Speaker Series

We host a Speaker Series on asylum, refugee, and immigration issues. Talks are held monthly at Puentes de Salud at 1700 South St.

To join the listserv for our Speaker Series, or if you would like to suggest a speaker or topic, contact us at phrc.speaker.series@gmail.com.

April 23, 2019

Dr. Meredith Hickson is a Pediatric Resident at CHOP. Her academic interests include child migration, women’s and children’s rights, and the neurodevelopmental consequences of poverty. Meredith was a Fogarty Scholar in Uganda in 2016-2017, focusing on neurodevelopment in children with severe malaria and in-utero malaria exposure. During medical school, she was a Health Disparities Scholar with the Michigan Institute of Clinical and Health Research. Prior to medical school, Meredith worked with Children’s Health Watch as a health policy intern. She served with the Peace Corps in Senegal from 2011 to 2013 as a Preventative Health Educator. Meredith is an alumna of the University of Michigan Medical School (2018) and Oberlin College (2010).

We will be discussing Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), with a focus on the epidemiology, clinical description, and consequences of the practice. This talk is geared toward healthcare providers and students who may encounter women and girls who have experienced FGM/C in their clinical practice. We will also discuss FGM/C as grounds for asylum under US federal law.

March 21, 2019

Gretchen Shanfeld, the Director of Health and Wellness at Nationalities Service Center (NSC), shared her experiences working with immigrant and refugee populations to access healthcare in Philadelphia. She highlighted the recent advances in mental health available to refugees through NSC, including art therapy and movement therapy. Gretchen introduced the different processes for seeking defensive asylum, affirmative asylum, and refugee status, and defined the push-pull theory of migration.

February 12, 2019

We are excited to host Cathi Tillman, the founding Executive Director of La Puerta Abierta (LPA). Cathi is a licensed social worker, family therapist and clinical supervisor who has worked with families in community settings over the past 35 years, focusing on engagement of marginalized communities of youth and families in both the U.S. and in Latin America. She founded La Puerta Abierta to provide pro bono individual and family counseling, community-based groups, and peer mentorship training to support the mental health of the Latinx immigrant community, with a focus on youth and families.

LPA operates from a community-informed, empowerment model of support that respectfully challenges traditional models of “mental health” care and thrives on healthy partnerships and collaborations across many communities. Cathi spoke about this organizational model and how aspects of it can be replicated in other environments that serve immigrants.

January 15, 2019

Nancy Ayllón-Ramírez, an attorney with Justice at Work Legal Aid, taught us about labor trafficking. Victims of labor trafficking may experience wage theft, work for long hours without compensation, fail to receive proper medical treatment or compensation for work-related injuries, and be threatened with physical violence or deportation if they are undocumented. If you recognize a potential victim of labor trafficking, you can refer them to Justice at Work for a free legal consultation (language interpretation is available) to discuss their experience and their legal rights. Trafficking victims may be eligible to apply for a T-visa, allowing them to stay in the United States.

Employment law covers all workers regardless of status.

December 4, 2018

We are excited to host Michelle Munyikwa, an MD/PhD candidate in anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. Michelle Munyikwa works at the intersection of medicine and justice, particularly struggles for migrant rights, justice for racialized communities, and economic security. Her dissertation examines the context in which refugees and asylum seekers get care (both medical and social services) in Philadelphia. Her passions include (social) medicine in underserved communities, education, and physician advocacy. She will be speaking on her dissertation and on the intersection between her aspirations as a physician and her work as a PhD in anthropology.

May 8, 2018

The New Sanctuary Movement (NSM) is a faith-based multicultural immigrant rights organization that works to combat discriminatory practices that interfere with the lives of immigrants. Blanca Pacheco is a community organizer from Ecuador who has been working with immigrants since 2006. She helped create “Know Your Rights” trainings at NSM which empower immigrants with tools to stay safe, and was honored with the Bread and Roses Emerging Leader Award in 2010.

Take care of the immigrant as a whole person instead of just an immigration status.

April 3, 2018

Dr. Jasjit Beausang from the Drexel Women’s Care Center presented a lecture and hosted an interactive session on Female Genital Cutting (FGC). Dr. Beausang has extensive experience working with women who have experienced FGC and addressed the local impact, medical issues, and clinical pearls relating to FGC. She also discussed her work with the Philadelphia International Women’s Project, a partnership between the Drexel Medicine Women’s Care Center, Nationalities Services Center (NSC), and the African Family Health Organization (AFAHO), which works to educate the community about FGC and provide care to women who have experienced it.

February 6, 2018

Dr. Katherine Yun is a pediatrician at CHOP who has an interest in refugee and immigrant health. She works at the CHOP refugee clinic and Puentes de Salud. She works closely with BAOP and developed a program to train community health navigators to improve care coordination and health outcomes for Bhutanese refugees.

January 16, 2018

Cathy Jeong is the team lead for Philadelphia Partnership for Resilience (PPR) Collaborative and oversees the Collaborative to provide and expand services to survivors of torture in the greater Philadelphia region. She is a social worker who has worked in direct services with human trafficking and immigrant populations in both local and international capacities for nine years.

December 7, 2017

Dr. Katherine Sherif is Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University. She is also the Director of Jefferson Women’s Primary Care. Dr. Sherif founded the first center for PCOS in 2000, and published texts on women’s health and hormone therapy. She also has an extensive background working with human rights organizations and asylum seekers. She completed the Clinical Fellowship in Medicine & Human Rights at Columbia University College of Physicians & Scientists, through which she spent 6 months in Cairo. She shared her experience working with various human rights organizations in Egypt.

October 17, 2017

Leela Kuikel is a refugee and the founding Executive Director of The Bhutanese American Organization of Philadelphia (BAOP). BAOP is a community organization servicing newly resettled Bhutanese refugees in the Philadelphia region. Mr. Kuikel presented about the unique challenges that the Bhutanese refugee community faces and his experience in working with and being a part of this community.