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The Long Beach Public Health Conference is a one day conference hosted by the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services (Health Department) and it is held annually every April. This will be our 7th conference and the theme this year is Centering and Celebrating Cultures in Health.  There will be keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and panels discussing many topics related to public health and culture. The conference attracts nearly 500 people from public health and human services professionals to business and community leaders.

Conference Schedule
Wellness Flyer

Speaker Bios


Alicia Coulter, MPH, MSW

Mrs. Alicia Coulter, MPH, MSW has over 15 years of experience advocating for the Black community in the healthcare space. She has provided her expertise to Public Health Departments, Magnet Hospitals, Fortune 10 Healthcare Companies, and Non-Profits alike. Her academic experience includes her Master of Social Work centered in Critical Race Theory from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and a Master of Public Health centered in from University of California, Los Angeles. She is Co-Founder of Advantage Health Now and is committed to providing advocacy to vulnerable groups through community capacity building, executive and professional training and development, program development, and implementation. Most recently, Advantage Health Now has culminated in a funded partnership with the California Department of Public Health to provide health education to the Black community. Mrs. Coulter believes that equity in healthcare is paramount and that our healthcare system will continue to fracture if we do not effectively address the inequities in Black and Brown communities alike.

Christine Fogarty-Hollon 

Christine Fogarty-Hollon is the Owner and Founder of FreedOhm Wellness, Holistic Wellness Center. Her professional qualifications include being a licensed Holistic Health Practitioner and Life & Wellness Coach (having completed over 1,500 hours of study in physical health, mental health and metaphysical and energy healing modalities). In addition, she is a certified yoga teacher trainer and Reiki Master Teacher, having studied, practiced and written course curriculum's for both modalities. Christine has been working with communities and individual clients for over ten years as well as providing wellness seminars and workshops to both large corporations and small businesses. 
Having worked within the corporate structure for many years, both as an hourly employee and within the upper management sector, Christine has a unique perspective on how we can best begin to successfully manage the daily mental and emotional requirements of our work life while also keeping our individual personal lives balanced, productive and abundant.  

Michelle Gentle

Michelle Gentle is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been in the field for almost 20 years. She is currently the Clinical Supervisor for The Welcome Baby Program at MemorialCare Miller Children's Hospital, Long Beach. She oversees the clinical services of staff who provide home visitation services and support to pregnant and postpartum families. From 2011-2021 she taught for the USC School of Social Work, teaching the Grief and Loss course to MSW students. As a frontline worker herself she has seen the need for ongoing support and education for those who help others. To serve that need, she has provided multiple trainings throughout Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and to the California Department of Public Health. She is currently working with the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services providing mental health and supportive services to their employees.  

Patti LaPlace

Patti was recently appointed as the new Executive Director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at California State University, Long Beach. She currently holds the position of Lecturer at California State University Long Beach with the Recreation and Leisure Studies Department in the College of Health and Human Services. Prior to this position, Patti was the Mental Health Coordinator with the City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies from CSULB and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from California State University, Dominguez Hills. Patti has worked in Mental Health for over 30 years and has been recognized for her work with the City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, California Park and Recreation Society, Recreation Therapy Section, Mental Health America, Long Beach Police Department, and VA Long Beach Healthcare System. In addition, she has done numerous presentations for CPRS, City or Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, Long Beach Police Department, Long Beach City College, and other special interest groups in the greater Long Beach area. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for both Mental Health America, Community Health Advisory Committee for St. Mary Hospital in Long Beach, and Alternative 4 Vets as well as a community volunteer for various non-profit and advocacy organizations.  

