The Power of Music

For many of us, music has been a lifeline to positive transformation. Our goal is to achieve health equity using an innovative array of culturally-tailored media tools designed to improve health literacy.

Our Mission

To deliver positive health behavior change through the transformative power of music, art and science.

Our Vision

Youth and families around the globe are living with the knowledge and skills to make healthier choices, inspire health behavior change and achieve health equity in communities of color.

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

Doug E. Fresh

Founding Artist | Honorary Board Member

Internationally known on the microphone as the “World’s Greatest Entertainer,” Barbadian-American rapper Doug E. Fresh, born Douglas Davis, got his initial notoriety for being the original human beat-box, inventing a method to imitate a drum machine using breath control through the teeth, lips, and gums. He had a string of hit singles with his then-partner Slick Rick in the early and mid-1980s, most notably on ``The Show`` and ”La-Di-Da-Di,” one of the top five most sampled songs in music history. A subsequent album, ”Oh, My God,” included guest stints from veteran jazz trumpeter Jimmy Owens and synthesizer player Bernard Wright. Fresh also released a 1988 follow-up album, ”The World's Greatest Entertainer,” and recorded an album in 1992 for M.C. Hammer's short-lived Capitol/EMI Records-distributed label, Bust It Records. After recording another album for Gee Street Records in the mid-1990s and appearing on many other artists' albums, he remains an active force in hip-hop music, appearing as a guest artist on many records, to the present day. On and off the road, Fresh is a lifelong activist, with a proven commitment to using his talents and resources to unite and inspire social justice. He is the founding artist and honorary board member of Hip Hop Public Health, a non-profit dedicated to inspiring health behavior change and achieving health equity in communities of color.

Dr. Olajide Williams

Founder & President

Dr. Olajide Williams is a tenured Professor of Neurology and Associate Dean of Community Research and Engagement at Columbia University. He is Chief of Staff of the Department of Neurology at the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and a global leader in health disparities and behavior change in communities of color. Dr. Williams is the Principal Investigator of multiple large NIH investigator-initiated awards and has served on several national panels on health disparities, including the 2021-2026 National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Strategic Planning Committee. An influential clinician-educator, Dr. Williams is a member of the Columbia University’s Virginia Apgar Academy of Medical Educators and sits on the medical school’s Committee on Education Policy and Curriculum (CEPC). He is co-Chair of the Academy of Community and Public Service, co-Chair of Columbia University’s Medical Campus Anti-Racism Task Force, and co-director of the Columbia University Community Wellness Center. Dr. Williams has authored and co-authored several books and numerous scholarly peer-reviewed articles including the November 2020 AHA Presidential Advisory on Structural Racism.

Dr. Williams is the founder and board chair of Hip Hop Public Health, an internationally recognized organization that works with iconic Hip Hop influencers to uses art, music, and science to promote healthy behaviors, health literacy, and health equity. He is a board member of the Partnership for a Healthier America whose honorary chair is former First Lady Michelle Obama, where he helps guide health equity-related activities. Dr. Williams is an expert on COVID-19 vaccine acceptance in communities of color and COVID-related health disparities. He has received many prestigious international, national, regional, and local awards. These include the European Stroke Research Foundation Investigator of the Year award, two-time Columbia University Outstanding Teacher of the Year award, American Heart Association’s Trailblazer Award, and a National Humanism in Medicine award from the Association of American Medical Colleges. Dr. Williams has been named on Fast Company Magazine’s 100 Most Creative People list, Root 100’s most influential Blacks in America list, Advertising Age’s Creative 50 list, and consecutive New York Magazine's Best Doctors list.

Lori Rose Benson

Executive Director & 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 a weekly cycling class at Crunch Fitness in Brooklyn.

Dr. James M. Noble

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 Associate 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.

