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Speakers & Panelists

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Joseph Kerwin, MAppPsych, MDiv

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Director, AIDS Institute, New York State Department of Health

AIDS Institute Welcome and Remarks on Health Equity

Effective March 16, 2023, Mr. Joseph Kerwin has been appointed Director of the AIDS Institute. Prior to serving as Director, Mr. Kerwin was a Deputy Director within the AIDS Institute for four years. His portfolio as a Deputy Director progressively expanded over the past four years to include oversight of the AIDS Institute’s Health Care Programs, Uninsured Care Program, Medicaid Programs and Health Care Financing. Mr. Kerwin has been with the AIDS Institute for more than ten years. Prior to joining the AIDS Institute, Joseph was the Executive Director of AIDS Services at Catholic Charities and the Program Administrator of the AIDS Program and Division of HIV Medicine at Albany Medical Center. Mr. Kerwin is responsible for the day-to-day decision making and operations of the AIDS Institute and has represented the AIDS Institute within the DOH, across state agencies and New York State. Priority efforts have focused on the integration of health equity principles to advance ending the epidemics of HIV, Hepatitis C, Congenital Syphilis, and opioid overdose, advancing LGBTQ+ health and wellness, and leading in many areas of the state’s outbreak responses including COVID-19 and Mpox.

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Safiya Richardson, MD, MPH

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Assistant Professor and Director of Digital Health Equity, Department of Health Informatics and the Institute for Excellence in Health Equity, NYU Langone Health

Presentation: Digital Health Equity – Foundations, Ongoing Work & the Path Forward  

Dr. Safiya Richardson is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Division of Digital Health Equity in the Department of Health Informatics at NYU Langone Health. She is an alumna of Spelman College and holds an MD and MPH from Columbia University. Her research focuses on developing and implementing high-impact health information technology and clinical decision support tools. Her work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and published in journals including the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the Journal of General Internal Medicine (JGIM) and nature partner journals (npj) Digital Medicine. She has won numerous awards including the Society of General Internal Medicine’s Best Published Research Paper of the Year Award. Dr. Richardson was recently recognized by Business Insider as one of 30 leaders under 40 transforming healthcare.

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W. Michael Short

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Managing Director, Firefly Innovations, CUNY School of Public Health

Presentation: Accelerating Solutions for Cascading Public Health Crises

Award-winning Entrepreneur with a successful 14 year track record of planning, launching, managing, and scaling mission-driven and investor-backed companies, real estate ventures, client projects, technology platforms, cross-sector public / private / foundation / university partnerships and programs, national campaigns, non-profit organizations, community engagement initiatives, and economic development programs that have engaged over a million businesses and organizations nationally and globally, attracted 100+ media highlights, and are projected to have over a billion dollars in economic and community impact when fully implemented. To date, Mr. Short has advised, assisted, and / or represented clients in pursuing over $320 million in economic, community, and real estate development funding, financing opportunities, grants, tax benefits, incentives, & various other related funding equivalents. Mr. Short currently serves as the Managing Director of Firefly Innovations, the premier public health entrepreneurship platform of the City University of New York's Graduate School for Public Health & Health Policy (“CUNY SPH”), which operates several programs including the CUNY Public Health Innovation Accelerator. Mr. Short also serves as a Senior Director at the CUNY SPH Center for Systems & Community Design and as an Entrepreneurship Program Director at Medgar Evers College School of Business.

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Ghylian Bell

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Founder & Director, Urban Yoga Foundation

Mindfulness/Stretching Exercise

Ghylian Bell, introduced to meditation and yoga by Bunny Wailer of Bob Marley and The Wailers at 19, is the founder of The Urban Yoga Foundation (UYF). Established in 2007 as a 501c3 non-profit, UYF pioneers yoga and mindfulness initiatives tailored to the needs of students and teachers in underserved communities. Guided by service-based yoga principles, UYF fosters social awareness, collective responsibility, and the reclaiming of indigenous connections to ancient practices. Having impacted over 500,000 individuals, Ghylian collaborated with icons like James Mtume and Cicely Tyson, providing them with personalized practices. Partnering with Beverly Bond of Black Girls Rock, she extended mindfulness programs globally at Barnard College. Her work with Columbia University School of Social Justice reached social workers, frontline personnel, and formerly incarcerated individuals. Corporate clients include 3M and Ford Foundation, with expansions to Citi College of New York, Hostos College, UCLA, and Fordham University. As a NYC vendor, The Urban Yoga Foundation spearheads in-school and outreach programs for the Dept of Ed of NY, solidifying its commitment to holistic wellness. For more details, explore www.urbanyogafoundation.

