Keynote Presenters

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Abstracts and Bios of Featured Keynote Presenters:


Gail C. Christopher, DN
Senior Advisor and Vice President for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT)
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
"Racial Healing: The Heart of Health Equity"
Presenting on Friday, 8/25, 9:30 - 10:30 am
The 18th century belief in a hierarchy of human value, a categorical taxonomy of the human family based on physical characteristics is still embedded in our society today. There are significant implications for our health and health care systems. This presentation offers a new framework for uprooting the false belief and addressing its legacy. This framework was developed for the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) enterprise, a multi-sectoral national collaboration launched by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in 2016. This is an adaptation of the globally recognized Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) process. The presentation also explores specific ways to help mitigate the harmful effects of chronic exposures to structural racism; and to identifying and addressing personal biases. Policy, organizational, clinical and community interventions will be explored.

Dr. Gail Christopher is senior advisor and vice president at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In this role, she leads the foundation?s Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) enterprise and serves on the president?s cabinet that provides overall direction and leadership for the foundation. Since joining the foundation in 2007, Gail has served as vice president for program strategy with responsibility for multiple areas of programming, including Racial Equity; Food, Health & Well-Being; Community Engagement and Leadership; as well as place-based programming in New Orleans and New Mexico.

Dr. Christopher is a nationally recognized leader in health policy, with particular expertise and experience in the issues related to social determinants of health, health inequities and public policy issues of concern to our nation?s future. Her distinguished career and contributions to public service were honored in 1996 when she was elected as a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. In 2011 she was awarded the ?Change Agent Award? by the Schott Foundation for Public Education; in 2012 she was the recipient of the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) John C. MacQueen Lecture Award for her innovation and leadership in the field of maternal and child health. Most recently in 2015 she was the recipient of the Terrance Keenan award for Grantmakers in Health. She is chair of the board of the Trust for America?s Health.

Dorcase Grigg-Saito, Sonith Peou, and Rodrigue Kalambayi
Metta Health Center, 
Lowell Community Health Center, MA

"Lowell Community Health Center's Metta Health Center: A Whole Community Approach to Culturally Responsive, Integrative Healing and Health Promotion"

Presenting on Friday, 8/25, 1:15 - 2:15 PM

Dorcas Grigg-Saito retired in 2016 as CEO of Lowell CHC after 18 years, and she founded the Metta Health Center in 2000, along with community members and staff. Prior to joining Lowell CHC, she held positions that included director of the Southeast Asian Substance Abuse prevention project of MICAS, the Metropolitan Childrean and Adolescents Services; director of Refugee and Immigrant Health at MA DPH; community organizer with Planned Parenthood; planner for a new rural health center in NC; health and childbirth educator; and PT in a variety of settings in MA, Hawaii, and Japan. She holds a master's degree in health policy and management from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Publich Health and a B.S. in PT from UNC-CH.

Sonith Peou is the Program Director of Metta Health Center. Before taking his current position, Sonith provided counseling services to the Cambodian community north of Boston a the North Suffolk Mental Health Association. There, he was a co-therapist for a Boston University School of Social Work program treating substance abuse among Cambodians, targeting dually-diagnosed clients with depression and PTSD. Sonith also served as a Coordinator of substance abose prevention services for the Southeast Asian Empowerment Project at MICAS and was Site Coordinator for teh Center for Immigrant and Refugee Community Leadership and Empowerment (CIRCLE) project of University of MA. He came to the U.S. as a refugee from Cambodia.

Rodrigue Kalambayi was born in Congo, the 8th of 10 children. Rodrigue grew up in Congo, but wars and insecurity forced him and his family to leave the country in 2005. He escaped to Uganda where he spent 11 years in a refugee camp, waiting for a chance to be resettled in the United States. Rodrigue arrived in the U.S. as a refugee in September 2016 and is looking forward to achieving his goal of becoming a Community Health Worker in Lowell, the city that welcomed him and gave him a second chance at life. 

Linda Rae Murray, M.D. MPH
Chief Medical Director
Cook County Health & Hospital System

"Power to the People - Integrative Medicine is not enough"

Presenting on Saturday, 8/25, 9:00 - 10:00 am

Dr. Linda Rae Murray has spent her career serving the medically underserved. She has worked in a variety of settings including practicing Occupational Medicine at a Workers Clinic in Canada, Residency Director for Occupational Medicine at Meharry Medical College, at the Chicago Department of Health under Mayor Harold Washington and as Medical Director of the federally funded health center, Winfield Moody, serving Cabrini Green Public Housing Project in Chicago.  She has spent half of her career in a variety of positions within the Cook County health system, and recently retired as the Chief Medical Officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health. 

Today she continues to practice at Woodlawn Health Center and is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois School of Public Health. She serves on many boards including the Chicago based Health and Medicine Policy Research Group. She remains passionate about increasing the number of Black and Latino health professionals and serves on the Urban Health Program Community Advisory Committee at the University of Illinois. Dr. Murray is devoting the rest of her career to being an enthusiastic full time trouble maker. She has been a voice for social justice and health as a basic human right for over fifty years.

Dr. Murray's presentation will describe population health approaches that address structural determinants of health and disease.

Angela Rose Black
CEO/Founder, Mindfulness for the People

"Radically Reimagining the Wellness Movement: #WhoGets2BeWell"

Presenting on Saturday, 8/24, 4:30 - 5:30 PM

As a practitioner-scholar, my primary focus is investigating and addressing the stress experiences and resultant health consequences for Black women across the lifespan. In my practitioner role, I develop and implement evidence-based and culturally-responsive mind-body trainings as a tool for addressing stress-related health behaviors and health outcomes among black women. My practitioner initiatives are supported by self-directed education in mindfulness training and formal education in wellness coaching (Mayo Clinic) and compassion meditation (Stanford University). In the last 15 years, the research arm of this work has resulted in numerous publications, invited presentations, federal training grants and awards.

At the cornerstone of my research findings and its practical applications is ACTIVISM. Increasing access to culturally-responsive mind-body techniques for communities of color is an imperative within a mindfulness movement that is unconsciously centralized in whiteness (that which is "neutral", "universal" and "good for all"). Re-centralizing the voices and lived experiences of people of color (POC), I support community-engaged processes whereby these bodies of knowledge lead the cultural adaptation and creation process for mindfulness- and compassion-based initiatives. 

I have translated this experience into the development of Mindfulness for the People: a Black-owned for-profit social impact start-up that develops mindfulness trainings that meet the needs of our racialized world.

More info to come!

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