Black American Heritage Celebration

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February 22, 2010

Presentation: Haiti: Current Conditions and Historical Background

Presenter: Nick Gideonse, M.D., assistant professor of OHSU Family Medicine, medical director and associate residency director, OHSU Richmond Family Health Center.

Description: The presentation will be a report on current, post-earthquake, need and conditions for the provision of medical services, and other aid, to Haiti. This will be based on Dr. Gideonse's experience working there in January with a team of 10 Oregonians and others. By comparing this with past, similarly structured efforts, we will explore historical conditions in Haiti, once the richest, now the poorest, nation in the Western Hemisphere. The role of the Haitian-American diaspora, US and international policy and intervention, and other topics can be discussed as the audience and time allows.

Presenter Biography: Nicholas Gideonse, M.D., has been to Haiti four times since 2000 for short-term medical work, with Matenwa Community School, on the island of La Gonave, and Centre Medical Emmanuel in Cayes-de-Jacmel. His most recent trip was January 22-31, post-earthquake. He is a graduate of Harvard College, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and OHSU Family Medicine. Dr. Gideonse has practiced and held administrative roles in rural Oregon and Southeast Portland, each primarily with under-served populations. His interest and study of issues of race, class and history began in high school, and with his family of origin.


February 22-28, 2010

Event: Poster Exhibit - Celebrating African American Contributions in Science, Medicine and Civic Leadership

Description: Featuring a traveling exhibition developed and produced by the National Library of Medicine and The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture: Opening Doors: Contemporary African American Academic Surgeons.

African Americans have always practiced medicine, whether as physicians, healers, midwives, or "root doctors." The journey of the African American physician from pre-Civil War to modern day America has been a challenging one. Early black pioneer physicians not only became skilled practitioners, they became trailblazers and educators paving the way for future physicians, surgeons, and nurses, and opening doors to better health care for the African American community. Celebrating the contributions of African American academic surgeons to medicine and medical education Opening Doors tells the stories of four pioneering surgeons and educators. These individuals exemplify excellence in their fields and continue the journey of excellence through the education and mentoring of young physicians and surgeons. Through contemporary and historical images, the exhibition takes the visitor on a journey through the lives and achievements of these academic surgeons, and provides a glimpse into the stories of those that came before them and those that continue the tradition today. To learn more, visit:

The exhibit also features:

  • Miracles Happen – Black Innovators Then and Now
  • George Washington Carver
  • W. E. B. DuBois
  • Frederick Douglass
  • Matthew Henson
  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Thurgood Marshall
  • Barack H. Obama
  • Rosa Parks
  • Sojourner Truth
  • Harriet Tubman
  • Madame C. J. Walker
  • Booker T. Washington

February 23, 2010

Panel Discussion: The Importance of Afrocentric Approach to Mental Health for Africans/Black and African Americans

Participants: Danette C. Burchill, L.C.S.W., clinical director, Avel Gordly Center for Healing, OHSU; Carol R. Chism, L.C.S.W., clinical social worker, Avel Gordly Center for Healing, OHSU; Andre Pruitt, L.C.S.W., Clinical Supervisor, Avel Gordly Center for Healing, OHSU.

Description: The goal of this presentation is to discuss the need for culturally-responsive services that are provided by a multicultural team of professionals, including African-American counselors, social workers, a psychologist and a psychiatrist. It will address the multicultural mental health processes responsive to the diverse communities of Oregon using an Afrocentric Approach.

Participant Biographies: Danette Burchill, L.C.S.W., has B.A. in psychology and B.A. in social thought and analysis from Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Burchill also has Masters of social work with a specialization in non-profit management from the GWB School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Burchill specializes in working with depression, anxiety, trauma, psychotic disorders, life change transitions and spirituality. Her primary method of treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy with dialectical behavior therapy skills taught as well. She has experience in working with multicultural populations and issues of identity.

