Previous Crossing Bridges Summit Speakers

Police Reform (2021-2022)


Thursday, February 10, 2022 at 3:00 p.m. - live streamed by WPSU

"Voices from the Judicial System and Police", Moderated by Dr. Sandra Trappen, Assistant Professor of Administration of Justice, Penn State Greater Allegheny


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The Honorable Kim Berkeley Clark, President Judge of the 5th Judicial District of Pennsylvania (Allegheny County)

Judge Kim Berkeley Clark currently serves at the President Judge of the 5th Judicial District of Pennsylvania (Allegheny County).   She is the first African-American to serve as President Judge in Allegheny County.

Judge Clark serves as a judge in the Family Division, where she primarily hears Juvenile Court cases.  Judge Clark served as the Administrative Judge of the Family Division from January of 2006 to January 2009 and from 2013 through 2017.  

Judge Clark currently serves as the Chairperson of the Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission and as the President of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network.  She is  a member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Juvenile Procedural Rules and Committee; the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission on Racial, Gender, and Ethnic Fairness; the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency—Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee; the Pennsylvania State Children’s Roundtable; and the American Bar Association Juvenile Justice Standards Task Force.    

Judge Clark is a member of the International Women’s Forum (Western PA).  Judge Clark previously served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and as Chair of the Board of Fellows of the National Center for Juvenile Justice.  She is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges and the Allegheny County Bar Association. In 2019, Judge Clark was appointed to serve on Governor Tom Wolf’s Council on Reform and as a member of the Pennsylvania Interbranch Juvenile Justice Task Force.

In June of 2013, Judge Clark had the honor of moderating a panel discussion on the needs of caregivers of children of incarcerated parents at the White House.

Judge Clark has been the recipient of numerous awards including: The New Pittsburgh Courier 50 Women of Influence (2008); the Drum Major for Justice Award from the Homer S. Brown Division of the Allegheny County Bar Association (2012); Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania Woman of Distinction in Law (2012); Athena Award (2012); Susan B. Anthony Award from the Women’s Bar Association of Western PA (213),  Woman of Legacy in the PNC Legacy Project (2015); The Ronald H. Brown Leadership Award from the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh (2018); Gwen’s Girls See the Best in Me Equity Award (2019); and the Carlow University Woman of Spirit (2020).

In November of 2017, Judge Clark received the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence.  The Rehnquist Award, presented annually by the National Center for State Courts, is one of the nation’s highest judicial honors.  This prestigious award honors a state court judge who demonstrates the outstanding qualities of judicial excellence, including integrity, fairness, open-mindedness, knowledge of the law, professional ethics, creativity, sound judgment, intellectual courage, and decisiveness and who are taking bold steps to address a variety of issues affecting their communities.

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Iris Richardson, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Penn State University Police and Public Safety

Iris Richardson is Penn State University Police and Public Safety (UPPS) department’s first director of diversity, equity and inclusion. Richardson earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Penn State Berks and a master’s degree in counseling in higher education/student affairs from West Chester University. She grew up in Philadelphia and enjoys spending time with friends and family and traveling in her spare time. Richardson is committed to developing overall diversity, equity, and inclusion programming for UPPS while also serving the Penn State community. Her office will be located at the department’s headquarters at University Park and she will serve the department’s employees and Penn State community at 22 campuses. Richardson previously worked in several Student Affairs positions at 6 commonwealth campus. Her last position was the associate director of Student Affairs at Penn State Mont Alto where she directed, supervised, and administered the student personnel and residence life functions for the residence hall community. She also implemented a comprehensive residence life program including strategic planning.




