Join us for a glorious day of renewal as the region's leading clinicians and advocates convene to inspire you to get healthy, and stay healthy, now. Enjoy information on conditions that impact African Americans - Asthma, Breast Cancer, Clinical Trials, COVID Vax & Variants, Dental Health, Hair Loss, Heart Disease, Hypertension, Liver Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Skin Discoloration, Stroke and much more!
Prizes | Fitness Class | Networking | Building Community | Resources
Owner & Founder
Dr. Angela O. Kyei completed her undergraduate work at Princeton University and obtained her Masters in Public Health (MPH) at Yale University. She went on to get her medical degree from Case Western Reserve Medical school in Cleveland, Oh and completed her dermatology residency at the Cleveland Clinic.
As a staff dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic, she established the “Multicultural Skin & Hair Center” where she treated skin conditions that disproportionately affect people of color, Dr. Kyei then founded Cosmopolitan Dermatology in Cleveland where she specializes in hair loss and skin of color.
Dr Kyei is married to Dr. Mark Kyei, a hematologist/oncologist at Cleveland Clinic and they have 2 children, Nana (15) and Mark (10).
Icahn School of Medicine
Clinical Immunology Division
Mount Sinai Department of Medicine
Dr. Anne Maitland is a Fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and a member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI). Her clinical focus is to upgrade efforts to meet the needs of under-served communities, plagued by immune mediated disorders, such as mast cell activation disorders, such as anaphylaxis, asthma, and food sensitivities as well as primary immunodeficiencies. Currently, she sees patients via telehealth practice, Clinical Paradigms, for diagnosis and management of immune mediated disorders, such as COVID-19 and adverse reactions to vaccines, and has joined the Chiari-EDS-MCAD center at Mt. Sinai South Nassau hospital.
disorders subcommittee of Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) grant for with patients diagnosed with a connective tissue disorder, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS). this committee is responsible for gathering and coordinating common data elements, clinical signs and symptoms of hypersensitivity disorders amongst EDS patients, to delineate diagnostic and therapeutic recommendations for practitioners, patients and their caregivers.
Recent publications describe clinical phenotypes of pediatric and adult patients, coping with an emerging triad of clinical syndromes, an original C.I.N.: Connective tissue Syndromes, including Ehlers Danlos, Immune dysfunction, including mast cell disorders and Neuropathies. Her first op-ed article focuses on the high incidence of medical errors, that can be prevented, ifmore efforts were in place to encourage patient education and empowerment - supporting thepatient-centered medical home.
High School degree- Bronx H.S. of Science
BS in Biology from Yale University
MD, PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA;
Residency - Internal Medicine at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA;
Fellowship - Allergy & Immunology at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Mount Sinai
Hospital in New York, NY
President, Sisters Network, Inc.
Essex County Affiliate Chapter
Mrs. Catherine Cooper was born in Roberta, Georgia and raised in Newark, New Jersey. She attended school in the City of Newark and attended classes at Essex County College in Newark, New Jersey and a received a Paralegal Certificate from Upsala College, East Orange, New Jersey.
Mrs. Cooper retired from Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. (Con Edison) as a Law Manager. She worked for Con Edison for 30 years in the Legal Services Department (Law). During her tenure at Con Edison she was named ”Black Achiever in Industry” in 2003 for her dedication, commitment and her willingness help others. Mrs. Cooper is also the President of Sisters Network Essex County, an affiliate chapter of Sisters Network, Inc. (an African American Breast Cancer Survivorship Organization).
She became involved with Sister’s Network after being diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2000. She has dedicated her time and compassion for Sister’s Network to help educate and make women and aware of what is needed to eradicate breast cancer and how early detection makes a difference in saving lives.
Mrs. Cooper resides in the Township of Hillside, New Jersey with her husband Stephen. They have two adult children and 7 grandchildren. She is an active member of the Divinity Missionary Baptist Church in East Orange, New Jersey, (Dr. Byron E. Lennon, Senior Pastor).
President & Founder
Choose Healthy Life
Debra Fraser-Howze is the Founder and President of Choose Healthy Life. She has been widely recognized for more than three decades of global leadership to communities of color regarding teen pregnancy, social welfare, and HIV and AIDS. She advised two U.S. Presidents while serving on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS from 1995-2001.
