Center for American Progress

Reducing Racial Health Disparities through Community Interventions
Press Advisory

Reducing Racial Health Disparities through Community Interventions

Rep. Donna Christensen to present legislative solutions to health care disparities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – For too many racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S., good health and health care is elusive.  On Monday, February 26, 2007, the Center for American Progress will host a substantive policy discussion on this issue that too often goes unnoticed. Life expectancy and overall health have improved for Americans collectively, yet the prevalence of preventable diseases among racial and ethnic minorities persists. Although guaranteeing health coverage for all is a sure way of reducing health inequities, altering unhealthy lifestyles and environments are also effective.

The discussion will start with an overview of the state of racial and ethnic health disparities by Dr. Brian Smedley. Following his remarks, Congresswoman Donna Christensen will present legislative solutions to disparities and the Congressional Black Caucus’s health priorities for the 110th Congress. Meredith King will then discuss the effectiveness of community interventions in reducing disparities and LaTonya Chavis will describe the Charlotte REACH 2010 program.

Delegate Donna Christian-Christensen (D-VI)
LaTonya Chavis, Director, Charlotte REACH 2010
Meredith King, Health Policy Analyst, Center for American Progress
Dr. Brian Smedley, Research Director, The Opportunity Agenda

Karen Davenport, Director of Health Policy, Center for American Progress

February 26, 2007, 11:00am12:30pm
Refreshments will be served at 10:30 A.M.


Center for American Progress
1333 H St. NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
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Delegate Donna Christian-Christensen, (D-VI) continues to distinguish herself as a leader in the United States Congress. As a Member serving her fifth term, she is the first female physician in the history of the U.S. Congress, the first woman to represent an offshore Territory, and the first woman Delegate from the United States Virgin Islands.

Delegate Christensen serves on the following House Committees, Subcommittees and Caucuses: She serves on the Committee on Resources, which oversees territorial and public land issues, the Committee on Small Business, which oversees entrepreneurship and business activities and on the Homeland Security Committee which oversees preparing the nation to prevent and withstand attack. Delegate Christensen is a Member of the Congressional Black Caucus and chairs the Congressional Black Caucus’ Health Braintrust, which oversees and advocates minority health issues nationally and internationally; is a Member of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues; and others.

Christensen began her medical career in the Virgin Islands in 1975 as an emergency room physician. She rounded out her medical career as the Territorial Assistant Commissioner of Health and as the Acting Commissioner of Health. She maintained a private practice in family medicine from 1975 until her election to Congress in 1996.

LaTonya Chavis serves as the Director of the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) 2010 project in Charlotte, North Carolina and is employed by Carolinas Healthcare System. For 5 1/2 years, she has served in the Charlotte REACH initiative in various capacities. She is skillful in collaborating with communities, agencies, and businesses to develop strategies to eliminate health disparities. LaTonya has a broad perspective in health and wellness which allows her to see the “big picture.” She holds a Master of Science degree in Health Promotion from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She has experience studying abroad as well as working in worksite health promotion. Above all, LaTonya is passionate and dedicated to her work in public health and serving others. She is optimistic that her passion and dedication will continue for many years to come.

Meredith L. King, serves as the Health Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress. As a member of the health team, King collaborates with staff and senior fellows in advancing a broad range of health issues, including universal health care. Prior to joining the Center, King worked at the Health Assistance Partnership of Families USA, serving as the Medicaid Research Analyst. In that job, she worked with a network of Medicaid ombudsmen and consumer health assistance programs by supplying them the latest information regarding Medicaid policy in their respective states. Ms. King obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Policy and American History from Washington and Lee University in 2003. In May 2005, she completed a Masters of Public Policy with a concentration in Social Policy from American University.

Brian D. Smedley, served most recently as a Senior Program Officer in the Division of Health Sciences Policy of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), where he was Study Director for the IOM report, Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care. Previously, Smedley served as Study Director for the IOM reports, Promoting Health: Intervention Strategies from Social and Behavioral Research; The Right Thing to Do, The Smart Thing to Do: Enhancing Diversity in the Health Professions; and The Unequal Burden of Cancer: An Assessment of NIH Research and Programs for Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved. Smedley came to the IOM from the American Psychological Association (APA), where he worked on a wide range of social, health, and education policy topics in his capacity as Director for Public Interest Policy. Prior to working at the APA, Smedley served as a Congressional Science Fellow in the office of Rep. Robert C. Scott (D-VA), sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Education Policy Division of the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, N.J. Among his awards and distinctions, in 2003 and 2000 Smedley was awarded the National Academy of Sciences’ Individual Staff Award for Distinguished Service, was awarded the Congressional Black Caucus “Healthcare Hero” award in April 2002, and in August, 2002, was awarded the Early Career Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest by the American Psychological Association.

Karen Davenport is Director of Health Policy at the Center for American Progress. Before joining CAP, she served as Washington Director for the Medicare Rights Center, coordinating the organization’s national policy activities, partnership development and fundraising activities As a Senior Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, she developed and managed national programs dedicated to increasing health insurance coverage – including Covering Kids and Families and Covering America: Real Remedies for the Uninsured – and improving long-term care financing and services for frail elders and people with disabilities. As a Legislative Assistant to Senator Bob Kerrey, she was responsible for staffing the Senator’s work on Medicare, Medicaid, public health, welfare and social issues. Her earlier federal experience includes serving as a specialist in Medicaid legislation for the Health Care Financing Administration (now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) and serving on the White House Health Care Reform Task Force. Before entering public service, she worked at the Henry M. Jackson Foundation in Seattle. Davenport earned an MPA from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and a BA in political science from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.