David A. Harris, Sally Ann Semenko Endowed Chair, Professor of Law, University of Pittsburgh

David Harris is the Sally Ann Semenko Endowed Chair and Professor of Law.  He studies, writes and teaches about police behavior, law enforcement and race, and search and seizure law.  He teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure and Evidence, and he is a certified Inside Out Prison Exchange instructor.  His most recent book, A City Divided: Race, Fear and the Law in Police Confrontations (Anthem Press, 2020) begins with a notorious police use of force incident in Pittsburgh, and uses the case explains why police confrontations with Black Americans go wrong far too often, and what can be done to stop this.  Professor Harris is the leading national authority on racial profiling. His 2002 book, Profiles in Injustice: Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work (The New Press) and his scholarly articles in the field of traffic stops and stops and frisks influenced the national debate on profiling, and led to federal efforts to address the practice and to legislation and voluntary efforts in over half the states and hundreds of police departments. He has testified multiple times in the U.S. Congress and before many state legislative bodies. His other books include Good Cops: The Case for Preventive Policing (The New Press, 2005), and Failed Evidence: Why Law Enforcement Resists Science (NYU Press, 2012). He gives talks and does professional training for law enforcement, judges, and attorneys throughout the country in subjects ranging from implicit bias in the legal system to the mechanics of police reform, and presents his work regularly in academic conferences.

Professor Harris is the creator and host of the Criminal Injustice podcast, a show for general audiences that covers the most important and pressing issues in the criminal justice system.  The show features Professor Harris’s interviews with compelling figures from across the spectrum:  police chiefs, judges, prosecutors, journalists and authors, policy wonks and advocates.  Other episodes cover news and answer listener questions.  Now in its sixth year and tenth season, Criminal Injustice reaches tens of thousands of listeners every month in every U.S. state and around the world.

Professor Harris also writes and comments frequently in the media on police practices, racial profiling, and other criminal justice and national security issues. He has appeared on The Today Show, Dateline NBC, National Public Radio, and has been interviewed by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times, among many domestic and foreign media sources.  In 2020, he served on the Mayor’s Taskforce on Police Reform, created in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.  Professor Harris served as a member of the Civil Liberties Advisory Board to the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security. Professor Harris received the Excellence in Teaching Award at Pitt Law in 2009, and in 2015, he received the Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service, for his work building bridges between police and the communities they serve in Pittsburgh and around the country. 


Tuesday, November 16, 2021 at 3:00 p.m. - live streamed by WPSU

"Voices of Citizens and Victims", Moderated by Eric Ewell, Director of Continuing Education and Coordinator of The Mon Valley LaunchBox, Penn State Greater Allegheny


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Leon Ford, Chief Executive Officer, Leon Ford Speaks

Leon Ford, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, born on March 16, 1993, has accomplished so much in such a short period of time. The well-known author, International speaker, and 2019 City Council candidate for Pittsburgh, PA District 9 has devoted his life to the betterment of his community. Ford is a well-respected activist, mental health ambassador, and social advocate of change through his leadership. Ford’s influence in his community has divulged a heroic display of strength, wisdom, faith, and fortitude. 

His knowledge of social disparities and injustice comes from personal experience. When Leon was 19 years old, his life drastically changed. November 11, 2012, he was unjustly shot five times by the Pittsburgh Police during a traffic stop. This horrific case of mistaken identity has left him physically paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Still, Ford hasn’t allowed his circumstances to deter him from positively impacting his community. 

Through mentorship, he has sparked a movement cultivating leaders, organizers, and social entrepreneurs by empowering them to use their voices, platforms, and resources to evoke change and reshape their communities for generations to come. 

While Ford is passionate about educating the community, he has also devoted time to work with police officers to help provide clarity on cultural competency, training, and building healthy relationships. Ford displays authentic leadership through his work while also being a source of healing, hope, and inspiration. 


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Michelle Kenney, Director and Founder, Antwon Rose II Foundation

Michelle Kenney is the mother of Antwon Rose II, the 17-year-old shot and killed by East Pittsburgh Police on June 19, 2018. Michelle established the Antwon Rose II Foundation in honor of her son, to continue the work that he was doing during his life on earth and to advocate for police reform. Since establishing the Antwon Rose II Foundation Kenney has collaborated with several well-known organizations including the NFL, Roc Nation, the Pittsburgh Steelers, 1Hood Media, Young Black Motivated Kings & Queens, The Alliance for Police Accountability, and Take Action Mon Valley.

