Congressional Briefing - Preventative Care
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When: April 12, 2018 12 PM – 1:30 PM (EST)

Where: U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center, Room 268
First St., NE Washington, DC 20515



Join us for a briefing on broadening strategies to increase public knowledge of the range of free preventive services for women that are required to be covered by insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act. Services include, but not limited to, STI screening and counseling, breast and cervical cancer screening, contraception, well-woman visits and more.

Discussion Highlights:

  • Strategies to ensure that women are aware of the free preventive services that are available and how to access services
  • The ways that access to preventive health care services contribute positively to the health and wellness of Black women
  • Leveraging preventive health services to address the harmful impacts of stress

Attendance is free; lunch will be provided, and registration is required by Monday, April 10th to attend in person or join us online via Facebook LIVE:

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Media Advisory can be downloaded and saved or printed here.


Arrivals and Lunch

Welcome/Call to Order

Somara Theodore, Host  

Brief Remarks

Rebecca Berry, Esq. Legal & Policy Fellow, Black Women’s Health Imperative

Linda Goler Blount, President & CEO, Black Women’s Health Imperative

Congressional Remarks

U.S. Representative Robin Kelly (IL)

U.S. Representative Yvette Clarke (NY)

U.S. Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ)

U.S. Senator Doug Jones (AL)

Keynote Address

Symone Sanders

Moderated Panel Discussion

Somara Theodore, Moderator

Burnice Cain

Alana Glover

Ericka Hart

Valerie Rochester

Audience Question & Answer

Program Concludes



Somara Theodore

Somara Theodore (Moderator) is a Meteorologist with NBC Washington’s StormTeam 4. Her forecasts can be seen during the weekend editions of News4, on and on 103.5 WTOP Radio. She joined News4 in 2016.

Theodore’s passion for weather grew out of her experience growing up in cities with different kinds of seasons such as Los Angeles, Atlanta, Honolulu, New York City, and Pottstown, PA.

Throughout college, she conducted research with a NASA-funded research team through Penn State, analyzed data at NOAA’s Center for Atmospheric Science at Howard University and participated in a field study in China. She has also interned with WUSA CBS 9 in Washington D.C., WGCL CBS Atlanta, and The Weather Channel.

Theodore graduated from Penn State University with a major in Meteorology and minors in Energy Business and Finance as well as Mandarin Chinese. While attending Penn State, she was a student meteorologist with the Campus Weather Service.

From there Theodore began her career as a weekend meteorologist in Savannah, GA then headed over to Cleveland, OH where she worked as the morning meteorologist on Good Morning Cleveland! It was there she won an EMMY for her morning weathercast of a deadly plane crash in Akron.

Theodore’s family is native to the M in DMV, so she is excited to be close to them. She loves to help the community and reach people in any way she can. When she is not on air she enjoys ice skating, eating roti and she is an avid Instagrammer so be sure to follow her @SomaraTheodore!


Symone Sanders

Symone D. Sanders is a strategist who rose to prominence during her tenure as the national press secretary for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. At 25, Symone demonstrated an uncanny command of the issues earning her a place in history as the youngest presidential press secretary on record and a spot on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of 16 young Americans shaping the 2016 election.

However, Symone was not new to presidential politics. When she was 16, she introduced former President Bill Clinton at a luncheon in Omaha, Nebraska. Following her remarks, President Clinton said, “Symone spoke so well I really hate to follow her.” President Clinton went on to write about Symone in his book, Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World.

A communicator with a passion for juvenile justice, Symone is the former chair of the Coalition of Juvenile Justice Emerging Leaders Committee and former member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice. While serving on the committees,  Symone worked to bring millennial perspectives to policy conversations.

Now, Symone draws from her experience on the national stage to provide perceptive analysis and results-oriented problem solving on political and social issues. Through her work, Symone challenges the conventional wisdom that strong communities are only defined by what we have in common. Instead, she outlines the way our differences contribute to effective social movements and impactful media narratives.

Symone has been featured on NPR, Fox News, MSNBC, NBC, BET, TV One and currently can be seen on CNN as a Political Commentator. She has been profiled in the Washington Post, the New Yorker, ESSENCE Magazine, and ELLE.


Linda Goler Blount BWHI

Linda Goler Blount, MPH joined the Black  Women’s  Health  Imperative (BWHI) as the president and chief executive officer in February 2014.  Linda oversees BWHI’s strategic direction and is responsible for directing the organization toward achieving its mission of leading efforts to solve the most pressing health issues that affect Black women and girls in the United States.

Before joining BWHI, Linda served as the vice president of programmatic impact for the United Way of Greater Atlanta, where she led the effort to eliminate inequalities in health, income, education and housing through place– and population‐based work.

