Invited Speakers

SuzanneSuzanne Akhras Sahloul

Strength and Resilience of Refugee Women

Suzanne Akhras Sahloul is the founder and Executive Director of the Syrian Community Network (SCN). Under her leadership, SCN has grown to become a strong voice for refugee and immigrant rights and a national community-based resettlement organization working in partnership with local and national refugee, immigrant rights, and faith-based organizations. She has led several community-based foundations and raised funds for many causes in Chicago and her homeland.

Susanne is passionate about community service, advocacy and human rights. She received the UNICEP Chicago Humanitarian Award. She serves as a Sisters on the Planet Ambassador with Oxfam America, and recently she has been chosen for the 2020 Alumni Hall of Fame of her alma mater. She is educated in nonprofit management and leadership from Lewis University and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Ameenuddin_Nusheen_12DNusheen Ameenuddin, MD, MPH, MPA

Another Dimension of Advocacy:  Social Media, Policy and Immigrant Health

Dr. Ameenuddin is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Mayo Clinic and Chair of the Council on Communications and Media for the American Academy of Pediatrics.  She completed a fellowship in minority health policy at Harvard Medical School in addition to an MPA at Harvard Kennedy School of Government.  She completed her medical degree and an MPH at the University of Kansas Medical Center.  She is passionate about child advocacy, addressing health disparities and public health and policy, especially as it relates to immunizations and immigrant health.  Dr. Ameenuddin is an active “tweetiatrician” who leverages twitter to raise awareness on the sociopolitical context of healthcare.

1390703348002-Current-JacobJacob Atem, MPH, PhD

Pursuing a Spirit of Refugee Health and Resiliency during Challenging, Uncertain, and Seemingly Impossible Times with COVID-19

Before becoming a postdoctoral student at the Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health, Jacob, received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Pre-Medicine/Biology from Spring Arbor University in 2008 and a Master of Public Health from Michigan State University in 2010. He received his Ph.D. in Environmental and Global Health from the University of Florida in 2017.

Jacob spent most of his life as one of the original Lost Boys of South Sudan. He is the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Southern Sudan Healthcare Organization (SSHCO) from 2008-present: ( SSHCO is a non-profit that provides medical facilities, supplies, and healthcare-education to the people of South Sudan. At the age of six, Jacob traveled over 2,000 miles to escape a brutal civil war in South Sudan that claimed his family. For nearly a decade, he lived in an overcrowded Kenyan refugee camp where hunger and disease were daily struggles. Jacob dedicated his life to healthcare education and medical service. Adhering to SSHCO’s mission, which focuses on natives helping natives, he advocate for refugees and displaced persons around the world. Under his leadership, SSHCO aims to inspire hope and improve the quality of life for the lost.

Julie AultmanJulie M. Aultman, PhD

Toward Human Flourishing: Ethics, Advocacy, and a Call to Action for Refugees and Displaced Persons

Julie M. Aultman, PhD, is a clinical ethicist and Professor of Family and Community Medicine, College of Medicine, Northeast Ohio Medical University. Dr. Aultman is the Director for the Medical Ethics and Humanities Program, College of Graduate Studies, where she directs and teaches several courses in clinical ethics, research ethics, and the medical humanities, including courses in health care justice and global health ethics. She holds leadership positions within and external to NEOMED, including Chair of the IRB, Diversity Council, and Council on Academic Performance and Professionalism for the College of Graduate Studies. Her research interests extend to psychiatric ethics, healthcare justice, international studies in healthcare systems and refugee ethics, and moral and professional development in medical education.  Her research and service to the community focuses on justice issues surrounding access of care for refugee and undocumented patients.

920x920Chris George

Community-based is the Future of Refugee Resettlement 

For the past 16 years, Chris George has been the Executive Director of IRIS, Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, the New Haven-based refugee resettlement agency that welcomes hundreds of refugees to Connecticut each year.

