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Presenters' Biographies


Key SEED Talk Presenter:

Camara Phyllis Jones, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., is research director on social determinants of health and equity in the Division of Adult and Community Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP). Dr. Jones received her B.A. degree (Molecular Biology) from Wellesley College, her M.D. from the Stanford University School of Medicine, and both her M.P.H. and Ph.D. (Epidemiology) degrees from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. She also completed residency training in general preventive medicine (Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland) and in family practice (Residency Program in Social Medicine, Bronx, New York).

Dr. Jones is a family physician and epidemiologist whose work focuses on the impact of racism on the health and wellbeing of the nation. She seeks to broaden the national health debate to include not only universal access to high quality health care but also attention to the social determinants of health (including poverty) and the social determinants of equity (including racism). As a methodologist, she has developed new ways for comparing full distributions of data (rather than means or proportions) in order to investigate population-level risk factors and propose population-level interventions. As a social epidemiologist, her work on race-associated differences in health outcomes goes beyond documenting those differences to vigorously investigating the structural causes of the differences. As a teacher, her allegories on race and racism illuminate topics that are otherwise difficult for many Americans to understand or discuss..

Dr. Jones was an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health from 1994 to 2000, and is currently an adjunct associate professor at both the Morehouse School of Medicine and the Rollins School of Public Health. She is a member of the World Health Organization's Scientific Resource Group on Equity and Health and the National Board of Public Health Examiners, and recently completed service on the Executive Board of the American Public Health Association, the board of directors of the American College of Epidemiology, and the board of directors of the National Black Women's Health Project.


Marc Nivet, Ed.D., joined the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in June as chief diversity officer. In that role, Dr. Nivet provides strategic vision for all the AAMC's diversity and inclusion activities and leads the association's diversity policy and programs department, which focuses on programs designed to increase diversity in medical education and advance health care equity.

Dr. Nivet has dedicated his career to improving higher education by creating and supporting initiatives that increase diversity. As the associate executive director of the Associated Medical Schools of New York for seven years, he oversaw several programs designed to increase enrollment and retention of minority students in the health professions. He has also held positions as director of state outreach for The Sallie Mae Fund and director of the office of minority affairs at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Most recently, Dr. Nivet served as chief operating officer of the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, where he oversaw day-to-day operations of the foundation and managed an endowment of $150 million. The foundation supports programs designed to improve the education of health professionals in the interest of public health.

SEED Talk Presenters (in alphabetical order):

Brian "Voice Porter" Hawkins, a visual and performance artist, uses public art, gardens, light and sound to address issues of health, safety, crime and violence. His work has impacted Birmingham through artwork and humanitarianism. As a lifelong resident of Birmingham, Hawkins saw the city's magic from an early age. "I grew up in a housing project in downtown Birmingham, but even with those challenges, the city seemed to have limitless potential," Hawkins said. He attended Mississippi State University, majoring in civil engineering and began working in the field; however after a while he could not "shake the feeling" that he wasn't doing anything of any importance. No one was being helped. This led him to begin working with Hands on Birmingham, Habitat for Humanity, Kaboom, and other local charities. Today, Hawkins works primarily with the Norwood Resource Center and has aided projects such as the Norwood Trolley Stop Farmer's Market, Norwood Learning Gardens, and programs doing neighborhood resident's taxes for free. He also leads The Color Project, which is designed to take a creative approach to rejuvenating a blighted community. It addresses blight, torn sidewalks, vacant buildings, and empty lots and provides opportunities to improve the mental and physical health of the residents of the Ensley community by merging visual, physical, and auditory components that allow for multiple points for collaboration between the Ensley community and all other partners involved.