Prior to that position, Linda was the first‐ever national vice president of health disparities at the American Cancer Society.  There, she was responsible for providing the strategic vision and leadership to the society and its 12 geographic divisions to reduce cancer incidences and mortality among underserved populations and to develop a nationwide health equity policy.

With more than 25 years of experience in the public, for‐profit and nonprofit sectors, Linda has a distinguished career that includes successful tenures at  The  Coca‐Cola  Company, leading strategic business initiatives,  and the U.S.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as an expert scientist. She also has extensive international  health expertise as a consultant to government ministries in Germany,  South Africa,  Zimbabwe, Malawi,  Jamaica,  and Trinidad and Tobago, where she lived for four years.

Linda is a prominent speaker and a member of the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Health Services Executives. She serves on the Community  Health  Charities  Board,  the University of Michigan School of Public  Health  Summer Enrichment Program Board and is the past chair of the University of Michigan  School of  Public Health Alumni Board of Governors. She previously served on the Emory University Center for Ethics Advisory Board, and the Morehouse School of Medicine Public Health Program Advisory Committee.

A Michigan native, Linda holds a Master of Public Health degree in Epidemiology from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering/Operations Research from Eastern Michigan University.


Rebecca Barry Esq

Rebecca Berry, Esq. is an If/When/How Policy Fellow at the Black Women’s Health Imperative. She has a Bachelor’s degree (BA) in Sociology and a Juris Doctorate (JD) both from the University of Southern California. She is passionate about the intersection of reproductive justice and education, as well as health equity for black women, girls and femmes.

She has interned at Public Counsel and the Advancement Project where she helped address specific challenges faced by young people of color in over-policed schools. Rebecca was also active in her law school’s National Lawyers Guild chapter, Street Law, and the Public Interest Law Foundation. Born and raised in Los Angeles County, Rebecca has also worked on local policy initiatives to decrease barriers to reentry for formerly incarcerated folks.

Rebecca is writing a memoir and recently launched a blog titled “There’s Nothing Wrong With You” to showcase her writings on healing from trauma, self-worth, and self-love for black girls, women and femmes who face misogynoir. In her free time, Rebecca loves to do self-care, watch cooking shows, and sing her heart out for anyone who’ll listen.


Ericka Hart

A kinky, poly, cancer-warrior, activist, sexuality educator and performer with a Master’s of Education in Human Sexuality from Widener University, Ericka Hart has taught sexuality education for elementary aged youth to adults across New York City for the past 10  years. Her work in sexuality education was catalyzed by her service as a Peace Corps HIV/AIDs volunteer in Ethiopia from 2008-2010.

Diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer in May 2014 at the age of 28, she realized that neither her identity as a queer black woman, nor her sex life as a survivor, was featured prominently in her treatment.

Ericka is shifting ingrained cultural modes and attitudes on chronic illness and posits visibility as a sociopolitical stance, one vital to any radically inclusive progressive movement toward equity. From framing desire and pleasure as political to dismantling the ways that systemic patriarchy and anti-black standards of beauty affect our everyday lives, her work is part of a larger conversation on healing that forces us to see our institutions and systems of care as complicit in the perpetuation of illness in marginalized communities; unabashedly centering and sentient such that queer, trans black, brown and femme voices aren’t lost among the drone of scholarly research less skilled than Hart in bringing academia to the places it refuses to go.

Audiences around the world admire Ericka for her ability to use what has swelled to a cult following on social media among young QTPOC (Queer and Trans People of Color) cancer survivors, activists, artists, medical professionals alike to assert the personal as political and challenge anti-blackness everywhere it rears its head–from the front pages of magazines, runways to the university; white supremacist patriarchy does not stand a chance.


Valerie Rochester

Valerie L. Rochester has used her 25 years of experience as a leading wellness architect to provide programmatic, administrative, and technical support services in the public health field. A native of Indianapolis, she was exposed to public service at an early age. Her passion for other people’s health and well-being has guided her both professionally and personally, instilling in her the drive to be a purposeful disruptor for bringing about change. She lives by her favorite quote from Muhammad Ali:” Service to others is the rent we pay for our room on this earth” and her motto in life is Make History Now!

Prior to joining AIDS United, Valerie was Director of Programs & Training with the Black Women’s Health Imperative, where she led the organization’s national programmatic responses to address racially and gender-based health inequities; managing an extensive portfolio of health initiatives addressing the priority health issues of breast and cervical cancers, HIV/STIs, obesity, and chronic disease prevention. As a health strategist, Valerie recognizes the importance of engaging and mobilizing communities to help bring about improved health outcomes and has applied these approaches to her work with local, Federal, national, and state agencies. She has also served on the board of directors of numerous national and community-based organizations, including her current tenure as a board member of the National Minority AIDS Council, where the holds the position of Treasurer. Because of her commitment to addressing health inequities in communities of color, Valerie was awarded the Congressional Black Caucus Healthcare Hero Award in 2002 at the annual Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, presented to her by former Congresswoman Donna Christensen.