Kenney’s entanglement with law enforcement has made her advocacy even more complicated. For over a decade she worked as an Administrative Assistant to a local police chief and Mayor where she got a first-hand look at everything good and bad regarding the police system. Kenney clearly understands the oath/blue line in policing and knows that it can work for and against individuals. She still remains to this day to have a positive relationship with many members in law enforcement including her own father who recently retired after 35 dedicated years.

Michelle believes the biggest accomplishment since her son's passing has been the Rose Registry and the submission of 5 Bills of legislation to change how policing is done in Pennsylvania


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Samaria Rice, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Tamir Rice Foundation

Founder and CEO of the Tamir Rice Foundation, Ms. Samaria Rice proudly serves as an advocate for juvenile rights in Cleveland, Ohio. Since the murder of her 12-year-old son Tamir by Cleveland Police in 2014, Rice has committed her life to standing on the frontlines for children. As a mother of social justice, Rice’s passion for civil rights reaches across lines of difference, uniting us all to work towards change. She encourages us to take back our communities by standing up for justice—her voice resonating with mothers and children in Cleveland and beyond. She has become a motivating force for families and communities across the nation.

Rice founded the Tamir Rice Foundation in 2016. Its mission is to invest in the growth and enrichment of children through the arts and to create a world in which all children feel safe, nurtured and valued - especially in their darkest times.                                                                              

"Voices of Activists and Scholars", Moderated by Dr. Katherine McLean, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Penn State Greater Allegheny - Thursday, October 14, 2021


Thursday, October 14, 2021 at 3:00 p.m. - live streamed by WPSU

"Voices of Activists and Scholars", Moderated by Dr. Katherine McLean, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Penn State Greater Allegheny


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Mr. Rashad Byrdsong, Founder and Chief Executive Office, Community Empowerment Association

Founder and CEO of a unique community based organization, Community Empowerment Association (CEA), has become a strong force for human rights, spearheading such efforts as the Live Longer: Empowering and Engaging Pittsburgh Communities, a community based participatory research and problem solving initiative in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Health Equity to demonstrate the relationship between life expectancy related disparities and various social and environment determinants of health and to heighten the community’s understanding of health equity and its importance in achieving a dignified life.  As well, he is also aggressively pursuing a movement to curb the gun violence that has become a pandemic in our communities.  CEA has hired over 500 employees, engaged over 20,000 youth and trained over 500 persons through its Construction Training Program.  Mr. Byrdsong created a comprehensive Public Health Approach to Violence Reduction for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, presenting it throughout Allegheny County and calling for a paradigm shift that views violence as a preventable social disease.  A noted national and international speaker/presenter, recipient of numerous professional awards for his work and ongoing commitment to empowering the lives of African Americans, he has co-authored Afrocentric Intervention Paradigm:  An Overview of Successful Application by a Grassroots Organization,” (Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 2013), “Suggested Paradigm For Violence Reduction: A Community-based Public Health Approach,” (Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 2015, “Historical Overview of Black Suffering in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA:  Depth of Contemporary Social Work Challenges,” (International Journal of Social Work, 2017), and “Drug Abuse Trend and Profile of Current Social Crisis” (HSOA Journal of Addiction & Addictive Disorders, 2019). 


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Ms. Brandi S. Fisher, President and CEO, Alliance for Police Accountability

Brandi Fisher is the founder and president of the Alliance for Police Accountability(APA), founded March 2010. The APA is an organization dedicated to criminal justice reconstruction while specializing in bettering community/police relations and has been a catalyst for change in policing in Allegheny County. Miss Fisher has organized and led several protests and campaigns seeking systemic change within the criminal legal system and justice for individual victims and survivors of brutality at the hands of law enforcement officers. From 2012-2016, she served on a team who worked with the US Attorney’s office to come up with a viable plan to better community/police relations with Black and Brown communities. In 2017, she spearheaded organizing the very diverse Woodland Hills community who successfully ran a campaign to replace four school board members and the principal, as a result of students being abused by staff and school police. In 2018, as a result of the uproar in the community regarding the response to the Tree of Life shooting compared to the response to tragedies in the Black community, Ms. Fisher convened a group of leaders within the Jewish and Black communities to address the disparity with the Pittsburgh City administration. She also worked with PA Governor Wolf to successfully veto a bill that would have allowed the identity of officers involved in use of force incidents to be kept secret. She has successfully brought many stakeholders together to collaborate on social justice issues in Allegheny County and surrounding areas and takes joy in bridging the gaps that exist between political officials, community members and institutions. Under her leadership, APA’s advocacy has resulted in financial awards of over $5.5 million dollars for individuals and families.

