Westfield State University to host Community Conversations series with President Linda Thompson

WESTFIELD, Mass.— In advance of the April 2022 Investiture of its 21st president, Westfield State will host four conversations on topics of regional and national significance with noted national and community leaders. 

The first conversation will be held Thursday, February 24, 4:30-6 p.m. in the University’s Television Studio on the 3rd floor of Ely Campus Center, and will feature nationally known change agent and author Dr. Gail C. Christopher, who will address health disparities and creating greater health equity. Baystate Health’s Dr. Frank Robinson, Caring Health Center President Tania Barber, Westfield State Assistant Professor of Health Sciences Jessica Grabowski and Westfield State alumna Regina Santana will provide local insight to this challenging issue. The event will be moderated by Westfield State President Linda S. Thompson, DrPH, MPH, RN, FAAN. 

Registration is required. Visit https://forms.office.com/r/wCXy34CvpA to sign up for limited available seating. The event will also be available via Zoom. Credentials will be shared upon registration. 

An award-winning change agent, Dr. Christopher is known for her pioneering work to infuse holistic health and diversity concepts in public sector programs and policy discourse. As senior advisor and vice president at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, she was the driving force behind the America Healing Initiative and the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation effort. The 2015 recipient of the Terrance Keenan Award from Grantmakers in Health, she chairs the Board of Trust for America’s Health and is executive director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity. She recently published her third book, Rx Racial Healing: A Guide to Embracing Our Humanity. 

Dr. Robinson has served as vice president of public health for Baystate Health since 2015, where he is responsible for integrating clinical and community care to better serve vulnerable people and create healthier communities. In leading Baystate’s efforts to expand the definition of health to include economic opportunity; access to education, nutritious food and culture; safe neighborhoods; and other underlying essentials of a person’s and a community’s ability to thrive, Dr. Robinson focuses on building community partnerships to achieve large-scale health improvements, including resource development, health education and health equity initiatives, and community benefits. 

Tania Barber is president and chief executive officer of Caring Health Center (CHC), the only federally-funded community health center in the city of Springfield. CHC serves 28,000 patients annually at its five primary care sites throughout the region, offering integrated behavioral health and substance abuse programs, dental services; a wellness center; and women, infants, and children nutrition programming, among others. She joined CHC in 1996 and has served as president since 2013. 

Jessica Grabowski, MS, PA-C, assistant professor of health sciences, was the 2020 recipient of the Dr. John F. Nevins Outstanding Educator Award, given annually by Westfield State University to an educator who is concerned with student learning, open to other views, thorough in covering material, knowledgeable in their subject area, and committed to graduate and continuing education students and programs. 

Regina Santana came to the United States from the Dominican Republic and was the class speaker for Westfield State University’s first graduating class of Physician Assistant Studies, earning a MS in 2019. She is employed by Caring Health Center. 

Additional Community Conversations will take place on March 17, April 7, and April 21. Topics will include criminal justice reform, arts and culture in our community, and economic/entrepreneurial equity. Details will be announced at a later date. 

Founded in 1839 by Horace Mann, Westfield State University is an education leader committed to providing every generation of students with a learning experience built on its founding principle as the first public co-educational college in America to offer an education without barrier to race, gender or economic status. This spirit of innovative thinking and social responsibility is forged in a curriculum of liberal arts and professional studies that creates a vital community of engaged learners who become confident, capable individuals prepared for leadership and service to society. For more information about Westfield State University, visit www.westfield.ma.eduwww.twitter.com/westfieldstate, or https://www.facebook.com/WestfieldStateUniversity. 




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