Learn more about our outstanding Plenaries and the Gallagher Lecture by clicking on the name of the lecture. All of these sessions included a young adult presenter.

Plenary I

Ruth A. Etzel, MD, PhD, FAAP
Professorial lecturer
Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University

Adolescents and Environmental Change

Environmental concerns are featured in the media on an almost daily basis.  The economic, social, nutritional, chemical, biological and physical environments have the power to shape health and disease in children and adolescents. With increasing urgency, adolescents are raising their voices to call for action on environmental issues, especially to address the existential threat posed by the climate crisis. The report of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change in 2019 declared that across the world children are among the most affected by climate change today and in the future.

Dr. Etzel will describe the impact of environment degradation and climate change on adolescent physical and mental health.  Rising temperatures have resulted in a higher frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events such as floods, storms and heat waves.   These events cause significant morbidity and mortality; the 11,000 extreme weather disasters worldwide between 2000 and 2019 led to roughly 75,000 deaths and $2.5 trillion in economic losses for more than 160 countries. Changes in climate also can contribute to increases in vector-borne diseases and diseases caused by natural toxins, such as cyanotoxins, in water. 

Combatting the environmental crisis requires action by all of us. In addition to governmental and corporate actions, widespread adoption of individual actions (such as consumption of plant-based diets, choosing energy-efficient means of transportation, and other energy-conserving measures) is needed.  Clinicians can addresses these concerns in the context of clinical visits and serve as positive role models in the community.  

Learning objectives:

  1. Describe the physical and mental health impacts of climate change on adolescents.
  2. Describe actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at an individual level.
  3. Discuss how health professionals can address environmental issues in clinical settings and engage in environmental health advocacy at the national and international level.

About the Speaker: Dr. Etzel is an internationally-known pediatrician and preventive medicine specialist. She is the founding editor of Pediatric Environmental Health, an influential book that has helped thousands of doctors to better recognize, diagnose, treat and prevent illness in children from environmental pollution.  From 2009 to 2012 she led the World Health Organization’s activities to protect children from environmental hazards. She worked for 12 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where she founded and directed the Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Branch.  Dr. Etzel performed the first study to document that children with secondhand exposure to tobacco smoke had measurable exposure to nicotine.  Her pioneering work led to nationwide efforts to reduce indoor exposure to tobacco, including the ban on smoking in U.S. airliners.  She discovered the link between exposure to water-damaged, moldy homes and fatal infant pulmonary hemorrhage, for which she received the Clinical Society Award from the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Officers Association.

In 2007 the U.S. EPA selected Dr. Etzel as the recipient of the Children’s Environmental Health Champion Award for outstanding leadership in protecting children from environmental health risks. She also has been given the Distinguished Service Medal from the U.S. Public Health Service, the Don C. Mackel Memorial Award from the CDC, and the Arthur S. Flemming Award.  Dr. Etzel is a courageous leader in bringing environmental health hazards to public attention and working collaboratively towards solutions.  For her persistence in speaking truth to power, she is known as an “inconvenient” pediatrician.

Young Adult Presenter: Alejandro Daly

Alejandro Daly is a UNICEF Young Leader and the National Coordinator of  The Right To  Disobey (@elderechoanoobedecer), a social platform which aims to empower civil society in Colombia to create social change and influence public policies around issues such as air pollution, refugees rights and peaceful mobilization

He is also a founding member of the National Citizen Network for Clean Air in Colombia (@RedAireCo), which organises debates and demonstrations gathering together activists, local governments, citizens and academics to share their worries, knowledge and proposals to improve air quality in their cities. Currently, he is working to create the first National Citizen Monitoring Network of Air Quality in Colombia including a course for young leaders to learn about air quality in Colombia. 