Chris has spent most of his professional life living in, or working on, the Middle East. Before returning to Connecticut in 2004, he worked seven years in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Chris directed a legislative strengthening project with the Palestinian Parliament and later established an emergency assistance program for Palestinian nonprofits. From 1994 to 1996, Chris was Executive Director of Human Rights Watch – Middle East. Prior to that, he worked with Save the Children for nine years (mostly in the West Bank and Gaza) and three years with American Friends Service Committee (mostly in Lebanon). Chris began his international career in 1977 as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Muscat, Oman. Altogether, he spent more than 16 years living in the Middle East. He speaks Arabic.

Ibrahim_Anisa_ep_394312 (1)Anisa Ibrahim, MD

My Journey from Patient to Provider 

Dr. Anisa Ibrahim is a UW Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and the Medical Director at Harborview Pediatric Clinic. Dr. Ibrahim’s specific clinical interests include caring for and outreach to immigrant and refugee populations, specifically those with medical or social complexity. She is committed to caring for low income, socially vulnerable populations with limited English proficiency in order to connect them to the resources and services they need for their health and well-being. Dr. Ibrahim is a strong advocate for community focused work and partnerships. She is the president of the Board of Directors of the Somali Health Board, a local community organization addressing health disparities in the Somali community. Nationally, Dr. Ibrahim is an executive committee member of the American Academy of Pediatric’s Council on Immigrant Child and Family Health.

Headshot E JentesEmily Jentes, PhD, MPH

Moving the Needle:  Successes of the CDC Centers of Excellence in Refugee Health

Emily Jentes is the Lead of the Domestic Team in the Immigrant, Refugee, and Migrant Health (IRMH) Branch at CDC.  She earned her BS in Biology at Truman State University, MPH in Epidemiology from Emory University, and her Ph.D. in Parasitology from Tulane University.  From 2008-2010, Emily served as a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer in the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine at CDC, where she worked on projects both with the IRMH and Travelers’ Health Branches.  From 2010-2015, she served as a senior epidemiologist in the Travelers’ Health Branch.  Emily joined IRMH in September of 2015.  She has both domestic and international research and epidemiology experience in public health, and is the technical officer for the CDC Centers for Excellence in Refugee Health cooperative agreement.  Her research has primarily focused on tropical medicine, migration health, and vector-borne and zoonotic diseases.  She has also worked on refugee health projects in Guinea, Thailand, and Kenya.

MaranoNina Marano, DVM, MPH, Dipl. ACVPM

CDC Division of Global Migration and Quarantine at the Front Lines of Public Health

Dr. Marano trained in veterinary medicine at the University of Georgia and in public health at Emory University, and has been a medical epidemiologist at CDC since 1998. Her CDC experience has focused on prevention and control of infectious diseases. In 2006‚ Dr. Marano joined the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (DGMQ) as the Branch Chief for the Travelers’ Health and Animal Importation Branch. In 2009 she became the Chief of the Quarantine and Border Health Services Branch, where she worked on national policy‚ regulations‚ and research to mitigate translocation of communicable diseases via travel and transportation. Under her leadership‚ the Quarantine Branch responded to 2009 Influenza A H1N1‚ earthquake and cholera in Haiti‚ and nuclear radiation leakage in Japan. In June 2012‚ Dr. Marano was appointed Director of the DGMQ Africa Refugee Health Program at the CDC Kenya office in Nairobi. She led the team that is responsible for overseeing the implementation of guidelines for disease screening and treatment‚ tracking and reporting disease‚ responding to disease outbreaks‚ and advising partners on health care for refugees and immigrants from Africa. In August 2015, Dr. Marano was appointed Chief of the Immigrant, Refugee, and Migrant Health Branch, which promotes and improves the health of immigrants, refugees and migrants, and implements border health strategies that prevents the spread of infectious diseases across international borders. She has co-authored over 80 publications in the peer-reviewed literature‚ and is an Associate Editor for CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal. She also works part-time as a veterinarian in a companion animal practice in Atlanta.

a4c38fa0-c487-471a-9a8e-58d83d304cdeKatherine C. McKenzie, MD, FACP

The Clinician as Advocate

Katherine McKenzie is a faculty member at Yale School of Medicine and the Director of the Yale Center for Asylum Medicine (YCAM). She has practiced medicine at Yale for over 20 years. She teaches undergraduates, students and residents, and is a member of Yale Refugee Health Program. She is a physician advocate for social justice and human rights.

