National Medical Association Professional Development Series

Presenter Biographies

Rachel Villanueva, M.D.

122 President, National Medical Association

Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Rachel Villanueva, M.D. FACOG is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine. She earned a BS in Biology at Yale University and MD, cum laude, from the Yale School of Medicine. She is board certified in Obstetrics/Gynecology and practices in New York City.

Dr. Villanueva is a woman’s health expert and advocate for reproductive justice, health equity, disease prevention and workforce diversity. Dr. Villanueva is the 122nd President of the National Medical Association, the nation’s oldest and largest professional organization representing African-American Physicians and their patients, previously serving as the Chair of the Board and Speaker of their House of Delegates. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of Alumni in Yale Medicine, an ACOG fellow serving on the Health Equity Subcommittee of the District 2 Safe Motherhood Initiative and on the health policy advisory council for a managed care corporation. Dr. Villanueva is a member of the Medical Advisory Group of the Black Health Trust, a group of physicians and health care professionals, committed to educating and serving communities of color. She is a medical advisor to Expect, a streaming video app that provides safe at-home prenatal fitness classes. She is an avid snowboarder, Bikram Yogi and tennis player. Dr. Villanueva is a native New Yorker and first generation American of Haitian descent.

Jean Accius, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President, AARP Global Thought Leadership

Adjunct Professorial Lecturer, Department of Public Administration and Policy, American University

Dr. Jean Accius is a passionate champion and catalyst for changing how the world sees and values aging. He is an internationally recognized thought leader on aging, longevity, equity, health systems transformation and modernizing the delivery and financing of long-term care. With tri-sector experience and deep knowledge, he has a strong track record of building high-performing teams, managing cross-functional operations and processes, and developing innovative and actionable solutions, policies, and programs to close the opportunity gap so that everyone can live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

As Senior Vice President of Global Thought Leadership at AARP, he leads a team in positioning AARP as a global thought leader by identifying emerging trends around the world, cultivating and elevating new ideas, forging global strategic alliances that become the foundation for collaboration and sparking bold solutions to change systems and improve the lives of the global population as it ages.

Dr. Accius has been generously recognized for his transformational leadership, business acumen, and systems change approach, including:

  • Next Avenue’s Influencer in Aging Award (2020)
  • Florida State University’s Alumni Association Circle of Gold (2020)
  • The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Sharecare Award for groundbreaking work on male family caregivers (2019)
  • The Maryland Daily Record 2019 Influential Marylander Award
  • Black Enterprise magazine’s 2018 Modern Man of Distinction
  • Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund 40 under 40 Award (2018)
  • Gerontological Society of America Fellow (2018)
  • The National Academy of Social Insurance New Generation of Social Insurance Leaders Award (2017)

A highly sought after author and speaker, Dr. Accius has been quoted by or appeared in numerous media outlets, including The New York Times, Forbes, TIME Magazine, USA Today, Reuters, Politico, Next Avenue, ESPN’s Undefeated, Rolling Out, NationSwell, Congressional Quarterly, and Huffington Post.  In 2020, he facilitated several sessions at the 50th annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and also engaged nearly 300 leaders across industries and sectors, including 20 ambassadors and many delegates, at the United Nations.

Accius is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors and has held a variety of board and advisory positions including Justice in Aging, the American Society on Aging, Leadership Maryland and the American University School of Public Affairs Board of Advisors. Previous Board appointments also include Florida State University Alumni Association, the South Florida Institute on Aging Policy Council and the Editorial Advisory Committee for Generations, the journal for the American Society on Aging.

He is an Executive Leadership Council Fellow, member of G100’s Transformational Leadership Network, and holds a bachelor’s degree in hospitality administration and a master’s degree in aging studies from the Claude Pepper Institute at Florida State University. He also holds a Ph.D. in public administration from American University.  Dr. Accius is a graduate of Leadership Maryland’s Class of 2014, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health program on health reform, and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business Corporate Innovation program.

Kenneth Alleyne, M.D.

