HEALTH JUSTICE CONFERENCE 2021 January 16, 2021 

Where: Virtual Conference via Zoom

When: January 16, 2021 @ 9AM 

Health Justice Conference 2021

We have extended our registration until January 13th at 5pm.


Dr. Uché Blackstock, MD

Dr. David Ansell, MD, MPH

Senior Vice President/Associate Provost for Community Health Equity at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago

Founder and CEO, Advancing Health Equity 

Adiasha Richards-Thornhill, LMHC

Growth and Transitions Counseling, Owner

Dr. Rebecca Garden, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Public Health and Preventative Medicine at SUNY Upstate Medical University


Our keynote speaker, Dr. Uché Blackstock, is a thought leader and sought-after speaker on health inequities and racism in health care. She is the Founder and CEO of Advancing Health Equity, which partners with healthcare and healthcare-related organizations to address the critical factors contributing to health inequity, through talks, workshops, and consulting services.

She was formerly an Associate Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and the Faculty Director for Recruitment, Retention and Inclusion in the Office of Diversity Affairs at NYU School of Medicine. She left NYU School of Medicine in December 2019 after almost 10 years on faculty to focus on Advancing Health Equity. 

Dr. Blackstock received both her undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard University.

Dr. Ansell is the Michael E Kelly Presidential Professor of Internal Medicine and Senior Vice President/Associate Provost for Community Health Equity at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

He is a 1978 graduate of SUNY Upstate Medical College.


He did his medical training at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. He spent 13 years at Cook County as an attending physician and ultimately was appointed Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine at Cook County Hospital.  


From 1995 to 2005 he was Chairman of Internal Medicine at Mount Sinai Chicago. He was recruited to Rush University Medical Center as its inaugural Chief Medical Officer in 2005, a position he held until 2015. His research and advocacy has been focused on eliminating health inequities.


In 2011 he published a memoir of his times at County Hospital, County: Life, Death, and Politics at Chicago’s Public Hospital. His latest book is The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills was published in 2017. 

Adiasha Richards-Thornhill, LMHC is a proud Trinidadian, owner of Growth and Transitions Counseling located in Queens, NY (Middle Village). She has a team of licensed therapists that serve a wide demographic of people in the areas focused on Mental Health Services.

She believes her purpose is to serve as a healer, which she aims to do through her private practice, supervising and coaching aspiring clinicians, speaking engagements, and workshops she hosts. She works individually with women to help them work through their trauma, heal from past wounds, and grow the skills needed to move out of surviving and into a life of full living.


Being from the Caribbean, Adiasha is also passionate about connecting with the community, reducing stigma, and increasing understanding and practice of mental wellness in the Caribbean community. 

Rebecca Garden, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at SUNY Upstate Medical University.


Dr. Garden received her doctorate in English and comparative literature from Columbia University while serving as Associate Director for the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.


Her research draws on literature—particularly autobiographical narratives—and on literary and disability studies to address social, cultural, and ethical issues in healthcare and public health.


She has published on the disparities and discrimination that deaf and disabled people face in healthcare as well as essays on the role of the health humanities in addressing structural inequities.


Dr. Garden’s most recent research is on refugee literature and graphic memoirs.

Dr. Renee Crichlow, MD

Dr. Renee Crichlow is the Director of Advocacy and Policy for the University of Minnesota Dept of Family Medicine and Community Health. She practices and teaches full spectrum Family Medicine.


Dr. Crichlow’s first position was as an attending physician, researcher, and instructor at UC Davis, with a joint appointment in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and OB/GYN Breast Health Clinic. Prior to joining the UMN North Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program, she was faculty at the Montana Family Medicine Residency with one of her continuity clinics in the town of Joliet (population 900).


Now, Dr. Crichlow serving as an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Department of Family Medicine, and as the Director of Advocacy and Policy, she serves on the Executive Team for the Chair of the UMN Dept. of Family Medicine and Community Health. She is the immediate past President and current Board Chair of the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians.


