For Our Future: African… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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For Our Future: African American/Black Youth Across America Speak Out About Health Disparities in Their Communities

April 28, 2021 | 7:00-8:00 PM ET

As part of the Campaign for the Culture, we are hosting a series of conversations. Join us virtually on April 28, 2021, for our next conversation on the topic of health disparities and tobacco use. It will take place as COVID-19 continues to disproportionately impact Black Americans and other communities of color.

COVID-19 has laid bare the disparities in a health care system that has historically overlooked and underserved communities of color. And it has brought tobacco use — one of the major public health challenges facing these communities — to the forefront. Hearing from young people will be key in developing effective strategies to loosen Big Tobacco’s death grip on our communities. During this conversation, we will discuss the prevalence of chronic health issues in communities of color and the mental health toll of dealing with this reality.

Featured Speakers

John Burns, J.D.
Managing Partner
The Burns Brothers

John Burns is the managing partner of The Burns Brothers which is an integrated culture driven multi-disciplinary marketing and communications agency. He is also is an attorney, branding expert, published author and television and media personality. John practiced law for almost 2 decades, providing counsel to clients in a wide variety of areas.

He is also a staple in media, telecom and the publishing industries, working with brands and providing commentary on several media outlets including MSNBC, TV One, Bet and Sirius XM.

John holds a position on the Washington, DC National Bar Association, is a professor at the Omega School of the Applied Arts and Sciences, has been profiled in Washington Life Magazine and Smart CEO and was honored by Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Push Coalition as a Top Inspirational Leader.

Ify Chidi
Vice President, Bay Area High School Tobacco Use Prevention Club, Tobacco-Free Kids Ambassador

Ify Chidi is a junior in high school in the Bay Area, California. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis for her school’s team and editing videos for various organizations. Ify also has strong ties to the fight against youth tobacco and nicotine addiction pandemic. She has been working to put a stop to Big Tobacco’s hold on her generation for the past four years.

As vice president of her school’s Tobacco Use Prevention Education club, she helps educate students on the dangers of a nicotine addiction and teachers on how to best help their students. In the future, Ify hopes to become a doctor and continue the fight against nicotine and addiction.

Beverly Watts Davis
Chief Officer of Resource Development and Program Support and Senior Vice President for Texas
WestCare Foundation

Beverly Watts Davis is the Chief Officer for Resource Development and Program Support for WestCare Foundation and the Senior Vice President for Texas Operations. The WestCare Foundation operates in 19 States and three U.S. Territories to improve behavioral health, empower community residents, and reduce trauma and substance-abuse related community harm. She has over 30 years of experience in leading and managing public agencies, non-profit organizations, and private companies.

Ms. Watts Davis has served in many leadership capacities to include service at the Senior Executive Service level of the federal government as the Senior Advisor to the Administrator and Director of The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) federal agency, the Executive Director of San Antonio Fighting Back, Inc. nonprofit agency, Senior Vice President of the United Way of San Antonio, State Director for the Corporation for National and Community Service, and an elected official in Austin/Travis County, Texas for 11 years. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Ella Austin Community Center, the Housing First Homeless Community Coalition, and Annie’s List that supports women candidates for Texas political offices.

Ms. Watts Davis has received numerous local, state, and national recognitions. She was recently presented with the Distinguished Achievement and Courage Award by the Martin Luther Commission in 2021 and in 2020 received the Martin Luther King Living The Dream Award by the Baptist Ministers Union and was selected as a Distinguished Alumni by her alma mater, Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.

Tricia Hilliard
Little Spurs Pediatric Urgent Care

Dr. Tricia Hilliard is a practicing pediatric physician working in San Antonio, Texas. She is driven by her passion for children and their health. She believes that all children deserve good healthcare and aims to provide equitable healthcare to underserved communities.

In addition to her professional functions, Dr. Hilliard is on the Executive Board of the San Antonio Chapter of Jack and Jill, Incorporated, serves as a Facet Chair for the San Antonio Chapter of The Links, Incorporated and volunteers her time at the Boys and Girls Club of San Antonio.

Dr. Hilliard holds a Bachelor of Natural Sciences Degree from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica. She completed post baccalaureate studies at Howard University before gaining her Doctor of Medicine Degree from the University of Texas at Galveston. In her spare time, you can find her exploring her passion for cooking or spending time with her three children, the oldest of which is an incoming Howard freshman.

Delmonte Jefferson
Executive Director
The Center For Black Health & Equity

Delmonte Jefferson is the Executive Director of The Center for Black Health & Equity, a national organization that facilitates public health programs to benefit people of African descent. For more than 20 years, he has used his background in public health program administration to work with a cross sector of public and private entities to create programs and services that promote a culture of health equity for youth and disenfranchised populations.

