November 26, 2018

A Letter From Rev. George F. Nicholas, MDiv, Pastor at Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church and convener of Igniting Hope Buffalo 2018 Conference


Dear Friend,

After the Igniting Hope Conference, I sent you a list of nine next steps that the African American Health Disparities Task Force was going to work on. Here is the follow up to those next steps. It shows you where we are and where we’re going next. We remain open, transparent and accountable to you to end race health disparities among African Americans in Buffalo.

1. We are going over the information that you shared with us to help develop a path forward. We’ve compiled and reviewed the information you shared with us at the 2018 Igniting Hope Conference, including the conference evaluations. Please click on the following for the formative evaluation report outlining workshop sessions and evaluations. Formative Evaluation-Igniting Hope Conf

Also, we’re very pleased to share a new video produced by the University at Buffalo for the African American Health Disparities Task Force entitled: “Building a community with better health for all”. The video features interviews with myself; Consuelo Wilkins, MD Executive Director, Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance; and Stephan Thomas, PhD Director, Maryland Center for HealthEquity.

Please click on the photo above to view the video on the Task Force and the importance of the work we’ve set out to do.

2. We are perfecting the details of the Office of African-American Health Disparities in preparation to raise the necessary funds. The Office of African American Health Disparities has been renamed the Buffalo Center of African American Health Disparities. It will be the epicenter for research, community engagement, policy development, advocacy and neighborhood development, as well as programmatic initiatives that will  us to achieve our goals. Please see attached the draft concept paper for the Center. AAHD Center Concept Paper 10 30 18

3. We will develop a format and process to institutionalize the ad-hoc Task Force into a formal work group. We have been engaged in ongoing conversation with the NYS Bureau of Social Determinants of Health. In response to their recommendation to position the Center for funding we are in the process of developing formalized agreements among the Task Force members and member organizations. The organizations include:

Agape Fellowship Baptist Church
Deep Wells Ministry
Ephesus Ministries
Erie County Medical Center
Jericho Road Community Health Center
Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church
Millennium  Collaborative Care
NeuWater and Associates, LLC
Population Health Collaborative of WNY
University at Buffalo: Centers for Successful Aging, Medical Humanities, and Urban Studies; Departments of Family Medicine and Urban and Regional Planning; Schools of Law, Management, Nursing and Public Health and Health Professions; Graduate School of Regional Planning, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI)

4. We will look at areas of interest of the participants in order to coordinate the work through social determinants of health lens. This is incorporated in attached formative evaluation report and the community conversation I discuss in #6 & 7 below.

5. We will develop a marketing and communication strategy to inform the community about African-American Health Disparities and what are the social determinants of health. You’re reading the first step! A committee has been formed to work on the marketing and communication strategy.

6. We will give the community the language to explain health disparities through the lens of social determinants as opposed to only “behavior” as a strategy for narrative change. In addition to the community conversations discussed in the next section, The Task Force is also the recipient of a CDC R.E.A.C.H. award in conjunction with HOPE Buffalo to address the health of community members along the Ferry St. corridor. More information on this innovative project is forthcoming.

Photo: Pastor Nicholas and Danielle Pelfrey Duryea, Director, Health Justice Law & Policy Clinic, UB School of Law at recent community meeting hosted by AARP NY.

7. We will create space for community conversations around social determinants of health in order to mine effective ideas and strategies that we can support.
Members of AARP NY were in attendance at the conference. Afterward, they reached out to the Task Force regarding the AARP Disrupting Disparities project. We partnered with AARP to hold two listening sessions for our community members age 50+ to address racial and ethnic disparities. The Working Summit & Community Conversation with our elected officials was held on November 16th to present the findings and discuss solutions.

8. We will push for the evaluation of regional renaissance based on our ability to address the social determinants of health that drive race-based health disparities.
We have requested a meeting with Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul who was assigned by the Governor to lead the New York State Taskforce on Maternal Mortality and Disparate Racial Outcomes, to push for our inclusion in this initiative.

9. We will not give up until we have health equity for all!

2019 Igniting Hope Conference Set For Aug. 17, 2019

Mark your calendar! We are in the process of organizing and planning the 2019 Igniting Hope Conference. It will be held on August 17, 2019. More information to follow as it becomes available.

The African American Health Disparities Task Force will continue the work moving the dial, reframing the African American narrative and building the Buffalo Center of African American Health Disparities. We ask that you continue to work with us as we work to eliminate race based health disparities in Buffalo. We will continue to keep you informed of our progress…And – on behalf of all Task Force members — we extend our sincerest thanks and great appreciation for all your ongoing participation and support.

Thank you
Pastor George F. Nicholas

P.S. To ensure we have all your correct contact information so we can connect with you for future meetings and activities, please respond to with:
 Name
 Email address
 Phone Number
 Comments

For a re-cap of the 2018 Igniting Hope Conference: Photos, videos, and media coverage, please click the following link:

African American Health Disparities Task Force

Lt. Stacy L. Beauford, MBA
Elder Jeff Carter, MS
Joseph Caruana, MD
William Covington
John D. Craik, JD
Kenyani Davis, MD, MPH
Margarita Dubocovich, PhD
Margaret Grinslade, PhD, RN
Randy Hoak
Rita Hubbard-Robinson, JD
Alan Lesse, MD
LaToyia Malcolm, MS
David Milling, MD
Michele Mercer, RN
Timothy Murphy, MD
Rev. George Nicholas, MDiv
Magdalena Nichols, MHA
Heather Orom, PhD
Danielle Pelfrey Duryea, JD, LLM
Brittany Perez, OTD, OTR/L
Linda Pessar-Cowan, MD
Rev. Kinzer Pointer, MCM
Rev. Rachelle Robinson, MDiv
Kelly Showard, MS
Darryl Somayaji. PhD, RN
Henry Taylor, PhD
Susan Trabert, RN
Laurene Tumiel-Berhalter, PhD
Willie Underwood, MD
Randy Yerrick, PhD
Larry Zielinski, MBA


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