She is on the national board of the Society for Teachers of Family Medicine. Dr. Crichlow has two fellowships one in Medical Education and a Health Policy Fellowship through the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Director of Advocacy and Policy for the University of Minnesota Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

Dr. Rachel Fabi, Ph.D.

Dr. Rachel Fabi is an Assistant Professor in the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York. She serves as a member of SUNY Upstate University Hospital’s ethics consultation service and as a faculty research affiliate of the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at Syracuse University.


Dr. Fabi completed her Ph.D. in Health Policy and Management in the Bioethics and Health Policy track at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In 2019, Dr. Fabi was awarded the Greenwall Fellowship in Bioethics by the National Academy of Medicine. Her research focuses on the ethics of health policies that affect immigrant access to health care and the social determinants of health.

Assistant Professor in the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at SUNY Upstate Medical University

Robin Wilson-Beattie is a speaker, writer, and advocate for disability and sexuality as well as one of the first people to talk about disability, sexuality, and marketing to adult product retailers and manufacturers. She combines years of personal experience with medically sound research to provide a unique perspective on how life and identity impacts one's sexual expression. Her speaking engagements include multiple keynotes and panels, including three consecutive years speaking at the  Adult Video News convention in Las Vegas. 


Her work has not only helped tens of thousands of disabled people but also inspired many others to become advocates for sexuality and disability education, an incredibly underserved area.


Robin is a member of the Association of American Sexual Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT), the Women of Color Sexual Health Network (WOCSHN), and a graduate and member of the San Francisco Sexuality Information Training (SFSI). Currently, she is writing a book on the intersection of disability and sex work in history and the present.


Robin is a deep-fried Southern woman, mid-century buff, and proud Mama of one son.

Robin Wilson-Beattie

SexAbled, Founder

Dr. Lawrence Chin, MD 

Dean of the College of Medicine at SUNY Upstate Medical University 

Lawrence S. Chin, MD is the Dean of the College of Medicine and the Robert B. and Molly G. King Endowed Professor of Neurosurgery at SUNY Upstate Medical University. He is a native of Michigan and received his BS and MD degrees from the University of Michigan followed by a neurosurgery residency at USC/LA County Hospital.


He joined the University of Maryland in 1994 where he became Professor of Neurosurgery and was director of Neuro-Oncology and the Gamma Knife Center.


In 2006, he became Chair of Neurosurgery at Boston University, and in 2011 was named Chair of Neurosurgery at SUNY Upstate and the Neurosurgery Residency Program Director. Just prior to becoming Interim Dean on September 16, 2019, he was Chair of the Governing Board of the SUNY Upstate Faculty Practice Plan.


Dr. Chin specializes in brain tumor, skull base, and spine surgery. He has published over 150 articles and book chapters.  Dr. Chin was named permanent Dean on January 30, 2020.



Structural Violence in Healthcare 

presented by Dr. Rebecca Garden

The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills 

presented by Dr. David Ansell

Keynote: Mobilizing for Health Equity 

presented by Dr. Uche Blackstock

Immigrant Health + Advocacy 

presented by Dr. Rachel Fabi

presented by Dr. Renee Crichlow

Health Justice and LGBTQ 

Disability and Ableism in Sexual Health

presented by Robin Wilson-Beattie

Birthing While Black

presented by SeQuoia Kemp

The Intersection of Medicine and Public Health: Collaborating to Address Health Inequities on Multiple Levels

presented by Dr. Michael Sells

Trauma in the Black Community: A Focus on Mental Health

presented by Adiasha Richards-Thornhill, LMHC

Health Disparities vs. Health Justice:

Ending the AIDS Epidemic Within A Pandemic

presented by Johanne Morne, MS

Native American Health Disparities, History & Culture

presented by Dr. Brian Thompson, MD

Panel Discussion: Food Insecurity & COVID-19

panelists: Gayln Murphy Stanley, Lewis H. Clarke, MPH and Rachel Viens, RDN 

Panel Discussion: Avenues for Advocacy

panelists: Jennifer Dias, Osose Oboh, MPH and Sutton King, MPH


9am - 9:30am

Yoga + Meditation

9:45am - 10am

Opening Remarks

 Dr. Lawrence Chin, MD 

10pm - 10:50am

Session A Presentations

11:55am - 12:30pm

12:30pm - 1:30pm

 led by Nneka Onwumere MD '24

11:05 - 11:55am

Session B Presentations


Keynote Address

 Dr. Uche Blackstock, MD

1:45pm - 2:35pm

Session C Presentations

2:50pm - 3:40pm

3:40pm - 3:50pm

Session D Presentations

Closing Remarks





Samantha Williams MD '23

Isabelle Thenor-Louis MD '24

Angelina Ellis MD, MPH '25

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“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

― Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

We are so excited to see our attendees, virtually!
Thank you to all those who registered for our conference.
Between January 13th and January 15th, we will be sending out an email with our official conference guide, schedule, and Zoom links to each session.
Please be sure to check your email (including your spam box!) in order to receive important information about the big day!
Do you have more questions?
Please email our official conference email,
Land Acknowledgement 
We acknowledge that we are learning and organizing on Haudenosaunee and Onundagaonoga (Onondaga) land.
This acknowledgment is not nearly enough to honor the people and land, but we hope that this acknowledgment promotes the visibility of indigenous peoples and raises awareness about their suppressed histories.



Michael L. Sells currently works as a Public Health Advisor on the Advancing Population Health Team in the Program Services Branch of the Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.  He has worked on the local, state and national levels for over 20 years in the field of Public Health. 


His interests lie in the application of research to practice with a specific emphasis in advocating on behalf those sub-populations who face health inequities.  His expertise and experience in public health results from his work across the U.S., with U.S. territories such as Guam, Palau, and the Virgin Islands, as well as on the continent of Africa in Zambia. 


Prior to working in heart disease, he has served in a variety of roles in divisions within the Chronic Disease Center that include: The Division of Adult and Community Health, the Division of Adolescent and School Health, the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, the Division of Diabetes Translation, as well as special assignments in infectious diseases and emergency response.    

Dr. Michael Sells, Ph.D.

Public Health Advisor on Advancing Population Health Team at the Center for Disease Control 


SeQuoia Kemp

SeQuoia Kemp is a Black feminist birthworker from Syracuse, NY, where she serves as a community organizer, health justice advocate, public health educator, and community-based doula. Sequoia Kemp is the Founder and CEO of Doula 4 a Queen.


She is also a founding member of Sankofa Reproductive Health and Healing Center, which is a partnership between Village Birth International and Doula 4 a Queen. Her work is rooted in ancestral, liberatory, and evidence-based practices.


She currently holds a Bachelors of Arts in Public Health (2016) and Bachelors of Science in Nursing (2020) from the University of Rochester. SeQuoia is committed to advancing the field of midwifery through community-based models to eliminate racial disparities in maternal and infant health.

Doula 4 A Queen, Founder and CEO


Nneka Onwumere, MD '24

MSI at SUNY Upstate Medical University + Yoga and Meditation Leader 

Nneka Onwumere fell in love with the practice of yoga as an undergraduate student when she took the class as an elective.  Even after graduation, she pursued taking classes at nearby studios in New York City.  She was enthralled by the peace and comfort it gave her living in the city that never sleeps.  In 2016, Nneka took a leap of faith and completed her training to become a certified power vinyasa yoga teacher.  In 2017, she went back and completed her hot yoga certification. She has been practicing ever since, especially as a first-year medical student at Upstate Medical University.  Although it is not as convenient to head to a studio now as it was then, Nneka continues to spread the power of yoga through online practice. She proceeds to share her light with others and helps others to find the light within during these dark times.  


Johanne E. Morne, MS

Director of the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute.

Johanne Morne currently serves as Director of the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute.  Ms. Morne has been with the AIDS Institute for more than 13 years. The AIDS Institute was created in 1983 to coordinate the State’s overall response to the HIV epidemic. 


The AIDS Institute has a broad mission including hepatitis and sexually transmitted disease (STD) services, surveillance, drug user health, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) health and human services. Ms. Morne’s leadership has advanced the State’s Ending the Epidemic initiative and the Hepatitis C Elimination campaign. 


