Wiley S. Adams

Wiley S. Adams is currently the President-Elect of the National Bar Association (“NBA”) which represents the interests of more than 67,000 African American lawyers and judges. He retired as Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of PGIM, Inc., the global investment management businesses of Prudential Financial, Inc.  PGIM has offices around the world and is one of 10 largest investment managers in the world with approximately $1.5 trillion in assets under management as of December 31, 2021.  Wiley led a team of approximately 80 lawyers in support of PGIM’s operations around the world.

Prior to his role above, Wiley was Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of Prudential Capital Group (now known as PGIM Private Capital (“PPC”) which is a division of PGIM).  PPC is the largest manager of privately placed debt investments in the United States with over $97 billion of private debt and equity securities under management as of December 31, 2021.  Upon his retirement, Wiley was enshrined in PPC’s Hall of Fame being one of fewer than 10 individuals at that time awarded that honor during PPC’s 98-year history.

Wiley is a lifetime member of (i) the NBA (and honored as, among other honors, a Living Legend of the organization), (ii) the National Bar Institute, (iii) the Cook County Bar Association (an inaugural lifetime member), (iv) the Garden State Bar Association and (v) the NAACP, in addition to serving on the board of the Cook County Bar Association Foundation.  He also serves as a director on one of the very few black-owned banks in the country. In additional to currently serving as NBA President-Elect, he has served on the NBA board, served as an NBA Vice President, served as NBA Region VII director and made substantial contributions to numerous NBA committees and programs over the years (including the MLK Competition).

Over the years, he has personally positively impacted hundreds of lawyers, students and others and his work for community and country continues to this day.

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Jacqueline Ayers

Jacqueline Ayers is PPFA’s Senior Vice President of Policy, Campaigns, and Advocacy. She is responsible for developing and executing the national strategy and management of the legislative policy, organizing, electoral, and policy-oriented litigation work. She brings decades of experience developing strategies to advance the federation’s legislative affairs, global advocacy, and federal and state policy teams, in order to expand laws and policies that increase access to health care for all. Prior to joining PPFA for the second time in her career in 2013, she served as legislative director for the National Urban League, and was a legislative aide in the U.S. House of Representatives covering health, education and judiciary issues. She began her career as the associate legislative director for the ACLU of Indiana.

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Desmond Banks, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Desmond Banks, Ph.D., M.P.H. is a Health Policy Fellow at the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL). Desmond has twenty years of public health experience in addressing social determinants of health, reducing health disparities and promoting health equity.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Desmond was recruited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support CDC’s Chief Health Equity Officer (CHEO) COVID-19 response team, where he informed practices designed to promote equitable access to COVID-19 vaccinations for racial and ethnic minorities. Desmond also informed evaluation efforts to assess the impact that CDC funding had on promoting equitable access nationwide, particularly among lower-income persons, Medicaid participants and rural residents.

Desmond is an expert on gendered racism and its impact upon the health and wellbeing of Black men. Desmond informs audiences nationwide on how to identify and reduce gendered racism in educational settings, the workplace, the criminal justice system and within local, state, and federal policy. 

Desmond holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia University in psychology, a Master of Public Health from the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in public health policy from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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Ayanna Bennett, M.D., MSPH

Ayanna Bennett, M.D., MSPH, FAAP, is Director of the Department of Health (DC Health). Dr. Bennett is a healthcare and public health executive with more than 20 years of experience in clinical practice, clinical service design, system integration and quality improvement. Dr. Bennett most recently served as Chief Health Equity Officer and Director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Office of Health Equity, where she focused on quality improvements and sustaining systemic change through policy improvement.

Dr. Bennett joined the San Francisco Department of Public Health in 2016 as the inaugural Director of Interdivisional Initiatives, where she supported initiatives that combined the resources of the department, such as research, education, community engagement and health care delivery. Her work included a focus on long-term population-based initiatives like the Black African American Health Initiative, which sought to address the health disparities of San Francisco’s African American residents. During her tenure at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Dr. Bennett also worked as a part-time clinician, while maintaining a private pediatric practice in the East Bay. In 2004, Dr. Bennett began working with community members to establish the 3rd Street Youth Center and Clinic in Bayview, California, where she served as Medical Director and then Executive Director until 2016.

Dr. Bennett holds a Bachelor of Arts from Stanford University, a Master of Science from the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, and a doctorate of medicine and pediatric residency from the University of California, San Francisco.

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Sharon L. Bethea, Ph.D.

Sharon L. Bethea, Ph.D. is President of the Association of Black Psychologist Inc., Professor in the Department of Counselor Education, and Inner-City Studies, and Coordinator of the African/African American Studies program, at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU). In addition, Dr. Bethea is a co-founding member of the Genocide and Human Rights in Africa and the Diaspora Center (GHRAD) at NEIU, where she continues to spearhead initiatives aimed at promoting social justice and human rights. Grounded in African centered pedagogical theory and philosophy, Dr. Bethea’s work has centered on fostering healing, and well-being within African and African Diasporic communities. Dr Bethea recently co-authored articles concerning Sawubona Healing circles, an African/African American culturally consistent healing modality, and the women of the Black Panther Party, highlighting their contributions as divine African/Black Women resisting, disrupting, and liberating. In addition, Dr. Bethea co-edited the book, Black Women’s Liberatory Pedagogies: Resistance, Transformation, and Healing Within and Beyond the Academy. Dr. Bethea’s current scholarship centers on, African centered pedagogy, African/African Diasporic healing systems, Civic Engagement amongst African and African American youth, Genocide and Human Rights and Oakland Freedom Schools. She is also committed to fostering transformative learning experiences, as evidenced by her numerous teaching awards and her facilitation of research and study abroad programs with students and colleagues to Brazil, Burundi, Egypt, Ghana, and Tanzania. Dr. Bethea’s career has been defined by a dedication to uplifting African/Black communities, promoting social justice, advancing African centered principles and making meaningful contributions to the science of African/Black Psychology, Education, and Human Rights. The Association of Black Psychologists sees its mission and destiny as the liberation of the African Mind, empowerment of the African Character, and enlivenment and illumination of the African Spirit.

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Charles M. Blow

Charles M. Blow’s columns in The New York Times, tackle hot-button issues such as social justice, racial equality, LGBTQ issues and national politics. Blow is an MSNBC political analyst and has been the anchor of PRIME with Charles Blow on the Black News Channel and a CNN commentator. Mr. Blow is the author of New York Times bestselling books Fire Shut Up in My Bones and The Devil You Know. Fire… has been developed into an opera, the first by a Black composer to premiere at the Metropolitan Opera. The Devil… has been developed into a feature-length documentary that will air later this year on HBO.

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Marie L. Borum, M.D., Ed.D., M.P.H.

Marie L. Borum, M.D., Ed.D., M.P.H., MACP, FACG, AGAF, FRCP is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology and Geriatric Medicine. She is the Director of the Division of Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases, and a professor at The George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences. Dr. Borum is also the Director of the Gastroenterology fellowship, and an associate professor of public health at The George Washington University School of Public Health & Health Services.

Dr. Borum received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University, her medical degree from UMDNJ-Rutgers Medical School (Robert Wood Johnson Medical School), master’s degree in Public Health and her doctorate in Education from The George Washington University. She completed her internship and residency in Internal Medicine and specialty training in gastroenterology at The George Washington University.

She has published more than 100 abstracts, articles and chapters. She has served as a contributing author and editor of four textbooks, including Women’s Health Issues Part I and II and Gastroenterology Clinics in Geriatric Medicine. She has also served as a reviewer for multiple peer-reviewed journals. Her primary research interests include physician decision-making, women’s health, health disparities, acidpeptic disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, colon cancer and liver disease. Dr. Borum is a fellow in the American College of Physicians and the American College of Gastroenterology. Her other professional memberships include the American Gastroenterology Association, American Public Health Association, American Medical Women’s Association and the National Medical Association.

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DeAndrea Bullock, P.T., D.P.T., C.C.I.

Dr. DeAndrea Bullock is a graduate of Kennesaw State University with a Bachelor of Science degree. She earned her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Emory University in 2013. Dr. Bullock has been practicing physical therapy for nearly 5 years for Wellstar. She started her career in acute care and inpatient rehab at Kennestone hospital. She then transition to neuro outpatient where she currently works.

Dr. Bullock enjoys mentorship and service projects in Atlanta, GA. She has help mentor high school female athletes. She was also the Youth Mentor Director with a service organization for underserved communities called Dream Big Atlanta for 3 years. Dr. Bullock is currently the physical therapy student liaison in neuro outpatient for student rotations. With this position, she has been able to mentor prospective physical therapists. She is also an APTA credentialed Clinical Instructor.

Dr. Bullock is passionate about exposing resources to underserved communities and underrepresented minorities. Due to her own background, Dr. Bullock recognizes the importance of creating opportunities in different communities. She feels that when given the opportunity, young kids and adults are able to create the life that they want as oppose to reacting to life as it unfolds.

Dr. Bullock currently resides in Mableton, GA.

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Ebony Caldwell, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Ebony Caldwell (pronouns they/she) is a Health Policy Fellow for Rep. Robin Kelly.  Hailing from Georgia, Ebony has established herself in the Washington, DC area following the completion of her psychiatry residency training at Howard University Hospital. They are a board-certified physician in both Adult and Addiction psychiatry, having completed fellowship training at Yale School of Medicine. Additionally, Ebony holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) with a specialization in Health Promotion and Behavior.

With a diverse background that includes previous policy roles at the Greater New York Hospital Association and the Atlanta Health Department, Ebony’s professional journey is characterized by a commitment to community engagement, patient care, and community-based research. Their interests span a wide range of topics, with a particular passion for addiction/harm reduction, healthcare workforce diversity, Black maternal health, and enhancing healthcare accessibility. Ebony resides in Southeast DC with their partner and beloved goldendoodle.

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Congressman Troy A. Carter, Sr.

Congressman Troy A. Carter, Sr. is an elected United States House of Representatives member from Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District.

Congressman Carter currently serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, one of the largest committees in Congress that has jurisdiction over all modes of transportation and infrastructure. He also serves on the powerful committee for Homeland Security of the United States, where he serves as Ranking Member over Emergency Management and Technology. Congressman Carter previously served on the Small Business Committee, which has direct oversight and consideration over all matters affecting America’s backbone, small businesses.

Congressman Troy A. Carter earned a bachelor’s degree from Xavier University and a master’s degree from Holy Cross University. He has also studied at Harvard’s JFK School of Government and Carnegie Mellon’s School of Urban and Public Affairs. In May 2023, Congressman Carter was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from Xavier University.

Congressman Carter began his professional career as a senior aide to Mayor Sidney Barthelemy. In 1991, Congressman Carter became the first African American to be elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives from the 102nd District in Algiers, where he served as the youngest-ever floor leader representing the City of New Orleans.

In 1994, Congressman Carter was elected to the New Orleans City Council, representing District C, including Algiers, and the historic French Quarter, again becoming the first African American elected. After a hiatus from public office, Congressman Carter was elected to the State Senate for Louisiana’s 7th District, where he served as Senate Minority Leader. During his time as a Legislator, Congressman Carter authored and co-authored hundreds of bills that are now law.

