Attendees will learn about health disparities, health equity, social determinants of health, and the role they play in advancing population health. This panel of experts will explore strategies, opportunities, and resources to ensure that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be healthier. Discussion will also focus on how we can remove barriers across the care continuum to move the needle on health equity.
Director Quality Improvement and Health Equity, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois
Jenne Johns, MPH serves as Director of Quality Improvement and Health Equity at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois. She is responsible for leading enterprise wide and health plan strategic priorities and programs that address health and health care disparities. Previously Jenné led the Health Equity portfolio at AmeriHealth Caritas a Medicaid Managed Care Organization serving 9 million people nationwide. Jenné has a diverse background working in academia, philanthropy, and community empowerment and held positions with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Policy Link, and Summit Health Institute for Research and Education (SHIRE). She has been recognized for her leadership and commitment to eliminating healthcare disparities by Congresswoman Robin Kelly, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, The Network Journal Forty Under 40 Achievement Award, and she received the Top 100 Diverse Leader Under 50 Award by Diversity MBA Magazine.
Jenné holds a Master's Degree in Public Health from Temple University, and a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. She is a proud mother, author, and preemie advocate.
CEO, Smart Policy Works
Barbara Otto has been the Chief Executive Officer of Smart Policy Works (formerly Health & Disability Advocates) since 1994. SPW is a driving force behind building smarter systems of health and social determinants of health for vulnerable people and places across the nation. Ms. Otto is a policy analyst with extensive expertise in Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security as well as other public benefits programs for older adults, children, and adults with disabilities.
She has served as a consultant to both Cornell University and Virginia Commonwealth University on disability employment; was a Principal for the National Consortium for Health Systems Development (NCHSD); was the Lead Investigator on a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) grant focused on patients with trauma-induced spinal cord injury; and is currently a subject matter expert on Medicaid for the Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center (WINTAC), a technical assistance center for state vocational rehabilitation agencies and related agencies and rehabilitation professionals on implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
Ms. Otto is frequently called upon to provide expertise and insights on health, disability, and employment matters with Congress, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Social Security Administration, and media outlets. She has been a technical author on important reports to Congress, including Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission. In November of 2018, Ms. Otto co-authored with McDermott Will & Emery “The Outer Bounds of Health Care: Legal Issues and Lessons Learned for Payers Addressing Social Determinants of Health.”
Prior to her work with SPW, Ms. Otto worked on healthcare reform issues, working women’s issues, and in consulting and development with Ernst & Young. She was appointed by President Obama to the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative Public Health Council (2011-2017). She is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) and is an author of several publications including the No Nonsense Guide Series on Medicaid, Medicare, and employment and disability.
Ms. Otto is a graduate of Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and holds certificates in nonprofit management, leadership, and managing collaboration from the Harvard Business School and Kennedy School of Government.
Fornessa T. Randal, MCRP
Executive Director, Center for Asian Health Equity | Asian Health Coalition
Ms. Randal is the Executive Director for the University of Chicago’s Center for Asian Health Equity (CAHE) and the Asian Health Coalition, a community based organization and affiliate of the University of Chicago. Her 20-year background extends to cancer disparities research, public health, outreach and administrative leadership. Fornessa has disseminated and transformed local health initiatives into Statewide and National models and developed prototypes which have been recognized by both the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She is Principal Investigator for several federally funded programs including NIH Precision Medicine Initiative All of Us Research Program Asian Engagement and Recruitment Core, Hepatitis B Outreach, Awareness, and Education to Immigrants, and SAMHSA funded Coalition for Asian Substance Abuse Prevention. She is the former assistant director of the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center (UCCCC) Office of Community Engagement and Cancer Disparities. Fornessa was instrumental in establishing and expanding partnerships within the Asian, African American, Native American and Hispanic communities during her time with the UCCCC. She served as the Partnership Director for the NIH supported P20 initiative, Chicago Southside Cancer Disparities Initiative (CSCDI), to address cancer disparities among African American and Asian American communities. Prior to her current role, Ms. Randal was the founding executive director for a health management non-profit organization which developed the nation’s 1st public private partnership to address the over utilization of the emergency room for primary care sensitive diagnosis among the uninsured and underinsured. Fornessa is a published author and enjoys Marvel movies and spending time with family and friends!
Rebecca Levin, MPH
Executive Director of Strengthening Chicago’s Youth (SCY)
Rebecca (Becky) Levin, MPH, Executive Director of Strengthening Chicago's Youth (SCY), has worked in the violence and injury prevention field for over 16 years. In addition to her role with SCY, Becky is also the Strategic Director of the Injury Prevention and Research Center at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and services as Principal Investigator and Co-Chair for the Preventing Alcohol Abuse in Chicago Teens (PAACT) Coalition. Becky chairs the Illinois Partnership for Safety, is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence and serves on the Midwest Injury Prevention Alliance Board. Before coming to Lurie Children's in 2011, Becky worked at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for 12 years, overseeing all violence and injury prevention efforts. She was one of the lead staff on development of the AAP violence prevention program Connected Kids: Safe, Strong, Secure. At the AAP, she served as Project Director/Principal Investigator for numerous federally and privately funded injury and violence projects and held leadership positions on several federal expert groups addressing community-based violence prevention, injury prevention, and parenting. Becky received her bachelor's degree in Integrated Science and Biology from Northwestern University and her master's degree in Health Policy and Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is also a trained Peace Circle Keeper.
Manager, Executive Communications, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois
Erika Callahan has cultivated her passion for public relations into a 15 year career as a results-driven corporate communications professional. She currently leads executive communications at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. In this role, she drives the development of strategic and long-term communications plans to establish executives as thought leaders across the state. She also provides consulting support that helps executives communicate complex business issues to internal and external audiences. Her work advances the company’s efforts to develop deeper partnerships with members, civic and community organizations on matters important to their wellbeing.
Prior to joining BCBSIL, Erika supported communications planning for Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) – BCBSIL is a division of HCSC. While with HCSC, she led the development and execution of communications plans supporting a wide range of business areas including product marketing, digital, and new consumer. She also led the company’s thought leadership efforts.
Prior to joining HCSC, Erika worked as the director of external affairs and strategic initiatives at Civitas Schools, where she led community affairs, internal and external communications for three charter school campuses.
Erika previously held roles of increasing responsibility at the nation’s top PR agencies, rising from intern to senior account executive before deciding to leverage her expertise corporate side in 2009.
Erika is a current member of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Emerging Leaders Program and serves on the board of directors for First2Finish – a K-12 college pipeline organization. She also previously served as vice chair of the inaugural affiliate board of the YMCA of Metro Chicago.
Beyond work, Erika is a passionate about politics, the role of business in advancing population health and mental health access. She is earned her B.A. in Communications from Columbia College Chicago.
She lives in Chicago with her husband and their two daughters.
5:30 p.m. – Registration, appetizers, and networking
6:30 p.m. – Panel discussion
8:00 p.m. – Audience Q&A, dessert reception
- Members: $20
- Non-Members: $50
Special Pricing for Guests
Members can register guests at member price.
* - Walk-ins will be accepted at the door until event capacity is reached.
* - Cash/Check only
Online Registration Deadline:
February 28, 2019