Her direction of deliberations related to Undetectable=Untransmittable led the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) to sign on to the U=U consensus statement.  The NYSDOH was the first state health department to do so.  Ms. Morne has served as a board member of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) and served as Board Chair May 2019 to May 2020.  In 2019, Ms. Morne was appointed to the CDC/HRSA Advisory Committee (CHAC) on HIV, Viral Hepatitis and STD Prevention and Treatment. 


The CHAC advises the HHS Secretary, the CDC Director, and the HRSA Administrator on objectives, strategies, policies, and priorities for HIV, viral hepatitis, and STD prevention and treatment efforts.


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Dr. Brian Thompson, MD

Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Upstate Medical University 

Brian Thompson, MD, FACOG is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York.  Dr. Thompson, who is of Oneida and Mohawk ancestry, was raised on the Onondaga and Oneida Nations prior to moving to Syracuse, New York.

Dr. Thompson has an active practice as a board certified OB/GYN as well as a faculty member at Upstate Medical University teaching and mentoring medical students and residents.

Dr. Thompson is a strong advocate nationally for Native American healthcare and healthcare of the underserved. He is active in the care of Native Americans and underserved populations as well as the recruitment and mentoring of Native American and underrepresented students into medical careers. 

Dr. Thompson’s interests include the development and implementation of patient safety and quality measures, reduction in maternal mortality and heath disparities, Women’s healthcare and as a strong advocate for the continued improvement and implementation of Native American healthcare systems and culturally relevant, culturally sensitive best practice models. 

Dr. Thompson graduated summa cum laude from Syracuse University and completed his medical degree from the State University of New York Health Science Center at Syracuse and his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. He has worked previously for the United States Indian Health Service at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center in Phoenix Arizona as well as the Syracuse Community Health Center in Syracuse New York, providing care for the undeserved.


He currently is a member of various quality and patient safety committees.

Dr. Thompson has received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics.


Gayln Murphy-Stanley

Neighborhood Outreach & Food Center Coordinator at University United Methodist Church

Galyn Murphy-Stanley is a native Syracusan who manages and coordinates one of the largest Emergency Food Distribution sites in the city of Syracuse. Without disruption Galyn, with a large team of volunteers, a supportive partnership with the Food Bank of Central New York, and interfaith sponsorship from several religious houses have organized, coordinated, and provided foods and auxiliary services to all Syracusans throughout the COVID pandemic at the Food Center @ 324 University Ave. 

Galyn has three degrees from Syracuse University from the School of Education and College of Visual and Performing Arts. In an ever-changing career constantly driven by the commitment to social justice Galyn has found food justice work to be the vehicle where the largest impact can be made to the most amount of people. 

Rooted in the commitment to fairness, food as medicine, accessibility, and strong networks Galyn and her team are moving thousands of pounds of food to a thousand plus people each week, COVID safe.


Director, Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program

Lewis H. Clarke, III

Lewis has more than 30 years experience with public health programs in the Department of Health. Lewis is currently the Director of the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as HPNAP, and has had that assignment for over 25 years. He is a graduate of Princeton Univiersity and completed Master's level curriculum in Public Health with the State University of New York and the Department of Health's School of Public Health. 


Rachel Viens, RDN

Director of Food and Nutrition Services, Syracuse City School District 

Rachel Viens, formally known as Murphy, is the Director of Food and Nutrition Services for the Syracuse City School District. She is responsible for operating the USDA child nutrition programs such as the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program within the Syracuse City School district.


In addition, she is responsible for coordinating the local Blessings in a Backpack Program which provides supplemental meals for food-insecure students over the weekend and is active in various committees and organizations in the community supporting advocacy efforts surrounding local farming, child hunger, and childhood obesity prevention efforts.


Rachel graduated from Syracuse University in 2004 where she also completed her Dietetic Internship.


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MD Candidate at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Jennifer Dias is a second-year MD candidate at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Outside of the classroom, she leads efforts on implementing anti-racist initiatives in academic medicine and launching innovative solutions to address racial inequity and structural determinants within healthcare. She currently serves in a range of leadership positions and works in close partnership with administration, faculty, and staff at her institution to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion work within admissions, medical education, and the East Harlem community. 


