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Improving Access to Healthcare and Services

October 12, 2021
12:50 PM – 2:00 PM

Join us for this virtual discussion in which community leaders and health practitioners identify gaps in access to preventative healthcare services and share innovative ways we can support underserved communities.

This is the first in a 3-part series developed by New York Tech in collaboration with the Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Health.


Brian Harper

Brian Harper, M.D., M.P.H., Chief Medical Officer and Vice President for Equity and Inclusion, New York Institute of Technology

Brian Harper, M.D., is New York Institute of Technology's Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Medical Officer, overseeing the Academic Health Care Centers in Old Westbury and Central Islip. Harper also serves as an Associate Professor at New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM), where he educates future physicians on the tenets of clinical medicine.

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Building on Harper’s role as Co-Chair of New York Tech's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force, in 2020 he was appointed to the newly created position of Vice President for Equity and Inclusion. Under his leadership, a team of faculty, students, and staff are charged with pursuing projects, activities, and programming that promote diversity, equity and inclusion, and creating a roadmap and strategies for continued success in these areas.

Prior to becoming a physician, Harper attended Brown University for his undergraduate education where he received a B.A. in Biology and in Afro-American Studies. He went on to receive his medical degree from the State University of New York, Health Science Center at Syracuse, and a master’s degree in Public Health from Columbia University. He then trained at Harlem Hospital Center and the State University of New York, Health Science Center at Stony Brook. Harper is board certified in Preventive Medicine and Public Health.

Harper has worked as a physician at the Rikers Island Medical Unit, served as the first Director of the Bureau of HIV Services at the Nassau County Department of Health, and as the Senior Vice President of Community Affairs at the Nassau University Medical Center. In this role, Harper also served as the medical director for a network of seven community health centers, where he remodeled medical services to conform to hospital standards and successfully passed two JCAHO (Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) surveys.

Harper was then appointed as the first African American Commissioner of Health for Suffolk County, N.Y. During his tenure, he successfully managed a department of 1,500 employees with a budget of approximately $450 million. Harper also created innovative programs including a HIV Commission and an Office of Minority Health to address health inequities. Harper then served as the Chief Operating Officer and Medical Director of the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention. This center was a partnership between Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and North General Hospital that was initially designed to provide quality cancer care to the residents of Harlem and surrounding areas, irrespective of a patient’s ability to pay.


Deborah DeSantiago

Deborah DeSantiago, Assistant to the President, Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Deborah DeSantiago is a patient experience coach, community advocate, diversity and inclusion expert, and part of the National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Health.

Before taking on her current role as assistant to the president of the Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Deborah spent 20 years in healthcare at the largest integrated health system in Georgia, leading the 11-hospital healthcare system’s onboarding, training, and development programs for leaders, team members, and physicians. Her vast knowledge of clinical service integration, patient service pathways, and the function of patient-centered care mechanics to achieve overall wellness is remarkable. She excels in project management, follow-through skills, and key performance metric management.

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In response to COVID-19, the health system moved its interdisciplinary rounds to a virtual platform. DeSantiago played an integral role in comanaging this project as a key leader in its initial formulation, education, and rollout at the system’s flagship hospital. She has a unique gift for always being able to see every touchpoint through the lens of the patient and the family’s experience, ultimately changing the way that care is delivered.

DeSantiago has served as virtual panel expert on two Leadership Innovation Collaborative Series segments. The first dialogue centered on the importance of succession planning for minority leaders in healthcare and the second focused on the critical conversation of code-switching for organizational survival and professional success, the trade-off for authenticity in the workplace.

Her current role allows her to be a voice for the Hispanic and minority communities and bring awareness of current inequities that have been magnified due to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to improve the overall quality of life for these communities.

Jennifer H. Mieres

Jennifer H. Mieres, M.D., FACC, MASNC, FAHA, Senior Vice President, Center for Equity of Care and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Northwell Health

Dr. Jennifer H. Mieres is a leading expert in the fields of nuclear cardiology, cardiovascular disease in women and patient centered healthcare advocacy. As Senior Vice President of Northwell Health’s, Center for Equity of Care, she has oversight of and provides strategic guidance for Northwell’s diversity and health equity initiatives and serves as the health system’s first Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. She is member of Northwell’s Katz institute of Women’s Health steering committee. Dr. Mieres is also the Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs and a professor of cardiology, at The Zucker School of Medicine.

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A graduate of Bennington College and Boston University School of Medicine; she is a Fellow of The American Heart Association (AHA), American College of Cardiology (ACC), and Master of the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC) and served as the first female President of the ASNC in 2009.