Since 2007, Dr. McKenzie has been the director of the YCAM, where she performs medical forensic evaluations and testifies as an expert witness for asylum seekers referred by law schools, human rights organizations, and immigration attorneys. She has written reviews, clinical cases and opinion pieces on asylum medicine in publications including the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the British Medical Journal, the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, Time magazine and CNN, among others.

At Yale, she received the Leonard B. Tow Award for Humanism in Medicine and the Faculty Award for Achievement in Clinical Care. She has been named a “Top Doctor” for many years by Connecticut Magazine. She is a fellow of the American College of Physicians.

Dr. McKenzie earned a bachelor’s degree in Molecular, Cellular and Development Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She received her medical degree from Boston University and completed her residency in internal medicine at University Hospital in Boston. She has been certified with the American Board of Internal Medicine since 1995.

452845-1444778032-sJulie Nemecek, JD

Overcoming Obstacles in Obtaining Citizenship

Attorney Julie Nemecek has over 13 years of experience practicing exclusively in the area of immigration law in Columbus Ohio.  The broad scope of Attorney Nemecek’s immigration practice encompasses virtually all areas of immigration law, including family-based immigration, employment-based immigration, removal defense, deferred action, asylum, and naturalization, among other areas. Attorney Nemecek understands the quirks and nuances that go along with practicing immigration law. The devil is in the details, and for this reason, she aims for perfection in each case that she handles.

Attorney Nemecek works closely with local and national organizations to advocate for the fair and just implementation of the immigration laws and policies as well as reform. She has appeared before all major, local media outlets, including the Columbus affiliates of NBC (WCMH-TV), ABC (WSYX-TV), CBS (WBNS-TV) and FOX (WTTE-TV). Attorney Nemecek’s opinions have also been featured in the Columbus Dispatch, among other news outlets. Attorney Nemecek previously served as the AILA liaison to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). In this role, she worked with the BMV and local attorneys to resolve issues relating to the issuance of driver licenses for foreign nationals. She has given presentations on various immigration topics to the Bureau of Workers Compensation, AIDS Resource Center Ohio, other non-profit organizations, and international student associations. She continues to be at the forefront of immigration issues and contributes to immigration forums on a regular basis. Attorney Nemecek’s opinions have also been featured in The New Yorker, the Columbus Dispatch, among other news outlets.

5d8b78fe0160933fe4c0b5c9_kimahli-new 2Kimahli Powell, LL.D (HONS)

Understanding the Landscape and Resettlement Needs of LGBTQI Refugees

Kimahli is the Executive Director of Rainbow Railroad. He has a wide range of experience in the not-for-profit sector and has spent more than 20 years advocating for social justice, youth, and arts and culture. Prior to Rainbow Railroad, he held numerous director-level positions at organizations including the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Dignitas International, Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival and the YMCA. Kimahli holds a CFRE and completed his undergraduate studies in Political Science at the University of Ottawa. He holds an Honorary Doctor of Law from the University of Victoria. Among his career highlights, Kimahli helped launch the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network’s legal challenge to Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law and developed a monitoring and evaluation framework on legal advocacy. Since joining Rainbow Railroad as Executive Director, he has led the organization through transformational growth, which has resulted in successful interventions in Chechnya and Egypt.