Congressman Carter is a staunch advocate for criminal justice reform, women’s health care, civil rights, environmental justice reform, mental health, and equality for all! Congressman Carter is a proud husband to wife, Brigadier General Ana Carter of the United States Army, and father to sons Troy Jr. and Joshua. They live on the Westbank of New Orleans, where Congressman Carter was born and raised. Congressman Troy A. Carter, Sr. has enjoyed a series of historic 1sts including:

  • 1st African American elected to the Louisiana State House from District 102
  • 1st African American elected to the New Orleans City Council representing District C
  • 1st African American elected to the Louisiana State Senate from District 7
  • 1st Congressman elected to Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District from the Westbank of New Orleans (Algiers)
  • 1st Congressman whose spouse is a General in the United States Army

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Nicole Cheek, D.D.S.

Dr. Cheek graduated from the prestigious Howard University College of Dentistry in 2014. She earned her undergraduate degree in Biology from Howard University, as well. As an undergraduate, she was a student member of the Deamonte Driver Dental Project, for which she received a Commendation from the Governor of Maryland.

Dr. Cheek practices General Dentistry full-time in Washington, DC, and works on NDA’s signature program, NDA-HEALTH NOW®. In Washington, she has made several Congressional visits to members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to advocate for Oral Health for the underserved. Through NDA-HEALTH NOW®, Dr. Cheek works to conduct community outreach events and support events all over the U.S. She is a published author in the American Journal of Public Health and the Morehouse publication, Oral Health in America: Removing the Stain of Disparity. She has also served on numerous Planning Committees for Interprofessional Education programs.

Dr. Cheek has received several awards, including the NDA Presidential Special Recognition Award (2019), the Colgate New Dentist Leadership Award (2020), the NDA 40 Under 40 Award (2022), and she is a graduate of the ADA Institute for Diversity in Leadership program (2022). Presently, Dr. Cheek serves on the Executive Committee of the National Dental Association as President-Elect, and she is the Secretary of the Howard University College of Dentistry Alumni Association. She has also served on the Executive Committee for the Robert T. Freeman Dental Society. Dr. Cheek maintains memberships in the Jamaica Dental Association and The Links, Incorporated.

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Congresswoman Yvette Diane Clarke

Hailing from central Brooklyn, Congresswoman Yvette Diane Clarke feels honored to represent the community that raised her. She is the proud daughter of Jamaican immigrants and takes her passion for her Caribbean heritage to Congress, where she co-chairs the Congressional Caribbean Caucus and works to foster relationships between the United States and the Caribbean Community. Clarke is a Senior Member of both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and House Committee on Homeland Security. Clarke has been a member of the Congressional Black Caucus since coming to Congress in 2007 and today chairs its Immigration Task Force.

As the Representative of the Ninth Congressional District of New York, Congresswoman Clarke has dedicated herself to continuing the legacy of excellence established by the late Honorable Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman and Caribbean American elected to Congress. In the 117th Congress, Congresswoman Clarke introduced landmark legislation, which passed in the House, the Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6). This legislation would give 2.5 million DREAMers, temporary protected status, and deferred enforcement departure recipients a clear citizenship pathway.

Clarke is a leader in the tech and media policy space as co-chair of the Smart Cities Caucus and co-chair of the Multicultural Media Caucus. Congresswoman Clarke believes smart technology will make communities more sustainable, resilient, and livable and works hard to ensure communities of color are not left behind while these technological advancements are made. Clarke formed the Multicultural Media Caucus to address diversity and inclusion issues in the media, telecom, and tech industries. Clarke is one of the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls, which develops programs to support the aspirations of Black women of all ages. Congresswoman Clarke is also the co-chair of the Medicare for All Caucus, where she is fighting for the right to universal health care.

Prior to being elected to the United States House of Representatives, Congresswoman Clarke served on New York’s City Council, representing the 40th District. She succeeded her pioneering mother, former City Council Member Dr. Una S. T. Clarke, making them the first mother-daughter succession in the City Council’s history. She cosponsored City Council resolutions that opposed the war in Iraq, criticized the federal USA PATRIOT Act, and called for a national moratorium on the death penalty.

Congresswoman Clarke is a graduate of Oberlin College and was a recipient of the prestigious APPAM/Sloan Fellowship in Public Policy and Policy Analysis. She received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa from the University of Technology, Jamaica, and the Honorary Doctorate of Public Policy from the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean. Congresswoman Clarke currently resides in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, where she grew up.

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Phyllis Dickerson

Phyllis Dickerson has served as an authority on government administration for nearly two decades, lending her expertise to mayors, U.S. presidents, and those they represent.

As the CEO of the African American Mayors Association (AAMA), the only organization exclusively representing African American mayors in the United States, Dickerson works to empower local leaders for the benefit of their citizens. Under her leadership, AAMA advocates for public policies that improve the vitality of cities, while offering mayors the leadership and management tools required to turn those policies into action. The organization also functions as a forum for member mayors to share best practices related to municipal management and operational excellence. Dickerson provides crucial leadership to AAMA staff, acts as its most prominent spokesperson, and oversees a multi-million budget and fundraising strategy—all in service of meeting the diverse needs of the association’s members.

Before leading AAMA, Dickerson worked as the lead advance staffer for the Clinton and Obama administration, as well as the Regional Mayoral Director for Mike Bloomberg’s 2020 Presidential Campaign. In 2015, she became the first woman to ever be appointed as chief of staff to the mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas. In this role, she coordinated daily operations within Mayor Mark Stodola’s office, conducted research and analyses on constituent issues, and provided support for the implementation of special programs and initiatives. Additionally, she served as the Special Events & Program Coordinator for the City of Little Rock. In that capacity, she was responsible for planning the historic Central High Integration 50th Anniversary.

Dickerson is also the CEO & President of Red Ink, LLC, which assists organizations with business development and government relations. Throughout her career, Dickerson has proudly served on the boards of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA), the Delta Research & Education Foundation, and the Cross World Africa Foundation. She is a member of the Little Rock Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and is a staunch advocate for children with Sickle Cell Anemia Disease.

Dickerson holds a Master of Arts degree in Human Resource Development from Webster University, as well as a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Business Management from the University of Central Arkansas. She currently resides in Washington D.C. and Little Rock, AR, where she enjoys traveling, reading, and watching Western films.

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Pebbles Fagan, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Fagan is a Professor in the UAMS College of Public Health, Director of the UAMS Center for the Study of Tobacco, Director of Research in the UAMS Office of Health Initiatives and Disparities Research, and Associate Director for Cancer Prevention and Control for the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. She also leads the NIH Center for Research, Health and Social Justice at UAMS — one of only 11 Multiple Chronic Disease Centers funded in the United States. The center is funded by an $18.9 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to support new research and interventions to reduce cancer among people who live in rural areas and African American populations across Arkansas.

Dr. Fagan is a graduate of the University of Virginia, she earned a Master of Public Health degree from Tulane University and a Doctorate in Health Education and Community Health from Texas A&M University. She completed her Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

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Sheldon D. Fields, Ph.D., R.N., CRNP, AACRN

Dr. Fields is Research Professor and inaugural Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion in the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing at Penn State University. He is also founder and CEO of The S.D.F Group, LLC, which is a health innovation consultant company. He has over 30 years of experience in the health sector as an educator, researcher, clinician, administrator, consultant, health policy specialist, and entrepreneur / business owner. Dr. Fields is a well-known and respected HIV/AIDS prevention research scientist with a significant focus on young men of color. He is an Advanced AIDS Certified Registered Nurse and a Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner. He worked for over a decade as a primary care provider in a federally qualified health center with historically underserved disenfranchised populations. He is a lifetime member of the National Black Nurses Association, Inc., (NBNA) and currently serves as the organization’s 14th National President. He was the first ever male Registered Nurse selected for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellowship Program in which he served as a policy adviser to then Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) on the Senate HELP committee during the historic healthcare reform debates and passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Dr. Fields is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and the National Academies of Practice. He is the former dean of the Mervyn M. Dymally School of Nursing at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, as well as the former dean of the school of Health Professions at New York Institute of Technology. He has held other academic and administrative positions at Binghamton University, University of Rochester, Florida International University, and Long Island University-Brooklyn. Dr. Fields received his Ph.D., in Nursing Science from the University of Pennsylvania, his M.S., in Family Nursing and B.S., in Nursing from Binghamton University. He completed his post-doctoral work in the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at the University of California San Francisco.

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Paul Friedrichs, M.D.

Dr. Paul Friedrichs currently serves as Deputy Assistant to the President and as the inaugural Director of The White House Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy. In this role, Paul coordinates U.S. government efforts to enhance the United States and its partners’ ability to prepare for and respond to pandemics and other biological events. Paul previously served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Global Health Security and Biodefense at the White House National Security Council, where he coordinated U.S. policy to detect, prevent, prepare for, and respond to, infectious diseases and biological threats.

Paul concluded a 37-year military career by serving as the Joint Staff Surgeon at the Pentagon, where he provided medical advice to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Department of Defense (DOD) operations and served as the medical advisor to the DOD COVID-19 Task Force. He was also the U.S. representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Committee of the Chiefs of Military Medical Services. In addition to caring for patients in combat, Antarctica and other austere locations, he has led DOD’s global medical evacuation system and assisted in multiple major domestic and international responses to natural disasters and biological outbreaks, as well as multiple global health engagements. As Chair of the Military Health System’s Joint Task Force on High Reliability Organizations, Paul oversaw development of a roadmap to continuously improve care for more than 9 million service members, retirees and their dependents.

Paul received his commission at Tulane University through the Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1986 and his Doctor of Medicine degree (M.D.) from the Uniformed Services University in 1990. He was a Distinguished Graduate of the National War College, where he received a Master’s Degree in Strategic Security Studies and also received an honorary Doctorate in Science from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He has commanded multiple medical units, served as an Assistant Professor of Surgery and led joint and interagency teams which earned numerous awards. He has been awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Bronze Star and has been named a Chevalier in the French Ordre National du Mérite.

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Kyler Gilkey

Kyler Gilkey is a native of Memphis TN, where he graduated from the University of Memphis in 2020 with a double bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Criminal Justice. He went on to work as a fellow in the Memphis City Attorney’s office doing legislative research on city ordinances and the cost recovery effects on companies like Metro Alarm – an independent company in control of the city’s residential and commercial alarm systems.

Before and after his work with the City Attorney, Kyler worked for Congressman Steve Cohen of Memphis, TN. During two nonconsecutive internships, he gained valuable insight and experience into the inner workings of a congressional office both in Washington DC, and in the district. He gained invaluable experience in the legislative process and basic administrative duties setting him up for his first full-time position with Congressman Cohen as a Staff Assistant in his Washington DC office.

During his tenure as Staff Assistant, Kyler was placed in charge of the Congressman’s internship program where he hired, managed, and set pay for 7 consecutive intern classes. Kyler is proud to have helped dozens of his interns secure full-time employment on Capitol Hill. He was also responsible for the Congressman’s Housing, Education, and Agriculture legislative portfolios. He worked closely with the Legislative Director to write, get co-sponsors and endorsements for, and introduce multiple bills and resolutions to support the Congressman’s legislative agenda in those three areas.

Since March of 2023, Kyler has worked for Congresswoman Sydney Kamlager Dove representing California’s 37th Congressional District as her Legislative Assistant. He holds a portfolio including Housing and Financial Services, Health, Transportation and Infrastructure, Education, Small business, and Labor. He is also responsible for the Congresswoman’s work on the Congressional Foster Youth Caucus and the Congressional Renters Caucus. Kyler has worked to introduce multiple bills and resolutions on behalf of the Congresswoman. He is most proud of a resolution he wrote honoring the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop, which was signed by Senator Chuck Schumer, House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, and almost 40 additional members of Congress. In addition to his official work, Kyler also served as the Secretary for the Congressional Black Associates for two years, a Congressional staff association dedicated to the political, social, and economic advancement and mentorship of Black staffers on Capitol Hill. Kyler is passionate about uplifting the Black community in politics and creating a space for young politically minded individuals to thrive and become senior staff members and leaders.

