The 13th annual Health Equity & Social Justice (HESJ) Conference was held virtually on November 6, 2020. The conference was hosted by DePaul University’s Master of Public Health Program and the Center for Community Health Equity.

Keynote Speakers

Adam Alonso, MSW

Chief Executive Officer of BUILD

Supporting Youth at the Epicenter of Today’s Challenges

Since his arrival at BUILD in March 2015, Adam has catalyzed dramatic growth of BUILD’s programs, community leadership role, and impact. By rapidly developing and launching new initiatives—including the Block 51 Arts Academy, BUILDing Girls 2 Women program, expanded behavioral and mental health services, and comprehensive trauma-informed community services for victims of violence, Alonso has led a transformation that has more than tripled BUILD’s budget and staff, positioned the agency for long-term sustainability, launched a capital campaign to quadruple the physical space of the organization and serve more youth and families, and substantially increased visibility as BUILD crosses the half-century mark serving youth and families in some of Chicago’s most challenged communities. Adam brings over 25 years of non-profit and youth development experience, serving as Director of the State of Illinois’ Welcoming Center for Immigrants and Refugees, Director of Community Engagement for the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, Director of Youth Services at Casa Central and Illinois Action for Children, and founding executive director of Corazón Community Services, a youth-oriented non-profit agency in Cicero. He holds a B.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of Chicago, a Master’s of Social Work from Loyola University-Chicago, and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of Notre Dame.

Kim Wasserman

Executive Director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization

Just Transition in a Time of Pandemic

Kim is the Executive Director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), where she has worked since 1998. Kim joined LVEJO as an organizer and helped to organize community leaders to successfully build a new playground, community gardens, remodel of a local school park and force a local polluter to upgrade their facilities to meet current laws. As Executive Director of LVEJO, she has worked with organizers to reinstate a job access bus line, build on the recent victory of a new 23 acre park to be built in Little Village, and continue the 10 plus year campaign that won the closure of the two local coal power plants to fight for remediation and redevelopment of the sites. Mrs. Wasserman is Chair of the Illinois Commission on Environmental Justice. In 2013, Mrs. Wasserman was the recipient of the Goldman Prize for North America. Her biggest accomplishment to date is raising three-community organizers aged 18, 11, and 8.


All presentations below are linked to the video recordings.

Poster Presentations

Opening Keynote Presentation

Breakout Session I

  1. Skill Building Workshop
  2. Skill Building Workshop
  3. Skill Building Workshop
  4. Skill Building Workshop
  5. Skill Building Workshop

​Breakout Session II

  1. Skill Building Workshop
  2. Skill Building Workshop
  3. Skill Building Workshop
    • Interventions to Increase Transgender Sexual Health Access
      • Adam Davies; Program Assistant & Sex Educator; Lurie Children’s Hospital
      • Alexa Karczmar; Behavioral Research Coordinator II; Lurie Children’s Hospital
      • Afiya Sajwani; Research Coordinator, Sex Educator, & HIV Tester; Lurie Children’s Hospital
      • Saleha Salam; Program Coordinator; Lurie Children’s Hospital
  4. Skill Building Workshop
  5. Skill Building Workshop
    • So You Want to Start a Podcast? Getting Research and Community Voices to the Masses
      • Rabih Dahdouh, MS (he/his); Clinical Research Associate; Northwestern University
      • Cassandra A. A. Osei, MPH (they/them); Clinical Research Project Manager; Northwestern University
      • Ivy Leung (she/hers); Clinical Research Project Manager; Northwestern University
      • Araceli Estrada (she/hers); Program Assistant; Northwestern University

Breakout Session III

  1. Oral Presentations on the Public Health Workforce/Internships
    • Bringing Essential Internships to an Online Platform during COVID-19
      • Yazmin Hajeissa, MPH Candidate; Program Coordinator; Lurie Children’s Hospital
    • Equitable Internships: A Public Health Workforce Imperative
      • Wesley Epplin, MPH; Director of Health Equity; Health & Medicine Policy Research Group
  2. Roundtable Discussion
  3. Oral Presentations on the Youth/Adolescent Health
    • LGBTQ Health in Chicago Public Schools: Working Toward Equity
      • Marisa DiPaolo (she/hers); Surveillance Coordinator; CPS Office of Student Health and Wellness
      • Madeline Mangiaracina (they/them); Research Assistant; University of Illinois School of Public Health
      • Booker Marshall, MPH (they/them); Sexual Health Project Manager; CPS Office of Student Health and Wellness
    • Asthma Disparities in Illinois: A Data Informed Approach to Health Education
      • Mary Rosenwinkel; Program Coordinator; Respiratory Health Association
  4. Roundtable Discussion
    • Trauma-Informed Coalition-Building and Mobilization of Community Resources in Support of All Immigrants: A Chicago Case Example
      • Minal Giri, MD; Chair; Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics
      • Mary Elsner, JD; Director; Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics
      • Maria Ferrera, PhD, LCSW; Associate Professor, DePaul University; Co-Director, Center for Community Health Equity; Co-Founding Co-Chair, The Coalition for Immigrant Mental Health
      • Ida Salusky, MPH, PhD; Assistant Professor, DePaul University
      • Virginia G. Quiñónez, PsyD; Senior Director, Chicago School of Professional Psychology; Co-Founding Co-Chair, The Coalition for Immigrant Mental Health
      • Dana Rusch, PhD; Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago;  Director, Immigrant Family Mental Health Advocacy Program
  5. Roundtable Discussion