Dias earned her undergraduate degree from Colgate University in 2016, where she majored in Biology and Spanish Literature, ran Division I Varsity Track and Field, and was the founding president of her alma mater’s Minority Association for Premedical Students (MAPS) chapter. Prior to medical school, she worked as a clinical research coordinator at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Her research team focused on developing web-based interventions for women with pregnancy complications and increased risk for cardiovascular disease post-partum. Her clinical and research interests include mentorship, organizational leadership, surgery, immigrant health, and healthcare innovation. 

Jennifer Dias

Osose Oboh - Headshot.jpg

Osose Oboh, MPH

National President, Student National Medical Association + MD Candidate at Michigan State University 

Osose Oboh is a medical student, visual storyteller, content creator, and advocate for minorities pursuing careers in medicine. She went to UCLA obtaining her B.S. in Biology before going to the University of Southern California for her MPH with a focus on Global Health Leadership. Now, she is now a 4th year at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.


This past April, she was sworn in as the National President of the Student National Medical Association for the 2020-2021 administration. Additionally, she is the Student Trustee to the Board of Trustees of the National Medical Association. Osose loves the art of storytelling, and is a professional photographer by trade. She is excited to not only become clinically excellent during residency in Internal Medicine, but also to learn how to share powerful stories of her patients and their communities that shifts perspectives.

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Sutton King, MPH

President and Executive Director, Urban Indigenous Collective

Sutton King, MPH, is Afro-Indigenous of the Menominee and Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. She is an Indigenous Health Advocate, Researcher, and Social Entrepreneur dedicated to developing and scaling innovative solutions to improve Indigenous health equity across sectors.


Her focuses center decolonial approaches and culturally appropriate methodologies within technology, healthcare and business. She supports research to increase the visibility surrounding Indigenous health outcomes and access to mental health care for Urban Natives through her roles as President and Executive Director of the Urban Indigenous Collective a grassroots organization dedicated to the health and wellbeing of Urban Natives and Co-Founder of ShockTalk a telebehavioral application connecting Native users to Native therapists.


She is the Chief Impact Officer for Journey Colab, a biotech company decolonizing their approach to drug development. In her role as Chief Impact Officer for Journey Colab, she supports the design and implementation of a stakeholder model and ensures social impact through company accountability.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.


Aniah McLeod, MD '24

Moderator - Food Insecurity + COVID-19

Aniah McLeod is a first-year medical student at SUNY Upstate Medical University. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2019 with a degree in Neuroscience, double minors in Chemistry and Swahili, and a certificate in Global Health.


In 2020, she earned her Masters of Science in Medical Technology as part of the Medical Scholars program at SUNY Upstate. Aniah enjoys finding and creating different avenues to pursue her passions for health advocacy and uplifting others.


Adaobi Ikpeze, BSN RN, is a medical student, activist, and advocate for health equity, social justice, and underrepresented medical students in medicine. She graduated from St. John Fisher College with a B.S. in Nursing and worked as a Registered nurse at the University of Rochester Medical Center for three years prior to starting medical school. 


Now, she is a 4th-year medical student at SUNY Upstate Medical University. She has held numerous leadership positions while in medical school. Most notably she has served as V.P of Student National Medical Association Upstate Chapter, a student representative for Dean’s Advisory Committee on Diversity and inclusion, and is currently the President of the Upstate Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society.  Adaobi is a tireless advocate for change. She leverages her close partnerships with administration, colleagues, and community members to advance health care reform, reducing barriers to healthcare access, diversifying the face of medicine, and humanism in medicine.


Her passion for advocacy is palpable within the Health Justice Conference organization (HJC). She is a past co-chair, a member of the HJC committee, and continues to serve as an advisor to future chairs. Adaobi is also passionate about global health, mental health, and is a mentor to many. She is excited to embark on her next journey; resident training in the art and science of pediatrics! 

Adaobi Ikpeze, MD '21

Moderator - Avenues for Advocacy