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Rodney Grant

Born in Washington DC, Rodney attended Holy Redeemer Elementary School, Sousa Middle School, and graduated from Dunbar Senior High School as a standout student athlete. Rodney attended Savannah State University on a football scholarship before returning to Washington, DC, to further his education at the University of the District of Columbia. In 1992, Rodney started working for the DC Department of Parks and Recreation becoming a mentor and coach to many area youth. In 1996, Rodney moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in television and entertainment. Passionate about his work, Rodney took the next step, and made a name for himself as a producer, writer, and director for film and television.

Rodney created and produced a number of projects for the Viacom network through his production company, Movieos in partnership with Lionsgate Entertainment. Through these partnerships, he spent decades managing budgets for major corporations. As he reached the pinnacle of his career, he chose to return to Washington, D.C., dedicating himself to serving the community and empowering the youth. As a husband of a retired police officer and a father of three daughters, he understands the importance of community safety, a good education, and quality health services.

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Mignonne C. Guy, Ph.D.

Dr. Mignonne C. Guy is an associate professor with tenure in the Department of African American Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University where she teaches courses on health inequities in Black populations, race and racism in the U.S., and interdisciplinary research methods. Dr. Guy is a member of the Massey Cancer Center Cancer Prevention and Control Group and the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products at Virginia Commonwealth University. She holds several national advisory positions including as a member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health.  She is founding co-chair and a current member of the Racial and Equity Task Force in the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, and an advisory board member for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Building Capacity to Reduce Tobacco Inequities in the South and Midwest Initiative.

Dr. Guy’s research centers on behavioral, social, and structural determinants that contribute to health inequities among minoritized populations and other marginalized groups. She has a strong interest in using critical race, epistemic oppression, and socioecological lenses to examine the complex interplay between distal and proximal factors that influence health in people of African descent. Recently, she has expanded her research focus to examine the ways in which systemic racism is reproduced in academia and in biomedical and health equity research. Dr. Guy has published over 60 manuscripts in tobacco control and tobacco regulatory science research. She is the principal investigator of the project entitled, Eliminating Systemic Racism in Commercial Tobacco Control Research funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Grant no. 79456, PI: Guy) where she leads a transdisciplinary team to interrogate the role of research in reproducing systemic racism and tobacco-related health inequities and to develop and disseminate an antiracist and equity-centered road map focused on eliminating tobacco-related inequities among Black tobacco users. Dr. Guy is also a multiple principal investigator (MPI), co-project director of the Investigator Development Core (IDC), director of social justice integration and an MPI of Project 4: Black Health Block Quit and Screen Project in the NIH/NIMHD funded Center for Research, Health, and Social Justice (1P50MD017319-01, MPIs: Cornell, Fagan, Guy).  As co-project director of the IDC and director of social justice implementation and integration in health research, Dr. Guy leads the development and training of scientists and community members in anti-racist methods to conduct cancer prevention and control and cardiovascular disease research in Black and/or rural communities and she assesses implementation of the core elements of social justice in health research. In partnership with the National Medical Association, as MPI of the Black Health Block Quit and Screen Project she co-leads a study to test a tailored clinician training and education campaign aimed to increase smoking cessation and promote lung cancer screening among high-risk Black adults. For over 9 years, she has been a co-investigator and site lead investigator in the FDA/NIDA funded VCU Center for the Study of Tobacco Products (U54DA036105; MPIs: Eissenberg & Breland) where she develops innovative methods to surveille emerging tobacco products on the market and uses these data to inform tobacco product regulation.

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Justine Handelman

Justine Handelman is the Founder and President of Handelman Strategies, LLC, which is a government affairs and political strategy consultancy focused on key health policy issues before the federal government and states for major corporations and industries.   

Prior to founding Handelman Strategies, Justine served as the Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), a national federation of 34 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies and the nation’s largest health insurer, collectively covering one-in-three of all Americans.

In this role, she oversaw BCBSA policy, lobbying, and public affairs activities and represented BCBSA and BCBS companies before the Administration, Congress, government agencies and other national associations.  Over the course of her career at BCBSA, Justine worked extensively on key health care legislation and regulations including the Medicare Modernization Act, the Affordable Care Act, legislation to prevent opioid abuse and address mental health parity, legislation to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the No Surprises Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act, among others.    

Prior to joining BCBSA in 2001, Justine was the director of the Health Care Practice Group in the Government Relations Division of SmithBucklin. In this capacity, she was responsible for the day-to-day government relations activities for several non-profit professional medical specialty societies and healthcare organizations.  Prior to joining the Smith, Bucklin team, she served as a senior legislative associate of MARC Associates, Inc. 

Justine Handelman received her bachelor’s degree in political science from the Catholic University of America.

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Chonya D. Johnson, M.S.

Chonya is America’s 5 Minute Advocate, Government Affairs consultant.  She has trained thousands of citizens advocates from all over the United States to effectively influence Congress, state, and local governments. She is a Sr. Policy Advisor, who has worked for over a decade in the United States Congress.  While working in Congress she gained valuable, first-hand experiences of the intricacies of government practices and the concerns of advocates, constituents and businesses. Chonya enjoys developing interactive advocacy training seminars for citizens and organizations to prepare them to effectively advocate for their issues.

Chonya is a fighter and champion for ordinary citizens and organizations that face tough issues.  Her real life experiences and insight on what works, while being of service, allowed her to survive the game of politics beyond political parties and bureaucracy.  She fights diligently to get constituents a second chance to plead their case before federal, state and local agencies.

She has designed the 5 Minute Advocate program and facilitate key-contact networks, lobby days, and training programs for national associations and organizations, including the National Organization Black Elected Leaders, American Association of University Women, Jack and Jill of America, Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., The MAC Campaign and a host of women, community groups and democratic clubs.

Chonya is the author of  books on advocacy, leadership and success. She has appeared on Radio One, News 92.1, National Journal, Public Access TV, in the Washington Post, and on several Blog Talk radio shows. Chonya holds a Masters Degree in Political Science from University of Northern Iowa and is a recipient of the Education Pioneer Graduate Fellowship & The League of Women Voters Rising Star award.

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Colin Kaepernick

Super Bowl QB Colin Kaepernick, and holder of the all-time NFL record for most rushing yards in a game by a quarterback, took a knee during the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner” in 2016 to bring attention to systemic oppressions—specifically police terrorism—against Black and Brown people. For his stance, he has been denied employment by the league to this day.

Since 2016, he has founded and helped to fund three organizations—Know Your Rights Camp, Ra Vision Media, and Kaepernick Publishing—that together advance the liberation of Black and Brown people through storytelling, systems change, and political education.

Kaepernick sits on Medium’s Board and is the winner of numerous prestigious honors including Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope honor, GQ magazine’s “Citizen of the Year,” the NFL’s Len Eshmont Award, the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, the ACLU’s Eason Monroe Courageous Advocate Award, and the Puffin/Nation Institute’s Prize for Creative Citizenship. In 2019, Kaepernick helped Nike win an Emmy for its “Dream Crazy’’ commercial. In 2021, he released Colin in Black & White, a 6-episode limited series on Netflix exploring his high school years. The show won two NAACP Image Awards. In 2022, he became a New York Times bestselling author for his acclaimed children’s picture book, I Color Myself Different.

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Congresswoman Robin Kelly

Congresswoman Robin Kelly has dedicated her career to public service as an advocate for Illinois families. Since being elected to serve the 2nd Congressional District in 2013, she has worked to expand economic opportunity, community wellness, and public safety across the state, championing numerous initiatives to generate job growth, reduce health disparities, and end gun violence.

Congresswoman Kelly is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (the main policy-writing body of the House) and serves on the Health, Communications and Technology, and Innovation, Data, and Commerce subcommittees. Her Energy and Commerce work is focused on expanding access to healthcare, consumer protection for American families, and economic development.

She is also a member of the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which sets the policy direction of the Democratic Caucus.

A staunch champion of common sense gun reforms and responsible community policing, Representative Kelly is a Co-Chair of the Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce and is the author of The 2014 Kelly Report on Gun Violence in America, the first-ever Congressional analysis of the nation’s gun violence epidemic that offers a blueprint for ending the crisis.

Committed to improving the health and wellness of vulnerable communities across the country, the Congresswoman serves as Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, and Co-Chairs the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls. She also Co-Chairs the House Democratic Policy Group and House Tech Accountability Caucus.

Prior to her election to Congress, Kelly was a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, served as Chief Administrative Officer of Cook County (the second largest county in the United States) and was Chief of Staff to Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias—becoming the first African American woman to serve as Chief of Staff to an elected constitutional statewide officeholder.

The daughter of a small business owner and postal worker, Congresswoman Kelly moved to Illinois to attend Bradley University in Peoria, where she earned her B.A. in psychology and an M.A. in counseling. She later received a Ph.D. in political science from Northern Illinois University. She lives in Matteson and has two adult children, Kelly and Ryan.

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Iyanla Kollock

Iyanla Kollock is a graduate of Rutgers University- New Brunswick and earned her B.A in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She was also a member of the Rutgers Women’s Track and Field team, as a sprinter.

As a legislative assistant in the U.S House of Representatives, she covers the house financial services committee and healthcare policy. Having worked for two members of the financial services committee, Iyanla is well versed in financial services policy and operations of the committee.

In addition to her full-time role, she also serves as the Vice President of the Congressional Black Associates (CBA). CBA is one of the largest staff associations on Capitol Hill, and is dedicated to the social, political, and economic enhancement of Black staffers.

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Yvens Laborde, M.D.

Dr. Yvens Laborde is Chief Community Medical Officer and Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine for University of Queensland Medical School – Ochsner Health in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Yvens Laborde earned his medical degree at Louisiana State University School of Medicine in Shreveport, held an internship at Tulane University in New Orleans, and completed his residency in internal medicine at Ochsner. He joined Ochsner in 1995 and in nearly three decades has excelled as a clinician, educator, and executive physician leader. Dr. Laborde is recognized locally and globally for championing equity and diversity in his field, and for his humanitarian work and community service.

Dr. Laborde was the first Black physician elected to the Ochsner Health System Board of Directors. He served as the regional medical director for Ochsner Medical Center West Bank (OMCWB) and as vice president of medical affairs. Among many honors, Dr. Laborde received the New Orleans Health Care Heroes Award and the Essence Magazine Essential Heroes Award for his local and global humanitarian work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, he was profiled in the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation’s Accelerator magazine for his work advancing awareness and health equity. An active researcher, Dr. Laborde served as a sub primary investigator, leading Ochsner’s COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial site. He played a major role in recruiting Black and Hispanic patients to participate in the trials. Dr. Laborde is board certified in internal medicine. He is active both clinically and academically. He teaches residents in Ochsner’s internal medicine program and medical students in the UQ Ochsner MD program.

In 2023, Dr. Laborde accepted the position of chief community medical officer for Ochsner. He is responsible for driving Ochsner’s comprehensive community strategy to promote health equity and aligning the organization’s efforts with its Healthy State initiatives. He also served as the medical director of Ochsner Global and Community Health, where he led local, regional, and global efforts to improve health outcomes. As adjunct professor of medicine, Dr. Laborde oversees the global health course and rotation and leads medical students through community health outreach efforts.  Dr. Laborde is an advocate for global health equity and has won numerous academic and humanitarian awards for his efforts.

