2022 Healthy Communities Fellowship Class to Elevate Community Leaders Challenging Health Inequities

March 7, 2022

Experts addressing health inequities across the U.S. will participate in year-long networking and communications fellowship program.

A healthy community is characterized not only by the absence of illness but by attributes that promote well-being and enable a high quality of life. The Aspen Global Innovators Group is pleased to announce the 2022 class of the Healthy Communities Fellowship, a program designed to amplify the voices of community leaders creating healthier communities. 

This fourth cohort includes leaders and innovators with expertise in community based strategies that address reproductive health inequality, health innovation, food security, and more. They will participate in a year-long program designed to give greater visibility to their work and expertise by sharpening and amplifying their messages through public speaking, writing, and networking.  

“ Longstanding and deeply rooted inequities has only reinforced disproportionately poor health and well-being outcomes for residents of underinvested communities around the country. However, there are countless community leaders who are actively and effectively implementing innovative programs that combat these inequities whose voices and expertise demand more visibility as we envision new and better ways for current and future generations to thrive.  This fellowship offers community leaders the visibility, partnerships and resources to share their expertise as they lead breakthrough innovations that impact the well-being of their communities,” says Lola Adedokun, Executive Director of the Aspen Global Innovators Group. 

“We are excited and proud to see six Tulsa leaders, who contribute so much to our community and improve the lives of every Tulsan in it, being recognized through the Aspen Fellowship.” said Kimberly Butler, Senior Program Officer at George Kaiser Family Foundation, “Through their work and voice, others around the country will learn about the innovative work happening in Tulsa through local talent.

Meet the Healthy Communities Fellows:

The 2022 Healthy Communities Fellows come from New York, California, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. They will participate in a curated media and communications training to bring new conversations and ideas on addressing health inequities to major public platforms. Learn more about the fellowship at https://www.aspenhc.org.

Ivelyse Andino
Founder & CEO, Radical Health 

New York, New York

Ivelyse is a visionary healthcare strategist and abolitionist building community at the intersection of mobile health and equity. She is the founder and CEO of Radical Health and a Commissioner on the New York City Commission on Gender Equity. Ivelyse has worked in health tech for over 12 years, pioneering digital health solutions including bringing the first health app distribution platform to market. Ivelyse combines her lived experiences as an Afro-Latina born and raised in The Bronx with her expertise in healthcare and her passion as a community organizer to usher in the next wave of health tech that embodies justice and equity. Ivelyse is a 2019 Roddenberry Fellow and a 2022 Aspen Institute Healthy Communities Fellow.

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Laura Bellis
Executive Director, Take Control Initiative
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Laura Bellis is a community health access strategist and organizer who focuses on breaking down social and political resource barriers. As the Executive Director of the Take Control Initiative (TCI), the longest-running local contraceptive access program in the nation, Bellis has worked to expand access to quality care in coalition with over 200 clinic and community partners. Under her leadership, TCI has developed and scaled strategies to ensure reproductive health access in a restrictive environment, including creating a statewide data and policy collaborative, Metriarch. In March of 2020, she co-founded Save Our State: Oklahomans United, a grassroots group of over 50,000 people working on pandemic-era resources and policies, applying and evolving the tactics she utilizes in reproductive health for the Covid-19 crisis. 


Sheyda Brown
Deputy Director, Terence Crutcher Initiative 
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Sheyda Brown is an Iranian-American political organizer and strategist who works with communities to build collective power to influence people and systems. She works in tandem with communities of color to organize resources and people in Oklahoma to fight against white supremacist racial violence and envision a racially equitable future. She began her organizing career following Hurricane Harvey, specializing in disaster organizing within communities of color in Houston, TX. In her previous philanthropy and current organizing and activism work, she elevates marginalized voices to reclaim their power and influence. She is a 2021 New Leaders Council fellow and holds a Master of Social Work.


