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Meet Our Speakers


Imran Ahmed, MA is the founding CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate. He is a recognized authority on the social and psychological dynamics of social media, as well as what goes wrong in those spaces, such as trolling, identity-based hate, misinformation, conspiracy theories, modern extremism and fake news. He regularly features in the media as an expert in online malignant behavior and how bad actors use digital spaces to harm others and benefit themselves. Imran is a trustee of the UK charity, Victim Support. He advises politicians in the US, UK, Europe and elsewhere on policy and legislation. Imran was raised in Manchester, England. He holds an MA in Social and Political Sciences from the University of Cambridge. 

John Auerbach


John Auerbach is the Director of Intergovernmental and Strategic Affairs at CDC. He is the lead strategic advisor on CDC engagement with the government agencies at the federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial levels, public health partners, and other external partners. Over the course his career, he has held senior public health positions at the federal, state, and local levels.  Immediately before returning to CDC, he was the President and CEO of Trust for America’s Health. Earlier in his career, Auerbach was the Associate Director at the CDC, where he oversaw policy and the agency’s collaborative efforts with CMS, commercial payers, and large health systems. During his six years as the Commissioner of Public Health for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, he developed innovative programs to promote health equity, combat chronic and infectious disease, and support the successful implementation of the state’s health care reform initiative.  As Boston’s health commissioner for nine years, he directed homeless, substance abuse, and emergency medical services for the city as well as a wide range of public health divisions. 



Jacqueline Ayers is Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Senior Vice President of Policy, Campaigns, and Advocacy. She is responsible for developing and executing the national strategy and management of the legislative policy, organizing, electoral, and policy-oriented litigation work. She brings decades of experience developing strategies to advance the federation’s legislative affairs, global advocacy, and federal and state policy teams, to expand laws and policies that increase access to health care for all. Prior to joining PPFA for the second time in her career in 2013, she served as legislative director for the National Urban League and was a legislative aide in the U.S. House of Representatives covering health, education and judiciary issues. She began her career as the associate legislative director for the ACLU of Indiana.


Scott Becker


Scott Becker, MS is the chief executive officer of the Association of Public Health Laboratories. Over his tenure, Scott has grown APHL from a modest nonprofit focused on public health laboratory training to a center for quality laboratory systems with a budget of $155 million, a global reach and wide-ranging programs and services. A veteran of public health events, Becker leads APHL’s emergency response to COVID-19. He juggles situation updates, development of protocols and resources, and advocacy for emergency funding and policy changes. He regularly convenes laboratory, federal and corporate partners to coordinate activities and resolve logistical issues. He is also a prominent spokesperson in the nation’s news media and is a featured expert in the recently released documentary “Totally Under Control.” Becker chairs the Governance Working Group for the Global Laboratory Leadership Program and is a member of the Affiliate Council of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. Earlier in his career, he served as deputy executive director for the Association of Schools of Public Health and was on the staff of the World Health Organization. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business and holds an MS in Management from the University of Maryland Global Campus.


Georges Benjamin


Georges C. Benjamin, MD, is executive director of the American Public Health Association and is known as one of the nation's most influential physician leaders for speaking passionately and eloquently about the health issues of our time. He previously served as secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, deputy secretary for public health services, acting commissioner for public health for the District of Columbia, chair of the Department of Community Health and Ambulatory Care at the District of Columbia General Hospital and chief of emergency medicine at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He is the author of more than 100 scientific articles and book chapters, a member of the National Academy of Medicine and board member for many organizations. He has repeatedly been voted among the 100 most influential people in health care, a top minority executive in health care and was appointed by President Obama to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council.



David A. Broniatowski, PhD, is Associate Professor of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at The George Washington University, and PI on a grant from the National Institute on General Medical Sciences, which focuses on determining the ways that social media may be used to cross-validate against more traditional ground-truth survey data for measuring differences in vaccine sentiment across  social, demographic, and geographic groups.  His work work on systematic distortions  of public opinion about vaccines on social media by state-sponsored trolls been widely reported in the academic and popular press.    



Carrie Butler is the Executive Director of the Utah Public Health Association. She has spent her public health career engaged in field work as an epidemiological field coordinator, doing research in population health at the Huntsman Cancer Center,and doing state level advocacy and lobbying. She is the former policy director for Action Utah, has worked on issues of clean air, Medicaid expansion and climate change. She has a consulting firm where she works with clients on public health related issues such as gun violence reduction, affordable housing and expansion of primary health care. She completed her undergraduate and postgraduate work at the University of Utah, focusing on public health and public policy. She lives in South Jordan with her husband, two teenage kids, and her dog, Sanderson Cooper.


