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President's Corner

2020 continues as an unprecedented and unpredictable year.  As many of us wrestled with COVID-19 both personally and professionally, the nature of the pandemic exposed health disparities on a national platform.  We have seen national media coverage of these disparities and national responses from many of our academic institutions, advocacy groups and professional organizations.

In the midst of our ongoing support for the front-line and essential workers, racism reared its ugly head again in Minneapolis, MN.  We watched George Floyd die in front of our eyes, while onlookers begged former officer Chauvin to relinquish his knee from Floyd's neck.  This, on the heels of the death of Breonna Taylor, in Louisville, KY, a young black woman shot in her home during a improperly executed no-knock warrant. The country and the world has erupted in protests.

The pain from decades of unjust police brutality, is palpable.  The scenes of solidarity are uplifting.  The hope for change is real.  We have an opportunity to harness this energy to change our communities for the better.  I encourage each of you to get involved in your local communities to encourage the policy changes necessary to end systemic racism in our justice system.  The time is now.

"Be the change you want to see in the world"


  1. President’s Corner
  2. Reede Scholars, Inc. Virtual Health Equity Symposium
  3. Darrell Gray, featured in KevinMD, Covid 19 and vulnerable populations
  4. Reede Scholars Stimulus Package
  5. 2020 Reede Scholars Vision Award
  6. Reede Scholars Live & Covid 19
  7. Opportunities
  8. Health Policy Brief


Digital Health and Equity Virtual Health Equity Symposium Series

This year, we were unable to host our Annual Health Equity Symposium in Boston.  However, we felt like it was still important to complete the Digital Health & Equity Series.  In lieu of an in person event, we hosted a 3 part video series, with speakers, Wilson Wang, Edmondo Robinson and Kelia Lopez.   Each contributed a unique perspective on the role of digital technology historically and now, especially in the wake of COVID-19.  

Posted on our new YouTube channel, Reede Scholars will continue to create quality content from our experts on topics related to health equity.

Subscribe Today!

Your support is vital to keep these initiatives going.  Volunteer to be a guest.  Like, share and subscribe to our social media and YouTube channel.  Donate to or Sponsor a podcast episode.  The more we talk about Health Equity & the more people we reach, the more lives we can change. 

2020 Reede Scholars Vision Award

This year's Vision Award was presented virtually to our own Kavitha Prakash, MD, MPH, in recognition of her outstanding six years as treasurer and for the mammoth work she completed to update our 501c3 status. 

Kavitha served as Treasurer from 2014-2020.  In addition to being a wife and mother, she is clinician-educator and Hospitalist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).  She completed the fellowship in 2003.

The Vision Award is given in grateful appreciation for your tireless commitment, dedication and support for our organization, Reede Scholars, Inc.

Congratulations Kavitha!

Darrell Gray, MD, MPH 

Gastroenterologist at OSU Wexner Medical Center and the James Cancer Hospital

How to mitigate risk and foster resilience among vulnerable populations during COVID-19

Darrel Gray, May 2020 

As featured in KevinMD

Over the past two months, health professionals and community advocates have brought to the fore of national attention what has been the lived experience of many within black and brown communities for ages — racism kills. The substrate of structural racism and systemic inequities, now combined with a catalyst, COVID-19, is accelerating fatalities among those who are disproportionately burdened by chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

The death toll, along with the disparities magnified therein, is forcing America to revisit her sordid past. During both the influenza pandemic of 1918 and the H1N1 epidemic of 2009, those made most vulnerable by virtue of social determinants and chronic diseases were more likely to die. Yet, here we are again, déjà vu, amidst a COVID-19 pandemic in which we are witnessing many people die because of those same factors.

I’m reminded of Groundhog Day, a 1990s fantasy movie, in which the star, Bill Murray, is trapped in a time loop in which he relives the same day over and over again. Yet, as the plot progresses, the protagonist gradually learns to avoid the missteps of his past. Ultimately, as his fate would have it, the time loop is broken.