Miss Fisher also assists in writing and introducing policies and legislation that promote equity and lessen the detrimental impacts of the local criminal legal system on people’s lives, in particular Black families. Policies such as the decriminalization of marijuana in the city of Pittsburgh, to the most recent ballot initiatives to ban No knock warrants and extremely restrict solitary confinement in the Allegheny County Jail. Both of these initiatives passed in the May 2021 election. Miss Fisher was also the Director of Organizing at Pittsburgh United where she was responsible for the organization's campaign planning and strategies through a racial equity lens from 2017 through September 2021.

Miss Fisher, the mother of two adult children, formerly owned and operated a family child care center for 18 years and has over 15 years of experience in designing curriculum and programming for youth. She is a foster mom who is also an advocate for children in the foster care system. Miss Fisher is the recipient of multiple awards over the past decade and currently serves on the boards of City of Bridges Community Land Trust, Youth Places, UNITE PAC, Women for the Future PAC and the national organization Partnerships for Working Families. Miss Fisher continues to be a resounding voice for justice and advocate for youth. She is strategic, passionate, and relentless when it comes to seeking justice for people of color, youth, the working poor, previously incarcerated and those with disabilities.


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Mr. Richard Garland, MSW, Assistant Professor of Public Health Practice, The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

My research centers on working with troubled youth, especially those involved in gangs and gun violence. I work with police departments and community-based organizations throughout the state of Pennsylvania providing gun violence education and training. I am Director of the BCHS Center for Health Equity’s Violence Prevention Project where I oversee training, data collection and outreach efforts aimed at reducing crime and violence. At the Center we are conducting a hospital-based intervention project where gunshot wound victims receiving treatment in four major trauma units will be  counseled in an effort to reduce emergency department recidivism. We will provide case management  services to attempt to alter the lifestyle of the victims with the goal of preventing further involvement with crime and violence. 

I completed my Master’s Degree in Social Work in 1996, specializing in Community Organization. I have also received several awards, including the Lucien E. Blackwell award from Philadelphia Mayor, Michael Nutter, for contributions to the greater community in 2009, and the Courage to Comeback Award from the St. Francis Foundation on Overcoming Economic Diversity in 1998. 



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Dr. Hasan Jeffries, Associate Professor, Department of History, The Ohio State University

Hasan Kwame Jeffries teaches, researches, and writes about the African American experience from a historical perspective.  

He has chronicled the civil rights movement in the ten episode Audible Original series “Great Figures of the Civil Rights Movement,” and has told the remarkable story of the original Black Panther Party in Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt, which has been praised as “the book historians of the black freedom movement have been waiting for.” 

Hasan has collaborated on several public history projects, including serving as the lead scholar and primary scriptwriter for the $27 million renovation of the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Hasan regularly shares his expertise on African American history and contemporary Black politics through public lectures, op-eds, and interviews with print, radio, and television news outlets. He has also contributed to several documentary film projects as a featured on-camera scholar, including the Emmy nominated, four-hour, PBS documentary Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise. 

Hasan’s commitment to teaching “Hard History” led him edit Understanding and Teaching the Civil Rights Movement, a collection of essays by leading civil rights scholars and teachers that explores how to teach civil rights history accurately and effectively, and to host the podcast “Teaching Hard History,” a production of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Learning for Justice division. Hasan also helps school districts develop anti-racism programming and culturally responsive curricular content centered on social studies by conducting professional development workshops for teachers and administrators. 

