SYNC 2022 Speakers
SYNChronicity synchronizes the healthcare community by bringing together thousands of health professionals, advocates, and consumers to SYNC ideas and practice.
President, Latino Commission on AIDS and founder of the Hispanic Health Network
Since 2010, Guillermo Chacon has served as President of the Latino Commission on AIDS, where he is a vocal advocate on the impact of HIV, viral hepatitis, STIs, chronic health conditions and the health disparities affecting Hispanic/Latinx communities.
Michael Chancley is a PrEP user, writer, and social worker, currently serving as the Communications Manager at PrEP4All, Inc. Michael has many years of experience developing and implementing HIV prevention programs for communities disproportionately impacted by the HIV epidemic, including Black queer men and transgender individuals, African-American and Latina women, and youth of color in The South. He also serves on the PrEP In Black America coalition, with a focus on media and communication efforts for the initiative.
Dr. Laura Cheever
HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB), Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Laura W. Cheever, MD, ScM is the Associate Administrator of the HIV/AIDS Bureau at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). She provides leadership and technical expertise in the administration of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) which serves over half a million people with HIV in the United States. She came to HRSA in 1999 to serve as the national director of HRSA’s RWHAP AIDS Education and Training Center program. Prior to joining the federal government, she was on faculty at Johns Hopkins University where she led a program to deliver HIV specialty care throughout rural parts of Maryland, integrated peers into the Johns Hopkins HIV clinic, worked as medical director of a methadone based substance use disorder treatment program, and served on Baltimore’s Ryan White Planning Council.
Dr. Cheever is board certified in infectious diseases. Her primary goals are to end the HIV epidemic in the United States through increasing access to HIV care, reducing health disparities, and improving outcomes; integrate substance abuse treatment into HIV primary care; and eliminate Hepatitis C infection among co-infected patients. She trained at Johns Hopkins University, the University of California, San Francisco, and Brown University.
Human Rights Campaign
Tori Cooper (she, her, hers) is a Health & Equity Consultant, CDC subject matter expert, educator, published author and leader in the transgender and HIV communities who recently was honored as one of the most influential LGBTQ Georgians by OUT Georgia in 2020. She leads with more than 30 years of experience at all levels of HIV service, from volunteering to her role as executive director and founder of her own consulting agency, Advocates for Better Care Atlanta, LLC. She proudly serves as the Human Rights Campaign’s Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative. In this role, her focus includes economic empowerment, capacity building programs, public safety and expanding public education campaigns. Ms. Cooper was recently sworn to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) which provides advice, information, and recommendations to the Secretary of Health & Human Services.
Equity & Impact Solutions
Raniyah is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Equity & Impact Solutions and is one of the nation’s leading public health and racial justice experts specializing in organizational transformations. She is a sought-after CEO, public speaker, health researcher, HIV clinical advocate, and strategic advisor who has successfully served local and regional health departments, nonprofits, and Fortune 500 companies.
Dr. Demetre Daskalakis
White House National Monkeypox Response Deputy Coordinator, and Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Dr. Daskalakis began his career as an attending physician at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, New York (NYC), where he spearheaded several public health programs focused on community HIV testing and prevention. He has since served in a number of healthcare and public health capacities in NYC. Most recently, he served as the Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Disease Control at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Dr. Daskalakis directed the public health laboratory and all infectious disease control programs for NYC, including HIV, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infections, vaccine-preventable diseases, and general communicable diseases. In addition to his leadership in infectious disease control efforts, he served as the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene incident commander during the measles outbreak of 2018-2019, as well as the 2020 COVID-19 public health emergency.
Dr. Daskalakis received his medical education from the NYU School of Medicine and completed his residency training at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He also completed clinical infectious disease fellowships at the Brigham and Women’s Massachusetts General Hospital combined program and received a Master of Public Health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Daskalakis is recognized nationally and internationally as an expert in HIV prevention and has focused much of his career on the treatment and prevention of HIV and other STIs as an activist physician with a focus on LGBTQIA+ communities.
Manuel J. Diaz-Ramirez
Director of Community Health Action at La Clinica Del Pueblo
Since 2018, Manuel is the Director of Community Health Action at La Clinica Del Pueblo, Inc. in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area, overseeing the La Clinica’s Gender & Health, Health Promotion, Sexual Health, LGBTQ Health, Health Promoters, and Health Communications programs and strategies. Manuel graduated and licensed as a Social Psychologist, and later studied Public Health. He has 29 years of professional experience. Manuel currently lives in Fairfax, VA with his 24 year-old daughter.