Brian Castrucci


Brian C. Castrucci, DrPH, MA, is the president and chief executive officer of the de Beaumont Foundation. He has built the Foundation into a leading voice in health philanthropy and public health practice. An award-winning epidemiologist with 10 years of experience working in the health departments of Philadelphia, Texas, and Georgia, Brian brings a unique perspective to the philanthropic sector that allows him to shape and implement visionary and practical initiatives and partnerships and bring together research and practice to improve public health.



Bechara Choucair, MD, is senior vice president and chief health officer for Kaiser Permanente. He oversees the organization’s efforts to address the social health of its 12.5 million members and the 68 million people who live in the communities it serves. From January through November 2021, Choucair served as the White House national vaccinations coordinator. In that role he focused on coordinating the timely, safe, and equitable administration of COVID-19 vaccinations for the U.S. population. Before joining Kaiser Permanente, Dr. Choucair was at Trinity Health, where he served as senior vice president, safety net and community health. Prior to that, he was Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner. Choucair served on numerous boards, including Change Lab Solutions, National Healthcare for the Homeless Council, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, and Futuro Health. He holds an MD from the American University of Beirut and a master’s degree in health care management from the University of Texas at Dallas. He completed his family residency at Baylor College of Medicine.



Rachel Cohen covers domestic social policy for Vox. Before joining the organization, she worked as a full-time freelance journalist, and before that a writing fellow at The American Prospect. She has covered a wide range of topics ranging from schools, housing and criminal justice to political campaigning, labor unions and economics. Her work has been published in more than two dozen outlets including The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Intercept and the Washington Post.



Sheylin De Leon, is a Latina, first-generation college student working to decrease health disparities that persist in the city of Oakland. She has lived in Oakland for most of her life and has been a youth advocate for Oakland HOPS for four years. Through Oakland HOPS, De Leon joins other team members to conduct store surveys and do community outreach to learn more about the snacking culture in the region. During her time with HOPS, De Leon has learned to become more engaged with her community along with learning the importance of having access to healthy foods. Food accessibility looks different in all parts of Oakland and unfortunately, there are areas where fast food places and liquor stores are the closest options for some families. HOPS is advocating to change that and to help families and children make healthier  decisions.



Daphne Frias is a 24-year-old youth activist. She is unapologetically Latina. Daphne has Cerebral Palsy, and uses a wheelchair to ambulate. She is fiercely proud to be a loud champion for the disabled community. Active in the fight against gun violence and for voting rights, Daphne has been fighting the climate crisis as well, in her home community of West Harlem and internationally. Her work aims to deconstruct the silos between disability and the climate crisis with a public health approach. She has was appointed as spokesperson for the global climate strikes that took place on September 20th, 2019. Most recently she was featured as a key panelist at the New York Times Climate hub in a conversation moderated by Emma Watson. She has no intention of backing down until the health of our earth is secure. Her work has been featured in Ms. Magazine (25 Women under 25: Women of Color to Watch), the Sierra Club, Teen Vogue, PopSugar, NPR, Vice, Elle, among many other outlets.


J. Nadine Gracia


J. Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE is President and CEO of Trust for America’s Health, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public health policy, research and advocacy organization that promotes optimal health for every person and community and makes the prevention of illness and injury a national priority.  A national health equity leader, she previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and Director of the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 



Stephen Hamill is Vice President of Policy Advocacy and Communication at Vital Strategies. In this role he builds the reputation and brand of the organization, supports the advancement of a global policy agenda and leads a team working in over 60 countries to improve population health. His areas of expertise include strategic communications planning, team management, and integrated campaign development and he has an award-winning portfolio of digital campaigns, advocacy and behavior change communications work. Over the past 25 years, Stephen has also held leadership roles at the New York City Council, the New York Public Interest Research Group, and served as consultant to numerous organizations and political campaigns including the World health Organization, World Bank, Rockefeller Family Fund. Stephen holds a degree in Architecture from Syracuse University.


Janet Hamilton


Janet Hamilton, MPH, is the executive director of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. As Executive Director, Hamilton works to shape CSTE’s mission of advancing the field of applied public health epidemiology in the U.S. She received her MPH in Epidemiology from the University of Michigan and is a graduate of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) 10 X 10 program. She was a member of CSTE’s Executive Board, serving as the Surveillance and Informatics Steering Committee Chair and was CSTE President from 2017-2018. Prior to her selection as Executive Director at CSTE, Hamilton served as Senior Director of Science and Policy. Hamilton is an epidemiologist with over 15 years of public health work. She started her career as a fellow in the Florida-based Epidemic Intelligence Service with the Florida Department of Health. In this position she played leadership roles in Florida’s response to 2009 H1N1, MERS-CoV, Zika, fungal meningitis, Deep Water Horizon Gulf oil spill, 11 major hurricanes, the threat of imported Ebola from West Africa in 2014 and other outbreaks and public health events.  Hamilton's work has been recognized in 2011 with the receipt of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Davies Award for positively impacting population health by optimizing health information technology. She has also been actively involved in numerous national committees to advance public health surveillance. 



