Alumni Weekend 2023 focuses on equity, justice in health care

Alumni Weekend group
Alumni reconnect

October 5, 2023 — Roughly 150 Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health alumni gathered at the School in late September for reconnecting, networking, and learning at the annual Alumni Weekend. The focus of the event was “The Right to Health: Equity and Justice for All.”

The September 28-30 event included a series of panel discussions on environmental justice, transgender health and gender-affirming care, racial disparities and structural racism, racial and ethnic equity in health care, and reproductive and women’s health.

In the opening keynote panel on September 29, David R. Williams, chair of Harvard Chan School’s Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, moderated a discussion about racial justice and equity in health. Speakers included Zinzi Bailey, SD ’14, Justin Feldman, SD ’18, and Jasmine Graves, PhD ’27.

Another panel, focused on advancing transgender health, was moderated by Brittany Charlton, SM ’11, SD ’14, associate professor in Harvard Chan School’s Department of Epidemiology. Jason Rafferty, MPH ’12, Sam Montaño, Massachusetts state representative, and Matthew Mimiaga, SD ’07, were speakers.

Ana Langer, professor of the practice of public health, emerita, in Harvard Chan School’s Department of Global Health and Population, moderated a third panel on reproductive health, abortion rights, and maternal mortality. Speakers included Priya Agarwal, MPH ’06, Yuki Davis, MPH ’20, and Colleen Amanda Reynolds, SM ’20, PhD ’26.

Other faculty speakers included Gary Adamkiewicz, MPH ’02, associate professor of environmental health and exposure disparities, who hosted a virtual panel on using housing to improve health; and Richard Siegrist, faculty director of the Doctor of Public Health program and senior lecturer on health care management, who discussed a case study about reopening cardiac surgery and kidney transplant programs at University Hospital at Downstate.

The Alumni Association also presented awards during the weekend. An awards dinner featured speaker Joseph Betancourt, MPH ’98, president of the Commonwealth Fund.

Alumni Awards of Merit—the highest honor presented to alumni, chosen by their peers—went to:

  • Megan Murray, MPH ’97, SD ’01, a leading expert on tuberculosis, who was chosen for conducting studies that changed how the disease is treated
  • Stephen Tollman, MPH ’88, who has worked to increase health equity and social justice in his home country of South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa
  • Anita Zaidi, SM ’99, who served as the first female chair of pediatrics at Pakistan’s Aga Khan University and is now the first-ever president of Gender Equality at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Additional alumni awards were presented to:

  • Michael Miedema, MPH ’13, a Minnesota physician who leads the Nolan Family Center for Cardiovascular Health (Emerging Public Health Professional Award)
  • Diagaunet Dodie, MPH ’14, cofounder and CEO of Innovative Healthcare Solutions, who has worked to solve the blood-shortage problem in his native Ivory Coast (Public Health Innovator Award)
  • Thumbi Ndung’u, PhD ’01, director for basic and translational science at the African Health Research Institute in Durban, South Africa, who has made key contributions in HIV and TB research (Leadership in Public Health Practice Award)

New members of the Alumni Council marked the start of their terms over the weekend. They included:

  • Bernie Lee, MPH ’14, president-elect
  • Andrew Sanderson, MPH ’16, vice president
  • Jeanine Boyle, MPH ’94, councilor
  • Joel Francis, SM ’06, councilor
  • Emily Brown, MPH ’23, class of 2023 president
  • Paula Ivey Henry, SM ’95, graduate school director to the Harvard Alumni Association

Karen Feldscher

Photos: Kent Dayton, Anna Walsh