Emma Robbins is the director of the Navajo Water Project, which provides infrastructure for Navajo families to access running water in New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. The project is a part of the water nonprofit DigDeep.
Native American households face barriers to accessing running water. About 30% of families on the Navajo reservation don’t have running water, according to the project. Robbins joined the project after growing up in an area with a high concentration of water poverty. She is a Diné artist, and uses her work to raise awareness about the need for clean water across all Native American nations. She is also an Aspen Institute Health Communities Fellow.
Dean Seneca is CEO of Seneca Scientific Solutions, a consulting agency that provides tribal nations and other clients with assistance in economic and community development. The agency’s services include strategic planning, epidemiology and health research.
With over 20 years of experience with infectious disease outbreaks, Seneca has worked to combat Anthrax, H1N1, Ebola, Zika and COVID-19. Seneca was previously a senior health scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Center for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support, where he was responsible for building the CDC’s ability to support health departments across the country.
Prior to his time at the CDC, Seneca was the tribal planning director for the Seneca Nation of Indians, which is based in western New York.
Location: Cattaraugus, N.Y.
Expertise: Chronic and infectious diseases, emergency preparedness and response, environmental health, toxicology and maternal/child health, American Indian/Alaska Native health
Azzeddine Azzam is a professor of agricultural economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Azzam has worked in the field for about 34 years, and his teaching and research interests include microeconomics and agricultural and natural resource economies.
The Washington Post reported about Azzam’s research on how Americans could lose weight by switching to diets common in other countries. He was also quoted by the Norfolk Daily News in 2018 on the Trump administration’s trade policies. He has written about topics such as how a greenhouse gas tax would affect the price of a burger for the industry publication Beef Magazine.
Azzam previously taught as a Fulbright scholar at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and as a teaching fellow at Harvard University. He chaired the economics department at the University of Dubai, and served as senior economic adviser at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
A pediatrician by training, Maybank was the deputy commissioner at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where she launched their Center for Health Equity.
Before that, she was an assistant commissioner in the NYC Health Department with the Brooklyn District Public Health Office. There, she oversaw several centers that worked to connect community organizations, health care providers and patients in predominantly minority neighborhoods throughout New York. Maybank was also the founding director of the Office of Minority Health in the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, located in New York, from 2006-2009.
She also helped create the “We are Doc McStuffins” campaign, based on the popular Disney cartoon character, which aimed to inspire young African American girls to practice medicine. The group eventually formed the Artemis Medical Society.
Location: NYC and Chicago, Ill.
Expertise: health equity, minority health, community engagement
Georgia’s governor Brian Kemp decided last week to allow several businesses to reopen, such as barbershops and fitness centers. This week, restaurants, theaters and private social clubs will also be allowed to welcome customers.
Source of the Week is spotlighting local business owners of color who will have to choose to either start up business again or stay shut, as deaths caused by COVID-19 in the state continue to increase.
Ryan Wilson (CEO) and TK Petersen (COO) are co-founders of The Gathering Spot, a membership-only club that provides workspaces and networking opportunities in Atlanta. The club has hosted events with brands such as Spotfiy, Coca-Cola, Google and Netflix. The co-founders were college roommates. After graduating, they realized there weren’t a lot of local spaces where they could connect with new people. The pair raised $3 million to launch the Atlanta-based business in 2016.
Ryan Wilson is an Atlanta native. He was named the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2017 Small Business Person of the Year. He was featured on The Root magazine’s 2018 “Root 100”and Ebony magazine’s “Power 100,” which feature influential African Americans in a variety of fields. He’s a graduate of Georgetown University and Georgetown University Law Center.
TK Petersen manages the club’s operations. He graduated from Georgetown University and previously worked in the financial sector. The pair have been featured in Fast Company’s story on black tech entrepreneurs, and interviewed in USA Todayand Bloomberg Businessweek on the growing number of black entrepreneurs in Atlanta.
Chrisopher Escobar is the owner of The Plaza Theatre, which he says is the oldest movie theater in Atlanta, and one of the only independent theaters in the area. The Plaza was shut down because of COVID-19 on March 19, the longest closure in the theater’s history. Escobar said the theater stayed open through World War I, 9/11 and the AIDS epidemic.
Escobar is a first-generation American. He is the first minority executive director of the Atlanta Film Society and produces the annual Academy Award-qualifying Atlanta Film Festival. He has been named a “40 under 40” and “CFO of the Year” by the Atlanta Business Chronicle, among other recognitions. He graduated from Georgia State University with an M.A. in Moving Image Studies with a concentration in production.
Mother and daughter pair Ellen and Lana Ector founded Gymnetics Fitness, a private fitness studio in Atlanta. They offer personalized nutritional advice, weight loss programs and workout regimes. During the shutdown, they have been offering live daily workouts on Instagram and streaming fitness videos on their website portal.
Shekhar teaches computer science, is a board member of the Computing Research Association, and is co-editor-in-chief of the international, GIS-focused journal GeoInformatica. His publications include more than 350 refereed papers, a textbook and an encyclopedia.
He has received the 2015 Education Award from the University Consortium for GIS Science and the 2006 Technical Achievement Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society, among others.
Expertise: Computer science, spatial computing, geographic information systems
Sylvia Partida is the CEO of the National Center for Farmworker Health, where she oversees efforts to train medical professionals at community health centers serving uninsured or underinsured patients on the health needs of agricultural workers. The organization works with 174 community health centers across the country that receive federal funding to serve farmworker families. The center also collaborates with state health departments, universities and the CDC.
Partida has been interviewed by HuffPoston why migrant farmworkers face high health risks during the coronavirus pandemic, and by U.S. News & World Reportfor a story about how children of migrant farmworkers in rural Yakima Valley in Washington state receive treatment for cancer.
Prior to Partida’s role at NCFH, she researched and developed community programs for at-risk youth, many of whom were Latino, and those impacted by HIV/AIDS. At the University of Texas Health Science Center, she led a project studying the HIV risks of farmworkers in South Texas in order to provide them with accessible care.
Her research interests focus on improving sanitation in manufacturing plants to mitigate environmental and public health harm. She teaches online classes on food science and risk assessment at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass.
Dr. Lona Mody is a professor of internal medicine, geriatrics and epidemiology at the University of Michigan. Her research lab studies antibiotic-resistant pathogens and develops measures to prevent their spread.
Jean Accius is senior vice president of thought leadership and international affairs for AARP. His expertise is in aging, longevity, health and long-term care policy.
He has been quoted by Kaiser Health News on the rising costs of long-term care, TIME on how millennials are increasingly providing care to their older relatives, and U.S. News & World Reporton what to consider before joining a continuing care retirement community. He’s also written about the growing numbers of male caregivers in the U.S.
In 2018, Accius was a Gerontological Society of America Fellow, and he received a 40 Under 40 Award from the Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund. Additionally, Black Enterprise named him a “Modern Man of Distinction.”
Accius holds a master’s degree in aging studies from Florida State University, and a doctorate in public administration from American University.
Expertise: Health, long-term care policy, male caregivers