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The Minority Health Conference is a major undertaking led and organized by students and guided by a group of advisers.

Conference Co-chairs

The co-presidents develop a vision for the Minority Health Conference, which includes selection of a conference theme, setting the objectives and timeline for each of the sub-committees, and managing their progress throughout the planning process. They are responsible for general conference management, monitoring logistics including registration, budget management, and communication with all key stakeholders.


Rachel Singley – Conference Co-Chair

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Bio: My name is Rachel Singley and I am one of the Minority Health Conference Co-Chairs. I am a second year MSPH/PhD student in Health Policy and Management. I am so excited to bring you all a conference that will uplift the voices of typically marginalized communities and bring awareness to the struggles that they face in receiving quality, equitable health care.

Why MHC?: I joined the Minority Health Conference leadership team because I am extremely passionate about giving a voice to groups who have a hard time being heard and I love that the conference has done that for over 40 years.


Shewit Weldense – Conference Co-Chair

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Bio: Prior to coming to Gillings, I worked as a registered nurse for 3 years. I came to Gillings because I wanted to learn how I can make changes for patients in a larger capacity than I could at the bedside. I am currently a second year MSPH student in the department of Health Policy & Management.

Why MHC?: I heard about MHC prior to starting graduate school at Gillings; however, last year was my first time attending. I left the conference feeling so inspired and wanting to do more. I was looking for a way to get more involved at Gillings and being a Conference Co-chair was definitely the best decision!


Planning Committee Coordinators

They are responsible for all organizational elements of the Minority Health Conference and work closely with the Conference Co-Chairs and Committee Co-Chairs to ensure smooth operations and logistics. The Co-Coordinators oversee collaboration between all seven committees to ensure effective and efficient communication including taking meeting minutes, making sure each committee is on track, and sending out reminders/action items. The Planning Co-Coordinators also manage the website and assists with other logistical tasks such as coordinating meeting times, booking meeting spaces, and organizing MHC social events. They play an important role providing additional assistance to both Co-Chairs and the Committee Chairs throughout the planning process.


Morgan Cooper – Planning Coordinator

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Bio: I’m a third-year student in the Master of Public Health/Master of City & Regional Planning dual degree program, specializing in Health Behavior and Economic Development, respectively. I also intern with UNC’s Partnerships in Aging Program, which gives me a chance to work with the Orange County Department on Aging on its home repair programs. This opportunity has allowed me to bring together both fields of practice and work with super collaborative teams!

Why MHC?: I joined MHC leadership to bring nitty-gritty support to a big vision. Each committee co-chair and team member is dedicating a lot of energy to realize this conference, which is a way to deliberately celebrate and share health equity practices. I’m excited to learn from my peers and to serve the legacy of MHC in the process.


Takhona Hlatshwako – Planning Coordinator

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Bio: I am an international undergraduate student at Gillings, where I am getting a Bachelor of Science in Public Health in the department of Health Policy and Management. I’ve worked as a project intern for a USAID-sponsored program in Eswatini (my home country). I’ve also worked as a research assistant at the UNC Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases. I’m passionate about global health issues, health equity, and public health research. When I’m not doing public health, I’m reading fiction, drinking green tea, or tending to my house plants.

Why MHC?: I was drawn to the organization’s goal to bring people together to discuss minority health issues. I immediately wanted to get involved in making the conference a success! I’m excited to be working with passionate individuals from different fields of public health.


Speakers Committee

The co-chairs oversee the work of the Speakers Committee which includes developing break-out session topics and identifying speakers for the conference breakout sessions. They arrange and organize all logistics pertaining to the creation of breakout sessions. The co-chairs work with the NC Institute for Public Health and committee members to coordinate interesting, engaging, and interactive sessions.


Sophie Bartels – Speakers Co-Chair

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Bio: Sophie Bartels is a second-year MSPH to PhD student in the department of Health Behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC. Before starting this program, she worked for two years as a research coordinator at Dartmouth College on a scale-up mental health project in Colombia. Her research at UNC is centered around using a mixed-methods approach to understand the association between pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) stigma and PrEP acceptability, and evaluate strategies to promote engagement with a smartphone app for PrEP uptake among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Guatemala City.

Why MHC?: I joined MHC leadership because I was on the Speakers Committee for the MHC last year and loved being part of such an impactful, entirely student-led conference. I decided that I wanted to continue to be involved in this work, and to take on a larger role through leadership.


Katrice Perry – Speakers Co-Chair

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Bio: Katrice Perry is a proud native of Eastern NC. She received her B.S. in Public Health Education from North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC. Katrice has worked on programs focusing on Hepatitis C linkage to care and healthy eating and injury prevention among youth and older adults. Katrice is a first year MPH student in the Health Equity, Social Justice, and Human Rights concentration and has strong research interests in rural health, chronic disease, vulnerable populations and health equity.

Why MHC?: I want to be a part of a strong legacy of students leaders who sole purpose is to raise awareness, cultivate discussion and inspire students and professionals around public health and social justice issues that affect people of color.


Communication Committee

The co-chairs manage the work of the Communication Committee which includes developing and marketing promotional materials for the Conference (e.g. flyers, email blasts, etc.). They craft standard language and
coordinate all communications about the conference, such as notices to listservs, calls for posters, registration reminders, and webcast announcements.  They also brainstorm, organize, and implement advertising campaigns for social media accounts and communications with both on-campus and community organizations. This committee also manages the graphic designer and has creative control over the graphics and look/feel of conference materials.