Reggie Ivey
Chief Operating Officer, Tulsa Health Department
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Reggie Ivey is a social justice visionary for black and brown communities, with over 20 years of public health experience. He serves as a conduit for information and resources for those who need it the most.  Ivey’s observation of the decline of medical, food, and housing resources in north Tulsa, a  community where he was raised, lead him to be a voice for those often unseen and ignored, and left him with no other option but to speak out on their behalf.  Ivey challenges the status quo by providing historical data and information to show how the United States intentionally structured its systems to exclude certain groups of people from full participation and representation, based on their race or ethnicity.   He has a passion for interrupting systems that perpetuate oppressive practices that cause inequities, while identifying actionable solutions.


Aaron Johnson
Owner & CEO, Oasis Fresh Market
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Aaron “AJ” Johnson is the Founder and CEO of Oasis Fresh Markets, the first full-service supermarket in North Tulsa’s historically black neighborhood, once called ‘Black Wall Street, in 14 years. Johnson grew up in Milwaukee, WI and saw at a young age the tremendous differences between resourced and resourced communities. Whether it was the school systems, parks/playgrounds, and even to buy groceries, many North Tulsa residents had to travel for miles and miles outside of their own community to enjoy and have the same access and qualities of life that other non-distressed communities have readily available. After his parents’ divorce, AJ moved to Tulsa, where he learned the residents in North Tulsa neighborhoods have a life expectancy 11 years shorter than South Tulsa communities, and where only 1 in 7 people have access to a vehicle. After graduating from The University of Tulsa, Johnson knew he wanted to contribute to his community. Following a stint as Executive Director of the Tulsa Dream Center that was located in North Tulsa, focused on food, medical, & education, Johnson opened Oasis Fresh Markets in the heart of North Tulsa to provide fresh and healthy access to all. 


Kwamane Lideell
Founder & CEO, Nutrible
Sacramento, CA 

Kwamane Liddell, JD, MHA, BSN is a health equity visionary and business leader who has saved lives, and believes that diagnosis-based food should be as accessible as medicine. While Kwamane was an emergency department nurse, he witnessed the devastation that happens to sick people when they don’t have the right food. Those patients inspired him to create Nutrible, where he uses his experiences as a trauma nurse, healthcare lawyer, and entrepreneur to build technology that connects the current healthcare and grocery systems in a way that makes it easy for sick people to access food that aligns with their medical and cultural needs.


Jabraan Pasha
Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Dr. Jabraan Pasha  is a physician activist saving lives by addressing factors beyond the bedside impacting community health.He currently serves as an associate professor of internal medicine and assistant dean of student affairs at the University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine in Tulsa. Additionally, he is an international speaker on implicit bias and social determinants of health, driven to raise awareness and address the factors beyond the bedside that shape health disparities.

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Erica Plybeah
Founder & CEO, MedHaul
Memphis, Tennessee  

Erica Plybeah is a social justice innovator who dismantles the barriers that exist between the people who need care and the places where services exist.grew up in the Mississippi Delta where she observed extreme poverty, ill health and needless suffering, which fed her passion for ensuring all people have the freedom to participate in their own care. Using technology and lived experiences of the community, Erica founded MedHaul, a technology-driven Benefit Corporation that connects vulnerable patients to vital transportation resources. As she continues to build MedHaul, Erica tirelessly strives to include the voices and experiences of the underprivileged, the elderly, those in rural communities or who have physical or mental disabilities; groups who have been left out of conversations when technology or advanced solutions are developed.Inspired by the legacy of her grandmother, Mary Lou Steele, and the resilience of the persevering people from the Mississippi Delta, Erica is determined to create a future where patient empowerment removes the barriers to quality care for everyone in the Deep South.


Monique Antoinette Smith
Founding Executive Director | Health DesignED: The Acute Care Design + Innovatio Center at Emory University
Atlanta, GA 

Dr. Monique Smith is a builder and a translator, opening new doors for communities that have experienced healthcare without dignity. As an Emergency Physician and Founding Executive Director at Emory’s Health DesignED, she channels the experiences of her patients into reimagining how technology and new ways of providing care might bring about equity in wellbeing. Monique is a Harvard educated anthropologist and physician and delights in storytelling and being part of some of the most meaningful moments of her patients’ lives, while creating the systems that patients need the most.

