The Power of Hip-Hop

For many of us, music has been a lifeline to positive transformation. Through hip-hop music, we seek to promote health equity among youth using an innovative array of media tools designed to improve health literacy.

Our Mission

To foster positive health behavior change through the power of hip-hop music.

Our Vision

Youth around the globe are empowered with the knowledge and skills to make healthier choices, reducing preventable health conditions and the rising tide of childhood obesity.

OUR RESEARCH

We are committed to an iterative cycle of program evaluation, academic research and resource refinement.

Our Research

WE ARE A COLLECTIVE

Board of Directors

Dr. Olajide Williams

Founder and President

Dr. Olajide Williams is the Founder of Hip Hop Public Health. He currently serves Chief of Staff of Neurology, Director of Acute Stroke Services, and Associate Professor of Neurology at Columbia University. Dr Williams is a highly regarded NIH researcher and expert in community-based health education interventions targeting economically disadvantaged minorities. He is the author of numerous scholarly peer reviewed publications including the acclaimed book, Stroke Diaries - a collection of patient encounter stories published by Oxford University Press. Dr Williams sits on several prominent boards, including the Partnership for a Healthier America whose honorary chair is First Lady Michelle Obama and the Founders Affiliate board of the American Heart Association. Dr Williams has received numerous national awards for his work including congressional citations and state proclamations. He has been featured by several major networks which include NBC, ABC, CNN, Al Jazeera, Fox, NPR and the New York Times. Dr. Williams was profiled in Fast Company magazine’s 100 Most Creative People in Business, the Root 100′s most influential, BET’s “A” list, and the 2015 New York Magazine’s Best Doctors list.

Doug E. Fresh

Founding Artist | Honorary Board Member

Doug E. Fresh is known as the Original Human Beat Box, and is credited for creating and popularizing this pillar of hip hop music and culture. Doug is the author of several hit records, including “The Show”, and “La-Di-Da-Di” with Slick Rick. As the Vice-President of Entertainment of Hip Hop Public Health, Doug is integral to the development of all Hip Hop Public Health music and multimedia materials.

Lori Rose Benson

Executive Director and CEO

With over twenty-five years’ experience in public health and education, Lori joined Hip Hop Public Health in 2017 as the organization’s inaugural Executive Director. Her experience in developing and scaling innovative health, fitness and wellness programs is precisely aligned with HHPH’s vision to empower youth around the globe with the knowledge and skills to make healthier choices, reducing preventable health conditions and the rising tide of childhood obesity.

Before joining HHPH, Lori served as Vice President of Healthy Lifestyles at the YMCA of Greater New York, spearheading all aspects of the preventative health and wellness portfolio for the largest YMCA in the United States with a key focus on health innovation, development of youth fitness programming and scaling chronic disease prevention programs to meet the diverse needs of New York City's communities. Lori was the principal architect of the award winning Y-MVP Teen Fitness Challenge – an innovative program blending fun fitness activities with an interactive mobile app designed to recognize, reward and motivate NYC's young people to increase their daily levels of Moderate to Vigorous Physical activity.

Prior to joining the Y in 2011, Lori served as the Executive Director of the Office of School Wellness Programs at New York City’s Department of Education, established under the Bloomberg administration in collaboration with NYC’s Health Department. She implemented policies and designed initiatives to increase the quality and quantity of physical and health education for 1.1 million students in 1,700 public schools. Highlights under Lori’s tenure include the creation of a city-wide sports and fitness league for hundreds of middle schools, introducing classroom-based physical activity curriculum, launching school wellness council grant programs, and spearheading the implementation of NYC FITNESSGRAM, an annual student fitness assessment, which is now one of the country’s largest web-based longitudinal data base on childhood obesity and physical fitness.

Raised in Brooklyn, Lori attended New York City’s public schools and earned a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in Communications and Graphic Design, and a M.A. in Physical Education from Adelphi University in Garden City, NY, where she is currently an Adjunct Faculty member in the Department of Exercise Science, Health Studies, Physical Education and Sport. Lori personally embraces physical activity and her love of music into her daily life as a yoga enthusiast, an aspiring DJ and a spinning instructor who still teaches two cycling classes a week at Crunch Fitness in Brooklyn.

Raymond Javdan, Esq.

Board member

The Javdan Firm PLLC (Legal Counsel)

Ray Javdan is a veteran entertainment attorney, advising everyone from emerging- to award-winning artists, producers, writers, composers and publishing companies, on intellectual property, licensing, and contractual issues in music, musical theater, film, television, internet, and other platforms. A graduate of Fordham University School of Law, he spent 7 years with the renowned international law firm of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, representing some of the world’s largest media companies, prior to starting his own full-service boutique practice. As an advocate to artists, and the son of a physician father and nutritionist-philanthropist mother, he is proud to contribute to the outreach efforts of Hip Hop Public Health.