Ms. Fraser-Howze was the vice chair of the HIV Human Services Planning Council in New York City and chaired the National Institute of Health’s Public Education Technology Committee. The founder of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Ms. Fraser-Howze established the successful model of working with the Black Church to address the HIV/AIDS crisis in the Black community. It is that proven model that is at the center of the Choose Healthy Life Action Plan. Ms. Fraser-Howze is also a principal with D. Fraser Associates.
Associate Professor of Medicine & Director,
Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Program
Columbia University Irving Medical Center
Julia Wattacheril, MD, MPH is an associate professor of medicine and director of the Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease program at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Her clinical and translational work spans the multidisciplinary care of NAFLD patients at all stages of their disease to the investigation of rare genetic variants influencing the development and progression of NAFLD before and after liver transplantation. She currently leads an interdisciplinary research group using semi-automated techniques to identify at-risk and protected phenotypes within the electronic health record (EHR) for genomic analysis. Of particular interest for clinical outcomes discovered through EHR phenotyping include rapid progression to advanced liver disease, need for transplantation and hepatocellular carcinoma.
Wattacheril is the lead principal investigator for several clinical trials in and serves as the clinical lead for the liver precision medicine initiative at Columbia. Her early pilot work with proteomics and lipidomics in the development of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) led to her current efforts investigating the transcriptomic signatures associated with metabolic reprogramming associated with fibrotic NASH. She co-led a multicenter consortium investigating the clinical risks associated with the development of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with all etiologies of chronic liver disease, with a particular local focus on diverse populations. At Columbia, she works closely with the Institute for Genomic Medicine and Center for Precision Medicine and Genomics to integrate next-generation sequencing platforms into clinical care. She mentors across disciplines including computational geneticists to masters’ program students in nutrition to undergraduates in psychology. She has a commitment to community education especially in communities of color, including faith-based and non-profit sectors. She has served on the Clinical Research Committee for AASLD and is part of multistakeholder groups such as the NIMBLE Consortium and Liver Forum in addition to other professional society memberships.
Chief, Breast Surgery Section and Director,
Interdisciplinary Breast Disease Program
Weill Cornell Medicine
New York Presbyterian Hospital Network
Dr. Newman is a surgical oncologist with a practice dedicated to breast cancer management. In August 2018 she was appointed to oversee the breast program for the Weill Cornell Medicine-NewYork Presbyterian Hospital Network, serving its Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn sites. Previously, she worked at the Henry Ford Health System, where she served as breast program director, covering multiple hospitals throughout Michigan since 2015. She is also the Founding Medical Director for the International Center for the Study of Breast Cancer Subtypes, currently headquartered at Weill Cornell Medicine. Dr. Newman was Professor of Surgery and Director of the Breast Care Center for the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she also served as Program Director for the Breast Fellowship from 2002 to 2015. Dr. Newman holds a Masters Degree in Public Health from Harvard University, and she also obtained her undergraduate education at Harvard. She attended medical school and completed her general surgery residency training at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. Dr. Newman remained at Downstate following completion of her postgraduate training, and served as an Assistant Professor of Surgery with this program for several years. She pursued fellowship training in surgical oncology at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center 1997-99, followed by joining the faculty as an Assistant Professor; she continues to hold an Adjunct Professorship with M.D. Anderson.
Dr. Newman’s primary research has focused on race/ethnicity-related variation in breast cancer risk and outcome, the evaluation and management of high-risk patients; broadened applications for neoadjuvant chemotherapy, and special surgical techniques such as the skin-sparing mastectomy and lymphatic mapping/sentinel lymph node biopsy. Her extensive research related to disparities in breast cancer risk and outcome has been published in numerous peer-reviewed medical journals and was featured in CNN’s documentary “Black in America 2”. She has also been the featured breast cancer medical expert for NBC’s “Today Show” (2014; 2017; 2019) as well on CBS Nightly News (2015). She maintains a very active community service record, and currently serves as Chief National Medical Advisor for the Sisters Network, Inc., a national African American breast cancer survivors support organization.
