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Unbossed

THE SEATTLE MEDIUM — In 2015, the United Nations adopted a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as targets for global development to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. Among these goals is a mandate to “substantially reduce the proportion of youth (aged 15 – 24) not in employment, education or training.” Unlike most SDG targets set for the year 2030, this particular target is set to be achieved by 2020.

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Pamela J. Oakes (Photo by: profitable-nonprofit.com)

By Pamela J. Oakes, The Profitable Nonprofit

I run my own nonprofit consulting business. My brother runs his own real estate appraisal business. My father owned his own real estate company. One of my grandmothers ran her own hair salon. Another grandmother and grandfather owned a restaurant and my great-great grandfather was a country doctor and landlord. When it comes to entrepreneurship, you could say I was born into it.

While I have spent many (many) years in the corporate world, punching clocks, submitting timesheets, negotiating pay raises and begging for…I mean…requesting time off, there is something satisfying and extremely empowering knowing that I have the aptitude and competence to generate my own income. Sadly, entrepreneurial skills are quickly becoming a lost art.

In 2015, the United Nations adopted a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as targets for global development to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. Among these goals is a mandate to “substantially reduce the proportion of youth (aged 15 – 24) not in employment, education or training.” Unlike most SDG targets set for the year 2030, this particular target is set to be achieved by 2020.

Including a youth employment goal makes perfect sense. To quote the United Nations, “ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and address a range of social needs including education…and job opportunities.” The only problem I see is that in this day of corporate restructuring, layoffs, retrenchment and downsizing, people of color are usually the last ones to get hired and the first ones shown the door. Without a backup plan, unemployed youth very quickly become unemployed adults!

Entrepreneurship is a viable means to circumvent chronic unemployment in populations of color and needs to be REQUIRED learning in schools. Along with a mortarboard and a piece of paper, we should demand that our young people be “innovation ready” – meaning that they are equipped with the requisite abstract thought, problem solving, communication and collaboration skills that will enable them to invent their own careers.

Despite the billions of dollars pumped into our education system, U.S. high schools, colleges and universities are still primed to churn out employees NOT employers. Entrepreneurism can stimulate the economy by promoting economic opportunity. It can also serve as an agent of social justice and one way to dismantle the “preschool to prison pipe-line” disproportionately experienced by Black and Brown youth. Entrepreneur education benefits students from all socioeconomic backgrounds by helping them think outside-the-box, tap into their unrealized potential and nurture unconventional skills and abilities.

Taking a cue from Shirley Chisolm, the first Black woman to ever be elected to the U.S. Congress and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, entrepreneur education teaches how to be unbought and UNBOSSED!

Pamela J. Oakes, Managing Director of The Profitable Nonprofit, is a funding consultant helping small and emerging nonprofits achieve funding sustainability. Pamela previously worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

This article originally appeared in The Seattle Medium.

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Advice

Work Toward Your Own Financial Independence Day

PASADENA JOURNAL — For starters, you’ll want to determine what financial independence means to you. Is it the liberty to meet all your cash fl ow needs? The freedom to retire comfortably, at the age you choose? The ability to set up the kind of legacy you’d like to leave? If any or all of these things are important to you, consider the following suggestions:

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By Arnetta Tolley, Edward Jones Financial Advisor

Once again, it’s time for fireworks, picnics and parades as the nation celebrates Independence Day. Collectively, we enjoy many liberties, but some freedoms can be elusive – and financial freedom is one of them. What actions can you take to help yourself eventually declare your own financial independence?

Arnetta Tolley

Arnetta Tolley

For starters, you’ll want to determine what financial independence means to you. Is it the liberty to meet all your cash fl ow needs? The freedom to retire comfortably, at the age you choose? The ability to set up the kind of legacy you’d like to leave? If any or all of these things are important to you, consider the following suggestions:

