of Health framework. Dr. Suarez-Balcazar is an active member of the Immigrant Justice Special Interest group and the Council on Ethnic and Racial Affairs of the Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA, APA Division 27). She is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and a Fellow of SCRA.

Selected Grants

NIDILRR/DRRP - Department of Health and Human Services , PODER: Promoting Obesity Prevention among children with Developmental Disabilities and families through Engaged Research. , CO-PI

NIDILRR - Department of Health and Human Services, Advanced training in translational and community-engaged scholarship to improve community living and participation of people with disabilities., PI

NIH, Office of Minority Health - City of Rockford, IL, City of Rockford Health Literacy Initiative: Advancing Health Literacy to Enhance Equitable Community Response to COVID-19 , CO-I

Publication Aggregators

Service to the Community

2020 - present. Advisory Board Grupo SALTO. This is a support, educational, and advocacy group for Latinx families of children with disabilities. Grupo SALTO has over 300 members. 2014 - present Mentor to Evanston Scholars 2007 - present consultant El Valor. This is a community agency that serves individuals with disabilities in the Chicago area. We have developed a strong community partnership.

Leadership in the Profession

Society for Community Research and Action (APA, Division 27), Former President (2019)

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)

Notable Honors

2021 - Distinguished Alumna Award, University of Kansas, Department of Applied Behavioral Science

2018 - Best Mentor Award, Annie Casey Foundation, Leaders in Equity Evaluation and Diversity, (LEEAD mentorship program).

2015 - Influential Hispanics in Chicago, Who is Who in Hispanic Business

2022 - UIC Scholar , University of Illinois Chicago


PhD, Developmental and Child Psychology, University of Kansas
MA, Developmental and Child Psychology, University of Kansas
BA, Psychology, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogota, Colombia