America, in contrast, seems unable to escape her time loop. The cycle of discriminatory policies and practices (redlining, for example) repeatedly makes a segment of the population – those living in poverty, those with limited access to high-quality care, those living in crowded and/or unsafe conditions, those with limited English proficiency, to name a few — vulnerable to poor health outcomes. And the vulnerable are predominately black. Thus, it should be of no surprise that black Americans are dying at greater rates than other racial and ethnic groups.

The “why” — underlying social determinants of health and non-medical, health-related social needs — is also a recurring theme. Unless we address the upstream social structures (racial wealth gap, for example), vulnerable populations will continue to drown in downstream health inequities.

Such changes require time. A lot of time. Time America had. Time America must commit. However, amidst our current pandemic, there is some change that can be achieved rapidly.

There are three key strategies that, with state and federal support, we can deploy now to mitigate risk and foster resilience among vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Partner with trusted local and national community-facing organizations and provide them with financial resources to navigate people through this crisis.

Organizations such as The National African American Male Wellness Initiative and Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services effectively communicate to their target communities, African Americans, and immigrants respectively, around holistic health and wellbeing, serve as a liaison between members of those communities and social services, and commonly refer individuals for medical care.

They are integral to connecting with traditionally hard-to-reach groups and overcoming barriers of medical mistrust, low literacy or limited English proficiency that prevent some minorities from engaging in the health care system and complying with recommendations from health care providers. During this pandemic, they can be a vehicle to dispel myths and validate truths. They can also be a conduit for mask distribution, community-based SARS-CoV-2 testing and contact tracing, and training community members on how to utilize technology for both telehealth visits and connecting with family while complying with social distancing recommendations.

2. Accelerate testing availability in communities that need it.

How? By using state-level data to target zip codes and/or census tracts in which there is a high prevalence of chronic diseases, poverty, food insecurity, and/or high utilization of public assistance benefits such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Medicaid. The growing pool of data suggests that these factors overlap with hotspots for COVID-19 deaths. Further, as health centers create their own testing reagents and kits, it becomes easier to have mobile or pop-up testing sites in communities and outside of the walls of hospitals and clinics.

3. Protect low-wage essential workers and their families.

Such workers — public transit, grocery store, and sanitation workers, for example — are predominantly from black and brown communities and less able to work from home during this pandemic.

All of them should receive masks and gloves. All should receive hazard pay. All should have the option of alternate housing available, if they develop symptoms of COVID-19.

As a physician with training in public health and health policy, I emphatically believe that health care providers play a pivotal role in the health of our local communities and nation. We can both address the medical and mental health needs of patients who traverse our emergency departments, hospitals, and clinics and work with community leaders and policymakers in a team-based approach to tackle the systemic social structures that contribute to chronic diseases that disproportionately burden them.

When I entered medical school, I vowed, like many others, to act when I witness injustice. I have taken and advocate for implicit bias training that forces participants to identify their unconscious biases (that may, for example, lead them to preferentially hospitalize a white patient over a black patient presenting with the same severe COVID-19 symptoms) and arms them with strategies to mitigate them.

Thus, I reject the assertion that “the medical profession should abandon the fantasy that physicians can be trained to solve the problems of poverty, food insecurity and racism.” I was trained to do so and am employing these critical skills in partnership with a plethora of leaders in private and public sectors. Many other physicians are as well, through training programs such as the Commonwealth Fund Fellowship in Minority Health Policy.

If we aim to break the Groundhog Day-esque time loop that has us reliving the tragedies of the H1N1 epidemic 2009 and “Spanish flu” pandemic of 1918, we must all contribute to dismantling the discriminatory policies and practices that foster vulnerability in black and brown communities and tackle the immediate health challenges that befall them.


