The Crusader Newspaper Group

Conference held on medical careers for Black women

By Ashley Banks

“When Black Women Touch Women, We Heal the World” hosted by Congresswoman Robin Kelly at House of Hope

Congresswoman Robin Kelly on behalf of The Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls hosted an event titled “When Black Women Touch Medicine, We Heal the World” on Tuesday August 10, 2021 at House of Hope Chicago, 752 East 114th  Street. Black women and girls came together for a discussion on medical careers which included a Q and A with the panelists.

The event began with Congresswoman Kelly’s opening remarks. The audience was then given a historical timeline of Black women’s contribution to modern medicine.

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CONGRESSWOMAN ROBIN KELLY, who moderated the Q and A Session, is pictured with one of the attendees.

One of many phenomenal women discussed was Henrietta Lacks. Henrietta Lacks according to Wikipedia was “an African-American woman whose cancer cells are the source of the HeLa cell line.” HeLa represents the first letters of her given name and her surname …Henrietta Lacks.

After the presentation, a patient testimony was given by Shanice Williams. Williams is a long time patient of Ingalls/University of Chicago in Harvey, IL. She shared with attendees the importance of keeping up with one’s health and spoke about the doctors who helped her along the way as she battled a chronic illness.

Following Williams’ testimonial, a panel titled “Breaking the Glass Ceiling: A conversation with Black female healthcare providers about Black women at the forefront of medicine” took place.

The panelists were Dr. Lisa Green, CEO and co-founder of Family Christian Health Center; Dr. Valeria Cohran, Associate Chair for Diversity & Inclusion at the Ann & Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; Dr. Claudia Fegan, Chief Medical Officer at Cook County Health; Dr. Patrice Harris, co-founder/CEO of eMed plus, and former president of the American Medical Association; and Morinola Shobajo, UIC College of Medicine student.

PRESENTING AT THE podium is Shanice Williams and the panelists are from l-r: Morinola Shobajo, Dr. Valeria Cohran, and Dr. Claudia Fegan. The panelist on the screen is Dr. Patrice Harris.

Panelists were asked questions relative to their experience and area of expertise. Testimonies were also given on the ups and downs that occur during the journey to becoming a physician. Along with the panel moderator, attendees were also invited to ask the panelists questions.

Breakout sessions and closing remarks signaled the event’s conclusion.  Breakout sessions included “You Can Be a Doctor,” and “The State of Health for Blacks in Chicago.”

The panelists for “You can be a doctor: An informative and encouraging discussion for young women and girls interested in entering the field of medicine” included a bevy of medical practitioners, administrators and entrepreneurs.

Among them were Dr. Hareder McDowell, Community Psychologist and author; Dr. Brandi Jackson, Psychiatrist and co-founder at Institute for Anti-Racism in Medicine; and Dr. Brittani James, Assistant Professor of Clinical and Community Health at UI Health.

Also on the panel were Dr. LaMenta “Sweetie” Conway, Founder/Board President, at I Am Abel, also Deputy Chief of Medicine at the Illinois Department of Corrections; and Dr. Eugenia Sanders, Site Clinical Director in the Department of Pediatrics at Lawndale Christian Health Center. 

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SYMPOSIUM MODERATOR Dr. Hareder McDowell speaks during one of the breakout sessions conducted in a multipurpose room.

Dr. Latasha Lee, MPH, Vice President of Social & Clinical Research at National Minority Quality Forum; and Dr. Bridgette Arnett, MD, PHD and Owner/Neurologist at Hyde Park Neurology also served as panelists.

The other breakout session was “The State of Health for Blacks in Chicago: Chicago Public Health Department staff will discuss their groundbreaking report detailing racial health inequities in the City of Chicago”

The panelists were Creola Kizart-Hampton, president/founder at Greater- works, Inc.; Blair Aikens, MPH and Epidemiologist; Rachelle Paul-Brutus, MPH and coordinator of Research and Evaluation; Dana Harper, Epidemiologist; Donna Scrutchins, Public Health Administrator; and Yaa Simpson, MPH, Epidemiologist.

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PARTICIPANTS IN THE 2021 Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls Annual Symposium held Tuesday, August 10 at the House of Hope Chicago.

Thanks to the generosity of funding provided by The Field Foundation of Illinois, Inc. in producing this article.

 (Published in the Chicago Crusader Newspaper August 14, 2021)


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