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 foster positive health behavior change through the transformative 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.


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

Our Research


Board of Directors

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.

Dr. Olajide Williams

Founder and President

Dr. Olajide Williams is the Founder and Board Chair of Hip Hop Public Health. He is a Professor of Neurology (with tenure) at Columbia University and Chief of Staff of the Department of Neurology. Dr. Williams is a practicing neurologist with expertise in stroke care, teaches a neuroscience class to Columbia University medical students, and is the co-Director of Columbia University’s Wellness Center. An NIH-funded researcher with multiple investigator-initiated R01 awards, Dr. Williams is a leading health disparities expert with a body of research focused on community-based behavioral interventions. He has authored numerous peer reviewed articles including the book “Stroke Diaries” and “Handbook of Neurological Therapeutics” both of which were published by Oxford University Press. He has received numerous local, regional, national and international honors for his public health work, his scholarly activities, teaching, and his patient care, including a European Stroke Research Foundation Investigator of the Year award, two-time Columbia University Outstanding Teacher of the Year award for the Major Clinical Year, 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, Ad Age’s Creative 50, BETs “A” list, and New York Magazine's Best Doctors list. He sits on several nonprofit boards including the Board of Directors for the Partnership for a Healthier America, whose honorary chair is former First Lady Michelle Obama.

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 a weekly cycling class at Crunch Fitness in Brooklyn.

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. 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. 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. 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.

Patrice Webb

Board Member

Patrice Webb is a self-proclaimed ‘Kindness Gangster.’ She lives her life looking for opportunities to build bridges of connection based on education, trust, and collaboration to improve lives in hopes of creating a trend for more people to default to kindness. She started her career as an Ambassador for the renowned TRUTH campaign which then afforded her relationships that led her to join the staff of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation as a Manager of the Spouses program managing community fundraising for scholarships to support college bound students across the country. She then joined the national American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as a National Community Organizer working with rural and urban communities. As the role of technology developed, she joined the team at Free Press as the Director of Community Affairs and worked to educate others the critical telecom issue of Net Neutrality before joining Heineken as the Director of Public Affairs.

During those early years, she discovered that the resistance to change she encountered was often wrapped in something unique and personal for groups and individuals and learned of the connection between trauma and decision making. To better understand the psychology of trauma and change, in her pursuit to improve lives as a ‘Kindness Gangster’, she pursued a MA in Organizational Sciences with a focus on behavior change through decision making at George Washington University. In her final year of study, she led the transition team for newly elected Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and then joined the American Beverage Association (ABA) to lead a behavior change initiative to reduce beverage calorie consumption through education, awareness, and the support of choice. While at the ABA she led the development and outreach of the Balance Calories Initiative to support consumers' awareness of beverage choice. Her leadership at the ABA included the establishment of programmatic community partners committed to building healthy communities and families.

…And then COVID happened, and then the lynching of George Floyd and then the world began to see through the eyes of Black people and people of color and she paused to assesses her role in this ‘twenty twenty’ vision and decided to focus her skills saving democracy by increasing awareness and familiarity with voting technology by and joining ES&S (Election Systems & Software) as the SVP of Public Affairs.

Patrice has been a Kindness Gangster as a founding board member of The Wendy Martinez Legacy Project, a new board member of Hip-Hop Public Health and an emeritus support of City Dogs Rescue, SurfRider Foundation, and lots of other ways to proliferate the lifestyle of a Kindness Gangster. She is from Baltimore, MD and currently resides in Washington DC and planes and trains across the country with her rescue dog Charlee.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Luisa Gomez Chan

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

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

Our Advisory Board

Chuck D – Hip Hop Artist/Musician

DMC – Hip Hop Artist/Musician

John Allegrante, PhD

Dana Austin 

Alexandra DeSorbo Quinn

Tony Drootin

James “Jimmy” Maynes

Tommaso Giuseppe

Jonathan Fassberg

Kelly Fogel 

Melinda Gould

Ian Ellis James

Mindy Feldman Hecht

Monique Hedmann

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


PS 16 in Brooklyn, NYC