Community Health and Athleticism in the Age of COVID-19

The Mutola Ambassador Town Hall Series


Learn the ABCs of Beginning and Sustaining a Healthy Lifestyle Change

Wednesday, October 21, 2020, 6:30pm EST

Moderator: Daheia Barr-Anderson, PhD, MSPH

Daheia Barr-Anderson, PhD, MSPH, is an Associate Professor focusing on the behavioral aspects of physical activity at the University of Minnesota. Her research pursuits target physical activity, sedentary behaviors, and obesity prevention in children and adolescents. She is particularly interested in home- and community-based, environmental interventions that incorporate both physical activity and nutrition to achieve healthy outcomes and to decrease racial/ethnic health inequalities. Her current projects: 1) explore the factors within the home activity and food environments that interplay with individual and interpersonal factors to contribute to overweight and obesity in African-American girls age 4-8 years, and 2) examine the use of yoga to address cardiovascular risk factors in sedentary African-American women.


On a personal note, Dr. Barr-Anderson has been married to Rodney for 19 years and they have two daughters age 9 and 10. She is a yoga, running, and cycling enthusiast who loves to learn and try new things. Her hope is to one day conquer her fear of deep water and swim as well as her daughters. Her motto in life is “To whom much is given, much is required.”

Panelist: Jammie Hopkins, DrPH, MS, MSCR

As a health disparities researcher, educator, and wellness professional, Dr. Jammie Hopkins is committed to operating at the intersections of research, practice, and policy to promote healthy lifestyles and eliminate health disparities among vulnerable populations. Dr. Hopkins is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine, and Director of the Healthier Campus Initiative at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA.


Dr. Hopkins’ research and practical interests center on the dissemination and implementation of “healthy by default” physical activity, healthy eating, and other wellness strategies in various settings (community, workplace, healthcare settings). He is particularly focused on the training and strategic engagement of peer wellness coaches; exploring factors associated with resilience in lifestyle behavior management; and improving cross-sector linkages to physical activity, healthy eating, and stress management assets. An additional emerging interest area for Dr. Hopkins is physical and psychosocial wellness among LGBTQ+ communities of color. 

Panelist: Shayla Toombs-Withers, DO

Having practiced a plant based diet for over 15 years and over the past 5 years, a vegan diet, Dr. Shayla Toombs-Withers has strived to incorporate her lifestyle into educating her patients in how to improve and overcome their chronic diseases as a Family Physician. She founded the Essence of Health Wellness Clinic in Chattanooga, TN in 2019 so that she could combine her deep knowledge of medicine, plant based nutrition, and athletic training to provide comprehensive primary care to her patients using a Direct Primary Care Model. Dr. Toombs-Withers earned a Doctorate Degree in Osteopathic Medicine from the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed Residency training in Family Medicine at The University of Cincinnati and Christ Hospital. Her basis for health is in line with two of her favorite quotes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and “let food be thy medicine.”

Panelist: Karen Goodlett, MD

Karen Goodlett MD is currently practicing with Kaiser Permanente in Atlanta, GA as a physician in the Adult Medicine Department and also as the Assistant Physician Program Director of Quality Resource Management.


Seven years ago, she adopted a Low-Fat Whole Food Plant-based nutrition lifestyle upon learning the power of this type of diet to prevent and reverse many of the common chronic diseases that beset our nation and world – obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and auto-immune disorders. Although she has promoted a healthy lifestyle to her patients for years, she now enthusiastically shares this evidence-based dietary information with them to assist in combating their health challenges.


Dr. Goodlett has also been a co-leader with the Wellness Committee at work in sponsoring multiple 21-Day Plant Power Challenges to encourage their Staff to explore adopting plant-based nutrition. Her favorite health quote is "The answer to the American health crisis is the food we choose to put in our mouths each day. It's as simple as that." - by T. Colin Campbell, Phd, Cornell University Nutritional Biochemist.