On another note, most people would never know that Valerie is a sports and classic horror fan, with a little pop culture thrown in. Her interests are a mix of boxing, Alfred Hitchcock movies, and fashion. When she isn’t shopping for shoes or bags, she likes running, reading Stephen King novels, and spending time with friends learning hand-dancing. She is a self-described “coffee-fiend” who likes traveling to unusual places, discovering different R & B and hip-hop artists and learning all the words to their songs.



Burnice Cain

Burnice A. Cain is the oldest of five children, originally born in Sacramento, Calif. and became a Maryland resident at 11, and District of Columbia resident at 30. She undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University in Communications and her Master’s Degree in Sports Management from Georgetown University. Her parents, Larry and Sherrie Henry are entrepreneurs’ and own a tax and financial firm in New Carrollton, Maryland where she is the Office Manager. They prepare Business and Personal tax returns for individuals and small business owners. She also works in the hospitality industry and bartends for special occasions or private parties.

While matriculating at Howard University, in the Spring of 2011 Burnice joined Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. The sorority was founded on the campus of Howard University in 1920, on the principles of: scholarship, sisterhood, community service and the idea of Finerwomanhood. Burnice sought membership into this sorority since her Aunt was a already a member and because she liked the women on campus; they were ambitious, intellectual leaders on campus  as well as within in the community. Moreover, they were well down-to-earth and benevolent at their events. Burnice also took part in other student activities like; playing on the Lacrosse team (the only one in the nation that was at a Historically Black College or University) and was the Editor of a bi-weekly student newspaper and hosted a weekly news radio show. She worked two jobs all four years and earned $20,000 in scholarships for academic merit.  As a member of the sorority, Burnice was exposed to the March of Dimes and their partnership with Zeta regarding Prematurity Awareness. She and her chapter’s sisters raised $3,000 for the three years she was at school and participated in the annual walk. After she graduated, Ms. Cain joined the Beta Zeta Graduate chapter and was the March of Dimes fundraising co-chair where the chapter raised $4,000 that year and received recognition from the Sorority.

In 2013, Burnice became the Research Assistant of the Storks Nest and aids Rev. Georgia Davis, the Coordinator in collecting statistics and hosting classes for clients of Nest Mothers’ and their babies. Both mom & baby can receive incentive gifts for getting regular pre-natal care, breastfeeding, getting their children immunized and attending pre-natal classes. The parents and children must live in the District and be considered low-income or high-risk pregnancies as pre-requisites for the program

One of her siblings was premature. Her brother, Little Larry was born 2lbs 2 oz and was in the NICU for 4 months. Burnice was 12 and recalls her parents visiting her brother daily, and how his NICU $100K bill was covered by her Mom’s enrollment at Howard University’s Law school.  Now, her brother is 22, 6’0”, 180-lb body-builder and attends Bowie University studying business. His delivery and the one of her own child deeply facilitated her passion about the March of Dimes mission.

When Burnice isn’t working, she watches TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy, The Flash and Sports. She won two football teams 1st place her Yahoo & NFL leagues.  Her NCAA march madness bracket is busted. She’s a “weekend warrior” and also plays recreational co-ed soccer weekly. She is high energy, quick talking and loves making others laugh and taking pictures.   At the age of 33 she delivered her first child Brianna prematurely and will discuss how the March of Dimes and Zeta partnership helped her recognize the signs of early term labor and enabled her to seek medical attention immediately.

Alana Glover is 23 years old, and currently a law student at the University of Baltimore School of law, who has a passion for raising awareness for the issues revolving around cervical cancer. As a young woman, Alana has personally dealt with HPV and cervical cancer firsthand and personally experienced both the physical and mental effects that it can have. As a result of her own experiences Alana sought out the National Cervical Cancer and established a chapter that original began in Hampton Rhoads, Virginia and has recently been moved to Baltimore, Maryland. Alana started her chapter on the foundation of not only promoting awareness to individuals in her community of cervical cancer regardless of age, but also hopes to provide a support system and a safe place for individuals battling with HPV and cervical cancer.

Since starting her chapter Alana has raised funds through an Art Show put on by the youth in the community of Richmond, Virginia entitled A Muse from Me to You: Cancer Benefit Edition. At this show she not only raised funds for her own cervical cancer chapter but also a young man battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma and a young woman battling pancreatic cancer. Alana recently appeared on a local television show entitled “Bmore Lifestyle” on Fox 45 to raise awareness for cervical cancer awareness month and promote the importance of women getting regular and updated pap smears as well as promoting the hpv vaccine as a preventative method. In the future Alana hopes to raise funds to be able to provide grants for local medical facilities to provide free pap smears and hpv screening as well as organizing an event to provide women with free cervical cancer related medical services.