She oversees an international breast cancer research and training program involving a network of physicians and facilities in Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda, Mexico, and the Caribbean. This program has focused on the study of triple negative breast cancer in women with African ancestry. Her work has been acknowledged with several awards, such as “Top Blacks in Health Care 2018”; Phenomenal African American Women of 2018”; “Esteemed Women of Michigan 2018”; Crain’s “Health Care Hero” in 2017; 2012 Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation Hero Award; and the 2010 National Medical Association Woman in Medicine Award. She was named “Michiganders of the Year” in 2011; and an “Oprah’s Angels” for breast cancer work by Oprah magazine in 2012. She received the University of Michigan 2012 Community Service Award; the 2013 Sarah Goddard Power Award for Advancement of Women in Academic Medicine; and the 2015 Harold Johnson Diversity Award. She has been a “Top Doctors of America” in Michigan and New York for several years; she was also named Crain’s “Most Notable Women in HealthCare” for New York 2019. Dr. Newman has also been awarded the coveted title of Komen Scholar, and is a member of the Komen Scientific Advisory Board. Most recently, Dr. Newman was named a 2019 “Rock Star of Science and Medicine” by the European Society for Medical Oncology”. Dr. Newman received the AACR 2020 Jane Cooke Wright Minority in Research Award.
Dr. Newman has been appointed to multiple national and regional leadership positions, including the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer in Young Women; the NIH’s Clinical Trials Advisory Committee and the Advisory Council to the National Institute of Minority Health and Disparities. She has held leadership positions in the most prominent of oncologic academic and advocacy organizations: Society of Surgical Oncology (Executive Council; Disparities Committee chairperson); American Society of Clinical Oncology (Health Disparities Advisory Group chair; Health Services Committee chair); American Cancer Society (National Assembly; Board of Directors for the Great Lakes Division); American College of Surgeons Oncology Group (Executive Council; Special Populations Committee chair). Dr. Newman’s editorial board service includes: Annals of Surgical Oncology (Breast Section Editor and Deputy Editor); Cancer (Disparities Section Editor); Journal of Clinical Oncology (Breast Section editorial board member) and she is currently on the editorial board for JAMA Surgery. Dr. Newman is chair of the AACR Regional Advisory Group on Africa, and she is co-Chair for the AACR 2020 Cancer Disparities Symposium. She is also chairing the AACR 2nd Annual Cancer Disparities Progress Report. In October 2019 she was appointed 2nd Vice President for the American College of Surgeons.
Dental Director, Covenant House, Inc.
CEO, Sevalife Integrative Wellness
Susan D. Stukes is a dental professional dedicated to providing dental services to underserved people domestically and internationally. A team leader with proven ability to build and coordinate strong networks of people committed to improving access to care for those in need. She believes oral health is integral to overall wellness.
Chief of Emergency Medicine
Mount Sinai Queens & Associate Professor,
Clinical Emergency Medicine
Icahn Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Dr. Ugo A. Ezenkwele is chief of emergency medicine at Mount Sinai Queens and associate professor of clinical emergency medicine at Icahn Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He completed his undergraduate and medical training at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). Prior to graduating he also received a masters in public health from the JHU School of Public Health. Post graduation he was granted a one year William J. Fulbright award that resulted in the development of trauma and injury surveillance systems in the Caribbean. Upon return to the US, he completed a residency in emergency medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. As an academician and administrator, he has lectured on numerous emergency medicine topics, most notably injury prevention, diversity in medical education, health disparities, unconscious bias and ED operations. He was the president of the Diversity Interest Group of Society of Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) and later became the vice chairman of the Academy of Diversity & Inclusion in Emergency Medicine of SAEM. Furthermore, he was the past president of the EM Section of the National Medical Association (NMA). Over the years he has received several awards including the SAEM Visionary Educator Award, the AAMC Herbert Nickens Faculty Fellowship and the NMA Excellence in Service Award. Recently, he was named to the Crains New York Business Notable Black Leaders and Executives for 2021. He is a councilor for the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and a member of its Strategic Advisory Group. In addition, he is a member of the Becoming Certified Stakeholder Advisory Group for the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM) and an oral board examiner.
Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer
Genentech, A Member of the Roche Group
Quita Highsmith is Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. Quita is a leader with almost three decades of experience in the biotech industry. She is a co-author on several publications regarding health disparities including the Journal of Oncology Practice and Contemporary Clinical Trials. She frequently presents at national and international forums and has co-authored abstracts at peer-reviewed conferences, including the American Association of Cancer Research’s conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved.
