The people of King County are fortunate to have Penny Lara. A longtime advocate for equity, Lara is a transportation planner at King County Metro focused on improving access to transportation for communities with special needs.
Lara came from the Department of Public Health, Seattle-King County, where she played a key role in implementing ORCA LIFT—the reduced fare card for low-income riders—and building upon her experience leading efforts to enroll King County’s Latinx community in health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Lara’s energy, enthusiasm and efficacy has not gone unnoticed. This month, Univision recognized her as one of three community members who have done outstanding work to engage the Latinx community. She was featured in a video that aired during Latinx Heritage Month.
“Knowing that I’ve been an instrument in helping build healthy and connected communities for families such as my own is an honor,” Lara said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to work in many capacities for my community, both locally and across the border, and hope to continue to work with the amazing teams at King County to bring more resources to all of our families.”
Lara has 20-years of knowledge and experience working with diverse and immigrant populations on health, social justice and equity. Among her accomplishments:
- She was first to implement the “Promotoras” (Community Health Worker) model for health education outreach in King County;
- She was creator of the Washington chapter of One Billion Rising – a global movement to raise awareness about domestic violence.
- Founding member and implementer of the innovative health program Ventanilla de Salud (Health Window) – a top performing program at Mexican Consulates in the U.S.
- Served as a strategic advisor and cross-cultural liaison for Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico, on the Advisory Council to the Institute of Mexicans Abroad.
Recognizing the “cultural, educational and political influences of Latinxs in the Northwest,” King County Executive Dow Constantine proclaimed Latinx Heritage Month in King County from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. King County is home to nearly 200,000 residents of Latinx ancestry.
As Penny Lara continues her work to build a more inclusive community, Metro is proud to have her on board.