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County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles and MC President Dr. DeRionne Pollard to Discuss “Building Racial Justice Through Health”

The January edition of “The Presidential Dialogue Series” features Montgomery County Chief of Public Health Services and Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles. Dr. Gayles and MC President Dr. DeRionne P. Pollard will discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and how it connects to “Building Racial Justice Through Health.” The event will be livestreamed here this Thursday at 1 p.m. 

WHAT: The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn renewed attention to health disparities in our nation. While African Americans are only 30 percent of the population of Maryland, they make up 50 percent of COVID fatalities. Vulnerability to infectious diseases often correlates with social variables such as income inequality, access to affordable health care, housing, and transportation.  COVID-19 has placed these realities in stark relief, demonstrating how race and immigration impact disease transmission, progression, and outcomes.   

Dr. Gayles has been at the forefront of our community’s response to the pandemic, delivering urgent messages to the community about transmission, treatment and vaccination. He has been a leader in guiding county decisions about health protocols, communicating them to diverse communities, and strategizing about how support for basic needs will mitigate infections. 

WHO: Dr. Travis Gayles, Chief, Public Health Services and Health Officer for Montgomery County’s Department of Health and Human Services; Dr. DeRionne P. Pollard, President, Montgomery College.  

Dr. DeRionne Pollard, president of Montgomery College, and Dr. Travis Gayles, Health Officer for Montgomery County will discuss the CO Dr. Gayles’ research expertise lies at the nexus of infectious disease and the social and biomedical factors that impact disease transmission. As a medical doctor, who also holds a Ph.D. in Community Health, his decades of research and clinical experience include roles as the Chief Medical Officer for the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Administration, and Division Chief for STD-TB Control for the District of Columbia Department of Health. Dr. Gayles provided oversight and clinical expertise for all aspects of the care and treatment continuums for each of these disease groups. In his educational journey he earned a B.A.  in Public Policy Studies from Duke University, Ph.D. in Community Health and M.D. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He completed his post-doctoral training in epidemiology at the National Cancer Institute. In addition to his clinical and research efforts, Dr. Gayles has been a faculty member of the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine and Institute of Public Health, and the DePaul University College of Health Sciences

WHEN: Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 1 p.m. 

WHERE: The livestream broadcast, open to the public, can be viewed here.

About the Presidential Dialogue Series 

This year’s Presidential Dialogue Series will address the question of how to build racial justice in a multicultural society. The strength of recent national protests against police violence took some cities by surprise. In Montgomery County, Maryland, however, robust conversations about equity and inclusion have been going on for years. But how do we move beyond the passion of protest to changes in laws, policies, and cultural moorings that have entrenched inequality so deeply? How do we disassemble the forces of privilege that have elevated some while disadvantaging others? In the wake of these protests, several topics have arisen that are components of the larger picture of racial justice: voter suppression, health disparities, food deserts, generational wealth building, policing practices, and educational access, among others. With the realities of COVID-19 exacerbating existing inequities, our nation has begun an overdue conversation about race and justice. Montgomery College will host its own spaces for reflections in the Presidential Dialogue Series. As we delve into the dynamics of how race functions—both institutionally and individually—in peoples’ lives, we will look for solutions and new partners in the struggle to create racial justice. The Presidential Dialogue series is sponsored by Bethesda Beat.