In her spare time, Dr. Goodlett enjoys reading, gardening, quilting, walking and dancing. She graduated from the Washington University School of Medicine in 1982 and completed her Internal Medicine residency training at the George Washington University Hospital. She is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Lifestyle Medicine.

What’s the Connection between Cross Training and Good Health?

Wednesday, November 4, 2020, 6:30pm EST

Moderator: Nicole Bailey, LCSW, PhD

Nicole Bailey, LCSW, PhD (pronouns: she/they) who is a Queer BIPoC License Clinical Social Work and holds a Doctoral Degree in Counseling. They are the lead therapist and co-founder of Chiron Counseling, LLC in metro Atlanta. They help individuals of the LGBTQIA+ / sexual or relationship minority communities to restore balance and reconnect to their higher selves by creating a safe space where Mental Health intersect with spirituality and holistic approaches.


Nicole has finished three 70.3 Ironman distances and completed numerous Olympic and sprint races since 2015. They believe in the power of whole health and wellness.

Panelist: Debra Carlton, MD

Debra G. Carlton, MD, is an Internal Medicine physician. She is currently Associate Medical Director of Care and Service Experience at Kaiser Permanente, Georgia. Dr. Carlton has a deep commitment to the wellbeing of patients and Atlanta’s communities. As an internist, her focus has always been on prevention and treatment of chronic illness. More recently, Dr. Carlton’s personal journey and professional interests have led her to broaden her Internal Medicine knowledge to include Lifestyle Medicine. Lifestyle Medicine is the practice of helping individuals and families adopt and sustain positive behaviors that are scientifically proven to optimize health and quality of life. Lifestyle practices related to nutrition, physical fitness, sleep, stress, smoking, alcohol use, and positive relationships are among the most important health determinants. Adopting healthy behaviors is foundational to the health and well-being of individuals, our families, and our communities.


Among Dr. Carlton’s achievements have been Kaiser Permanente Physician of the Year, KP Administrative Physician of the Year, winner of the Atlanta Best Self Magazine Over 40 and Fabulous contest, and YWCA Women of Achievement award. Her career achievements have been highlighted in The Atlanta Business Chronicle and the Atlanta Journal Constitution.


Dr. Carlton thrives through regular exercise, reading, and volunteering. She is a triathlete and a member of the Open Hand Atlanta Board of Directors, where she also volunteers to assure that healthy meals are delivered to people with chronic illness and those facing food insecurity.


Dr. Carlton received her bachelor’s degree in Life Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her MD from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She is board ceritified in Internal Medicine. 

Panelist: Mildred Thompson, MSW

Mildred Thompson is a consultant, coach and artist, working with others as a catalyst for change. Her primary focus has been on advancing health equity values, policies and practices within the Public Health community, both locally and nationally.


Some of the groups Mildred has worked with in this capacity include:

 San Diego (CA) Public Health

 Riverside and Coachella Valley (CA) Public Health

 Alameda County Health Alliance

 Imperial County (CA) Public Health

 New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

 Collaborative of Southern Oregon

 Hillsborough/Pinellas County Fast Tracking Cities Initiative


Prior to working as an independent consultant, Thompson was Senior Director at PolicyLink, and Director of its Center for Health Equity and Place. She was Division Director of Alameda County Public Health Department’s Community Health Services and was director of two Maternal and Child Health initiatives. Mildred served as Director, San Antonio Health Center for six years. She has also served as Co-Chair, of the Institute of Medicine’s Roundtable on Promotion of Health Equity and Elimination of Health Disparities, Member of the Health Disparities Subcommittee of the CDC Director’s Advisory Committee and Advisor to Dartmouth School of Medicine’s Center for Health Equity. Mildred is also board Member of Zellerbach Family Foundation.