Reede Scholars Covid Stimulus Donations

Covid-19 impacted vulnerable communities at rates that superceded the general population for many reasons, mostly those directly linked to social determinants of health.  While Reede Scholars will continue to work as a collective to change the policies related to improving health equity in the future, we also believed it was imperative to support organizations doing the work of supporting these vulnerable populations in real time.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, Reede Scholar’s awarded two organizations with the newly created and approved, Reede Scholars Covid-19 Stimulus Donation. The two recipients described below, were nominated by Reede Scholars, Drs. Seiji Hayashi and Kavitha Prakash respectively.

Both organizations have long-standing ties to the communities they serve, and true to their mission have been extraordinarily supportive of those in need over the past few months.  Each Recipient received a check in the amount of $1,200.

Mary’s Center Overview: Founded in 1988, Mary’s Center is a Community Health Center that provides quality medical and social services to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. More than 90% of our patient population consists of high-risk and vulnerable people. We offer over 30 critical services to nearly 60,000 individuals annually in the DC metro region. Mary’s Center helps each participant access individualized services and find the path towards wellness, stability, educational success and economic opportunities. To do this, Mary’s Center developed our Social Change Model, which allows us to offer medical, dental, and behavioral health services for the entire family, along with social services and family literacy services – all under one roof.

COVID-19 response: During the COVID-19 crisis, we have consolidated DC services at our Petworth (Ward 4) Health Center so that we can better manage the health and safety of our front-line medical staff. We continue to operate at both our Silver Spring and Adelphi sites in Maryland to cover all three jurisdictions during this crisis. Overall, approximately 80% of our patient encounters have been shifted to telemedicine, leaving only certain essential pediatric and perinatal encounters to take place in-person at a designated clinic. Our dental clinics are only open for emergency visits. Our immediate telehealth capacity includes video and audio communication between health care providers and participants who are self-isolating under stay-at-home orders. However, recognizing that it may be many months before a COVID-19 vaccine or treatment are available, we are making plans to enhance our current telehealth capabilities to include nurses and medical assistants visiting patients’ homes with specialized tools. This will give clinic-based providers the ability to examine and diagnose patients remotely and will strengthen our capacity to serve our medically vulnerable patients, who likely will need to remain at home for many months to come.

See our own Seiji Hayashi speak about the efforts of Mary's Center

Established in 1977, Eastern Service Workers Association (ESWA) is a free and voluntary membership association run by and for Boston's service workers, temporary, domestic and other low-income workers and their families. Through the self-help efforts of our association members and community volunteers, ESWA has organized a year-round, 11-point Membership Benefit Program to help meet the immediate needs of our families while we organize together to fight for long-term solutions to poverty conditions caused by lack of living wages. Membership benefits include emergency food, clothing, preventive medical care and non-emergency dental care, legal advice and more.

COVID-19 response:  ESWA is a long standing group with deep community ties in Dorchester; it serves those in service industries, those deemed essential workers in the COVID-19 pandemic. They are providing food and direct cash assistance to those affected. 


Thank you Reede Scholars!  This year, you have surely answered the call for increased engagement! 

In addition to handling your personal and professional responsibilities during Covid-19, many have participated in our virtual Leadership RetreatAnnual Business Meeting, agreed to participate in our podcasts, participated in writing groups, and donated money to help keep our programming in motion.

Scholars Darrel Gray, Rhea Boyd, Mallory Williams, Sanjeev Sriram, Monique Nugent, Deonza Thymes, Brian Swann, Phillip Woods, Kimberly Chang, Phillip Murray, Wilson Wang, Keila Lopez and Anne Newland all lent their time and voices to talk with me on Reede Scholars Live! The widely shared podcasts have received praise and high ratings. They are now archived and available online.

A VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU to our $1,000 and $1,000+ donors for their tax deductible donations to our organization:

Asare Christian

Nawal Nour

Adolfo Valadez

Mallory Williams

Lastly, a huge thank you to our Board of Directors!! Your timely responses to the initiatives put before you have contributed to several successful campaigns, including the Reede Scholars Covid-19 Stimulus Donation and Resolution to establish a Althea Roach Thomas Minority Health Policy Scholarship.

