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Category Archives: Intentional Communities

Artist Phung Huynh Named Creative Strategist for County’s Immigrant Affairs Office –

Posted: June 27, 2021 at 4:30 am

The Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs is honored to welcome celebrated artist Phung Huynh to the department as Creative Strategist for the Office of Immigrant Affairs as part of the Creative Strategist Program administered by the L.A. County Department of Arts and Culture.

Phung Huynh is a Los Angeles-based artist and educator whose art practice focuses on drawing, painting, and public art. Her work explores cultural perception and representation. Known for exploring the complexities of Southeast Asian refugee communities through drawings that include the iconic pink donut box, Huynh will apply her artistic practice and her own experience as a refugee and immigrant to her work with OIA staff on strategies to build trust and increase participation in LA County support services.

The talents of immigrant artists have helped to make Los Angeles County the nations creative capital, said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair, Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District. Phung Huynhs work speaks to the immigrant story and makes a perfect match to help the Office of Immigrant Affairs celebrate the contributions of immigrants that make L.A. County a vibrant and welcoming place for all.

Its an honor to welcome Phung Huynh and her impressive artistry and ideas into our Office of Immigrant Affairs, said Rafael Carbajal, Director of the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. We extend our gratitude to the Department of Arts and Culture for selecting OIA as a place where art can help us better engage and serve those who have made Los Angeles their home.

Artists have the power to inspire and advance belonging and identity in communities. The Creative Strategist Program brings that power and creative problem solving into the service sector, said Kristin Sakoda, Director of the Department of Arts and Culture. We believe that this cross-sector partnership with the Office of Immigrant Affairs and the amazing, community-minded Phung Huynh will find innovative ways to build more access to arts and cultural resources for immigrants in Los Angeles County.

The role of artist is deeply connected to the role of cultural builder who serves the community, said Huynh. Intentional engagement and making art through a social justice lens are central to my practice, as well as my commitment to immigrant communities, womens issues, and BIPOC solidarity. As an artist, educator, mother, and activist, I hope that when people engage with my work, they are positively impacted and rethink their relationships with their own communities and what sort of impact they can make.

The Creative Strategist program is a recommendation of theL.A. County Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative, which is implemented by the Department of Arts and Culture. The program places artists and creative professionals in residence at a County agency, applying artistic practices towards the development of innovative solutions to complex social challenges.

In addition to her new assignment with OIA, Huynh has been commissioned with other County public art projects and recently earned a city of Los Angeles (COLA) Individual Artist Fellowship through LA Citys Department of Cultural Affairs. As one of 14 COLA fellows, Huynhs works are currently being featured virtually at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery.

Learn more about the Los Angeles County Office of Immigrant Affairs

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Becky G Launches Treslce Beauty, A Brand Rooted In Celebrating The Latinx Community – PRNewswire

Posted: at 4:30 am

LOS ANGELES, June 25, 2021 /PRNewswire/ --Launching June 25th, global superstar, actress, social activist and beauty maven Becky G introduces her Latinx-inspired brand, Treslce Beauty. Inspired by Latinx culture and made for all, the brand is dedicated to paying homage and uplifting Latinx creators, while honoring the unique beauty within each and every Treslce Beauty consumer.

Becky G partnered with beauty brand incubator, Madeby Collective, to create an innovative, vivid world of color in a conscious beauty line that will highlight communities and always give back in an intentional way, supporting Latinx artists and artisans across the U.S. and Latin America.

As a second-generation Mexican-American, Becky G has always been devoted to shining a light on her humble beginnings, family values and Latinx identity. As an authority in beauty, serving as the youngest CoverGirl to date, she is determined to present positive change, and acknowledge Latinx creators, consumers and tastemakers who are the driving force in today's beauty economy. The first collection is inspired by Becky G's Mexican heritage and future collections will seek to celebrate all Latinx cultures.

"Growing up, I never really saw people who looked like me represented, especially when it came to ads for beauty brands. My inspiration for Treslce came from wanting to put more diverse faces at the forefront of beauty. Being Mexican-American, my Mexican heritage was also very much an inspiration. I wanted to highlight it in a very special way, along with all the other beautiful Latinx cultures within our community."

The brand has developed high-performance, conscious, vegan-friendly formulations that deliver high-impact artistry, with the mission to encourage beauty aficionados to tap into their inner artist. Additionally, the line is cruelty-free, and packaging as well as formulas, are infused with Latinx sourced ingredients and art. A key ingredient is blue agave sourced from Jalisco, Mexico. The soothing and nurturing Mexican blue agave delivers a unique softness improving the skin texture, and is derived in a sustainable way from the nectar of the plant.

Treslce Beauty will be launching with six products including: "I Am" Shadow Palette, "Like An Artista" 8pc Brush Set, "Ilusion" Premium Lashes (Sueo 3D, Fantasy 5D, Deseo 6D), "Intenso" Liners (15 shades), "Mi Tesoro" Lash Case, and "Super Fcil 2-in-1 Lash Applicator". Prices range $8-$35.00.

Media Contact: Danielle Alvarez [emailprotected]

SOURCE Madeby Collective


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New Study Shows Life Expectancy Within Black And Hispanic Communities Has Dropped Drastically Since WWII – BET

Posted: at 4:30 am

The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 600,000 in the United States and as a result has caused major economic upheaval and permanently affected the lives of millions of people. Its no surprise that Black and Hispanic Americans suffered more than any other demographic group, but the impact is much more substantial than previously considered, according to a new study.

Research published in the medical journal BMJ showed life expectancy in America dropped by two years from 2018 to 2020, the largest decline since World War II. But as white people lost 1.36 years, comparatively Black people lost 3.25 years and Hispanic Americans lost 3.88 years.

To exacerbate the problem, Black and Hispanic Americans are also seeing harder economic times due to the pandemic. Although the overall economy is recovering as coronavirus restrictions continue to ease, many in those groups who suffered job losses and housing insecurities are continuing on that same pace.

RELATED: Black People Comprise 100 percent of the Coronavirus Deaths In Richmond, Virginia

This already comes with the health disparities that already disproportionately affected communities of color before the onset of the pandemic, which simply made matters worse. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nations top immunologist said in May the extent those disparities have done damage.

COVID-19 has shone a bright light on our own societys failings, said Fauci, speaking at Atlantas Emory Universitys graduation ceremonies, speaking of conditions like hypertension, obesity, chronic lung disease, and diabetes. Almost all relate to the social determinants of health dating back to disadvantageous conditions that some people of color find themselves in from birth regarding the availability of an adequate diet, access to health care and the undeniable effects of racism in our society.

RELATED: Dr. Anthony Fauci: Undeniable Effects of Racism Contributed To Worsening of Pandemic Among Minorities

Kaiser Health News, citing data from McKinsey & Co. analysts, reported the two demographics will have to wait until at least 2024 to see their pre-pandemic wages and salaries come back, facing 1.6 to 2.0 times the unemployment rates of white workers. There is also an increase in poverty that typically disproportionately affects minority groups. Census data shows 11.3 percent of Americans are now living in poverty, compared with 10.7 percent in January 2020, KHN says.

