Thank you to everyone who joined and participated in our first fully-virtual Kidney Action Week! We are grateful to our sponsors and partners for helping us share these kidney education resources with others.
Congressional Briefing on Stark Health Disparities in COVID-19 Pandemic
The American Kidney Fund held a Congressional briefing to focus on factors that have contributed to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color. The briefing—COVID-19, Health Disparities and the Social Determinants of Health—took place September 16 via Zoom. The briefing can be viewed below.
Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA-44), member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Committee on Homeland Security
Former Congresswoman Donna M. Christensen, M.D. (D-VI), past chair, Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, and current member of the AKF Board of Trustees
Sindy Benavides, CEO of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
Oliver Brooks, M.D., immediate past president, National Medical Association, and chief medical officer of Watts Healthcare
Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H, FAAFP, chief medical officer for prevention for the American Heart Association
LaVarne A. Burton, AKF president and CEO
Kidney Action Week Highlights
Catch up on all the virtual events from Kidney Action Week and get to Know Your Kidneys! We brought you a series of virtual activities designed to enlighten, entertain and encourage you to live your healthiest life by preventing kidney disease. Click here to download recipe cards for the recipes mentioned below.
Monday, September 14
- Kidney Action Week Opening – LaVarne Burton, President & CEO, American Kidney Fund
- 1:00 p.m. ET Cooking Demonstration by Professional Cook, Linda Blaylock, presenting Instant Pot Sloppy Joe’s
- 3:00 p.m. ET “Ask a Nephrologist” with Dr. Silas P. Norman, MD, MPH from the University of Michigan
- 4:15 p.m. ET Partner Highlight video by Pastor Montgomery from National Assistant Director of Health Outreach and Prevention Education of the National Baptist Convention, USA
- 5:00 p.m. ET Fitness Demonstration with Asia Vianna, presenting Vinyasa Yoga
Tuesday, September 15
- 1:00 p.m. ET Cooking Demonstration by Registered Dietitian, Carolyn Feibig, presenting Venezuelan Corn Fritters (Arepas)
- 2:15 p.m. ET Partner Highlight video by Joyce Murrell, Vice President of Health Ministries of Progressive National Baptist Convention
- 5:00 p.m. ET Fitness Demonstration with Juana Hernandez, presenting Zumba
Wednesday, September 16
Thursday, September 17
- 1:00 p.m. ET Cooking Demonstration by Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Aisling Whelan, presenting Fish Tacos
- 3:00 p.m. ET Blood Pressure Checks at Home – Instructional Video by Student National Pharmaceutical Association – University of Houston Chapter
- 5:00 p.m. ET Fitness Demonstration with Juana Hernandez, presenting Zumba
Friday, September 18
- 1:00 p.m. ET Cooking Demonstration by Registered Dietitian, Carolyn Feibig, presenting No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake
- 2:15 p.m. ET Instructional video on how to conduct blood sugar checks at home
- 2:15 p.m. ET “Diabetes 101” with Dr. Stacey Johnson, Assistant Regional Director of the Northeast Region of Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc
- 3:00 p.m. ET Educational segment: Ask a Dietitian with Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Aisling Whelan
- 3:45 p.m. ET Learn how to monitor your sugar levels
- 4:30 p.m. ET Fitness Demonstration with Lisa Glassman, presenting Chair Fitness
- 5:00 p.m. ET Closing remarks by Mike Spigler, VP of Patient Services and Kidney Disease Education
Presenting National Sponsor
Aisling Whelan MS, RDN, CDN
Aisling Whelan MS, RDN, CDN is a registered dietitian who uses a whole-person, whole-food based approach to help clients reclaim their health and improve their quality of life. Aisling has extensive experience working with the chronic kidney disease population. Her first introduction to renal nutrition began when she worked as a dietitian in a hemodialysis facility. Aisling is passionate about empowering her patients to implement realistic and sustainable changes aimed at slowing down the progression of their kidney disease. She continues to work with dialysis patients who wish to optimize their health and reduce their risk of further complications. Aisling is the author of ‘The 30 Minute Renal Diet Cookbook.’ She practices virtually as well as at her office in New York City.
Carolyn Feibig, MS, RD, LD
Carolyn is originally from Saint Louis, MO and has been a dietitian in the Washington, D.C. area since 2011. Currently, she is the Kidney Transplant Dietitian at The George Washington University Hospital. Prior to her current role, she worked for a dialysis company as a dietitian. She found her passion for renal nutrition when her nephew was born with only one kidney. In her career she seeks out opportunities to educate the general public about the importance of early detection of kidney disease and the importance of a healthy diet for kidney health.
Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA-44)
Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán was born the youngest of 11 children in Harbor City, California. Her parents immigrated from Mexico. She earned a B.A. in political science from UCLA in 2000, and went on to earn a JD from the USC Gould School of Law in 2005. She then practiced law and did volunteer voter protection work for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. In 2013, Rep. Barragán won a seat on the Hermosa Beach City Council. She became the first Latina in the history of Hermosa Beach to be elected to the City Council, and she went on to serve as Mayor.
Rep. Barragán was first elected to represent California’s 44th District in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016. Legislatively, Rep. Barragán focuses on the environment, health care and immigration – always through a racial equity and social justice lens. She has authored many bills in the current Congress, including the Climate Smart Ports Act, which would green our nation’s ports while supporting and growing clean energy jobs. She also introduced the Social Determinants of Health Act, (HR 6561)—a bill supported by the American Kidney Fund—which will address the social, economic and environmental factors that drive racial health disparities.
Sindy M. Benavides
Sindy Marisol Benavides is a Honduran-American immigrant who has experienced the American dream, and now devotes her career to public service, ensuring that countless young people, women and immigrants have the same opportunity. She received her B.A. in political science from Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia, where she graduated Valedictorian of her class. She has also attended American University for her Master’s degree in International Affairs and is working on submitting her substantial research paper. She is currently Chief Executive Officer for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the oldest Hispanic civil rights organization in the country.
Benavides is the founder, co-founder, or founding board member of LULAC Council 4611, VA Latino Higher Education Network (VALHEN), VA Coalition of Immigrant Rights (VACIR), and the Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Action (HOLA). She previously served as the Chief Operating Officer and National Director for Civic Engagement and Community Mobilization for LULAC, Vice President of Field & Political Operations for Voto Latino and as Northern Virginia Political Director for the 2012 Kaine for Virginia senatorial campaign. She has also been National Director of Community Outreach for the Democratic National Committee, and Latino Liaison and Director of Gubernatorial Appointments for Governor Timothy M. Kaine. Benavides serves on numerous civic boards and can be found on Twitter @SindyBenavides. She lives in northern Virginia with her beloved family.
Oliver T. Brooks, M.D.
Dr. Oliver Brooks received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Morehouse College and his M.D. degree from Howard University College of Medicine, and he completed a residency in Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital-Oakland. He practiced in the underserved communities of North Oakland and Richmond for four years before accepting a pediatric position at the Watts Health Care Corporation, where he is presently Associate Medical Director and Chief of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, and Chairman of the Quality Management Committee. Dr. Brooks is Medical Director of the Jordan High School-Based Health Clinic; Chairman of the Immunize LA Families Coalition, and Board member of the California Immunization Coalition.
Dr. Brooks served on the Executive Committee of Centinela Hospital, where he was Chairman of their Peer Review Committee. He serves on the Physician Quality Committee for LA Care, and also a medical director/consultant. Dr. Brooks is past-president of the Golden State (CA) Medical Association and past president of the Miller-Lawrence Medical and Dental Society, both components of the National Medical Association of which he is the National Secretary. Additionally, he is Assistant Clinical Professor, Western University of Health Sciences as well as a member of many civic organizations.
LaVarne A. Burton
LaVarne Addison Burton has been President and CEO of the American Kidney Fund (AKF) since 2005. AKF has significantly enhanced its programs and services during Ms. Burton’s tenure. Her leadership has propelled the organization to many notable milestones, including the growth of AKF’s free kidney disease screening program into the nation’s largest; development of award-winning public awareness media campaigns; tripling of patient financial assistance to ensure access to care; establishment of a nationwide AKF Advocacy Network that has grown to more than 15,000 Ambassadors; and the launch of the renal community’s only national annual gala, The Hope Affair, which honors patients and advocates. AKF is included in the Consumer Reports list of “Best Charities for Your Donations” and has received Charity Navigator’s highest, 4-star rating for the 18th consecutive year—one of only four nonprofits nationwide to achieve that distinction.
Burton served as President of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), the national trade association representing pharmacy benefit managers and their partners. During her tenure there, she worked with congressional committees to develop Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit modeled after the pharmacy benefit management (PBM) pioneered by PCMA member companies. Burton also served as Executive Secretary to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where she managed policy development and regulations and was advisor to the Secretary of the federal government’s largest domestic agency. Prior to that, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget Policy at HHS and as Senior Analyst to the Budget Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, advising the Committee on funding policy and legislative positions for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other health programs. Burton is a member and Past Chair of the National Health Council Board of Directors, the only organization of its kind that brings together all segments of the health community to provide a united voice for the more than 133 million people with chronic diseases and disabilities and their family caregivers. She has also served on a number of other boards and coalitions.
