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.

Leadership

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

Bio

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.

Kristen Howard, J.D.

Senior Director, Office for Health Equity and Inclusion

Bio

Kristen joins Michigan Medicine from the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD), where she served as chief of staff to the superintendent. In her previous role, Kristen helped to develop and execute the organization’s strategic plan, while growing and leading a team of 30 members with a $3 million budget. Areas within her purview included the office of the superintendent, equity advocacy and civil rights, employee discipline and civil rights compliance, government affairs, board relations, marketing, and enrollment.

Kristen began working in diversity, equity and inclusion at DPSCD in 2016. She remediated serious compliance issues that were being monitored by the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights and Inspector General, and she established internal structures for compliant reporting and resolution. In 2018, she presented a broader vision for the district’s diversity, equity and inclusion work by creating and staffing the Office of Equity Advocacy and Civil Rights.

 Kristen received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University, and her Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University. In addition to her work with DPSCD, Kristen has worked in Washington, D.C., on corporate and financial transactions as a restructuring attorney, as well as a host of other corporate and legal roles.

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

Bio

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 Faculty Director, Health Equity & Health Disparities Research / Associate Chair, Department of Pediatrics

Bio

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.

Photo of Dr. Marcia Perry

Marcia Perry, MD

Faculty Director, House Officer Programs and Health Equity Visiting Clerkship

Bio

Dr. Marcia Perry is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She completed her Emergency Medicine training at the University of Michigan and stayed on as faculty. She currently serves as the Assistant Director of the Emergency Medicine Residency Program and provides clinical care and teaching at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Perry is a Doctoring/Coaching faculty member in the Medical School. She is the Director of House Officer Programs and the Director of the Health Equity Visiting Clerkship in the Office for Health Equity and Inclusion.

Gifty Kwakye, MD

Faculty Director, Medical Student Programs / Clinical Assistant Professor, Colon and Rectal Surgery

Bio

Dr. Gifty Kwakye is an Assistant Professor at University of Michigan and serves as the Clerkship Director for the Surgery Department.  She obtained both her undergraduate and medical degrees from Yale University and holds a Master’s in Public Health from Johns Hopkins. She is board certified both in General and Colorectal Surgery.

In medical school, Dr. Kwakye served on the board of Student National Medical Association (SNMA), Health Professions Recruitment & Exposure Program (HPREP) and as a teaching assistant for the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) – programs aimed at improving minority representation in medicine. She also co-founded the African Health Professional Interest Group (AHPIG) and developed a big-little sib program pairing Ghanaians in higher education internationally with students in Ghana applying to colleges. 

At Michigan Medicine, she is devoted to medical education and mentorship, furthering the mission of creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture. Dr. Kwakye serves as a Liaison for Inclusive Teaching (LIT) at the medical school and as faculty advisor on two mentoring programs that she helped create within the Department of Surgery: Leadership Exposure for the Advancement of Gender and Underrepresented Minority Equity in Surgery (LEAGUES) and ANASTOMOSIS.

Dr. Kwakye’s dedication to teaching has been recognized with multiple awards from the medical school including the Arnold Coran Teaching Award, induction into the Gold Humanism Honor Society and both the Senior and the Kaiser Permanente Excellence in Clinical Teaching Awards. She is a member of Michigan’s Academy of Medical Educators.

David Gordon, MD

Director of Faculty Programs

Bio

David Gordon is a Professor of Pathology (Active Emeritus) at the University of Michigan. His subspecialty is cardiovascular pathology, and he also does general autopsies, plus teaches pathology to medical students, pathology residents and fellows.

Dr. Gordon has been with the University of Michigan since 1991, and has held several past administrative positions, to include, Founding Dean of the University of Akron’s College of Health Professions, Dean of the University of Michigan-Flint’s School of Health Professions and Studies, former Associate Medical Director for Flint’s Hamilton Community Health Network (the largest federally-qualified health center in the Flint area) and Associate Dean for Diversity and Career Development for the University of Michigan Medical School where he started the Diversity and Career Development Office, the forerunner of the current OHEI and as the Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs

As Associate Dean for Diversity and Career Development Office, he worked closely with the Medical School’s offices of Faculty Affairs and Student Programs while working with our various Medical School Departments to assist with faculty recruitment, mentoring, and retention.

Having climbed to the top of the tenure track and with past NIH funded grant efforts, he knows well the hurdles facing our faculty in the various faculty tracks.

