Answering the Burning Questions:… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Answering the Burning Questions: What Parents, Students and Educators Need to Know About Vaping and Tobacco Use

August 18, 2021 | 7:00-8:00 PM EDT

Join us for the next installment in our Campaign for the Culture conversation series. As we start a new school year, this live, virtual discussion will feature youth advocates and experts from a wide range of health and education organizations.

Topics will include:

  • what’s driving the current youth nicotine addiction crisis
  • how tobacco use affects brain development, mental health and performance
  • signs and risk factors for youth vaping and other tobacco use
  • how to talk to young people about vaping and other tobacco use
  • tobacco industry targeting of Black, LGBTQ and other communities
  • resources to fight back
  • and much more.

Featured Speakers

Meredith Berkman
Co-founder, Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes

Meredith Berkman is a co-founder of Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes, an advocacy and education organization created in 2018 by three moms as a grassroots response to the youth vaping epidemic. Run and powered by volunteers, PAVe has become the national parent voice fighting Big Tobacco’s predatory behavior towards kids. Working at the local, state, and federal levels, PAVe supports ending the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes and all menthol and other flavored tobacco products. PAVe’s free educational training, materials and resources, available in both Spanish and English, empower parents to educate others in their own communities about the dangers of youth tobacco use. Berkman, a mother of four, is a graduate of Brown University, and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. A former journalist, Berkman has written for publications including New York magazine, Entertainment Weekly, and the New York Post.

Andrew Brennen
Board Member-at-Large, National PTA

Andrew Brennen is a National Geographic Explorer and 2020 Education Fellow with National Geographic supporting youth led movements and organizations around the globe. As a junior in high school he co-founded the Kentucky Student Voice Team, which helps to amplify and elevate students as partners in improving Kentucky schools. Today, the Kentucky Student Voice Team consists of over 150 young people from across the Commonwealth and serves as a national model for how young people can hold educational institutions accountable. Andrew graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a bachelor’s degree in political science and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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.

Linda Mendonca
President, National Association of School Nurses (NASN)

Linda Mendonca has been a registered nurse for 40 years practicing school nursing for 25 years, overseas and in five states as a military spouse. With the practice of school nursing in the arena of public health; Linda pursued her master’s in advanced public health nursing and completed her Doctor of Nursing Practice in Transformative Systems Leadership from Rush University in Chicago. She is currently NASN President and has served on school nursing organization boards on the state and national level. Linda is an Assistant Professor currently teaching community/public health nursing at Rhode Island College School of Nursing and consults as a state school nurse consultant at the Rhode Island Department of Health.

Grace Plowman
Tobacco-Free Kids Ambassador

Grace Plowman is a passionate youth advocate and recent high school graduate from Shoreview, Minnesota. She first got involved in tobacco prevention and control her sophomore year in high school, working with the Association for Nonsmokers MN (ANSR) on a variety of issues. Throughout her advocacy journey, she has conducted media interviews, spoken at city council meetings, and met with multiple legislators garnering support to create the first tobacco and nicotine-free generation. In 2021, Grace testified in front of the Public Health committee of the Minnesota legislature to help secure more funding for youth tobacco prevention and the banning of flavors on a state level. Grace will be attending the University of Minnesota where she hopes to study Arabic and get her master's in Public Policy.

Winston Price
Past President, National Medical Association (NMA)

Dr. Price earned his medical degree from the Weill Cornell Medical College and completed a residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He is a board-certified pediatrician and served as the 105th President of the National Medical Association (NMA). He also serves as Chief Information & Technology Officer for the W. Montague COBB/NMA Health Institute and President & Chair of the National African American Drug Policy Coalition. He serves on the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health Council/Steering Committee as the NMA liaison. He holds faculty positions at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine as Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Director of Pathway Programs for the South GA Campus as well as Assistant Professor at the Medical College of Georgia. Dr. Price also practices clinical medicine serving a SW population in Georgia with a focus on preventive care.

Elisha Rhodes
Interim Chief Executive Officer, YWCA

Elisha Rhodes serves as the operations, finance, strategic and people leader of YWCA USA and provides leadership to ensure key initiatives, culture transformation, program regulations, performance outcomes, and operations are managed appropriately. An active community member, dedicated to centering the needs of women and girls in underserved and unprotected communities, Elisha continues to lead critical efforts to amplify YWCA USA’s mission within the network and beyond. Devoted to supporting the advocacy and leadership of young women, Elisha serves as board treasurer for the Black Swan Academy, a non-profit organization in the District of Columbia that concentrates its efforts on empowering Black youth through Civic Leadership and Engagement.

Sebastian Suarez
Youth Activist

Sebastian Suarez (he/him/his) is a senior at New York University Stern School of Business, concentrating in management and sustainable business. He currently serves as a Research Consultant for Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health on the Beyond Demographics project. Sebastian is also a management consultant, having assisted non-profits and Fortune 500 companies navigate change and empower their workforces in a sustainable manner. Prior to these positions, he was a research assistant for the University of Pennsylvania School of Education and a college advisor for low-income students. With over 8 years of anti-tobacco advocacy experience, Sebastian wants to demonstrate how Big Tobacco continues to evolve its predatory marketing tactics to take advantage of marginalized populations. Outside of his academic and professional life, Sebastian is an avid reader and enjoys listening to music, watching movies, and spending time with his family.

Amy Taylor
Chief of Community & Youth Engagement, Truth Initiative

Amy Taylor leads the community and youth engagement team at Truth Initiative and has more than two decades of experience in public health advocacy and education, with a background leading successful advocacy campaigns by engaging and mobilizing advocates and building coalitions. Prior to joining Truth Initiative, Amy spent more than a decade in leadership roles at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, most recently as the chief external affairs officer.

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.

Gregg Wieczorek
President, National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)

Gregg Wieczorek is an experienced school leader, having served as principal of Arrowhead Union High School in Hartland, WI for the past 27 years. In 2012, he was named the Wisconsin High School Principal of the Year by the organization. He has held leadership roles as a member of the board of directors of both NASSP and the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators, where he has devoted significant advocacy efforts to raise awareness about the teacher shortage crisis and the impact of student vaping.