Growing up as a child of missionaries in Managua, Nicaragua, Paulo Hutson Solórzano learned that communication is key to helping people.
As a teenager, he served as an interpreter and guide for teams of American health care workers who traveled to the Central American country to help the poor. His bilingual skills were crucial in helping dentists, optometrists and physician assistants visiting from North America.
"Communications became my thing," says Solórzano, the 33-year-old co-founder of A Medida, a Chattanooga cross-cultural communications firm. "That was just something I became passionate about."
From Nicaragua, Solórzano came to the United States to study communications and marketing at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, before moving to Chattanooga in 2012 to start his professional career. He is now working toward an advanced degree in organizational leadership through Harvard University.
"My background is Hispanic marketing," Solórzano explains. "I've found an opportunity to support government and nonprofit organizations with their corporate and language communications strategies."
A Medida, which means "tailor-made" in Spanish, has played a crucial role in spreading news and information about COVID-19 to the Spanish-speaking population in Chattanooga. In fact, Solórzano believes A Medida helped turn the tide against surging levels of COVID infections in the Hispanic community.
In the early weeks of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, more than 80 percent of the reported cases of COVID-19 were in the Hispanic population, he says. But by end of the summer in 2020, Hispanics accounted for less than 20 percent of the new cases of COVID-19 cases locally.
Solórzano says the early Hispanic infection rate was driven by poor communications with the Spanish-speaking community.
"As an English-speaking community, we were learning how to stay safe from COVID," he says. "But that (information) wasn't being shared with the Latino community in their language."
From his early experiences as an interpreter in Nicaragua, Solórzano learned that services are of no use if a communication gap can't be bridged. Working with government and health care agencies, A Medida's professionals created a communication network involving churches, schools and community leaders to communicate about COVID-19 precautions and vaccines.
Solórzano said his firm has worked with the CDC, the National Guard, and SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) to develop messaging paths to Spanish-speaking communities. Locally, A Medida has also worked with La Paz of Chattanooga and Cempa Community Care to help those agencies deliver services to the Latino community.
"I strongly believe that a community is only as strong as the health of its people," Solórzano says, adding that his company aims to provide "equitable messaging" about community resources.
Paulo Hutson Solórzano
* Role: Co-founder, A Medida Communications.
* Career: Managing director of a six-employee, Chattanooga-based communications company that helps link non-profits and government agencies to the Hispanic community.
* Personal: The 33-year-old native of Managua, Nicaragua, has a bachelor's degree in communication and marketing from Lee University and is working toward a master's degree in organizational leadership from Harvard University. He enjoys hiking, paddling and spending time with his 8-year-old German Shepherd, Marco.