Board of Directors:

Cynthia Hodge, DMD, MPH, MPA

Dora Hughes, MD, MPH

Kamilah Jackson, MD, MPH

Elna Nagasako, MD, PhD, MPH

Alexander Amon Rodgers, MD, MPH

D'Nyce Williams, MD, MPH, MPA

Phillip Woods, DDS, MPH

Thank you all so much for all your support!

Nakela Cook named PCORI's next Executive Director

Reede Scholars Live!  Let's Talk Health Equity

Health outcomes in this country continue to be sub-optimal between Americans and compared to other developed countries. Join us as we speak with Health Equity Experts & Leaders to discuss innovative approaches to narrow the gap and improve the quality of life for all.

In response to COVID-19, Reede Scholars Live hosted a 12 part podcast series discussing topics related to health equity and Covid 19.

Special Series Episode 1:  COVID-19 and Health Equity with Monique Nugent

On this episode, we are joined by Reede Scholar, Monique Nugent, MD, MPH.  She is currently an Associate Director and Hospitalist at South Shore Hospital in South Weymouth, MA.   She is passionate about delivering high quality of care for all patients especially medically vulnerable populations.

She speaks to us about her experience with COVID-19 both personally and professionally.  We discuss the role of the essential worker during this crisis and whether essential has become synonymous with disposable.

Special Series Episode 2:  COVID-19 and Health Equity with Raymond Portis

On this episode, we are joined by Raymond Portis, II, MD.  He is currently a practicing partner with Jackson Pulmonary Associates and the ICU Medical Director for Merit Health Madison and Rankin located in the Greater Metro Jackson, Mississippi area.

He speaks to us about his experience with COVID-19 on the frontline and the unique challenges and opportunities for small towns and the rural south.

Special Series Episode 3:  COVID-19 and Health Equity with Deonza Thymes

On this episode, we are joined by Deonza Thymes, MD, MPH.  She is a practicing Emergency Medicine Physician.  Though residing in Washington DC, her work currently takes her to North Carolina.  

She speaks to us about her experience with COVID-19 both personally and professionally.  We discuss how COVID-19 impacts care of patients with other emergency conditions, how the community is interpreting the CDC recommendations and how the travel restrictions are affecting her life. 

Special Series Episode 4:  COVID-19 and Health Equity with Brian Swann

On this episode, we are joined by Brian Swann, DDS, MPH.  He currently the Chief of Oral Health and an Instructor at the Cambridge Health Alliance in conjunction with the Harvard School of Dental Medicine.    

He speaks to us about his insights into the COVID-19 pandemic and the unique challenges and opportunities for oral health physicians, dentistry and integration of medical care,  now and going forward.

Special Series Episode 5:  COVID-19 and Health Equity with Phillip Woods

On this episode, we are joined by Phillip Woods, DDS, MPH.   Dr. Woods currently works for the FDA as a regulatory reviewer for dental devices.  His experience ranges from clinical instruction, to providing care for a diverse inmate population at the Federal Medical Center to active service in the U.S Public Health Service.

He speaks to us today about the FDA’s unique position with COVID 19 as it relates to PPE and emergency use authorizations, to his public health service requirements to the health equity issues as they relate to incarcerated persons.

Special Series Episode 6:  COVID-19 and Health Equity with Kinika Young

On this episode, we are joined by Kinika Young, JD.  Ms. Young currently works as the Senior Director of Health Policy and Advocacy at the Tennessee Justice Center.   Here, her experience with corporate law meets her passion for social justice as she works to improve the health of the most vulnerable Tennesseans. 

She speaks to us about her decision to transition from partner at a large law firm to advocacy work at a non-profit, health disparities related to COVID-19 and medicaid expansion as a vehicle to increase access and improve outcomes.