Carol R. Chism, L.C.S.W., has a B.S. in social science from Cleveland State University and Master's of social science administration (M.S.W.) from Case Western Reserve University. Chism is certified to provide treatment for Problem Gambling and for Alcohol and Drug Dependency. Her experience includes over 30 years as a clinician and supervisor working with adolescents in teen pregnancy programs and a day treatment program. Chism has provided treatment for individuals with problem gambling, substance dependence, depression, and anxiety disorders. She has also counseled men and women who are experiencing the pain of domestic violence. Chism has been trained in the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with individuals, groups, and in couples counseling. She has taught at PSU and PCC and is currently a field supervisor for PSU.

Andre Pruitt, L.C.S.W., B.A., has a B.A. in physical education from Linfield and graduated with a Master's of social work from Portland State University. He has provided diversity trainings across the United States and was a part of an international fitness team. Pruitt specializes in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, depression, anxiety, support around sexual orientation, developing spirituality for healing, grief and loss, and identity development. His clinical work includes: 17 years addressing mental issues for people living with HIV/AIDS; managing a day program for homeless youth; providing supervision for practitioners obtaining state licensure; and providing consultation for Medical Foster Care Homes for adolescences.


February 23, 2010

Event: Community Booth Exhibit

Participants: African Partnership for Health (APH) is a coalition of health care providers, African community members and leaders, and researchers who have come together to improve the health of the African immigrant and refugee community in Portland. Our purpose is to identify community needs and advocate for change.

The Avel Gordly Center for Healing is a program in the Department of Psychiatry of OHSU. It is funded with state and county funds and client fees and supported by volunteer professionals on the African American Mental Health Commission. In February 2008, OHSU's Behavioral Health Clinic was renamed the Avel Gordly Center for Healing to meet the mental health needs of the African American community, as well as the diverse populations of Oregon. One of the goals of the Center is to take away the shame associated with mental illness. The African American Mental Health Commission worked for several years to advocate for culturally-responsive mental health services. A mental health needs assessment and study clearly showed that mental health services to the African American community are of greater impact and effect when implemented through an organization developed by those most familiar with African American culture.

The Center for Intercultural Organizing is a diverse, grassroots organization working to build a multi-racial, multicultural movement for immigrant and refugee rights through education, civic engagement and policy advocacy, community organizing and mobilization, and intergenerational leadership development. Upon its founding in 2003, CIO's immediate focus was on responding to anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant attacks in the wake of 9/11. Over the past six years, CIO has engaged thousands of individuals from diverse cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, trained new immigrant and refugee community leaders, produced dozens of educational events, mobilized countless immigrant and refugee community members to resist public policy attacks against them, and continued to respond to individual incidents of discrimination and harassment in our community as they arise.

The Harambee Centre connects the people of the Pacific Northwest with the people and cultures of Africa. Harambee Centre offers programs in multicultural education to increase knowledge and appreciation of African cultures and traditions through speaking engagements, cooking events, cultural presentations, art exhibits, book clubs, library services, music and language classes. They facilitate, organize, and support educational and internship programs that introduce Americans to Africa and Africans to people of the Pacific Northwest. In addition, the Harambee Centre supports African community development through multiple programs.

The Intercultural Communication Institute (ICI) is a Portland-based, educational nonprofit that promotes intercultural communication and sponsors the annual Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication (SIIC).  This existing opportunity brings leaders and practitioners from all over the world together for networking, learning, and collaboration. SIIC can help you with challenges such as managing conflict, communicating effectively across cultures, or learning about global leadership practices. ICI staff will introduce you to our vital learning community with its hands-on, inclusive, and practical learning. Please join us to learn about ICI and the Masters in Intercultural Relations and intercultural training certificate programs.

