People & Perspectives

Walgreens pharmacist nationally recognized as minority health champion

Named among the National Minority Quality Forum’s 2024 40 Under 40 Leaders in Minority Health, Gabriela Ziccarelli shares her healthcare career path and why she’s inspired to improve health outcomes in Latino communities.

Gabriela Ziccarelli
Gabriela Ziccarelli

As the daughter of immigrants, Gabriela Ziccarelli, PharmD, BCACP, understands the importance of reducing health disparities, especially among minority communities. Most of her nearly 20 years at Walgreens has been spent practicing pharmacy in underrepresented communities where her patients primarily spoke Spanish. 

“They couldn't communicate their feelings and their concerns, and subsequently, were not receiving the healthcare they deserved,” Ziccarelli says. “So I became the bridge between the Latino community and their access to quality healthcare. And little by little, we made advancements in the health of our community, one patient at a time.” 

In her current role at Walgreens as the manager of pharmacy innovation in the Office of Clinical Integrity, Ziccarelli champions minority health at an even larger scale. In fact, she was named among the 2024 40 Under 40 Leaders in Minority Health by the National Minority Quality Forum

This National Minority Health Month, Ziccarelli shares, in her own words, what her path to pharmacy was like and how she developed her personal mission to improve health outcomes in minority communities.  

From pharmacy tech to Office of Clinical Integrity 

Growing up, I've always loved science and health. My older sister is also a pharmacist, and when I was 17, she introduced me to the world of patient care through pharmacy. I always admired her passion for her work and how she connected with her community, and that’s how I knew I would follow a similar path. In 2004, I got my first role as a pharmacy technician at Walgreens, and I never left. 

As my Walgreens career progressed, I worked as a pharmacist, pharmacy manager and then as a registered manager at a specialty pharmacy within a hospital. In 2020, I joined the COVID-19 operational response team to ensure patient and team member safety in our stores. In this role, I found myself at the forefront of the pandemic, where I assisted with contact tracing and coordinating deep cleanings of our stores and facilities. We also did operational reporting to local and federal health departments. It was truly an unforgettable experience. 

Working on the COVID-19 response team led me to my current role in the Office of Clinical Integrity, where I work with a team to ensure the quality of our healthcare services. For example, I was the company’s clinical expert when promoting the availability of over-the-counter NARCAN® Nasal Spray last year. I truly saw this as an opportunity to decrease the stigma around drug overdose in all communities. I ensured all our promotional materials were clinically accurate and created educational videos and clinical trainings for our pharmacists in order to prepare for the product launch. I also partnered with the nonprofit organization End Overdose to create a preparedness video. It was a really cool project that I was proud to take part of. 

End Overdose

Making a meaningful impact 

I was born in the U.S., but my mother missed her homeland of Argentina, so my family moved back there when I was 6 years old. We eventually moved back to the U.S., but it was a struggle. Living abroad really gave me a drive to advance minority health. I’ve taken on many roles for my family—translator, secretary, advisor—and so I wanted to do the same for our patients in my roles at Walgreens. I could see my parents in our patients. Our Spanish-speaking patients have different cultural beliefs about what healthcare is and bridging that gap has become my mission. 

There’s such a need for more Latinos in healthcare, so for those who are interested in pursuing a healthcare career, know this: Never doubt yourself or your abilities as a Latino to make a difference in healthcare. You will bring a unique perspective and understanding to the communities you serve. If you stay focused on your goals, you can help advance our community health. It's a powerful thing. 

I'm grateful for my Walgreens mentors: Dr. Priya Mammen and Dr. Rachel O’Koren. These two women are incredible. Over the past few years, they've given me the gift of wisdom and encouragement, and they're always encouraging my professional and personal development. They're both very highly refined and intelligent clinicians, and I admire and respect them tremendously. As a mentor myself, I am committed to paying it forward and supporting the next generation of healthcare professionals on their journey to success. 

Gaby Z family photoBalancing work and family 

Outside of work, I cherish time with my family, including my two daughters and another baby on the way. In my free time, I enjoy playing classical piano, attending concerts with my husband and traveling the world with my family. These activities allow me to unwind, recharge and reconnect with what matters most in life. By maintaining a healthy work-life balance, I can approach each day with renewed energy and enthusiasm. 

I've always felt proud to be a Walgreens pharmacist, and I feel that our patients are loyal to our brand. I’m grateful that Walgreens has given me the opportunity to raise my voice for the Latino community. 


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