Empowering Communities To Create A Healthy Village

Speaker Biographies

Brian D. Smedley

Brian D. Smedley, Ph.D.
Vice-President and Director
Health Policy Institute
Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

Brian D. Smedley is Vice President and Director of the Health Policy Institute of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, DC. In this position, Dr. Smedley oversees all of the operations of the Institute, which was started in 2002 with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The Institute has a dual focus: to explore disparities in health and to generate policy recommendations on longstanding health equity concerns.

Formerly, Smedley was Research Director and co-founder of a communications, research and policy organization, The Opportunity Agenda (www.opportunityagenda.org), where he led the organization’s effort to center equity in state and national health reform discussions and to build the national will to expand opportunity for all. To that end, Smedley is a co-editor, along with Alan Jenkins, of a book, All Things Being Equal: Instigating Opportunity in an Inequitable Time. Prior to helping launch The Opportunity Agenda, Smedley was a Senior Program Officer in the Division of Health Sciences Policy of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), where he served as Study Director for the IOM reports, In the Nation’s Compelling Interest: Ensuring Diversity in the Health Care Workforce and Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, among other reports on diversity in the health professions and minority health research policy. Smedley came to the IOM from the American Psychological Association, where he worked on a wide range of social, health, and education policy topics in his capacity as Director for Public Interest Policy. Prior to working at the APA, Smedley served as a Congressional Science Fellow in the office of Rep. Robert C. Scott (D-VA), sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Among his awards and distinctions, in 2004 Smedley was honored by the Rainbow/PUSH coalition as a “Health Trailblazer” award winner; in 2002 he was awarded the Congressional Black Caucus “Healthcare Hero” award; and in August, 2002, was awarded the Early Career Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest by the APA. Smedley holds an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in psychology from UCLA.

Alvin F. Poussaint

Alvin F. Poussaint, MD
Professor of Psychiatry
Faculty Associate Dean for Student Affairs
Harvard Medical School

Dr. Poussaint is Director of the Media Center of the Judge Baker Children's Center in Boston. He is also a Professor of Psychiatry and Faculty Associate Dean for Student Affairs at Harvard Medical School. He is co-author, with James Comer, of Raising Black Children, 1992 and co-author, with Amy Alexander, of Lay My Burden Down, 2000. He has written dozens of articles for lay and professional publications. In 1997, he received a New England Emmy award for Outstanding Children's Special as co-executive producer of Willoughby's Wonders. Dr. Poussaint is an expert on race relations in America, the dynamics of prejudice, and issues of diversity as our society becomes increasingly multicultural. He believes that extreme (violent) racists suffer from a delusional mental illness. He lectures widely on college campuses and also serves as a consultant to government agencies and private corporations. In addition, he is active in consulting to the media on a wide range of social issues. He is concerned with media images and issues regarding the needs of children and the changing family; he has been active in the national TV rating and V-chip discussions. He is a strong proponent of non-violent parenting and parenting education. Born in East Harlem, he attended Columbia and received his MD from Cornell in 1960. He took postgraduate training at UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, where he served as Chief Resident in Psychiatry in 1964-65. At UCLA, he pursued research in psychopharmacology. From 1965 to 1967, he was Southern Field Director of the Medical Committee for Human Rights in Jackson, Mississippi, providing medical care to civil rights workers and aiding in the desegregation of health facilities throughout the South. He is former chair of the board of directors of PUSH for Excellence. In 1967, after leaving Mississippi, Dr. Poussaint joined the Tufts Medical School faculty as director of a psychiatry program in low-income housing developments. In 1969, he joined Harvard. From 1975-1978 he was Director of Student Affairs at Harvard Medical School. He was a script consultant to NBC's The Cosby Show and continues to consult to the media as an advocate of more responsible programming. He is a distinguished life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and a fellow of the American Orthopsychiatric Association. He has received numerous awards and is the recipient of many honorary degrees.