Kimahli and Rainbow Railroad have been recognized with several awards, including the International Lesbian & Gay Travel Association’s Pathfinder Award, the Mark S Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies’ 2018 Award, and the 2018 Inspire Award for Community Organization of the Year. Kimahli was the 2019 recipient of the Steinert & Ferreiro Award and was listed in Out Magazine’s Out 100 profile of influential LGBT people.

me todayJonathan D. Rosen, PhD

Understanding Gangs, Organized Crime, and Violence in Latin America

Jonathan D. Rosen is Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Holy Family University, located in Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Rosen earned his Master’s in political science from Columbia University and received his Ph.D. from the University of Miami. Previously, he worked as a Research Scientist at Florida International University and as a professor in Oaxaca, Mexico.  In 2017, Dr. Rosen completed a project with Dr. José Miguel Cruz at Florida International University where they surveyed nearly 1,200 gang members in El Salvador and conducted in-depth interviews with 24 former gang members. Dr. Rosen has also served as a country conditions expert in more than 70 asylum cases in immigration court. Finally, Dr. Rosen has published 18 books on drug trafficking, organized crime, gangs, and violence. His recent publications include: Jonathan D. Rosen, The Losing War: Plan Colombia and Beyond (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2014); Roberto Zepeda and Jonathan D. Rosen, eds., Cooperation and Drug Policies in the Americas: Trends in the Twenty-First Century (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014); Bruce M. Bagley and Jonathan D. Rosen, eds., Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime, and Violence in the Americas Today (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2015); Jonathan D. Rosen and Marten W. Brienen, eds., Prisons in the Americas in the Twenty-First Century: A Human Dumping Ground (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015).

D4CC_dsc7815_Patrick MonteroBonnie Arzuaga, MD, FAAP, Danielle Deines, DO, Marie DeLuca, MD.  Co-founders:  Doctors for Camp Closure

Grassroots to Asphalt:  Building an activist movement within the health professions

Dr. Arzuaga is one the three co-founders of the grassroots healthcare professionals’ activist group Doctors for Camp Closure.  She is a neonatologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and an Instructor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.  Dr. Deines is also a co-founder.  She is a neonatologist at Carilion Children’s Hospital and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.  Dr. DeLuca is also a co-founder.  She is an Emergency Room physician at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and a research fellow at Columbia University.  She has spent time as a physician volunteer in Matamoros, Mexico.


Zaher SAhloul 2Zaher Sahloul, MD

The Syrian Crisis that Changed the World

Dr. Zaher Sahloul is a critical care specialist, associate professor at University of Illinois at Chicago and the co-founder and president of MedGlobal, a medical NGO founded to reduce healthcare disparities by providing sustainable healthcare in disaster regions and low resources countries.  He participated in dozens of medical missions in disaster regions including Syria, Puerto Rico, Yemen, Colombia and Gaza.  He is a strong advocate for immigrants and refugee rights, interfaith collaboration and for a proactive response to the Syrian humanitarian crisis. He has authored many articles on the impact of war in Syria on public health, healthcare workers, civilians, and mental healthDr. Sahloul was awarded the Chicagoan of the Year award in 2016 for leading a medical mission to besieged Aleppo, the “Heroes Among Us” award by the American Red Cross in 2017, and the UNICEF Chicago Humanitarian award in 2017.

Paul_142_200_c1Paul B. Spiegel, MD, MPH

COVID-19 in Humanitarian Settings:  It’s a Matter of Context and Trust

Dr. Spiegel is the Director of Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where he lectures and undertakes research in humanitarian emergencies. Previously, Dr. Spiegel was the Deputy Director of the Division of Programme Support and Management at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva, Switzerland. He was also Chief of the Public Health and HIV Section (2002-2012) and the Refugee Agency’s Global HIV Coordinator for UNAIDS (2004-2016).

Dr. Spiegel is Chair of the Funding Committee for the DFID and Welcome Trust funded Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises or R2HC, and is on the editorial board of the journal entitled Conflict and Health. Before UNHCR, Dr. Spiegel worked as a Medical Epidemiologist in the International Emergency and Refugee Health Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He received his medical degree at the University of Toronto and his Masters in Public Health and specialty in Preventive Medicine at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.