Dr. Mieres’ clinical focus and research are centered on the elimination of health and gender disparities and cardiovascular disease in women. She is a leading advocate for patient-centered healthcare and medical education reform and has authored/co-authored over 60 scientific publications, including as lead author of the 2005 and 2014 AHA cardiac imaging guidelines for women. As an international speaker, she has presented her research as distinguished faculty at over 100 forums and conferences; both nationally and internationally including scientific sessions of the ACC, AHA, ASNC, the International Conference of Nuclear Cardiology and IHI/BMJ International Forum on Quality & Safety in Healthcare.

A true patient and community advocate; Dr. Mieres is actively involved in service. She serves as a national spokesperson for AHA’s Go Red For Women movement and has served as chair of several national AHA committees, as well as the Scientific Advisory Board for WomenHeart and is a member of the Woman’s Day magazine heart health advisory board.

A prolific communicator; Mieres recently co-authored Heart Smart for Women: Six S.T.E.P.S IN Six Weeks to HeartHealthy Living, published in October 2017 and in May 2019, the Spanish version of “Heart Smart”, Un Corazon Saludable Para La Mujer Moderna : Seis P.A.S.O.S en Seis Semanas para Mantener La Salud Del Corazon. Her previous book Heart Smart for Black Women and Latinas: A Five Week Program for Living a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle was published in 2008. Following her Emmy-nominated documentary A Woman’s Heart, (2001); her creative ingenuity has evolved as an executive producer of a two-part documentary series Rx: The Quiet Revolution and Doctors of Tomorrow, (2015). The films have forged a change in narrative while garnering placement on national TV network PBS and in educational institutions. She is an Executive producer of the women’s health documentary “Ms. Diagnosed” which premiered at the Cinequest film festival on March 7, 2020. Dr. Mieres is routinely called upon by national and local media for expert commentary and has been designated as a most-credible voice in the healthcare industry.

A recipient of several prestigious awards; Dr. Mieres has been recognized as a tireless force; fostering diversity in medical education, gender equity in cardiovascular care, as well as eliminating disparities in the delivery of healthcare to the community. The Association of Black Cardiologists recognized her work with the Walter M. Booker Sr. Health Promotion Award in 2015. The American Heart Association has also presented her with a number of awards, such as the Chairman’s Award; the Louis B. Russell, Jr., Memorial Award; the Award for Outstanding Service as President and the William Groom Award for Volunteer of the Year. Dr. Mieres has also received the National ACC’s Women in Cardiology Mentoring Award; the Woman’s Day Red Dress Award; the WomenHeart Wenger Award for Healthcare , the New York State Governor’s Award of Excellence and was recognized in April 2018 by Good Housekeeping magazine as a Top Ten Humanitarian.

Theresa Sanders

Theresa Sanders, President and Chief Executive Officer, Urban League of Long Island, Inc.

Since 1997, Ms. Sanders has led the Urban League of Long Island, an affiliate of the National Urban League. Ms. Sanders has 15 years of administrative experience at the Urban League, a not-for-profit community based organization that annually serves more than 20,000 children and families in Nassau and Suffolk counties. As an administrator, Ms. Sanders develops direct service programs that help infuse millions of dollars into the regional economy, by empowering disadvantaged individuals to become economically self-sufficient and socially conscience community members. Under the leadership of Ms. Sanders, the Urban League of Long Island addresses key issues that affect the local community. Her vision has led to the development of the Long Island Center for Community Empowerment to address the growing demand for youth and family services.

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Ms. Sanders holds a B.S. in Business Management from the State University of New York at Old Westbury, a M.S. in Instructional Technology from the New York Institute of Technology, as well as credits towards a M.S. in Public Policy Analysis from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Ms. Sanders also is pursuing her Ph.D. from the Dowling College School of Education.

Theresa Sanders works as an adjunct professor at the State University of New York at Old Westbury, and currently serves on the Long Island Regional Planning Council. In addition, Ms. Sanders serves on the boards of Suffolk County Community College and the Community Development Corporation of Long Island. Within the Urban League Movement, Ms. Sanders is a past Regional VicePresident of the Eastern Region of the National Urban League Association of Executives, and President of the New York State Association of Presidents. In 2004, Sanders was honored as one of Long Island Business News’ Top 50 Women, she is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and is a member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Long Island Chapter. Theresa Sanders is a member of Living Hope Fellowship Baptist Church and member of the Belmont Lake Civic Association.