Kenneth Alleyne, MD, is a board-certified sports medicine orthopedic surgeon practicing in Connecticut and Manhattan. He is an attending surgeon across multiple hospital systems and has held faculty appointments domestically and internationally. Dr. Alleyne is the managing partner of HartHaven Partners a healthcare investment and consulting firm. He is a co-founder of NextLevel Health Partners a Medicaid managed care organization in the Midwest and Zing Healthcare a technology enabled Medicare Advantage Health Plan. To address the challenges of population health, in 2015 Dr. Alleyne and his partners founded VirtualHealth, a leading population health management platform. He serves as the team physician and consultant to many local, national, and international athletic organizations. Dedicated to serving his community, Dr. Alleyne currently serves as Chair of the Connecticut Health Foundation. Additionally, he serves on the boards of the University of Connecticut Health Center, the Hartford City Ballet, Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation and Student Achievement Through Opportunity, an organization raising resources for academic and arts enrichment for low income students. Since 2019 he has served on the board of the Connecticut Public Television and Radio. Dr. Alleyne is a graduate of Williams College and completed his medical training at Wake Forest University. Residency training was undertaken at Howard University Hospital and he subsequently completed a fellowship in sports medicine, knee and shoulder surgery at Yale University as well as tissue engineering at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. He is an avid skier, jazz enthusiast, cyclist and gadget collector. He lives in West Hartford with his wife Shaun Biggers, MD and their two children.

Doug Bender, B.S., M.S., SPHR

Adjunct Professor, Bovard College, University of Southern California

Chairman, Greensboro, North Carolina Human Rights Commission.

Doug Bender grew up in the South and West of the U.S. and graduated from Alcorn State University with a BA in Political Science and Economics.

He went on to receive a Masters degree in Human Resources Counseling from North Carolina A&T State University and studied law at North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina.

He has worked for some of the most exciting organizations in corporate America including Miller Brewing Company, Uncle Ben’s Foods, Dove, International, M&M/Mars, and Kal Kan Petcare, and held a number of corporate and manufacturing HR positions of increasing responsibility which included international assignments. His last corporate assignment for Mars, Incorporated prior to entering private consulting practice was as Head of HR Support Services for North America and Co-Chair for Global HR Support Services over seeing the management of a combined budget of over $200 million dollars annually.

Doug is an Adjunct Instructor at the heralded California State University campuses at Long Beach and Fullerton and has lectured many international business leadership delegations from around the world including The Peoples Republic of China.

Along with many published professional articles written over the course of his career he has also published the award winning book titled The ABC’s of Leadership in 2008 (Axiom Business Book Awards) and a second book, Caution: Smiles At Work (lulu.com, 2014). In addition, he is a Contributing Author to bestseller The Leadership Challenge Activities Book by Kouzes and Posner (Pfeiffer, 2010).

Melissa Bishop-Murphy

Senior Director, National Government Relations and Multicultural Affairs, Pfizer Inc.

Melissa Bishop-Murphy is Senior Director of National Government Relations and Multicultural Affairs at Pfizer, Inc, where she supports the company’s overall federal and state government relations and public affairs strategy and advises leadership on current multicultural congressional and legislative issues and activities. In addition, Ms. Bishop-Murphy leads Pfizer’s  government relations activities in GA, SC, NC and Puerto Rico as well as co-leads Pfizer’s Multicultural Health Equity Collective. She has lobbied issues such as the Medicare Reform Act, drug importation legislation, authorized generics, and asbestos and patent reduction legislation.

Prior to joining Pfizer, Ms. Bishop-Murphy was General Counsel for the Georgia Department of Medical Assistance, concentrating in the areas of Medicare and Medicaid, and also served as an Attorney with the Department of Health and Human Services. Named one of Georgia’s most powerful and influential women in Women Looking Ahead Magazine, Ms. Bishop-Murphy is currently on the board of the Andrew Young Center for International Affairs at Morehouse College and the Georgia Charter Schools Association.

Ms. Bishop-Murphy received a B.A., summa cum laude, from Stillman College and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center. She received her M.B.A. from the University of Georgia.

