February 16, 2017
My family is my first example of leadership. They helped me understand what it takes to develop a culture of health. They believed education, self-determination and collective action were the best tools to fight against inequality.
As a child, I heard stories of how the matriarch of our family, a former slave named Marie Therese Coin-Coin (1742 – 1816), earned her freedom and bought her children out of slavery in Louisiana. As a planter and trader, she became one of the first independently wealthy Black women in the United States. As a result, my Franco-African ancestors founded a community on Cane River in Louisiana that had family, faith, entrepreneurship, and collective well-being at its center.
These stories inspired me to persevere in spite of injustice. Additionally, these stories instilled in me a strong belief that the best way to build a culture of health is by leveraging the strengths and history of communities to find new and creative ways to connect people to resources and combat inequality. My vision of a culture of health is to ensure that people from underserved populations have equitable access to health services and are involved in the decisions that shape the programing and research that have an impact on their lives