The FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard is pleased to announce several new hires and promotions. Learn more about our new fellows and staff members:
Dr. Brittney N. Butler (she/her) is a social epidemiologist whose primary research seeks document and combat anti-Black racism as a fundamental cause of racial disparities in maternal morbidity and mortality for Black women. Dr. Butler holds a dual academic appointment as an FXB Health and Human Rights Fellow & David E. Bell Postdoctoral Fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and is the current president of the Society for the Analysis of African American Public Health Issues. Dr. Butler completed her PhD in Epidemiology at The Ohio State University and Master of Public Health from Washington University in St. Louis. Additionally, Dr. Butler is an alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholars program.
Tori Cowger, MPH has joined the FXB Center as an FXB Health & Human Rights Fellow. She is a social epidemiologist whose research focuses on understanding and eliminating health inequities. Specifically, she is interested in social and structural determinants of infectious diseases and substance use related harms, health impacts of racism in the criminal legal system, geospatial methods, and social networks. Her current work blends public health research, practice, and advocacy dedicated to eliminating the unnecessary, and inequitable, and unacceptable toll of structural racism and social inequities on the health individuals and communities in the context of the ongoing Covid-19 and overdose epidemics. Currently, she is a doctoral candidate in the department of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a doctoral affiliate with the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard. Prior to coming to Harvard, Tori received a Masters of Public Health from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta, and worked as an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) working on global tuberculosis research and prevention efforts.
Dr. Jourdyn Lawrence is a social epidemiologist and Health and Human Rights Fellow at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard. Her work primarily aims to address racism as a cause of racial health inequities in the United States, mainly focusing on chronic health and aging-related outcomes. Jourdyn’s doctoral research examined measurement and methodological approaches in assessing how discrimination becomes embodied to affect blood pressure and biomarker outcomes. Her research interests also include social policy, perceived race, quantitative methods in social epidemiology, and scale development/measurement. Jourdyn studied social epidemiology in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at HSPH and holds a PhD in Population Health Sciences from Harvard University. She earned her MSPH in Epidemiology from the University of South Carolina and her BS in Biology from Clayton State University. Jourdyn is also an affiliate of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University.
Veronica Lewin has been promoted to Director of Communications and Public Affairs, an expanded role coordinating the Center’s public-facing efforts. Veronica has a wealth of experience in public health communications. Prior to joining the FXB Center, Veronica held increasingly responsible communications roles in New York City government, including six years at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Before working at the Health Department, Veronica was the Deputy Editor at The Queens Tribune. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, cum laude, from the University at Albany.
Keletso Makofane, MPH has joined the FXB Center as an FXB Health & Human Rights Fellow. He is a public health researcher and activist who works in the global HIV response with a focus on sexual minority men in east and southern Africa. He is a member of the governing council for the International Aids Society, and sits on the board of LVCT Health, a leading HIV service organization in Kenya. He also sits on the founding board of Global Black Gay Men Connect, an activist collective that aims to build power to stop discrimination and violence inflicted on Black, gay men around the world. Makofane has served on various working groups and committees that shape the global response to HIV. These include the Guidelines Development Group for the first comprehensive World Health Organization guidelines for HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for key populations, and the IAS-Lancet Commission on the Future of Global Health and the HIV Response.
Gerlinde Munshi has joined the FXB Center as the Assistant Director of Finance. Gerlinde has a long working experience in public health. Initially a researcher and program evaluator, over the years, she moved to research administration. Most recently, she served as the Administrative Director for the Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, a position she held from 2010 to 2021. Gerlinde is originally from Germany.
Elizabeth (Liz) Oh is the Program Coordinator for STRIDE at the FXB Center. She comes with administrative experience in firms, non-profits, religious organization, startup, and higher education. In addition, she has experience as a college chaplain and as a counseling intern. She received her B.A. in Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, M.A. in Counseling, and a M.A. in Religion at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. In seminary, her work and research focused on integration of mental health with spirituality and faith. In both her personal and professional endeavors, she is an advocate of holistic wellness (mind, body, soul) and the value of having all representation at the table of dialogue and decisions.
Anjli Patel is the Special Assistant and Senior Research Coordinator for Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Director of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard. Her work with Dr. Bassett focuses on the intersection of structural racism, social justice, public health policy and legislation, and health equity. Anjli also has an interest in the intersection of this work within the field of oral health. Her current personal research is on preventive oral care, as a branch of primary care medicine, to address structural racism and close the health equity gap. Her research interests include interdisciplinary research, translational science, critical thinking, and database‐driven research with an emphasis to center data analysis around community and patient stories to critically construct projects in a responsible and accountable way. Prior to obtaining her Master’s in Biomedicine from the University of Pittsburgh, she worked at Northwestern University on disease prevention through basic science, clinical research, and community health. Her earlier work explored the effects of colonialism on the study of Indian art, indigenous Chinese communities, and global healthcare practices.
Dr. Marie Plaisime is an FXB Health and Human Rights Fellow and National Science Foundation (NSF) post-doctoral fellow. Her research investigates racial bias training in medical education and clinical practice, race-based medicine, algorithmic bias, and health policy. She applies critical quantitative, computational, & mixed methodologies to detect, examine, and quantify how structural racism in medicine jeopardizes healthcare delivery, access, and quality.
She completed her PhD in Medical Sociology at Howard University and is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Health Policy Research Scholar (HPRS). Her professional experiences include research at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Marie received her MPH from the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health.
Rebecca Shin has been promoted to Assistant Director of Operations / Strategy Officer, an expanded role overseeing Center operations and administration. After completing her MPA at the Harvard Kennedy School, Rebecca joined the FXB Center to directly pursue her passion for the human rights space. Her areas of focus include child protection programs as well as key strategic initiatives with the Executive Director. Prior to attending HKS, she worked for over 20 years in global corporate leadership roles responsible for program management, strategy and research.
Claire Street has joined the FXB Center as a Program Coordinator. She is a non-profit and administrative professional, most recently having worked at Harvard Business School in the General Management Unit. She graduated from Providence College in 2014 with a BA in Public and Community Service Studies and most recently graduated from the Harvard Extension School in 2020 with a degree in Development Practice. She is passionate about public health initiatives and serving her community. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, teaching spin classes, running and spending time outside with her golden retriever Buddy.