Dennis G. Heaphy is a healthcare analyst with the Disability Policy Consortium, a Massachusetts-based disabilities rights organization. Dennis is co-chair of Disability Advocates Advancing our Healthcare Rights (DAAHR), a coalition of disability and other healthcare advocates working on the Massachusetts Dual Eligibles Demonstration project (One Care) and payment reform. He also serves as co-chair on the state One Care Implementation Counsel. Prior to working with DPC, Dennis served as Americans with Disabilities Act Project Coordinator for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and consultant to the North Carolina and Massachusetts Departments of Public Health (MDPH). Other past experience includes working at St. Francis House homeless shelter and serving as adjunct faculty at Emmanuel College. Dennis sits on numerous committees including the MDPH Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) committee and the MA Health and Disability Partnership at DPH. He has been a presenter at APHA and has been a primary or secondary author of professional publications on topics related to health and disability. He is particularly interested in health inequities impacting persons with disabilities in ethnic and minority populations and the development of culturally competent frameworks that improve healthcare access and outcomes for persons with disabilities. Dennis holds an MDiv, MEd and MPH.

Dr. Kimberly Kay Lopez, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics-Retrovirology and Global Health at Baylor College of Medicine, has more than twenty years of experience engaging communities and vulnerable populations to identify health concerns and build solutions from within the community. As Director of Connect to Protect, an NIH/NICHD funded initiative to impact HIV prevention among youth, Dr. Lopez partners with community to develop and implement structural changes (programs, policies, practices) for HIV prevention. Her current research interests center on community resiliency and the traumatic effects of poverty, and she has particular expertise in sexual health epidemiology, visual anthropology, and community-based participatory research. After completing her bachelor's degree in Anthropology from the University of Houston, she earned her Master of Public Health (Community Health Practice) and Doctor of Public Health (Management, Policy and Community Health) degrees from The University of Texas School of Public Health-Houston. Dr. Lopez is a 2015 AcademyHealth/Aetna Foundation Scholar in Residence and also serves as adjunct faculty at UTSPH.

Na'Taki Osborne Jelks is an environmental health scientist, social change engineer, and educator working for a healthy, just, and sustainable future. She has over 19 years of community, non-profit, and government experience working to address environmental challenges facing communities of color. Over 17 years ago, she co-founded the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance (WAWA), an urban, community-based organization made up of residents living in the Proctor, Utoy, and Sandy Creek Watersheds in Northwest and Southwest Atlanta, Georgia who are overburdened with environmental stressors and pollution, but often least represented at environmental decision-making tables. WAWA was established as a result of community efforts to halt discriminatory wastewater treatment practices in West Atlanta, and the organization has grown to become an impactful force in community-centered sustainable development. Jelks currently serves as the organization's Board Chairperson.

When she is not busy trying to transform toxic landscapes into healthy communities, Mrs. Jelks serves as an adjunct Instructor in the Environmental Science and Studies Program at Spelman College, her alma mater, and she is a Ph.D. candidate at the Georgia State University School of Public Health in Atlanta. Jelks also recently co-founded Rooted, LLC, a consulting practice that works at the intersection of climate change, health, and environmental justice.

Janice B. Yost, Ed.D., became the founding President of The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts in 1999. The Foundation's grantmaking focuses on taking evidenced-based strategies to scale by advocating for systems change to sustain the strategies. To assist that process, the Foundation employs an Empowerment Evaluation approach called "Results-Oriented Grantmaking and Grant-Implementation" (ROGG), a planning and evaluation system that she co-developed with Dr. Abraham Wandersman. ROGG's effectiveness has been recognized in several reports, including Evaluation in Philanthropy: Perspectives from the Field, co-released in 2009 by Grantmakers For Effective Organizations and the Council on Foundations and in a chapter in Empowerment Evaluation: Knowledge and Tools for Self-Assessment, Evaluation Capacity Building, and Accountability edited by Fetterman, Kaftarian and Wandersman, published by Sage in 2015.

The Foundation has made grants totaling $30 million, which focused on multi-year projects that achieved substantive public policy accomplishments such as impacting preschool children's mental health, improving access to dental services and mental health services, reducing hunger and homelessness, guiding prisoner reentry and public housing tenants toward self-sufficiency.

Dr. Yost previously served as the founding President of Mary Black Foundation and as a Trustee of the Spartanburg Regional Hospital System.
Her earlier career as a college professor and administrator included serving as Associate Chancellor for University Relations at the University of South Carolina-Spartanburg campus. She earned a doctorate in speech education from the University of Georgia.
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