Conference Presenters

Keynote Speaker

Rima Shah, MD, MBA
Division Chief Primary Health
Spectrum Health Medical Group
Grand Rapids, MI

Keynote Presentation: Eliminating Health Care Disparities in our Communities

Dr. Rima Shah is the division chief of primary health at Spectrum Health, an internist with clinical experience and a core faculty member at Internal Medicine Residency Program (Associate Professor of Medicine, Michigan State University). She has a combined background with an MBA in Health Administration and Management. Dr. Shah has a proven record of providing value-based, patient-centric, compassionate care as well as leading organizational change toward goals and strategic vision through consensus-building and servant model leadership. She is highly skilled at assessing needs, uncovering cost-effective, streamlined solutions and inspiring an atmosphere of collaborative implementation.


Keynote Speaker

Cassandra Hankins, BS, MA, LLPC
Coordinator, Academy of Health Sciences & Technology
Spectrum Health Healthier Communities
Grand Rapids, MI

Keynote Presentation: Awareness – Insight – Action and the Journey of My Mental Health and Wellness

Cassandra is a limited licensed professional counselor, teacher and speaker. She has completed a Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Grand Valley State University and a Master of Arts in Counseling from Cornerstone University. Currently, Cassandra is a doctoral candidate in Counseling and Psychological Studies at Regent University. 

Cassandra is a community health program specialist at Spectrum Health Hospitals and Chairman of the Board for the Academy of Health Sciences & Technology Program Advisory Council. She also leads the Women’s Ministry and the Counseling Ministry at her church and is the mentor director for the Grand Rapids Theological Seminary Urban Cohort program. 

Cassandra has a comedic gift, which she uses to encourage others. Her portrayal of a self-created character, Mother Bee, is well received wherever she performs. Mother Bee is a hilarious, old school, feisty, churchgoing senior citizen.

 

Workshop Presenters

Valencia Agnew, PhD
Adolescent & Family Behavioral Health Services
Grand Rapids, M

Presentation: Suicide Awareness 

Dr. Valencia Agnew has been a counselor in the Grand Rapids community for over 18 years and recently was selected as Winner of the 2017 Grand Rapids Business Journal’s Top Women Owned Businesses Award, the 2018 Giants Eugene Brown Medical Service Award and the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan Award 2018. She was also appointed by the Governor to sit on the Michigan Licensing Board of Psychology. Dr. Agnew is an expert in the areas of borderline personality disorder, self-injury and trauma, as well as adolescent, family and couples therapy. She has a true passion for helping others make powerful positive changes in their lives.

Dr. Agnew holds a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Western Michigan University, a doctorate degree from Walden University and a certification as a Dialectical Behavior Therapy therapist (DBTC) with training specific to adults, adolescents and children. She has also completed Level 3 Practicum Training in the Gottman Method.


Jamon Alexander
Director of Workforce Development
West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology (WMCAT)
Grand Rapids, MI

Presentation: The Connection Between Work Culture and Mental Health: How Do We Navigate? 

Jamon joined WMCAT in 2015, as a program director, overseeing the WMCAT Adult Career Training Program. Jamon has led fundraising and volunteer efforts at the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, Spectrum Health Foundation, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Heart of West Michigan United Way. He is on the Equity Action Team for the Essential Needs Task Force (ENTF), part of the Equity Advisory for KConnect’s 4th-12th grade workgroup and a core team member of Invest Health, a national initiative that addresses the social determinants of health.

Jamon is also a founder of BL2END and currently serves on the Advisory Committee. He is alumni of the REAL (Racial Equity in Action Leadership) cohort with the National Equity Project. In 2014, he was given the Community Advocate Award by Grand Rapids Young Professionals; and he was named one of 40 Under 40 by the Grand Rapids Business Journal in 2013 and 2015. Jamon earned his bachelor’s degree in Public and Nonprofit Administration from Grand Valley State University, who named him Young Alumni of the Year in 2012.


Kristi Artz, MD, CCMS
Medical Director Lifestyle Medicine and MedNow

Krista Gast, RD
Registered Dietitian
Spectrum Health, Behavioral Science and Lifestyle Medicine
Grand Rapids, MI

Presentation: Culinary Medicine – Knowledge + Skills for a Healthy Life 

Dr. Kristi Artz is board certified in emergency medicine and current medical director of Lifestyle Medicine and lead physician of the Culinary Medicine program at Spectrum Health. She also serves as medical director of MedNow, Spectrum Health’s telehealth platform. She received her Culinary Medicine Specialist certification through Tulane University’s Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine and is also certified in plant-based nutrition through Cornell University. Additionally, Kristi sits on the council of directors for the global organization, True Health Initiative.

