Recognizing that Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities have faced disparities, racism and discrimination within the medical system, this panel aims to acknowledge and address this, while also providing information about the importance of vaccinations, especially in the context of the current pandemic. The roundtable will be moderated by College of Law Professor and Director of the Children’s Rights and Family Law Clinic Suzette Meléndez, and include Q&A with President of Voices For Our Fathers Legacy Foundation Lillie Tyson Head, Barnes Center Medical Director Dr. Karen Nardella and Barnes Center Staff Therapist Susanne Rios.
About the Panelists and Moderator
Lillie Tyson Head, President, Voices For Our Fathers Legacy Foundation
Mrs. Lillie Tyson Head is the daughter of Freddie Lee Tyson, one of the 623 men who was a victim in the United States Public Health Service Syphilis Study in Tuskegee and Macon County, Alabama from 1932-1972, and the daughter of Johnnie Mae Neal Tyson. Mrs. Head is embedded in her love of God, faith and family. She is passionate about social justice and treating everyone with kindness and respect, especially those who are in most need.
Mrs. Head and her husband, Wilbert are living their retirement years in Wirtz, Virginia. She is the mother of sons Wil, and wife Chantal, Mark and wife Tanikia, and daughter Carmen Head Thornton and husband Edward Thornton, the grandmother of twins, Bryce, Kylie, and Trinity Head.
Mrs. Head is the President of Voices for Our Fathers Legacy Foundation, an organization formed by descendants in 2014 to Remember, Celebrate and Honor the 623 men that were unethically treated in the USPHS Syphilis Study.
She enjoys being active in different ministries at her church, traveling and volunteering at Booker T Washington National Monument, the birthplace of Booker T Washington in Hardy, Virginia. She was the founding President of Friends for Booker T Washington National Monument. The time that she cherishes the most is the time she spends with three young grandchildren and family.
Mrs. Head retired as a Physical Education and Health teacher after 31 years from Waterbury, Connecticut Public School System. During her professional tenure she was a coach, mentor and advisor for her students and colleagues. She started her own Educational Consultant business in 1998 and worked for Waterbury Public School System, Area Cooperative Educational Services and Capitol Region Educational Council in Connecticut.
She is a proud Tuskegee Institute graduate with a BS Degree. She received her MS from Southern Connecticut State University and her Education and Administrative Leadership Graduate Degree from the University of Bridgeport. Mrs. Head has received numerous professional and civic awards recognizing her leadership, educational initiatives, program management and devoted service to the Waterbury, Connecticut community.
Dr. Karen Nardella, Medical Director, Barnes Center at The Arch
Karen Nardella is the medical director at the Barnes Center at The Arch, a position she has held for the last seven years. Prior to coming to Syracuse University, Dr. Nardella was in private practice in Manlius, NY. She is a family physician. In addition to her role as medical director, Dr. Nardella serves on the University’s Public Health Team.
Susanne Rios, Staff Therapist, Barnes Center at The Arch
Susanne Rios, LMFT, is a staff therapist at the Barnes Center at The Arch. In addition, she facilitates the Daring Way and COVID-19 Grief Group Therapy offerings. Rios’ therapeutic style is driven by the goal of creating safe spaces to explore what holds us back from happiness, connection, acceptance and balance. She has a strong trauma-informed background and utilizes a systemic lens. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Washington and a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Pacific Lutheran University.
Suzette Meléndez, Teaching Professor and Director of the Children’s Rights and Family Law Clinic, College of Law
Suzette Meléndez is a teaching professor at the Syracuse University College of Law where she serves as director of the Children’s Rights & Family Law Clinic and also teaches family law. Since 2003, Professor Meléndez was one of the founders of the Syracuse Medical-Legal Partnership, an interdisciplinary collaboration designed to provide legal services within the medical setting together with health providers for children and families to improve health outcomes for lower income populations in Syracuse.
Prior to coming to Syracuse, Professor Meléndez practiced law extensively in New York City and in the state of New Jersey as a public interest attorney. In addition to her litigation experience, she has engaged in policy work on issues affecting the legal system at various levels within and outside of the courts. She also was involved in the drafting of comprehensive domestic violence legislation for the State of Connecticut. She has participated on diversity committees at various entities and within the judiciary. She has conducted cross-cultural lawyering seminars for lawyers and law students designed to enhance professional and educational experiences using diverse perspectives. She chairs the Committee on Inclusion Initiatives, serves as the Faculty Advisor to the Latin American Law Student Association and to the Family Law Society at the law school. She is actively engaged in various law school and university committees especially as they relate to faculty governance and equity work. She also is actively involved in several initiatives through the courts and other entities affecting the community.
This event is supported by the Barnes Center at The Arch, College of Law, COVID-19 Project Management Office (PMO), Office of Student Living and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
This event was published on April 8, 2021.
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