She is responsible for leading Genentech’s Diversity and Inclusion strategy, including recruiting, retaining, and developing diverse talent, investing in initiatives to support science education, and addressing barriers in clinical trial participation via Advancing Inclusive Research™.
Quita is well-known in the biotech industry for being an award-winning visionary and promoting patient inclusion. In 2020, she was named one of the 100 Most Influential Women in Business in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Business Times, Top 50 Chief Diversity Officers by The National Diversity Council, and to PharmaVOICE’s Women of Influence list. Quita is committed to community service and serves on several non-profit boards including, The Delta San Francisco-Peninsula Foundation Board which provides College scholarships for black students and the Leadership Council San Mateo.
Prior to her role as Chief Diversity Officer, Quita held leadership roles in Government Affairs and the Commercial organizations at both Genentech and Sanofi-Aventis.
Quita received her Master of Business Administration from the Johnson School at Cornell University and her undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky.
Professor in Gastroenterology Cancer Research
Consultant in Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Dr. Lewis R. Roberts is the Peter and Frances Georgeson Professor in Gastroenterology Cancer Research and Consultant in Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the Mayo Clinic, where he is Co-Principal Investigator of the Mayo Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in Hepatobiliary Cancers. His research focuses on molecular mechanisms of liver and biliary carcinogenesis; biomarkers for diagnosis of liver, bile duct and pancreas cancers; and prevention, diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis and liver cancer, with a particular interest in immigrant African communities in the USA as well as in Africa. He has authored over 400 articles, book chapters and letters, and co-edited the book “Evaluation and Management of Liver Masses”. He serves as President of Africa Partners Medical, a non-profit organization focused on improving healthcare delivery in Africa through medical education, practical skills training, provision of medical equipment and supplies, and health advocacy; as President of the West Africa Institute for Liver and Digestive Diseases Foundation; and as a member of the Advisory Council for The Hepatitis Fund. Dr. Roberts is also a founding member of the Africa HepatoPancreatoBiliary Cancer Consortium.
CEO, Joi Life Wellness Group Multiple Sclerosis Center
Board-Certified Neurologist and
Fellowship Trained Multiple Sclerosis Specialist
Mitzi Joi Williams is a Board-Certified Neurologist and Fellowship trained Multiple Sclerosis Specialist who serves as the Founder & CEO of the Joi Life Wellness Group Multiple Sclerosis Center in Newnan, GA. She is considered a subject matter expert in Neurology, Multiple Sclerosis and Health Disparities. Dr. Williams has over 15 years of experience in the field of Multiple Sclerosis. She received her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology from Emory University in Atlanta, GA, and received her Doctor of Medicine Degree from Morehouse School of Medicine also in Atlanta, Georgia. She completed her Internal Medicine Internship, Neurology Residency, and Multiple Sclerosis Fellowship at Georgia Health Sciences University (formerly MCG) in Augusta, GA, where she received numerous accolades and served as Chief Resident of the Neurology Residency Program.
Dr. Williams has spearheaded and participated in multiple steering committees and work groups to further research in underserved populations with MS with a focus on the African American population. She has recently joined efforts to increase diversity in clinical trials and educate the community about the importance of research participation. Through collaborations with national and international committees, she advocates for people living with MS to share in the decision-making process with their healthcare teams to combat this disease. Dr. Williams is the author of “MS Made Simple: The Essential Guide to Understanding Your Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis.” She continues to live out her mission to provide personalized Multiple Sclerosis Care delivered with expertise, compassion and joy.
President & CEO
Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers
Board Member, National NAACP
Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley once described Attorney Michael Curry as, “An advocate for the people whose work has taken him from Blue Hill Avenue (in Roxbury, Mass) to Beacon Hill (Mass State Legislature) to Capitol Hill (U.S. Congress).” In his various roles, there are recurring themes—a commitment to social justice and health equity, as well as a pursuit of justice and the elimination of racism.
Michael Curry, Esq. is the President & CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers (the “Mass League”), which represents 52 health centers, serving over 1 million patients out of over 314 practice sites throughout the state. He previously served as Deputy CEO & General Counsel for the Mass League. Prior to joining the League in 2008, Michael worked for 16 years at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, including the role of Senior Policy Advisor in the Corporate Affairs Division, which included government, public, internal and community affairs. He has served on the health care transition teams for former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and was involved in the passage of Massachusetts Health Reform and the Affordable Care Act.
