Carolinas HealthCare System serves our diverse patient population during more than 12 million patient encounters each year. During our Diversity Symposium, we convene the nation’s best thinkers on topics important to caregivers and our community. Past speakers have included presidents of the largest and most influential medical associations in the nation; groundbreaking neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu; “Blind Spot” author and Harvard Professor Dr. Mahzarin Banaji; Duke Blue Devils Head Coach Mike “Coach K" Krzyzewski; Emmy Award-winning ABC News Correspondent, John Quiñones; and Global Renaissance Woman, Dr. Maya Angelou.

Keynote Speaker

Martinez, JR.jpgJose Rene “J.R” Martinez joined the U.S. Army in 2002. In March 2003, he was deployed to Iraq. In April, his truck hit a roadside bomb, and J.R. was trapped inside the burning vehicle. He suffered smoke inhalation and severe burns to 34 percent of his body. J.R. spent 34 months in recovery stateside. During that period he began to speak to fellow wounded soldiers and use his own experiences to help them. Today, J.R. travels the world spreading his message of resilience and optimism. He wrote the best-selling memoir, Full of Heart: My Story of Survival, Strength, and Spirit, and often appears in the media, such as 60 Minutes and the Washington Post. Many people also know J.R. from his role on the daytime drama, All My Children, and the popular show, “Dancing with the Stars.”

Plenary Speaker

Randy LewisRandy Lewis believes steward leadership can both improve performance and benefit the community. Before he retired as Senior Vice President of Walgreens in 2013, Randy pioneered a disability employment model in the company’s distribution centers that resulted in 10 percent of Walgreens’ workforce consisting of people with disabilities. Over the past year, he has been developing the NOGWOG Disability Initiative, a low-cost, sustainable disability hiring model for employers. It a private/public partnership between employers, community providers and government to provide employers the qualified candidates they need and people with disabilities the opportunities they seek.

Pillsbury House Theatre - Breaking Ice

Breaking Ice

Now in its 23rd  year, Pillsbury House Theatre is proud to be a professional theatre unlike any other. In partnership with Pillsbury United Communities, one of the largest human services organizations in the state, and housed in an intimate 96 seat theatre in an inner-city neighborhood center, Pillsbury House Theatre is one of the most critically-acclaimed theatres in the Twin Cities, demonstrating that the highest quality art is an integral part of all healthy communities.

Breaking Ice is a one-of-a-kind performance developed through improvisation using tools like music, song, physical movement, text, and humor to get at the heart of tough issues in new ways. Our aim is to use the arts to foster a better understanding of the self and other persons, cultural traditions, and lifestyles.

Allister.jpgAllister Styan is the coordinator of the transgender health program at WNC Community Health Services.  In this capacity he works to provide members of the local transgender community with access to affirming and respectful healthcare while also addressing other areas where transgender individuals are faced with a lack of resources.  He recently assisted in the development of an interagency collaboration for the care of transgender children and adolescents in WNC and is working to develop a broader local network of transgender-affirming service providers.  Allister has provided competency trainings and other education to numerous local agencies and organizations.  He has served on the board of Beloved House and is a founding member of Help OUT Youth, a resource referral and support program for LGBTQ homeless youth.  Allister is a Certified NC Peer Support Specialist.

JenniferAbbott.jpgJennifer Abbott, MD is a board certified family physician, with Western North Carolina Community Health Services (a federally qualified community health center) since 2005. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado School of Medicine and MAHEC Family Medicine Residency Program. Her practice includes pediatric, adolescent and adult medicine, as well as HIV care. She oversees the clinic’s Transgender Health Program, which now includes over 200 adolescent and adult transgender patients. She is certified as an HIV Specialist through the American Academy of HIV Medicine and is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH).

Jason Bolden.jpgJason Bolden, MD is an Emergency Physician with USACS (US Acute Care Solutions).  Dr Bolden has worked in the Carolinas HealthCare system for 10 years.  Before becoming the Medical Director at CHS SouthPark Emergency Department since its opening in 2014 Dr Bolden was the quality director at CMC Steele Creek ED.  Dr. Bolden is originally from Minneapolis, MN and received his Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota at Morris where he graduated with honors.  He received his medical degree from Duke University School of Medicine.  Dr. Bolden completed his Internal Medicine Internship and Emergency Medicine Residency at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, NY.  Dr Bolden is board certified in Emergency Medicine and a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians.  Prior to moving to the Carolinas he worked at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC. Professionally Dr Bolden has taken a special interest in Diversity and Inclusion within USACS and CHS and how this impacts the organization as well as patient care.  He is a Certified Diversity Professional and has used his experience to not only help lead the way in establishing USACS diversity council but also to expand local efforts in improving patient experience for our diverse populations we serve.  Jason spends most of his time outside clinical medicine with his loving wife and two daughters.  Personally he enjoys traveling with his family to experience new cultures, people and nature.  He also enjoys participating in sporting activities, hiking, cooking, and gardening.

