The California Black Health Network (CBHN) continues its efforts to change healthcare for the Black community in California.

According to PR Newswire, the company has announced the appointment of Rhonda M. Smith as its new Executive Director, effective Jan. 4, 2021.

The announcement follows just as she comes off the heels of serving as CBHN’s Interim Executive Director since July 2020.

“I am honored to be chosen to lead CBHN, an organization that has such a legacy in the Black Community,” said Smith in a statement. “There is so much potential for CBHN in the years ahead for us to make an impact in improving the health and health outcomes for Black Californians. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we take action to improve health outcomes for Black Californians, inspire hope for a new and better future, and ensure a racially just humanity. We also need to ensure that there are more effective education, advocacy, and policy initiatives that mitigate those factors that contribute to the widening of the disparities gap due to COVID-19 and in the life expectancy of Black Californians.”

Smith, whose extensive background includes experience within business development, marketing, sales, nonprofit management, and consulting, has managed to develop an expertise in health disparities over the past decade.

She also has led strategic community-based initiatives aimed to improve health outcomes for the underserved and communities of color.

With Black individuals in California having the shortest life expectancy at birth compared to all other race and ethnic groups and COVID-19 heightening the issue, CBHN has launched “The Campaign for Black Health Equity,” according to the release.

Black Americans are reportedly three times more likely to contract COVID-19 in comparison to their white counterparts and almost twice more likely to die from it.

CBHN’s latest initiative is a multi-year effort to alleviate the injustices that significantly impact the livelihood of Black Californians. Its goal is to not only decrease health disparities for Black Californians by 25 percent by 2023 but to also increase their life expectancy, the press release reveals.

“Over the past seven months in her role as Interim Executive Director, Rhonda has demonstrated that she has what it takes to lead this organization to becoming a major leader in advocating for greater health equity African Americans and Black Immigrants across California,” said Board Chair of CBHN, Brenda Shipp. “Throughout the history of CBHN, its primary goal has been ensuring that all African Americans and Black Immigrants are afforded the opportunity to live long, healthy lives. If ever there was a time to have a great leader at the helm, this is it, we look forward to Rhonda’s expertise and leadership to move CBHN to the forefront of leading the charge on a Campaign for Black Health Equity.”