Mr. Curry is the past president of the Boston Branch of the NAACP (2011-2016) and has over twenty years of dedicated service to the NAACP at the city, state-area conference and national levels. He was elected to the National NAACP Board of Directors in 2014 and reelected twice in 2017 and 2020. He now serves as a member of the Board’s Executive Committee, Chair of the Advocacy & Policy Committee, as well as Vice-Chair the Political Action and Legislation Committee.
He serves on the board of New England Council (NEC), the region’s premiere business leader and advocacy organization, as well as a Corporate Member of Partners Health Care, now Mass General Brigham. He served on the boards of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, and the Board of Trustees for Roxbury Community College, and continues in the role of adjunct professor for the Suffolk University Moakley Center for Public Management. He has received numerous local and national awards for leadership and advocacy.
In response to the ongoing pandemic, Mr. Curry was recruited to serve on the City of Boston’s COVID-19 Health Inequities (HITF) and Equitable Recovery Task Forces (ERTF), the Department of Public Health’s Health Equity Advisory Group (HEAG), Governor Baker COVID-19 Vaccine Working Group, the Massachusetts Public Health Association’s Task Force on Coronavirus & Equity, as well as Co-Chairing the Massachusetts Legislature’s Health Equity Task Force (HETF); while also continuing to coordinate the community health center response to the pandemic, in conjunction with the state Attorney General’s Office, Executive Office of Health and Human Services, various municipalities, and other partners. Recently, Michael was recruited to serve on the national Bipartisan Policy Center’s new coalition of organizations, entitled “Public Health Forward: Modernizing the U.S. Public Health System” aimed at developing a five-year roadmap for public health leaders and elected officials that influences strategic investments and decision-making to build a more robust and sustainable public health system.
Mr. Curry earned a Bachelor’s of Arts from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from New England law Boston, and graduated from the inaugural class of the Executive Leadership Council’s Pipeline to Leadership Program. His is also the proud father of three sons: Marcus (26), Michael Jr. (18) and Malcolm (13).
Senior Community Liaison - Manhattan
George Bouldin Gates, MBA, is the Senior Community Liaison (CL) covering Manhattan and has been with Gilead Sciences for 5 years. Prior to joining Gilead Sciences, George worked in the non-profit world of HIV awareness and prevention for 23 years. His time in the field includes work at The Hetrick-Martin Institute, New York Blood Center’s Young Men’s Survey and Project ACHIEVE, GMHC, POCC and Harlem United in NYC. Following his time in NYC he worked for 6 years at the international non-profit FHI360 in Washington, DC. As a CL with Gilead Sciences George works closely with accounts to provide training to staff and patients on a variety of topics focused on living well with HIV and preventing HIV. He also provides technical assistance and capacity building to accounts through training and CQI efforts focused on improving and strengthening systems, protocols for rapid start and PrEP implementation, and activities assisting accounts with improving client and patient engagement in care and prevention to help end the HIV epidemic.
Head of Inclusion Strategy & Partnering
Chief Diversity Office
Genentech, A Member of the Roche Group
Gerren is a clinical pharmacist and award-winning biotechnology enterprise leader who holds a deep understanding of patient care, healthcare disparities, and biotech enterprise leadership from various roles across the healthcare industry. Early in his career, Gerren developed broad clinical pharmacy expertise at Rhode Island Hospital where he practiced both general inpatient and specialized oncology clinical pharmacy services. He later expanded his capacity as a care provider and deepened his commitment to serving diverse populations by transitioning to the Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, where he managed outpatient ambulatory care clinic services.
Following clinical pharmacy practice, Gerren joined the biopharmaceutical industry 10 years ago to improve patient access to specialized medication and disease outcomes. Since joining Industry, he has held roles of increasing responsibility in Medical Affairs, Managed Care, Marketing, and Government Affairs. Gerren’s industry career began at Genzyme in Medical Affairs, generating publications and supporting oncology medical communications. He later moved to Genentech where he’s held numerous roles of increasing responsibility in managed care strategy, marketing and government affairs. Gerren currently leads Inclusion Strategy & Partnering within Genentech’s Chief Diversity Office. In this role he’s responsible for leading the design and activation of Genentech’s Diversity and Inclusion strategy to fostering belonging, advance inclusive research & health equity, and transforming society. Gerren is the recipient of numerous awards for collaboration, innovation and ability to deliver value to patients. In 2019, Business Insider named him one of the Top 30 leaders under 40 transforming US healthcare.
