July 14, 2017

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The NYU Alumni Association (NYUAA) represents all NYU alumni, from every NYU school and department—a community nearly half-a-million strong. The diverse and active NYUAA Board of Directors is made up of alumni volunteers who steer the Association in their mission to engage and support alumni. Helen Arteaga (CAS ’99) has served on the Board for two years, where she was most was recently on the Benefits & Services and Board Membership committees. Arteaga has remained involved with the University since she graduated, as a member of the Recent Alumni Network and a CAS Alumni Mentor.

Helen Arteaga

Arteaga is the director of Plaza del Sol Family Health Center, a division of Urban Health Plan, Inc. Following the death of her community activist father, she set out to build a health center that would provide quality health care to the residents of her beloved Corona, Queens, where she grew up. Working with Our Lady of Sorrows Church and other community leaders, she sought out Paloma Hernandez, the President and CEO of Urban Health Plan, Inc., to make her dream a reality. Together, they opened Plaza del Sol Family Health Center in 2009. In 2016, Plaza Del Sol provided care to more than 27,000 patients and saw over 55,000 visits. 

In addition to her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from NYU’s College of Arts and Science, Arteaga has a master’s in Public Health from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. She was a White House Fellow in 1998 during the Clinton Administration and completed a fellowship with the National Hispana Leadership Institute in 2010. In 2016, she was appointed to the NYC Health + Hospitals Board of Directors. Arteaga also serves on Community Board #4 and Community Board #3 District Committees in Queens, the Neighborhood Housing Board, and at Our Lady of Sorrows School [or Board]. In 2011 she was one of 31 women selected by the New York City Commission on Women’s Issues to be featured in “NYC Women: Make it Here, Make it Happen,” a series highlighting women who made a difference in their communities. She also received the Community Impact Award, Humanitarian Award, and City of New York American Dreamer Award.

Meet Helen

What is your favorite:

  • Food? I love all foods but nothing beats Pio Pio restaurant in Queens. Their chicken plus the hot sauce is a true and delicious drug. During all three of my pregnancies I basically lived at Pio Pio. It was my Cheers bar; they knew my name and credit card number by heart.
  • Book? Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. I love how her books are all about standing for who you are and for believing one small act of bravery can change the world. You must see her TED talk; she is amazing.
  • TV Show and/or Movie? Survivor is the only show that keeps me glued the whole time. Getting back to the core needs of life and to see how far you can push your body and mind always amazes me. I watch with my son religiously. For a movie, Wonder Women—go woman power…about time, too!
  • Song and/or Musical Artist? It’s too hard to pick! I love all music that makes me think and dance; if had to pick my top five musical artists: Madonna, Adele, Bruno Mars, Shakira, and Marc Anthony.
  • Way to spend a Saturday? With good wine and the kids playing around in the backyard.
  • Place to travel? The Turks and Caicos Islands. I have travelled a lot and nothing beats the beaches there. It is like God left us a small piece of paradise to experience.
  • Place on the NYU campus? Recently, the NYU Global Center for Academic & Spiritual Life’s fifth-floor conference room, where you can see the sun set on the Arch.
  • What is your favorite memory from your time at NYU?
    In my darkest hour, when my father passed, former CAS Dean Matthew S. Santirocco (now Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at NYU) looked me in my eye and told me to stand up so I could see that I was not alone. That he was in the room to hold me up, and therefore NYU would as well.
  • Why do you give back to NYU?
    Our deans and professors are amazing, and there are a lot of students similar to me that depend on scholarships or on the dean’s funds. So many things can happen during four years of college. I began by giving $20 dollars every year after I graduated, in 1999, which is not much. But I knew the $20 was one less of something a student in need didn’t have to worry about. As I grew in my career, I gave more and sponsored more students with time or money. NYU and its professors at CAS stood next to me when the whole world seemed to turn dark, and today I look at my life and I am super grateful for the knowledge and friendships it has given me.