William Young

William Young, D.Min.
Founder, National Suicide and The Black Church Conference

Dr. William Young has over 33 years in ministry and over 30 years in counseling. He is a licensed Professional Counselor and serves as Bishop of Greater Fellowship Faith Tabernacle in Bolivar, Tennessee and The Healing Center Full Gospel Baptist Church, Divisions of Greater Fellowship Ministries, Inc. Dr. Young is a Veteran, having served his country during the Vietnam War era. He was the first African American Staff Chaplain to serve at Methodist Health Systems in Memphis from June 1981 to July 1994. Before accepting that assignment he served as Staff Chaplain at Western State Mental Institute in Bolivar, Tennessee. Young is a Clinical Member of The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. He is licensed by the State of Tennessee in three areas: Marriage and Family Therapist; Professional Counselor; and as a Clinical Pastoral Therapist. He is a graduate of Lemoyne-Owen College. He earned his M.Div. in Pastoral Care and Counseling from Memphis Theological Seminary and did doctoral work on his D.Min at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary completing the doctorate of Ministry at Carolina Theological Seminary. He is a charter member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. The 30 years of experience in the field of counseling has allowed Dr. Young to be a pioneer in the field among African American Clinicians. He specializes in marriage and family, grief, stress and burnout. He and his wife Dianne have faithfully co-hosted a Christian Talk Show, ON THE ROAD TO HEALING each Sunday morning on Memphis' 1340 WLOK AM since 1994. The talk show is one of the Mid-South's most popular call-in broadcasts. It is also the only African-American Christian Talk Show in the Mid-South Area. The Young's also co-hosted "Memphis On The Air, Night Talk," a two-hour, nightly public affairs, call-in show heard by thousands around the world via radio and the internet, Monday through Friday (9PM - 11PM). The final hour was utilized accepting prayer requests from individuals and families. He and his wife hosted the first National Suicide and the Black Church Conference at The Healing Center in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2003. These Conferences continue to grow biennially, sharpening the awareness of the increased number of African Americans now making suicide an option. The last Conference was held June 17-18, 2009, and was attended by nearly 400 individuals. Young's counseling expertise and experience is greatly respected throughout the Mid-South Area, state and country. Dr. Young has partnered with numerous agencies, churches and community leaders in regards to making aware the needs of the African American community.

Stephen C. Bush

Stephen C. Bush
Chief Public Defender, Shelby County, TN
Chief Architect, The Jericho Project

Mr. Bush presently serves as Chief Public Defender for Shelby County. He is the principal architect of The Jericho Project, a post-booking jail diversion collaboration for detainees with serious mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders, and has been an active leader in county efforts to improve coordination of community behavioral health systems. He received the 2010 Frank G. Clement award for community service from the Tennessee Association of Mental Health Organizations. Mr. Bush frequently speaks in criminal justice/behavioral health venues, including national conferences hosted by SAMHSA, NAMI, the National GAINS Center, the Council of State Governments, the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, and the National Legal Aid & Defender Association. He is a graduate of Millsaps College and the University of Memphis School of Law.

Mario Sims

Mario Sims, PhD
Co-Investigator, Jackson Heart Study
University Mississippi Medical Center

Mario Sims, PhD is a social epidemiologist and investigator in the Jackson Heart Study (JHS) and Special Assistant to the Director (Dr. Herman Taylor). He is also an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Graduate Faculty in Nursing at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). Dr. Sims’ current research focuses on understanding the social determinants of health disparities, with a specific interest in examining how racism, stress and psychosocial factors (as well as traditional biomedical risk factors) combine to influence cardiovascular disease (CVD) disparities between racial and ethnic groups.