An associate professor of history in the Department of History at The Ohio State University, Hasan takes great pride in opening students’ minds to new ways of understanding the past and the present. For his pedagogical creativity and effectiveness, he has received numerous awards, including Ohio State’s highest commendation for teaching – the Ohio State Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching, s. 

Hasan graduated from Morehouse College with a BA in history. He earned a PhD in American history with a specialization in African American history from Duke University.

Examining Black Women's Health (2020-2021) 

Policy and Advocacy Themes:  

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Morgan Cephas
State Representative, 192nd District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Representative Cephas was elected to her first term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in November 2016.  Since that time, she has introduced laws to reverse the trend of maternal mortality, increase financial relief for childcare and to bring dignity to incarcerated women.  Her priorities in the General Assembly include expanding access to healthcare to improve health outcomes, increasing education opportunities and career pipelines for youth and young adults, creating jobs through business incentives, and ensuring women and girls are a priority.  Cephas is lifelong public servant, and native of West Philadelphia.  






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Rikell S. Ford
Licensed Social Worker
Peer Coach Specialist
Allegheny County Department of Human Services

Rikell S. Ford is a Licensed Social Worker, employed by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Children, Youth and Families as a Peer Coach Specialist where she coaches staff in the agency's practice model to empower families and keep fidelity to the work of child welfare in Allegheny County.  She is active in special workgroups with the department that focus on community and client engagement as it relates to disproportionality and race.  Ford is the proud founder of Kindred C.U.L.T.U.R.E. a non-profit focused on serving communities in the Mon Valley area.  Ford aims to show unity and equity throughout her life by empowering others, educating professionals and community members in mental health and racial issues, and using her voice to advocate for marginalized populations.





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Rochelle L. Jackson
Black Women's Policy Agenda

Rochelle L. Jackson serves as Founder and Director of the Black Women's Policy Agenda, an initiative to address the complex challenges black women and girls across all identities face in the Greater Pittsburgh region.  Jackson has served for many years as an advocate for equity and economic justice, inspired by her own personal journey as a single mom and through previously held roles as the Femisphere Project Director at the Women and Girls Foundation and as a Public Policy Advocate at Just Harvest for seventeen years.  She is an appointed member of the PA State Department of Human Services Income Maintenance Advisory Committee and the Consumer Subcommittee of the Medical Assistance Advisory Committee. 






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Dr. Stella Onuoha-Obilor, DrPH, MD, MPH, CCM
Highmark Health
Vice President, Clinical Quality

Dr. Stella Obilor (Oh-Bee-Lor) serves as the Vice President of Clinical Quality for Highmark Health.   

Her MD is in medicine and surgery, and she also holds a masters and doctorate in Public Health.  She is a certified professional in Healthcare Quality and a Certified Case Manager.   

Dr. Obilor is a transformational, motivational, servant leader who is passionate about quality health care.  She is a loving wife and proud mother of 4; ages 14, 13, 11, and 8.  She says, “Improving the numbers fuels my passion because behind every data point in Health Care is a human story!”   






Psychological Perspectives on Black Women's Health:

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Raven Davis, MSW
Allegheny County - Children, Adults and Families
Health Enrollment Unit Supervisor

Ms. Raven Davis currently serves as supervisor of the Health Enrollment Unit at Allegheny County’s Office of Children, Youth, and Families (OCYF).  She is a Pittsburgh native and graduate of Brashear high school.   

Ms. Davis earned her Bachelor of Social Work from Slippery Rock University and later earned her Master of Social Work from The University of Pittsburgh.  

She began working at OCYF in 2013 as a direct service caseworker, and later transitioned to the agency’s Health Enrollment Unit in 2017.  The vision of the Unit is “the seamless collaboration with CYF staff, community professionals, and families, to ensure the holistic health needs of children and families involved with OCYF”.   

In her work, Ms. Davis’ goal is to ensure that children and youth have access to needed medical and behavioral health services, while also case planning to remove the frequent barriers that serve as deterrents to wellness.   

In her free time, she enjoys Zumba fitness, a good book, and attending the outdoor summer festivities the ‘burgh has to offer! 


