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HomeStarting the Conversation: Episode 3

Starting the Conversation: Episode 3

Over the last year, we’ve been reminded that systemic racism has had a devastating impact on our society. For centuries, health inequities have contributed to Black Americans and people of color suffering worse health outcomes than their white neighbors. This six-episode series, hosted by Michael Sneed, Executive Vice President, Johnson & Johnson, features conversations with Black doctors and nurses on the front lines of health equity with the hope that by Starting the Conversation and listening, we create empathy. Through empathy, we gain understanding. And, through understanding, we inspire change.

New York: If not us, who?

New York is one of the largest and most racially diverse cities in the country, yet the gap between Black and white health outcomes could not be more pronounced. Michael Sneed, Executive Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs & Chief Communication Officer at Johnson & Johnson, continues the Starting the Conversation series speaking with two physicians and community organizers who have answered the question: “If not us, who?” These healthcare heroes are working to meet people of color where they are to strengthen trust in healthcare providers.

If these conversations speak to you, please consider joining the effort by learning more about the National Medical Fellowships and National Black Nurses Association and by clicking here.

Street view of traffic and rail transit line in New York
A headshot of Michael Sneed in a blue button down shirt

Michael Sneed

Michael Sneed most recently served as Executive Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs & Chief Communication Officer, and a member of the Executive Committee at Johnson & Johnson. He is a member of the Board of Trustees at the Thomas Jefferson Health System and a member of the Board of Directors of Wayfair. He holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, from Macalester College.
Headshot of Adam Aponte, M.D., MSc, FAAP in a suit and tie

Adam Aponte, M.D., MSc, FAAP

Dr. Aponte, Chief Medical Officer, East Harlem Council for Human Services, Inc., was born and raised in East Harlem, New York, and is the sixth youngest in his large Puerto Rican family of seven children. From a very young age, he had the dream to become a physician based on his love of the sciences and the strong desire to improve the health of his community despite a lack of role models, the many deterrents and a lack of support outside of his family. Ultimately, Dr. Aponte attended the Icahn School of Medicine (SOM) at Mount Sinai, a school located in the community in which he was raised. He was one of five minority students in his program even though the school is located in a minority community. From a clinical standpoint, Dr. Aponte has worked in communities like Brownsville, New York, at federally qualified health centers, helping to address the health disparities often experienced in these communities. In tandem with his clinical work, he is passionate about his work in academia addressing diversity, inclusion and policy change at Mount Sinai SOM and the Zucker SOM at Hofstra/Northwell.
Julius Johnson, DNP, RN, FNP-BC smiling near a beach with a stethoscope resting on his shoulders

Julius Johnson, DNP, RN, FNP-BC

Growing up, Johnson—who is now Department Chair, School of Nursing at LIU Brooklyn - Long Island University, and President of the Greater NYC Black Nurses Association—was exposed to a lack of adequate healthcare services at a young age. As a child, he began to see nursing as a way to get out of his community, but only later would he realize that it was also his way to give back to his community. He holds B.S. and FNP-BC degrees from Binghamton University in Upstate New York and a DNP degree from the University of Miami, which opened his eyes to the systemic racism that is perpetuated in healthcare systems. Johnson has created multiple healthcare companies and strives to give back to minorities in low-income neighborhoods, including the ones that he grew up in.

Our race to health equity

For nearly 20 years, both in our laboratories and on the ground in countries impacted by TB and MDR-TB, Johnson & Johnson has been supporting global efforts to end TB and combat AMR.
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