Breakout Session IV

  1. Oral Presentations on COVID-19
    • The Importance of Community and Community-Building for Health Equity: A United Approach to Addressing Latino and Black Disparities Before COVID-19
      • Miguel A. Blancarte, Jr.; Community Engagement; City of Chicago COVID-19 Response
    • Chicago Parents’ Attitudes about COVID-19
      • Marie E. Heffernan, PhD; Lurie Children’s Hospital
    • A Look into Racial Disparities of ED Visits, Hospitalizations, and ICU Admissions among COVID-19 Cases at a Hospital System in Chicago
      • Joshua Longcoy; Rush University Medical Center
  2. Oral Presentations on COVID-19 Data in Chicago 
    • Predicting Missing Race/Ethnicity for Chicagoans in COVID-19: Applying BISG Imputation Methods to Better Understand Racial Disparities
      • Margarita Reina; Epidemiologist; Chicago Department of Public Health
    • Using Bayesian Improved Surname Geocoding Method to Impute the Missing Race/Ethnicity in the Chicago Department of Public Health COVID-19 Surveillance Dataset
      • Hao Wu; Graduate Student; DePaul University
    • Identifying and Mitigating COVID-19 Racial and Income Disparities in Chicago: An Access-Based Evaluation of Stationary Testing Facilities
      • C. Scott Smith, PhD AICP; Assistant Director; Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development, DePaul University
  3. Oral Presentations on Substance Use
    • Incorporating Harm-Reduction into Justice-Based 5th-12th Grade Substance Use Education
      • Chi Onwubu; Lurie Children’s Hospital
      • Neil Dixit; Lurie Children’s Hospital
    • Barriers to Evidence-Based Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder: Can Low-Threshold Treatment Bridge the Gap?
      • Suzanne Carlberg-Racich, MSPH, PhD; Assistant Professor; DePaul University
    • “If We See It with Our Own Eyes, Then (We) Believe It:” The Role of Drug Checking in the Lives of People Who Use Drugs (PWUD)
      • Suzanne Carlberg-Racich, MSPH, PhD; Assistant Professor; DePaul University
      • Lydia Karch, MPH; Chicago Recovery Alliance
  4. Oral Presentations on Race and Equity
    • Race, Equity, and Housing as a Human Right
      • Simone Aba Akyianu; Legal Counsel; Canadian Human Rights Commission
    • Uncovering and Mitigating Our Implicit Biases to Combat Health Inequities
      • Sally A. Arif, PharmD, BCPS, BCCP; Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice; Midwestern University, Chicago College of Pharmacy
    • Strategies for Dismantling Institutional Racism in Health Care Organizations
      • Laura Botwinick, MS; Director, Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy; University of Chicago
  5. Oral Presentations on Health Outcomes in Diverse Populations in Chicago
    • Effects of Current Healthcare System to Accessing Pap Smears for Black Women in Chicago
      • Magdelene Thebaud, BSW; MSW Candidate; University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign; Chicago CHEC
      • Rebekah Monroe, BA Candidate; Research Assistant; University of Illinois at Chicago; Chicago CHEC
      • Mariama Bounds; BSN Candidate; Saint Xavier University; Chicago CHEC
    • Understanding the Effects of Domestic Violence on Sleep
      • Daniel J. Schober, PhD, MPH; Assistant Professor; DePaul University
      • Susana Shrestha, MPH; DePaul University
      • Jessica Bishop-Royse, PhD; Executive Director; DePaul University
    • Adapting Evidence-Based Programming for Community Implementation
      • Grisel Rodríguez-Morales, MSW, LCSW; Manager of Health Promotion & Disease Prevention; Rush University Medical Center
      • Padraic Stanley, MSW, LCSW; Program Coordinator; Rush University Medical Center

Closing Keynote Presentation