Cedric M. Bright, M.D.

Interim Vice Dean and the Associate Dean for Admissions, Professor of Internal Medicine, Brody School of Medicine, Greenville NC

Dr. Cedric M. Bright, physician and patient advocate, is the Interim Vice Dean and the Associate Dean for Admissions, Professor of Internal Medicine at the Brody School of Medicine in Greenville NC. Previously, he served as the Associated Dean of Inclusive Excellence, the Director of the Office Special Programs and an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medical Education at the UNC School of Medicine. He served as the 112th President of the National Medical Association from 2011 to 2012 during which time he advocated in the White House for health equity, increased diversity in clinical trials, and increasing the pipeline of students of color into health careers. He was previously an Associate Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine and Community and Family Medicine at Duke University and a staff physician at the VA Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. He started his career as a Clinical instructor at Brown University. Dr. Bright has served as a mentor for premedical and medical students and was featured in a 2016 U tube video and 2020 movie developed by Diverse Medicine Inc. entitled “Black Men in a White Coats”. He was featured in the 2015 AAMC publication “Altering the Course; Black Males in Medicine”. He has spoken at the Congressional Black Caucus Health brain trust before on topics related to Veteran’s health, disparities within the VA system, and how to strengthen the pipeline of black males. In 2019, Dr. Bright was inducted into the Order of the Golden Fleece, the highest honor bestowed to UNC Alumni. He was elected for AOA at UNC as an alumnus and delivered the 2020 commencement keynote for the 2020 class at UNC SOM. He serves on the roundtable of Black Men and Women in STEM for National Academy of Science, Engineering and Math and has presented numerous grand rounds on the impact of Covid 19 on the black community.

Dr. Bright is a fellow of the American College of Physicians since 2012 and serves as a board member for the National Medical Fellowships Inc., AMA Foundation, and on the W. Montague Cobb/ NMA Health Institute. He served as the chair for the Boys and Girls Club of Durham and Orange Counties and the Lincoln Community Health Center. He is a member of Sigma Pi Phi and the Omega Psi Phi fraternities.

He is a dedicated clinician, community servant leader, husband, and father, as well as a mentor to many.

Carolyn Barley Britton, M.D., M.S.

Professor of Neurology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Attending Physician at New York Presbyterian Hospital. She is Chief Diversity Officer for the Department of Neurology and an elected member of the Executive Committee of the Academy of Clinical Excellence. She is the 109th President of the National Medical Association.

Dr. Britton received an M.D. from New York University, where she also received an M.S. in Microbiology (Virology). She completed her internship and residency in internal medicine at Harlem Hospital Center, Columbia University affiliation, followed by a residency in neurology and a research fellowship in neurovirology at the Neurological Institute.

Dr. Britton is a recognized expert in neurovirology and infectious/inflammatory diseases of the nervous system. For many years, she worked tirelessly to support funding for AIDS clinical trials, the training of minority and women clinical researchers, and the inclusion of minority populations and women in clinical trials. She also worked on programs to increase the number of underrepresented populations in medical school training and on legislative initiatives to increase health care access to under-resourced, marginalized populations and all Americans.

Her work at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases helped produce the changes in federal clinical research guidelines to require inclusion of women and minorities, and to expand clinical trials in the community. She was among the first to describe the neurologic complications of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and is a recognized authority on a rare viral complication, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy.

Dr. Britton has been a visiting lecturer in the United States, Europe and the Caribbean. She has held leadership positions in several professional organizations and boards, including Board of Trustees NMA, American Academy of Neurology, the Governor’s Task Force on AIDS (New York), Manhattan Central Medical Society and the Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation.

Dr. Britton was recognized as Teacher of the Year by the Black and Latin Student Organization at Columbia University. She was listed among “New York’s Best Doctors” in New York magazine in 1996 and 2006, Castle-Connolly Best Doctors in New York Metro area since 2003 and currently, and Best Doctors in America since 2004 and currently. She has been profiled in The Network Journal and Ebony Magazine as one of the Top Black Physicians.