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Yolanda Lawson M.D.

Yolanda Lawson M.D., Board Certified OBGYN and Associate Attending at Baylor University Medical Center, has a genuine passion for the physical, emotional and overall health of women. She dedicates her energy and time to maintaining the excellence of which MadeWell Obstetrics and Gynecology was built upon: Providing superior, organic healthcare with diplomacy, concern and respect.

She earned her M.D. at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She performed her internship at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia and completed her residency at St. John Hospital & Medical Center in Detroit, Michigan. Dr. Lawson offers a broadened approach to healthcare likely due to her extensive exposure at several major medical centers.

Dr. Lawson is a member of the American Medical Association, the National Medical Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Dallas County Medical Society, sits on a variety of boards and volunteers among many other community activities and organizations. These are all accomplishments that attribute to Dr. Lawson’s commitment and while her studies include the latest of educational, innovative healthcare techniques and technology she knows that women are not textbooks. She continues to expand upon her knowledge while maintaining a spirit of charity with volunteer work.

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Christine S. Lee, Pharm.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Christine S. Lee serves as the Acting Associate Commissioner for Minority Health and Director of the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE) in the Office of the Commissioner at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In this role, Dr. Lee provides leadership, oversight, and direction on minority health and health disparity matters for the agency and leads collaborative strategic initiatives that advance health equity, including OMHHE’s Enhance Equity Initiative and the Racial and Ethnic Minority Acceleration Consortium for Health Equity (REACH) Initiative.

Dr. Lee began her FDA career in 2013 at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, where she held roles in Professional Affairs and Stakeholder Engagement, the Office of Surveillance and Epidemiology, and the Office of Compliance. Prior to joining the FDA, Dr. Lee worked at the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Lee received her Pharm.D. from the University of Buffalo and her Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy from the University of Florida.

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Leandris Liburd, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.A.

Leandris Liburd, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.A., is the Acting Director for CDC’s Office of Health Equity (OHE).  She served as the Associate Director for Minority Health and Health Equity for CDC/ATSDR since 2011.  In this capacity, she leads and supports a wide range of critical functions in the agency’s work in minority health, health equity, and women’s health. She plays a critical leadership role in determining the agency’s vision for health equity, ensuring a rigorous and evidence-based approach to the practice of health equity, and promoting the ethical practice of public health in communities vulnerable to health inequities. Dr. Liburd has been instrumental in building capacity across CDC and in public health agencies to address the social determinants of health, and in identifying and widely disseminating intervention strategies that reduce racial and ethnic health disparities. She has skillfully executed innovative models of collaboration that have greatly expanded the reach, influence, and impact of the Office of Health Equity including the successful implementation of the Lewis Scholars Program (formerly the CDC Undergraduate Public Health Scholars Program) and the James A. Ferguson Emerging Infectious Diseases Graduate Fellowship.

In May 2020, she assumed the role of Chief Health Equity Officer for CDC’s COVID-19 Response which was the first time in the agency’s history that this role and function was added to the leadership of the Incident Management Structure during the activation of CDC’s Emergency Operations Center. These and other accomplishments represent her tireless commitment to improve minority health and achieve health equity for all people.

Dr. Liburd has received honors for her leadership and management accomplishments. She was the 2021 recipient of the Harriet Hylton Barr Distinguished Alumni Award, one of the highest honors of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gillings School of Global Public Health. She also received the CDC Honor Award for Health Equity (Group Award) in recognition of her role as Chief Health Equity Officer and contributions of the entire unit in the COVID-19 Response. Among her other awards, Jackson State University presented her with the John Ruffin Award of Excellence in Minority Health and Health Disparities (2016), and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions and named her one of the Top Blacks in Healthcare in 2014 for her outstanding and noteworthy achievements in the healthcare field. In 2010, the National REACH Coalition honored her with their Distinguished Service and Leadership Award, and in 2002, CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation presented her with their Excellence in Collaboration Award for her seminal role in developing local, national, and international partnerships.

Dr. Liburd holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, a Master of Public Health in health education/health behavior from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Master of Arts in cultural anthropology and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in medical anthropology from Emory University.

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Roland S. Martin

Over the course of a journalistic career that has seen him interview multiple U.S. presidents to the top athletes and entertainers in Hollywood, Roland S. Martin is a journalist who has always maintained a clear sense of his calling in this world. Many have bestowed upon him the moniker, “The Voice Of Black America.”

Martin is the host and managing editor of #RolandMartinUnfiltered, the first daily online show in history focused on news and analysis of politics, entertainment, sports, and culture from an explicitly African American perspective. It launched on Sept. 4, 2018.

On Sept. 4, 2021, Martin launched the Black Star Network, an OTT network that features a variety of shows focused on news, culture, finance, wellness, history and wellness. BSN is available on Apple and Android phones; Apple and Android TV; Roku; Amazon Fire, XBox One and Samsung TV.

For the last two years, Martin produces a twice daily commentary on iHeartRadio’s Black Information Network, heard on nearly 40 stations nationwide.

Martin is the author of four books. His latest is White Fear: How The Browning of America is Making White Folks Lose Their Minds. His other books are: Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith; Speak, Brother! A Black Man’s View of America; and The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as originally reported by Roland S. Martin.

He has contributed to several others, including Paradox of Loyalty: An African American Response to the War on Terrorism by Julianne Malveaux; Black Woman Redefined: Dispelling Myths and Discovering Fulfillment in the Age of Michelle Obama by Sophia Nelson; Faivish Pewzner New York and Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge by Etan Thomas and Nick Chiles.

Martin is a sought after international speaker, delivering speeches and lectures to numerous groups annually, electrifying audiences with his deep understanding of history, politics and culture.

He has been named four times by Ebony Magazine as one of the 150 Most Influential African Americans in the United States.

When Jet Magazine readers voted in 2012 for who is “King of the Hill” in terms of who they turn to on issues of concern to African Americans, Martin came on top, ahead of the likes of the Rev. Al Sharpton and Donna Brazile. named as the number one Black pundit in the country; and he has been named several times to The Root 100, their annual list of influential African Americans.

In October 2022, Martin was named a Fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists, the organization’s highest honor. In December 2021, he was inducted as the youngest living member of the National Association of Black Journalists Hall Of Fame. In 2008, he was also inducted into the Texas A&M University Journalism Hall of Honor.

In his career, Martin has been showered with more than 40 awards for journalistic excellence, including being named the Journalist of the Year in 2013 by the National Association of Black Journalists for his extensive focus on voter suppression and other issues of concern to African Americans during the 2012 election.

Martin was also awarded the 2008 President’s Award by the National Association of Black Journalists for his work in multiple media platforms.

He is a four-time NAACP Image Award winner, including named Best Host for the last two years.

Martin spent six years as a contributor for CNN, appearing on numerous shows and earning accolades near and far for his no-holds honesty, conviction and perspective on various issues. In 2009, CNN was awarded the Peabody Award for its outstanding 2008 election coverage, of which Martin was a member of the Best Political Team on Television.

From 2008 to 2019, Martin was a senior analyst for the Tom Joyner Morning Show, where his daily segment was heard on more than 100 stations and 8 million people daily.

Martin has been named one of the top 50 political pundits by the Daily Telegraph in the United Kingdom, and has appeared numerous times on a variety of American networks, as well as media outlets in Canada, Columbia, Italy, Australia and South Africa.

From October 2005 to October 2008, he served as a radio talk show for WVON-AM in Chicago, first as mid-day host and later as morning drive host.

He is the former executive editor/general manager of the Chicago Defender, the nation’s most historic Black newspaper. A digital media pioneer, Martin launched the first Black news source audio and video podcast in 2005 and 2006 at the Defender.

He is the former founding news editor for Savoy Magazine under the team of New York-based Vanguarde Media, and the former founding editor of

He previously served as owner/publisher of Dallas-Fort Worth Heritage, a Christian monthly newspaper. He also has worked as managing editor of the Houston Defender and the Dallas Weekly, which he led to a number of local, state and national journalism awards.

Martin has worked as morning drive reporter for KRLD/1080 AM; news director and morning anchor at KKDA-AM in Dallas; city hall reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram; and county government and neighbors reporter for the Austin American-Statesman. He has also written pieces for Ebony and Essence magazines.

Mr. Martin is a life member of the National Association of Black Journalists; a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc..; and a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

He is a board member of the education reform group, 50Can.

Martin a 1987 graduate of Jack Yates High School-Magnet School of Communications, and a 1991 graduate of Texas A&M University, where he earned a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism.

He has been awarded honorary degrees from Florida Memorial University; University of Maryland- University College; Lemoyne-Owen College; Lane College; and South Carolina State University.

He is married to the Rev. Jacquie Hood Martin, author of Fulfilled! The Art and Joy of Balanced Living, and Wedded Bliss: A 52-Week Devotional to Balanced Living and the children’s book series, Hannah’s Heart.

They reside in northern Virginia and the Dallas area.

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Thomas Mason, M.D.

Dr. Thomas Mason is Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). As CMO he is a health IT and stakeholder ambassador for ONC, routinely meeting with clinicians in the field and advocates across the healthcare industry, focusing on improving health IT usability, reducing clinician burden, and advancing ONC’s mission to improve data use and its availability across the health care spectrum. Working closely with staff at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) and other agencies within HHS, Dr. Mason leads efforts to better understand and address clinical documentation burdens and other administrative burdens relating to the use of electronic health records. Dr. Mason led the development of ONC’s Health IT Playbook, which offers tools, resources, and best practices to help address the challenges of implementing, adopting and optimizing health IT.

Prior to joining ONC, Dr. Mason worked at the Cook County Health and Hospitals System (CCHHS), the third largest public hospital system in the country. He spent 14 years as a board-certified internist with an emphasis on primary care and preventative medicine and led the charge to implement EHRs across the system. His work at CCHHS allowed specialists and primary care providers to streamline and optimize EHR use, improving clinical workflow and system efficiency. Dr. Mason has brought his experience implementing multiple EHRs to ONC to help the agency better understand the difficulties clinicians experience with health IT and to help facilitate collaboration between the government and the healthcare industry to improve clinicians’ and patients’ engagement with innovative health technologies.

Dr. Mason earned his M.D. from the University of Illinois College of Medicine and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Rush University Medical Center and Cook County Hospital.

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Aletha Maybank, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Aletha Maybank is a pediatrician and preventive medicine physician, a public health professional, and a Senior Vice President within the American Medical Association. As Chief Health Equity Officer, she is the founding leader for the AMA’s Center for Health Equity, and a recognized speaker, writer, and expert on health equity and racial justice. In these capacities, she is influencing the embedding of equity throughout the AMA Enterprise and across the healthcare ecosystem. Dr. Maybank uses her platform to make injustice visible across our health systems and country, with emphasis upon solutions that honor the legacy of our ancestors while preserving our desires for rest and joy. She has won numerous awards for her groundbreaking efforts.

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Keesha Middlemass

Keesha Middlemass is a fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings and associate professor of American Politics and Public Policy in the Department of Political Science at Howard University. Her research is interdisciplinary; she merges race, policies, and the criminal justice system to explore lived experiences. To study these issues, Middlemass uses different methods, including interviews, focus groups, ethnography, participant observations, and policy analysis, to better understand how race, policies, and the criminal justice system impact underserved communities. For example, in her award-winning book, Convicted & Condemned: The Politics and Policies of Prisoner Reentry, Middlemass examines the experiences of former prisoners reentering society. Convicted & Condemned is different from other books because it fills in critical gaps in our understanding of how individuals reenter society after a time of incarceration, how policies exacerbate individual challenges, and makes a significant interdisciplinary contribution in understanding lived experiences. Further, Middlemass crafts a narrative that connects politics and race to show how policies create perverted outcomes for men and women trying to reenter society after serving time in prison.