Dr. Gordon received his B.A. degree in chemistry from Amherst College in 1973, and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1979. While at Harvard, he completed a vascular biology research fellowship and went on to complete an internal medicine internship at the University of Massachusetts (Worcester, MA) before training in anatomic pathology at the University of Washington in Seattle. There after doing postdoctoral research in vascular biology he joined the faculty as a clinical and experimental cardiovascular pathologist and ran a grant-funded translational research program focused on atherosclerosis. He was eventually promoted to associate professor with tenure and was also the Director of Autopsy Services for their University Hospital.

Upon coming to the University of Michigan in 1991, he continued his cardiovascular translational research, clinical and teaching efforts, and received tenure again.  In 1997 Dr. Gordon left academia to work for Pfizer Inc. in their Cardiovascular Therapeutics’ pre-clinical division where his group did further work on gene therapy for therapeutic angiogenesis. Dr. He returned to the University of Michigan in 2001.

Additionally, he also recently started Take CHARGE of Your Health, LLC, an online health education and medical consultation company which has provided individual patients a better understanding of their medical conditions so that they can be most empowered to care for themselves. Through this company, he has also provided talks to various community groups on health topics of concern (e.g. our current COVID-19 epidemic and how to keep safe). Finally, he enjoys singing and playing guitar.

Team

Lisa Rabaut

Lisa Rabaut, J.D., M.P.A.

Health Equity Operations Manager Team Lead

Bio

Prior to joining the OHEI team, Lisa served as the Managing Director of the University of Michigan Exercise & Sport Science Initiative (ESSI), an interdisciplinary research initiative established through the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) focused on optimizing health and physical performance for people of all ages and abilities. She also served on the OVPR DEI Committee. Before working as the Managing Director of ESSI, Lisa served as the Project Manager of Research Initiatives for OVPR, directly supporting the development and launch of new research initiatives on campus.

 

Lisa earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from U-M. Following undergrad, she worked in marketing and advertising, as well as participated in AmeriCorps. She subsequently earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She served as the Advocacy Coordinator of the UW-Madison Public Interest Law Foundation and interned with the Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

 

Lisa recently graduated from the U-M Ford School of Public Policy, earning a Master of Public Affairs degree, with a focus on health policy. She completed a capstone project with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and she earned a Professional Development DEI Certificate from the Rackham Graduate School.

Peggy Wright OHEI headshot

Peggy Wright

Executive Assistant Senior

Bio

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.

Portia Bonner

Portia Bonner

Administrative Assistant Senior

Bio

Portia is responsible for providing high-level administrative support to OHEI’s Administrative Director.  She has over 20 years of administrative experience in both public and private sector – with the past 10 years at Michigan Medicine providing high-level support to the Assistant Dean for Clinical Research, Medical Directors, Chief Operating Officers and tenured/junior faculty.  In addition, she has managerial experience from the financial and research and development industries. She received her bachelor’s in business administration in management from Eastern Michigan University.

Ru Knoedler OHEI headshot

Ru Knoedler

Senior Financial Analyst

Bio

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.

Rozalyn Mitchell

Faculty Administrative Coordinator

Bio

Rozalyn is responsible for providing administrative support to multiple faculty members in OHEI.  In OHEI, focused on anticipating the needs of those she directly supports as well as executing projects at a high-level. She has nine years of experience working in secondary education—program planning, working with underrepresented communities, advocating for equity, and providing support where needed. Rozalyn received her Master’s degree in Communication Studies, from Wayne State University and a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace Certificate from the University of South Florida.

Photo of Sue Schreck

Sue Schreck

Meetings and Special Events Manager

Bio

Sue joined OHEI in 2018 as Events and Communications Coordinator, with more than 20 years of graphic design and marketing experience. At OHEI, Sue manages, plans, and executes logistics and expenses for all major events including recruitment fairs, alumni weekends, and symposia.

Previously, she worked as the Events Coordinator and Graphic Designer at the Confucius Institute at the University of Michigan, Marketing Manager and Head Graphic Designer at Eden Foods, Graphic Designer at Gelman Sciences Inc., and has worked with a multitude of clients through her freelance work. Sue received an Associate’s Degree in graphic design technology from Washtenaw Community College, where she was a member of the Dean’s Honor Roll and Phi Theta Kappa.

Brittanii Lyons

Communications Specialist

Bio

Brittanii Lyons is the Communications Specialist in the Office for Health Equity and Inclusion. She works with each of the teams in OHEI to coordinate marketing and communications efforts for the office’s trainings, events, initiatives.  Additionally, she works to coordinate and synergize broad organization-wide communications related to diversity, equity and inclusion at Michigan Medicine.

