Passionate about health equity, women’s leadership, entrepreneurship and community development, Catherine Lajara is Founder & CEO of Novel Research of New York, an independent clinical research center in the Bronx, New York City. Their aim is to bring diversity and eliminate disparities in clinical research.
What keeps you awake, Catherine?
What keeps me “awake” is my community. There is a significant geographic disparity within racial and ethnic minority groups that lack access to health information and resources. In effort to eliminate this, my company is involved in community outreach and participates in health initiatives to provide free health screenings, educational material on health equity, prevention, early detection and treatment as well as providing the community with access to clinical trials.
I am very proud to have established an independent clinical research center in New York. I am inspired every day when I see how the development of safer and more effective medical treatment and therapies empower our patients to take action towards a healthier future.
In 2012, Novel Research was certified as a Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise in the state of New York. According to 2010 Census, women owned businesses represent nearly 50% of privately held companies and Latina entrepreneurs represent one the largest growing demographics. It’s so important to recognize that women are no longer just consumers but we are influencers, stockholders and mobilizers of the economy.
What impact are you making at Novel Research?
We are getting people talking! I believe that change happens when the community you live in starts asking questions. We are meeting the community where they are and engaging in powerful conversations. Diabetes, HIV/AIDS and Mental Illness are a few of the topics that are discussed and that continue to carry a social stigma. Breaking down these barriers is a pivotal step towards eliminating the disparities that affect those not only in my community but in communities all over the world.
What have the biggest learning curves been for you as a social leader in the past 3 years?
It has been about recognizing how emotional intelligence matters just as much as intellectual ability. The ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions is a vital part of being a successful entrepreneur. Awareness of who I am and how I am has helped me recognize and validate not only my emotions but the emotions of business partners, clients, family and friends.
What does diversity mean to you?
Diversity means Inclusion. Age, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status allows for such a range of unique possibilities of expression. Diversity gives us strength and allows our various attitudes, behaviors and ideals to foster fortuity.
What types of stereotypes do you face as a woman social entrepreneur, focused on health issues?
What I have faced is typecasting. When I am attending medical conferences and trainings the most common misconception is that my role in research is that of a nurse or clinical director. When I introduce myself as Founder and CEO, I almost always get an “oh wow really? Congratulations!”
What kind of resources do you need at the moment to make your point more widely or expand?
To take Novel Research to the next level, we need to develop strategic partnerships with organizations and medical professionals that are invested in patient advocacy, treatment and research.
What would you like your older self to prepare you for?
- Accept failure as part of the journey.
- Courage always has positive results.
- Save, save, save
- Take time for yourself, practice yoga and meditate
Finally, who are the top 3 people who currently inspire you and why?
- Dr. Angelica Perez-Litwin,Founder & CEO of ELLA Leadership Institute, leverages technology, social media to promote the success of Latinas. She is an entrepreneur, social media influencer, and mental health professional.
She has shown me that an idea without action is just a dream.
- Natalia Oberti Noguera, is Founder and CEO of Pipeline Angels, an angel investing bootcamp for women philanthropists. She inspires me because she is on a mission to empower women to invest in other women. [OGUNTE note: Natalia was a mentor on the 1st Ogunte Make a Wave Incubator for Women in Social Enterprises
- Rev.Georgette Morgan-Thomas, is the founder of Mustard Seed Faith Ministries, Director of Harlem Services for the mentally ill & elderly and the Chair of Community Board 9 in New York. She is an influencer and a community builder. Her authenticity is contagious, inspirational and she has shown me that with faith all things are possible