Currently, Middlemass is expanding her work to include food insecurity and trauma experienced by reentering adults. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes, including The Prison Journal, Aggressive Behavior, Criminal Justice & Behavior, Public Health Nutrition, and Punishment & Society. Middlemass is a former Andrew Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow on Race, Crime, and Justice at the Vera Institute of Justice in New York City, and a former American Political Science Association (APSA) Congressional Fellow. Middlemass earned her Ph.D. in public policy, American politics, and public administration from The School of Public & International Affairs at the University of Georgia.

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Roger A. Mitchell, Jr., M.D.

Dr. Mitchell is board certified in Anatomic and Forensic Pathology by the American Board of Pathology and serves as Professor and Chair of Pathology at Howard University College of Medicine and Chief Medical Officer for the Adult Ambulatory Care Center. He is the immediate past Chief Medical Examiner for Washington, DC where he served from 2014 to 2021. Just before his tenure ended as Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Mitchell was the only forensic pathologist in history to also serve as Interim Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice. He has performed approximately 2,000 forensic autopsy examinations and has testified as an expert witness in over 60 cases.

Dr. Mitchell has been published in 13 peer review journals, provided nearly 100 lectures on a myriad of forensic topics, has written two book chapters and serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of the Center for Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. His recent academic research on gunshot wounds is highlighted in the Journal of Acute Care Surgery and the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.  Mitchell also serves as Chair of the Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention for the National Medical Association. He co-authored the paper entitled “The Violence Epidemic in the African American Community: A Call by the National Medical Association for Comprehensive Reform”. He recently led a national group of forensic pathologists in the paper entitled: “National Association of Medical Examiners Position Paper: Recommendations for the Definition, Investigation, Postmortem Examination, and Reporting of Deaths in Custody”.  You can now pre-order his new book – Death in Custody: How America Ignores the Truth and What We Can Do About It.

He currently supports the Autopsy Initiative for Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp that provides second autopsy examinations for cases of Death in Custody. Recently, Dr. Mitchell was a featured expert in the docuseries entitled Uprooted on Discovery+.  He has been an expert guest on Unfiltered with Roland Martin, CBS Mornings, Dateline with Lester Holt, and Meet the Press.  He is the current Speaker to the House of Delegates for the National Medical Association and sits on several additional Boards, including Mentoring in Medicine, Hip Hop Caucus, and Peace for DC. He has lectured all over the world including in countries such as England, Egypt, Bangladesh, India, and Belize. Dr. Mitchell currently works with the CDC Foundation supporting the Medicolegal Death Investigation International Community of Practice where he leads a team of technical support to numerous international medical examiners and coroners from over twenty-six countries.

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Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., M.B.A.

Dr. Vivek H. Murthy was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in March 2021 to serve as the 21st Surgeon General of the United States. As the Nation’s Doctor, the Surgeon General’s mission is to help lay the foundation for a healthier country, relying on the best scientific information available to provide clear, consistent, and equitable guidance and resources for the public. And as the Vice Admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Dr. Murthy commands a uniformed service of over 6,000 dedicated public health officers, serving the most underserved and vulnerable populations domestically and abroad.

While serving as 21st Surgeon General, Dr. Murthy is focused on drawing attention to and working across government to address a number of critical public health issues, including the growing proliferation of health misinformation, the ongoing youth mental health crisis, well-being and burnout in the health worker community, and social isolation and loneliness. Additionally, he serves as a key advisor to President Biden’s COVID-19 pandemic response operation.

During his previous tenure as 19th Surgeon General, under President Obama, Dr. Murthy created initiatives to tackle our country’s most pressing public health challenges. The first Surgeon General of Indian descent and the youngest active duty flag officer in federal uniformed service, he helped lead the national response to a range of health challenges, including the Ebola and Zika viruses, the opioid crisis, and the growing threat of stress and loneliness to Americans’ physical and mental wellbeing. Dr. Murthy also continued the office’s legacy on preventing tobacco-related disease, releasing a historic Surgeon General’s report on e-cigarettes and youth. And in 2016, he issued the first Surgeons General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health, in which he challenged the nation to expand access to prevention and treatment, and to recognize addiction as a chronic illness, not a character flaw.

Prior to his second confirmation, Dr. Murthy co-chaired President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board from November 2020 to January 2021. Before entering government service, Dr. Murthy co-founded VISIONS, a global HIV/AIDS education organization; the Swasthya Project, a rural health partnership that trained women in South India to become community health workers and educators; TrialNetworks, a technology company dedicated to improving collaboration and efficiency in clinical trials; and Doctors for America, a nonprofit mobilizing physicians and medical students to improve access to affordable care. His scientific research has focused on vaccine development and the participation of women and minorities in clinical trials. And as an internal medicine doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Murthy cared for thousands of patients and trained undergraduates, medical students, and medical residents.

Raised in Miami, Dr. Murthy received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard, his MD from the Yale School of Medicine, and his Masters in Business Administration from the Yale School of Management. A renowned physician, research scientist, entrepreneur, mango aficionado, and author of the bestselling book Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World, Dr. Murthy is today among the most trusted voices in America on matters of public health. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Dr. Alice Chen, and their two children.

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Kirk D. Myers, M.P.H.

Kirk D. Myers, M.P.H., is the founder and President/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Abounding Prosperity, Inc. The agency’s mission is to address health, social and economic disparities among Black men including gay, bisexual and transgender (male- to-female) individuals and their identified families living in Dallas County, Texas. In fulfilling this mission, Mr. Myers has drawn upon his extensive network of Black men and organizations through his leadership in the Texas Black Gay Network where he was a founding member for the Dallas Chapter, as well as the State of Texas Community Planning Group (CPG) where he has served in many positions including Chair of the Interventions Committee. He is also a member the City of Dallas lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Task Force.

A tireless advocate for Black men, Mr. Myers’ activism and community mobilization efforts have focused attention on the issues of equity and service pertaining to eradicating the disproportionate impacts of HIV/AIDS in Black communities. Through advocacy, he has helped to shape policies and the development of programs that would support Black men as they transition from prison and acclimate back into society, especially those whom are in need of housing, mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Mr. Myers has been involved in both the public and private sector to influence research affecting Black men; with an emphasis HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment biomedical advances. Most noted is Mr. Myers’ participation at the 2012 Antiviral Drugs Advisory Committee (AVDAC) hearings at the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. During the meeting, Mr. Myers provided expert testimony on behalf of Gilead Sciences Inc. for the benefits of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), which uses the drug TRUVADA (emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate), to reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV-1 infection. This partnership resulted in Abounding Prosperity Inc. receiving one of the first community education grants from Gilead Sciences to support increased awareness and utilization of PrEP. The project was overseen by Mr. Myers and was evaluated by Kimberly Parker, PhD; thus producing data that allowed Dr. Parker to successfully apply for additional resources to support a subsequent project targeting Black women. The sum total of his local, regional and national efforts to end HIV within the Black community, led to the development of a Texas State-wide plan to increase PrEP awareness, literacy, feasibility and utilization.

Mr. Myers has conducted trainings, provided capacity building assistance and facilitated workshops that helped to disseminate information that informed Black men of their basic human right to good health and well being. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has consulted Mr. Myers on health issues pertaining to HIV/AIDS infection among Black men who have sex with men (MSM) and young, MSM. In addition to his work at Abounding Prosperity Inc., he serves on nonprofit boards across the United States, holding various roles and positions. For the past several years, Myers has and continues to inform the national research, advocacy and service delivery system’s agenda as a PrEP Advisory Board member for Gilead Sciences, AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition’s (AVAC) PxROAR Program and Business Advisor for Dallas Southern Pride, Dallas’ Official Black Gay Pride Event. Mr. Myers uses his enormous social and political cache to create culturally-specific spaces that improve health outcomes among Black and Latino MSM/YMSM through Abounding Prosperity Inc.’s Ball/House and Pageant (B/HAP) Communities Leadership and Health Disparities Conference, Juneteenth Festive, Black Gay Pride Events, educational campaigns, and provider capacity building and technical assistance trainings.

Kirk D. Myers, MPH, is widely published with numerous abstracts, papers, and commentaries, many related to HIV infection and prevention.

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Sandra B. Nichols, M.D., MHCDS, M.S.

With over three decades of service and a proven track record of improving patient outcomes and optimizing health care delivery for all, Dr. Nichols has worked as Director and Commissioner of the Arkansas Department of Health; Cabinet Secretary and Board of Health Member in the administrations of two Arkansas governors; CEO of Amerigroup D.C. and Virginia; Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of UnitedHealth Group’s Health Inclusion and Community Engagement division; Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of UnitedHealthcare’s National Inpatient Care Management team; Chief Medical Officer of UnitedHealthcare’s Northeast and West Regions; and National Medical Director of Clinical Performance for UnitedHealthcare-AmeriChoice.

Dr. Nichols’ steadfast commitment to and enhancement of health and wellness equity, particularly for intentionally marginalized groups, has earned her multiple recognitions and awards, including Washington Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business, The Daily Record Maryland’s Top 100 Women, Modern Health Care Magazine’s Top 25 Minority Executives in Health Care, and the National Congress of Black Women Inc.

Dr. Nichols’ twelve-plus years of work with NMF included serving as a volunteer, a Board Member, Vice Chair, Interim CEO at a time when the organization was at an inflection point, and Chair.  In addition to countless hours of service, Dr. Nichols and her husband, Ronnie, donated over $1 million to NMF during her tenure.

Dr. Nichols earned her undergraduate degree from Columbia College in Missouri, her graduate degree in biology from Tennessee State University, and her medical degree from the University of Arkansas School of Medical Science, at which she also served as secretary of the institution’s Student National Medical Association chapter, chief resident, and completed a fellowship in occupational and environmental medicine.  She is a graduate of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Leadership Institute at University of California, Berkeley, and earned her Master of Science in Health Care Delivery Science from Dartmouth College.

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Frank North, Pharm.D., M.P.A.

Dr. Frank North is a 4th generation Houstonian and graduate of Houston’s first high school to educate Black/African Americans, Booker T. Washington (BTW) High School. After obtaining his high school diploma, he attended Texas Southern University (TSU) and was admitted to the Doctor of Pharmacy program after his sophomore undergraduate year. Due academic hardship and setbacks, Dr. North, earned the Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. Additionally, through his hardships, Dr. North completed the Integrated Technology Transfer Network Fellowship and received a Certificate of Business Entrepreneurship – Technology Transfer from California State University – San Bernardino funded by the Army Research Laboratory partnered with the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) and participated in the J. W. Vines Foundation’s Elma Vines Summer Health Academy (EVSHA) while in California. Dr. North then returned to Texas and earned the Doctor of Pharmacy degree from TSU’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

Frank is licensed in Texas and Washington, D.C., and has worked in many different practice settings before establishing a boutique consulting company, Frank North & Associates, LLC. Dr. North’s service was recognized by a former classmate, and she nominated him for the Greater Houston Black Chamber of Commerce’s Houston Black Leadership Institute. This 9-month experience compelled Frank to pursue more education, and he earned the Master of Public Administration degree in Public Policy. He also completed the Higher Education Leadership Foundation Institute (HELF). Dr. North’s service continues as life member of the Booker T. Washington Alumni Association (BTWAA), Texas Southern University National Alumni Association (TSUNAA), Phi Delta Chi Pharmaceutical Fraternity (PDC), Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. (ΩΨΦ), and the National Pharmaceutical Association (NPhA). He is also a member of American Pharmacy Association (APhA), American Society for Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), American Society for Pharmacy and Law (ASPL), American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP), Texas Pharmacy Association (TPA), Phi Lambda Sigma Pharmacy Leadership Society (PLS), and a host of non-pharmacy related professional and recreational associations.