Krista Gast is a registered dietitian practicing with Spectrum Health for 20 years. She worked in a number of specialized areas including Spectrum Health’s Heart and Lung Transplant program and in weight management counseling before joining Spectrum’s Culinary Medicine team. She is currently working toward a Plant Based Professional Certification from Rouxbe Cooking School and becoming a Credentialed Health and Wellness Coach from Wellcoaches. Krista has a passion for inspiring people to get in their kitchens and cook delicious food that supports their health.


Priscilla Hohmann, LLMSW, MDIV
MiCHWA Education and Registry Manager
Michigan Community Health Worker Alliance (MiCHWA)
Lansing, MI

Presentation: MiCHWA’s Year of Evolution and Expansion: Growing Our Capacity, Efforts and Voice

Priscilla is the MiCHWA education and registry manager and oversees the MiCHWA CHW Training Program, including curriculum development, certification, evaluation and outreach. She also manages MiCHWA CHW instructor education and the MiCHWA CHW Registry. Priscilla earned a Master of Social Work at the University of Michigan with a focus on health and health disparities, completing her clinical training at Michigan Medicine. Prior to that, she worked as a high school social studies teacher and as a service-learning director, connecting students to local non-profit organizations to meet community needs through experiential service-learning projects.


Nancy Roberts, RN, CBC, CCE
Educator, Postpartum Emotional Support
Spectrum Health
Grand Rapids, MI

Presentation: Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders: What Every Care Provider Must Know 

Nancy Roberts is an obstetrical registered nurse, certified breastfeeding counselor and certified childbirth educator at Spectrum Health Hospital in Grand Rapids. For the past 30 years, she has been instrumental in the growth and development of the Postpartum Emotional Support Program, facilitating the Postpartum Depression Support Group and coordinating the inpatient screening program.

She authored “Supporting the Breastfeeding Mother through Postpartum Depression” and is the Michigan Coordinator for Postpartum Support International. For six years, Nancy was employed at the Pine Rest Mother and Baby Day Program, teaching psycho-educational classes to pregnant and postpartum women.


Rebecca Spann, Ed.S, LPC, NCC
Lead Therapist/Owner
About You Counseling and Consulting
Grand Rapids, MI

Presentation: Recognizing Cultural Differences When Serving Mothers and Children

Rebecca has been a licensed professional counselor for seven years. She received her Bachelor of Psychology from Jackson State University and completed both her Master and Education Specialist degrees in Counseling from Mississippi College. She specializes in providing therapy to women experiencing anxiety, depression and stress in their everyday lives. She uses creative techniques, designed specifically for each client, to assist them in meeting their goals. Her mission is for each client to complete therapy equipped, empowered and healed.

In addition to counseling services, Rebecca has facilitated over 50 trainings on topics, such as Children in Foster Care, Staff Morale, Addressing Mental Health and Effective Counseling for African-Americans. Her experience comes from serving in private practice, community mental health, the educational system and foster care agencies.


Adnoris “Bo” Torres
Executive Director
Hispanic Center of Western Michigan
Grand Rapids, MI

Presentation: Latino Population and Issues that Contribute to Mental Health 

Adnoris is the executive director of the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan (HCWM) and commits to one thing, “…to listen to the community’s needs, their dreams, their aspirations. To listen to the things that people may feel haven’t been heard in the past.” Mr. Torres is an experienced coordinator with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry. Skilled in comparative politics, community organizing, student development, policy analysis and organizational development, Mr. Torres has over a decade of experience in program and education management. He has a bachelor’s in Political Science and Chicano/Boricua studies from Wayne State University.

Publications: Illness of Migrant Farm Workers: A Study of Medical Records from Migrant Health Clinics in Michigan Apr 2001, Julian Samora Research Institute Michigan State University


Irving E. Vega, PhD
College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University
Grand Rapids, MI

Presentation: Building Community Partnerships to Increase Awareness About Health Disparities 

Dr. Irving E. Vega holds an undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez Campus, a PhD from the Graduate School of New Brunswick, Rutgers University and a postdoctoral fellowship in the Neuroscience Department at Mayo Clinic-Jacksonville, where he developed his research career, focusing on the identification of proteome changes associated with the accumulation of pathological tau proteins in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. His research work also focuses on health disparity issues. In 2005, Dr. Vega established a research team as a faculty member in the Department of Biology at the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras Campus. In 2014, Dr. Vega transferred his research program to the Department of Translational Science and Molecular Medicine at Michigan State University.