Ive been homeless before, James Toussaint, 57, a New Orleans man who has never had COVID-19 and was evicted from his apartment after he lost his job at an auto parts store, told KHN. I dont want to be homeless again.

As a result, Toussaint has suffered with high blood pressure and arthritis in his back and knees. He did manage to find a new place to stay when he was put out of his old apartment, but that only happened because his former landlord found a way around the federal eviction ban. His family could not take him in.

Ive got family, but everybody has their own issues and problems, Toussaint said. Everyone is trying their best to help themselves.

In a study from the National Equity Atlas, about 14 percent of tenants have fallen behind on their rent, doubling the pre-pandemic rate. About 67 percent of them are people of color.

The health and housing disparities that have come along with the plight of people like Toussaint are pronounced and outline the inequities of the healthcare system when it comes to distribution.

RELATED: White House COVID Task Force Head Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith Says Vaccinating 12-15 Year Olds Is Essential

Its a vivid paradox, Dr. Steven Woolf, a professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health at Virginia Commonwealth University and a senior author of the BMJ paper, told The Los Angeles Times. We really do a fantastic job in developing cutting-edge medications and technologies in healthcare, but a pretty lousy job of distributing them fairly. The same thing happens with diabetes, hypertension, and even maternal and child health.

We have a fundamental problem with providing healthcare and getting it out to the people who need it most, he added, noting that the drop in life expectancy in America was 8.5 times the rate of other wealthy nations. But he said it was most shocking to see the widening gaps between white people and communities of color.

This was really disturbing, said Woolf. It reflects the huge loss of life and it demonstrates the price people pay for systemic racism.

But taking a solutions-based approach to that racism can help turn the tide, Dr. Richard Besser, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation told KHN. Tackling problems like poverty, racial inequity, and housing disparity could potentially turn back the alarming trends affecting people of color.

How the pandemic will affect peoples future health depends on what we do coming out of this, said Besser. It will take an intentional effort to make up for the losses that have occurred over the past year.

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Differences Between Blacks, Whites With COVID-19 – Healthline

Posted: at 4:30 am

A few months into the pandemic, scientists say theyve discovered a disturbing pattern.

The data showed that those who survived COVID-19 and those who didnt breaks down sharply along racial lines, with Black people being hit particularly hard.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black people develop COVID-19 at about the same rate as whites. But they are nearly three times more likely to be hospitalized and twice as likely to die from the disease.

Why is this happening?

Some scientists have said Black people have higher rates of chronic diseases that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19.

However, a new study published in JAMA Network Open suggests that may not be the whole story. Among other things, what hospital you land in could be a major factor.

The effects of what hospital you go to are by far the greatest and, frankly, could entirely explain the Black-white differences we see in survival, said Dr. David A. Asch, a lead author of the study and a professor of medicine and healthcare management as well as the director of the Center for Health Care Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania.

The researchers examined the data for more than 44,000 Medicare beneficiaries who were treated for COVID-19 at nearly 1,200 hospitals across the country.

They concluded that if Black patients were treated in the same hospitals as whites, their mortality rate could have been lower.

Asch told Healthline that their findings were true even after they accounted for chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. His team did not specifically study what it was about the hospitals that made the difference.

But there are some smoking guns. If you think about it, hospitals are a lot like public schools, he said. We fund them typically with local property taxes. So the schools in, say Beverly Hills have more resources than in impoverished neighborhoods.

Those findings ring a bell with Dr. Kim Rhoads, MPH, an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics and the director of the Office of Community Engagement at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).

Where you go determines what you get and what you get can determine your outcome, she told Healthline.

Rhoads began studying the impact of hospitals on cancer treatment in 2008. She said she started looking for answers because all the literature blamed the patient for not taking care of themselves or not eating right.

Rhoads says the problem is that hospitals serving communities of color often have numerous people using Medicaid. The rate of reimbursement to the hospital for Medicaid-related services is on average 87 cents on the dollar.

Their revenues are lower. So the types of specialists those hospitals can hire may be limited. The types of equipment they have to provide cancer care, like a radiation machine, is limited, she said.

Dr. Karen Joynt Maddox, MPH, an assistant professor at the School of Medicine and co-director at the Center for Health Economics and Policy at Washington University in St. Louis, said the disparities have roots in racism.

Hospitals that disproportionately serve Black patients struggle for a number of reasons, but they all link back to structural racism, she told Healthline.

Maddox says historical underinvestment and discrimination have effectively segregated those hospitals in communities of color.

Policies like redlining means those hospitals are often located in areas that are much poorer with lower revenues, she explained.

It can be hard to recruit and retain physicians and other healthcare professionals to work in under-resourced hospitals, she added.

Scientists at New Yorks Mount Sinai Hospital recently completed another study on COVID-19 racial disparities, focusing on a New York neighborhood.

They wanted to look beyond the discourse about how COVID-19 comorbidities were why Black Americans had higher mortality rates.

What they found was that neighborhoods that had higher socioeconomic disadvantages had more COVID-19 cases and deaths.

In addition, researchers at New York University Grossman School of Medicine looked at racial disparities in access to COVID-19 vaccines in Brooklyn.

They found a substantial number of vaccination access deserts. They said the early vaccine rollout focused on white neighborhoods that were middle and upper class.

Rhoads calls this the car and computer syndrome.

She said people in lower-income communities might not have a car to get to the vaccine sites and no way to go online to make an appointment.

Her UCSF team took vaccines to those communities and established pop-up sites in the San Francisco Bay Area. They registered people on the spot and did a phone follow-up for people who needed a second shot.

I think the innovation that should come out of this pandemic is a bigger investment in the people in the community. That means engaging the community in the process of taking care of public health, Rhoads said.

Experts say the potential solutions are complicated.

A systematic and intentional investment in hospitals that disproportionately serve Black individuals, suggested Maddox. And even beyond healthcare, economic development in neighborhoods and communities.

Asch said one solution would be to decrease the number of uninsured people and find a way to get more revenue to the underfunded hospitals.

What if Medicaid paid at higher rates than it does? Asch said. We could redress some of the financial differences, but it wouldnt fix everything. Its a tangled web. Its not just money.


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5 strategies for promoting meaningful campus dialogue this fall | – University Business

Posted: at 4:30 am

Rather than a return to normalcy, university and college leaders can encourage their campuses to embrace more productive conversations across lines of difference.

This fall will see American colleges and universities re-open their doors to in-person learning. We have all missed the energy of a buzzing campus, yet our enthusiasm is tempered with questions: How smoothly will we readapt to the classroom? How has technology newly impacted learning? With Zoom pushing everyone further online for the past year and half, how will near-constant social media outrage and crisis-level reporting impact campus dialogue?

Kyle Sebastian Vitale, Ph.D., is the Director of Programs at Heterodox Academy.

With classrooms reopening, campus leaders are in a unique position to promote meaningful dialogue and constructive disagreement as students process the emotional experiences and immense questions of the past year. Rather than a return to normalcy, university and college leaders can encourage their campuses to embrace more productive conversations across lines of difference.

