Meet Sarah – HHI’s new Training and Curriculum Lead

Sarah DiMeo Figueroa joined Heart to Heart International to lead the new Infection Prevention and Control Training program. The Disaster Response Team developed this training for medical and non-medical companies and organizations on how to stop the spread of COVID-19 and how to mitigate the risks for the highly vulnerable populations they serve. So far, HHI has completed training for 118 organizations and trained more than 1,343 individuals, serving more than 801,031 beneficiaries worldwide. We are happy to have Sarah on board to help direct this important program.

What can you tell us about your background: 
I am from St. Croix, USVI. I went to Berklee College of Music, Emerson College and Suffolk University Madrid campus for undergrad and graduated with a B.A. in Theatre Studies. I have my M.Ed. in Learning Design and Technology from the University of Southern California. I have lived all over the U.S., in Spain, England, and Japan. I have worked in education for 15 years. 

What made you interested in the Training and Curriculum Lead position with HHI? 
I am from a region where hurricane season is a part of life. One of my earliest memories is the roof of my house being blown off by a category 5 hurricane with me and my family in it. I really support the work that HHI does for disaster relief, providing health services, and health education. I hope that I can bring some insight into the local perspective surrounding disaster relief. 

What are some of the other projects you have worked on in the past?

  • I have written many English as a Second Language & English as a Foreign Language Textbooks and Vocational Guides for Pre-K – adults. These books were for schools in South Korea and in the United States. 
  • I worked on University of Southern California Marshall School of Business’ online MBA program instructional design team which earned a top 5 percent ranking from U.S. News & World Report in 2017.
  • I worked at the CDC Dengue Branch in Puerto Rico and helped develop the Train the Trainer program for prevention of the spread of the Zika Virus in Puerto Rico. The program trained over 100 health educators throughout the island.
  • I developed community outreach materials for the COPA project. The COPA project is a Collaboration with Ponce Health Sciences University, Unidad de Control de Vectores en Puerto Rico, and Ponce Research Institute. The COPA project has organized more than 90 communities in 14 zones in Ponce, Puerto Rico, to prevent infections transmitted by mosquitos. 
  • I developed an intern training guide for a nonprofit organization that helps veterans file disability claims. The guide teaches a new model for assisting veterans in requesting veteran benefits from the Veteran’s Benefits Association.

What is the “Train the Trainer” Training?

Goal – The goal of the Train The Trainer (TTT) program is to train community leaders on how to identify COVID-19 learning gaps in their communities and implement research-based best practices to close those gaps through education. In addition to adult community leaders, this program will train middle and high school ambassadors.

Reason – This model is being developed because community leaders are trusted and know their communities the best. We want to equip them with the research-based best practices for learning to educate their communities on any health related issues that may arise, not just COVID-19. In this way, we can increase our training impact and target several marginalized, high-risk communities through a single training. Additionally, we will create a community of leaders that can support each other and offer ideas while educating the public.

What project excites you the most and why?
I am most excited about the COVID-19 Anti-Stigma videos. In my experience, the aftermath of a disaster and the issues that arise from the long-term effects are often overlooked as help moves on to the next disaster. I think that humanizing the statistics of COVID-19 will help us all understand that people like us, and our family members have been hurt and that hurt will have lasting impacts. I hope that this perspective will encourage community support and understanding that we will need to work together to mitigate the lasting impacts after the virus has been contained.