Plenary Speakers

Tuesday, March 19

Plenary I:

SOPHE Presidential Address

Speaker Bio

Dr. Raffy R. Luquis is the Interim Director of and Professor of Biobehavioral Health in the School of Behavioral Sciences and Education at Penn State Harrisburg. He has a broad background in health education and health promotion. His research areas include cultural competency among health professionals and multicultural health and health equity, emphasizing health issues affecting the Hispanic/Latino population. He has over 25 years of experience and expertise in developing health education, health promotion, and community culturally appropriate interventions. He earned MCHES certification in 2011 and is currently serving as the President of the Board of Trustees of the SOPHE.


Over the past several decades, cultural competence has been advocated in health education and health promotion as one of several approaches to address the health needs of diverse populations, reduce persistent health disparities, and promote health and health equity. Within the past decade, as the nation has become more diverse and has dealt with issues surrounding racism, systematic bias, and the social determinants that impact the health of the country, the need for the incorporation of topics of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) has become more prominent as we continue to prepare a public health education workforce with the necessary competencies to understand and address the needs of the population. During this presentation, the presenter will discuss the professional journey from cultural competence to DEIJ and its implications for public health education.

Plenary II:

Keynote Address & SOPHE 2024 Honorary Fellow Presentation

Speaker Bio

A leading expert in chronic disease prevention and an expert in the area of applied epidemiology, Ross C. Brownson is regarded as one of the great intellectual, educational and practice leaders in the field of evidence-based public health. Brownson has a joint appointment with the university’s School of Medicine in the Department of Surgery and the Siteman Cancer Center.

Brownson directs the Prevention Research Center, a center that develops innovative approaches to chronic disease prevention through translational research. He leads a large number of other research and training projects funded by a broad array of federal and foundation sources, including the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

He is an associate editor of the Annual Review of Public Health and on the editorial board of six other journals. Brownson is the editor or author of 14 books including: “Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control,” “Evidence-Based Public Health,” and “Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health: Translating Science to Practice.” He is past-president of the American College of Epidemiology and the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors. Brownson is also active in the American Public Health Association.


The goal of implementation science is to study the development, spread and sustainment of broadly applicable and practical evidence-based programs, treatments, guidelines, and policies (evidence-based interventions). These evidence-based interventions need to be contextually relevant and robust and applicable across diverse settings, delivery staff, and population subgroups. The underlying rationale for implementation science is simple: too often, discovery of new knowledge begets more discovery (the next study) with little attention on how to apply research advances in real-world public health, policy, social service, and health care settings. This presentation will cover what the field of implementation science is (and is not), why it is important, and how it is useful for informing practice and designing your research for impact, sustainment, and equity. Along with a brief history of the field of implementation science, the presentation will highlight four key areas for the future: 1) challenges and debates about the uses, usefulness, and gaps in evidence; 2) how to enhance a focus on equity in our work; 3) the need to increase the volume and scope of policy implementation research; and 4) approaches for enhancing the impact of our work. Addressing these issues will increase the likelihood that the billions of dollars invested in health-related research will yield specific and tangible benefits for population health and health equity.

Plenary III:

New Partnerships with Financial Investors:

Speaker Bios

William M. Rogers, III

William M. Rodgers III is vice president and director of the Institute for Economic Equity at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Before joining the Fed, Rodgers served as professor of public policy and chief economist at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. His areas of expertise include compensation, pay equity, diversity and inclusion, labor market and general economic trends.

Rodgers is an elected member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and served as the Academy’s board chair for the last five years. Rodgers also serves as treasurer for the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. He is a non-resident fellow at The Century Foundation and has served in many public capacities, including on President Obama’s Department of Labor transition team, and as chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor from 2000 to 2001. He served on the National Economic Association Board and is a past president. Rodgers also served on the U.S. Board of United Way Worldwide and currently works on the Board of Trustees of McDaniel College. He served at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta as a visiting scholar and chairs the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s expert panel to evaluate the quality of compensation data collected from U.S. employers by the EEOC.