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Dr. Kathi R. Elliot, DNP, MSW, CRNP
gwen's girls
Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Kathi R. Elliott is the CEO at Gwen’s Girls whose mission is to empower girls and young women to have productive lives through holistic, gender-specific programs, education and experiences through afterschool, school, and community-based programming throughout Greater Pittsburgh.  Gwen’s Girls was founded by Dr. Elliott’s late mother, Commander Gwen Elliott.   

Dr. Elliott earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from Chatham University, and completed dual master’s degrees in nursing and Social Work from The University of Pittsburgh.   

She has over 20 years’ experience in social service, community, and individual mental health treatment.  Her career began as a victim advocate at the Center for Victims, mostly within the juvenile justice system.   

Dr. Elliott is a visionary leader.  She has spearheaded the formation of the Black Girls Equity Alliance, a collaboration of over 75 practitioners, researchers, system administrators, and other stakeholders committed to addressing systemic inequities in the juvenile justice, child welfare, education, and health care systems.   

She is most proud to be the mother of two adult children and a grandmother of a 1 year old granddaughter. 


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Dashawna J. Fussell-Ware, LSW
Steel Smiling
Doctoral Fellow

Ms. Dashawna (duh-SHAW-nuh) Fussell-Ware (Fuh-SUL-where) is a doctoral fellow for the Center on Race and Social Problems at the University of Pittsburgh and Steel Smiling, Inc. a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the mental health of Black and Brown Pittsburghers.   

She is a proud native of Miami, Florida, and received her Bachelor of Arts, with honors, in Psychology with minors in English and Human and Social Development from the University of Miami.  She earned her Master of Social Work with a certificate in non-profit management from the University of Georgia and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work.     

Dashawna’s current research focuses on promoting mental health literacy among Black, Latinx, and Hispanic children, adolescents, and transition-age youth as a pathway to eliminating mental health disparities.   

Her ultimate career goals are to conduct groundbreaking research that erases mental health disparities for Black, Latinx, and Hispanic youth as well as serve communities of color through partnerships with resource-rich academic institutions. 


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Dr. Stella Onuoha-Obilor, DrPH, MD, MPH, CCM
Highmark Health
Vice President, Clinical Quality

Dr. Stella Obilor (Oh-Bee-Lor) serves as the Vice President of Clinical Quality for Highmark Health.   

Her MD is in medicine and surgery, and she also holds a masters and doctorate in Public Health.  She is a certified professional in Healthcare Quality and a Certified Case Manager.   

Dr. Obilor is a transformational, motivational, servant leader who is passionate about quality health care.  She is a loving wife and proud mother of 4; ages 14, 13, 11, and 8.  She says, “Improving the numbers fuels my passion because behind every data point in Health Care is a human story!”   



Socioeconomic and Environmental Perspectives on Black Women's Health


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Germaine Gooden-Patterson joined the non-profit Women for a Healthy Environment (WHE) as a Community Health Worker in December 2019.  The mission of WHE is to educate and empower community members about environmental risk so that they can make healthy choices and advocate for change.  The work is centered on protecting children and their families from harmful exposures in the environment and creating healthy places for them to live, learn, and play.  Gooden-Patterson's  Environmental Justice work in the Mon-Valley engages her with many collaboratives including VCAN (Valley Clean Air Now).  VCAN is a local grassroots organization whose mission is to fight for Mon Valley residents who continue to suffer from severe health, economic, climate and environmental injustice.  She is sole proprietor of Wellness Withn, offering selfcare services and products, and the mother of three beautiful children ages 20, 17, and 15.    






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Jim Kelly is Deputy Director, Bureau of Environmental Health at the Allegheny County Health Department.  The bureau is comprised of Air Quality, Food Safety, Housing & Community Environment and the Water Pollution Control and Solid Waste Management programs.  Prior to joining the Allegheny County Health Department in June 2014, Kelly spent 22 years with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, Air Protection Branch, including 11 years as the state's air quality planner.  Kelly earned a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering from West Virginia University Institute of Technology and a Masters of Science in Environmental Public Policy from Georgia Institute of Technology.  