Eric Pliner

Board Member

With twenty years of experience in leadership development, organizational culture and strategic diversity and inclusion initiatives, Eric Pliner is the CEO of the London-based leadership strategy firm, YSC Consulting. Eric has designed and implemented leadership strategy in partnership with some of the world’s best-known leaders, companies, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. His particular expertise includes fostering high-performing leadership teams, onboarding and executive coaching for CEOs, and cultivating successful CEO and Board relationships. Eric has coached and developed leaders and teams around the world, across such fields as life sciences and healthcare; advertising, media, and entertainment; fashion and luxury; private equity; financial services; energy and utilities; government, non-profit social change and more.

Eric began his career as a specialist in comprehensive health education and coordinator of the history-making Safe Schools Program for LGBT Students with the Massachusetts Department of Education. He later served young people throughout New York City as the Coordinator of Arts & Media Education Programs with the NYC LGBT Community Center. Eric then spent seven years supporting 1700 schools and one million public school students via the New York City Department of Education and New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, serving as Comprehensive Health Education Coordinator for Manhattan and the Bronx, Deputy Director of Fitness & Physical Education for the five boroughs, and Founding Director of the city’s first Youth Development Resource Center. During this period, he co-authored the U.S. National Standards for Health Education (2nd Edition) and served as an adjunct professor of health education at Hunter College, City University of New York. After completing an MBA in Management & Organizational Behavior, Eric became Director of Organizational Talent Management and Development for the Department of Education before joining London-based leadership strategy firm YSC Consulting.

Eric is also a graduate of Tufts University (American Studies / Peace & Justice Studies) and a member of the Dramatists’ Guild of America. He is the author/co-author of a wide range of published academic, creative, and professional works, including award-winning case studies on diversity and leadership and a theatrical parody for adults of children’s television cartoons. Eric lives in Brooklyn, New York, where years of coaching around the world and teaching throughout the northeastern U.S. have nonetheless left him largely unprepared for his role as father of three awesome, adorable, and mischievous kids.

Dr. Gillian Barclay

Board Member

Dr. Gillian Barclay’s 25-year career extends across the public health, health care, academic and philanthropic sectors and she is currently the President’s Specialist for Academic Health at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Gillian credits her personal and professional life to strong family support, her parents and four siblings. “My parents are my role models and champions. They taught us that the quality and depth of the footprints that you leave are as important as those that you choose to follow. I hope that the footprints that I have left so far can help others and make my family proud.”

Gillian is the former vice president of the Aetna Foundation where she conceptualized and led national and international investments in community wellbeing, quality health care and health equity. Gillian’s work in philanthropy also includes the W.K. Kellogg Foundation where she worked to improve the health of vulnerable and low-income populations. There she held responsibility for impact and evaluation for the foundation’s investments in health and special cross-sectoral initiatives. Her professional experience includes a leadership role within the Pan American Health Organization, the regional body of the World Health Organization. In this role, she worked to strengthen health systems with governments, policymakers and non-governmental organizations across multiple sectors including education, health, human services and finance.

Beyond her experience in philanthropy and government, Gillian has taught at the Harvard School of Public Health and currently teaches in the graduate leadership program at the School of Public Policy, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She completed her postdoctoral research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, along with a doctorate in public health from Harvard University with concentrations in policy and the social determinants of health. She holds a master’s in public health from the University of Michigan, a doctorate in dental surgery from the University of Detroit Mercy and completed her practice residency at New York Hospital. Her undergraduate degree was earned at the University of the West Indies. She is also an active member of national, state and local boards and working groups committed to promoting health, health equity and economic development.