2021 Gallagher Lecture/Plenary II

Reproductive Rights as Human Rights: An update from the frontlines in the global and U.S. legal fight to protect and expand access to abortion and reproductive health 

Lourdes A. Rivera, JD
Senior Vice President, U.S. Programs
Center for Reproductive Rights

Globally, reproductive rights increasingly are being recognized as fundamental human rights, requiring governments to respect and protect women’s health and bodily autonomy.  Additionally, under human rights norms, governments are required to remove existing policy and structural barriers that prevent patients’ effective access to abortion.  In contrast, we are experiencing relentless attacks in the United States with the intent to eliminate abortion access. For example, since 2010, U.S. states have adopted close to 500 restrictive laws burdening the ability of health professionals and clinics to provide abortion services and the ability of patients to access timely and dignified abortion care.  In a case brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court in 2016 struck down Texas abortion laws that were meant to shut down clinics. In June 2020 — just four years later– the Court in June Medical Services v. Russo struck down an identical, medically unnecessary and unconstitutional Louisiana law that would have shut down all but one clinic in the state. We start this new year with a reconfigured Supreme Court and a new Administration which brings both challenges and opportunities.

In this session, Lourdes Rivera, Senior Vice President of U.S. Programs at the Center for Reproductive Rights, will discuss the international human rights framework for reproductive rights, recent global developments, and the current state of the U.S. domestic abortion and reproductive rights landscape. She will draw on the Center’s comprehensive state-by-state research report, What if Roe Fell? and will provide an update on cases in the court pipeline; highlight the impact on adolescents and young people; and discuss ways in which we move forward to ensure the reproductive rights of all in the United States and around the world. In addition to the work in the U.S., the Center for Reproductive Rights is the only global legal advocacy organization dedicated to reproductive rights and regularly works within the UN Human Rights system to advance reproductive health and rights around the world. 

At the conclusion of this session, participants will gain knowledge of:

  1. Discuss reproductive rights, including abortion, as recognized fundamental human rights, and how an understanding of human rights strengthens our U.S. advocacy.
  2. Summarize the U.S. federal and state legal and policy reproductive rights landscape, including the impact on young people’s access.
  3. Explain latest update on the Supreme Court case, June Medical Services v. Gee, and how SAHM members can take action to support young people’s reproductive rights and access, including access to abortion. 

About the Speaker: Lourdes Rivera is the Senior Vice President, U.S. Programs, at the Center for Reproductive Rights.  Lourdes leads all of the Center’s U.S. work, including litigation, human rights advocacy, and state, federal, and U.S. foreign policy.
Lourdes is a leader in the fields of health law and policy, women’s rights, and sexual reproductive health and rights.  Prior to joining the Center in January 2017, Lourdes worked as a Program Officer and then Senior Program Officer at the Ford Foundation, where she managed U.S. and global grants for sexual and reproductive health and rights, using a social justice and human rights approach.  She has been a leader in developing women of color organizations in the field and is widely known for putting the concept of intersectionality into practice. Before joining the Ford Foundation in 2006, Lourdes was the Managing Attorney of the Los Angeles office of the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) and specialized in issues relating to Medicaid, managed care, and women’s and children’s health.  Previously, she worked in Washington D.C. as a Senior Associate with the Children’s Defense Fund, Health Division and as a Georgetown Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow with the National Women’s Law Center.

Lourdes is also a Board member of the Brush Foundation and of the National Health Law Program.  She is a co-founder and former chair of the Advisory Board of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, a former co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Health Rights and Bioethics Committee of the Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section, and a former chair of the Board of the National Women’s Health Network.  She taught a graduate level course in Health and Human Rights at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, where she is an adjunct Professor. 

Lourdes has a J.D. from Yale Law School and a B.A. in Latin American Studies from Yale University.

Young Adult Presenter: Madisen Barre-Hemingway

About the speaker: Madisen Barre-Hemingway is in her third year at Pitzer College and is majoring in Psychology and Spanish and minoring in Africana Studies. After graduating, she plans to pursue nursing and would like to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner, specializing in adolescents. 

