Marisela Montoya is Chief of Site Operations.
Marisela Montoya was hired by South Los Angeles Health Projects in 2014 as its chief of site operations.
In this capacity she is responsible for a staff of 200.
Marisela’s main goal is for WIC parents to receive quality education they can use to make informed decisions about health, nutrition, and their families’ wellbeing. “We have the potential to make an impact on the life of every WIC participant we encounter; empathy, caring, and making a connection, all are so important.”
Marisela is an immigrant from Mexico, having immigrated here in 1972.
Marisela received her doctorate in organizational leadership from the University of La Verne. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Cal State Long Beach. Her undergraduate degree is in dietetics and food administration, and her master’s degree in family and consumer sciences with an emphasis in education. She is also a certified lactation educator (CLE) and an international board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC).
As an undergraduate, Marisela majored in psychology. During her class Mind and Metabolism, she was inspired by her instructor’s personal story to select a career in dietetics. His daughter had been mistakenly diagnosed with schizophrenia. But a third doctor determined that his daughter’s problem was a wheat allergy. When his daughter stopped eating wheat, she no longer exhibited the symptoms of schizophrenia and ultimately became a successful lawyer. This impactful story convinced Marisela that she wanted a career that involved food, and she decided to major in dietetics.
Marisela had never heard of WIC until her last year of college. During a community nutrition class, a staff member from Orange County WIC made a presentation. She knew immediately she wanted to work for WIC, in particular because WIC incorporated education into its program.
In 1998, upon graduation, Marisela was hired by the City of Long Beach WIC Program, where she worked for 16 years.
Marisela originally was hired as a dietitian to counsel high risk participants. Over the course of her career there, she continuously served as a high risk dietitian even while assuming other roles.
Within two months of being hired, she was promoted to site supervisor.
In 2001, Marisela began serving the entire agency as one of several program coordinators. At first she coordinated breastfeeding support, outreach efforts, and rescheduling and continued counseling high risk participants. She also did Spanish translation. Gradually she assumed additional roles—supervising breastfeeding peer counselors, serving as a lactation consultant, and making WIC presentations in the community. This vast experience gave her the opportunity to know all areas of the WIC Program.
While working fulltime and writing her master’s thesis, she participated in a dietetic internship at Oakwood University in Huntsville, AL and completed the IBCLC course of study on a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant at University of Cal San Diego.
In addition to serving as chief of site operations, Marisela teaches courses at area community colleges: nutrition, management and practice in dietetics, and food safety and sanitation. She’s married, is the mother of three boys, and has two dogs. Marisela runs daily, and has a conviction that healthy eating is essential to well being.