Plenary Sessions

2023 Accelerating Health Equity Conference Speakers

The Accelerating Health Equity conference is excited to bring keynote speakers that both motivate and inspire individuals to take action in finding solutions to address health equity gaps and advance the health of individuals in all communities.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Isabel Wilkerson

Isabel Wilkerson

Pulitzer Prize winner and National Humanities Medal recipient Isabel Wilkerson is the author of The New York Times bestseller and critically acclaimed Caste and National Book Critics Circle Award winner The Warmth of Other Suns. A gifted storyteller, Wilkerson captivates audiences with the universal human story of migration and reinvention, as well as the enduring search for the American dream.

Isabel Wilkerson | Caste: The Origins of our Discontents

Wilkerson’s latest book, Caste: The Origins of our Discontents, published in August 2020 to critical acclaim, with Dwight Garner of The New York Times calling it, “An instant American classic” and Oprah choosing it for her monthly book club pick. Picked as a Time’s 2020 must-read book, the book examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how a hierarchy of social divisions still defines our lives today. Wilkerson brings the past’s complexities to vivid life through her passionate research and her profound gift for connecting with audiences of all backgrounds. Caste is being adapted into a Netflix film directed, written and produced by Ava DuVernay.


Thank you to the Catholic Health Association of the United States for sponsoring this session.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Brian Smedley

Brian Smedley

Brian D. Smedley is among the inaugural class of equity scholars at the Urban Institute, where he will conduct research and policy analysis to address structural and institutional forms of racism that impact the health and well-being of people of color.

Formerly, Smedley was chief of psychology in the public interest at the American Psychological Association, where he led APA’s efforts to apply the science and practice of psychology to the fundamental problems of human welfare and social justice. A national thought leader in the field of health equity, Smedley got his start in Washington, D.C., as an APA congressional science fellow, and subsequently served at APA as director of public interest policy.

Most recently, he was co-founder and executive director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity, a project that connects research, policy analysis and communications with on-the-ground activism to advance health equity.