Our first initiative is to hold a conference “Igniting Hope: Building a Just Community with a Culture of Health and Equity” The conference will feature two nationally recognized speakers who have experience in initiating and engaging communities to effect a change in health disparities. The keynote speaker is Dr. Consuelo Wilkins, Executive Director, Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance, she is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Public Health at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Associate Professor of Medicine at Meharry Medical College. The other featured speaker is Dr. Stephen Thomas from the University of Maryland Center for Health Equity. Dr. Thomas is one of the nation’s leading scholars on eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities.
The African American Health Disparities Task Force is a grass roots initiative that has brought together community and academic individuals who want to address and improve the health disparities in the African American population in Buffalo. Members of the task force from the University at Buffalo include faculty from Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Management, Education, Law, Architecture and Planning, Clinical Translational Science Institute, and Public Health and Health Professions. Members of the task force from the community include representatives from the faith community led by Pastor George Nicholas and Pastor Kinzer Pointer, staff from Millennium Collaborative Care, Population Health Collaborative of WNY, and ECMC, Roswell Park Institute, primary care, key stakeholders, law enforcement, and labor unions. Through guided breakout sessions informed by the social determinants of health, our aim is to explore the underlying root causes of health disparities by examining, discussing, and initiating action related to housing, health and healthcare, education and training, personal security, and employment, jobs and financial hardship.