Gerren contributes time and energy to professional and community organizations on local and national levels. He is a member of the American Pharmacists Association and American Society of Health System Pharmacists. Gerren is also a 15+ year member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. He has held several local officer positions, coordinated fundraisers, organized community outreach and led several youth programs. Gerren received his PharmD from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) and holds a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College.
President, Sisters Network, Inc.
Greater Metropolitan Detroit Affiliate Chapter
Cecilia Pope, MS, BSN, RN is a retired Pediatric Nurse with over 40 years of experience at Childrens Hospital of Michigan (CHM) in Detroit. Cecilia has a Master of Science degree in Health Services Administration from the University of Detroit (U of D), and a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Wayne State University (WSU) in Detroit, Michigan. She began her career as a staff nurse on a medical unit. She spent 16+ years in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), starting as a staff nurse, and quickly advancing to management and supervision. The last 23 years of her career were spent in Nursing Administration.
As a Nurse, Cecilia knew all too well the importance of good health and advocating for self care. She faithfully performed monthly self breast exams, received yearly physical breast exams by her gynecologist and received her yearly mammogram screening. Nonetheless, at the age of 45, Cecilia, the healthcare professional, was now facing a devastating health diagnosis of her own, Infiltrating Duct Carcinoma. "Even more alarming, was the fact that there was no history of breast cancer in my family, and I did not fit any of the typical risk factors. Since my diagnosis, one of my biological sisters was diagnosed with breast cancer seven (7) years later. I did have genetic counseling and testing done in 2015. I do not carry the BRCA1 and the BRCA2 genes."
Although a routine mammogram confirmed the breast cancer diagnosis, Cecilia actually discovered her area of concern during a shower. It was not a defined lump or tumor that she felt, but an unusual "area of thickness". Not all breast cancers come in the form of lumps and tumors. Cecilia had a Lumpectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiation. She also received adjuvant therapy of Tamoxifen over a five year period. Cecilia is currently celebrating life as a 26 year breast cancer survivor.
As part of her journey to healing physically, emotionally and spiritually, Cecilia joined a breast cancer support group. The group was named "WAVE", Women Achieving Victory and Esteem. It was through WAVE that a connection to Dr. Lisa Newman MD, Surgical Breast Oncologist, led to the meeting of Karen Eubanks Jackson, Founder & CEO of Sisters Network Inc. Karen's breast cancer journey, her passionate belief in the need to start a survivorship organization that addressed the unique needs of African American women facing this devastating disease, and the mission of Sisters Network Inc. resonated with the members of WAVE. As a result, a Detroit Chapter of Sisters Network Inc. was formed.
Cecilia is one of the founding members of the Sisters Network Greater Metropolitan Detroit Chapter (SNGMDC) which was instituted on August 7, 2001. She has been a loyal, committed and active member since the beginning. She has held various leadership positions from Treasurer, Vice-President, and currently President. She is very passionate about the mission of Sisters Network Inc. She was very instrumental in developing a local breast cancer brochure specifically for the Detroit Chapter. In addition, she also developed a "talking points" card with important bullet point facts about the Detroit Chapter's history, for members to use as a reference when out and about in the community at speaking engagements. Breast cancer is a very devastating disease on many levels. For many women it is a personal attack on their femininity. It is viewed as body image destruction/disfigurement. It is a loss of breast tissue, a loss of a breast or both. It is the loss of hair. It is even the loss of life. The diagnosis is truly life changing. But despite all the negative devastation, Cecilia chooses to see the positive. She feels truly blessed and thankful to be alive. She feels a deeper appreciation for life, a keener sense of awareness of others' feelings and needs, and a clearer understanding of her life's purpose. Her journey is her story/her testimony, that she feels compelled to share in order to give a glimmer of hope to someone struggling with the fear of their diagnosis. Breast cancer is not an automatic death sentence. Early detection is the key to survival. Following through on the treatment plan is paramount. Our true beauty is deeper than what is physically on the outside. Beauty radiates from within our heart and our soul.