The International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC) is a non-profit African centered organization located in Portland, Oregon. ICTC was created to promote the health of women and their families and to train Black women aspiring to become midwives. They provide recruitment, education, and support to those desiring to serve their community. ICTC encompasses oral traditions from Africa, the Caribbean, and the "Deep South." They educate and advocate through community workshops, study groups, or one-to-one support. ICTC supports aspiring and student midwives through information and referrals. They are a midwife promotion, recruitment, and training organization for Black women who want to become midwives and serve their communities. ICTC educates by using a traditional African based model, community workshops, leadership training, audiovisuals aids, printed materials, referrals and the apprenticeship model. ICTC relies on public donations and volunteers in order to continue providing services.

The Ray of Hope Foundation is a grassroots, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting global health, healing, and education through the exchange of volunteers, technology, training, medical supplies, and educational programming. Ray of Hope currently has programs in Bware (rural) and Kawangware (an urban slum); both are regions of Kenya that deal with extreme poverty, HIV/AIDS, and lack of resources. Our goals in each of the areas in which we work are guided by the self-identified needs and aspirations of the community members. Current programs include a Ray of Hope Clinic and Community Center, a Learning Center, a community health-worker training program, a textbook and library project, and a student sponsorship program.

The Safe Passage to Motherhood is an Oregon based organization of health care providers and educators who bring life saving information to remote villages in Kenya where women have a 1 in 16 chance of dying from pregnancy related complications. The Safe Passage to Motherhood uses simple story telling circles and hand drawn Take Action Cards that depict the most common signs of risks of pregnancy which require immediate referral to a skilled attendant. This simple approach has been used in Africa and Asia, making profound improvements in maternal and child health and lowering death rates.

Uniting to Understand Racism (UUR) is a non-profit, community-based organization in Portland, Oregon. Their mission is to advance racial justice and reconciliation through honest dialogue, acts of reconciliation, and education. To accomplish their goal, UUR works throughout the year with local businesses, schools, government, and nonprofits to sponsor a six consecutive week dialogue program within their organizations; they also work with schools, school districts, and teachers to use their 10 lesson curriculum for 8th graders: Beyond the Oregon Trail.


February 24, 2010

Panel Discussion: Saving Women's and Babies' Lives in Kenya

Participants: Maggie Alexander, N.D., M.S., C.N.M., president, Safe Passage to Motherhood, instructor, Nurse-Midwifery, OHSU; Jezka Dilazou, B.S., board member, Ray of Hope Foundation, owner and operator of Daligrace; Grace Kuto, B.A., co-founder and president, Harambee Center, administrative assistant, School of Dentistry, OHSU

Description: This panel discussion explores the topics of how grass-root movements can make a difference in rural community healthcare in Africa. The presenters in this panel share their experiences related to the promotion of health, healing, medicine and education through exchange of volunteers, technology, training, medical supplies, and education programming in the global community.

Participants Biographies: Margaret (Maggie) K. Alexander, N.D., M.S., C.N.M., has lived and worked abroad including Europe, Central Asia, Latin America and Africa. She received her doctorate in nursing from Case Western Reserve University and her midwifery education from the University of Colorado. She founded four midwifery practices in Boulder, Colorado. She worked in Senegal, West Africa for two years conducting independent research on programs addressing maternal mortality issues. She returned to the U.S. to become the clinical director of the D.C. Birth Center and then moved out to Portland Oregon in 2006. Alexander currently works as a mother-baby nurse at OHSU and a per diem C.N.M. with the faculty midwifery practice. She helped found Safe Passage to Motherhood, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the health and childbirth survival for mothers and newborns in low resource settings by providing health education and life saving skills in a culturally sustainable manner. This impactful work is currently being carried out in Kenya.

Jeska Dalizu, B.S. and Board Member for the Ray of Hope Foundation and African Women's Coalition, is from the rural village of Bware, Kenya. She came to the United States when she was 15, and studied in California and later at Portland State University where she obtained degrees in economics and in intercultural communications with a minor in Black studies, and also received a certificate in women studies. She worked for 18 years in the banking and financial industry, then pursued the healthcare field by volunteering in elderly care facilities where she obtained her nursing certification. To gain a wide variety of medical experience, she then worked for agencies, the oncology department at OHSU and for Kaiser Home Health Care. She currently is an owner and operator of Daligrace, a child and adult foster care and elder care home in Portland. Dalizu has worked directly with the community members in the areas that Ray of Hope serves and has assisted in the exchange of information and facilitation of training related to healthcare and financial programs in Kenya. In addition to her volunteer work with Ray of Hope, Dalizu co-founded and is a board member of the African Women's Coalition located here in Portland.

