Search MyHealth

Conference Presenters

Learn about the background and experience of our Ninth Annual Community Health Worker Conference keynote speaker and workshop presenters.

Keynote Speaker

Kenneth J. Fawcett, MD
Vice President, Healthier Communities
Spectrum Health
Grand Rapids, MI

Presentation: New Face of Health Care; Emerging Roles for CHWs Navigating Health

Dr. Ken Fawcett is the Vice President for Spectrum Health Healthier Communities. He works with a team of dedicated professionals in order to further improve West Michigan’s most pressing health issues. Healthier Communities’ highest priorities are to help at-risk adults prevent and manage chronic diseases, improve children’s health and reduce infant mortality. This is also done in collaboration with community organizations. At the core of the program’s outreach are the under-served people whose demographic, economic or cultural characteristics impede or prevent their access to health care or place them at risk for poor health care outcomes.

Ken has provided clinical care and has participated in physician management, leadership and governance activities for Spectrum Health and its predecessors since the early 1990s.

Ken received his BA in Biology from Albion College and his Doctor of Medicine (MD) from the University of Michigan Medical School. He completed a combined Internal Medicine and Pediatric Residency Program at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Keynote and Workshop Speaker

Julie St. John, DrPH, MPH, MA, CHWI
Department of Public Health Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Abilene, TX

Keynote Presentation: Shining Light Among the Shadows: Strategies for CHWs to Keep Their Lights Shining Brightly

Workshop Presentation: Laughter Therapy: Saving Your Sanity Through Laughter

Julie St. John is the Associate Chair, Abilene, Department of Public Health, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and the Co-Director of the MPH program. She has her doctorate in Public Health from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health. She is a Texas certified Community Health Worker Instructor, serves on the Texas CHW Advisory Committee, a member of the APHA CHW Section Council, and has worked with CHWs over 14 years. Her research interests include utilizing CHWs in community-based participatory research and community health development approaches, and she has served as the principal and co-investigator on numerous projects. She is also the founder of the National CHW Training Center at Texas A&M School of Public Health.

Workshop Presenters

Karen Burd, BA, MA
Educator, Administrator, Consultant, Coach, Specialist
Kent Intermediate School District
Grand Rapids, MI

Presentation: True Colors—How To Communicate So You Can Be Heard!

Karen Burd has served as an elementary teacher, preschool director, school principal, early learning coach, quality improvement specialist, teacher evaluator and educational speaker. Come and enjoy learning how to speak so you can be heard. We will have some fun!

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." George Bernard Shaw 

Shannon Cohen, MPA
Founder/Principal
Shannon Cohen, Inc.
Grand Rapids, MI

Presentation: HELP! I’m Ready to Get Off the Hamster Wheel of Burnout and Overextension

Shannon Cohen is the founder and principal of Shannon Cohen, Inc. [dba Community Ventures]. Shannon is an award-winning industry leader and sought-after strategist, innovator and inspirational leader.

Shannon is a practitioner adjunct faculty member for the School of Public, Nonprofit and Health Administration at Grand Valley State University. She is passionate about empowering emerging and existing leaders to be transformative in the communities they serve.

Most recently, Shannon has expanded the services of Community Ventures to offer a program called Mirror Talk™ which specializes in empowering today’s overextended female executive to navigate the emotional, mental and physical strain that often accompanies a life committed to being a difference-maker. Shannon produces a weekly Mirror Talk Monday video segment and monthly Tough Skin, Soft Heart newsletter for women in leadership. Shannon has served several entities. She and her husband are the proud parents of a 2-year old son, Duriel Cohen II.

Tressa Crosby, ASA
Health Project
A Community Benefit Ministry of Mercy Health
Muskegon, MI

Presentation: Seeds of Change: Cultivating a Healthy Mind and Spirit

Tressa Crosby, ASA serves as a Community Health Worker Lead at the Health Project, a Community Benefit Ministry of Mercy Health in Muskegon, MI. Ms. Crosby has over 10 years’ experience in community organizing around social justice issues including childhood lead poisoning prevention and mentoring children of prisoners. She performs outreach and enrollment for state and federal entitlement programs; provides care coordination and home-based support for at-risk pregnant women; and serves as a lead for the Michigan Pathways to Better Health project in Muskegon.

Since January 2014, Ms. Crosby, has served as co-chair of the MiCHWA Policy and Finance Working Group and a member of the Steering Committee. Ms. Crosby has her Associates of Science and Arts from Muskegon Community College and is currently working on her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Sociology at Grand Valley State University.

Karyl DeBruyn, RN, CWC, CHC, SD
Care Manager
Spectrum Health
Grand Rapids, MI

Presentation: Nurturing an Illuminated Mind and Spirit

Karyl DeBruyn is a registered nurse currently working as a care manager at Spectrum Health. She appreciates the opportunities she has experienced in the past 35 years as a nurse in the West Michigan community.

She has a passion for healing the whole person and is mindful of the connections between body, mind and spirit.

Karyl has been a certified health and wellness coach for the past 10 years and enjoys journeying with others as they magnify their well-being.

As a spiritual director she embraces the mystery of spirit as she meets with people expanding the understanding of their spiritual selves. Creativity, imagination and clarity are themes that inspire her.