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Mark Freeman, MPA

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Chief Data Scientist, Public Market, IBM Consulting

Presentation: Trustworthy AI for Advancing Health Equity

Mark Freeman is an executive data scientist and thought leader with PhD level education and over 25 years of experience in advanced analytics. He routinely leads data science teams in design, development, and deployment of production grade machine learning solutions. He is an experienced teacher and trainer in measurement, research methods, and statistics. He is a published author of advanced analytics research, and patent author in advanced automated forecasting. He is also a management consultant with successful experience in strategic planning, project management, training design and delivery, and group process facilitation.

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Beth Schneider, MBA

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Analytics Lead, Government Health and Human Services, IBM Consulting

Presentation: Trustworthy AI for Advancing Health Equity

Beth Schneider, MBA, is an Associate Partner with IBM Consulting where she helps state and local health and human services agencies apply data analytics to inform decision-making and improve business processes and outcomes. She partners with subject matter experts and data scientists from across the business to expand the use of AI and advanced analytics to solve client problems. Ms. Schneider has more than 30 years experience providing healthcare data analysis and decision support to clients including state Medicaid and public health agencies, public plan sponsors, large employers, health plans, and health data organizations. She previously served as Analytics Practice Leader, in which role she oversaw an organization of analytic consultants responsible for delivering analytic solutions and services to IBM’s Medicaid Enterprise Data Warehouse and Decision Support System clients around the country. Over the course of her career she has overseen or been engaged in healthcare analysis and decision support to more than 25 state Medicaid agencies. She has led consulting engagements on topics including population health, program effectiveness, quality improvement, managed care, program integrity, and cost management. Ms. Schneider received an MBA from the New York Institute of Technology and a BA in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

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David Berger, MD, MHCM

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Chief Executive Officer, SUNY University Medical Hospital at Downstate

Presentation: Addressing Disparities with Digital Tools 

David H. Berger, MD, MHCM is Chief Executive Officer of University Hospital at Downstate.  Dr. Berger is also Professor of Surgery and Public Health at Downstate.  Dr. Berger has experience identifying cutting edge health care technology and implementing the technology effectively in hospitals.  He is on the board of the Breakthrough Alliance, the oversight board for the HIT Lab at Columbia University.  He is an advisor to several digital healthcare startups and serves as a mentor for early-stage companies as part of Techstars and Ignite Health. Dr. Berger previously served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston. Dr. Berger is a native of New York, where he received his medical degree (1984) from the State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn.  Dr. Berger completed a General Surgery residency at SUNY-Brooklyn and fellowship in Surgical Oncology at the UT MD Anderson Cancer Center.  Dr. Berger completed a Master of Science in Health Care Management at Harvard University in 2007.  Dr. Berger has over 200 publications.  He is a member of the medical honor society Alpha Omega Alpha Dr. Berger serves on several nonprofit boards including the Alzheimer’s Association of New York City, the Alliance for Positive Change, the Brooklyn Communities Collaborative, Community Care of Brooklyn IPA, and the Association for Academic Surgery Foundation.