Dr. Sims is also the PI of a Mentored Career Development K01 Award funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). This project examines the extent to which neighborhood socioeconomic status and psychosocial factors are associated with CVD among African Americans in the JHS. Dr. Sims is also an Investigator in the Michigan Center for Integrative Approaches to Health Disparities (CIAHD) funded by the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, where he is examining the association between psychosocial and environmental factors and CVD among African Americans. Dr. Sims has been a co-investigator with the NHLBI Project “Hypertension Education and Treatment” (HEAT).

Darrell J. Gaskin

Darrell J. Gaskin, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University
Pastor, Beth Shalom AME Zion Church

Dr. Gaskin is associate professor of health economics at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the Department of Health Policy and Management and Deputy Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions. His primary research interests are health care disparities, safety net hospitals, and access to health care for minority, low-income, uninsured, and other vulnerable populations. His current research focuses on the relationship between segregation, health and healthcare disparities. Also, he studies disparities in hospital quality and quality of care in the Medicaid. His primary aim is to promote policies and practices that improve access to care and quality of care for the poor and other vulnerable populations, and eliminate racial and economic disparities in health care.

Currently, he serves on the Editorial Boards of HSR and Medical Care Research and Review. Also, he serves on the Boards of Directors the Maryland Health Insurance Plan, the Maryland Citizen's Health Initiative and the National Economic Association. He was awarded the AcademyHealth 2002 Article-of-the-Year Award for his Health Services Research article, "Are Urban Safety-Net Hospitals Losing Low-Risk Medicaid Maternity Patients?" He served as governing councilor and section councilor of the American Public Health Association. In addition, Dr. Gaskin was a member of the Institute of Medicine Committee on the Future of Emergency Care in the U.S. Health System.

Dr. Gaskin has also held faculty appointments at the University of Maryland at College Park in the African American Studies Department and the Georgetown University Medical Center in the Institute of Healthcare Research and Policy. He earned a Ph.D. in health economics at the Johns Hopkins University, an M.S. degree in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a B.A. degree in economics from Brandeis University.

M. Lisa McDonald McGee

M. Lisa McDonald McGee
Director, Meharry Medical College Historically Black Colleges and Universities Wellness Project

Mrs. McGee has a 25 year history in social services and healthcare program development, implementation and management. She is a former National Institutes of Health Principal Investigator for a chronic disease patient services core with Cincinnati Children's Hospital that included writing and managing a 5 year-dually funded project. She also served as an advisor for the development of standards and procedures for sickle cell disease counseling with the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America. During her tenure at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, she developed several programs that emotionally prepared parents and caregivers of children with sickle cell disease cope optimally and increase better outcomes. Her other training encompasses individual and family counseling from Xavier University in Cincinnati where she obtained a M.Ed. in Counseling. She has served on several boards that involved programming for children and families and has held leadership positions in various civic and social organizations. Additionally, she is the founder and CEO of The Pinnacle Pineapple, a home based catering service targeting working women for weekend family meals. Mrs. McGee is also the wife of Michael McGee and the proud parent of Alexander McDonald and Jianne McDonald.

Arthur J. Sutherland

Arthur J. Sutherland III, MD, FACC
Founder, Sutherland Cardiology Clinic
National Board Member, Physicians For a National Health Program

Dr. Art Sutherland is a retired physician and founder of the Sutherland Cardiology Clinic. He practiced cardiology in Memphis for 33 years and was the founder and director of the Methodist Healthcare Cardiac Laboratories. Dr. Sutherland is currently working with the Healthy Memphis Common Table as a board member and as coordinator of the obesity and diabetes prevention initiative. This initiative is aligned to reduce the obesity and diabetic epidemics and to improve the quality of care in treating diabetics. Improving health literacy and elimination of social and health disparities are also high priority agenda issues.

Dr. Sutherland is a member of the Memphis School of Servant Leadership. He is currently serving as chairman of the Tennessee chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program and is a member of the national board of directors. Dr. Sutherland received his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University and medical degree from the University of Tennessee. He completed an internship at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital and residency at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine and a fellow of the American College of Cardiology.

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