Cole_Alisahah.jpgAlisahah Cole, MD received her undergraduate degrees in Music and Biology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.  She graduated with her medical degree from Wright State University School of Medicine in Dayton, OH, where she was a National Health Service Corp Scholar.  Since serving the underserved had always been a priority, she completed her residency in Family Medicine at Carolinas Medical Center, where she was part of the Urban Track program.  During that time, she received the Bryant L. Galusha Intern of the Year Award and served as Co-Chief Resident her final year.  After residency, she worked in a rural health clinic in Union, SC for 4 years.  Since her return to Charlotte, she has served in multiple leadership roles, including Vice Chair of the Department of Family Medicine and most recently, System Medical Director of Community Health for Carolinas Healthcare System.  She has been passionate about inter-disciplinary medical education, teaching a wide range of learners from residents, medical and pharmacy students, ACP’s, and behavioral health interns. Her clinical interests include health equity and population health, and she is currently responsible for developing and implementing a community health strategy across multiple counties in North and South Carolina.  Outside of medicine she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and watching football.

Brisa Hernandez.jpgBrisa Hernandez, MHA serves as Research Program Manager and Community Medicine Instructor in the Department of Family Medicine at Carolinas HealthCare System. She has participated in the development and implementation of research studies funded by the Centers for Disease Control, National Institute of Health, National Institute of Minority and Health Disparities and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Although the primary focus of the research has been engaging the new immigrant Latino population in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area, she now works with many community partners to address issues of health disparities and equity for all residents.

Her research interest includes health disparities, utilizing participatory research methods, community development, interdisciplinary collaborations, program evaluation and the impact of urban restructuring on access and utilization of health and social services.

Hopkins, Hampton.jpgHampton Hopkins, EdD is an educator, leader, speaker, and consultant and current President of Carolinas College of Health Sciences. He has more than 22 years of experience in higher education in various leadership positions with the University of North Carolina at Asheville and Pellissippi State Technical Community College in Knoxville, TN. He is the author of numerous professional papers and has presented at regional and national conferences more than 20 times. He is regularly invited to deliver professional presentations and consultations, workshops and keynote speeches. He has been active in his profession having recently served on the board of directors of the National Association.

Michael-Welp .jpgMichael Welp, PhD is a co-founder of White Men as Full Diversity Partners (WMFDP). For 20 years Michael has led pioneering workshops engaging white male leaders and building leadership skills to create cultures of full inclusion. He focuses on how to engage white men to become more passionate advocates for inclusion and how they can partner better with people of color and white women. Earlier in his career Michael facilitated interracial team building with over a dozen South African corporations, as part of his work with Outward Bound. His research on how white men learn about diversity led to his founding WMFDP. Michael is the author of the recently published book, Four Days To Change: 12 Radical Habits to Overcome Bias and Thrive in a Diverse World.

Brian Collier.jpgBrian Collier, JD as Executive Vice President for Foundation For The Carolinas, leads the Foundation’s Community Philanthropy Department. In this position, he oversees the Foundation’s competitive grants programs as well as the affiliate board relationships in 13 counties throughout North and South Carolina. Mr. Collier also oversees the Foundation’s Robinson Center for Civic Leadership and its community initiatives.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Mr. Collier served as Vice President for Marketing and Development at KaBOOM!, a national non-profit organization with a mission to place playgrounds within walking distance of every child in America. Mr. Collier also served as the President and Executive Director of the Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, NC, a camp for chronically ill children.

Mr. Collier holds B.A. and J.D. degrees from the University of Florida and started his career as a trial lawyer in Orlando.

Sam-Wazan.jpgSam Wazan is a fifteen-year combat-zone survivor of the Lebanese civil war. He grew up surrounded by sniper fire, rocket attacks and religious massacres. Today, Sam is a passionate grassroots catalyst for peace, intent on transforming his war stories into lessons for a more peaceful world. Sam immigrated to the United States in 1989 and later wrote his personally inspired novel, Trapped in Four Square Miles. He is currently a senior management consultant, helping organizations transform problems into innovative and actionable solutions. The framework of his method calls for a diverse and harmonious contribution by each stakeholder for all to produce sustainable prosperity. His clients include large corporations and small, local companies.