Dr. Tracey S. McNamara

Dr. McNamara specializes in the recognition and understanding of the diseases of captive and free-ranging wildlife and is best known for her work on the discovery of the West Nile virus in 1999. Her role in the discovery of the West Nile virus is described in the September 2000 GAO report “West Nile Virus – Lessons for Public Health Emergency Preparedness”. She is credited as having “served a central role as a unifying force, molding and sometimes forcing interrelationships between local and federal government agencies and private enterprises, enabling progress toward the common goal of monitoring a newly emerging disease in the United States.” The Scientist (March 4, 2002) 

In 2004 she worked on DTRA’s “Integrated Biosurveillance for Zoonotic Threats” program in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Georgia. She served as lead on a project with Russian colleagues on the “Human-Animal Interface: Improving Biological Threat Detection and Surveillance in Russia” by the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s Global Health and Biosecurity program in Wash. DC. Dr McNamara served as a consultant to the National Biosurveillance Advisory Subcommittee (NBAS) from 2008-2009 and continues to be actively involved in the development of the Nation’s biosurveillance strategy. She gave a TEDxUCLA talk in 2018 entitled “Canaries in the Coalmine” about continued gaps in biosurveillance for for emerging biological threats.  

Dr. McNamara is a founding member of the Global Health Security Alliance (GloHSA) working with German/US military, the United Nations, medical intelligence and security sectors. She chaired a panel on “Disease X” at the World Health Summit, Berlin, 2018. She helped organize a meeting at the Salzburg Global Seminar on One Health Metrics in November 2019 and is a Salzburg Fellow. She is actively involved in the One Health movement and advocates for a species neutral approach to the detection of pandemic threats. Most recently, she was asked to be a member of the “Red Dawn Breaking Team” on COVID-19, a group of experts advising the Asst Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) of the United States. In 2021, she was asked to convene a group of subject matter experts to draft One Health legislation. The “One Health Security Act” (S. 5354) was introduced by Senator Gillibrand to the 117th Congress. The bill addresses long standing impediments to operationalizing One Health in the United States and will lead to lasting change in our ability to prevent, detect and respond to emerging threats. 


Dr. Seth Pickens

Seth Pickens is an educator on a mission to facilitate heaven on earth. This deep purpose has led him to serve in numerous capacities, including as a school teacher, a sales executive, and a Peace Corps Volunteer in Haiti. Currently, he is a project director for the Economic Roundtable, leading a philanthropic partnership piloting innovations at the intersection of homelessness services, workforce development, higher education, and trauma-informed care.  He also serves as program director for the April Parker Foundation, where he leads several health initiatives for underserved Long Beach residents. 
Ordained in the American Baptist Church in 2009, Rev. Pickens currently serves as the pastor/spiritual director of Guidance Church of Religious Science in Los Angeles. Seth holds a B.A. in Psychology from Morehouse College, an M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and an Ed.D. from the University of Southern California. 
Dr. Pickens' engaging, approachable style reflects his commitment to promoting healing, inspiration, and joy in the world.  

Esmeralda "Esme" Garcia

Esmeralda Garcia serves as the Disability Access and Functional Needs Coordinator with the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Emergency Management Division. In this role, she works closely with the Whole Community Planning Specialist and various personnel throughout the Health Department to ensure accessibility onsite at clinics, test sites, or health department events. Since joining the Public Health Emergency Management team, Esme has expanded relationships with other organizations and agencies that provide services to those with disabilities, access, and functional needs. 

Dr. LaShonda Spencer


Dr. Spencer is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, and Clinical Director of the MCA Clinic at LAC+USC Keck School of Medicine. Dr. Spencer provides primary HIV care to pediatric, adolescent and adult patients, including pregnant women. Her areas of research interest are HIV and prevention of Maternal to Child transmission, HIV disease in Women and Adolescents. Her current research projects include Antiretroviral Concentrations in Breast Milk in HIV infected Postpartum Women; Comparison of immune response in Blood and Breast Milk in HIV infected women; as well as several International Dr. Spencer Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials Group sponsored studies. Dr. Spencer has recently been selected for a grant award for AIDS United Dissemination of Evidence-Informed Interventions grantee for the Enhanced Patient Navigation for HIV-Positive Women of Color (Navigation WoC) intervention.

Cindy Escarcega

Cynthia Escarcega serves as the Whole Community Planning Specialist with the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Emergency Management Division. In this role, she works closely with Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), Faith Based Organizations (FBOs), and the department's Racial Health Equity Team (RHET) to provide the latest scientific information and data to help develop strategies that reach under-resourced communities. Also working closely with the DAFN Coordinator, she has utilized her experience as a Speech Language Pathology Assistant (SLP-A) to help develop tools and resources for individuals on the spectrum to ensure health department clinics are inclusive.