Inclusion Strategy & Partnering
in the Chief Diversity Office
Genentech, A Member of the Roche Group
Meghan McKenzie is Principal Inclusion, Internal Partnering in the Chief Diversity Office at Genentech. She has over 25 years of experience in clinical research. Her vision includes developing strategies to drive greater inclusion of racial and ethnically representative patient populations in clinical development and she is passionate about gaining patient insights early in program development to support equitable healthcare for all patients, regardless of race/ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, ability or socioeconomic status. Meghan has a daughter at UCSC (currently in South Korea at Yonsei University), and enjoys her husband’s “covid-time’ cooking as well as her ‘office’ dog-mate, Brodie.
Policy and Health Equity
Genentech Patient Foundation
Rebecca Monroe leads policy and health equity at the Genentech Patient Foundation (GPF). GPF gives free Genentech medicine to people who don’t have insurance coverage or who have difficulty paying for their Genentech medicine. At Genentech, we believe that each patient should get the medicine their doctor prescribed. We work to get our medicines to those who need them. GPF is just one of the ways we help people in need.
Canaan Baptist Church in Harlem, NY
Chair & President
Friends of Harlem Hospital
Reverend Jacques Andre De Graff has served on the pastoral staff at historic Canaan Baptist Church, where he was ordained under the Reverend Wyatt Tee Walker, (Reverend Dr. MLK’s former Chief of Staff) and become a renowned champion for equity and inclusion.
Reverend De Graff is a graduate of Hunter College, studied at the NYU School of Real Estate, New York Theological Seminary and Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
In the recent past he:
Reverend De Graff has served as the 1st Vice President of the One Hundred Black Men, New York, where he has been a founding member of two public high schools; The Eagle Academy for Young Men and the Bronx School for Law, Government & Justice (Urban Assembly).
Reverend De Graff’s prodigious organizing and communications skills keep him in constant demand in the media on matters concerning political analysis, diversity, social justice and minority affairs. A much sought-after speaker he is also a regular contributor on FOX NEWS and his leadership has been featured in the New York Times, Crain’s New York, Positive Community, City & State, Wall Street Journal and other leading publications in articles on MWBE issues, the Black Church, Education and Social Justice.
Teacher, Attorney & Senior Pastor
Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark, NJ
Pastor, Teacher, Visionary, Community Servant, Attorney, Husband, Father and Grandfather are among the many ministerial roles of Reverend Dr. David Jefferson, Sr., Pastor of the Metropolitan Baptist Church, Newark, NJ.
Rev. Dr. David Jefferson was born in Doyline, Louisiana to Mrs. Wrender and the late Rev. Ernest Jefferson, Sr. The tenth in a family of fifteen, Rev. Dr. Jefferson grew up with a love of family that is present in his current ministerial vision.
A graduate of Grambling State University, Rev. Dr. Jefferson earned a Master of Business Administration degree in Marketing and Finance from the University of Dayton, Ohio. He has also received a Jurist Doctorate of Law from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio and a Master of Divinity from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. Awarded a Fellowship in the prestigious Sloan Fellows Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rev. Jefferson completed the Master of Science in Management degree program in 1989.
Pastor, New Destiny Christian Fellowship
Leader, The Detroit Association of
Reverend Horace L. Sheffield, III was born in Detroit, Michigan during the midst of the Civil Rights and Labor Movements to Horace L., Jr., and Mary Sheffield. Through the work and legacy of his father Horace L. Sheffield, Jr., who was the Vice President of the Negro American Labor Council (NALC) under A. Philip Randolph, it’s Founder and President, Rev. Sheffield, III, was providentially exposed to various enduring models of “servant leadership” and “prophetic societal challenge.”
Called to preached in June, 1965 at eleven years of age, while listening to the preaching of Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., who was in Detroit at the invitation of his father to raise money for the Lowndes County Movement, Rev. Horace L. Sheffield, III, was licensed to preached on October 18, 1978 at the First Baptist Institutional Church of Detroit, Michigan and was subsequently ordained there by his spiritual father and ministry mentor the Reverend Dr. Howard B. M. Fauntroy, Jr.
