Tufts COHERE Symposium Speakers

October 20th | 2-6pm | 145 Harrison Ave Boston, MA 02111

Kendra Liburd
Emergency Department Patient Care Navigator
Mass General Hospital

Kendra Liburd (she/her) is a proud Dorchester native born to parents from the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis. Kendra began her career in health care working in a biorepository that managed The Nurses’ Health Study. During that time, she learned about the disparities present in medical research and health care.

With the desire to work in the communities she lived in, Kendra joined the Health Equity Advisory Committee at the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC). During her two-year term, Kendra advised BPHC on the development and implementation of the commission’s strategic and community engagement plans.

Kendra then began working at Massachusetts General Hospital as an Emergency Department (ED) Patient Care Navigator. She connects patients with health-related social needs to community-based resources to address insecurities that affect their overall health. She also assists patients in connecting with high-quality health care to promote continuity of care after their ED presentation. 

Joey Wong
Community Health Worker
Mass General Hospital

Joey Wong (she/her) is a dynamic individual with a passion for community health and a commitment to making a positive impact on people’s lives.

Her journey began in Hong Kong, where she was born and raised, instilling a deep sense of community and responsibility. Her working experience allows her to apply her knowledge and collaborate with diverse communities. Living in various regions has exposed Joey to distinct health needs and cultural perspectives, enriching her holistic approach to community health.

Joey is dedicated to advocating for health equity and empowering communities to lead healthier lives. Her story is one of continual growth and a steadfast commitment to making a difference in people’s lives. 

Victoria Joyce
Community Health Worker
Mass General Brigham

“We are Family.” is the motto Victoria (she/her) was raised on. She was born and raised in Bromley Heath housing development renamed Mildred C. Hailey apartments. “Heath Street” as it was known around Boston was one of the first public housing projects developed and the first public housing project in the United States to be managed by a tenant organization. Mildred Hailey made sure every child from the development knew they were a part of history. As many people growing up in public housing substance abuse, crime, and poverty are your everyday life. Victoria’s community was filled with more love than hate, drugs tinted many families, but you were never judged. She grew up going to rent parties for families that were behind on rent. If the community knew you were struggling, people made meals to feed your family and raised collections for back-to-school clothes, winter gear, school supplies, or basic everyday needs. If you were in need, Mildred Hailey was going to help you figure it out. Victoria was blessed to be able to intern under Ms. Hailey every summer for many years and that is where her passion for community came from. 

The Community Health Worker role is important because for many families just providing them with resources isn’t enough. Victoria has battled homelessness, food insecurity, and manic depression, and the last place on her mind to seek help was the hospital as an African American woman, feeling judged when she would express her needs. She knows many older African Americans both men and women who expressed this same discomfort which is only evidence of the lack of trust in the medical system.

As a Community Health Worker you bridge the gap. You can create a more interpersonal relationship with the patient. Once you build a trusting relationship people are more open to letting you into their lives and getting to the root of the problem. Victoria wants to be the person she wished was at the hospital when she was going through her life events. She wants to be the Mildred Hailey for anyone she encounters. Community Health work is the gateway for Health equity.

Sis. Noel Staples Freeman
Arts Educator
Uprising Dance Theatre

Noel Staples Freeman (she/her) is a highly accomplished individual with a diverse background in the arts and community work. She was born and raised in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and currently resides in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Emerson College with a BS in Children’s Theatre and a dance minor.

Noel’s passion for the arts began at a young age, and she pursued formal training in various disciplines. She started her dance training at The Billie Pope School of Dance in Roxbury at the age of 11. She later studied at The Boston Conservatory of Music, The Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts, The Art of Black Dance and Music, and Koumpo West African Dance Company.

Throughout her artistic journey, Noel has had numerous notable moments. She performed during Nelson Mandela’s visit to Boston in 1990 and participated in Dance Africa at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She also had the opportunity to perform at Jacob’s Pillow and in Senegal, West Africa at the Sorano Theatre for the President of Senegal.

Noel’s dedication to teaching and performing in the Boston and Lowell Public Schools spans over 40 years. She has been an advocate and liaison for students and parents in alternative middle school settings in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Her commitment to education and the arts led her to establish Uprising Dance Theatre in 1983. This intergenerational group focuses on traditional and contemporary dance, music, and theatre from the African Diaspora. They offer community classes, lecture demonstrations, and Kwanzaa celebrations for people of all ages throughout New England.

In recent years, Noel has also been actively involved in community work. She served as a community panelist member with Common Good Co-operative, an urban farm in Dorchester, MA. She also participated in a webinar at Harvard Medical School on the topic of “From Racism to Covid-19: Black Women in Community & Ongoing Public Health Crises” in 2022. Furthermore, she completed the Community Health Workers Engaging in Integrated Care (COHERE) program at Tufts University School of Medicine in 2023. She has taught dance and embarked on a 9 day Civil Rights and HBCU Tour by bus in 2023 with Rites of Passage and Empowerment which is a mentoring program for young women of color in Pittsfield Ma.