Dominique Harmon, LCSW, RYT200

Dominique Harmon is a licensed clinical social worker and yoga instructor with a passion for holistic health and wellness. She integrates her training in psychotherapy, yoga, and health coaching, to support her clients in reaching and sustaining their optimal cognitive, social and emotional wellbeing.


Dominique obtained her masters in social work from Clark Atlanta University and completed post-graduate training at Yale University School of Medicine’s Child Study Center. She is a former staff member of the Emory University Student Counseling Center.


Dominique is in private practice in downtown Decatur, GA, where she provides individual and group psychotherapy services to college undergraduate and graduate students, adolescent girls, and adults.

Dominique is a Yoga Alliance certified yoga instructor and additionally has completed a 50 hour meditation teacher immersion, and a 95 hour yoga teacher training in devotional yoga in order to support her own and student’s spiritual and soul care practices.


You can learn more about Dominique by visiting her website, www.alifelivedonpurpose.com

Tapping into the Influencer in You: Recruiting Community Members

Wednesday, November 18, 2020, 6:30pm EST

Moderator: Ayanna Rakhu, M.S.

Ayanna Rakhu, M.S. Kinesiology Athlete Development Specialist Ayanna Rakhu is a movement therapist and athlete development specialist. She earned a Bachelors of Science in Athletic Training from McKendree University and a Masters of Science in Kinesiology with an emphasis in sport psychology from the University of Minnesota. She is currently completing her Ph.D. in Kinesiology (University of Minnesota) with an emphasis in behavioral aspects of physical activity.


Ayanna uses her expertise to help high performing individuals reach their optimal level of physical and mental performance. She is passionate about helping her clients’ function at their highest potential. Her movement practices focus on increasing range of motion, releasing muscle tension, relieving pain and stress, improving balance and flexibility, improving athletic performance, treating chronic pain/ailments, and preparing the body for physical activity or sporting competition. She uses a blend of psychological, physiological, and metaphysical techniques to rehabilitate injury and strengthen the entire body, while enhancing the mind-body connection to create overall healing, balance, and well-being. Ayanna is also an avid swimmer, SSI Certified Scuba diver, and USA Swimming coach, who is passionate about raising awareness for the importance of swimming in the African American community.

Panelist: Bennie Butler Newroth, M.S.

Bennie Butler Newroth was born and raised in Columbus, Georgia. She studied sociology at North Carolina A & T State University where she received a B.B. degree. She received an M.S. in social work from Columbia University in New York.

Ms. Newroth has worked extensively in the field of social work and health care. She retired from Columbus Regional Health Care System as Director of Government Relations. In that capacity she successfully lobbied for healthcare issues on the local, state and national level.

She is the founder and director of “You Grow Girl”, a leadership development program for young girls.


Ms. Newroth is the author of Mama Said, a collection of proverbs with an African – American perspective and Voices from the Villages, a collection of home remedies and proverbs. She is co-author of Life According to Coopwood., political guidance delivered in folk-witty one-liners.


A tireless public speaker, social work and political consultant, Ms. Newroth has presented many professional papers and workshops on human relations, social work, politics and leadership issues. As a community activist, she has received several awards including The Girl Scouts “Woman of Achievement”, “Nation Builder” recipient from the National Black Caucus State Legislators and the “Grace Towns Hamilton Leadership Award” from the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus.

Panelist: Fatimot Ladipo, M.S.

Walton Bradley Consulting Principal, Fatimot Ladipo, has over 20 years of experience in government and community affairs, including several years focused on education legislative issues. During her years focused on education policy, she worked for Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Student Finance Commission and Kennesaw State University. At Georgia Institute of Technology, she worked as assistant director of federal relations where she promoted the strategic vision and goals of the Institute as they pertained to federal research and education programs and policies. Ladipo also worked as the legislative and media liaison for the Georgia Student Finance Commission, the state agency that administers the HOPE Scholarship and as Executive Director of Government Relations for Kennesaw State University. In her role at Kennesaw State, she served as the liaison to state and federal policymakers, University System of Georgia officials, and business and civic leaders and was responsible for identifying priorities for KSU and developing action plans that require governmental, legislative and community support.


