Star of Queens: Marlene Smith-Sotillo, president and CEO, Sickle Cell Awareness Foundation International

Star of Queens


Background: Marlene Smith-Sotillo, 46, lives in Jamaica and was born and raised in Morvant Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. She loves the diverse and multicultural community in Queens, which includes the best variety of restaurants, shopping malls, schools and public transportation.

Occupation: Smith-Sotillo is a home health professional. She helps families manage illness or injuries, explains diet and nutrition programs, and teaches self-monitoring techniques. Her office is located at 108-03 164th St. in Jamaica. She said she chose this line of work mainly for the happiness she could create by making a difference in people’s lives and making the world a little healthier and safer.

Community Involvement: Smith-Sotillo is the president and CEO of the Sickle Cell Awareness Foundation International based out of Jamaica. She engages the community with educational outreach workshops, health fairs and support group development to improve the quality of life for those affected by the disease. She raised a daughter and son who have both been affected by the disease and recognized the lack of knowledge from medical staff members in hospitals. She puts a great deal of importance in better educating medical facilities, so she started the nonprofit organization. She also directs walk-a-thons and seminars in local schools and churches. The foundation holds an annual “Health is Power” 5K walk at Roy Wilkins Park, as well as an annual dinner theater fundraising event held each October. Whether people are looking to get help or give help, she connects them with the tools and resources they need.

Greatest Achievement: “My greatest achievement is educating the community in sickle cell anemia by starting my own nonprofit organization. I have developed the unique ability to inspire families and sustain a commitment to excellence that’s earned the applause of many in the city.”

Biggest Challenge: “Carrying on with the cause in spite of the loss of my son, Syd Sotillo, who assisted in starting the organization.”

Inspiration: “My family and Maya Angelou.”




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