Students, instructors, and staff are carrying back to campus their personal experiences of COVID-19, the killing of George Floyd and others, the January 6 events at the Capitol, and more. Campus leaders can use this opportunity to embrace the unique role of reconvening students for on-campus discussions following lockdown. As they do so, their words and visibility can shape expectations and remind their communities of shared values. These approaches will matter. With emotions high, strategic messaging and encouragement can help ground on-campus dialogue in mutual respect.

As you think about reconvening your own community this fall, consider these five strategies for promoting meaningful dialogue and constructive disagreement.

Campus leaders have the privilege to convene bold, authentic dialogue that promotes constructive disagreement without marginalizing others. I will always remember how the president of my alma mater embodied our shared identity as scholar-servants. She was intentional in using the phrase, reminded us of the wider world it pointed to, and modeled it in her teaching and volunteerism. It bound us together and drew us beyond our self-defensive mechanisms. By staying visible, underscoring shared values, and signaling civil and charitable debate over polarization and anger, campus leaders can elevate dialogue and set a new standard for normal.

Kyle Sebastian Vitale, Ph.D., is the Director of Programs at Heterodox Academy, a non-partisan collaborative of over 5,000 professors, administrators, and graduate students committed to promoting open inquiry, viewpoint diversity and constructive disagreement in institutions of higher learning. He has taught courses and workshops in writing, literature, and pedagogy for over a decade at the University of Delaware, Yale University, the University of New Haven, and Temple University.

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Area school districts react to reintroduced bill requiring cursive to be taught in schools – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Posted: at 4:30 am

Third-graders at Lake Country School in Delafield practice cursive writing on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019.(Photo: Scott Ash/Now News Group)

State legislators have reintroduced a bill originally introduced in 2019 requiring cursive in schools to be taught.

State Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt and state Sen. Joan Ballweg, along with senators Alberta Darling, Stephen Nass, Howard Marklein, Lena Taylor and Van Wanggaard,reintroduced the bill, which issimilar to AB 459. That billpassed the state Assembly in 2019 before stalling in the state Senate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Co-sponsoring the bill are state representatives David Armstrong, Rachel Cabral-Guevara, Barbara Dittrich, James Edming, Gae Magnafici, Clint Moses, David Murphy, Jeffrey Mursau, Donna Rozar, Ron Tusler, Michael Schraa and Daniel Knodl.

If passed, the bill would require that cursive writingbe incorporated into the state's model academic standards for English language arts. Specifically, it would require elementary students to be able to write legibly in cursive by the end of fifth grade.

It would alsorequire all school boards, independent charter schools and private schools participating in a parental choice program to include cursive writing in their respective curriculums for elementary grades, according to the bill's text.

"We just think it's an important part of a particularlyyoung mind, speaking specifically of kids when they first start school," Thiesfeldt said in a phone interview June 22. "Those first few years are when most of the learning takes place, and it's important for us to maximize the amount of learning they can get in that time, and I believe cursive writing is part of that."

Ballweg said she hoped cursive would not become a lost art.

"There is evidence that shows that it does more to actuallyput the left and right sides of the brain together to work together. (It) provides for greater dexterity moving forward and just helps you retain more information and gets your entire brain working when you're working in cursive," Ballweg said.

"I know over the years, of course, it's important that we all learn to type so that we can do emails and everything else that goes along with being on the Internet and learning that way, but I think this is a way of communication that needs to be preserved, and if we don't teach it in schools, it's not going to happen. People can, moving forward, decide what kind of format they want to use when they are writing. But it is something that I think we should train so that people have that background as an option."

The bill, SB 431, has been referred to the state Senate Education Committee, according to the state legislature's website.

Some area school districts are already teaching cursive.

The Germantown School District offer cursive writing instruction in third grade, said Brenda O'Brien, the district's director of teaching and learning.

"While we do recognize the prioritization of digital communication, research tends to support how putting pencil to paper reinforces reading in a way that fingers to keyboard does not, ashandwriting provides students a better idea of how words work in combination," O'Brien said in an email."Additionally, research tends to support how learningcursiveenhances fine motor skills."

It's a similar story in Menomonee Falls schools, where Superintendent Corey Golla said the district has continued basic instruction on the subject at the elementary level and hasnot discussed any changes to that requirement.

But he added that the district opposed the legislation on the basic grounds that the community consistently endorses local control.

"Our school board is elected to make these decisions in partnership with our community and our leadership team.We have also opposed any unfunded mandates from the Legislature," Golla said in an email.

The New Berlin School District does not have a formal curriculum for teaching cursive in its classrooms. However, the district begins exposing students to cursive in second grade. From there, the district gives students the opportunity to practice cursive writing in the third, fourth and fifth grades, saying it knows they may run into it outside of school and at minimum wants students to be able to sign their names.

Superintendent Joe Garza echoed Golla's concerns about state mandates.

"In almost all cases, we support local control and believe it should be up to local school boards to determine whats taught in our schools, especially considering how much is already mandated from the state and federal levels," Garza said in an email.

Palmyra-Eagle School District public relations coordinator Caitlin Kirchner said the bill is in line with the practices the district is already doing and would not change its curriculum.

Eagle Elementary School principal Katie Robertson saidthe school has taught cursive as an intentional handwriting unit during the third grade. She said the school uses a program called "Handwriting out Tears" to teach students.

"We feel that there is a value in this instruction, and provides students with an opportunityto use this writing artform. Students continue to usecursivein the classroom beyond third grade and have opportunities to imbed it into their fourth- and fifth-grade learning," said Robertson.

Waukesha School DistrictAssistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Jody Landish said with the district's adoption of the Benchmark Phonics program, handwriting is already incorporated into the curriculum. She said cursive writing starts in the third grade.

"If the proposed bill passes, it will not adversely affect the instruction we have in place in Waukesha," Landish said in an email.

The Wisconsin Department of Instruction said in an email that thedepartment does not take a position on bills until the scheduled hearing.

But the Wisconsin Association of School Boardsdid take a position on the bill.

WASB government relations director Dan Rossmiller said the organization generally opposes bills that would impose unfunded curricular mandates on schools or attempt to micromanage decisions best left to local discretion.

"Whatever the merits (or lack of merits) of bills imposing cursive writing mandates on schools, such bills seem oddly out of step with the realities of the learning disruption that occurred during pandemic," Rossmiller said in an email. "We think lawmakers would better help students by focusing on helping schools help students recover from the learning disruption caused by the pandemic than by adding new mandates."

Rossmiller said the WASB also opposed similar bills in 2019. He said the new proposed draft appears to be identical to the bills considered last session.

ContactAlec Johnson at(262) 875-9469 Follow him on Twitter at @AlecJohnson12.

Our subscribers make this reporting possible. Please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Journal Sentinel at


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OTEC says outages possible if wildfire risk gets severe – Baker City Herald

Posted: at 4:30 am

Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative wants its members to know that there is a potential that the cooperative will temporarily cut power this summer to reduce the risk of power lines sparking wildfires.

The Baker City-based cooperative urges members to prepare for that possibility.

Joe Hathaway, communications manager for OTEC, said power transmission and distribution lines would be de-energized only if the fire threat and other risk factors, such as strong winds, posed an abnormally severe threat.

The thing we really want to reiterate is were not saying the sky is falling or anything like that, Hathaway said. This is a last resort option. We know losing power is a big deal and its the last thing wed ever want to do. But in the interest of protecting our communities, it could be a possibility.

