The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Karen Sokal-Gutierrez

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Karen Sokal-Gutierrez until we are able to commission a full entry.

Karen Sokal Gutierrez with a young patient in Vietnam in 2011.

Courtesy of Karen Sokal-Gutierrez.

After recognizing a neglected epidemic causing severe pain to children around the world, Karen Sokal-Gutierrez founded the Global Children’s Oral Health and Nutrition Project (GCOHNP) to improve diet and dental care for children and their families. Sokal-Gutierrez volunteered with the Peace Corps in rural Ecuador from 1978–1980 before earning an MD from the University of California, San Francisco in 1985 and a master’s in public health from the University of California, Berkeley in 1988. But upon her return to Latin America twelve years later, she was shocked to find children suffering from rotted teeth, severe mouth pain, and malnutrition. The villagers now had access to junk food, but no education in nutrition or dental care. Sokal-Gutierrez founded the GCOHNP in 2004, collaborating with local health organizations to provide preventative dental care and nutrition and oral hygiene education in El Salvador. In 2010 she expanded the program, taking her students from Berkeley, where she teaches medicine and public health, to serve local communities in other countries including Ecuador, Vietnam, Nepal, and India.

Karen Sokal-Gutierrez is a grantee of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York (JWFNY), and is featured as part of a partnership between JWA and JWFNY spotlighting Jewish women social entrepreneurs.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Karen Sokal-Gutierrez." (Viewed on February 8, 2023) <>.


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