His highly diversified portfolio includes managing and directing state public health programs in Georgia, Louisiana and North Carolina. He has worked with national, state, and local legislators to help shape policies in support of smoke-free establishments and restrictions on the sale of menthol and other flavored tobacco products. Mr. Jefferson is Chair of the Georgia Smoke-Free Tobacco Coalition, Secretary of the North American Quit-line Consortium, a member of the Coalition to Ban Menthol and the lead organizer of the State of Black Health Biennial Conference.

Bryce Moore
2016 National Youth Advocate of the Year Award recipient, Tobacco-Free Kids Ambassador

Bryce Moore has been involved in tobacco control for the past eight years. Beginning in high school, he joined Generation Free, the Mississippi youth anti-tobacco organization that is part of The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi. He also founded a chapter at his high school. Bryce served on the organization’s youth advisory board for four years and on the college board for two years. He has advocated for policy change, working with the Mississippi Tobacco-Free Coalition of Harrison County to help communities pass smoke-free policies. He then became more involved with tobacco control at the national level in his senior year of high school.

In 2016, Bryce was a fellow for Truth Initiative's Youth Activism Fellowship. Then, he was awarded the 2016 National Youth Advocate of the Year by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. He's continued his work with Truth Initiative as a youth activist trainer and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids as a young adult ambassador.

Bryce graduated from The University of Southern Mississippi in 2020 with his Bachelor's degree in Communications. He plans to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Florida Atlantic University in August of 2021. He has a passion for poetry and writing and has served as editor-in-chief of the poetry community, Poetry Battles, since 2018.

Natasha Phelps
Lead Senior Staff Attorney
Public Health Law Center | Commercial Tobacco Control Program

Natasha Phelps is a lead senior staff attorney at the Public Health Law Center (PHLC), where she provides legal technical assistance on commercial tobacco control and equitable public health policy issues to public health professionals and organizations, legal professionals, and advocates throughout the United States. Natasha also leads PHLC’s Race and Health Equity group and manages a team of PHLC attorneys that provides tailored legal technical assistance on local and state tobacco law and policy to communities, organizations, and governments in Minnesota. In addition to her work as an attorney, Natasha serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors of The Center for Black Health and Equity and teaches as an adjunct professor at the Mitchell Hamline College of Law. Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center, Natasha worked as a litigation associate at a private defense firm.

Portia Reddick White, J.D.
Vice President of Strategic Partnerships
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Portia Reddick White, is the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Previously, she served as an integral member of the National Education Association's (NEA) Government Relations team as Federal Lobbyist, where she represented the interest of three million members and students. Her portfolio consisted of the major issues of health care, civil rights, women’s issues, housing, voting rights, criminal justice, and equity as well as, being the liaison to the Congressional Black Caucus, the Hispanic Congressional Caucus and the Progressive Caucus.

In 2017, Portia led AARP’s Government Affairs Department as Interim Health and Family Director with a primary focus to develop the department's stakeholder outreach. During the 2016 presidential election cycle, she was Deputy Director for Public Engagement for the Democratic National Convention Committee and was honored to serve as Senior Advisor to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Her portfolio consisted of various interests including outreach and policy advice regarding intergovernmental agencies, labor, faith-based communities, NGA’s, civil and human rights, diversity, and the District of Columbia.

Prior to her Senate service, Portia, was principal owner of Reddick White and Associates assisting clients with issues including strategic planning, outreach, training, and labor relations. And, for years she served as Legislative and Political Director for Transport Workers Union of America, representing the interests of members of the airline, transit, rail, NASA, university system and gaming industry. Over the course of her career in organized labor, she has held various union offices.

A graduate of the University of Baltimore Law School, Portia earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Education at Oral Roberts University.

Allyssa Williams
2020 Barrie Fisk National Youth Advocate of the Year Award Recipient, Tobacco-Free Kids Ambassador, Howard University

Allyssa Williams, age 19, is from Kissimmee, Florida and is a student at Howard University. She has been involved in tobacco control and prevention for six years with Florida Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT). As a second-year Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Ambassador, Allyssa has built on her successes in advocating for policy changes at the state and federal levels and continues fighting for social justice, while acting as a mentor for her younger advocate peers.

She has worked towards numerous smoke-free and tobacco 21-related policy victories at the local level, and advocated for members of Congress to support comprehensive restrictions on flavored tobacco at the national level. Allyssa was also the recipient of the 2020 Barrie Fiske National Youth Advocate of the Year Award from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids for her superb advocacy work.