Dr. North was recognized as a 2022 Houston’s 40 Under 40 Honoree by the Houston Business Journal and received the 2022 Texas Pharmacy Association Distinguished Service Award, and Texas A&M University Health Science Center 2021 IPE Teaching Leadership Award given by the Interprofessional Education and Research Office. Dr. North currently serves as an Instructional Assistant Professor in the Irma Lerma Rangel School of Pharmacy at Texas A&M University Health Science Center. He is completing the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Urban Higher Education from Jackson State University in Jackson, MS.

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Pilar Ortega, M.D., M.G.M.

Dr. Pilar Ortega is Vice President, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), where she supports efforts to improve retention and well-being for diverse resident and fellow physicians; address harassment, discrimination, and other forms of mistreatment in the graduate medical education (GME) learning environment; and disseminate information on diversity, equity, and inclusion activities to the GME community. Dr. Ortega is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in linguistically and culturally appropriate health care.

Dr. Ortega also holds an appointment as Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Illinois Chicago Departments of Emergency Medicine and Medical Education.

She has more than 15 years’ experience creating and evaluating innovative programs throughout the medical education continuum. Her groundbreaking work in medical Spanish education and assessment has contributed to the recognition of language equity as an area of scholarly inquiry in medicine. She also co-founded two non-profit organizations that foster interprofessional collaborative scholarship focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging: the Medical Organization for Latino Advancement and the National Association of Medical Spanish. To date, she has published four books and more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and has delivered more than 100 national and international presentations.

Dr. Ortega has mentored numerous underrepresented in medicine learners and junior faculty members in advancing their academic scholarship through her roles in the Latino Medical Student Association, the National Hispanic Medical Association, the MedEdPORTAL journal, and the Association of American Medical Colleges Research in Medical Education committee.

Dr. Ortega earned her undergraduate degree in philosophy at the Johns Hopkins University, her Doctor of Medicine degree at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, her residency in emergency medicine at the University of Chicago, and a master’s degree in graphic medicine from the Universidad Internacional de Andalucía.

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Councilmember Zachary Parker

Ward 5 Councilmember Zachary Parker is an educator and a public servant. Zachary grew up on the South Side of Chicago and received his Bachelor of Science in Communication Science and Disorders from Northwestern University and a Master of Arts in Policy and Leadership from Columbia University. He began his career as a 7th grade math teacher in New Orleans post-Katrina with Teach for America and spent nearly a decade supporting DC school leaders to improve student learning.

In 2018, Zachary was elected by Ward 5 neighbors to serve as their representative on the DC State Board of Education. He was unanimously selected by his colleagues to serve as the President of the State Board in 2021. In 2022, Zachary won the election to represent Ward 5 on the Council of the District of Columbia, earning him the distinction as the first Black openly gay councilmember to serve.

Since taking office in January of 2023, Zachary has delivered for Ward 5 residents through responsive constituent services and significant budget wins. He has introduced dozens of transformative pieces of legislation, including bills to establish the District’s State Superintendent of Education’s School Support Office to improve low-performing schools, and the District Child Tax Credit which provides low-income and middle-class families fully refundable tax credits for children 17 years of age and younger.

Zachary is a proud and active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated and former board member of Love to Langa, an international nonprofit aimed at alleviating poverty in South Africa.

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Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.

Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D. is Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He oversees NIMHD’s annual budget to advance the science of minority health and health disparities research. NIMHD conducts and supports research programs to advance knowledge and understanding of health disparities, identify mechanisms to improve minority health and reduce health disparities, and develop effective interventions to reduce health disparities in community and clinical settings.

NIMHD is the lead organization at NIH for planning, reviewing, coordinating, and evaluating minority health and health disparities research activities. NIMHD also promotes diversity in the biomedical workforce, supports research capacity at less-resourced institutions training underrepresented students and serving populations with health disparities, supports inclusive participation in all clinical research, and promotes information dissemination through regular electronic communications, public education outreach, and scientific presentations.

Since joining NIMHD in September 2015, Dr. Pérez-Stable has been cultivating the Institute’s position on the cutting edge of the science of minority health and health disparities. Through this effort, the Institute has produced a collection of resources that guide and facilitate the conduct of research to promote health equity. These include the NIH Minority Health and Health Disparities Strategic Plan 2021-2025; the NIMHD Research Framework; the PhenX Social Determinants of Health Assessments Collection, a research toolkit; a collection of 30 science visioning Strategies to Promote the Advancement of Health Disparities Science; special journal supplements Structural Racism and Discrimination: Impact on Minority Health and Health Disparities and Addressing Health Disparities through the Utilization of Health Information Technology; and The Science of Health Disparities Research textbook, among other resources.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Pérez-Stable has positioned NIMHD at the forefront of the research response to COVID-19 health disparities by co-chairing three major new NIH-wide research programs and collaborating with other NIH institutes and centers. The two most prominent NIH-wide programs that have been established to promote health equity by reducing COVID-19 associated morbidity and mortality disparities experienced by underserved and vulnerable communities are the Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) Against COVID-19 Disparities and the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics for Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) initiatives. In October 2021, Dr. Pérez-Stable was awarded a Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal (Sammies) with Gary Gibbons, M.D., Director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). They received the COVID-19 Response Medal for their extraordinary role in fighting the pandemic in communities of color.

Prior to becoming NIMHD Director, Dr. Pérez-Stable was a professor of medicine and chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine, at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Dr. Pérez-Stable’s research interests have centered on improving the health of individuals from racial and ethnic minority communities through effective prevention interventions, understanding underlying causes of health disparities, and advancing patient-centered care for underserved populations. Recognized as a leader in Latino health care and disparities research, Dr. Pérez-Stable spent 32 years leading research on smoking cessation and tobacco control in Latino populations in the United States and Latin America, addressing clinical and prevention issues in cancer control research, supporting early career scientists in research on minority aging in clinical and community settings, and addressing research questions in clinical conditions such as hypertension, asthma, diabetes and dementia.

He has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers and was continuously funded by NIH grants for 30 years prior to becoming NIMHD Director. Dr. Pérez-Stable was also director of the UCSF Center for Aging in Diverse Communities, which is funded by NIH’s National Institute on Aging, and director of the UCSF Medical Effectiveness Research Center for Diverse Populations. He was a career mentor for many students, residents, and faculty, and a research mentor for over 70 minority investigators.

Dr. Pérez-Stable was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) of the National Academy of Science in 2001 and the American Society of Clinical Investigation in 1996. He earned a B.A. in chemistry in 1974 and an M.D. in 1978 from the University of Miami. He then completed his primary care internal medicine residency and a research fellowship in general internal medicine at UCSF before joining the faculty as an assistant professor in 1983. Dr. Pérez-Stable practiced primary care internal medicine for 37 years at UCSF following a panel of about 200 patients, and supervised and taught students and residents in the ambulatory care and hospital settings.

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Renata Rawlings-Goss, Ph.D.

Renata Rawlings-Goss, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of the South Big Data Innovation Hub and oversees the strategic direction of the South Hub including its programs, operations, and staff. She is also the Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Georgia Institute of Technology- Institute for Data Engineering and Science. Formerly, Dr. Rawlings-Goss worked with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to create the National Data Science Organizers Group, which facilitates data science groups to address national “Grand Challenge” problems. She also sat on the NITRD interagency Big Data Senior Steering group charged with strategic planning for big data research funded by the federal government. She was awarded as a founding AAAS Big Data Science and Technology Fellow to work with the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the directorate of Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE-OAD)  on the big data research program, as well as data science policies and priority goals for the foundation. Rawlings-Goss is a biophysicist by training, and her research interests include data-driven analysis of genetic/expression variation among worldwide human populations.

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Walter Rayford, M.D.

Dr. Rayford attended the University of Kansas where he received his doctorate (Ph.D.) in Biochemistry in 1987, and his Medical Degree in 1991. He completed general surgery training at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, MO, and urology training at the University of Kansas. Dr. Rayford completed a urologic oncology fellowship at the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD. He maintains certification by the American Board of Urology.

Dr. Rayford has published extensively in the areas of prostate cancer, kidney cancer, benign prostate hypertrophy and health disparities. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Tennessee, partner with The Urology Group of Memphis, TN, and Chief Executive Office for Q-Leap Health, Inc. and Transformative Development Corporation. He currently holds membership with the American Urology Association, American Association of Clinical Urologists, National Medical Association and R. Frank Jones Urological Society. He provides exceptional urological care to patients in Memphis, TN, and Southaven, MS.

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Janet Reid-Hector, Ed.D., R.D.

Janet Reid Hector is Asst. Professor & Director for MS Degree in Healthcare Management & Leadership at Rutgers University – Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) in the School of Health Professions (SHP. She is a graduate of Columbia University – NY with a Doctoral Degree in Organizational Leadership and Adult Education, holds a Master of Science Degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University & a Bachelor of Science degree from Rutgers University in NJ. For 20 years, Janet worked at the University of Medicine & Dentistry of NJ (formerly UMDNJ) as the Assistant Director – Clinical Nutrition & Patient Services – planning, organizing, and directing all clinical nutrition functions for the inpatient and ambulatory care sub-units of the University Hospital as well as, coordinating the training, mentoring and precepting of allied health students, third- and fourth-year medical students enrolled in supervised practicums.  Janet is a certified online instructor and co-developed the Rutgers University Certified Healthcare Manager® (CHM) Credential Program.  Current scholarly and research focus include Nutrition and maternal complications in women of color. Janet was elected Chairperson of the National Organization of Blacks in Dietetics and Nutrition – NOBIDAN, June 1st 2022; and served the Academy on the President’s Strategic Advancement Group for the Diversity and Inclusion focus.

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Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester

Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester represents Delaware in the U.S. House of Representatives and serves as an Assistant Whip for House Leadership. Lisa sits on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The committee has broad jurisdiction over health care, the environment, commerce and trade, energy policy, telecommunications, manufacturing, and consumer protection.

As the Energy and Commerce Committee’s only former statewide health official, Lisa understands health care from a number of different perspectives—as an implementer at the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, negotiator while serving as State Personnel Director, and advocate as CEO of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League. Lisa is focused on reducing the cost of health care and prescription drugs for middle-class families, addressing the disparity in outcomes for communities of color, and tackling our nation’s opioid and addiction epidemic. She serves as a Member of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, comprised of more than 100 members united with the common goal of tackling opioid addiction.

Lisa is a leading voice in Congress on economic and future of work-related issues. As former Secretary of Labor and State Personnel Director, Lisa leverages her professional experience to advocate for legislation that boosts start-up business growth, and removes barriers for citizens re-entering society. She is a Co-Chair of the New Democrat Coalition’s Future of Work Task Force. She is also the founder of the Congressional Future of Work Caucus.