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Camryn Smith
Executive Director | Communities in Partnership
Durham, NC 

Camryn Smith is a social justice accountability expert focusing on economic and social liberation for black and brown communities and people. Her work is informed through a lens of economic systems creation rooted in collective identity to create wealth for black and brown people to end the need for charity-based solutions that are rooted in pain, trauma and oppression. In her own life and experience seeing the debilitating and dehumanizing impact of system of charity-based philanthropy and how this system intentionally and purposefully was created to excluded communities like hers from health and wealth creation and agency. She hopes to achieve and influence systems and communities built on true liberation of which truly equitable outcomes rooted in dignity and justice can be realized and the recognition of everyone’s humanity, to in turn create a world in which charity is no longer needed to supply the immediate survival needs of many but replaced with community rooted and accountable systems that benefit everyone so that everyone can thrive.

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Leah Upton
Medical Director | Community Health Connection
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Dr. Leah Upton is a physician leader in a community clinic, building structures for whole-person, whole-family healthcare that overcomes complex barriers to health, in order to create a more level playing field for individual and collective wellness. She learned at a young age the impact that lack of wealth and loss of health have on individuals and families. As a result of lived experience, she approaches her work with a passion for making peace, shifting power, and shattering the glass walls that imprison our most neglected communities. Currently Dr. Upton is the Medical Director of Community Health Connection in Tulsa, OK.


Ashlee Wisdom 
CEO, Health in her Hue
New York, New York 

Ashlee Wisdom is a public health innovator. She is the Co-founder & CEO of Health In Her HUE, a digital platform that connects Black women and women of color to culturally sensitive healthcare providers, health content, and community.Ashlee is a champion for health equity, and is passionate about taking an equitable approach to healthcare innovation. Most recently, she worked for an advisory firm, Junto Health, where she was the Program Director for the Strategic Ventures Group, an exclusive consortium of nationally-ranked health systems investing in health technology. Earlier in her career, Ashlee managed the recruitment and regulatory activities of a large-scale clinical trial at Weill Cornell Medicine. Prior to that role, Ashlee worked for a Federally Qualified Health Center, identifying and securing federal, state, and private funding, and establishing strong relationships between the health center and local community organizations and foundations. She also served as the Assistant Director of Grants Management in the Office of Population Health at NYC Health + Hospitals.

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This initiative is supported by the Johnson & Johnson Foundation as part of their effort to help build resilient community-based health systems with thriving frontline health workers. This program is also supported by the Coretz Foundation and the George Kaiser Family Foundation. 

Johnson & Johnson Foundation
The Johnson & Johnson Foundation is a registered charitable organization that reflects the commitment of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies to keeping people well at every age and every stage of life by blending heart, science and ingenuity to profoundly change the trajectory of health for humanity.  Please visit here for more information: https://chwi.jnj.com 

George Kaiser Family Foundation
George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF) is a charitable organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty through investments in early childhood education, community health, social services and civic enhancement. Based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, GKFF works primarily on initiatives developed in collaboration with Tulsa-based direct service organizations. For more information about the George Kaiser Family Foundation, visit https://www.gkff.org   

Cortez Foundation
The Coretz Family Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life within the Tulsa community, support Jewish culture, close socio-economic opportunity gaps, and revitalize citizenship. The foundation envisions a Tulsa community in which all citizens have the opportunity to thrive, a country that is built on service and committed to equality, and a world in which Jewish culture prospers. For more information visit https://coretzfamilyfoundation.org .    

The Aspen Global Innovators Group
The Aspen Global Innovators Group widens access to health and prosperity for people living at the world’s margins. Our network of innovators brings overlooked challenges into plain sight, then creates programs, policies and partnerships to address them. Breakthrough programs include: New Voices Fellowship, which brings expert voices from emerging countries into the global development discussion; AMP Health, which works with health leaders in under-resourced countries advancing to the last mile; the Artisan Alliance, supporting the world’s most untapped start-up community; and Aspen Ideas Health, a premier creative forum on health at the Aspen Ideas Festival. For more information, visit www.aspenglobalinnovators.org 

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, please visit www.aspeninstitute.org.

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