Our Team

We are here to provide support to the people that we serve: patients we care for, learners who entrust their education to us, and our colleagues who work here.


David J. Brown, MD headshot

David J. Brown, M.D.

Associate Vice President and Associate Dean for Health Equity and Inclusion
Associate Professor of Pediatric Otolaryngology

Dr. Brown has been a Michigan Medicine faculty member since 2011. He is an associate professor of pediatric otolaryngology. He was the medical director of the Pediatric Otolaryngology Clinic, the medical director of the Multidisciplinary Aerodigestive Clinic, the pediatric otolaryngology liaison for the Global Tracheostomy Collaborative, and founder and faculty lead of the Otolaryngology Essential Skills Simulation Bootcamp. He is a member of Michigan Medicine’s Global REACH (Research, Education, and Collaboration in Health) program and is part of an otolaryngology team that travels to Ghana multiple times a year to collaborate on research projects and advance the surgical skills of local Ghanaian otolaryngologists.

As part of the University of Michigan’s comprehensive Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan, Dr. Brown leads the Michigan Medicine Office for Health Equity and Inclusion and the health system’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. OHEI includes pipeline programs, diversity professional development and education, mentorship programs and health equity research. In 2011, Dr. Brown restarted the Michigan Otolaryngology Diversity Team which won the U-M Distinguished Diversity Leadership Award in 2013. Dr. Brown is a member of the Society of University Otolaryngologists Diversity Committee. Dr. Brown is currently regional representative for the Association of American Medical College’s Group on Diversity and Inclusion and serves as a member of the AAMC GDI Steering Committee.

Dr. Brown graduated from Brown University and Harvard Medical School. He completed his residency in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at U-M and his fellowship in pediatric otolaryngology at the Children’s Hospital of Boston. Before returning to Michigan, Dr. Brown was on the faculty at Johns Hopkins Hospital. There, he was the Otolaryngology Residency associate program director and winner of the 2005 George T. Nager Award for Excellence in Teaching. While serving at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Dr. Brown was honored with the 2009 Otolaryngology Faculty Teaching Award.

Phyllis Blackman OHEI headshot

Phyllis M. Blackman, MBA

Administrative Director

Phyllis is a highly respected Administrator and has been with the Section of Pediatric Surgery and Trauma for over two decades. In that role, she was responsible for all aspects of operations, finances and management of the Section of Pediatric Surgery and all of its collaborative programs. She implemented the Children’s Intestinal Rehabilitation Program, Fetal Surgery Program and Mott Solid Tumor Oncology Program. Her work included developing budgets for research, patient services, staffing and capital expenditures as well as recruiting, training, supervising and counseling staff. She closely monitored and evaluated operations within the main institution as well as off-site clinics; implementing recommendations and changes to improve efficacy and the delivery of quality patient care.

Phyllis has experience with facilitating change at Michigan Medicine and currently serves on the Leadership Development Advisory Group, Advancing Women and Inclusive Leadership Sub-Committee, and the Leadership Day Planning Committee. In 2012, she was honored as the Medical School Administrator of the Year. In addition, Phyllis is one of the Michigan Medicine’s Emerging Leaders.

Phyllis is active in many professional health care organizations and is a charter member of the American Pediatric Surgical Managers Association. She has worked on hurricane relief efforts, been an avid supporter of the fight against breast cancer, works actively in her church and community to help set positive examples for our youth.

Alex Blackwood, MD headshot

Alex Blackwood, M.D., Ph.D.

Faculty Lead, Leaders and Learners Pathways Program
Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases

Dr. R. Alexander Blackwood graduated from Columbia College in 1976 and Columbia University Medical School and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1983. Dr. Blackwood also completed a pediatric internship, residency, and fellowship at the University of California San Francisco. He was a Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Scholar (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) before coming to the University of Michigan in 1992.

Dr. Blackwood’s primary research interest has been in neutrophil cell biology. However, he has been most noted for his involvement with U-M students in serving as the faculty adviser for Multicultural Association of Pre-Health Students, Black Undergraduate Medical Association, and Wolverine Tutors. He is vice-chair of the Institutional Review Board of U-M Medical School. He is a member of the Admissions Committee, Student Biomedical Research Committee and Advisory Board, and the M.D./Ph.D. Program Advisory Committee.

Dr. Blackwood has received numerous teaching awards including the Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award and he was inducted as a teacher into the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society’s Michigan Chapter in 2009. He also has been developing partnerships with area schools to foster education and to provide mentoring and tutoring for disadvantaged and underrepresented student populations.

Gary Freed

Gary L. Freed, M.D., M.P.H.

Faculty Lead

Dr. Freed is the Percy and Mary Murphy professor of Pediatrics in the University of Michigan School of Medicine and professor of Health Management and Policy in the U-M School of Public Health in Ann Arbor.

From 1998-2013, Dr. Freed served as director of the division of General Pediatrics and founding director of the Children's Health Evaluation and Research Center. From 2013-2016, Dr. Freed divided his time between U-M and the University of Melbourne (Australia) where he served as director of the Australian Health Workforce Institute, professor of Population Health, and as visiting scholar in Health Care Policy at the Royal Children's Hospital. In 2016 Dr. Freed returned full time to U-M to continue his research in health policy and economic issues focused on children.

Dr. Freed has more than 25 years of experience in children's health services research. He has been the principal investigator of numerous federal, state and foundation-funded grants, and of the first pediatric health services research fellowship program funded by the National Institutes of Health. He has published more than 275 peer-reviewed articles on child health policy and health economics, immunizations, physician behavior, the medical workforce and inter-specialty variation in the provision of preventive services to children.

Dr. Freed received his bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin, his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his Master of Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC-CH, Dr. Freed was a Robert Wood Johnson clinical scholar as well as a preventive medicine fellow.