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
Daemon Donigan, with a background in art and education, started volunteering as an HIV tester and prevention counselor for the Colorado AIDS Project in 2002. He quickly realized that sexual health was his passion and embarked on a new career path into the ever-exciting world of STIs, HIV and PrEP. Over the last decade, Daemon has worked for one of the nation’s largest ASOs, a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center that predominantly serves black and refugee populations, and served as the HIV Prevention Program Manager for the State of Nebraska at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. He now is able to help train other health departments, ASOs and partnering agencies as a Community Program Manager with Washington University in St. Louis as part of their CBA and PTC teams. Daemon has quite literally work in nearly every HIV prevention role from the ground up. He has made it a personal mission to bring sexual health education to the LGBTQ+ Community as well as other often overlooked minority sexual communities.
Capt. Robyn Neblett Fanfair
National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, & TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Robyn Neblett Fanfair, MD MPH (Captain, USPHS), is the Acting Division Director and Principal Deputy Director for the Division of HIV Prevention at CDC. In these roles she helps direct division programs, and provides strategic direction and management for policy, research, surveillance, and programmatic efforts. Prior to this role, Dr. Neblett Fanfair led research activities to enhance engagement and retention in HIV care, increase viral suppression, and improve quality of life for persons with HIV. Dr. Neblett Fanfair also led the division’s Treatment pillar workgroup in support of the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. initiative (EHE). Beyond these roles, she has been active in preparedness and response, deploying to support emergency responses for Ebola, Zika, Hurricane Irma/Maria, and COVID-19. A board-certified internist she serves as a primary care provider for Veterans with HIV at the Atlanta VA Medical Center. Dr. Neblett Fanfair received her B.A from Brown University, her M.D. from New York University School of Medicine, and her Master of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Brian Hujdich (he/him/his) serves as Executive Director of HealthHIV, one of the largest national HIV nonprofit organizations, and Executive Director of the National Coalition for LGBTQ Health, which represents LGBTQ+ clinicians and service providers, LGBTQ health centers, and LGBTQ consumers. Mr. Hujdich has over 37 years of experience in healthcare nonprofit management, medical advertising, healthcare public relations, public policy, capacity building, training, and medical/consumer education. Mr. Hujdich oversees a diverse and expansive portfolio of programs and initiatives, which sync public health with underserved communities, with a focus on the LGBTQ community. Brian also leads the HealthHCV and Pozitively Aging initiatives at HealthHIV. He also created HealthHIV’s HIV Prevention Certified Provider (HIV PCP) Certification Program to build, enhance and sustain a culturally competent HIV prevention workforce. He also created SYNChronicity, the national conference on HIV, HCV, STIs, LGBTQ heath and health equity, led by HealthHIV, HealthHCV and the National Coalition for LGBTQ Health. Previously, Mr. Hujdich served as Executive Director of the American Academy of HIV Medicine. Prior to that, he was Account Director of Medicus (Publicis), where he supervised consumer and professional advertising and medical education for numerous HIV treatments and diagnostics. Brian worked in healthcare practice at several major public relations and public affairs firms, including Burson-Marsteller, Hill & Knowlton and Ketchum, where he managed numerous HIV product introductions and worked with a variety of HIV/AIDS service organizations, AIDS community-based organizations, and nonprofit agencies. Brian has created numerous award-winning awareness campaigns and led product launches of over 15 antiretrovirals and related diagnostics. Mr. Hujdich is a member of the National Health Council, the National MS Society, the Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions, the Italian American Foundation, and the Association for Training and Development, among other organizations.
Office of Health Center Investment Oversight, Health Resources and Services Administration
Ernia Hughes is the director of the Office of Health Center Investment Oversight (OHCIO) at the Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC)-Health Resources and Services Administration. The OHCIO is dedicated to creating a measurable and lasting impact on health outcomes, health equity, and Health Center Program performance through oversight of BPHC investments. Hughes is accountable for more than 1300 Federally Qualified Health Centers and a grant portfolio of more than $6 billion.
Hughes earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Boston College and a master’s degree in business administration from Northeastern University.