Theres a lot of factors that go into that the red flag warnings, wind speed, conditions on the ground, the fire threat to our infrastructure that would definitely be one of the ones that would make us decide which lines to initiate, Hathaway said. And then, on-the-ground observations from some community partners, from the Forest Service and other agencies.

OTEC officials pointed out in a press release that other power providers have used intentional outages over the past few years including some during the Labor Day fires that devastated parts of western and southern Oregon.

If OTEC decides an intentional outage is necessary, the cooperative will try to notify its members as soon as possible through a variety of channels, including automated phone calls, press releases and posts on social media and the cooperatives website

If an outage is necessary, OTEC workers will inspect lines and other equipment, once the extreme weather has passed, to ensure there is no damage.

If so, repairs would be made before the power was restored. Outages could last for hours or up to several days.

OTEC recommends its members in Baker, Union, Grant and Harney counties prepare for potential outages.

Our whole point is just to say be as prepared as possible, Hathaway said. And be prepared because, you know its a last resort, and these outages could last a day or more. We just want people to be ready.

Update your contact information with OTEC via your online account or by calling 541-523-3616.

Have a personal safety plan in place for every member of your household, including a plan for your pets and/or livestock.

Sign up for your countys emergency notification system. You can find that by calling your county or you can find a list of OTEC-served counties at

Plan for any medical needs like medications that need to be refrigerated or devices that require power, such as oxygen tanks.

Create or restock your emergency supply kit including food, water, flashlights, a radio, fresh batteries, first aid supplies, and cash.

Identify backup charging methods for phones and medical equipment.

Know how to open your garage door manually.

Ensure any backup generators are ready to operate safely.

Identify the unique needs of your family and loved ones in the area for your emergency plan.

Designate an emergency meeting location.

Make sure to disconnect from OTECs system using an approved disconnect switch before using a generator to prevent backfeed, which could be deadly to utility workers attempting to turn power back on.

Do not overload the generator, use it to only power essential appliances or equipment.

Only operate the generator outside, not indoors.

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When rape is used as a weapon of war, it must be prosecuted as a war crime – The Dallas Morning News

Posted: at 4:30 am

This op-ed is part of an occasional series published by The Dallas Morning News Opinion section on human rights and human freedom. Find the full series here.

Under a muted gray sunset, the last vestiges of fall turning to winter, dozens of Yazidi girls and women, with faces drained of light, moved like ghosts through the crude, ripped tents of the displacement camp they now call home.

They held each other close, clinging to each others thin bodies. They are all survivors of sexual violence under the brutal, yearslong campaign waged by ISIS insurgents across Iraq and Syria starting in 2014. They have all endured more torture and death than the human brain can process, targeted by the Islamic terrorist group because of their ancient faith devoted to the tenets of the Peacock Angel rather than Abrahamic texts.

But many of these brave souls emerged from the shadows to tell their stories for one reason, and one reason only: to stop this from happening to others.

I am alive, shuddered Gazal, 22, in Duhok, Iraq, hours after she was rescued from more than two years of captivity. Thanks to God.

The young woman with dun-colored eyes and a distant smile cowered alongside her two sisters-in-law, Nadifa, also 22, and Basima, just 17. They had also suffered through the hell of ISIS captivity and had been rescued months earlier. All the men in their family brothers, husbands, fathers and sons had also been apprehended by ISIS when the terrorist outfit overran their ancestral home of Iraqs Sinjar Mountain in the dwindling summer of 2014.

Some Yazidi men were executed in cold blood with bullets to the backs of their heads. The terrorists carted off others into the darkness, never to be seen or heard from again, believed to be rotting away in the many shallow mass graves that still permeate the vast plains of Iraq.

First, they put us in a school and held us for 20 days. They didnt let us eat or drink. Only the children were given a little bread, but we had to go to the bathrooms to share it. If they caught us sharing, we were tortured, Basima said, speaking about the early days of abduction as if she were a historian, recounting someone elses story.

The children were dying, starving. They wouldnt drink the little amount of dirty water. So, we found some toothpaste and put it in the water to pretend it was milk, so they would drink and not die from dehydration.

Clumps of the womens hair fell to the ground, and the Yazidi women, children and elderly were forced to drink urine to stay alive after ISIS ruptured the only water pipe. But the worst was yet to come.

In the middle of the night, the ISIS men were coming in and yelling to know who was still a virgin, Basima whispered. And from the age of eight, they were taking girls to the market to sell for a cigarette.

However, Basima and several of her siblings thought up a plan to avoid being attacked. They tried to look like ugly boys by using a piece of a broken plate to shave their heads and dressing in some mens clothes they found hidden away.

We thought that if they mistook us for boys, we would be taken out and killed rather than raped, she said. But instead, when they knew our trick, the men came in and stripped us in front of everybody. In front of everybody, hundreds, they touched us everywhere, sexually abused us. My father and brother had to watch. And that was the last I saw of them.

Basima did not shudder while she talked. She was telling her story, but she was also telling somebody elses story. She was telling the story of so many other women. Perhaps that is how she was able to get through it, by separating herself from the narrative.

As the dark days unfurled, Basima, Nadifa, Gazal and other relatives were transferred to another prison, stripped to expose every inch of their raw, bruised flesh and selected by various ISIS leaders for marriage.

Only it wasnt a real marriage. There was no contract, no real ceremony, Gazal continued, the last chinks of daylight falling across her crumpled face. It was just rape. I was forced to be a Muslim, to pray five times a day.

I wondered how such fragile women, with such delicate bones, could take such abuse. I wondered how they lived with the anguish without proper professional support or even a proper house to call home.

Most of all, I puzzled about whether their bravery would amount to any change. Despite the Yazidi communitys very closed and conservative nature, their religious leaders came forward soon after the Mount Sinjar invasion to insist that the returnees be welcomed home and not punished even honor-killed over what had happened to them.

We just want to see this stop, Basima said, opening her scarred hands in a gesture of desperation.

With such anecdotes and accounts, sexual violence in conflict is finally cleaving through the lingering layer of shame and silence that has left victims feeling as though they are to blame and the perpetrators living free with impunity.

Nonetheless, there is a long way to go when it comes to justice and accountability.

Despite the hundreds of Yazidi women who have come forward to tell their stories of survival including girls as young as 8 years old who were sold to fighters and carted between Iraq and Syria on dusty cattle trucks no ISIS member has explicitly been prosecuted or tried for the crime of sexual violence.

The courts in Iraq are overwhelmed with ISIS prosecutions and therefore are happy to just prosecute on basic terrorism crimes, said Anne Speckhard, director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism and a professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. This is not very satisfactory to those who suffered genocidal rapes and killings.

Yet it is a distinction that makes a big difference. The mere mention of sexual violence has the power to turn the tide on this war crime.

Sadly, rape as a weapon of war is as old as humankind and for too long has been submerged in the shadows as either a lesser crime than slaughter or too taboo to talk about, especially in deeply guarded or staunchly religious societies where honor is inexplicably tied to a womans virginity.