Doris Browne, M.D., M.P.H.

National Medical Association 118th President

Dr. Browne is the President and CEO, Browne and Associates, LLC (BAI), a health consulting company that manages programs addressing national and global health disparities and the 118th President of the National Medical Association (NMA). As President of the NMA, her program theme focused on a Collaborative Approach to Health Equity entitled “The Urgency of Now: Creating a Culture for Health Equity. She tirelessly champions many causes that have significantly contributed to improving the health status of vulnerable population. She has achieved both national and international recognition as an expert educator and speaker. She has been either featured or quoted in many news articles and Op-Eds to include the Army Times, US Medicine, Ebony, Essence, Washington Post, PBS News Hour, and ePolitico to name a few. She specializes in and is passionate about women’s health, cancer, environmental justice, sickle cell, HIV/AIDS and radiation casualties. Dr. Browne’s public health background includes health education programs on environmental health, cancer, substance abuse, sickle cell disease, HIV/AIDS, and community health education programs, including participating in an international disaster preparedness and humanitarian assistance program for 17 West African Nations following the Ebola epidemic of 2015. She retired as a Colonel from the U. S. Army, Medical Corps where she was the Director for Medical Research and Development at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. She also retired from the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute where she managed the breast cancer portfolio in the Division of Cancer Prevention. Dr. Browne is a graduate of Tougaloo College (BS), University of California at Los Angeles (MPH), and Georgetown University (M.D.) and completed an internship, residency, and fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Hematology-Oncology. She is member of Trinity Episcopal Church, numerous professional organizations, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and recipient of plentiful awards including the NIH Merit Award and the 2018 Top Blacks in Healthcare award.

Rogers Cain, M.D.

Dr. Rogers Cain is a family medicine doctor in Jacksonville, Florida and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Ascension St. Vincent’s Southside Hospital and Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville. He received his medical degree from Morehouse School of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years.

Mercedes Carnethon, Ph.D.

Mary Harris Thompson professor of Preventative Medicine and chief of the Division of Epidemiology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University

Public Voice Fellow, The OpEd Project

Dr. Mercedes Carnethon is the Mary Harris Thompson professor of Preventative Medicine and chief of the Division of Epidemiology at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and a public voice Fellow with The OpEd Project. Dr. Carnethon’s research focuses broadly on the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, lung health and cognitive aging in the population subgroups defined by race/ethnicity, geography, socioeconomic status, gender and sexual orientation/gender identity. My research team has examined the role that health behaviors such as diet, physical activity and sleep play on health across the lifecourse. My research team receives funding from the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association. In addition to carrying out research, I am a leader in postdoctoral training and faculty development, having successfully mentored junior investigators who have subsequently earned their own grants and prestigious research awards.

Congresswoman Yvette Diane Clarke

U.S. House of Representatives

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 Chair of the Homeland Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Innovation Subcommittee, under the jurisdiction of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and was Co-chair of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee during the 116th Congress. 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 116th 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.

Marcus Escobedo, M.P.A.

Vice President, Communications and Senior Program Officer, The John A. Hartford Foundation

Marcus R. Escobedo, M.P.A., is Vice President, Communications and Senior Program Officer at The John A. Hartford Foundation where he develops and implements the Foundation’s communications strategy. Joining the Foundation in 2006 as a member of the program team, he maintains a grants portfolio of initiatives to improve hospital care of older adults, including in the emergency department and surgical settings.

Mr. Escobedo’s career has focused on bringing about social change for vulnerable populations. He previously worked at the Women’s Foundation of California, a statewide community-based foundation that invests in women’s and girls’ organizations in the areas of health, economic development, safety, and leadership. Prior to that, he was Resource Development and Communications Coordinator for Communities in Schools of Georgia, part of a nationwide network of nonprofit organizations connecting community resources to local k-12 schools. Mr. Escobedo taught elementary school in Oakland, California through the Teach for America program.

