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Dr. Edith Mitchell, Dillard University Women's Health ConferenceEDITH MITCHELL, M.D., MACP, FCPP, FRCP

Keynote Speaker


Dr. Edith Peterson Mitchell is Board Certified in internal medicine and medical oncology, and she is clinical professor in the Department of Medicine and Medical Oncology at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. Dr. Mitchell also serves as associate director for diversity programs and director of the Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities for the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. Dr. Mitchell has spent her medical career helping individuals in medically underserved areas to realize that simple changes in lifestyle can have a dramatic impact on cancer care. 


Dr. Mitchell’s research in breast, colorectal and pancreatic cancers, in addition to other GI malignancies, involves new drug evaluation and chemotherapy, development of new therapeutic regimens, chemoradiation strategies for combined modality therapy, patient selection criteria and supportive care for patients with gastrointestinal cancer. She travels nationally and internationally teaching and lecturing on the treatment of gastrointestinal malignancies.


As a distinguished researcher, she has received many cancer research and principal investigator awards including a recent Promise Grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Dr. Mitchell serves on the National Cancer Institute Review Panel and the Cancer Investigations Review Committee and the Clinical Trials and Translational Research Advisory Committee. She also serves as co-chair of the NCI Disparities Committee and is a member of the NIH Council of Councils. Because of her experience in the cancer research community Dr. Mitchell was selected to serve as a member of the NCI’s Blue Ribbon Panel convened to advise the National Cancer Advisory Board on Vice President Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot Initiative. In 2019, Dr. Mitchell began service as a member of the President’s Cancer Panel and in 2020 she became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. Dr. Mitchell has authored and co-authored more than 150 articles and book chapters as well as many abstracts on cancer treatment, prevention and cancer control.


Dr. Mitchell holds leadership positions in the American Society of Clinical Oncology and was the 116th President of the National Medical Association, serving from August 2015 to August 2016. She also serves on the editorial board of the Journal of the National Medical Association, the board of the Museum of the American Revolution as well as the board of trustees for Geisinger Commonwealth Medical College and Tennessee State University.


Holding her medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Dr. Mitchell received a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry with distinction from Tennessee State University. In 1973, while attending medical school, Dr. Mitchell entered the United States Air Force and received a commission through the Health Professions Scholarship Program. She entered active duty after completion of her internship and residency in internal medicine at Meharry Medical College and a fellowship in Medical Oncology at Georgetown University. Dr. Mitchell is a retired United States Air Force brigadier general, having served as the Air National Guard Assistant to the Command Surgeon for U.S. Transportation command and headquarters Air Mobility Command (AMC) based at the Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. In addition to her medical achievements, Dr. Mitchell has been awarded over 15 military service medals and ribbons including the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Achievement and Commendation Medals, National Defense Service Medal and a Humanitarian Service Medal.

Elizabeth Ofili, Dillard University Women's Health ConferenceELIZABETH O. OFILI, M.D., M.P.H., FACC 

Luncheon Speaker


Dr. Elizabeth Ofili is a professor of medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine and a practicing cardiologist with Morehouse Healthcare in Atlanta, Georgia. She serves as chief medical officer of the Morehouse Choice Accountable Care Organization, a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Shared Savings Program (MSSP).


As a national and internationally recognized clinician scientist with particular focus on cardiovascular disparities and women’s health, Dr. Ofili brings her knowledge of health and medicine to technology and innovation. She is the founder and chief science officer of AccuHealth Technologies Inc. and Health 360x a patient engagement and health coaching platform that empowers patients in their journey from healthcare to wellness.


Dr. Ofili has helped to raise over $175 million to fund pioneering research, infrastructure and training at Morehouse School of Medicine. She leads or co-leads multi-institutional and national networks funded by the National Institutes of Health to address health disparities and diversity in the biomedical workforce. The network includes:  the National Research Mentoring Network; the Research Centers at Minority Institutions, a national consortium of 21 HBCUs and Minority Serving research institutions; the Georgia Clinical and Translational Science Alliance, a statewide collaboration of universities and their affiliated health systems, including Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Georgia Institute of Technology; and the University of Georgia. 


Dr. Ofili has received over 50 national awards, including "Changing the Face of Medicine: The Rise of America’s Women Physicians" exhibit at the National Library of Medicine. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine, which is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service. Dr. Ofili serves as chair of the board of directors of the Association of Black CardiologistsShe is a founding member of the Suites, an exclusive business community helping executives and entrepreneurs of color access the right connections, coaching and capital to scale their businesses.


Dr. Ofili is the founder and chief science officer of the Chief Gregory and Chief Felicia Ofili (CGFO) Foundation which honors the legacy and tradition of Chiefs Gregory and Felicia Ofili by empowering women and girls through science education. CGFO provides scholarships and science laboratories to support STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) in rural Ebu, Delta State Nigeria, partnering with U.S.-based EVE Girls and Girls, Inc. to support experiential learning, environmental health and climate change. CGFO Global Innovators honorees include:  Ambassador Andrew Young; Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, former HHS Secretary and founding dean and president emeritus of Morehouse School of Medicine; Dr. Helene Gayle, former president of CARE; and Ms. Monica Pearson, Broadcast Journalist and Hall of Fame inductee.