Although the language in Article 27 of the 1949 Geneva Convention states that women are to be protected against any attack on their honor, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault, the crime has little presence in international justice efforts.

It was only in the late 1990s that rape was formally acknowledged in war crime tribunals. It has come to be a quiet stain on almost every conflict from antiquity through the modern battles of World War I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Syria and beyond.

The first landmark prosecution took place in 1998 at the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. However, in its 20 years of existence, that court, the International Criminal Court, only achieved one conviction for rape and sexual slavery, and that was in a 2019 case of a Congolese warlord.

It was not until 2008 that the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1820, which officially recognized rape and other forms of sexual violence as a war crime, or a constitutive act with respect to genocide.

One can take a life without killing, and that is what rape as a weapon of war all too often does. Sexual violence is an effective genocidal tool that is readily available and inexpensive, useful in not only devastating victims but strategically and for the long-term debilitating families and entire communities.

Rape wrapped inside combat comes with a mosaic of consequences. Victims on a large scale might be infected with HIV or other life-threatening diseases or injuries, ethnicities might be dramatically depleted through intentional impregnation, and husbands and families often shun victims. And jarringly, the pervasiveness of the atrocity then normalizes sexual violence in society and reinforces gender inequality long after a conflict concludes.

Nonetheless, the prevalence of such wartime sexual violence has continued because perpetrators have not historically faced retribution. According to human rights advocates, rape remains one of the most underreported and inadequately prosecuted of all war crimes.

The United Nations and world leaders continue to issue words of condemnation, but words are not enough. Activists also emphasize that governments still downplay or deny state-sanctioned crimes of the past, exacerbating the trauma survivors still suffer.

For one, the Japanese government only recently recognized with a thin apology the hundreds of thousands of so-called comfort women, typically Korean, Chinese, Filipina and Indonesian women and girls forcibly kept by Japanese soldiers as sex laborers and prostitutes during World War ll.

Sexual violence over the years has also had a permanent place in a multitude of smaller, paramilitary-style strifes. Pakistani soldiers scuffling to squash the post-1971 independence of Bangladesh became synonymous with raids to rape women. Molestation was additionally reported amid the Turkish invasion of Cyprus three years later. Human Rights Watch documented dozens of rape cases in the 1992 skirmish between anti-government and Communist Party loyalists in Peru.

Yet that is barely the tip of an overwhelming iceberg, or a thickening file, as they say in the diplomacy world.

Compounding the problem is the generational damage, which is as destructive as it is widespread. The ruthless attacks also harm the young, who are sometimes forced to watch their mothers or protectors endure sexual assaults or in some twisted cases, act as perpetrators themselves.

Burma, also referred to by its modern name Myanmar, has long been a hotbed for sexual assault as an instrument to demoralize and mutilate minorities. Tu Aung, a minority Kachin Christian activist, told me that what he remembers most about his early childhood amid the savage 1990s military clampdown is not the hail of bombs and bullets. It is watching the women he loved most in the world running.

If they got caught, we had to watch the soldiers rape them, he said. Then, sometimes after that, they were tied to the trees and set on fire.

Today, rape is inflicted by government troops in a bid to eliminate and drive out the Rohingya, a Muslim minority sect.

And in another interview I conducted several years ago in Iraq, a young Yazidi mother and ISIS sexual slavery survivor by the name of Seve revealed that her four children, all younger than 10, had not only been beaten blue, swung from ceiling fans and had their teeth smashed to pulp, but were made suffer through her own screams during rape.

The more the children cried and screamed, the more they hurt me in retaliation, Seve remembered, her face falling as she explained that her son continued the learned behavior of beating his three baby sisters.

However, there are a few small steps in the right direction that could signal some change for other groups still afraid to come forth in a public way. In March, Iraqi lawmakers voted to compensate Yazidi women and girls who had been enslaved. The compensation is in the form of land, housing and education.

Iraqi society and many others continue to wrestle with the notion of children born from rape. Children often fall between the cracks without reparation, support or equal opportunity, and can endure lifelong stigmatization.

Two years ago, I met a Congolese woman in a sprawling refugee camp inside Kenya. Her name was Nancy. Barefoot and broke, she brought to light the all-too-routine nightmare of three masked men bursting into her home and raping her. Her 14-year-old son was forced to watch the horror, and Nancy was subsequently banished from her family. After fleeing her homeland, she discovered she was pregnant, augmenting the already persistent ostracizing inside the refugee camp.

Sexual violence has become a defining factor of the protracted conflict plaguing the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ten years ago, U.N. officials termed the central African country the rape capital of the world, with conservative estimates indicating that at least 48 women are raped per hour by armed, lawless militiamen.

Victoria Nyanjura was just 14 years old when she was kidnapped from her Northern Uganda Catholic boarding school on an October night in 1996. With some 139 other terrified students, she was taken by insurgents belonging to infamous warlord Joseph Konys Lords Resistance Army.

Almost every day for eight years, Victorias childhood innocence was clawed away.

Every night, they are having their way with you, and there is nothing you can do. Everything about captivity is about survival. You either survive, or you perish; there is no in-between, Victoria said in a small, stern voice. Often, you would see someone fall to the ground and think they must be resting, but when you get closer, you realize they are gone.

She gave birth to two children inside that hellish captivity, teetering on the periphery of life and death, and the whole family has sustained the ever-present psychological ramifications and social imputations.

Kony remains a free man.

And women certainly arent the only victims. Sexual violence against men is only now acknowledged as one of the most far-reaching yet underreported war crimes. I have recently listened to countless testimonies from men who disappeared into the dungeonlike depths of Syrian gulags.

On a trip a couple of years ago to Afghanistan, I visited Taliban fighters who were arrested and held inside a windowless government prison outside Kabul.

One juvenile, his stoic face shattering, told me that a religious Taliban recruiter at the secret training camp had him drugged, raped and filmed threatening to release the footage if the boy declined to participate in a suicide attack against a Western consulate in Afghanistans north.

Adding to the complexities of confessing such an ordeal is that in countries where homosexuality is outlawed, survivors are at risk of being arrested by law enforcement.

Too often, ending impunity for sexual violence is not seen as a priority, despite the well-documented devastating impact on survivors, their families and communities, said Lauren Aarons, head of the Gender, Sexuality and Identity Team for Amnesty International.

Where do we go from here? Having laws that criminalize sexual violence on their own is not enough. We need states to do the work to prosecute these crimes, in line of course with fair trial standards, including if and when the perpetrator was from their own security forces.

Ultimately, impunity for rape during times of conflict must be abolished. Without this, there is little incentive for the genocidal transgression to stop. And there is little chance that survivors will have their dignity restored and heal from the tangle of nightmares that play on a loop in their heads, their lives forever in limbo.

Hollie McKay is a writer, war crimes investigator and author of Only Cry for the Living: Memos from Inside the ISIS Battlefield. She wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.

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When rape is used as a weapon of war, it must be prosecuted as a war crime - The Dallas Morning News

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Will cancer centers remain committed to improving equity in the long term? – The Cancer Letter

Posted: at 4:30 am

This is the first installment of conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion in recruitment and mentorship at academic cancer centers.

These conversations, which will continue in upcoming issues, are intended to help disseminate best practices employed to diversify the oncology workforce of the future.