In the 115th Congress, Lisa was a member of the House Committee on Agriculture – the first Delawarean to serve on the committee in over 120 years. In this role, she helped craft the 2018 Farm Bill, which is a five-year re-authorization that extends U.S. Department of Agriculture programs related to the farm safety net; nutrition programs that feed children, seniors, people with disabilities, and families who rely on the social support programs; land-grant and 1890 universities; and agriculture research.

As a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a strong proponent of reforming our criminal justice system, Lisa introduced first-in-the-nation legislation, the Clean Slate Act, sealing the federal records of former nonviolent offenders that remain crime-free and have earned a second chance. This bill would provide new opportunities for Americans to earn a good-paying job, pursue education and training, and rent or own a home. According to estimates by the Center for American Progress, the passage of the Clean Slate Act could boost the U.S. economy by as much as $87 billion per year.

Lisa currently resides in Wilmington, Delaware near her adult-aged children, Alex and Alyssa, as well as her daughter-in-law, Ebony.

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Kenneth H. Schell, Pharm.D., R.Ph., CIPP

Kenneth H Schell has almost 40 years’ experience in clinical pharmacology and pharmaceutical science, including overseeing pharmacy operations in managed care, pediatric and adult hospitals, medical groups, home infusion, hospice and mail order organizations. He is also lectures at the Skaggs UCSD School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences where he teaches Pharmacy Law and Ethics.

Dr. Schell is an expert in multiple areas of hospital pharmacy.  During his career he has worked in Pediatric and Adult Health systems serving in clinical staffing, operational manager, and Director roles.  He has been involved in the development and oversight of 340B operations in pharmacy in adult and pediatric hospitals. He also has an interest in research and currently serves on the Sharp Healthcare Institutional Review Board.  He also served in compliance and privacy as Chief Compliance and Privacy Officer at a major PBM.

Dr. Schell has extensive board and leadership involvement in Industry Organizations, including serving as president of the California State Board of Pharmacy and on the Board of Directors and as Presidential Officer of the California Society of Health System Pharmacists. Ken also serves on several other Boards including Disability Rights Now, which champions disabled individuals seeking to become attorneys and ACTG Biopharma, an organization seeking to support novel therapies for individuals with Brain injuries.

Dr. Schell has been recognized by his colleagues and academic institutions have been selected to be a recipient of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy’s 150th year anniversary Alumni Excellence award and was selected as Pharmacist of the Year by the California Society of Health-system Pharmacists. Additionally, Dr. Schell was recognized as a Fellow of the American Society of Health-system Pharmacists in 2000 and a Fellow of the California Society of Health-system Pharmacists in 1993.

Dr. Schell holds a Batchelor of Arts Degree in Biology from the University of California, San Diego Revelle College, Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of California, San Francisco, completed a Residency in Hospital Practice at the UC San Diego Medical Center and has earned his Certification in Privacy Practice from the International Association of Privacy Practitioners.

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Sakeenah Shabazz

Sakeenah Shabazz is a Senior Policy Advisor and Biden-Harris Appointee at the USDA Food and Nutrition Service. In this capacity, Ms. Shabazz’s portfolio includes the USDA Food and Nutrition Security Initiative, FNS program and policy engagement with U.S. territories, local and regional food systems, and inter-agency engagement focused on veterans, people experiencing homelessness, and foster youth. She most recently worked at the Berkeley Food Institute, where she managed their local, state, and federal policy engagement as Policy Director. Prior to her time at UC Berkeley, Sakeenah worked at the Congressional Hunger Center, first as a 23rd class Emerson National Hunger Fellow and later as a Senior Policy Associate for their domestic program. She also worked at D.C. Hunger Solutions, a project of the Food Research and Action Center, as a Program Associate focused on SNAP outreach and enrollment in the District of Columbia. Sakeenah is an AmeriCorps Alum of City Year – Seattle/King County and holds a Master of Public Policy (MPP) from the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley and a BA in Philosophy from Georgetown University. She is originally from San Diego, CA and resides in Washington, DC.

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Maurice Sholas, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Maurice Sholas is the Principal for Sholas Medical Consulting, LLC. In this capacity, he is charged with solving operational challenges for individual practitioners, hospitals and health care agencies. In additional he is a subject matter expert on children with special health care needs – actively practicing clinical medicine. As a former Senior Medical Director for Children’s Minnesota, he founded a program in Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine. For a six-year tenure, he previously led Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Pediatric Rehabilitation Medical Practice. That Practice provided clinical coverage to the largest pediatric inpatient rehabilitation unit in the United States, an outpatient Day Rehabilitation Program for children and a plethora of outpatient single specialty and multi-disciplinary clinics. In addition to those clinical duties, he was responsible for introducing a structure to incorporate and execute quality research and educational training programs that impact children with acquired or congenital disabilities. Dr. Sholas’ work, whether clinical or administrative, is focused on optimizing function. That breadth and experience is ideal for serving as a Trustee for the National Medical Association. It speaks to a familiarity with problem solving, collaboration and advocacy critical in these times of rampant health disparities and professional inequity.

Dr. Sholas was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He has traveled the country gathering the educational tools needed for a career that serves children with congenital and acquired physical disabilities as a specialist in Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine. His Primary and Secondary education was received in Illinois, Kansas and Virginia. For college, he returned to Louisiana to attend Southern University; majoring in Biology with an emphasis in Spanish. The skill set acquired through school and research activities during the summers, allowed a smooth transition to the M.D.-Ph.D. Program at Harvard Medical School. In addition to Medical Education, this program allowed Dr. Sholas to receive a terminal degree in the study of Neuroscience. His thesis focused on how pain signals are processed in the brain. Next, graduate medical education was completed in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Subspecialty training at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine followed this Internship and Residency experience. Dr. Sholas was the first practitioner of Pediatric Rehabilitation in the State of Louisiana and founded credentialing and recognition of the specialty in many jurisdictions.

Dr. Sholas’ pursuit of intellectual achievement is matched only by his pursuit of advocacy. He has extensive experience as a Trustee on community and advocacy Boards. He is a member of the Board of Directors Healthy Humor, Inc, a non-profit agency that brings smiles to hospitalized children and seniors across the country, and former board member of The Urban League of Greater New Orleans, an organization charged with economic empowerment of the most vulnerable members of our society. Currently, he is a Director on the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board; providing potable water, draining excess rainfall and flooding and managing waste for one of America’s iconic cities. He embodies the belief that being a good citizen is a prerequisite to being a great physician/leader. With humility and a desire to serve, this application is submitted with hopes that it will be received favorably.

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Bruce Siegel, M.D., M.P.H.

With an extensive background in health care management, policy, and public health, Bruce Siegel, M.D., M.P.H., has the blend of experience necessary to lead America’s Essential Hospitals and its members through the changing health care landscape and into a sustainable future. With more than 300 members, America’s Essential Hospitals is the only national organization representing hospitals committed to caring for the uninsured and others who face financial and social barriers to care.

Since joining America’s Essential Hospitals in 2010, Siegel has dramatically grown the association as it strengthened its advocacy, research, and education

efforts. His intimate knowledge of member needs comes in part from his direct experience as president and CEO of two member systems: New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation and Tampa General Healthcare. Just before joining America’s Essential Hospitals, Siegel served as director of the Center for Health Care Quality and professor of health policy at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. He also served as New Jersey’s commissioner of health.

Among his many accomplishments, Siegel led groundbreaking work on quality and equity, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He is a past chair of the National Quality Forum board and the National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research and Quality. Modern Healthcare recognized him as one of the “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare” from 2011 to 2019 and 2022 to 2023; among the “50 Most Influential Clinical Executives” in 2022 and 2023; among the “Top 25 Diversity Leaders in Healthcare” in 2021; one of the “50 Most Influential Physician Executives” from 2012 to 2018; and among the “Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare” in 2014 and 2016. He also was named one of the “50 Most Powerful People in Healthcare” by Becker’s Hospital Review in 2013 and 2014.

Siegel earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, a doctor of medicine from Cornell University Medical College, and a master’s degree in public health from The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health.

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Brian D. Smedley, Ph.D.

Brian D. Smedley is an Equity Scholar and Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute, where he conducts research and policy analysis to address structural and institutional forms of racism that impact the health and well-being of people of color.  Among the programs he leads at the Urban Institute is “Unequal Treatment at 20,” an effort to accelerate progress toward health care equity by identifying key policy levers and advancing a new research agenda focused on dismantling all forms of racism in health care training and clinical settings.  Formerly, Dr. Smedley was Chief of Psychology in the Public Interest at the American Psychological Association (APA), where he led APA’s efforts to apply the science and practice of psychology to the fundamental problems of human welfare and social justice.  In this role, Dr. Smedley was deeply involved in APA’s historic apology for psychology’s contributions to scientific racism and plans to correct this history and advance an anti-racist agenda in the discipline.  A national thought leader in the field of health equity, Dr. Smedley got his start in Washington, D.C. in 1993 as an APA Congressional Science Fellow, and subsequently served at APA as Director of Public Interest Policy.  Previously, he was co-founder and Executive Director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity (, a project that connects research, policy analysis, and communications with on-the-ground activism to advance health equity.  He was also co-Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leadership National Program Center.  From 2008 to 2014, Dr. Smedley was Vice President and Director of the Health Policy Institute of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, DC, a research and policy organization focused on addressing the needs of communities of color.  In this role, Dr. Smedley led the Place Matters (now, Collaboratives for Health Equity) national initiative to elevate the voices of local leaders seeking to address the role of place (and specifically, residential segregation) as a fundamental driver of racial health inequities.  Previously, Dr. Smedley was Research Director and co-founder of a communications, research and policy organization, The Opportunity Agenda (, which seeks to build the national will to expand opportunity for all.  Prior to helping launch The Opportunity Agenda, Dr. Smedley was a Senior Program Officer at the Institute of Medicine (IOM), where he served as Study Director for the IOM reports, In the Nation’s Compelling Interest: Ensuring Diversity in the Health Care Workforce and Unequal Treatment:  Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, among other reports on diversity in the health professions and minority health research policy.  Among his awards and distinctions, in 2021 Smedley was awarded the David Blumenthal Health Equity Champion Award from the Morehouse School of Medicine; in 2013 Smedley received the American Public Health Association’s Cornely Award for social activism; in 2009 Smedley was awarded the Congressional Black Caucus Congressional Leadership in Advocacy Award; in 2005 he received a Presidential Citation from the APA; in 2004 he was honored by the Rainbow/PUSH coalition as a “Health Trailblazer” award winner; and in 2002 he was awarded the Congressional Black Caucus “Healthcare Hero” award.  Dr. Smedley received a Ph.D. degree in Clinical Psychology from UCLA in 1992, and an A.B. degree in Psychology & Social Relations from Harvard University in 1986.

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Kymberle Landrum Sterling, Dr.P.H.

Kymberle Landrum Sterling, Dr.P.H., is an associate professor in the Department of Health Behavior, Society, and Policy and assistant dean for Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for Faculty and Talent Development at the Rutgers School of Public Health. She is also the associate director for Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the Rutgers Institute for Nicotine & Tobacco Studies.

Sterling earned her Master of Public Health degree from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and her doctoral degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health.

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Brad L. Stewart

As the leader of BDO’s BioProcess Technology Group (BPTG), Brad Stewart helps life sciences companies across the biopharmaceutical industry address challenges in biotech manufacturing, supply planning, strategy, and clinical development.  From pre-revenue startups to large public companies, Brad guides clients through complex technical and regulatory issues, allowing them to achieve key business milestones.

