UCSB physician to give keynote speech on women’s health equity at Savie Health luncheon November 4

LOMPOC, California – Dr. Melissa Smith, the director of Health Equity Initiatives at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an international advocate on women’s health issues will be the keynote speaker at a Nov. 4 luncheon organized by Lompoc-based free medical clinic Savie Health. 

A family medicine physician, Smith has worked in primary care clinics in low-income communities in the U.S. and Central America for three decades. She collaborated most recently on pandemic response and health equity initiatives with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department’s clinic in Santa Maria. In all these settings, she has also been involved in health and social justice efforts to complement her clinical work.

Smith’s keynote speech is titled “Taking action for women’s health equity: local and global grassroots strategies.” She will appear at Savie Health’s “Thanks for Giving” luncheon, to be held Nov. 4 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Pico Los Alamos restaurant in Los Alamos. The luncheon is to honor individuals and organizations that have contributed to Savie Health’s successful first year providing free medical care to Santa Barbara County’s uninsured population. 

Smith is the lead author of “Health Actions for Women: Practical Strategies to Mobilize for Change.” The book, translated into seven languages, supports community health workers’ efforts to improve women’s health, including through advancing gender equity, promoting reproductive health, prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, and prevention of gender-based violence. Smith has also served as medical editor and consultant for Hesperian Health Guides, widely used public health manuals on community health and empowerment.  

At UCSB, Smith co-teaches a seminar on community-based participatory research on health disparities. She also co-founded and served as interim coordinator of the Latinx and Indigenous Migrant COVID-19 Response Task Force in Santa Barbara County from March through September 2020. She is currently involved in efforts to promote the perinatal health of farmworkers. Smith is also associate director of the Center for Gender and Health Justice at the University of California Global Health Institute.

As part of her work in Central America, Smith developed training programs for community health workers and midwives in Nicaragua and Guatemala. She has also been engaged in a participatory action research project focused on maternal health in Mexico. 

Tickets to the “Thanks for Giving” luncheon are open to the public and cost $95 each, or $175 for two. Savie Health is also seeking sponsors for the luncheon starting at $500. Proceeds will support the clinic’s ongoing work with the uninsured. 

Savie Health provides high-quality, preventive primary, and behavioral healthcare to the uninsured. It is the only free clinic in Lompoc and the surrounding area and has earned a 2023 Gold Rating from the NAFC Quality Standards Program. The clinic offers assessment and case management, preventive care, urgent care, women’s health, behavioral health, minor procedures, and referrals to specialists willing to see patients free of charge. Specialists working with Savie Health include a cardiologist, an ear, nose and throat physician, gastroenterologist, internist, ophthalmologist, surgeon, and urologist. 

—The Thanks for Giving luncheon will be held Nov. 4, 2023, at Pico Los Alamos, 458 Bell St, Los Alamos. For information, sponsorship and tickets visit

— Savie Health is located at 1111 E. Ocean Ave. Suite 2, Lompoc, CA 93436. Clinic hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. To learn more about Savie Health’s services or to volunteer or donate visit To make an appointment call (805) 743-4776. Hablamos Español.

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