Grace Kuto, B.A., born and raised as an orphan in Kenya, is the co-founder and president of Harambee Centre, a non-profit organization that connects people in the Pacific NW region with the peoples and cultures of Africa. She is a Portland State University alumna with a B.A. in business administration and certificate in international business. She is currently an employee at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) for over 23 years. Kuto is a philanthropic author and the proceeds from her first story cookbook built a medical clinic which serves a community of almost 60,000 people in her village Chwele in western Kenya. She released her second edition in 2008 and called it Harambee! Stories and Recipes from the African Family Circle to help fund a community peace center at Chwele. She also speaks at corporate diversity events on intercultural assimilation and communication issues in the work place.


February 25, 2010

Presentation: Race and Racism in America through the Lens of an African Refugee

Presenter: Kayse Jama, executive director, Center for Intercultural Organizing

Description: The political, social, and economic landscape of this state and the nation is changing, and although some areas of Oregon—such as Portland—are open and progressive, there is an ongoing resistance to the discussion of the racial inequalities that are part of the fabric of our community. We have made great progress toward racial equality since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the repeal of immigration quotas by race in 1965. However, racism is still thriving and in many ways re-born with vigor and sophistication. Oregon's long-term communities of color have been dealing with racial inequality for many years, but how is racism affecting immigrants and refugees? What is their experience and why should it matter? In this presentation, Kayse Jama will discuss his perspective of race as a Muslim and African refugee as well as a new vision for our community.

Presenter Biography: Kayse Jama has led an incredible journey, fleeing war torn Somalia as a teenager to become a community organizer in Portland, Oregon. After Jama arrived in Portland, he returned to school and started working as a social worker for Lutheran Community Services Northwest serving as the African Youth Coordinator. After the September 11 attacks, he decided to leave social work and founded the Center for Intercultural Organizing. Currently, Jama is the Executive Director of the CIO. Mr. Jama has trained immigrant and refugee community leaders in five Western states—Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah and Idaho under a New Voices Fellowship at Western States Center. He has also served as an adjunct professor at Portland State University. Most recently, he was awarded the 2009 Lowenstein Trust Award, which is presented yearly to "that person who demonstrated the greatest contribution to assisting the poor and underprivileged in the City of Portland, Oregon."


February 26, 2010

Presentation: The Legacy of African Midwifery in the 21st Century

Presenter: Shafia M. Monroe, C.M., C.C.E., president and founder, International Center of Traditional Childbearing

Description: The midwifery movement in America today maintains the legacy of the Grand Midwives of the South to improve birth outcomes and the accessibility of services to underserved communities. In the tradition of African midwives who also served in the role of community organizers, ICTC mobilizes on the national and international levels through the annual International Black Midwives and Healers Conference and partners with other National African-American organizations to address cultural healthcare disparity issues.

Presenter Biography: Shafia M. Monroe, C.M., C.C.E., is the founder and president of the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC); the nation's first Black midwife and doula training, breastfeeding promotion and capacity building non-profit organization, headquartered in Portland, Oregon. Monroe is a child educator, health activist, organizer, and international speaker. She holds a B.A. in sociology from the University of Massachusetts and is a Certified Midwife by the Massachusetts Midwives Alliance. Some of her awards include: The Certificate of Recognition for Preserving the Legacy of Midwifery - National Institute of Health, 2007, a Proclamation from Georgia's State Representative - "Able" Mabel Thomas for her commitment to reducing infant mortality, 2006 and a Wall of Tolerance Certificate from the late Rosa Parks for her commitment to peace and justice, 2006.