Madisen has been a member of the SAHM Youth Involvement Subcommittee as a young consultant since 2018 and co-presented a workshop during the conference that year. She has co-authored three journal articles in the Journal of Adolescent Health, including one of her most notable articles written with the Youth Involvement Subcommittee. Outside of SAHM, Madisen can be found doing research on racial discrimination in pain perception of adolescents, a topic that she feels needs to be discussed more.

Prior to joining SAHM, Madisen worked alongside health care professionals on a youth board through Seattle Children’s Hospital called the “Project Advisory Board.” This group successfully created a digital tool to improve communication between adolescents and their health care providers during well-child visits. Her positive experience on the board helped fuel her love for research and exposed her to the endless possibilities for youth and healthcare providers to work together.  

Plenary III

The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study: Teen Brains. Today’s Science. Brighter Future

Gayathri J. Dowling, Ph.D.
Director, Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Project
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

Adolescence is a time of dramatic physical, intellectual, social, and emotional changes as well as a period of continued brain development. Yet, there is much we have yet to learn about the factors that influence brain development and other outcomes. The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, having enrolled nearly 12,000 diverse youth from across the country starting at ages 9-10 and assessing them repeatedly for a decade, was designed to answer these questions. Youth participants undergo magnetic resonance imaging to assess brain structure and function, provide biospecimens for pubertal hormone, substance use, and genetic analyses, and take part in neurocognitive assessments. Both youth and their caregivers provide information about physical and mental health, culture and environment, and other factors that influence their lives. In 2020, the ABCD assessment battery was expanded to include monthly questionnaires about participants’ experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, which when combined with pre-pandemic data and longitudinal follow-up data, holds promise for understanding risk and resilience factors that may influence adolescent trajectories potentially altered by these unusual circumstances. Data from the ABCD study is released to the scientific community annually through the National Institute of Mental Health Data Archive, allowing scientists worldwide to conduct analyses, pool resources, and enrich the value of this study, with the ultimate goal of providing actionable information to help educators, health professionals and policymakers improve the lives of all children, today and for generations to come.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Recognize the comprehensive nature of this longitudinal study, including the many different types of data being collected.
  2. Discuss emerging findings from the ABCD study and understand its potential value for understanding risk and resilience factors that influence adolescent development.
  3. Explain the open science model and how it can facilitate the use of science to inform policy and practice.

About the Speaker: Dr. Dowling is the Director of the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) Project at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The ABCD Study, the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States, has enrolled nearly 12,000 children ages 9-10 and is following them through their teens and into early adulthood to explore how diverse experiences during adolescence shape brain, cognitive, social, emotional, and academic development. Previously, Dr. Dowling served as the Deputy Director of the Office of Science Policy, Engagement, Education, and Communications at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the Chief of Science Policy at NIDA. In these positions, she provided scientifically-based information to patients and their family members, health professionals, researchers, policy makers, and other stakeholders to inform policy and promote the prevention and treatment of a wide variety of diseases. Dr. Dowling earned a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from the University of California at Davis, where she studied the developing nervous system, and subsequently conducted research at the Parkinson’s Institute prior to joining NIH where she initially worked at the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Young Adult Presenter: Eunice Olajimi

About the speaker: Eunice Olajimi is a Senior at the University of Texas at Austin. She majors in Health and Society with a concentration in Human Developmental Studies and plans to become a physician. Her special interests include social determinants of health, human developmental psychology, and adolescent health.

She currently serves as a facilitator on the Youth Advisory Council at the Lone Star Circle of Care Clinic in Round Rock, where youth are empowered to improve their health and communities. She is also President of the Black Health Professions Organization (BHPO) at her university, which provides resources to support minority students interested in the health fields. Ultimately, Eunice aims to combine her faith, healthcare skills, and passion to help underserved populations and to impact the world around her. As she leaves university, Eunice is ambitious, optimistic, and eager to fulfill her purpose and take on all that this life has for her.

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