Dr. Olugbenga Ogedegbe

Board Member

Gbenga Ogedegbe, MD, MPH, FACP is the Dr. Adolph & Margaret Professor of Medicine & Population Health, Professor of Global Public Health, Chief Division of Health & Behavior, and Director of the Center for Healthful Behavior at New York University (NYU) School of Medicine. Dr. Ogedegbe is a Member of the National Academy of Medicine. He is Founding Vice Dean and Chief Medical Officer for NYU College of Global Public Health and currently Associate Vice Chancellor for NYU Global Network Academic Planning, where he oversees research programs for undergraduates at NYU global sites across 11 countries. After his residency training in internal medicine, Dr. Ogedegbe completed his fellowship in Health Services Research and Clinical Epidemiology at Cornell and then received his MPH from Columbia University School of Public Health. Prior to his current position, he was faculty at Cornell Weill Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Dr. Ogedegbe is a physician-scientist and a leading expert in minority health and health disparities research targeted at reducing the burden of chronic diseases in minority populations. His expertise is in the implementation and translation of evidence-based public health interventions into clinical care and community settings. He has expanded his work globally, to reduce the burden of heart disease in Africa. His research (over $30 million) is funded by the National Institutes of Health; the Center for Diseases Control, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Policy (AHRQ), and he has authored over 270 publications, editorials, and book chapters in leading medical and public health journals. He has served on numerous scientific expert panels including, the NIH, the American Heart Association, the Institute of Medicine, the Centers for Diseases Control, the World Health Organization, and the European Union Research Directorate.
Dr. Ogedegbe is a member and fellow of numerous scientific societies including the American College of Physicians; American Heart Association, American College of Physicians, American Society of Hypertension, and the Academy of Behavioral Medicine. His work has been recognized by receipt of several research and mentoring awards including the prestigious John M. Eisenberg Excellence in Mentorship Award from AHRQ, the Daniel Savage Science Award from the Association of Black Cardiologists, the Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM) Herbert Nickens Award for Mentoring, Mid-Atlantic SGIM Junior Investigator Award and New York University Making A Difference Award.

Dr. Saju Joseph

Board Member

Saju Joseph, MD FACS, completed his medical school education at Tufts University School of Medicine. He then went on to pursue training in surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center under the leadership of Dr. Josef E. Fischer. During his training, Dr. Joseph won the prestigious Harvard Housestaff and Fellows Teaching award. Through Dr. Fischer’s mentorship, Dr. Joseph had the unique experience of doing his fellowship in Hepato-Biliary and Pancreatic Surgery at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh under the tutelage of Professor O. James Garden.

Since completing his training, Dr. Joseph has worked in academic surgery for his entire career. He has had the opportunity to serve as a visiting professor for the Colombian Association of Surgery and as an advisor to Governor Abbott (Texas) regarding emergency and trauma services. He was also the Vice Chair of Surgery at Texas Tech, where he was instrumental in establishing the residency in the Permian Basin and an acclaimed rural surgery training program. Dr. Joseph serves on the editorial board of six journals and is a reviewer for numerous others. He was the editor for a recently published book on Point-of-Care-Ultrasound for First Responders. Recently, he established the ACGME accredited general surgery residency at Valley Health System in Las Vegas NV and serves as an Associate Professor of Surgery.

Dr. Joseph has worked with numerous healthcare businesses and private equity bankers, raised money for charitable organizations, and travelled to 3rd world countries to expand medical education and outreach. His goal is to use technology and innovation to enhance healthcare delivery, prevent illness, and save lives throughout the world.

James R. Whitehead

Board Member

James R. Whitehead has been the leader and CEO of multiple global and U.S. organizations, with a driving force to enlarge and amplify their ability to benefit humanity overall in a sustainable fashion – especially human, societal, and planetary health.
Hip Hop Public Health matches perfectly with Jim’s commitment to using innovative, inclusive, and highly effective strategies to galvanize lasting healthy lifestyles and engagement by our youth, of all ages. As a former professional percussionist, he has long known the power of music to be used for a higher good.
Based in Indianapolis, IN, Jim currently is CEO of an expanding portfolio of health-based NGOs, such as the International Society for Sports Psychiatry, as well as an incubator for organizations that innovatively use technology to advance health and performance and economic development in the sectors of worksite, healthcare, and sports.
Jim previously served in the public sector in Washington, DC as Director of an HHS national health institute. Before that, he was the historically successful and long-term CEO of the American College of Sports Medicine, headquartered in Indianapolis, making it the world’s largest international organization dedicated to the broad and multi-faceted field of sports medicine and exercise science.
Earlier, Jim was an executive with the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery in Washington, DC, and was a principal with an association management firm that specialized in health and science NGOs and political candidates at the U.S. federal level.
Jim has led, created, or co-founded numerous start-up organizations and initiatives that have become established and successful enterprises, such as the Datalys Center on Sports Injury Research and Prevention, the Joint Commission on Sports Medicine and Science, the U.S. National Physical Activity Plan, and the International Association for Worksite Health Promotion.
He also has served as consultant and adviser to more than 100 organizations, including Disney Imagineers, World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health, United Nations, NATO, United States Olympic and Paralympic Olympic Committee, World Bank, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Jim is a graduate of the University of Alabama, where he earned degrees in organizational development and medical history and policy.