Special Series Episode 7:  COVID-19 and Health Equity with Renaisa Anthony

On this episode, we are joined Renaisa Anthony, MD, MPH.  Dr. Anthony, with her clinical expertise in women’s health, academic and policy experience, she is now actively bridging the gap between physician and technology as founder of MOMentum Park.

She speaks with us about the impetus behind her transition, her upcoming projects and how technology can be instrumental in increasing access, empowering mothers and improving health equity.

Special Series Episode 8:  COVID-19 and Health Equity with Kimberly Chang

On this episode, we are joined by Kimberly Chang, MD, MPH.  Dr. Chang currently works as a Family Physician and Human Trafficking & Healthcare Policy Fellow in Asian Health Services in Oakland, CA.

She speaks with us about COVID 19 preparation in California, as early as January, the importance of community health centers for vulnerable populations and what to do if you are worried about human trafficking or intimate partner violence in your community.

Special Series Episode 9:  COVID-19 and Health Equity with Mary E Fleming

On this episode, your host discusses her personal & professional experience with COVID-19.

Special Series Episode 10:  COVID-19 and Health Equity with Phillip Murray

On this episode, we are joined by Phillip Murray, MD, MPH.  Dr. Murray works as a Psychiatrist in Charlotte, NC as a part of a large healthcare system.

He speaks to us about how COVID 19 has affected his practice, telehealth, maintaining a connection with vulnerable populations and examining our mental health needs during a pandemic.

Special Series Episode 11:  COVID-19 and Health Equity with the Darkos

On this episode, we are joined by Drs. Renee and Nii Darko. Renee Darko, DO, MBA, trained as an OB/GYN and works as a locums physician in addition to being the Founder and CEO of Pre-med Strategies, where she mentors and coaches students interested in medicine.   Nii Darko, DO, MBA, trained as a trauma surgeon, works as a locums physician and hosts a very popular podcast, DOCS OUTSIDE THE BOX.  The podcast, geared toward physicians, highlights stories of doctors doing extraordinary things outside of medicine to inspire other doctors to think outside the box.  Together, they operate a Locums Tenens company, Equal Access Health, parent two adorable boys and empower their communities by giving voices to the often unheard.  They remain passionate about maintaining the pipeline and committed to improving health equity.

They share with us their personal experience with COVID 19, balancing work, childcare and health during this pandemic.  They describe negotiating the healthcare system as patients and recovering with two small children in the house.  This episode, you won't want to miss!

Special Series Episode 12:  COVID-19 and Health Equity with Anne Newland

On this episode, we are joined by Anne Newland, MD, MPH.  Dr. Newland trained in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and is currently the CEO for North Country Healthcare in Flagstaff, AZ.  She has extensive experience working with Native Americans and the Indian Health Services, spending 8 years working in the Navajo Indian Area Services in Kayenta, AZ.

She speaks with us today about leadership in the face of Covid-19, Arizona’s burden of disease, the unique challenges to living on a reservation and her work to prevent the spread on COVID 19 among the local homeless population.


Membership Dues

Please submit your dues ($100) Online: By using the direct link: DONATE or by accessing our website https://reedescholars.org, and choosing the donate button

A big thank you to those who have already submitted dues!

Watch Here

Reede Scholars Executive Leadership

President: Mary E Fleming, MD, MPH

Secretary: Nicole del Castillo, MD, MPH

Treasurer: Don Lee, MD, MPH


The REEDE NEWS quarterly newsletter seeks writers, contributors, and assistant editor.

Our newsletter captures the accomplishments and special recognition of our members.  Highlighting these events, for historical documentation and preservation, is an important function of our organization.  If you are interested in being a part of the REEDE NEWS NEWSLETTER team, please contact us at: thereedescholars@gmail.com.

Editor/writer: M. Fleming & C. Hodge


By Chloe Slocum, MD, MPH, RS ‘17 

The Quarterly Health Policy Briefing will be on-hold temporarily with plans to resume in the near future. 

Congratulations to Chloe on the birth of her new baby boy!


The Reede Scholars Inc, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  

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