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A Community-Academic Dialogue About the Covid-19 Vaccine: What Do We Need to Understand to Build Trust in Science?

Wednesday, February 10, 2021
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Online Event
Registration is now closed. Contact pop@umn.edu if you have any questions.

Join us for an evening of stimulating conversation, a virtual poster session, and a panel discussion featuring:

  • Rodolfo Gutierrez - Executive Director, Hispanic Advocacy and Community Empowerment through Research (HACER)
  • Denita Ngwu - Senior Community Health Worker, Hennepin Healthcare
  • Ana Núñez, MD, FACP - Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, University of Minnesota Medical School
  • Kelly V. Robinson, RN - President, Black Nurses Rock

Moderated by:
Makeda Zulu-Gillespie, Executive Director, University of Minnesota Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC)


Questions: POP@umn.edu


Sponsored by the UMN Program in Health Disparities Research (PHDR) and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Office of Community Engagement to Advance Research and Community Health (CEARCH), in collaboration with the School of Public Health - Health Equity Work Group (HEWG) and the Healthy Youth Development - Prevention Research Center, Department of Pediatrics

Panelist: Rodolfo Gutierrez

Rodolfo Gutierrez Photo

Executive Director, Hispanic Advocacy and Community Empowerment Through Research (HACER)

Rodolfo Gutierrez is the Executive Director of HACER, where he has been serving since May 2007 with extensive professional experience in quantitative and qualitative research and evaluation. He has spoken in several forums and is greatly committed to working with those interested in drawing a state of Minnesota where disparities are eliminated, and are not based on ethnic or cultural differences anymore. Currently, Rodolfo is leading efforts to reach out with our Latino communities in Minnesota, and connect them to COVID19 resources, from healthcare access to economic relief. HACER also engages in identifying the needs of Latino communities, as consequence of the COVID19 pandemic, and connect those communities with resources available. Rodolfo has been living in Minnesota for the last 23 years, after arriving from Mexico to pursue his PhD in History at the UMN, and since then, he has engaged in supporting the Latino communities.

Panelist: Denita Ngwu

Senior Community Health Workers, Hennepin Healthcare

Denita Ngwu is Community Health Worker Sr. and part of the Hennepin Healthcare’s Emergency Room, Urgent Care, Clinical Coordination, and Social Service team.

Denita completed her Community Health Worker certificate program at St. Catherine University in June 2014.

Denita’s position lets her connect with patients that have a high and extreme priority status that are seen in the Emergency and Urgent Care department for care. As a CHW, Denita helps patients with their health care needs and understanding the health care system. Denita also works directly with oral care professionals, including dentists, orthodontists, and their office staff, at Hennepin Health Care Delta Dental Clinic. Denita’s role is unique in playing a significant part in connecting patients insured by the Medicaid program Hennepin Health that need emergent dental services and getting connected to other supportive community dental clinics that support the Medicaid program Hennepin Health.

Additionally, Denita helps patients with their immediate needs regarding shelter options, clothing and food resources, transportation, and referrals to community-based programs. As a CHW, Denita facilitates and creates new ideas to engage diversity, promote healthy relationships, goal setting, life fulfillment focusing on health, and community outreach.

With more than 20 years in the health field as an advocate for health, she is adept in providing care by putting patients first. Denita has a passion for serving people and supporting them in discovering their endless possibilities, their short and long-term goals regarding their overall health, as well as practicing the belief that everyone deserves a chance to be healthy mentally, physically, socially, and have the opportunity to succeed and share. Denita’s passion has been the driving force behind her education and her love for working at Hennepin Healthcare.

Panelist: Ana Núñez, MD, FACP

Ana Núñez

Vice Dean, University of Minnesota Medical School Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Ana Núñez, MD, FACP is a Professor of General Internal Medicine and Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Minnesota. She received her Doctorate in Medicine from Hahnemann University and Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Wilkes University. She has fellowships in medical education from Michigan State University and health services research from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). She is nationally recognized as a medical education and health services researcher, having developed novel curricula in the areas of sex and gender medicine, primary care, trauma/violence prevention and cultural competence.

Panelist: Kelly Robinson, RN

Kelly Robinson Photo

President, Black Nurses Rock

Kelly V. Robinson, RN, Nurse Care Coordinator for, Westat Research supporting participants locally through Rise, Inc. President of Black Nurses Rock-Twin Cities Chapter.

Kelly is an experienced Registered Nurse for the past twenty-six years. She began her career in Atlanta, Georgia having worked in the areas of Post-Op Orthopedics, Oncology, Pain Management, Operating Room, Psychiatry and Research.

She relocated to Minneapolis in 2009 during a company move to hold a position as a Corporate Trainer for Sales Reps, Nurse Clinical Educators and Physicians supporting the implant of medical devices for Pain Management. Once here in the Twin Cities, She held the position of Health Care Coordinator for her place of worship collaborating with the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, MN Diabetes Association and the Stairstep Foundation. She currently holds an active board member position with Second Chance Outreach providing healthcare awareness during sponsored plays, gospel concerts at Bethel University and community events collaborating with KMOJ and the Herman Melville YMCA Youth Enrichment Center.

As president of Black Nurses Rock Twin Cities Chapter, Kelly is an inspirational leader who took the national organization's vision of educating, inspiring and empowering nurses to support the local members of the providing healthcare education, screenings and access to healthcare in underserved communities. Kelly is a credible voice in decision making, finding strategic partners to provide resources in the community while establishing our black nurses as “trusted messengers” in the community.

Kelly is a divorced proud mother of two sons with one serving our country in the United States Air Force as a support to training pilots at Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona and her oldest son who relocated to Minneapolis after graduating from the historic Morehouse College to accept a position here at Wells Fargo in Wealth Management. Kelly is honored to develop major strategic testing opportunities with the state of Minnesota regarding COVID-19 testing in underserved communities. She will spearhead the Black Nurses Rock Twin Cities members who will strategically develop innovative COVID opportunities of awareness and testing to bring together a coherent plan to help others extend and sustain a healthy life.

Moderator: Makeda Zulu-Gillespie, MPA

Makeda Zulu Gillespie Photo

Executive Director, University of Minnesota
Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC)

Makeda Zulu-Gillespie is UROC’s chief executive officer with primary responsibility for securing UROC’s success in all aspects of its work. She provides executive oversight of strategic planning, revenue generation, financial stewardship, organizational development, staff management, and operational activities. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business management from Grambling State University and a Master of Public Affairs degree from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.