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.

Andrew Post

Board Member

With over 15 years of experience in the education, healthcare, and philanthropic sectors, Andrew currently serves as the Chief Innovation Officer at Invo Healthcare, overseeing his brainchild, the Invo Multidisciplinary Program to Address Childhood Trauma, complex school district and agency initiatives, and research and accountability. Andrew is responsible for the day-to-day operations including designing, implementing, and evaluating programs, collaborating with school districts, departments of juvenile justice, community based agencies, and hospitals, monitoring outcomes, driving success metrics, and managing resources of the mental and behavioral health teams.

Prior to joining Invo, Andrew served as a classroom teacher and school site administrator in Miami-Dade County Public Schools, an Assistant Superintendent in Duval County Public Schools, and the President of Catapult Academy. In Duval, Andrew was responsible for designing, implementing, and monitoring the innovative programs and schools including an Overage Academy, an Early College Career Academy and a contributor to the creation of dedicated public schools for students with both Autism and Dyslexia. Andrew was successful in leading processes that resulted in dramatically increasing the district’s overall and African-American graduation rates, college readiness reading and math rates, and high school accelerated coursework participation and performance rates; all historic highs for the district.

Aside from his work within the school district, Andrew founded a 501(c)(3) non-profit which infused literacy and sports to increase students’ chances at achieving academic and social/emotional success through programming in the United States and Jamaica. Andrew holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Secondary Education from the University of Miami.

Staff Members

Abe Hirsch

Bookkeeper

Abe began his career at a small accounting firm and later started his own firm, working with clients throughout New York and New Jersey in a wide variety of industries including restaurants, production, construction, legal, literary agents, investment bankers, basketball and fashion magazines, amongst many others. As a bookkeeper at Hip Hop Public Health, Abe maintains the books and works closely with the team to ensure smooth financial operations, implementing rigorous budgetary controls and contributing careful analysis to help inform decision-making. He provides the Board with quarterly financial statements so that they have insight into the organization’s outlook as they plan for the future.

Abe enjoys working with nonprofits that contribute to the greater good of the community. He has been privileged to work with several such nonprofits throughout his career, including the Town Hall Foundation and The Culture Project. Abe has a degree in Accounting and Business Management from Brooklyn College. He looks forward to contributing to Hip Hop Public Health’s continued growth and expansion.

When he’s not working, you can find Abe playing video games, watching sports, or managing his Fantasy Football team. He also enjoys movies and TV shows, and appreciating life one day at a time.