Brittanii graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in Journalism, and prior to her role with Michigan Medicine, we worked with Wayne State University in Community Communications, and as a Communications Specialist in the financial industry.

Blaire Tinker

Special Programs Manager
Professional Development & Inclusion

Bio

Blaire Tinker is a DEI Facilitator, Intercultural Coach, and serves as a Special Programs Manager with a heightened focus on the content and facilitation of the Internal Michigan Medicine Building Towards Belonging Implicit Bias Training. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership with a concentration on Diversity Leadership. Prior to joining OHEI, she worked to support a number of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives for the College of Engineering and within Student Life at the University of Michigan for over six years. Through her professional and personal endeavors, she actualizes the work of interculturalism and cultural humility for learners, faculty, and staff through her practice. As a facilitator, she utilizes a strengths-based approach with embedded components of Appreciative Inquiry to impact and empower change and cultural self-exploration.

Stacey Nguyen

Stacey Nguyen, MSW

Special Trainings Program Manager
Professional Development & Inclusion

Bio

Stacey is a Facilitator and Trainer for Professional Development and Inclusion with the Office for Health Equity and Inclusion. In her role, she works to support Michigan Medicine DEI strategy by developing and delivering workshops, training programs, & engagement activities. She also assists in the training of DEI Implementation Leads and Facilitators across Michigan Medicine.

Joe Volpe

Joe Volpe

Special Trainings Program Coordinator
Professional Development & Inclusion

Bio

As the Training Coordinator, Joe oversees the scheduling and coordination of trainings from the Professional Development and Inclusion team within OHEI. His role is primarily focused on strategically meeting the training needs of Michigan Medicine staff, faculty and learners and supporting the development and implementation of new trainings.

Joe is a graduate of Aquinas College, with a bachelor’s degree in Community Leadership. Prior to Michigan Medicine, he has worked in youth development, social justice education, and social services. Joe is also an AmeriCorps alum, having served two years with Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest and AmeriCorps VISTA.

Othelia W. Pryor, Ph.D.

Senior Project Manager
Pathways Program

Bio

Dr. Pryor’s responsibilities include overseeing Michigan Health Sciences Summer Institute programming and recruitment activities; teaching workshops on the root causes on health inequities; and developing community partnerships.  Her career has focused on diversifying the next generation of health care professionals by serving the needs of underrepresented and disenfranchised individuals and communities.

Dr. Pryor is a founding member of the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities and the founder of the Michigan Minority Health Coalition.  Her educational accomplishments include a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Michigan State University; an M.P.H. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; an MBA from the University of Illinois; and a Bachelor of Science degree in business from the University of Pittsburgh.

Reginald E. Beasley

Medical Student Program Manager
Pathways Program

Bio

Reggie supports Dr. David Brown with advising and mentoring OHEI’s Sponsored Student Organizations (SSO), which focuses on addressing the disparities that exist in under-represented and marginalized communities. Reggie also assists Dr. David Brown with planning and coordinating the L.E.A.D Program.

Reggie earned his masters degree in Higher Education Leadership with a focus on Student Affairs from Eastern Michigan University. With a strong passion to support students from various backgrounds, Reggie brings experience in supporting student programming that creates a community within graduate student education.

Jodi Forrester-Hutchins OHEI headshot

Jodi Forrester-Hutchins

Administrative/ Program Coordinator
Pathways Program

Bio

Jodi is a grounded professional with over 25 years of experience at the University of Michigan.  As the Coordinator of the Michigan Health Sciences Summer Institute(MHSSI) and Pipeline team, she provides high-level administrative and strategic support overseeing and managing the operations, processes, contracts, budgets and activities of these programs, to achieve the highest program success and compliance.  Jodi’s education and bachelor’s in Human Resource Management, experience, and direct collaboration with pre-college, undergraduate, graduate, staff and faculty has provided her with a unique experience aiding in her work with diverse populations, disparities and with various educational levels.

Patti Andreski OHEI headshot

Patti Andreski

Senior Research Area Specialist
Research & Metrics

Bio

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.

Tami Hart-Johnson OHEI headshot

Tami Hart-Johnson

Project Intermediate Manager
Research & Metrics

Bio

Tami Hart-Johnson has been studying health disparities for nearly two decades. The Office for Health Equity and Inclusion is dedicated to ensuring the work we do is scientifically driven and systematically evaluated, and Tami spearheads the office’s health disparities research process. She works with OHEI’s research team to examine existing data within Michigan Medicine, including consulting and mentoring developing researchers. She also collaborates with the pipeline program managers to ensure careful evaluation of the pipeline programs for the purpose quality improvement and track program success.