Dr. Vega has dedicated his career to developing training programs to increase diversity in the field of neuroscience. His dedication and commitment to mentor the next generation of researchers, especially those from underrepresented ethnic groups in science, is based on his own experiences.


Tempest Warfield, MPH, CHW
Cordovan Consulting
Grand Rapids, MI

Presentation: The Role of Race and Ethnicity in Public Health 

Tempest has a B.S. in Health Communications and in Public Health with an emphasis on Health Education and Promotion from Grand Valley State University. Her professional career began at Spectrum Health Hospital as a nutrition assistant and later moved to the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids. As a health educator at the Y, she informed residents, through community engagement, of the four Hope Zones and provided free health awareness. Tempest’s most rewarding venture has been participating in health promotion in secondary schools in Kenya, Africa. Service learning inspired her to do HIV work in the local community, initially as a HIV patient navigator and then as a HIV prevention program manager. Tempest is presently co-founder of Cordovan Consulting.

She is an Emerging Leaders Series 2014 graduate and a UCC Transformational Leadership 2016 graduate. She enjoys being in Grand Rapids and in international communities helping people attain healthy living and social justice.



Panel Presenters

Presentation: Panel - CHW Career Ladder 

Tania Bermejo, BA
Supervisor, More Life, Más Vida Program
Spectrum Health Healthier Communities
Grand Rapids, MI

Tania has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Michigan. As a student at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Tania was involved with student organizations that worked with the local Hispanic/Latino community. Tania has been working at Spectrum Health for eight years. Currently, she is the supervisor of wellness programs for Kent County at Spectrum Health Healthier Communities where she works to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. She is also a commissioner for the city of Grand Rapids and serves on the Community Relations Commission.

Dionne D. Chivis, LLMSW, BS
Care Manager, MIHP Program
Spectrum Health Healthier Communities
Grand Rapids, MI

Dionne graduated Magna Cum Laude from Spring Arbor University with a Master Degree in Social Work. Dionne also holds a Bachelor of Science Degree with a concentration in Psychology from Cornerstone University and is a graduate of the Michigan Community Health Worker Curriculum. Dionne has worked at Spectrum Health for seven years; three years as a Clinical Support Associate in Oncology and four years as a Community Health Worker for Strong Beginnings. She recently transitioned to her role as Care Manager for MIHP.

For the past three years, Dionne served as co-chair for the Spectrum Health Annual Community Health Worker Conference. She is a past Steering Committee member of Michigan Community Health Worker Alliance (MiCHWA). Dionne was part of the outreach team for the Strong Beginnings program, participating in local community outreach events. She has been a presenter at professional development events and is an active community member, serving as the founder of Coffee & Conversations Young Women Empowerment.

Belinda Cunningham, BSBA
Coordinator of Wellness, Diversity and Community Engagement
Spectrum Health, Office of Medical Education
Grand Rapids, MI

Belinda holds a dual major BS/BA from Aquinas College. She is the coordinator of wellness, diversity and community engagement for residents and fellows in the Office of Medical Education at Spectrum Health. Previously, Belinda worked at Spectrum Health in Community Relations and at Healthier Communities. During her time as a CHW, she co-chaired the Annual CHW conference and facilitated the MOMS program family support group and the Baby Think It Over simulation in clients’ homes. In Community Relations, she served as a media spokesperson for community relations events, co-facilitated system new hire orientation and managed Unconscious Bias workshops. In addition to her work at Spectrum Health, Belinda makes an impact through ministry at Brown-Hutcherson Ministries, at the Kent County Correctional Facility and as an executive board member of Baxter Community Center.

Bridgett Gray, BS, RN
Case Manager, More Life, Más Vida Program
Spectrum Health Healthier Communities
Grand Rapids, MI

Bridgett is a registered nurse case manager with the Spectrum Health Healthier Communities More Life Más Vida Program. She is an advocate, who has earned a reputation of passion in her commitment to serve patients and their families. Prior to working with More Life Más Vida, Bridgett worked as a Community Health Worker for eight years with the Spectrum Health Healthier Communities Core Health Program, providing education and peer support services to patients with diabetes and heart failure. A graduate of Grand Rapids Community College and Davenport University, Bridgett has an Associate degree in Nursing as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Case Management. In her spare time, she enjoys date nights with her husband, playing board games with her family and volunteering at her local church.