Ali Zuercher – Communications Co-Chair

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Bio: I am a second year MPH student in the Health Equity, Social Justice, & Human Rights concentration. Additionally, I am in the Certificate in Innovation for the Public Good to expand my experience and knowledge in developing wicked solutions to wicked problems with interdisciplinary teams. I am interested in working in health communication and health policy to establish housing as healthcare. I hope to return to my home city of Phoenix after graduation to work on the housing and health inequities experienced in one of the fastest growing cities in the country.

Why MHC?: As part of the Communications Committee last year, I loved being able to work with people of different professional backgrounds and with different career goals and interests coming together for the shared passion of promoting health equity, fighting against racism, and celebrating one another’s accomplishments. Knowing that this year was going to look different than any other conference year, I was excited to work alongside my peers to develop creative marketing strategies and put on a successful and accessible conference.


Exhibitors Committee

The co-chairs work with their committee to identify groups, organizations, and companies that match the conference theme that will exhibit materials on the day of the conference. The co-chairs also serve as the primary contact for exhibitors in terms of communicating logistical information.


Luisa Furstenberg-Beckman – Exhibitors Co-Chair

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Bio: Luisa is a current 2nd year MPH student in Nutrition. Originally from Philadelphia, she spent the past six years working in DC, where she taught cooking/nutrition, HIV/AIDS prevention, and sexual health education to public high school students. She also spent time learning native farming practices in South America and has a passion for growing her own food. Luisa plans to continue to work in community health and food access after graduate school.

Why MHC?: I feel very strongly about minority health and want to continue to be a part of this conference that brings to light crucial issues that need to be at the forefront of public health.


Posters Committee

The co-chairs oversee the Poster Committee with responsibilities such as issuing a call for abstracts for poster presentations,
reviewing and selecting poster abstracts for presentation at conference, and serving as the primary
contact for poster authors in terms of communicating logistical information.


Sarah Asuquo – Posters Co-Chair

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Bio: MPH Candidate in Health Behavior, 2021 and an international student from Nigeria. Also a Nigerian trained physician whose interests are in mental health and child and adolescent health.

Why MHC?: I joined the MHC planning committee because I wanted to be a part of a movement that was working to shape our world for good. I want to have a world where my future children are judged for their worth and not the color of their skin.



Nancy Urbano – Posters Co-Chair

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Bio: Nancy Urbano is currently a postbac in the National Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences. Her current research at NIEHS focuses on predictive toxicology and screening. She graduated with her B.S. in Environmental Science from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX in 2016. While at St. Mary’s, she performed research in evaluating trace metal content in soils across St. Mary’s campus to be used as an indicator of rooftop water runoff quality. In the future she is planning on attending graduate school for public health or epidemiology. She is interested in public health and epidemiology.

Why MHC?: I joined the MHC leadership because I think it is important to represent students that are historically underrepresented in the educational system. It’s also really important for students to present public health research that focuses on historically underrepresented populations.


Fundraising Committee

The co-chairs organize the duties of Fundraising Committee which solicits donations and sponsorships, both within UNC (e.g. departments, schools and institutes) as well as from local and national foundations and corporations in order to cover the cost of the Conference. They devise a plan that allows for potential donors to be solicited in timely manner, assigns tasks to committee members in order to maximize number of solicitations, and researches and identifies new potential donors (i.e. individuals, organizations,
departments, schools, etc.).


Lauren Schauer – Fundraising Co-Chair

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Bio: I am a second year MPH student in the Department of Health Behavior. At Gillings, I enjoy organizing with fellow students to promote change in our classrooms and beyond. I look forward to promoting health equity and anti-racism in public health practice after graduation through program and policy development.

Why MHC?: I joined MHC Leadership because I am excited to work with a group of peers who are passionate about addressing health inequities and are dedicated to mobilizing to create change. I feel lucky to be a part of the largest and longest-running student-led health conference in the country.


Angela Zhang – Fundraising Co-Chair

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Bio: Angela Zhang is a second year MPH student at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Gillings School of Global Public Health. Angela studied biology at Florida Institute of Technology and minored in Music. After dabbling in a variety of positions in education, laboratory research, and clinical research, she discovered her passion in preventive health and decided to enter the MPH program. She has been actively involved in the Gillings community, participating in multiple qualitative and quantitative studies and a schizophrenia scoping review with the Peers for Progress organization. She is currently serving in the academic enrichment program at Gillings.

Why MHC?: I am very passionate about promoting health equity, and I saw the Minority Health Conference as a great platform to create meaningful changes for the minority populations.


Evaluation Committee

The Evaluation committee designs, sends out, collects, compiles, and synthesizes evaluation information from attendees on the day of conference, planning committee members, speakers, poster presenters, etc. They conduct interviews with key stakeholders to evaluate the processes and outcomes of the Minority Health Conference and generate an evaluation product for the use of next year’s conference Planning Committee. Most of the committee’s work happens just before and after the conference.


Zakiya Haji-Noor – Evaluations Co-Chair

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Bio: I’m a PhD student in epidemiology and do work around racism/racial disparities, reproductive & gynecologic health, and administrative database research. Atlanta, GA is my hometown & I love food, desserts especially!

Why MHC?:  After attending the conference and seeing the incredible work my peers have done, I wanted the opportunity to be more involved. I believe this is a really important and powerful conference and am grateful to be a part of this team.



Keiyitho Omonuwa – Evaluations Co-Chair

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Bio: Keiyitho graduated with a degree in Theater Studies from Emory University in 2019 and is a current second-year MPH student in the Health Behavior concentration. Her research interests include health inequities in underserved populations and food insecurity on college campuses. Prior to graduate school, Keiyitho conducted research abroad comparing the healthcare systems of the United States and the United Kingdom to investigate disparities in healthcare quality among different population groups.

Why MHC?: I joined MHC leadership because I’m passionate about bringing awareness to health equity issues that aren’t commonly discussed.