He has published articles in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, the Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, the Review of Black Political Economy, and Family Economics and Nutrition Review. His book, The Handbook on the Economics of Discrimination, was selected by Choice, the review journal of the American Library Association, as an Outstanding Academic Book for 2006.

Orvin Kimbrough

Orvin Kimbrough serves as the Chairman and CEO of Midwest BankCentre, where he helps to empower people, enable businesses and energize neighborhoods through the strength of the Bank’s financial services. Midwest BankCentre is St. Louis’ 2nd largest privately owned local bank, with over $2.5 billion in assets and over $2 billion in loans. Under Orv’s leadership, Midwest BankCentre creates the conditions that allow everyone to DREAM BIG and RISE TOGETHER.

Prior to joining Midwest BankCentre, Orv spent nearly 20 years in leadership roles in prominent nonprofit agencies, most recently as the president and CEO of the United Way of Greater St. Louis. During his tenure as CEO, the United Way of St. Louis grew to the nation’s largest affiliate, raising nearly $80 million annually. Orv started with United Way in 2007 as vice president of major gifts.

Orv is unlike any other bank CEO in the nation. From humble beginnings, he became an inspiring leader who has boosted the life trajectory of tens of thousands of people through his work in the nonprofit sector, while becoming the first and only African American to lead one of the 100+ mainstream banks in the St. Louis region.

Dwayne Proctor

During his 20-plus years in philanthropy, Dr. Dwayne Proctor has always worked to ensure that American communities were healthy and thriving. He joined MFH as President and CEO in 2021. The Foundation works to improve health through collaboration, convening, knowledge sharing and strategic investment, never losing sight of the equity lens that shapes all its work.

Under his leadership, MFH strives to become an antiracist institution that fairly targets its resources to achieve health equity in Missouri by 2023. The Foundation recently launched a 20-year Food Justice strategic initiative to build collaborative efforts and galvanize shifts in current policies and practices that shape the way Missourians eat. MFH works to address a diverse mix of pressing issues across the state, including Medicaid expansion, childhood obesity, firearm violence and suicide prevention, crisis response, and behavioral health. The Foundation works on several strategic initiatives focused on women’s health, such as access to contraception, and infant health and vitality.

Before his time at MFH, he served in a variety of roles at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In 2005, Dr. Proctor was tapped to lead RWJF’s national strategies to reverse the rise in childhood obesity rates. In this role, he collaborated with his colleagues to promote effective changes to public policies and industry practices, test and demonstrate innovative community and school-based environmental changes and leverage sustainable changes using both “grassroots” and “treetops” advocacy approaches to educate local and national leaders on their roles and opportunities to prevent childhood obesity.


Financial institutions, like the Federal Reserve and other publicly or privately owned banking institutions, are poised to increase economic independence in underserved communities and help to end the racial wealth gap. As such, they play a critical role in addressing social determinants of health such as housing, transportation, food security, and access to health care.   What do health educators need to know about working with community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and how can they be effective in representing the public health needs of their communities?  This session will spotlight how several public and private financial institutions are addressing SDOH and what knowledge and skills health educators need to get a seat at the table.

Wednesday, March 20

Plenary IV

Elizabeth Fries Health Education Award Presentation & Lecture

Speaker Bio

Ninez A. Ponce, PhD, MPP (BS UC Berkeley; MPP Harvard; PhD UCLA), is Professor and Endowed Chair in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, and Principal Investigator for the California Health Interview Survey, the largest state survey in the USA. Dr. Ponce is an elected member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and has served on the Board of Scientific Counselors, National Center for Health Statistics.  She has participated in committees for the National Academy of Medicine and the National Quality Forum, where her expertise has focused on setting guidance for health systems in the measurement and use of social determinants of health as tools to monitor health equity.  She has received numerous awards from community organizations recognizing her work in community-engaged research. In 2019 Dr. Ponce and her team received the AcademyHealth Impact award for their contributions to population health measurement to inform public policies. She is the 2024 recipient of the Elizabeth Fries Award from the CDC Foundation in recognition for her scholarship and policy advocacy for data equity generating new understandings of racial/ethnic health disparities. In 2021, Dr. Ponce served as a Commissioner for the RWJF Transforming Public Health Data Initiative and currently serves on the Data Disaggregation workgroup for the White House Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Commission. Currently, she is an Associate Editor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at JAMA Health Forum and is on the editorial boards of Milbank Quarterly, Health Services Research and Health Affairs.