Adam Schleichkorn

Director of Creative Development & Promotion

A pioneer of online video, Adam Schleichkorn has been editing videos and creating digital content for eighteen years. He was accepted into the second-ever group of Youtube’s original Partner Program, and holds the distinction of being one of the first Youtubers to appear on National News as early as 2006. Known as Mylo the Cat across the web, Adam has a combined total of over 750,000 followers, and his videos have been viewed over one billion times. In 2017, Adam won a Webby Award for his Rick and Morty/Kendrick Lamar mashup, leading to a video editing and content creating position at Adult Swim, Rick and Morty’s host network. Throughout his career, Adam has also created content for Warner Brothers, RCA Records, Epic Records, Rock the Bells, and New York Magazine. His videos have appeared in print in TIME Magazine, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The New York Times, Spin, The Source, XXL, Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, Huffington Post, MTV, and Tosh.0, and on television on 20/20, ABC News, FoxNews, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Good Morning America, Extra, The Maury Povich Show, CBS News, and NBC News. A lifelong hip hop fan, Adam has made a series of popular hip hop/cartoon mashup videos which attracted the attention of icons such as Snoop Dogg, Shaquille O’Neal, Will Smith, Michael Rappaport, Erykah Badu, Questlove, LL Cool J, The GZA, Inspectah Deck, Public Enemy, Big Boi, Killer Mike, and many more. Adam is one of the masterminds behind many of Hip Hop Public Health’s animated video resources, flexing his video editing, directing, script writing, animation editing, producing, idea creation, and design skills to bring all the excitement and energy of his viral videos to public health literacy.

Cherie Greer

Senior Growth Advisor

As a former athlete, Cherie Greer is keenly aware of the value and importance of health awareness and activity in all aspects of life. She aims to help Hip Hop Public Health leverage its extraordinary model to improve health literacy and promote positive health changes in underserved communities. Cherie brings 25 years of experience creating, growing, and leading ventures in sports, real estate, insurance, and other industries to her role at Hip Hop Public Health. As Senior Growth Advisor, Cherie oversees and implements large-scale philanthropic and corporate relationships, creating sustainable support to amplify Hip Hop Public Health’s crucial mission.

Cherie is a Principal at Reality Investor Capital LLC, a real estate private equity, investment, and advisory firm with a national platform. In 2016, Cherie served as managing director of Trout Sports, a business advisory firm that supports current and retired professional athletes to build long term career capacity. During her 16 year career as President of Hill Ventures, Inc., Cherie established the sports marketing and investment management of the company’s $150 million real estate portfolio, and spearheaded the strategic launch of a $200 million mezzanine growth fund while providing complete oversight of all business and philanthropic activities.

Cherie was a three-time First Team All-American lacrosse player at the University of Virginia, where she led the Cavaliers to NCAA Championships in 1991 and 1993, was named Team Captain and NCAA Defensive Player of the Year in ‘94, and became the first lacrosse athlete in the university’s history to have her jersey retired. She also played 14 seasons with the U.S. Women’s Lacrosse team, winning three Gold Medals in the World Cup Championships, including MVP honors in ‘97 and 2001. In 2009, Cherie was inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame, an honor which was also given to her late father, NBA Hall of Famer and one of the 50 Greatest NBA Players of All Time, Hal Greer. This makes the Philadelphia native a four time Hall-of-Famer as a member of the Pennsylvania Lacrosse HOF, Virginia Sports HOF, Philadelphia Sports HOF, and National Lacrosse HOF. In 2017, she received the Tewaaraton Legend Award. Cherie currently serves as a Board of Director Member for USA Lacrosse, the governing body of Lacrosse in the US.

Lindsey Harr

Chief Program Operations Officer

Lindsey's career has cut across public education, public health, policy, and organizational leadership. The throughline in her work is a commitment to increasing equitable access to resources and opportunities that empower individuals and communities to care for themselves and others. As Chief Program and Operations Officer, Lindsey provides strategic direction and oversight of Hip Hop Public Health’s resource development and program effectiveness, and she leads the organization's operational management.

Prior to joining Hip Hop Public Health, Lindsey served as Executive Director of the New York City Department of Education’s Office of School Wellness Programs, where she developed and implemented large-scale initiatives to increase equitable access to Health Education, Physical Education and wellness programs for New York City’s one million students. She established policies and practices, paired with practical and accessible resources, to revitalize Health and Physical Education instruction in grades K-12, and to embed sustainable transformation at both the school and system levels. Lindsey embraced opportunities for organizational change and led the Office of School Wellness Programs through an unprecedented expansion from a team of 25 to more than 100, providing a comprehensive and strategic suite of support structures for New York City’s 1,600 public schools, including professional learning, curricular materials, and programs for students, educators and school communities. Lindsey’s career has also included stints in marketing, development, public relations and communications. Lindsey was a founding member of the NYC Mayor’s Sexual Health Education Task Force and served as its Co-Vice-Chair.

