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No Greater Burden: Health and the Weight of the World on Black Women

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 4:00pm to 5:30pm

Virtual Event

Please join us for a panel discussion.


The coronavirus (COVID-19) disease has greatly impacted the United States with more than 29 million known infected people and more than 530,000 deaths as of this month of March 2021. The pandemic has exposed acute health and broader socio-economic disparities in the American society as Black, Latinx, Native American and minority communities in general have registered, disproportionately, the highest rates of infection and death. The intersection of race and gender constitutes a critical factor of societal and health burden on Black women. This panel of eminent specialists in medicine will discuss various aspects of the weight of the health burden borne by Black women.

Our panelists:

Dr. Leslie Alexander, PhD History (moderator) is a historian, professor, author, activist. She received her B.A. from Stanford University and my M.A. and Ph.D. from Cornell University. She is a specialist in early African American and African Diaspora history, focusing on late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Black culture, political consciousness, and resistance movements. She has been fortunate to receive several prestigious fellowships, including the Ford Foundation Senior Fellowship, and she has given considerable service to the discipline. Currently, she is the President of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD), and an Executive Council member of the National Council for Black Studies (NCBS). She also serves on the Advisory Councils for the Journal of African American HistoryThe Black Scholar, the International Journal for Africana Studies, and the Harvey Goldberg Series for Understanding and Teaching History. Her current research project, "The Birth of Black Internationalism: African Americans and the Battle for Haitian Sovereignty” is forthcoming with the University of Illinois Press.

Dr. Evelyn Cantillo, MD, MPH is a doctor of Gynecology Oncology at Weill Medical College of Cornell. She completed her undergraduate studies at Cornell University ('98) prior to pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health at Columbia University. She subsequently earned a medical degree at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine graduating with special distinction in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Her residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology was completed at Tulane University followed by a fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology and Breast Disease at the Women & Infants Hospital/Brown University. Dr. Cantillo’s practice encompasses the surgical and medical management of the broad spectrum of gynecologic malignancies including uterine, ovary, cervix, vulva, and vagina. She is extensively trained in minimally invasive surgical techniques using traditional laparoscopy as well as robotic platforms for gynecologic cancer and complex benign conditions. Dr. Cantillo believes that every woman with gynecologic cancer should have access to the full complement of care. With this in mind, her aim is to expand access to clinical trials should this become necessary. She is a member of the New Investigators Committee of the national NRG (formerly Gynecologic Oncology Group/GOG). It is important to her that all populations be afforded the same opportunities and treatment. 

Dr. Hellina Dessie, DO is a Family Medicine Physician in the Fairview Medical Network of Minnesota and has hospital privileges at University of Minnesota Medical Center. She completed her undergraduate studies at Cornell University ('99), medical school studies at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, and residency at University of Minnesota - North Memorial Hospital Family Medicine Residency program. She strives to provide quality care by respecting each patient/family's values, needs, culture and resources. She believes that it is important to also develop collaborative care with patients, blending patient care, education and research. Her care and clinical interests include, but is not limited to, minor dermatologic procedures, minor gynecological procedures, pediatric care, prenatal care, preventive care and women's health. She has been recognized  by Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Top Doctor and Rising Star (2015, 2016).

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MD, MPH, FACEP, is the Chief Medical Executive for the State of Michigan and Chief Deputy Director for Health in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).  In these roles, she provides overall medical guidance for the State of Michigan as a cabinet member of Governor Whitmer, and oversees public health and aging programs, Medicaid, and behavioral health for MDHHS. On February 10, 2021, she was announced as a member of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force under the Biden-Harris administration. She attended the University of Michigan for her undergraduate studies, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in biology in 2002. She then attended the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where she received her Medical Degree in 2006.  She completed her residency in emergency medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in 2010 before attending the George Washington University, where she completed her Master of Public Health degree in 2013.

Dr. Marva Robinson, PhD is a licensed Clinical Psychologist practicing in St. Louis, Missouri.  She completed her master’s and doctoral studies in Clinical Psychology at Nova Southeastern University where she graduated with a specialization in Forensics and a focus in Child, Adolescent and Family Psychology. Dr. Marva Robinson currently serves as the Past President of the St. Louis Chapter of The Association of Black Psychologist, an organization focused on addressing the mental health needs of people of the African Diaspora.  She also works with the respected Better Family Life organization as a clinician in their gun violence de-escalation program. Dr. Robinson started her private practice Preston & Associates Psychology Firm, LLC in 2013 so she could have the freedom to reach families where they are.   She has worked with her colleagues in St. Louis Association of Black Psychologists to address the acute crisis needs of the Ferguson and greater St. Louis community.  Her recent work to help address the pain of her community led her to become a respected clinician in her field.  Dr. Robinson has conducted workshops in an effort to help prepare her colleagues for addressing community trauma.  Her recent trainings have been held for the Missouri Psychiatric Association, Washington University Clinical Psychology Graduate School, and the St. Louis Veteran’s Affairs. A repeat guest on MSNBC and NPR, Dr. Robinson shares her insight on the role of a clinician in the midst of community turmoil.  She is currently working in St. Louis, Missouri full –time with veterans in addition to recently joining the adjunct professor staff at Webster University.

Co-sponsorships: The Department of Psychology, American Studies Program, Department of Literatures in English, Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies (FGSS), Institute for African Development and Black Bio-Medical and Technical Association (BBMTA).

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