Dr. Ponce champions better data, especially for people from marginalized racial and ethnic, sexual orientation and gender identity, and immigrant populations.  She firmly believes that equity-centered data will lead to more meaningful program and policy inferences and better care for overlooked groups.


The call for equity has recently gained momentum across various sectors, prompting crucial discussions on how to enhance representation and inclusivity of all people. Data equity involves ensuring fair and just representation of diverse populations in datasets, acknowledging the unique needs and experiences of all communities. This concept is crucial for improving health through enhanced healthcare delivery and research. In healthcare and health policy, the pivotal role of high-quality, actionable data in fostering health equity is widely acknowledged. By incorporating a data equity lens, researchers are able to collaborate and communicate with communities to uncover disparities, identify health trends, and develop targeted interventions that address the specific needs of the communities they work with. It enables healthcare providers to gain a more accurate understanding of diverse patient demographics, allowing for tailored and inclusive healthcare services. Ultimately, data equity empowers communities by promoting inclusivity in data, fostering evidence-based decision-making, and contributing to the development of policies that better serve the diverse health needs of populations.

As the spotlight shifts to data equity, the question arises: how can we truly represent all communities in the data collection, analysis, and reporting process? There is a crucial need for expanded and disaggregated data categories for racial and ethnic groups, but beyond racial and ethnic distinctions, we also need to consider the diversity of identities within communities, for example veterans, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, immigrants, and linguistically-isolated populations. This talk explores the imperative of data disaggregation for comprehensive representation and the steps towards achieving data equity. Strategies to dismantle barriers include state-level initiatives mirroring federal efforts, engaging community leaders for input, and building partnerships with underrepresented groups.

Plenary V

Speaker Bios

Siobhan Fitzpatrick

Siobhan Fitzpatrick is a Technical Officer in the Health Workforce Department at the World Health Organization in Geneva. With a combined background spanning fifteen years in health worker education and training, Siobhan currently undertakes the development of policies, norms and standards to inform investment in health workforce education, employment and retention towards the achievement of universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals. She coordinates the Global Health Workforce Network Education Hub and provides technical advice on strengthening health worker education across a range of areas universal health coverage, lifelong learning, and human resources for health leadership and management. Most recently, she led Action Area 2 competency-based education of the WHO and partner roadmap National workforce capacity to implement the essential public health functions including a focus on emergency preparedness and response.

Gigi Holder

Gigi Holder is a licensed clinical social worker, master certified health education specialist, and the program director for the Child Access to Mental Health and Psychiatry program (known as CHAMP) operated out of the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). Prior to this position, Gigi completed a 2-year postgraduate fellowship with the Mississippi Thrive! Child Health Development Project conducting developmental assessments for children aged 0 to 6 with a multidisciplinary team at the Center for Advancement of Youth (CAY), part of Children’s of Mississippi. As a clinician, she continues to provide therapeutic services to families with children aged 2 to 7 regarding behavioral concerns as well as exposure to traumatic events for young children and adolescents. Gigi earned her bachelor’s degree in Health Education from the University of Arkansas in her hometown of Fayetteville, Arkansas and later received a Master of Public Health and a Master of Social Work from the Dual Degree Program at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Her international experience goes back to her service in the Peace Corps where she served as a Community Health Development Agent in Burkina Faso, West Africa from 2012-2014. In this role, Gigi collaborated with community partners and stakeholders to help ameliorate health outcomes regarding malaria prevention, child malnutrition, and healthy hygiene through the use of hand-washing stations. Her most meaningful experience was the joy of conducting a week-long health education camp for adolescent youths which centered program activities around such topics as reproductive health, educational advancement, and gender equality.