He served for six years as a board member of Hispanics in Philanthropy, a national non-profit organization dedicated to increasing philanthropic resources to Latino communities. He served as a member of the Community Advisory Board of the Geriatric Emergency Department Innovations through Workforce, Informatics and Structural Enhancements (GEDI-WISE) project at Mount Sinai Medical Center. He has previously served on the board of One Stop Senior Services in the upper west side of Manhattan, as well as the Regional Health Equity Council as part of the Office of Minority Health’s National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities (Region II).

Mr. Escobedo received bachelor’s degrees in sociology and communications from the University of Texas at Austin and he earned his master’s of public administration in public and nonprofit management and policy at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service.

Niesha Foster

Vice President, Product Access, Global Health and Social Impact, Pfizer Inc.

Niesha Foster is Vice President, Product Access, Global Health & Social Impact where her team is focused on eliminating the patient affordability challenge, creating last mile solutions and driving colleague & community engagement. In this role she is accountable for Pfizer’s US Patient Assistance Program, administered through Pfizer RxPathways, signature international product donation programs, including the International Trachoma Initiative, engagement with community-based organizations in select developed markets, and co-leading Pfizer’s Multicultural Health Equity Collective (The Collective). The Collective focuses on achieving health equity across ethnic groups and other underrepresented communities facing significant health disparities.

During her 18-year Pfizer career, Niesha has also led strategic and operational programs across commercial and platform functions, was the finance lead for Pfizer’s HIV franchise and COPD program, served as Chief of Staff to the Senior Vice President of Policy as well as to the President of Worldwide Research & Development, and was Corporate Affairs Lead focused on shaping the operating and access environment for the Rare Disease and Inflammation & Immunology business groups. Prior to Pfizer, she was responsible for forecasting the National Football League’s Annual Salary Cap and partnering with the NFL Players Association to ensure teams’ compliance with key elements of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and she served as an auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Niesha holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Syracuse University and an MBA from the University of Virginia, Darden School of Business. She is currently a Board Member of New York Edge which is the largest provider of after school and summer programming for NYC school children.

Philip Gardiner, Dr.P.H.


Dr. Gardiner is a Public Health activist, administrator, evaluator and researcher. For the past 25 years, he has worked on studies ranging from Hypertension, Multiculturalism and AIDS, to Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Diabetes and Smoking. For the past 20 years, Dr. Gardiner has lectured around the country on African American health disparities generally and menthol smoking in the Black Community, particularly. Dr. Gardiner recently retired as the Senior Program Officer for the Tobacco Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP), University of California Office of the President, a position he had been in since 1997. Dr. Gardiner is currently the Co-Chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), a group of Black professionals dedicated to fighting the scourge of tobacco impacting African American communities both in California and Nationally.

Martin Hamlette, J.D., M.H.A.

Executive Director, National Medical Association (NMA)

A seasoned healthcare administrator, Mr. Hamlette is experienced in both the public and private sectors, including health law and policy, current healthcare reform issues, the impact of health reform on medically diverse populations and the professionals who treat them. In 2007, he was named chief health policy advisor within the Washington, DC Executive Office of the Mayor, Office of Policy and Legislative Affairs, by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. As policy and legislative strategist, he guided the mayor and agency directors within the District’s healthcare cluster, authored policy positions, drafted legislation and testified at public hearings. Mr. Hamlette received a letter of commendation from the mayor for his efforts.

Subsequently, Mr. Hamlette served in private practice as counsel and administrator to medical providers, state government and a professional medical association on issues arising from and related to the Affordable Care Act.

A resident of Washington, DC for 20 years, Mr. Hamlette has been a leader in the healthcare community having served on the Board of Directors for the American College of Healthcare Executives (National Capital Chapter) and as an adjunct professor of health law and management at Marymount University. He has given numerous talks, interviews and was highlighted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s public health and policy column in MedPage Today magazine.

Mr. Hamlette earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Howard University. He earned a Juris doctorate from the University of Dayton School of Law where he also served as a county court judicial clerk, moot court coach and was Finalist in the Hon. Walter H. Rice Moot Court Competition. He has a master of health administration degree, with a concentration in finance, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. He has been licensed to practice law for nearly 15 years in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and New Jersey.

