Public Health and ABAC Host Second Annual Health Equity Summit

TIFTON – The Georgia Department of Public Health’s South Health District and Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) proudly hosted the second annual Health Equity Summit on March 11, at the ABAC Campus. The event’s focus was to increase awareness and understanding of the significance of health equity and the necessity of accessible healthcare for all individuals.

The Health Equity Summit brought together healthcare professionals, community leaders, policymakers, educators, and advocates to engage in discussions and workshops focused on addressing disparities in healthcare access and outcome and promote health equity in the diverse communities across South Georgia.

“With more than 130 attendees for this year’s summit, we hope that more people are being made aware of the health disparities facing our communities and will help us take steps to help find ways to correct these inequities,” said Traci Gosier, Health Promotion Coordinator with South Health District. “Health equity is a fundamental human right and should be a priority for everyone. By coming together at events like the Health Equity Summit, we can identify opportunities for collaboration and begin to work on solutions to improve health outcomes for everyone.”

The keynote speaker for this year’s summit was Dr. Jackie Mesenbrink with Georgia Southern University focusing on the topic of Collaborating across sectors to Encourage Community Engagement and Partnerships.

Breakout sessions were offered throughout the day. Presenters included: Kelly Saxon. Community Change Agent; Dr. Yelena Tarasenko, Georgia Southern University; Tiffany Crowell RN, MSN/MBA Perinatal Executive Director; Dr. Adrian Israel Martinez-Franco, Professor and Department Head of Rural Studies, ABAC; Lauren Jafojo, Policy Health Advisor of the Governor; and Teresa Connor, Owner of Connor Group Pediatric Therapy.

Two panels were also offered. The first afternoon panel focused on A Collaborative Approach at Advancing Health Equity. Panelists included Dr. Tilicia Mayo-Gamble, Georgia Southern University; Teresa Conner, Connor Group Pediatric Therapy, Owner; Kia Tootle, Chronic Disease Prevention Section Director, DPH; and Sandra Tooley, City Councilwoman, City of Valdosta. The second panel was a student panel from ABAC Rural Studies and focused on Conversation to Address the Mental Health Needs in our Communities. Panelists included Laurenn Brenneman, Loisann Friedman, Beyonce’ Parker, Yelena Shell and Alexis Mack.

During the event, various health care partners and organizations set up booths to provide education and information about their services to attendees.

For more information on South Health District and the programs available through public health, visit