Noel’s dedication to education and community work continues as she was recently accepted into the 2023-2024 DEL Institute Teacher Certificate Program at the Dance Education Laboratory (DEL). She also teaches African Rooted Dance and Music to active older adults for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Berkshire Community College.

In addition to her professional endeavors, Noel enjoys Mother Nature and growing her own food with her husband and grandchildren.

James Figueiredo
Executive Director
Community Workforce Institute

James Figueiredo (he/him) is the Executive Director and Founder of Community Workforce Institute, an organization primarily focused on building the skills of CHWs and CHW Supervisors. His 3 decades of work experience include serving as a CHW, CHW Supervisor, Curricula Designer, and Training Facilitator.

James is a chapter author for the 3rd Edition of the Foundations for Community Health Workers textbook slated for release in January 2024. He is the principal author of Successful Supervision with CHWs, a MassHealth endorsed curriculum delivered nationally. James holds a Master of Education degree from Harvard University and a Graduate Certificate in Non-Profit Leadership Management from Boston University.

He considers himself a natural helper whose most valuable learning came from lived experience as the first member of his family to speak English and grow up in the United States. He traces the origin of his passion for the CHW field to a nurturing upbringing by his grandmother, a highly skilled village mid-wife, who never learned to ready or write.

Lydia Adjetey
Lead Community Health Worker/Health Educator
Cambridge Health Alliance

When Lydia Adjetey (she/her) migrated from Ghana, West Africa to the United States with her family as a teen, she had no idea what to expect but never in a million years did she ever think that she would work in healthcare. Lydia has always been interested in fashion as a child and still interested in the fashion industry. While in high school, her first job as a teen was in a women’s retail store until she landed a second job in a hospital as a nutrition assistant and that is where it all began to change. She has since worked in different departments within the same healthcare organization for 20 years; food & nutrition, med/surg, HIV/STI and sexual & reproductive as a health educator/counselor, PACE program as a case manager, and then circled back to HIV/STI as a health educator/counselor again where she has been to date. Lydia received the state certification as a CHW a few years ago though she was already doing the work. Her natural nurturing, kind, gentle, and caring soul fit perfectly into where she is now working in the infectious diseases sector as well as running educational groups in a correctional facility twice a week.

Lydia has a BA in social psychology from UMass Boston, hoping to return back to school for an MPH or MSW in the near future. As passionate as she is about health disparities and equity in healthcare, she is still very much vested in fashion as well. In addition to her full-time job, I also have a fashion design side business, making custom-made clothing for professional women. She is also involved in her church community serving as an executive member of the youth leadership.

Lydia extremely enjoys working in healthcare, specifically in social/human services knowing that her contribution or linkage to resources/care in the community can make a huge difference or impact in someone’s life. She has a strong conviction that she is here for this kind of work and can only pray for wisdom and strength to continue this journey she was placed on earth for.

Ivy Buena
Patient Coordinator II
Mass General Brigham- Gastroenterology 

Ivy Buena (she/her) is a Filipina-American, current Patient Coordinator at Mass General Brigham- Division of Gastroenterology. She is an administrative professional with a background in programming, registrations, and event operations. She is a strategic organizer, passionate about impact-driven work with a focus on diversity and inclusion, health, and wellness. She is a certified community health worker, mental health first aid, and dementia training.

Ivy has extensive experience working in early childhood, patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s, and office administration. Proven track record in amplifying social media marketing to raise visibility and build community, point of contact for residencies, active collaborator, and self-starter in moving priorities forward.

To Ivy, CHWs represent the advocates and bridge to access resources for an equitable future. When you think about the bigger picture, CHWs provide value to the communities they serve. 

Kenneth McPherson
Ophthalmic Technician
Korbs and Associates

Kenneth McPherson (he/him) is a person who cares for the community is was born and raised in. He was taught from an early age by family who were in the medical field to care for others and look out for the elderly. He has worked in the medical field for over 13 years.

Due to COVID, things in Kenneth’s field changed and he was forced to work from home and change occupations. He then began working for safety and healthy homes for Americoprs and Mass Union. This led him to the CHW program, where he was taught a wealth of information and connections he would not have made otherwise in such a short period of time. After completing the program he changed his occupation back to the medical field to once again be a part of a person’s health.

This program brought Kenneth back to what he loves. Right back to caring for his community and making healthy and safe changes. 

Ahmad Nazhar
Head Analyst / Program Support – Health Services
ICNA Relief USA Programs

Ahmad Nazhar (he/him) manages program support and data analytics for ICNA Relief USA Programs health services department. He is a former subsea engineer with an MBA, who then pivoted to non-profit during COVID to serve the unvoiced, and to help level the disparity in his community. Having lived and worked in over 20 countries during his professional career, the experience has taught him the importance of cultural sensitivity, the merits of diversity, and the importance of tolerance. CHWs have played an important part in connecting with the community at this fundamental cultural level for his programs.

Josep Vicente
Community Health Worker
Mass General Hospital

Josep Vicente (he/him) was born in Barcelona, Spain. He has been the CHW Lead at MGH for the past 12 years. Additionally, he teaches Medical Spanish at Tufts Medford Campus and COHERE at Tufts Medical Campus.