Tammy Thompson is an internationally recognized Poverty Expert and Executive Director of Circles of Greater Pittsburgh where she has developed multiple wealth building initiatives including Catapault: Startup to Storefront and the Gallery on Penn, a retail incubator program.  During Thompson's life, she has experienced homelessness, loss, and countless setbacks, but has turned the tragedies into triumphs and uses her background to grow, educate, and inspire others.  Through her Social Justice Media company, T3 Media, she served as executive producer of We Wear the Mask, a documentary released in 2017, highlighting the stigma associated with women in poverty.  Her life's work has been featured in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and other publications.  Thompson is a mother of five and a grandmother of 19.  She resides in Pittsburgh and is raising her granddaughter.  






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Dannai Wilson is Program Manager of Maternal and Child Health at the Allegheny County Health Department.  Wilson has served Southwestern Pennsylvania in the areas of business, social services, and public health for more than twenty years.  At the Health Department, she oversees several initiatives designed to improve health and well-being and eliminate racial disparities in mortality for women and infants.  Her department also exists to end racial disparities and uphold equity for all through effective collaboration with community members and organizations.  Wilson is an alumna of Carlow University where she received a bachelor's degree in Communications and a master's degree in Organizational Leadership.  Wilson is a military wife, mother, and grandmother.  As a native Pittsburgher, she often imagines a Pittsburgh where all residents experience all the city has to offer. 





Student Speaker: 

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Ebonie Slade is graduating this month with a bachelor’s degree in Biobehavioral Health. Recently, Ebonie was recognized by Penn State with the Jackson Lethbridge Tolerance Award for her for outstanding efforts to enhance the understanding of diverse cultures and create a community where all individuals are accepted and valued equally.









Examing Black Women's Health (2020-present) 

Medical Perspectives on Black Women's Health

Learn more about the panelists who joined us on Thursday, October 15, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. for Medical Perspectives on Black Women's Health.  They discussed the findings in Pittsburgh's Inequality Across Gender and Race (2019) report and put a lens on Black maternal health in particular.  

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Jessica Brooks is the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Business Group on Health, where she is leading the effort to redefine and advance the discussion around health care value, access and quality on behalf of employers.  A graduate of Penn State and Carnegie Mellon University, she serves on the board of governors for the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative, the Health Innovation in Pennsylvania Price and Quality Transparency Work Group, as well as the All-Payer Claims Database Subcommittee for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.   Brooks has contributed to numerous news stories, opinion editorial pieces, and has appeared on National Public Radio, and in national health care and benefits publications.








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Dr. Elizabeth Miller  is the Co-Director of a broad child and adolescent health research initiative titled “The Pittsburgh Study”, the largest stakeholder-engaged, community-partnered longitudinal intervention study in the U.S. to ensure that children and youth are healthy, thriving, and meeting their academic goals.  She is Professor in Pediatrics, Public Health, and Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Pittsburgh and Director of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Miller is one of the authors of the white paper "Pittsburgh's Inequality Across Gender and Race", published in 2019.  It is this report that inspired The Crossing Bridges Summit focus for 2020 - 2021.








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Jamila Pleas, RN is a registered nurse who has blossomed into a maternal health advocate specializing in childbirth education, positive birth outcomes, labor support, research and policy implementation. She has worked at some the world’s top leading health care systems such West Suburban Hospital, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Holy Cross Health, and the University of Chicago. She recently was awarded the Abstract of Excellence Award for her contributing work on Systemic Treatment and Management of Post Partum Hypertension at the Illinois Perinatal Quality Collaborative. She was also awarded the Coin of Excellence by the President and CEO of Holy Cross Health for her commitment to providing quality care. She is the founder of Her Birth Right, a national nursing initiative that is actively working to bridge the gap in maternal health disparities for women of color. 







Since its inception in 2017, The Crossing Bridges Summit hosted the following speakers:

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson

Mr. Brandon Short and Ms. Wanda Bryant Hope

Dr. Angela Davis

Ms. Vanessa German

Dr. Cornel West