Mindy Feldman Hecht

Board Member

Mindy Feldman Hecht is the Social Media Director and Ambassador Program Manager at Hip Hop Public Health. She is also a Research Coordinator for the Hip Hop Stroke and TASHE stroke education programs. Mindy first became interested in issues related to health disparities and health education during her time as an undergraduate at Columbia University when she traveled to several developing countries and learned about these issues firsthand. These issues led her to pursue a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia and her current career. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Teachers College at Columbia University, where she is focusing her dissertation on the physical activity-related work of Hip Hop Public Health. Mindy enjoys spending time with family, traveling with her husband Eric, reading and spinning.

Tiberius Vadan

Board Member

Born in Romania and raised in the United States, Tiberius transcends many cultural boundaries with a keen interest in education and youth development. Through the various non-profit organizations on which he has served as an advisor or board member, he endeavors and delivers a broad interest and capability to inspire people to make a difference. These include Junior Achievement, where he was an instructor and leader during his free time in college, as well as the Alex Fund Foundation, where in collaboration with Leslie and Ethan Hawke among others, he helped grow the organization to provide schools and education to impoverished children in Romania through an ingenious program tying school attendance to rewards for mothers in both jobs and job training and food-related programs. In his focus on music and youth, he is also on Board of the New York City Opera and the YMCA Junior Board. In his professional life, Tiberius leads the KPMG M&A Integration and Separation practice for New York. He has worked on more than 150 acquisitions and divestitures across the world and across industries that are worth more than a trillion dollars. In his personal life, he and his loving wife Elena enjoy travel, sailing, and the company of amazing friends.

Alexandra DeSorbo-Quinn

Board Member

Alexandra DeSorbo-Quinn is the Executive Director of Pilot Light, a Chicago-based nonprofit that partners chefs and teachers to build Common Core-compatible curriculum on food basics. Alex began her career at Harlem Hospital in New York City, where she was deeply engaged in public health education for urban, underserved communities. Recognizing the power of the creative arts to reach people, she began to develop and implement public health programming that harnessed contemporary urban music genres to facilitate healthy behavior change among communities with the Hip Hop Public Health team. She has also served as a member of the faculty at Columbia University’s Neurological Institute, where she managed two federally-funded community-based studies before coming to Pilot Light. In 2014, she was recognized by the Society for Public Health Education as one of 30 Under 30 in Health Education and in 2015 she received the Society’s Oberteuffer Scholarship, which recognizes a doctoral student in health education whose work promises to advance the health of children and youth. Alex is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and earned her Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Teachers College of Columbia University.

James M. Noble, MD MS CPH

Board Member

Dr. Noble attended Vanderbilt University where in 1997 he was the general manager of WRVU Nashville 91.1 and subsequently completed his undergraduate studies in math and chemistry, followed by medical school at Emory University. His graduate medical training included internal medicine internship, neurology residency including chief resident in neurology, and finally neuroepidemiology and behavioral neurology fellowship, all at Columbia University Medical Center. He is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at Columbia University Medical Center, was initially based at Harlem Hospital Center, and now is a member of the Taub Institute for Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain and the G.H. Sergievsky Center at Columbia University. Dr. Noble is recognized as a leader in neurological education at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. In addition to providing care to general neurologic patients as well as those with dementia, his research interests include health literacy, sports-related concussion, and systemic inflammatory factors as contributors to dementia health disparities. Dr. Noble is the president of Arts & Minds, a non-profit organization promoting well-being for dementia patients and their caregivers via art-centered, museum-based experiences in upper Manhattan. He has worked with Dr. Williams in developing the research arm of the Hip Hop Public Health programs since the inception of Hip Hop Stroke in 2005.

Staff

Lori Rose Benson

Executive Director and CEO

With over twenty-five years’ experience in public health and education, Lori joined Hip Hop Public Health in 2017 as the organization’s inaugural Executive Director. Her experience in developing and scaling innovative health, fitness and wellness programs is precisely aligned with HHPH’s vision to empower youth around the globe with the knowledge and skills to make healthier choices, reducing preventable health conditions and the rising tide of childhood obesity.