Lindsey loves travelling -- especially if it involves some combination of ocean sunrises, mountain-top star-gazing, and good food and wine -- and she also loves coming home to Brooklyn where you can find her doing hot yoga, reading at her neighborhood cafe, and hosting friends for dinner.

Lori Rose Benson

Executive Director & 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 a weekly cycling class at Crunch Fitness in Brooklyn.

Melinda B. Gould

Chief Growth Officer

Melinda is a visionary collaborator, bringing people from various disciplines together to create innovative solutions to complex problems. Her ability to see the big picture from multiple perspectives while simultaneously developing a detailed execution plan stems from her diverse background which spans investment banking, biotech, entrepreneurship, and social justice.

In 2020, as the pandemic created unprecedented challenges, Melinda shifted her focus to create unprecedented solutions. Recognizing racism as a public health crisis and the life-threatening consequences of health inequity on communities of color, Melinda’s work with Hip Hop Public Health combines the power of culturally appropriate and accurate healthcare messaging with access to corporate workforces to create a new model of public/private partnership. Melinda’s mission is to bring together the power of corporations and philanthropy to amplify Hip Hop Public Health’s work.

Melinda’s entrepreneurial background includes co-founding PlumParty.com, a celebrations site that disrupted the party store concept and was credited with revolutionizing how online retail interacted with consumers. Prior to PlumParty.com, Melinda was a Vice President at Dillon, Read & Co. Inc. where she helped structure and execute $3 billion of taxable and tax-exempt healthcare financings, including the first ever financing for the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation. She was a Founding Board Member/Chair of Children’s Hope Foundation, an innovative non-profit serving the needs of children with HIV/AIDS. A decade-long volunteer at Sanctuary for Families serving the needs of victims of domestic violence, Melinda was most recently Co-Chair of the Family Council, developing age-appropriate ways to engage children and foster volunteerism at a young age.

Melinda is a native New Yorker, a proud mom to Charlotte and Oliver, and a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Business School.

Liliana Marques

Director of Development

Liliana brings nearly fifteen years of experience in nonprofit fundraising, communications, events, and strategic fundraising planning to Hip Hop Public Health. She has led clients successfully through fundraising events, annual appeals, fundraising planning processes, and board development. As Director of Development, Liliana leads the organization’s year-round fundraising efforts, donor stewardship, and board development. Liliana previously served as Director of Development and Communications at Worldwide Orphans, where she managed a team that raised nearly $4 million through individual giving, event fundraisers, and private grants. Prior to Worldwide Orphans, Liliana worked at the United Way, where she was responsible for managing corporate relationships, leading communication efforts, and establishing United Way’s Young Professionals affinity group. Her past clients include Children of Armenia Fund, Fiver Children’s Foundation, and Pajama Program.

Liliana has a B.A. in Communications and French from Rutgers University, and a MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and her dog, Beau. She is fluent in Portuguese, conversational in Spanish, and welcomes any opportunity to practice her rusty French.

Sittra Omer

Director of Special Projects

Sittra first encountered Hip Hop Public Health in 2019 as part of the Growth for Good team working on the Annual Remixing Public Health Gala, both in-person in 2019 and virtually in 2020. As the Special Projects and Events Director at Growth for Good, Sittra helped clients to assess and better develop their fundraising events while strengthening the underlying systems critical in a development shop. She had the pleasure of working with several New York and nationally based organizations such as Mercy CenterBronx, La MaMa Experimental TheatreGroup, Mt. Sinai Adolescent Health Center, and many others. A Strategic Communications major from Penn State, Sittra started her career as a Marketing Associate focused on social media and communications for a large New York-based commercial real estate company before moving into nonprofit work. Prior to joining Hip Hop Public Health, Sittra served as the Fund Development and Communications Manager at a Washington Heights-based nonprofit focused on educational equity where she managed systems, relationships with donors and partnerships, and volunteer coordination.