If youd like to take part, reach out to Matthew Ong (matthew@cancerletter), associate editor of The Cancer Letter.

Matthew Ong: What best practices in hiring and recruitmentor in pipeline programsdo you use at your institution to elevate potential diverse leaders? How effective are these strategies?

Christopher Lathan: I think, first, as I answer that question, I want to put it in context, because I think that this conversation is quantitatively different from a conversation that could have been had a couple of years ago.

So, when The Cancer Letter published your survey data, which is remarkably similar to the study that was just published, there was some consternation, but there wasnt as much focus. The focus on structural inequity throughout our system has really made the medical leadership rethink their approach. Theres always been good intentions, theres always been good thoughts, but I think that some of this was not seen as the priority.

To answer your question now, I would say our institution has always focused on some of the standard efforts that youve seen. We have focused on the usual approaches in the past. Pipeline issues, trying to support underrepresented leaders on multiple levels.

So, one new approach is supporting young aspiring leaders with continuous mentorship, especially folks who are coming from underrepresented-in-medicine backgrounds. In addition to that, creating relationships with, whether its medical schools and community leaders, where you can try to build those new diverse leaders. So, I think the first part is your pipeline.

The second part is prospectively thinking about support group situations. So, if you have underrepresented minority faculty, then, again, putting folks in groups and efforts to try to give them support through. I think those have kind of been the standard approaches. And I would say our institution has utilized those.

What I would say is that those approaches work somewhat. I think one of the things that we havent seen until fairly recently is really putting leadership in the executive suite, because thats where the difference comes in.

I would also say there isnt enough time yet to see. For example, my position is relatively new just within the last few months. And I think theres a lot of folks in the country who are in a similar situation.

So, lets see, I think these efforts will pay off, but I think the pipeline and the fermenting of young dynamic leaders and reaching out to try and pull established leaders from other institutions is another thing that, I think, institutions have tried to utilize, and my institution has done that as wellkind of thinking outside the box and maybe really thinking about leadership tracks and looking at folks who dont fit the same mold, I think, and maybe having people really broaden what they think a leader can do as well as what a leader looks like would be really helpful.

In your experience as a member of your centers executive leadership, how has increased diversity among your faculty improved patient outcomes, as well as your ability to reach and engage underserved communities in your catchment area? Could you provide a few examples?

CL: I would say the short answer to your question is, again, in the executive suite, looking at representation there, its relatively recent at our institution. So, were going to have to see those outcomes; well look at that going forward.

I would say we have seen other institutions, though, where this has paid off. At ASCO this year, Dr. [Carmen] Guerrera and Dr. [Robert] Vonderheide [from Penns Abramson Cancer Center] actually presented some data that showed how their interventionit was an intervention, but it was really supported by the cancer center directorto really diversify their patient population and have it match up with Philadelphias catchment area .

And they showed, how these kinds of initiatives are actually supported from the top throughout the instituteintegrating the whole institutes mechanism to really think about clinical trials and improving clinical trials for marginalized populations, African Americans for the most partreally made a huge difference in recruitment of folks to clinical trials, and greater representation of the marginalized catchment area.

I think that that is a good example of how Dr. Guerreras work where she is, in a leadership-level job, with the support of the cancer center director, has shown that if you put people who are interested in outreach, who are dedicated to outreach, and I think looking for leaders who are from different and diverse backgrounds, gives you folks who might have slightly different emphasis in their career. If you give them the support, they will build the initiatives and put the folks together and really make things work.

I do think that there are other examples out there. Derek Raghavans efforts at the Levine Cancer Center, and what theyve been doing, I think, is another example of how you find the people who want to do this kind of work. You support that from the cancer center leadership on down.

You pick executives who want to do this work, medical leaders who want to do this work, and you can make incredible gains and get the outcomes that youre looking for.

The trap for me in the question that you asked is, Hey, so youre going to do this. Youre going to diversify your leadership. Well, wheres the money? When are we going to see the outcomes that we want?

This sort of thing takes time and effort and commitment. And the trap is, if these physicians are not in the position to succeed, then leadership gets to say, Oh, were going to go back to what were doing.

Thats the one thing about having it so black and white, youve got to have a longer term view and plant the seeds so that the leaders can grow strong and can integrate their ideas throughout your institution.

Right; my question is a response to a dated and very loaded colorblind approach to science that I often run into in my work on DEI issues, i.e. Good science is good science, regardless of race. How is a good doctor from Baltimore different from a good doctor from Idaho? Its patronizing to racial minorities to tokenize them.

But I hear what youre saying here; you cant ask for outcomes on deadline as if its an engineering project.

CL: Right. Thats exactly right.

What programs have you led or are leading that are directly contributing to greater equity i.e. a reduction in disparity of outcomes or disparity of access in your catchment area? What is the nature of those disparities and what have you learned?

CL: Weve been fortunate. Even though my particular role is relatively new, there have been some efforts that weve been working on at our institution for some time that we have some data on.

Ill talk about two things, and theyre related. One is one of the efforts Ive been involved in for about 10 years. Its our Cancer Care Equity Program where weve actually set up outreach clinics in Federally Qualified Health Centers. And the idea is that we would help the primary care docs with any cancer-related questions.

So, we do expedited workups, survivorship, lung cancer screening visits, all in their health center under their license. For people who actually need to get biopsies or other things, they come into the cancer center. And thats a navigated process. Its built around a nurse navigator.

We put that program together about 2011. And so, over the nearly 10 years, weve collected data that shows that, not only do we help people, we decrease the time to evaluation for cancer-related questions, and weve got a manuscript that well be sending out, but theres some other published work that weve done.

Also, we found that the folks who did get diagnosed with cancer who were sent to our program were more likely to go on clinical trials. And this is a majority diverse population, about 40% of the patients speak Spanish and 70% identify as African American.

So, I think we have some preliminary data that shows that this kind of prolonged, determined, navigation, clinical access program not only helps the patient, but it also gives what were looking for in the long term, which is more access and higher representation in clinical trials.

Now, the actual total N is small, because this is a small pilot program, but were expanding this program and were trying to make a bigger impact.

The other thing is our Community Benefits Office and our research programs have long been working hand in hand to really innovate and try to come up with different types of interventions that can have impact.

So, besides some of the work that weve been doing, theres some work on prostate cancer, theres work on liver cancer, where theyre really trying to integrate the research process much more in addition to the clinical process.

And in our breast cancer group, there is a Boston-wide navigation program where all the different institutions, different academic institutions are coming together.

And the data isnt quite published yet, but thats another, probably seven or eight year program that we have some good data showing the impact of navigation for breast cancer patients, specifically, for comparing what happens to folks who are coming from underserved neighborhoods from marginalized communities.

So, these programs have been going on for a while. I think its just we need to ramp them up a little bit more.

Speaking of next steps, are you working on any new initiatives or new priorities, on a very high level, at your institution?

CL: We are working on, like many institutions, rethinking the integration of our approach to clinical access throughout the institution.

One specific example is integrating navigation into the disease center in a much more prospective way for vulnerable and underserved patient populations.