Before joining HHPH, Lori served as Vice President of Healthy Lifestyles at the YMCA of Greater New York, spearheading all aspects of the preventative health and wellness portfolio for the largest YMCA in the United States with a key focus on health innovation, development of youth fitness programming and scaling chronic disease prevention programs to meet the diverse needs of New York City's communities. Lori was the principal architect of the award winning Y-MVP Teen Fitness Challenge – an innovative program blending fun fitness activities with an interactive mobile app designed to recognize, reward and motivate NYC's young people to increase their daily levels of Moderate to Vigorous Physical activity.

Prior to joining the Y in 2011, Lori served as the Executive Director of the Office of School Wellness Programs at New York City’s Department of Education, established under the Bloomberg administration in collaboration with NYC’s Health Department. She implemented policies and designed initiatives to increase the quality and quantity of physical and health education for 1.1 million students in 1,700 public schools. Highlights under Lori’s tenure include the creation of a city-wide sports and fitness league for hundreds of middle schools, introducing classroom-based physical activity curriculum, launching school wellness council grant programs, and spearheading the implementation of NYC FITNESSGRAM, an annual student fitness assessment, which is now one of the country’s largest web-based longitudinal data base on childhood obesity and physical fitness.

Raised in Brooklyn, Lori attended New York City’s public schools and earned a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in Communications and Graphic Design, and a M.A. in Physical Education from Adelphi University in Garden City, NY, where she is currently an Adjunct Faculty member in the Department of Exercise Science, Health Studies, Physical Education and Sport. Lori personally embraces physical activity and her love of music into her daily life as a yoga enthusiast, an aspiring DJ and a spinning instructor who still teaches two cycling classes a week at Crunch Fitness in Brooklyn.

Easy A.D. Harris

Director of Hip Hop Educational Programming

Founding member of the Legendary Cold Crush Brothers, Easy leads Hip Hop Public Health as our resident Hip Hop expert and program ambassador. He performs at all our Hip Hop Public Health school-based programs, spreading the message of healthy lifestyle choices through the culture of Hip Hop. He appears on various Hip Hop Public Health tracks and educational videos, including Go Slow Whoa Foods, Go Slow Whoa Dance and the Hip Hop H.E.A.L.S. Anthem. A.D. co-executive produced our widely anticipated Hip Hop Public Health Vol. I album.

Artie Green

Director of Music Production

A multi-platinum music producer, he has written, produced, engineered and appeared on numerous Hip Hop Public Health tracks and co-executive produced Hip Hop Public Health Vol. I. Artie Green helped create our first ever Hip Hop H.E.A.L.S. track, Watch Your Calories, as well as the widely popular Exercise and Be Calorie Wise, Go Slow Whoa Dance, Hip Hop F.E.E.T (Finding Exercise Energy Thresholds), Hip Hop POP (Pouring on the Pounds), Hip Hop FLOW and the Hip Hop H.E.A.L.S. Anthem, among others. He appears in our first ever live action educational music video and as the loveable C.O.C. (Counter of Calories) in various animated educational music videos and comic books.

Luisa Gomez Chan

Director of Operations and Strategies

Luisa serves as the Director of Operations and Strategies for Hip Hop Public Health initiatives. She oversees the daily operations of NIH/NIA and Investigator-initiated research focused on community education and health literacy. She provides oversight and administrative support to Project Managers on various programs.

Luisa completed her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Teachers College Columbia University. She earned her undergraduate degree in Sociology with a concentration in Urban Studies from Hunter College.

Luisa has a wide-ranging background in behavioral research, clinical trials, and project management. During her spare time, Luisa enjoys traveling (everywhere), hiking (anywhere), reading (almost anything), recycling (everything) and karaoke (well, just because). She is passionate about health and being an integral part of a team that truly cares about their communities and environment!

Janhavi Mallaiah

Program Manager

Janhavi manages the Hip Hop Stroke 2.0 program which focuses on providing stroke education in New York State schools. In addition, Janhavi coordinates the Columbia InTOuCH/Community Health Worker (CHW) training program that provides screening and health counseling to local community residents. She is also the research and evaluation lead of this program. Janhavi graduated with a medical degree from the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences in India. She subsequently received her Master’s in Public Health at the UNT Health Science Center in Texas. Before moving to the United States, Janhavi had extensive public health practice experience in India where she led major initiatives including: setting up primary health care clinics, recruiting and training over 50 lay health educators in basic health and hygiene practices, and medical screening programs. As a member of Public Health International, she brings global experience in community-based participatory research, community capacity building and qualitative research. Her passion for community medicine drove her to expand her experience beyond her boundaries. Janhavi is a trained Indian Classical music singer, in her free time; she enjoys reading, biking, meditation and yoga.