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Komal Bajaj, MD, MS-HPEd

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Chief Quality Officer, New York City Health + Hospitals/Jacobi

Presentation: Harnessing Healthcare Quality and Safety Functions to Promote Digital Equity

Dr. Komal Bajaj is a New York City-based innovative, agency-building healthcare leader, catalyzing quality and safety transformation across all facets of healthcare delivery. Dr. Bajaj serves as Chief Quality Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi/NCB (Bronx, NY). She is also Clinical Director for NYC Health + Hospitals Simulation Center, which delivers thousands of interprofessional participant encounters throughout its simulation centers annually. She co-chairs the health system’s Monitoring & Evaluation Subcommittee for its Equity & Access Council. Dr. Bajaj is a Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a founding member of the system-wide Research Council. Dr. Bajaj was an inaugural National Academy of Medicine Diagnostic Excellence Scholar. She was appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)’s National Advisory Council in 2022. Dr. Bajaj is an internationally recognized expert on ingraining equity into quality/safety, healthcare environmental sustainability, the impact of diagnostic safety events on maternal health, and the use of simulation/debriefing to advance healthcare quality/safety. Her work has been featured in mainstream outlets such as the New York Times, Modern Healthcare, NPR, and Crains New York as well as healthcare entities such as NEJM Catalyst, JAMA Health Forum, and Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

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Natalie Pageler, MD

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Chief Medical Information Officer, Stanford Children's Health

Presentation: Health in the Digital Age: Empowering Children, Adolescents, and Families

Dr. Natalie Pageler is a board-certified pediatric intensivist and clinical informaticist. She is Associate Dean for Maternal and Child Health (Clinical Informatics) at Stanford Medicine, Division Chief of Clinical Informatics, and Clinical Professor of Critical Care in the Department of Pediatrics. She also serves as the Chief Health Informatics Officer at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, where she helped lead the organization to HIMSS Level 7 EMR and analytics adoption, as well as a HIMSS Davies Award of Excellence for the care of children and pregnant women.  Dr. Pageler is also the Program Director and co-founder of the Stanford Clinical Informatics Fellowship, one of the first ACGME-accredited fellowships in the nation.

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Cheryl Smith, MD

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Associate Medical Director for Clinical Services, Digital Health Initiative, AIDS Institute, New York State Department of Health

Moderator, Fireside Chat on the Impact of Digital Tools on Communities

Dr. Cheryl Smith graduated from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and completed residency at New York University- Bellevue Hospital.  She was the HIV Medical Director at North General Hospital where she created one of the first HIV/HCV programs in New York and expanded their HIV Primary Care program.  She has received numerous awards and has been featured as one of America’s leading physicians by Black Enterprise Magazine and the Network Journal.

Dr. Smith is the Associate Medical Director of Clinical Care and Services at the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute where she is the founder and directs the Digital Health Initiative (DHI).  DHI seeks to transform the way the AIDS Institute and consumers communicate, learn and take action combating epidemics.

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Jorge Rodriguez, MD

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Clinician-investigator, Brigham and Women's Hospital

Panelist, Fireside Chat on the Impact of Digital Tools on Communities

Dr. Jorge A. Rodriguez is a clinician-investigator at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. His research and passion lie in the meaningful intersection of medicine, social justice, and technology. His work focuses on the thoughtful application of health technology to achieve health equity, especially for patients with limited English proficiency and non-English language preference. He has also made contributions to work bridging disparities in patient-facing health technology, especially patient portals, mobile apps, artificial intelligence, and telehealth.

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Angelina Soll, LCSW

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Program Officer, Foster Youth, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

Panelist, Fireside Chat on the Impact of Digital Tools on Communities

Angelina McCormick Soll is a Ventura County native, having grown up in Santa Paula and now residing in Ventura with her husband and busy three-year-old. She received a Bachelor’s degree with distinction in Psychology from UC Berkeley, a Master’s in Social Work from UCLA and returned home to Ventura County shortly after completing her education. Having worked in public and nonprofit settings as a licensed clinical social worker, Soll has provided therapeutic services to children and their families, developed an innovative therapeutic preschool program, conducted assessments for children entering the child welfare system, and trained many staff to implement early childhood mental health evidenced based practices. Soll has worked to develop and implement trauma informed support services for foster/resource caregivers, expand recruitment and support efforts for teens in care, and supported local implementation of Resource Family Approval, the Quality Parenting Initiative, and Continuum of Care Reform. Most recently, Soll has managed the day-to-day operations of a public mental health clinic serving children and families. She brings more than a decade of  micro and clinical experience to the team and to support the national macro level work of the Foster Youth initiative. When she’s not working-or chasing her threenager, Soll enjoys yoga, cycling and fitness, all things food, the outdoors and live music.

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