Luisa Leal immigrated to the United States when she was 19 years old. She has two daughters; her eldest was born with a congenital anomaly in her hand caused by amniotic band syndrome, and Luisa’s youngest lives with an eye condition that caused numerous issues and put her at risk of losing her eyesight due to infection; she is also impacted by mental health conditions. Luisa spent years taking both of her daughters to hospitals and clinics, working fiercely to help her children get access to the treatment and care they needed. That experience gave her first-hand knowledge of how difficult it can be for both documented and undocumented immigrants to navigate the healthcare system. Later, when she met the twin sons of an ex-partner, she discovered how challenging it was for their family to find information about Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) in Spanish and access needed resources for children with special needs. She felt called to use her bilingual ability, health system experience, natural curiosity, drive, and problem-solving skills to make a difference for families dealing with DMD, and thus the Akari Foundation was born.
Conference Keynote Speaker