Ladipo was the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs (IGA) in the Mayor’s Office, City of Atlanta where she manages the IGA team and is the lead lobbyist on local, state and federal legislative issues for the city of Atlanta. Prior to joining the City of Atlanta, Ladipo was Regional Director for External Affairs for AT&T. She was responsible for advancing AT&T’s legislative and regulatory agenda at the local and state level as well as working with the AT&T Foundation, administering local grants. Ladipo also worked as director of government affairs for the Georgia Dental Association, where she oversaw all government relations activities, including lobbying federal, state and local officials and educating association members about the legislative activities of the organization. Ladipo graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts in African American Studies and earned a Master of Science in Public Policy from Georgia Institute of Technology.

Panelist: U.S. Air Force Colonel Yvonne Spencer

Colonel Yvonne Spencer is an 8-time Ironman and long course FINISHER. She is a 2020 USA Long Course Triathlon Team Member and multiple year AllWorld Athlete. In addition to numerous triathlon finishes in all distances, she’s an avid runner who has completed 14 marathons including a 2020 Boston Marathon qualifier. She has been coaching since 2017 and is a USA Triathlon Level 1 Certified Coach and RRCA Certified Coach.


In a 26-year military career, Yvonne has served in a variety of leadership positions and has commanded organizations ranging from 300 to 1,200 personnel. Despite living in 5 countries and relocating 14 times, triathlon has been a constant in her life. It has been key to her resiliency and work/life (im)balance. When Yvonne is not wearing the uniform, she translates her leadership talents into bringing more women to triathlon. In 2015, she built an inspirational, supportive, and empowering network of women known as Fast Chix. Fast Chix is a National Women’s Triathlon Group that strives to Remove Barriers, Empower and Educate women by providing positive engagement, shared experiences and a supportive environment for triathletes at all levels. Fast Chix efforts include annual race meetups, educational clinics, fitness panels, book clubs and monthly challenges. While the group is primarily women of color, Fast Chix is inclusive of all women who want to rise above mediocre. To date, Fast Chix has nearly 1,000 online members!


Yvonne still serves in the Air Force and currently resides in Arlington, Virginia.

Harnessing the Power of Hi Tech & Low Tech to Get Folks Moving

Wednesday, December 2, 2020, 6:30pm EST

Moderator: Asherah Allen, PhD

As a health and physical educator and an avid participant in aquatics aquatic activities, Dr. Asherah Allen is continuously working to teach all people about optimal health and wellness practices and aquatics. Dr. Allen's mission is to inform all people about the importance of water safety and drowning prevention techniques, specifically advocating for people in underrepresented and minority communities. Interaction with the community through BlackGirlSwim, swim lessons, forums, and research, she wants to create a movement that will help reverse the disparity among minority groups in aquatics. She wants this movement to positively impact our communities, our schools, and our world!


With over 12 years of experience as an American Red Cross Certified Lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor, teaching people of all ages about water safety skills and proper swimming techniques has become her passion. In 2004, Dr. Allen attended "The Unsinkable" Albany State University and due to her interest physical activity and teaching, she pursued a Bachelor's Degree in Health and Physical Education. While attending ASU, she realized that she wanted to gain as much knowledge as she could to become a great physical educator and chose to further her education. In 2009, she began her graduate studies at Auburn University, earning Master of Education Degree in Physical Education 2010 and PhD in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Physical Education and Motor Development in 2013. She is continuously seeking ways educate herself so she can be of help to others.


She wants to continue help showing the world, especially Black people, the importance of learning water safety skills and how to swim. Swimming is a great physical activity with amazing benefits to our overall wellness. Dr. Allen is so glad to share her journey and hopefully perspectives and experiences will inspire everyone to that see swimming is a great option to choose from in being physically active!