Jeremiah Johnson is the Acting Executive Director at PrEP4All. Diagnosed with HIV in 2008, he has spent over a decade advocating for access to comprehensive HIV prevention, ethical community driven research, and user-friendly prevention strategies that center the most vulnerable communities. He received a Master of Public Health (MPH) from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York, New York.
Dr. Melissa Kelley
Dr. Melissa Kelley, EdD, CHES (she/her) is the Educational Development Lead at HealthHIV. She has 20 years of health education and public health experience. Prior to joining HealthHIV in October 2020, Melissa was the Professional Development Coordinator at the Center for Public Health Continuing Education (CPHCE) at the University at Albany School of Public Health in Albany, NY. Melissa is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®) with experience in curriculum development, training, and program planning. She has extensive knowledge of many health topics including women’s health; STD/STIs, HIV, and human sexuality; alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs; interpersonal violence; as well as public health models and theories. She earned an EdD in Human Development from the University of Rochester, a MS in Human Service Administration from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY and a BS in Health Science/Community Health Education from SUNY Cortland in Cortland, NY.
Amy Killelea is the owner of Killelea Consulting, providing research and policy analysis expertise focused on medication access and pricing, public health financing, and public and private insurance coverage. Amy received her B.A. from Smith College and J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.
Dr. Circe J. Gray Le Compte
Dr. Circe J. Gray LeCompte serves as the Senior Director of Health Services Research and Evaluation at HealthHIV. She has worked with HealthHIV for ten years in different capacities. In her current role, she facilitates the evaluation of several programs and manages the agency’s original “state of” surveys, which assess the landscape of health in a range of areas, including LGBTQ health, telehealth, and HIV care provision. LeCompte earned her Master of Science and Doctor of Science degrees from Harvard University, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where she majored in social and behavioral sciences theory/research methods, and racial and sexual/gender minority health.
The National Black Women’s HIV/AIDS Network
Deborah Levine is the Director of CUNY SPH’s Harlem Health Initiative, a role in which she addresses neighborhood service priorities and aims to reduce health disparities throughout Harlem.
Throughout her career, she has worked to apply capacity building and technical assistance to community-based organizations, national non-profits, and houses of worship by implementing strategies that increase access to and utilization of health promotion, disease prevention, and risk-and reduction avoidance services for racial/ethnic minority individuals.
Levine is a founding board member and national secretary of the National Black Women’s HIV/AIDS Network, Inc. She also serves on the board of the Coalition on Positive Health Empowerment (COPE), an organization dedicated to the eradication of viral hepatitis. She is the community co-chair for New York Knows and chair of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Women’s Advisory Board. Levine was recently appointed to the NYC Health + Hospitals Community Advisory Board, where she will sit on the mental health subcommittee.
Platinum Level Production
Leisha McKinley-Beach is a thought leader, an advocate for Black health, author, trainer, inspirational speaker, and facilitator. Mrs. McKinley-Beach serves as subject matter expert in HIV prevention, racism in public health, and Black women’s health. She has an extensive 30-year career in HIV that includes the creation of her own health consulting firm, serving in Florida and Georgia health departments, founding the first Black HIV service organization in Northwest Florida, and served in the nation’s only organization that focused exclusive on Black people and HIV known as the Black AIDS Institute. McKinley-Beach currently serves as a trainer and educator for PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis), facilitator for organizations and health departments committed to anti- racism work, and for the development of Black leadership in public health. Leisha McKinley-Beach is using her gift of storytelling to uplift Black stories in health care.
In addition to her work in public health, Mrs. McKinley-Beach is committed to providing inspirational messages through her podcast Thought For The Day and serves as COO for Platinum Level Production, music production company founded by her husband. This platform provides an opportunity for artist to create inspirational music.
McKinley-Beach received her undergraduate bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and her master’s degree in public health from the University of West Florida.