Brad has dedicated his career to the development and revitalization of a wide range of life sciences companies, maximizing shareholder value.  He excels in navigating complex strategic challenges and has a proven track record of effectively commercializing companies on a global scale.

Brad is also a dedicated advocate for the life sciences industry.  He chaired Maryland Life Sciences for a decade, the State affiliate of BIO, and is currently Chair of the Maryland Tech Council.  Brad has served in multiple Chief Executive, Board and Board Advisory roles across a diverse range of specialty-areas of the life sciences industry including: immunology, oncology, transplant, orphan drugs, diagnostics, development and management of joint ventures.  He also has extensive management consulting experience from leading the life sciences corporate strategy practices for three major international consulting firms.

Additionally, he led strategy and innovation, and also a team of economic development specialists focused on growing a diverse cross-section of businesses for a $100 billion economy – including life sciences, technology, cybersecurity, defense, and hospitality.  Previously Brad served as Chief Executive Officer of Immunology Partners and Chief Executive Officer of Cylex, Inc., where he executed a turnaround for an early stage, venture capital backed company (Roche, Siemens, Canaan Partners).

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John H. Stewart, M.D., M.B.A.

Dr. Stewart holds the prestigious position of Surgeon in Chief at Morehouse School of Medicine, where he oversees the department of surgery’s clinical vision, mission, and strategies. His prior roles include founding director of the LSU-Louisiana Children’s Medical Center Cancer Center and professor of surgery at LSU New Orleans School of Medicine. There, he led the multidisciplinary cancer care and clinical research programs for LSU Health New Orleans and LCMC Health.

Before his tenure at LSU, Dr. Stewart was the deputy director at the University of Illinois Cancer Center and held an executive role in oncology services for the University of Illinois Health System. His academic achievements include being a Presidential Scholar at the University of Illinois. His leadership experience is extensive, having been chief of surgery at the Durham VAMC, vice-chair at the Wake Forest School of Medicine Department of Surgery, and associate dean for clinical research and innovation at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

Dr. Stewart earned his medical degree from Howard University, completed his general surgery residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and undertook fellowships in surgical oncology, tumor immunology, and molecular oncology at the National Cancer Institute. Renowned for his contributions to education, scientific research, and cancer care for underserved populations, Dr. Stewart specializes in general surgical oncology, with a focus on melanoma, tumor immunotherapy, and peritoneal surface malignancies.

His professional involvement extends to being a director for the American Board of Surgery, chair of the American College of Surgeons Advisory Council for General Surgery, and a member of the Halsted Society Board of Directors. Dr. Stewart’s excellence in patient care has been acknowledged by Best Doctors, Top Doctors, and Top Surgeons. His research, supported by the National Cancer Institute, Amgen, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has yielded over 100 manuscripts in top-tier journals, highlighting his significant impact on the medical field.

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Danielle Turnipseed, J.D., MHSA, M.P.P.

As chief public policy officer, Danielle Turnipseed, JD, MHSA, MPP, leads the AAMC’s public policy and legislative advocacy efforts on issues affecting the health of people everywhere, particularly those involving the AAMC-member institutions’ missions of education, research, clinical care, and community collaborations. In her role, Turnipseed works with policymakers and other leaders to advance policy priorities that strengthen the health and well-being of the United States, including policies that affect health care delivery, research, medical education, and health equity.

Turnipseed brings more than 20 years of health care policy experience to the AAMC. She previously worked in the division of federal affairs at the American Medical Association, collaborating with key government agencies to advocate for critical issues impacting physicians and the nation’s health care system, including Medicare payment, health care quality, the nation’s response to COVID-19, and health equity. A former health policy advisor to two U.S. senators, Turnipseed is a thought leader on important health topics, including value-based care, population health, supplemental benefits, and digital solutions. Her experience and relationships span government agencies and the political spectrum.

She previously worked for America’s Health Insurance Plans, where she managed a multimillion-dollar grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention targeting diabetes prevention, and she also worked for the National Academy of Medicine as a program officer. Turnipseed’s work with stakeholders and health coalitions has included the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. She has worked on health policy and prevention efforts with an emphasis on health disparities, social determinants of health, chronic conditions, and federal programs. In her roles, she has provided industry analysis and insight for key stakeholders and has been instrumental in developing state Medicaid policies for preventive services.

Turnipseed received her undergraduate degree from Duke University; her law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law, Baltimore; and her public policy and public health dual degrees from the University of Michigan.

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Willie Underwood III, M.D., M.Sc., M.P.H.

Willie Underwood III, M.D., M.Sc., M.P.H., is a board-certified urologist with more than 20 years of overall urologic surgery experience, including more than 10 years focused on robotic urologic surgery. He was elected to the American Medical Association Board of Trustees in June 2019 and chair in June 2023.

An expert in health care disparities and health care policy, Dr. Underwood has served on several national and regional health care policy committees, including as a board member of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western and Northeastern New York and the Board of Commissioners of the Joint Commission.

He has also served as a board member and medical advisor to the Love Canal Medical Fund Inc., as a past president of the Erie County Medical Society of New York, as a member of the AMA and National Medical Association Commission to End Health Care Disparities, and as a member of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Urology Residency Review Committee. Dr. Underwood has also chaired the AMA Council on Legislation, the Erie County Medical Society Legislative Affairs Committee, and the Medical Society of the State of New York Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Committee.

Raised in Gary, Ind., Dr. Underwood earned his Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Morehouse College, and his Doctor of Medicine and Master of Science in anatomy and cellular biology degrees from the State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, N.Y. He received his general surgery and urologic surgery training at the University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Conn.

After his residency, he became the fifth urologist admitted into the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, which he completed in 2002 at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. While in Ann Arbor, he also earned a Master of Public Health degree in health management and policy from University of Michigan, School of Public Health in 2004.

In addition to co-authoring more than 120 peer-reviewed publications, book chapters and published abstracts, he has received millions in research funding from the National Institute of Health and holds patents in the U.S. and Japan for co-developing a biomarker for prostate cancer. He is the co-founder of KAPS Biotechnology LLC, which is currently conducting a larger validation study of its new and novel prostate cancer biomarker.

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Maranda C. Ward, Ed.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Maranda C. Ward is an Assistant Professor and Director of Equity in the Department of Clinical Research and Leadership in the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences. In this role, she designs, evaluates, and teaches health equity curriculum for student and faculty learners. Her teaching excellence was recognized with the highest teaching honor at GW- the 2021 Morton A. Bender Teaching award.

Dr. Ward is an expert in advancing anti-racism efforts within health professions education and in designing curricula to enable students and faculty to competently promote health and racial equity in practice. Her research focuses on diversity, equity, inclusion, justice and antiracism educational interventions as well as stakeholder-engaged community-focused studies on HIV, Black women’s health, and youth identity. As a member of the DC Center for AIDS Research (DC CFAR), she is the principal investigator on Two in One: HIV and COVID Screening & Testing Model that allows her to lead a national research-based educational intervention for primary care practitioners to routinize screenings for HIV, PrEP/PEP, and the COVID vaccine. This research will lead to a set of policy recommendations for overall practice-based changes for all patients and culturally responsive messaging for racial, ethnic, sexual and gender minoritized patients. She is also skilled in the application of participatory action research methods.

As an affiliate faculty for the GW Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service, she translated her participatory action research on youth identity into a youth-led canvas-based mural on preserving D.C. legacy. Dr. Ward’s research is further converted into practice as the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Promising Futures — a youth development pipeline for D.C. youth ages 11–24 that integrates a social justice approach to positive youth development using edu-tainment to invite youth to explore their civic and social identities, social inequities, and health seeking behaviors. When she is not teaching or serving on-campus, she is engaged in DC in a range of capacities. For instance, she is on the board of trustees for the Washington School for Girls and founding board member of Girls Rock DC. She also serves on the Sibley Memorial Hospital & Johns Hopkins Medicine advisory board for wellness projects in wards 7 and 8. The DC Mayor, Muriel Bowser, appointed her to fill an advisory board seat on the Mayor’s Commission on Health Equity.

When asked, she describes herself as a community educator, curriculum developer, and youth builder. She has strong commitments to service-learning, equity, community legacy, youth development, and honoring youth voice. Maranda earned the 2024 Dorothy Nyswander Health Equity award by the Society for Public Health Education, the 2023 GW Black Alumni Impact award, the 2022 Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement Award by Transform Mid-Atlantic, the 2020–2021 GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Award as well as the 2021 Stigma Warrior Award during the 12th Annual International Conference on Stigma at Howard University for going above and beyond in her field to fight discrimination among historically marginalized populations. She has been consulted by, Rolling Out Magazine, DCist, the Washington Post for her research on HIV disparities and featured on a live segment of Good Morning Washington, NPR’s Morning Edition and the KevinMD podcast for her health equity expertise.

Maranda earned her Doctorate in Education from GW, her Master’s in Public Health from Tulane University, and her Bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Anthropology from Spelman College. She enjoys learning from youth, traveling, and brunch.

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Victoria (Tori) Wenger

Victoria (Tori) Wenger is an attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), where she focuses primarily on voting rights matters. In 2020, Tori served as council in Harding v. Edwards, a successful federal challenge to expand critical early voting and absentee-by-mail opportunities in Louisiana during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has since litigated multiple redistricting cases under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, advocating for Black voters to have an equal opportunity to elect their candidates of choice in congressional, state legislative, and state appellate court districts. In addition to litigating voting rights cases, Tori coordinates a team of LDF staff engaged in year-round voter education efforts and proactive election administration advocacy work in Louisiana. In this capacity, she has helped author and advance over half a dozen laws to protect and expand voting rights at the state level. 

Tori is a member of the New York Bar and a 2019 graduate of New York University School of Law. She graduated from Harvard University with a joint degree in African American Studies and Government in 2014. Prior to law school, Tori served as a communications associate at Advancement Project in Washington, D.C., where she specialized in voting rights and police accountability.

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Robert C. White, Jr.

A proud fifth generation Washingtonian, Robert C. White, Jr. is in his second term as At-Large Member of the Council of the District of Columbia. He chairs the Council’s Committee on Housing.

Robert began his career in public service as a law clerk in the Maryland District Court for Montgomery County. For five years, he worked in the United States Congress, serving as Legislative Counsel to the District’s Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. In 2014, he was tapped by Attorney General Karl A. Racine to serve as the first Director of Community Outreach for the DC Office of the Attorney General. In 2016, Robert was elected as an at-large Councilmember with the highest number of votes in the history of DC’s elected Council. He was re-elected in 2020.

Robert and his wife, Christy, an attorney with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, reside in Ward 4 with their daughters, Madison and Monroe, and rescue pit bull, Roscoe. They attend St. Martin’s Catholic Church. Robert loves spending time with his family, reading, and riding his motorcycle.

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James M. Williams, Jr.

A native Washingtonian, James M. Williams, Jr, is a graduate of Fisk University with a degree in African History and Public Administration. He is currently director of federal affairs for cancer prevention, early detection and screening with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). Before joining ACS CAN, he was director of federal affairs for Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, where he helped secure the only branch of NIH outside Bethesda, MD on their campus. Between 1988–2011 James served as a top staffer on Capitol Hill to six different members of Congress, including as Chief of Staff to Rep. John Lewis and Legislative Director/Appropriations Staffer to Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick. He currently serves on over six different non-profit boards with a primary focus on the differently-abled and recently retired after 10 years from West Point’s Board of Admissions.  He and his wife Patrice share five adult children.

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NMA would like to thank the following sponsors for their support of the NMA 2024 Colloquium.