Suzanne Maman

Suzanne Maman, a social scientist trained in public health, is a professor in the Department of Health Behavior and is associate dean for global health at the Gillings School. Dr. Maman serves as co-lead for the Master of Public Health (MPH) program’s global health concentration, which she helped to develop. She also serves as UNC faculty director at the Duke-UNC Rotary Peace Center.

Dr. Maman has been developing, implementing and evaluating HIV and violence prevention programs in sub-Saharan Africa for 20 years. She collaborates with the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other governmental health agencies and educational institutions in the U.S. and globally to advance this work.

Her work on how violence increases women’s risk for HIV infection, and how an HIV diagnosis may affect women’s experiences with violence, has informed programs in Tanzania and South Africa. Maman’s work has also led to WHO guidance and clinical tools to support women during the HIV testing process. In addition, she teaches a skills-based qualitative research methods course that is required for master’s students in health behavior.

Judy Monroe

Dr. Judith Monroe, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation, has dedicated her career to protecting people and saving lives. She joined the CDC Foundation in February 2016 as president and CEO, following her role as a deputy director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and director of CDC’s Office of State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support.

In her work at the CDC Foundation, Dr. Monroe advances priority programs that improve the health of people across America and around the world. The CDC Foundation mobilizes philanthropic and private-sector resources to support CDC’s critical health protection work, managing hundreds of programs in the United States and in more than 90 countries.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC Foundation supported the work of CDC, U.S. public health departments and low- and middle-income countries. Under Dr. Monroe’s leadership, the CDC Foundation provided support to disproportionately affected populations; procured personal protection equipment for frontline health workers; supported critical research, hired more than 4,000 surge staff; and provided technical assistance and grants to more than 350 community-based organizations.


The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the need for all countries to invest in a national workforce prepared to promote health, treat illness, and respond to emergencies. This session will explore the challenges to professional preparation, research and practice in order to equip health education specialists with the essential knowledge and skills to address the SDGs and evolving complex global public health needs.

Thursday, March 21

Plenary VI

Speaker Bio

Stacey Fisher

Dr. Stacey Fisher is a population health researcher and epidemiologist with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in Ottawa, Canada. She has expertise in population health research including the development and use of predictive risk algorithms, equitable artificial intelligence for public health, web-based risk communication, and health services research using large administrative health data. She received her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Ottawa, after which she worked with Public Health Ontario, funded by a national Health System Impact Fellowship in equitable artificial intelligence. In this position she built capacity for machine learning among Canadian public health professionals, and advised the development of both national and provincial strategies for using artificial intelligence for public health.

Joseph Smyser

Dr. Joe Smyser is the Chief Executive Officer of PGP. He has created the strategies for several of the world’s largest and most successful behavior change campaigns and programs. The methodologies he has championed, such as media monitoring for disease surveillance, disseminating health information through community influencers and organizations, and rigorous peer-review regardless of a program’s scale, are now widely recognized as best practices.

He is an advocate for leveraging the tools and techniques of private industry for public health, increasing public-private partnerships, and fostering private industry innovation for the public good.

Dr. Smyser’s academic background includes a PhD and masters in public health and a postdoc at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through its evaluation fellowship. Additionally, he interned at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration within the Office of International Programs. He is a returned Peace Corps volunteer, having served in Swaziland.

A regular and dynamic speaker and trainer, Dr. Smyser frequently delivers keynote addresses and contributes as a panelist with other experts. He has been a full-time instructor at Columbia University and San Diego State University.


Artificial intelligence (AI), or the imitation of human cognition by a machine, has been chillingly depicted as the science fiction computer that overtakes functions of a human being.  Although AI has been advanced in the delivery of health care and medicine, less has been explored about its potential to improve population health.  This session will provide an overview of AI’s application to improving the health of communities and its implications for organizations – from data governance and modernization to workforce skills, competencies, to partnerships and issues of transparency and equity.  Health educators’ uses of AI in health communication and identifying and countering misinformation also will be explored.