A native of Augusta, Georgia, LaVarne Addison Burton received her B.A. from Howard University and M.A. from George Washington University, both in Washington, D.C.
Former Congresswoman Donna M. Christensen, M.D. (D-VI)
Former Congresswoman Donna M. Christensen earned a B.S. in 1966 from St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, and her Doctor of Medicine in 1970 from the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. She won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, the first woman to represent the U.S. Virgin Islands, a multi-island territory in the eastern Caribbean, and the first femal medical doctor to serve in Congress. She currently serves on the American Kidney Fund Board of Trustees.
During her tenure in Congress, Dr. Christensen chaired the Congressional Black Caucus’ Health Braintrust for 16 years. The Braintrust oversees and advocates on minority health issues nationally and internationally. In this capacity, as well as her seat on the Health Subcommittee of Energy and Commerce, she was intimately involved in the creation of the Affordable Care Act, especially the health equity provisions. Dr. Christensen also worked to include other important provisions, including an increase in support for minority health providers' training, the creation of the National Institute for Minority and Health Disparity Research at NIH and the expansion of offices of minority health, increased funding for health in the territories, the 12-year exclusivity for biotherapeutics in the bill and ensuring that the PCORI is an independent entity and that its research would include minorities, women and persons with co-morbidities.
Dr. Patrick Gee works on behalf of kidney patients to change public policy and educate his community on kidney disease. Dr. Gee is a member of the Kidney Health Initiative’s Patient and Family Partnership Council (KHI PFPC). He is a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Ambassador, and he sits on the Patient Advisory Council for Renal Network 5. In his positions, he has spoken from the perspective of the dialysis patient and now he speaks from the position of a transplant recipient. He understands everything that a kidney patient must do to take care of themselves and address the health care system to better ensure that the patient receives the best care possible. He uses his knowledge and experience to make the quality of life better for those with chronic illnesses. Dr. Gee is also part of a five-year clinical trial called the APOL1 Long-Term Kidney Transplantation Outcomes Network—APOLLO. The study’s purpose is to investigate kidney disease in the Black community, and his participation will help researchers and scientists understand the APOL1 gene and GNO 1 gene. It will also help Black patients get a better match for organs based on these genes that are more prevalent in the Black community. Dr. Gee is also a dedicated American Kidney Fund Ambassador.
Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., FAAFP
Dr. Eduardo Sanchez obtained his M.D. from the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, an M.P.H. from the UT Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health, and an M.S. in biomedical engineering from Duke University. He holds a B.S. in biomedical engineering and a B.A. in chemistry from Boston University. Dr. Sanchez is board certified in family medicine.
Dr. Sanchez serves as Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Prevention and is the American Heart Association’s (AHA) lead on Target:BP (a joint initiative with the American Medical Association), Know Diabetes by Heart™ (a joint initiative with the American Diabetes Association) and COVID-19-related activities. Prior to joining AHA, he served as Vice President and CMO for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) and before that, he served as director of the Institute for Health Policy at the University of Texas (UT) School of Public health. Dr. Sanchez served as Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services from 2004-6 and Commissioner of the Texas Department of Health from 2001-4. He oversaw the SARS response in 2003-4, the influenza vaccine shortage of 2004, and the response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. He served as the local public health officer in Austin-Travis County from 1994-8. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Trust for America’s Health. He has served on numerous health-related boards and advisory committees at the local, state and national levels. From 2008-12, he served as chair of the Advisory Committee to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Dr. Stacey Johnson
Dr. Stacey Johnson is the Assistant Regional Director of the Northeast Region of Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc. Chi Eta Phi is an international, nonprofit, professional organization for registered professional nurses and student nurses. Dr. Johnson has been a practicing registered nurse for over 23 years and currently is the Chief Nurse Officer at a leading health care organization .Her leadership, combined with the outstanding efforts of 50+ employees, has positioned her team to be effective in customer service, patient safety, and health information/medical technologies. Dr. Johnson is affiliated with several professional organizations: Chi Eta Phi Sorority Inc. for over 24 years, Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society, National Black Nurses Association (NBNA)-NY chapter, American Nurses Association, and Case Management Society of America and The Westchester Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.