Dr. Leandro Mena
Division of STD Prevention, CDC National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Dr. Leandro Mena is the Director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention where he manages the implementation and evaluation of CDC-supported STI prevention programs in the United States. Dr. Mena is a clinician-researcher and public health expert in the prevention and clinical management of STIs, as well as HIV. Throughout his career, he has studied STI transmission and culturally competent quality health services in racial/ethnic minority groups, as well as among LGBTQ people. Dr. Mena obtained a Doctor in Medicine from the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Ureña in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and a Master of Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He is board certified in infectious diseases and is a Fellow in the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
Dr. Jonathan Mermin
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and Assistant Surgeon General
Jonathan Mermin, MD, MPH, is Director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention at CDC, and currently the Incident Manager for CDC’s mpox response. Previously, he was Director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at CDC, Director of CDC-Kenya, and Director of CDC-Uganda. He has focused his public health career on science-based, practical programs that increase health equity and decrease incidence and mortality. Dr. Mermin was an internal medicine resident at San Francisco General Hospital, and a preventive medicine resident at CDC and the California Department of Health Services. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Stanford University School of Medicine and received his MPH from Emory University. He is a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service.
Dr. Mauda Monger
My Brother’s Keeper
Dr. Mauda Monger serves as Chief Operating Officer at My Brother’s Keeper, Inc. With more than 17 years of experience in HIV/AIDS and public health, she has worked on multiple levels of public health including state government, research, academia, and community. Monger has collaborated in numerous research projects reviewing and analyzing the quantitative and qualitative data and methods of collection surrounding communities of color, specifically of persons who are LGBTQ+., Dr. Monger’s topics of focus include HIV prevention, stigma, social determinants of health, and special populations (racial, gender and sexual minorities). Her passion and data drawn style of education and training, reinforces her goal of ensuring the clinical community recognizes how stigma and social determinants of health impact access to health care. She seeks to emphasize the importance of creating welcoming and inclusive clinical environments.
Rhondette Jones Nickson
Division of HIV Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Rhondette Jones Nickson has been a member of the HIV Prevention Capacity Development Branch in the Division of HIV Prevention at the CDC since 2001. She currently serves as the Lead of the Workforce Development Team and manages a staff of 9, composed of health education specialists and public health educators. Her team is responsible for developing and providing high quality face-to-face and eLearning training to the HIV prevention workforce on effective prevention interventions and public health strategies. She has an extensive background in adult learning, training, health education, contract management and public health administration. She also currently serves as the Chair of the CDC Quality Training Standards Council. Ms. Nickson is a native of North Carolina and obtained her master’s degree in public health (MPH) from the University of North Carolina–School of Public Health, with a concentration in Health Behavior and Health Education. She is passionate about public health, HIV prevention, fighting pandemics, health equity and social justice issues for all marginalized populations.
Hepatitis Education Project
Amber Tejada is a Queer for the ages. Working in HIV care and prevention for over a decade, she moved into the world of harm reduction and viral hepatitis in December of 2021. She and her partner are mothers to a nine-year-old bookworm and three cats. When she’s not working, she can be found watching women’s soccer/futbol or reading about (but not necessarily practicing) anarchism.
Marissa Tonelli, Director of Health Systems Capacity Building, is responsible for managing HIV and HCV prevention, care, and policy capacity building assistance (CBA) programs for health departments, community-based organizations, AIDS service organizations, health care organizations, and physicians. She has led training, CBA, and tool/resource development to improve the sustainability and effectiveness of ASOs/CBOs and health departments serving minority populations for over six years. Marissa also leads the HealthHCV Initiative, an advocacy and education initiative of HealthHIV that includes technical assistance and education to health care organizations and health care providers. Prior to joining HealthHIV, she served as a Public Health Associate for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a field assignment with the District of Columbia Department of Health, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration. For two years, she managed TB-related education and contact investigation activities, and provided viral hepatitis training and technical assistance to community-based organizations. Ms. Tonelli is a graduate of The George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Services.
Jo A. Valentine
Division of STD Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Jo A Valentine is the Associate Director, Office of Health Equity in the Division of Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She has worked in the Division of Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention since September 1991. Currently her primary responsibilities include: 1) leading efforts to reduce STD disparities in the United States and promote health equity, 2) overseeing the Tuskegee Health Benefits Program, and 3) managing the Tuskegee Public Health Ethics Program. In these roles she leads and coordinates multi-disciplinary teams and workgroups and provides technical assistance for intervention development and program implementation for disadvantaged and under-served populations. Additionally Ms. Valentine provides subject matter and technical expertise across the agency, to state and local health departments, and to non-governmental organizations. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin in 1982, and her Master’s Degree in Social Work in 1995 from the Clark Atlanta University School of Social Work.