Rev. Horace L. Sheffield, III, is a published writer having co-authored two plays with Ms. Yolanda Denise King, the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of which is entitled “Stepping Into Tomorrow” which was also co-authored by Ms. Attallah Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X. Additionally, Rev. Sheffield, along with Ms. King and Ms. Shabazz were the co-founders of Nucleus, Inc., a New York based Theatrical Company, which toured the country performing positive messages for endangered youth. The company also included such performers as Gina Bellefonte, Ella Joyce of Roc, and S. Epatha Murkupson of NYPD Blue.
In addition to writing plays, Rev. Sheffield has also published articles and other materials in The Michigan Chronicle, The Detroit News, The Michigan Front Page, The African American Parent Magazine, and a variety of other periodicals, television and radio programming, as well as numerous newsletters and community circulars.
Presently, Rev. Horace L. Sheffield, III, is the Pastor of Detroit’s New Destiny Christian Fellowship, known for “Transforming Communities By Changing Lives..” where, under his leadership, the congregation successfully completed the construction of a new edifice. In addition to his congregational duties and pastoral work, Rev. Sheffield, in concert with the local church community, organized The Safe Center, Inc., a faith based non-profit of the church, which now serves over 1,000 clients a month and boasts an annual budget in excess of $ 500,000. Rev. Sheffield is also the Executive Director of the Detroit Association of Black Organizations (dabo) where he established and administers their Detroit Cares Alternative High School, an alternative education high school, Project Self-Sufficiency, a program providing GED instruction and job training for youth, and manages all of the other various social and economic programs of the agency.
Rev. Sheffield also served on the staff of Detroit’s Mayor Dennis W. Archer, was a former Board Member of St. John NorthEast Community Hospital, is President of the Michigan Chapter of the National Action Network (NAN), is Chairperson of the Detroit Ecumenical Ministers Alliance, is a National Board Member of the Black Leadership Commission on Aide, is a National Board Member of the National Cares Movement under the leadership of Susan Taylor, and is a Life Member of the NAACP. Rev. Sheffield hosts his own weekly radio show known as “On The Line” every Saturday on AM 910 The Word.
Rev. Sheffield has two children Horace Lindsey Sheffield, IV, a musical producer, and Minister Mary Christine Sheffield, an elected member of the Detroit City Council. Rev. Sheffield lives by the motto and credo that once served as his father’s. “All the world is my homeland, and all of its people with their many tongues and many religions are my brethren. And the fight for full justice and freedom for all of them is my religion, and my indomitable strength in this flows from my unshakable belief that this is God’s will!” Rev. Sheffield, when asked how he would like to have his life best described has stated, “When fate shall capture this mortal flesh and my soul shall soar to reap it’s imperishable reward on distant shore may it be said by those who knew Horace L. Sheffield, III, best that ‘he loved God and people and sought to love and to serve both”.
An introduction and official welcome to the Black Health Matters “Building the Bridge” Summit.
Exercise can help prevent and help you manage most chronic conditions. It works miracles. Join us for a session with fitness guru John Houston Smith.
African American families are more likely to have asthma. What’s the best way to manage? Dr. Anne Maitland medical expert presents Writing We Can’t Breathe: Disparities in the Burden and Treatment of Asthma
A candid discussion about sexual health in the Black community and the stigma surrounding it.
The Black Health Matters Building The Bridge Summit features a special session on maintaining good oral health as we age.
The COVID-19 pandemic and how it has disproportionately affected the African American community.
Real Talk with Q: Learn about what intentional actions are being taken to better gain patient’s trust and increase inclusive research and health equity.
Women Talk: ‘My Experience with Hypertension’: Meli’sa Morgan will speak out as interviewed by Rolonda Watts.
Dr. Mitzi Joi Williams will hold an informative discussion focused on the signs, symptoms, and treatments available for Multiple Sclerosis.
Learn about symptoms and take steps to prevent, and beat, heart disease and stroke.
How Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) affects the African American community and how screening guidelines for liver cancer are failing us.
Is your hair thinning? Do you suffer from skin hyperpigmentation? Join us for a conversation with the leading skin and hair expert so that we can #LiveBeautifully.
Learn more about Breast Cancer awareness and positive diagnosis journeys. The regions expert, and survivors, assemble to empower our women.
The Black Church and Public Health Unite to Power Solutions for Health Equity.
The Bottomline: A panel discussion on non-traditional healthcare costs and emerging access solutions that may save patients money.
Closing statements and “Thank You” message to participants, speakers and sponsors!