He is a past president of the Society for Pediatric Research, the largest research society in the field of child health. SPR awarded him its 2009 Douglas K. Richardson Lifetime Achievement Award for Perinatal and Pediatric Health Care Research.

Dr. Freed serves on several national and international committees regarding child health. He is past chair of the Department of Health and Human Services National Vaccine Advisory Committee. He is a frequent consultant to state and federal agencies as well as to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and to the World Health Organization. He is a member of the American Board of Pediatrics and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.


Sandra Andrade

Sandra Andrade

Diversity Equity and Inclusion Program Coordinator

Sandra is an ambitious and accomplished professional. Her unique background combines a Master of Arts degree in anthropology and more than 10 years' experience in event and program coordination.  Sandra is responsible for coordinating Michigan Medicine’s DEI trainings and initiatives, measuring program quality and effectiveness, engaging DEI implementation leads, and helping to develop metrics for measuring the effectiveness of DEI initiatives.

Patti Andreski OHEI headshot

Patti Andreski

Senior Research Area Specialist

As a member of the research team, Patti develops analytic plans in response to research needs of the Office for Health Equity and Inclusion. She similarly collaborates with other investigators throughout the health system. Patti has more than 20 years of experience in the research field. She has a Master of Arts degree in applied sociology and a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, both from Wayne State University.

Jodi Forrester-Hutchins OHEI headshot

Jodi Forrester-Hutchins

Administrative Assistant Senior

Jodi is responsible for providing general and high-level administrative support at OHEI to faculty, program managers, as well as grants and specialized support to its Grants & Finance Manager. She received her bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management from Concordia University in 1998. Jodi brings nearly 15 years of experience working at the University of Michigan in financial, grants management, human resource and supervisory roles.

Yvette Harris

Yvette Harris

Administrative Manager

Yvette is a grounded professional with over 20 years of experience in a health system setting.  As the administrative manager in the Office for Health Equity and Inclusion, she has the responsibility overseeing the daily operations of the office and cultivating successful work processes.  Yvette’s prior experience in management includes administrative, human resource and clinical operations, direct working relationships with surgical faculty physicians, critical care fellows and physician assistants; and supervision of administrative assistants, program coordinators and other staff.

Yvette has a bachelor’s in health administration and a master’s in organizational management. She has taught courses at national conferences and facilitated cultural diversity workshops. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan Health System Masters Leadership Program, the Community Leadership Program and Hurley Medical Center’s Management Development Program. 

Yvette has strong commitment to community, and was recognized as an African American Achiever for her mentorship to various individuals.  She was also a founding contributor to the development and implementation of a hospital based career development program for staff who sought to improve their opportunities for advancement within the organization.  Yvette also served as a United Way chairperson and was a member of the local chapter of the Toastmasters club.

Tami Hart-Johnson OHEI headshot

Tami Hart-Johnson

Senior Research Manager

The Office for Health Equity and Inclusion is dedicated to ensuring our work is scientifically driven and systematically evaluated. Tami Hart-Johnson has been studying health disparities for nearly two decades. She guides OHEI’s health disparities research process. She works with OHEI’s research team to examine existing data within Michigan Medicine. She collaborates with program managers to ensure careful evaluation of projects and spearheads research that drives OHEI’s mission forward.

Ru Knoedler OHEI headshot

Ru Knoedler

Senior Administrative Specialist

Ru is responsible for carrying out OHEI’s budget, finance, and contracts functions, as well as supporting internal controls, infrastructure, and strategy for its administration function. She received her combined Bachelor of Business Administration degree and Master of Science degree in accounting with a concentration in accounting information systems from Eastern Michigan University. She also owned and operated three small businesses over a 10-year period. Before coming to OHEI, she worked as a grants/contracts specialist in the University of Michigan’s Department of Anesthesiology and as an executive assistant in the Department of Psychiatry’s U-M Addiction Research Center.

Clarissa Love

Project Associate Manager
Brandon Lucas OHEI headshot

Brandon Lucas

Program Manager, Student Affairs

Brandon serves as Student Affairs Program Manager for pre-college and undergraduate research programs at OHEI. His main role is development and implementation of the Michigan Health Sciences Summer Institute for learner’s pathway. Prior to joining OHEI, he served as Education Coordinator for the regional node of the NSF-funded National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network.

Venice Onadia

Venice Onadia

Administrative Assistant

Venice supports OHEI’s administrative director and three faculty leads in all projects and efforts. She is also responsible for providing general office and administrative support to OHEI staff and programs. Before this role, Venice worked on various projects to implement Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Michigan Medicine. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in health administration from Eastern Michigan University in 2014 and is pursuing an MBA in health care leadership at Cleary University.  Venice brings to Michigan Medicine more than five years of administrative experience at other health care systems. Venice truly believes in and supports OHEI’s vision to create a world where people feel valued and can thrive.

Jazmine Wesley OHEI headshot

Jazmine Wesley

Program Manager, Learner Success

Jazmine serves as Program Manager for Learner Success. Her work focuses on development and implementation of the Michigan Health Sciences Summer Institute Career Development Academy; our 8-week residential program designed to prepare students for admittance into medical school. She also provides academic success strategies for medical students first through fourth year. Jazmine holds an M.Ed. in Educational Psychology from Wayne State University.

Katy White

Events Specialist
Peggy Wright OHEI headshot

Peggy Wright

Executive Assistant Senior

Peggy is Executive Assistant to the Associate Vice President and Associate Dean of OHEI. She also provides collaborative and strategic administrative support to the entire team. Peggy enjoys streamlining and producing various projects. She brings over 20 years of experience and leadership in marketing, sales and management, from the automotive, advertising and financial industries.