Dr. Jennifer Avegno, Dillard University Women's Health ConferenceJENNIFER AVEGNO, M.D.

Speaker and Panel Moderator


Dr. Jennifer Avegno is a New Orleans native who received her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame, a Master of Arts in Sociology from Tulane University and her M.D. from LSU School of Medicine – New Orleans. She completed her residency at LSU/Charity Hospital Emergency Medicine and joined the faculty at both LSU and Tulane shortly after graduation. As an academic faculty member, Dr. Avegno worked in medical education and established the Division of Social Emergency Medicine at LSU to facilitate innovative programming, interdisciplinary partnerships, and improved population health outcomes. 


In 2018, she was appointed as the director of the health department for the City of New Orleans where she manages a dedicated team of public health professionals in addressing critical health needs for the community. Dr. Avegno currently leads the city’s public health response to COVID-19 and developed one of the country’s first mobile community based testing strategy and program with intentional core focus on equity and access. 

Workshop Presenters

Barbara Duncan, Dillard University Women's Health ConferenceBARBARA DUNCAN, Ph.D.


Barbara Duncan is an associate director of the Proposal Development Office at the University of Kentucky, where she is engaged with faculty and staff research development across a wide range of disciplines and funding mechanisms, including support of large complex institutional and multidisciplinary grant applications. She is also a Co-I on a NIH-funded grant to provide interactive workshops on grant writing, with a particular focus on faculty from underrepresented groups and minority institutions (PI, Frazier, Spear).


She serves as the external program evaluator for Dillard University’s MARC U-STAR/U-RISE Program (PI, Broadway), their Department of Education Minority Science and Engineering Program (PI, Broadway) and the National Science Foundation, Improving Undergraduate STEM Education Geopaths Program (PIs Broadway, Collins, Jeffries). She earned a doctorate from the University of Illinois in Department of Educational policy studies. Dr. Duncan has taught courses in educational policy, history and undergraduate writing; and she has worked as an assistant editor with the Journal of Educational Theory.

Louetta Hurst, Presenter for Dillard University's Women's Health ConferenceLOUETTA K. HURST, M.A.


Louetta Hurst is a proposal development officer at the University of Kentucky (UK) where she earned her undergraduate degrees in biology and classics. Previously, she worked for a large social services nonprofit in Lexington, writing grants for federal, local and private sponsors. Hurst was also a research administrator in UK’s sponsored projects office, and she has instructed courses in composition and literature and has expertise in academic and professional editing. Hurst obtained her master’s degree in English from Rutgers University with a scholarly emphasis on Victorian scientific writing.

Session Presenters


Rachel M. Bond, Presenter at Dillard University's Women's Health ConferenceRACHEL M. BOND, M.D., FACC


Dr. Rachel M. Bond is a board-certified attending cardiologist who has devoted her career to the treatment of heart disease through early detection, education and prevention. She is the system director of women’s heart health at Dignity Health in Arizona. Dr. Bond is the co-chair of the Women in Cardiology Committee as well as chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for the Arizona Chapter of the American College of Cardiology. She also serves on the Women in Cardiology Section Leadership Council for the National Chapter of the American College of Cardiology and was most recently appointed the co-chair of the Women and Children Committee for the Association of Black Cardiologists. She holds a faculty position as assistant professor of internal medicine at Creighton University School of Medicine. Dr. Bond earned a Bachelor of Science from the seven-year accelerated medical program at the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, where she graduated summa cum laude and later earned her medical doctorate from New York University's Grossman School of Medicine.

Benita Chatmon, Presenter for Dillard University's Women's Health ConferenceBENITA N. CHATMON, Ph.D., M.S.N., RN, CNE


Dr. Benita Chatmon is an assistant professor of clinical nursing and the assistant dean for clinical nursing education at LSU Health-New Orleans School of Nursing.

She received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in nursing education from Southern University and A&M College. Dr. Chatmon received her Ph.D. in education from Capella University. She is a certified nurse educator, certified mental health first aid instructor and certified peer reviewer through Quality Matters. She currently serves as the chair of the Clinical Affiliation and Nurse Executive Advisory Council, a member of the Administration Council and an ex-officio member of the Undergraduate and Graduate Academic Council. In addition, she belongs to several LSU Health-New Orleans task forces that entail research, policy review and interprofessional education. Dr. Chatmon is a veteran in the United States Army.

Latanja Divens, Presenter for Dillard University's Women's Health ConferenceLATANJA J. DIVENS, Ph.D., D.N.P., APRN, FNP-BC


As a family nurse practitioner, Dr. Latanja Divens has had extensive experience in the areas of family practice, nephrology, gastroenterology, and care for older adults and veterans. Dr. Divens' passion lies in caring for patients with chronic diseases and serving underserved populations. Her research interests include chronic disease and neuro-degenerative disorders. Dr. Divens earned a Bachelor of Science in biology from Xavier University of Louisiana and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Holy Cross College. She also received both her masters’ degree in nursing as a family nurse practitioner and her Doctor of Nursing Practice from Loyola University New Orleans. She also earned her Ph.D. in nursing education and administration from William Carey University. She is board certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a primary care family nurse practitioner. Dr. Divens has over 19 years of nursing experience. 


