From left to right: Clare Reidy, Leslie Lieberman, Natalie Levkovich, Carolyn Smith-Brown
As an immigrant to the U.S. and a child of people displaced by war, Natalie witnessed the burdens borne by people who are in one way or another marginalized. No doubt this exposure led her at a very young age, in the ‘60s, to active engagement in the civil rights movement. Her ideology took shape in that environment of social turmoil and change. Examples of inequity and abuse of power were not hard to find but, at the same time, what drove her were not only her outrage but also a conviction and an optimism that conditions could be improved, that wounds could be healed. The passion reflected in those early days of activism was later translated into the work that Natalie now leads as CEO of the Health Federation of Philadelphia. Over the past decade, a growing understanding of the impact of ACES, brain science, emerging best practices that offer a path to healing and resilience have fueled her sense of urgency to promote this work at HFP. For Natalie, improving the health of the public by building innovative and collaborative initiatives that strengthen the capacity of organizations, systems and communities is an expression of social justice, civic responsibility and common sense.
Leslie Lieberman, MSW
A social worker at heart, and the daughter of a psychologist and social worker, Leslie believes deeply in the power of relationships to create change and heal. She lives by the motto “start where the client is.” She has applied these values to her work with individuals, groups, communities and systems throughout her career. Early on in her life as a social worker she was also introduced to a public health perspective, the “Spectrum of Prevention”, under the mentorship of Larry Cohen at the Contra Costa County Prevention Program. There she broadened her understanding of human suffering – learning how social justice, economic, political and environmental issues contribute to morbidity and mortality and the potential for change through collaborative efforts and multi-sector coalitions. Since then, she has spent her working life at the cross-roads of public health and social work, bringing together and fostering relationships among diverse groups who collectively address pressing health and social justice issues. She has been with the Health Federation of Philadelphia for nearly nine years leading the organization’s growth and expansion in building organizational and system capacity for trauma informed care. Leslie has a passion for transforming vision into reality and looks forward to doing this through the MARC Project.
Contact Leslie: email@example.com
Clare Reidy, RN, MPH
As a child in Haiti, Clare saw dead bodies outside of polling stations, left as a grim reminder of what happened to those who dared cast a vote in the country’s first democratic election. But she also saw people coming together to make a change: to assert their rightful role in the decision-making that impacted their lives. “Even at a young age I could tell that it was not laziness, or lack of ability, or bad luck that had created the conditions under which most Haitians suffered. Similarly, it was not laziness, lack of ability, or bad luck that confined groups of people to the racially segregated, impoverished neighborhoods of inner-city Washington, DC, where I grew up.”
But it wasn’t until Clare was studying public health in graduate school that she began to name and organize her lived experience. “Health equity, social determinants, adverse childhood experiences...this was the lexicon that helped me describe what I knew to be true.” That framework helped her identify the pathways connecting the health outcomes she saw as a registered nurse caring for transplant patients in chronic rejection to the structural violence evident in the neighborhoods of her youth. More importantly, it helped her incorporate her personal values of social justice and community into her professional life.
Before joining the Health Federation of Philadelphia, Clare was a Health Scientist in the Division of Violence Prevention at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she worked on health equity projects including The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of our Nation and Expanding the Boundaries: Health Equity and Public Health Practice (NACCHO, 2014).
Contact Clare: firstname.lastname@example.org
For years, while working at a health facility, Carolyn Smith-Brown saw clients for whom every day meant crisis. Some missed appointments while they ran to pay an overdue electric bill in person. Others arrived in turmoil from family issues of drug abuse or violence. They worried about cancer and sexually transmitted infections, about unplanned pregnancies and prescriptions that weren’t covered by insurance.
Carolyn noticed how she and her colleagues responded to the constant fusillade of stress. Some treated patients with sensitivity and warmth; sometimes others took clients’ angry outbursts personally. Nearly every employee struggled at times to care for herself. Several years later, Carolyn learned about the ACE Study. She was struck especially by reading in Sandra Bloom’s book, Destroying Sanctuary, that Descartes’ framework took apart the person—“giving the body to physicians and the mind to the clergy and philosophers”—and that they have yet to come back together.
Work on ACEs and resilience offered the promise of bringing body, mind and soul into sync. “I now realize that when you understand how brain wiring changes as a result of what has happened to us, then you understand that for future adults to be healthy and well, our children must be cared for. And in order to prevent trauma to our children, we must take care of the adults who care for them,” she says.
In the course of her career, she has overseen health center operations, grant-funded projects and institutional collaborations. She is honored to work with others in the ACE/resilience movement who are building workplaces and communities where people understand that our experience does shape our brains…and where we use that knowledge to create a kinder world.
Contact Carolyn: email@example.com