Harmon Moats

Senior Program Manager

Harmon Moats is a lifetime resident of New York City. He attended and graduated from St. Olaf College receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in Urban Studies. In 2006 he obtained his Master’s degree in Public Health from Columbia University’s School of Public Health.

Harmon worked for Harlem Hospital from 1981 to 1992 as both a program manager in the Psychiatry Department and as program director for the Heart of Harlem Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program in Cardiology. The Heart of Harlem program was a community-based cardiovascular disease risk reduction program focused on educating the community about the stroke and heart attack risk and offering programs to assist the community with making healthy choices leading to a healthier lifestyle.

Between 1992 and 2003 he continued to work in Harlem, developing numerous health and wellness programs and partnering with many of the CBO’s, churches, schools and community centers in central and West Harlem. He has worked consistently to educate the community about the dangers of smoking, the importance maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

From 2003 to 2016 Mr. Moats worked for the Neurology Department at Columbia University Medical Center as a clinical coordinator, managing several clinical and drug trials for the stroke services at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Seeing the effects of stroke first hand and understanding the important role of stroke prevention planning for stroke survivors, has led him into his current field of work.

Currently, Harmon is the senior program manager for a relatively new program sponsored by Columbia University. The “InTOuCH” program is a community health worker training program involved in stroke and heart attack prevention activities, dedicated to lowering stroke and heart attack rates in this community. InTOuCH is currently partnering with a number of Central and West Harlem churches, training members of the health ministries in those churches to go out into the Harlem community and screen residents for high blood pressure and diabetes.

Harmon’s primary responsibility is to build infrastructure in Harlem to support improved community health and greater access to health care and medical services.

Madeleine Hassankhani

Staff Associate and Program Manager

Madeleine Hassankhani is a Staff Associate at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and Research Coordinator for Hip Hop Public Health. She received an MPA from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. She is currently pursuing a Master’s of Education in Comparative Education at Teachers College Columbia University with plans to pursue a doctorate in the program.

Madeleine works on the Old SCHOOL and TASHE research projects at CUMC as well as administers the educational programs for HHPH including the Hip Hop Youth Physical Education (HYPE) and supporting HYPE The Breaks Program. Previously, she worked with the Taub Center interviewing people with dementia and their caregivers with the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. In all her work, Madeleine has focused recruitment of Latino participants and educating economically disadvantaged minorities on public health principles.

Madeleine assists with HHPH by overseeing the daily operations of the non-profit including reviewing budgets, managing costs, overseeing inventory, and social media. Madeleine is a published author in the Journal of Neurology. In her spare time, she enjoys running outdoors and has completed the NYC Triathlon twice. As a native of Queens, NY, Madeleine enjoys giving back to her community through volunteering and exploring the NYC music and food scenes.

Sandra Minchala

Research Assistant

Sandra was born in Ecuador and immigrated to NYC with her family when she was 8 years old. She became a student in NYC Public Schools and is a proud alumna of Brooklyn Technical High School. While in high school, Sandra found her love for community service. She worked fervently in educating younger children in various programs and she participated actively in ASPIRA of New York, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering Latino youth.

Sandra received her bachelor's in chemistry from Wagner College in Staten Island. Sandra's undergraduate research focused primarily on global public health issues, particularly contamination and nutrition projects in Bangladesh and Kenya. In addition to her research, she continued tutoring and teaching children in various disciplines in NYC.
After graduating, she worked in CUNY Start, a program that prepares underserved NYC youth to become college-proficient in writing and math. She then continued her community work at Rutgers University in an environmental injustice research project. Now, in order to pursue her passion for empowering NYC youth, she proudly joins the HHPH team as a research assistant.

In her free time Sandra enjoys traveling, listening to live music, reading poetry, doing Sudoku puzzles, and of course, educating NYC’s youth.

Vanessa Sawyer

Resident Dietitian and Senior Program Manager

Our Advisory Board

Chuck D – Hip Hop Artist/Musician

DMC – Hip Hop Artist/Musician

Olubenga Ogedegbe, MD MS MPH FACP – New York University School of Medicine

Rob Shepardson – SS+K

Scott Silverstein – Yolo Candy, LLC 

Tony Drootin – Sound on Sound Studios

Dana Austin – Executive Creative Producer

John Allegrante, PhD – Teachers College at Columbia University

Kelly Fogel – Documentary Photographer & Former Music Industry Executive 

Ian Ellis James

Terry Nelson

Monique Hedmann

 

Student Advisory Board

A group of dedicated, insightful and thoughtful 4th and 5th graders from:

Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School in Manhattan, NYC

and

PS 16 in Brooklyn, NYC