He is a member of Alfred Street Baptist Church (Alexandria, Va.), the National Bar Association, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., 100 Black Men of America and a 32nd degree Prince Hall Mason. He is an avid golfer and long distance runner.

Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.

University Professor
Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery
Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Director, The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical, Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Chief Executive Officer, The Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering

Dr. Laurencin is the University Professor and Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Laurencin is the first surgeon elected to all four National Academies: the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Academy of Inventors. In 2016, he received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama in ceremonies at the White House, the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement. Laurencin received (last week) the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP. It is given for the “highest or noblest achievement by a living African American during the preceding year or years in any honorable field.” The award recognizes Laurencin’s seminal accomplishments in regenerative engineering.

Pertinent to our conversation, Laurencin is an international leader on Racial Justice and Equity. He is a core faculty member at the Africana Studies Institute at UConn. He co-Founded the W. Montague Cobb/NMA Health Institute and is the Founding Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. He is the Founding Chair of the National Academies Roundtable on Black Men and Black Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine.

Dr. Laurencin recently received the Herbert W. Nickens Award from the AAMC where he outlined his vision for an anti-racist society.

Laurencin earned his B.S.E. in chemical engineering from Princeton University, his M.D., Magna Cum Laude, from the Harvard Medical School; and his Ph.D. in biochemical engineering/ biotechnology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Erica E. Marsh M.D., MSCI

S. Jan Behrman Collegiate Professor of Reproductive Medicine and Chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility in the Department of OBGYN, University of Michigan Medical School

Founder and Director, Women’s Health and Reproductive Disparities Collaborative (onWHARD)

Director of Community Engagement, Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research, University of Michigan

Erica E. Marsh, MD, MSCI, FACOG, is the S. Jan Behrman Collegiate Professor of Reproductive Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and Chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility in the Department of OBGYN. She also holds an appointment in the Department of Women’s Studies. She is the Founder and Director of the Women’s Health and Reproductive Disparities Collaborative (onWHARD), a group committed to advancing reproductive health through meaningful research, empowering education, and committed advocacy/service. She is also the Director of Community Engagement for the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (NIH-funded CTSA program) at UM.

Dr. Marsh graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College and cum laude from Harvard Medical School. She completed her residency at the Integrated OBGYN Residency at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital followed by a Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility fellowship at Northwestern University. Dr. Marsh has received millions of dollars in funding to support her research and has published significantly in the area of fibroids, patient perspectives, and health disparities in reproductive health. Dr. Marsh’s research area of interest is comparative reproductive health across populations: her focus is on developing a holistic understanding of uterine fibroids, abnormal uterine bleeding, and ovarian reserve. Dr. Marsh also is a committed community advocate, scientific mentor, and proponent of community-engaged research.

Karen Peterson

Founder & Chief Patient Advocate, Karen’s Club

Founder and Chief Patient Advocate of Karen’s Club, Ms. Peterson was inspired to help other patients of color, understand the complex and sometimes skeptical world of clinical trials.  A Stage IV Triple Negative Breast cancer survivor, Karen is also a founding member of the Patient Community Council at Foundation Medicine, a consultant for Blue Note Therapeutics and a Cancer Research Institute – Immuno Advocate.   Karen was the featured patient speaker at the Biden Cancer Initiative’s 2019 presentation at ASCO, and the 2020 Inaugural AACR Cancer Disparities Progress Report presented to Congress.  Her inspiring story has been shared with Cure, Essence, Health and People magazines as well as ABC Radio Networks Perspective and The Today Show. 

James H. Powell, M.D.

Co-Founder, Chief Medical Officer at knowRx

Dr. James H. Powell received the B.S. in Chemistry from Virginia Union University, and M.D. from Cornell University Medical College where he also trained in clinical pharmacology and was Assistant Professor of Pharmacology prior to joining the pharmaceutical industry.  He retired after 24 years as Senior Medical Director, Global Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacokinetics for Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals in 2006.  He directed initial human exposures research for many new drugs and established molecular pharmacology and biomarker capability in support of clinical drug trials.   He is a former member of the board of trustees of the Academy of Pharmaceutical Physicians and Investigators and recipient of its Lifetime Honorary Membership Award.