Denise Evans, MM, MA
Strong Beginnings, federally-funded Healthy Start program
Grand Rapids, MI

Presentation:  “To Thine Own Self Be True …”

Denise Evans, MM, MA is the Project Coordinator for the Strong Beginnings program (SB) (a federally-funded Healthy Start program) and a trained facilitator in the area of health equity social justice programming. In conjunction with Kent County Health Department staff, Denise has facilitated over 40 Health Equity Social Justice 2-day Dialogue Sessions. Denise is a trained community organizer and uses her experience to help provide leadership at the state and local level of the Michigan Power to Thrive movement—joining community organizers and public health professionals to improve the lives of community residents by addressing the social determinants of health. She serves Health Equity Projects.

 Ms. Evans is a graduate of Cornerstone University in the area of Business Management, the Southern California School of Ministry and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in the area of Organizational Leadership. Her passion is working towards the elimination of health inequities and the racialized outcomes that plague our nation’s most vulnerable citizens—people of color, children, and those living in poverty.

Erik Fermin, LMSW
Community Health Educator
Spectrum Health Healthier Communities
Grand Rapids, MI

Presentation: Ethics, Liability and Mandated Reporting

Erik received his Master of Social Work degree from Grand Valley State University, having been recognized by the National Association of Social Workers as the 2014 Student of the Year. He has a history of working alongside under-served communities, being himself a product of those communities, through engagement, advocacy, education and a commitment to life-long learning. Erik has served Latino, African American and refugee populations in his work of empowerment, and has facilitated men’s groups on subjects such as domestic violence and substance use. As part of Healthier Communities’ Education Team, Erik relies on his personal and learned experiences to inform and improve the services and delivery of knowledge throughout Spectrum Health and its partnering agencies in the Grand Rapids area.

Tony R. Jolliffi
GRAAHI/Strong Beginnings-Strong Fathers
Grand Rapids, MI

Presentation: Engaging and Maintaining Fatherhood Involvement

Tony Jolliffi originates from Detroit, Michigan where he attended Detroit College of Business. From there, Tony became a self-motivated entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience starting and cultivating businesses and ideas. In 2012, Tony joined the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute in the capacity of Fatherhood Program Coordinator of “Strong Fathers” for the Strong Beginnings Program, a federally-funded Healthy Start program, where he successfully established Home Visiting for Fathers, created “Dad Talk” and “Barbershop Talk” two very successful practice-based programs. He co-created a Flag Football League for Fathers and Families and, along with retired Kent County Friend of the Court Director Terry Novakowski, Tony co-developed the “HELP Clinic” to reduce the number of show cause hearings and bench warrant executions in Kent County. Tony has been married to his devoted and supportive wife Shena for nearly 20 years and has a blended family.

Judy Smith, MD, MS, CPE, FACS
Department Chief, Oncology
Spectrum Health Cancer Center
Grand Rapids, MI

Presentation: Saving Lives: The Role of the CHW in Cancer Care

Dr. Smith, Department Chief of Oncology at Spectrum Health, serves as the clinical leader for Spectrum Health’s cancer network activities at Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion and regional sites. Dr. Smith is a surgical oncologist who is board certified in general surgery. After earning her medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Dr. Smith completed a residency in general surgery at Hartford Hospital, University of Connecticut and a fellowship in surgical oncology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y. Dr. Smith obtained a Master of Science in Administrative Medicine from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Dr. Smith is a member of the American College of Physician Executives and the Society of Surgical Oncology, as well as a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. She is a reviewer for “Cancer,” “Journal of Clinical Oncology,” “Journal of the American Medical Association” and “New England Journal of Medicine,” and has authored and co-authored journal publications, book chapters and abstracts on surgical oncology.

Panel Presenters

Presentation: CHW Career Pathways  

Aaron Estrada, CHW
Grand Rapids African American Health Institute (GRAAHI)
Grand Rapids, MI

Aaron Estrada is a Grand Rapids Native and a Community Health Worker (CHW) with GRAAHI’s Care Connect program. He is located at the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan. In addition to being a CHW, Aaron is also a Certified Marketplace Navigator that assists the community with Affordable Care Act education and insurance enrollment. Prior to taking the position with GRAAHI Aaron served at Cherry Health as part of the AmeriCorps Program.

Celeste Sánchez Lloyd, BS, MA
Program Manager
Strong Beginnings, federally-funded Healthy Start project
Grand Rapids, MI

Celeste graduated from Purdue University with a BS in Child Development and Family Science and completed her MA in Family Life Education at WMU. She has spent the last ten years working primarily with the Latino community in under-served situations within the following states: Indiana, Virginia and Michigan. As a Program Manager for Strong Beginnings, her interests include minimizing health disparities within the Hispanic community, inclusion and diversity-surrounding reducing social injustice, retention and growth for young professionals, and equal educational opportunities for children in under-served communities.

Marta Lugo-Rodriguez
C.H.A.S.S. Center
Detroit, MI

Marta Lugo-Rodriguez is a Community Health Worker (CHW) at Community Health and Social Services, Inc. (CHASS). She has been a CHW for over 15 years, working in Detroit with moms, babies and adults. She currently works as a community-based doula.

Ms. Lugo-Rodriguez is an active participant with the Michigan Community Health Worker Alliance (MiCHWA). She co-leads MiCHWA's CHW Network and participates on the Steering Committee. She has served with MiCHWA since its founding in 2011.

Alicia Young, CHW, BS, MSW
Spectrum Health Healthier Communities
Grand Rapids, MI

Alicia Young was born and raised in Grand Rapids Michigan. She recently graduated from Western Michigan University with a Masters of Social Work Degree. She has worked for Spectrum Health for the past 13 years and currently serves as a Community Health Worker for Spectrum Health Maternal Infant Health Program/Strong Beginnings.