Miriam Lynch

Miriam Lynch is an advocate for increasing aquatic opportunities and water safety education to all. She works in collaboration with various organizations to raise awareness, create community partnerships, and develop solutions to reduce the “drowning gap.” Miriam is the CEO of Diversity in Aquatics, whose goals are to Educate, Promote, and Support swimming, water safety, and healthy aquatic activities in underrepresented populations. She also works as a full-time teacher and curriculum lead at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Virginia. In addition, Miriam has coached the Nation's Capital Swim Club, served on the board of USA Swimming National Diversity Committee and the Eastern Zone, and has served as a chairperson for the Potomac Valley Swimming Diversity and Inclusion.

Keicha Barnum

Sports, dance and fitness have always been a part of Keicha’s world. Both the thrill of competition and meeting physical fitness goals drive her pursuits. After a challenging move from Maryland to Georgia in 2006, Keicha found herself looking for new fitness challenges and ways to connect with the fitness community. She joined a gym that supported swim, bike and run training/events. While there she was introduced to new training options that would take her out of her comfort zone and into new levels of physical fitness and competition. With very little to no knowledge about cycling or swimming Keicha joined master swim classes, cycling groups and a local triathlon community group to train for her first event. In 2011 she completed the My First Tri event at Lake Lanier. She often says, “It wasn’t pretty, but it was beautiful!” when describing the close to last place finish that made her a triathlete and provided an experience of triumph over many fears and physical limitations.


Since that first triathlon, Keicha has competed in over a dozen events along the east coast. She considers her excitement about tri life infectious and warns family and friends who join her for training or at tri events that they may “Catch the Bug”.


Keicha Barnum is the proud mother of 3, and GiGi to two energetic grands. She is an entrepreneur and owner of Barnum Creative Resources, and founder of BCR Teched, a S.T.E.A.M academy for K-12 students. As a self-proclaimed geek, she can most often be found animating, designing, 3D printing or coding something new. Although her geeky lifestyle is a major part of her daily routine, she always finds time to swim, bike and run and believes it is fuel for her soul..

Derrick Britton

Derrick Britton is a Systems Engineer for a government contractor. Outside of finding solutions to problems throughout the day, he spends his spare time enjoying a variety of sports and making a positive impact on the African American community. He is a member of numerous organizations that use social media to meet their goals. A previous endeavor was being successful at Search Engine Optimization, which uses skills to attract online traffic.


Derrick is currently a triathlete and triathlon coach based in Atlanta, Georgia. He has been racing since 2014. Despite not knowing how to swim, he took 6 months of lessons before his first pool triathlon, and has now completed 5 full Ironman races in multiple countries. When he is not training, he is helping organizations increase the number of African American triathletes.

Panelist: Adrienne Wesley

Ms. Adrienne Wesley, is a Water Safety Instructor, Swim Coach, and the Creator of Swim Life Fitness, LLC. Swim Life Fitness is dedicated to exposing the benefits of aquatic fitness through education, skill, and recreation. Swim Life Fitness’s mission and methodology is supported by scientific evidence that promotes that swimming is a life skill essential for not only survival, but also an enriched skill for overall wellness. Ms. Wesley develops quality aquatic programs and services, which include Water Safety Education, Parent/Child Adaptive Aquatic, Stroke Development, aquatic instructional services, which include, outreach focusing on persons with disabilities and underrepresented communities. 


Currently Ms. Wesley serves as the chair of Diversity in Aquatics Adapted Aquatics committee, head swim coach in Atlanta Public Schools, and co-host of The Swim Culture Podcast. Ms. Wesley has developed partnerships with Autism Speaks Georgia, Dekalb Aquatics (USA Swim Club), Atlanta Parks & Recreation, and Make a Splash- USA Swim Foundation. Ms. Wesley is an advocate for water safety education and aquatic education, continuing her work teaching and influencing people in the world of swimming and aquatics.