Jailen Leavell is a native of Louisville, Kentucky, who is dedicated to social justice, community service, and equality. In 2021, he graduated from Tennessee State University with a bachelor's in Broadcast Journalism. At age 16, Jailen was introduced to public health and was afforded the opportunity to work as a fellow with the University of Louisville’s Violence Prevention Research Office. Along with eight other fellows, he developed a social norming campaign focused on cultivating positive racial identity and fostering community dialogue around difficult issues such as systemic oppression. Since then, Jailen has served on countless youth boards and leadership roles where he hopes to raise critical consciousness in an effort to promote racial justice and reduce youth violence. During the day, you can find him living his dreams as a reporter and fill-in anchor for a CBS affiliate news station in Jackson, Mississippi.




A practicing physician, Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH was appointed as Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response by President Biden. In his former role, he served as dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University. He is recognized globally as an expert on pandemic preparedness and response as well as on domestic and global health policy. Jha has led groundbreaking research around Ebola and has been a trusted voice on the COVID-19 response, leading national and international analysis of key issues and advising state and federal policy makers. Prior to his role at Brown, Jha lead the Harvard Global Health Institute and taught at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. He has practiced for nearly two decades at Veterans Affairs hospitals, providing direct clinical care to Veterans.



Anand Parekh, MD, MPH is Chief Medical Advisor at the Bipartisan Policy Center where he provides clinical and public health expertise across the organization. Since 2015, he has led specific efforts tackling a variety of policy issues. Prior to joining BPC, he completed a decade of service at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As an HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health in the Senior Executive Service, he developed and implemented national initiatives focused on prevention, wellness, and care management. Parekh is a board-certified internal medicine physician, a fellow of the American College of Physicians, an adjunct professor of health management and policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and an adjunct assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, where he previously completed his residency training in the Osler Medical Program of the Department of Medicine. He provided volunteer clinical services for many years at the Holy Cross Hospital Health Center, a clinic for the uninsured in Silver Spring, MD. His book Prevention First: Policymaking for a Healthier America was released in December 2019 and argues that prevention must be our nation’s top health policy priority. He is also a Forbes healthcare contributor focused on the coronavirus.



Keshia Pollack Porter, PhD, MPH is Chair, Department of Health, Policy and Management Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her research advances policies that create safe and healthy environments where people live, work, play, and travel, with an emphasis on cross-sector collaborations and health equity. She is an injury epidemiologist and policy researcher who uses mixed methods to examine active play and active transportation, safe built environments, and the nexus of transportation and health. Pollack Porter is a leading health equity scholar whose research and practice addresses the determinants of health. She spends a considerable amount of time directly engaging with policymakers to achieve her goal of informing the development and implementation of policies that can advance health equity at the local, state, and federal levels.



Phyllis J. Randall was elected Chair At-Large of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors in November 2015 and reelected in November 2019. Her election was historic as she became the first person of color in Virginia’s history to be an elected chair of a county Board. As Loudoun’s Chair At-Large, Chair Randall represents Loudoun County on various regional, state and national bodies. In June 2018, Chair Randall was selected as one of only 25 women in the country to be included in the 2019 class of Governing Magazine’s Women in Government Leadership Program.  In addition to her local service, Chair Randall has served the Commonwealth of Virginia as the Chair of Virginia’s Fair Housing Board under Governors Tim Kaine and Bob McDonnell and, she has served as Chair of Virginia’s State Board of Corrections under Governor Terry McAuliffe. By profession, Chair Randall is a mental health therapist, working with substance abusing offenders in a local adult detention center, a position she enjoyed for over fifteen years.



RDML Paul Reed, MD currently holds the position of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion).  As the DASH (ODPHP), his primary responsibility is to advise the Assistant Secretary for Health on health policies, procedures, and activities relative to disease prevention and health promotion programs. Additionally, RDML Reed provides direction and oversight for national health initiatives such as Healthy People 2030, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition, and the federal plan for Equitable Long-Term Recovery and Resilience. RDML Reed was immediately prior the DASH (Medicine/Science) within OASH.  Dr. Reed’s primary responsibility in this capacity was to provide oversight, direction and coordination of activities pertaining to complex public health and emerging science issues; the continuum of medical research – including basic and clinical science and health services research; and issues requiring expert medical analysis and advice, particularly those concerning policy, planning, formulation and presentation of public health issues affecting DHHS. 



Edwith Theogene is the senior director of advocacy and campaigns for Generation Progress, the youth engagement arm of American Progress. In this role, Theogene works to develop and lead national organizing efforts that translate the experiences of young adults into concrete actions that advance progressive policies in climate change, criminal justice reform, democracy reform and voting rights, gun violence prevention, immigration, reproductive rights, and student debt.