Dr. Powell served as Principal Investigator for the National Medical Association’s Project I.M.P.A.C.T. (Increase Minority Participation and Awareness of Clinical Trials) – a national effort to educate African American and other physicians and consumers on clinical research participation. In this project, he designed programs and directed the education of more than a thousand diverse physicians in skills, ethics, cultural competence, business aspects, and regulatory understanding required for becoming investigators for clinical trials in diverse communities. He was also a member of Baylor College of Medicines EDICT Project (Elimination of Disparities in Clinical Trials). He was appointed to the Secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services Advisory Committee for Human Research Protection (SACHRP), and later served as a member of the National Library of Medicine Board of Regents ClinicalTrials.gov Working Group, and a member of the Schulman and Associates Institutional Review Board.  He is on the Board of the “Closing the Health Gap” in Greater Cincinnati and is a founding member, and active in the Alliance of Multicultural Physicians℠ (A collaboration between the Association of Black Cardiologists, the National Hispanic Medical Association, the Association of American Indian Physicians, the National Council of Asian and Pacific Islander Physicians, and the National Medical Association.).

Dr. Powell is co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer for knowRX, Inc., developers of a cloud based digital health platform to enable investigator and patient engagement and inclusion for speed and efficiency in clinical trials, and the knowRX app for personalized medication selection, management, and adherence.   Dr. Powell has authored many publications on molecular pharmacology, basic and clinical research, and has conducted numerous lectures and scientific presentations including several on clinical trials in people of color.

Winston Price, M.D.

Chair, Southwest Georgia Area Health Education Center

Chief Information & Technology Officer, W. Montague COBB/NMA Health Institute

Past President, National Medical Association

Winston Price, MD, FACPE earned his medical degree from the Weill Cornell Medical College and completed a residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He is a board-certified pediatrician and served as the 105th President of the National Medical Association (NMA).

He also serves as Chief Information & Technology Officer for the W. Montague COBB/NMA Health Institute and President & Chair of the National African American Drug Policy Coalition. The Cobb Institute is a health equity think tank and focuses on increasing the pipeline of researchers from currently URM and works on joint initiatives with the NIH All of Us Research Program. He serves on the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health Council/Steering Committee as the NMA liaison.

He is Chair of the Southwest Georgia Area Health Education Center (SOWEGA-AHEC) which focuses its mission to recruit, train and retain a robust and highly qualified health workforce for 38 counties in SW GA. Dr. Price continues to represent the NMA on the National Adult and Influenza Immunization Summit (NAIIS) and serves locally as a director on the Decatur County Board of Health and as a medical/technology advisor on the Collaborative Impact Decatur County (CIDC), which is a non-profit community health promotion initiative.

He holds faculty positions at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine as Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Director of Pathway Programs for the South GA Campus as well as Assistant Professor at the Medical College of Georgia.

Dr. Price also practices clinical medicine serving a SW population in Georgia with a focus on preventive care.

Portia Reddick White, J.D.

Vice President Strategic Partnerships, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Portia Reddick White is Vice-President of Strategic Partnerships with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK). She leads the overall strategic direction on outreach and implementation in building, cultivating, and sustaining relationships with external partnerships with a particular emphasis on those disproportionately impacted by tobacco. In previous roles she has served as Senior Advisor with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as Lobbyist with the National Education Association and Director of Legislative and Political Affairs at Transport Workers Union of America. Additionally, she has participated in leadership roles with AARP and the 2016 Democratic National Convention. With portfolios that included various interest including health care, she has managed outreach, strategy, counsel and served as primary liaison to groups such as the Congressional Black Caucus, the Hispanic Congressional Caucus, the Congressional Progressive Caucus and more. Cumulatively, Portia has over twenty years of experience in advocacy and grassroots organizing and building.