As the Director of Special Projects, Sittra provides support across the organization for a range of projects, including development, gala and board development work, as well as systems and database management. Sittra understands that the core of organizational growth depends on nurturing relationships between people. It also depends on airtight systems critical in building a culture of philanthropy that touches every part of the fundraising process. Sittra is passionate about Hip Hop Public Health’s work because she has seen first hand the change that access, equity, and education can make in a young person's life and the trajectory of their family’s lives for generations to come.

When Sittra is not at her desk you can find her rooting for Penn State’s Nittany Lions, helping out in her family’s Ethiopian restaurant, or on a spin bike!

Patrice Webb

Chief Strategic Communications & Engagement Officer

Patrice is a curious communicator committed to supporting and creating initiatives, resources, and experiences that improve life. As a public affairs leader with experience in the public, political and private sectors, she considers herself to be a lifelong ambassador of diversity of thought and a gladiator of fairness. Prior to joining the Hip Hop Public Health team as the Chief Strategic Communications and Engagement Officer, Patrice was both a Funder and a Board member. Her early career path included working political and initiative campaigns in civil liberties and civil rights policy, in telecom, and in corporate with Heineken (government affairs). After receiving her MA in Behavior Change from George Washington University and co-managing the advisory team for Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, Patrice led a community-based initiative to change behavior for the American Beverage Association. After the global reset of COVID-19 and the growing awareness and acceptance that racism is a public health issue, Patrice is thrilled to be part of the Hip Hop Public Health effort to create science-based musical resources that inspire and sustain behavior change to eliminate health disparities.

Even when Patrice is not working, she is still kind of working, as she is committed to helping others become healthy in mind, body, and spirit by creating healing experiences for those living through trauma. Patrice resides in DC and enjoys spending time volunteering as a foster for the Humane Rescue Alliance, exercising with her Peloton BGM crew, and collaborating with friends to create trauma healing experiences.

Research & Development Team

Easy A.D. Harris

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

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.

Janhavi Mallaiah

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.

Sandra Minchala

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.

Harmon Moats

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

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.

Dr. Ewelina Swierad

Ewelina is an Associate Research Scientist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. She graduated with a PhD in Psychology from the University of New South Wales in Australia, with MA and EdM in Counseling & Educational Psychology from Columbia University, and with an MSc in Health Psychology from the University of Warsaw, Poland. Before joining CUIMC, she completed her post-doctoral training at CUNY School of Public Health & Health Policy.

Ewelina’s research interests involve a hybrid of psychology, public health, music, social justice, and innovation. She is passionate about the role of multidisciplinary fields, media, arts and music in effective health education and behavior change. Together with Dr. Olajide Williams, she has developed the Multisensory Multilevel Health Education Model – a theoretical framework focused on innovative, culturally sensitive, and evidence-based health education. Ewelina is a recipient of several awards, including Fulbright Scholarship and International Postgraduate Research Scholarship from the Australian Government. She also received the Innovative Leader in Magazine Media Award from Yale University for her work on Lifelab – a project that aims at bringing the science of psychology from academia to our daily lives.

Whether it is through her research, previous clinical work, or personal interests, Ewelina enjoys exploring new ideas and connections between them. She often immerses herself in the cultural landscape of NYC – jazz, ballet, museums, and random science lectures. And this exploration informs her work, too.

Vanessa Sawyer

 

 

Chuck D

Darryl DMC McDaniels

John Allegrante, PhD

Dana Austin 

Alexandra DeSorbo Quinn

Tony Drootin

Pete Colon

 

Our Advisory Board

 

Jonathan Fassberg

Mindy Feldman Hecht

Kelly Fogel 

Tommaso Giuseppe

Ian Ellis James

Raymond Javdan, Esq.

Ana Cepin, M.D.

 

 

Monique Hedmann-Maxey, MD MPH

James “Jimmy” Maynes

Terry Nelson

Maibe Ponet

Rob Shepardson

Scott Silverstein 

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