ACAP Presents Leadership in Advocacy Award to Mary Anne Foo of OCAPICA

February 8, 2022                                


Jeff Van Ness, ACAP, (202) 204-7515,
Janis Rizzuto, CalOptima, (714) 984-3671,

Nominated by CalOptima, Foo has led efforts to enhance health, well-being of Asians and Pacific Islanders for 25 years

WASHINGTON — The Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP) today presented Mary Anne Foo, Founder and Executive Director of the Orange County (Calif.) Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance (OCAPICA), its tenth annual Leadership in Advocacy Award. Ms. Foo was nominated by Michael Hunn, Interim CEO of CalOptima.

OCAPICA was founded in 1997 to focus on research, advocacy and education around issues of health within Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. Since then, OCAPICA has grown to respond to a wider spectrum of needs of AAPI and other underserved communities, including taking an active role in legislative education and advocacy. The organization expanded its programming in mental health and wellness for youth and families, civic engagement and voter empowerment, youth employment, and academic mentoring and college readiness.

As one example of the group’s work, OCAPICA addresses health disparities among individual ethnic groups, such as high rates of cervical cancer and low rates of breast cancer screenings among Vietnamese women. The organization helps to break down social stigmas associated with screening and eases access to care by offering transportation, childcare, medical interpretation and waiting room education. Owing to dialect variations among certain AAPI populations, there are often substantial language barriers in health care communication that require specialized translation services. To address this need, OCAPICA employs more than 80 staff who collectively speak 24 languages.

“Mary Anne Foo has dedicated her life and career to helping those less fortunate — most of whom are CalOptima members,” said Michael Hunn, Interim CEO of CalOptima. “As a childhood victim of racial hate incidences, she knows firsthand the work that needs to be done to address systemic disparities in health care and social services. She is a widely respected leader throughout Orange County, and CalOptima is honored to nominate her.”

“It takes more than good intentions to achieve health equity — it takes hard work, and details matter,” added ACAP CEO Margaret A. Murray. “Mary Anne has spent a quarter of a century getting to the root causes of disparities in health outcomes and led change ranging from translation services to the way in which quality data are collected and analyzed. We’re proud to recognize her leadership today.”

Most recently, OCAPICA received multiple grants to respond to the mental health needs in the AAPI community. Through these grants, OCAPICA is working with school districts, CalOptima and other organizations in Orange County to address youth mental health, especially in schools. These grants were crucial in helping OCAPICA scale up its services during the pandemic; mental health calls to OCAPICA tripled, especially in response to anti-Asian sentiment and hate incidents. The initiative, titled Project Hope, has demonstrably lowered feelings of stigmatization and led to increased willingness to seek help. The State of California and other organizations are looking to Project Hope as a model for future efforts.

“I’m so honored by this award from ACAP because it recognizes the work in improving health care systems and policies that I have been involved in,” said Mary Anne Foo, Founder and Executive Director, OCAPICA. “Orange County has one of the most diverse populations in the nation with Latinos and Asians representing more than 60% of the county. Partnering with CalOptima to ensure the integration of health equity strategies has helped our communities access needed care and improve their health outcomes.”

For more information about OCAPICA, visit

About ACAP
ACAP represents 74 health plans nationwide, which provide health coverage to more than 20 million people. ACAP-member Safety Net Health Plans serve their members through Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Marketplace and other publicly-sponsored health programs. For more information, visit

About CalOptima
A county organized health system, CalOptima provides publicly funded health care coverage for low-income children, adults, seniors and people with disabilities in Orange County, California. CalOptima’s mission is to provide members with access to quality health care services delivered in a cost-effective and compassionate manner. In total, CalOptima serves more than 867,000 members with a network of more than 9,400 primary care doctors and specialists as well as 41 acute and rehab hospitals. Visit

# # #