So, as opposed to having a navigator thats supported by a philanthropic program, were talking about in the center, integrating the navigator, the community-focused navigator, to really assist all the way through their process on a disease center level throughout the cancer center.

Thats something that I really havent seen often, even in programs that have navigators in clinical operation systems. So, weve started that program where were going to integrate, were going to look at some metrics, and were going to try to demonstrate that approach over time.

And in addition to that, I think really building up some of our outreach programs, some of the interventions from the ground up, removing structural barriers and actually focusing on some socioeconomic and other barriers it takes for folks to get on clinical trials.

Lastly, our institution has been able to renegotiate some of the insurance contracts. So, before there was a big gap. Many patients who were in Boston who had a specific managed Medicaid product that excluded our institution, or the health insurance program at our institution was too expensive.

They renegotiated that, so that these patients can, just like everybody else, come into the institution and get a second opinion or get their transplant or specialty care, if need be.

And I think thats also going to allow us to have a positive impact on the patients.

Did we miss anything?

CL: I will say that Im happy that theres a majority of institutions that are thinking about this in a prospective way.

What I want to see thoughwhat I really want to seeis in three, four, or five years, do they remain as committed?

And where are they when some of these initiatives start off a little rocky and they dont necessarily give fruit early? Where is their commitment and how strong is their will for change?

That is where I think we will really see where were going with this and whether this is representation that is weaved in, or if this is a reflexive response to the moment, because many of us whove been doing this work for 15, 20 years have been pushing these things.

Go back and look at the guidelines that ASCOs done, that any of the groups have talked about, and youll see the same thing.

Even NCI, when they changed the core grant, the CCSG grants include more about community engagement. People have been trying to push this for a while.

So, these arent new concepts. What we want to see, in all of this, is as we go forward, is it going to be sustained? And thats, to me, where were going to see the difference in communities, and communities will know the difference then, too.

Right; a friend described it very succinctly to me in a conversation about equity initiatives now popping up everywhere: Yall, weve been seeing it for a long time before COVID and before BLM, but thank you, better late than never.

CL: Exactly. Thats very true. I think thats very true. So, I think, good, if youre late to the party and you want to help, thats great, but lets see what its going to look like going forward.

Matthew Ong: What best practices in hiring and recruitmentor in pipeline programsdo you use at your institution to elevate potential diverse leaders? How effective are these strategies?

Karriem Watson: One of the best practices that we have in our cancer center is to ensure that our research faculty and research team members reflect our diverse patient population.

This is clearly seen in our office of Community Engagement and Health Equity (CEHE) of the UI Cancer Center, which is affiliated with the Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) and health equity program of the UI Cancer Centerwhere the majority of the leadership and team members of CEHE and the COE program are from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds that reflects the UI Cancer Center catchment area.

One of the strategies that we deploy is ensuring that new researchers and public health professionals are recruited from our UIC School of Public Health.

In your experience as members of your centers executive leadership, how has increased diversity among your faculty improved patient outcomes, as well as your ability to reach and engage underserved communities in your catchment area? Could you provide a few examples?

KW: It is well documented in the literature, as well as in my professional experience as associate director of Community Outreach and Engagement of the UI Cancer Center, that having research faculty and staff that reflect a cancer centers catchment area improves the ability of cancer centers to reach and engage with communities in which they share similar lived experiences.

One example of this is how the UI Cancer Center has been able to increase its workforce diversity by creating intentional pipelines from health equity research and engagement efforts such as the NCI funded U54 Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative (Chicago CHEC). Chicago CHEC has served as a major asset in advancing the careers of early stage investigators from underrepresented groups as well as creating workforce opportunities for students who matriculate in the Chicago CHEC fellows research program.

I currently lead a R01-level research project supported by Chicago CHEC engaging African American men in lung cancer screening and two members of our research team are former students from the Chicago CHEC program including the lead study coordinator for the project.

What programs have you led that are directly contributing to greater equity i.e. a reduction in disparity of outcomes or disparity of access in your catchment area? What is the nature of those disparities and what have you learned?

KW: In addition to the NCI funded U54 Chicago CHEC program, the director of CEHE, Dr. Vida Henderson and I have led a community-engaged research and service project to improve colorectal and cervical cancer outcomes among underserved populations in the UI Cancer Center catchment area.

The project is funded by the Bristol Myer Squibb Foundation (BMSF) and engages barbers, beauticians and safety net hospitals in the UI cancer Center catchment area. Data from our catchment area showed colorectal cancer disparities on Chicagos Southside were greater than many state and national averages.

The catchment area data also showed inequities in access and screening uptake for cervical cancer among African American and Latina/Hispanic women on Chicagos west side area.

We have learned from this project that it is both feasible and effective to implement community based colorectal cancer screening within community settings including barbershops, beauty salons and Federally Qualified health centers.

We also learned that embedded patient navigators in safety net hospitals in collaboration with cancer centers is an effective way to increase cervical cancer screening and identify system level barriers that can prevent timely cervical cancer screening.

What are your next steps?

KW: Our next steps are to continue to leverage NCI funded centers for health equity like Chicago CHEC to support early stage investigators and to grow the pipeline of students from underrepresented groups engaged in health disparities research.

We will also work with the seven health science colleges at UIC to ensure opportunities for research and student and faculty engagement to support researchers from underrepresented groups.

We are also actively seeking funding that can examine the impact of systemic racism on both cancer screening and uptake as well as its impact on the cancer research workforce.

Matthew Ong: What best practices in hiring and recruitmentor in pipeline programsdo you use at your institution to elevate potential diverse leaders? How effective are these strategies?

Ruben Mesa: The Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio is based in a catchment area of San Antonio and South Texas, a 38-county region of 4.9 million people of which 69% are Latino, so a diverse team and leadership team is crucial.

Working closely with our wonderful vice dean for diversityDr. Chiquita Collins of the Long School of Medicinethe Mays Cancer Center is dedicated to first developing diverse faculty.

We have designed a portfolio of training programs emphasizing opportunities for diverse students to develop careers as cancer investigators and physicians that begin at the high school level through the junior faculty level.

We deeply value diversity in new faculty hires, and work to have a diverse pool of candidates before offers are extended. We actively focus on retention, looking at mentorship, career development, and competitive hiring and retention efforts.

Our university, Long School of Medicine, and Mays Cancer Center have a robust leadership development program, which enriches the career development of potential diverse leaders.

New leadership searches begin with a discussion on diversity, intentional efforts to reach out to diverse candidates and seek their recruitment. We have a very diverse faculty, staff, and leadership structure.

In your experience as members of your centers executive leadership, how has increased diversity among your faculty improved patient outcomes, as well as your ability to reach and engage underserved communities in your catchment area? Could you provide a few examples?

RM: We have a diverse faculty who is focused on conducting research in our very diverse catchment area. South Texas is diverse with both rural and urban areas, with 4.9 million people, mostly Latinos (69%). Nearly half speak Spanish as their primary language, and many face barriers like poverty and low educational attainment.

Amelie Ramirez: Many people in our community fear getting cancer. Cancer has become the leading cause of death for Latinos. I have lost a family member to cancer, and it is not something we want anyone to have to go through.

This is why I am leading studies that are focused on Latinos, engaging them in research and delivering interventions and communications to help them.