Lydia Figueroa, Presenter for Dillard University's Women's Health ConferenceLYDIA FIGUEROA, Ph.D., RN


Dr. Lydia Figueroa currently serves as an assistant professor and online coordinator for the Department of Nursing and Allied Health at Norfolk State University. She is published author and has presented nationally and internationally on topics of spirituality and the body, mind and behavioral phenomenon for over 20 years. She has actively served as a member and/or community leader for several professional organizations and honor societies including the American Nurses Association, Association of Black Nurse Faculty, Southern Nursing Research Society, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nursing, Chi Eta Phi Nursing Sorority, Inc., the Golden Key Honor Organization and the Virginia Nurses Association. Staying true to her research interests, Dr. Figueroa has been active with health ministries both locally and internationally. She is an active member of First Baptist Church Denbigh Drama and Fine Arts Ministries. Internationally, Dr. Figueroa traveled to Africa serving on the Health Ministry, Benin Africa Project, to help initiate a medical facility. She is also a member of Aglow: A Worldwide Christian Women’s Organization.

Gloria Giarratano, Presenter for the Dillard University Women's Health ConferenceGLORIA PEEL GIARRATANO, Ph.D.


Dr. Gloria Giarratano is a professor of nursing at LSU Health Sciences Center. She is certified in inpatient obstetric nursing and she is an advance nursing practice registered nurse. Dr. Giarratano was a fellow for the Summer Genetics Institute, the National Institute of Nursing Research and the National Institutes of Health. She was inducted as a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in 2017 and was named Nurse Researcher of the Year in 2012 by the Louisiana State Nurses Association. Since 2008, Dr. Giarratano has served as a master teacher for the Academy for Advancement of Educational Scholarship at LSU Health Sciences Center. She earned her Ph.D. in nursing from Georgia State University, her Master of Science in Nursing in maternal infant nursing from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Tavell Kindall, Presenter for the Dillard University Women's Health ConferenceTAVELL L. KINDALL, Ph.D., D.N.P., APRN, FNP-BC, AACRN, AAHIVS


Dr. Tavell Kindall is a board-certified family nurse practitioner and the director of HIV prevention and treatment at St. Thomas Community Health Center in New Orleans. He provides primary and specialty care and education and prevention services to adolescents and adults at risk for and/or living with a wide array of infectious diseases. Dr. Kindall completed the RN and APRN programs at Grambling State University, his D.N.P. at the University of South Alabama College of Nursing and his Ph.D. in nursing education at the Joseph and Nancy Fail School of Nursing at William Carey University. He is a gubernatorial appointee representing advanced practice and the current president of the Louisiana State Board of Nursing.

Phyllis Morgan, Presenter for the Dillard University Women's Health ConferencePHYLLIS D. MORGAN, Ph.D., FNP-BC, CNE, FAANP


Dr. Phyllis Morgan is a nurse educator, certified family nurse practitioner and researcher focused on African American women’s health issues. She is a senior core faculty and family nurse practitioner specialty coordinator at Walden University. Dr. Morgan is also a family nurse practitioner for CVS Minute Clinic. She has published several research articles, has presented at national and international conferences, and has written grants focused on health disparities issues among African Americans. Dr. Morgan earned her Ph.D. and Master of Science from Hampton University. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Florida State University.


Portia Williams, presenter for Dillard University's Women's Health ConferencePORTIA L. WILLIAMS, RN, B.S.N., IBCLC


Portia Williams is an international lactation consultant with 16 years of maternal child experience. As the CHAMPS Greater New Orleans community and hospital consultant and project manager, Ms. Williams established Louisiana's first Baby Café in 2016, and she serves as NOLA Baby Café facilitator and regional coordinator for Baby Café USA. She has worked as a lactation consultant at local hospitals and serves as director of clinical lactation for HER Institute. Ms. Williams is a proud graduate of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In 2019, Touro LCMC Health appointed her the RN community maternal child manager, a position designed to establish relevant community partnerships, increase breastfeeding rates, and decrease infant and maternal mortality.

Melvena Wilson, Presenter for the Dillard University Women's Health ConferenceMELVENA N. WILSON, Dr.PH., M.P.H., CHES


Dr. Melvena N. Wilson is an assistant professor at Tuskegee University in the Department of Graduate Public Health. Prior to joining the Tuskegee University M.P.H. program, Dr. Wilson served as assistant professor and chair of the School of Public Health at Dillard University. She had also served as coordinator of health education and outreach for Florida A&M University's student health services where she coordinated health promotion and outreach. Dr. Wilson created the Center for Advocacy and Research on Health Equity, Inc. (CARHE) where she provides health education and outreach as well as research on childhood obesity and minority health issues. CARHE is a 501c3 organization; and it provides health education, training and advocates for health equity. She received her Doctor of Public Health from Florida A&M and her Master of Public Health from the University of Florida.



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