And this is why every researcher, clinician, education specialist, and health care worker at the Mays Cancer Center is working hard to make a difference in preventing, reducing, and eliminating cancer for all people.

What programs have you led that are directly contributing to greater equity i.e. a reduction in disparity of outcomes or disparity of access in your catchment area? What is the nature of those disparities and what have you learned?

RM: We know Latinos are getting vaccinated for COVID-19 at much lower rates than their peers. Dr. Ramirez and her Salud America! program created the Juntos, We Can Stop COVID-19 bilingual digital communication campaign to inform and urge Latino families to take action to slow the spread of coronavirus, including getting the vaccine when its available.

The #JuntosStopCovid campaign features Latino culturally relevant fact sheets, infographics, and video role model stories in English and Spanish. Dr. Ramirez and her Salud America! program also created the Latino COVID-19 Vaccine Change of Heart Bilingual Storytelling Campaign to move Latinos from vaccine hesitancy to vaccine confidence.

The campaign uplifts the stories of real Latinos from South Texas and beyond who overcame misinformation, got the vaccine, reconnected with family, and are helping end the pandemic. We want our families to be able to get back together. We want to visit our sisters and brothers, parents, and abuelos and abuelas.

And we want to be able to do our jobs and go to school safely. The best way to achieve what we want is to get the vaccine right when it is available. Vaccines help our bodies become immune to a virus without becoming ill from it.

AR: We are continuing to build the pipeline for a diverse healthcare and cancer research workforce. My NCI-funded program, xito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training, annually recruits 25 Latino students and health professionals annually for a culturally tailored curriculum to promote pursuit of a doctoral degree and cancer research career.

The program also offers internships and ongoing support. Of 101 program participants from 2011-2015, 43% applied to a doctoral program and 29.7% were currently enrolled.

We proved that xito! is a strong model pipeline program that equips Latinos for applying to and thriving in doctoral programs, with added potential to boost the pool of cancer health disparities researchers.

What are your next steps?

RM: We are working to engage more Latinos in clinical trials. Latinos represent 18.5% of the U.S. population, but are less than 10% of those in federal cancer and drug studies.

Dr. Ramirez has received a three-year, $650,000 grant from Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, to create Latino-focused recruitment strategies and systems for clinical trials in cancer treatment and Alzheimers disease.

The new funding, part of Genentech and The Genentech Foundations $16 million initiative to promote health equity and diversity in STEM, will help her team expand its work into inclusive clinical trial promotion and recruitment.

This includes using culturally relevant digital health communications, advocacy networks, and clinical partnerships to promote health equity and advance clinical trials for cancer treatment and Alzheimers disease among Latinos.

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‘This Is a True Public Health Emergency’: What Residents, Officials Are Saying About Northwest Heat Wave | The Weather Channel – Articles from The…

Posted: at 4:30 am

Who better to give us a full sense of how the possibly historic heat wave in the Pacific Northwest is affecting people than the residents who live there and the officials who govern. Here we've compiled some of what they're saying.

Quite honestly, it is hard to believe my eyes. ... Folks, this is unparalleled, dangerous meteorological territory. Cliff Mass, University of Washington climatologist

"Triple-digit heat is expected to arrive this weekend and persist well into next week. This event will likely be one of the most extreme and prolonged heat waves in the recorded history of the Inland Northwest. Unprecedented heat will not only threaten the health of residents in the Inland Northwest but will make our region increasingly vulnerable to wildfires and intensify the impacts [of] our ongoing drought." National Weather Service office in Spokane, Washington

This is life-threatening heat. People need to find someplace cool to spend time during the coming days. And for people who already have somewhere cool, their job is to reach out to other people. Ask them to join you, or help them get to a place that is reasonably cool. Dr. Jennifer Vines, health officer for Multnomah County, Oregon

(MORE: Historic Northwest Heat Wave Could Shatter All-Time Records in Washington, Oregon)

"This is a true public health emergency." Dan Douthit, public information officer for Portland's Bureau of Emergency Management

The predictions of 105, 106, 107, 108-degree temperatures this weekend are terrifying, quite honestly, to me. Dr. Christian Molstrom, medical director for Legacy-GoHealth Urgent Care in Portland

"With record-breaking heat in the forecast starting Saturday, the health and safety of Portlanders must come first. Im asking all in the community to prepare accordingly and to have a plan to stay cool. Stay safe, check in with family, friends and neighbors and offer any help they may need." Ted Wheeler, mayor of Portland, Oregon

"It's not so much a matter of what temperature records we will break. Really, what WON'T be broken?" Tweet from NWS office in Seattle

"When I was 12, we suffered through the great August 1981 heatwave. I was living near Mt. Angel at the time. We spent a few days mainly down in the basement. Almost no one had air conditioning back then. Then when my career began in 1991, just out of college, I wondered when we might break that all-time 107 degree record in Portland. It was only a matter of time, but I didnt think it would take another 30 years!" Mark Nelsen, Fox 12 meteorologist

"I don't think it would be safe. I think I would last maybe an hour and a half with a good attitude and then maybe another 20 minutes with a bad attitude and then be like OK I'm done with this." Courtney Reese, manager of Van's Burger in Olympia, Washington, whose owner has said the drive-thru will close Saturday because of the heat

(MORE: Portland, Seattle, Other Northwest Communities Prepare for Potentially Historic Heat Wave)

"Portland's very unique, and I've lived here all my life. When it snows, they wait till there's six inches of snow to go buy tire chains. Nobody seems to like to be prepared ahead of time. ... It's kind of the nature of people, especially in Portland, to say gee, an air conditioner is $200 to $300 and I don't want to spend it if I don't need it. So I'll just wait till I need it. Well, when you need it, so does everyone else and it turns into a giant storm of people needing stuff." Norman Chusid, owner of Ankeny Hardware in southeast Portland, which has sold more than 450 air conditioning units this week

Im not even thinking about how much it costs, Im just trying to cool off. Make sure my daughters are okay. Shopper looking for an air conditioner in a sold-out hardware store in Renton, Washington

There should be enough power. We have no indications that thats an issue for us. Of course were monitoring closely and at this point do not see any issues in continuing to serve power to our customers. Andrea Platt, spokesperson for Portland General Electric

Staff are seeing that since drinking fountains have been off for quite some time, they are needing more work to get turned back on. Spokesperson for Seattle Parks and Recreation, where 80% of park water fountains don't work.

We have been very thoughtful and intentional in our approach to providing relief to all members of our community. Businesses and malls are open and operating at reduced COVID capacities into next week and are still a great way to escape the heat and support our economy. For those in our community who are unsheltered, we have a multi-pronged approach that includes taking advantage of the existing resources and adding additional space to cool off. Nadine Woodward, mayor of Spokane, Washington

Beat The Heat With This Portable A/C Unit (SPONSORED)

"This stagnant dome of record heat, and the intensely strong high pressure producing it, will grudgingly get a move on by the middle of next week. Hang in there and stay cool!" Kristin Clark, KOMO-TV meteorologist

The Weather Companys primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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'This Is a True Public Health Emergency': What Residents, Officials Are Saying About Northwest Heat Wave | The Weather Channel - Articles from The...

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