  • Liberate yourself from oppressive debts. The cost of living is certainly not cheap, so it’s hardly surprising that so many people incur significant debt. Yet, the higher your debt load, the less you’ll have available to invest for the future. Debt might be one of the biggest barriers you face on the road to your financial independence. To avoid piling on too much debt, live within your means. Take steps such as saving for a vacation, rather than putting it all on your credit card, and getting just one more year out of that old car. Look for bargains everywhere – and find out what you can live without. And if you have sizable debts, see if you can consolidate them and lower your interest payments.
  • Free yourself from chaotic investing. The financial markets can be unpredictable – but that doesn’t mean your investment moves have to be chaotic. So, for example, instead of responding to a sudden plunge in stock prices by selling stocks that still may be fundamentally sound with strong growth potential, you might be much better off by holding your ground. And you’ll be in a better position to do nothing during periods of market volatility when you’ve already done something – namely, built an investment portfolio that reflects your goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. With this type of portfolio in place, you’ll be in a good position to overlook the day-to-day fluctuations in the market and keep your focus on your long-term goals.
  • Unleash the potential in your retirement plan. Your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored plan is a great way to save for retirement. You can contribute pre-tax dollars, so the more you put in, the lower your taxable income, and your earnings can grow tax deferred. (With a Roth 401(k), you put in after-tax dollars, but your withdrawals are tax-free, provided you meet certain conditions.)
    But despite these tax advantages, your 401(k)’s full potential won’t be realized unless you fund it adequately. Try to contribute as much as you can afford each year and increase your contributions as your salary goes up. Another way to uncap your 401(k)’s potential is by choosing appropriate investments. Your 401(k) likely contains a dozen or more investment options, so you’ll want a mix that offers the greatest possibilities for growth within the context of your personal risk tolerance.

Gaining your financial independence requires time and commitment. But once you’ve achieved this freedom, you’ll know it was worth the effort. And who knows? You might even want to wave a sparkler or two to celebrate.

[Arnetta Tolley, Financial Advisor, Edward Jones, 626-744-2740 or arnetta.tolley@edwardjones.com]

This article originally appeared in the Pasadena Journal

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Advice

Living Our ‘Best Lives’. Or Are We?

THE FLORIDA STAR — With drastic advances in technology and the overuse, and oftentimes misuse, of social media research indicates that heavy social media use may also lead to fewer meaningful in-person (or real) human interactions. Without meaningful social interactions, it is virtually impossible for friends, family and loved ones to detect that there may be any issues or mental health concerns. Let’s face it, we post our best pictures on social media, snap shots of our favorite meals from those 5 star restaurants, fast and expensive cars, lavish vacations riding horses on the beaches of Aruba, jet-skiing on South Beach in Miami, the best and biggest houses, the nicest cars, clothes and jewelry and the list goes on. These images on social media often depict the persona of a life that is unbothered, free from stress, what can appear to be ‘perfect’.

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Dr. Sheila D. Williams (Photo by: thefloridastar.com)

By Dr. Sheila D. Williams

With drastic advances in technology and the overuse, and oftentimes misuse, of social media research indicates that heavy social media use may also lead to fewer meaningful in-person (or real) human interactions. Without meaningful social interactions, it is virtually impossible for friends, family and loved ones to detect that there may be any issues or mental health concerns. Let’s face it, we post our best pictures on social media, snap shots of our favorite meals from those 5 star restaurants, fast and expensive cars, lavish vacations riding horses on the beaches of Aruba, jet-skiing on South Beach in Miami, the best and biggest houses, the nicest cars, clothes and jewelry and the list goes on. These images on social media often depict the persona of a life that is unbothered, free from stress, what can appear to be ‘perfect’.

This ‘perfect’ persona that many portray of themselves and the lives they live, is unrealistic and promotes a false image that many children and young adults feel immense pressure to live up to. By constantly being bombarded by the need to ‘fit in’ and overwhelming feelings of not measuring up, the unhealthy comparison to those on social media who have ‘perfect lives’ has led to increased rates of depression, thoughts, attempts and completion of suicide. Sure many of us can discern between what we see on social media and what is truly ‘reality’, but for children and those already suffering from low self-esteem, or emotional and/or psychological disorders, the constant images of others living their ‘Best Lives’, can lead to increased levels of stress and depression for those that are observing.

While income inequality and the percent of uninsured adults in the US has drastically increased, so has the rates of suicide. Did you know that suicide occurs in the US approximately once every 12 minutes and that suicide now claims two-and-a-half times as many lives in the U.S. than homicides? So why is it that we are not focusing more attention on this epidemic? Why are we not addressing this issue and the factors that lead up to suicidal ideations and attempts? Why are we not addressing the need for mental health services for children in schools, prisons or even hospitals?

I propose we take a minute to regain focus. Let’s be real with ourselves, FIRST. We have to get back to the basics of understanding that we are all a work in progress. None of us are perfect. In fact, to even think that we have perfect bodies, perfect hair, perfect relationships, perfect finances, perfect careers/jobs, and relationships is unrealistic and a set-up for disastrous thinking. Let’s get back to having ‘human interaction’. Let’s talk to one another (face to face) and develop real and meaningful relationships. You know, like we used to do. Let’s turn off and unplug from social media sometimes and simply enjoy one another and this thing called ‘life’. Let’s learn to enjoy the moment, be present in the moment. In fact, rather than quickly pulling out our smartphones to take pictures of those 5 star meals, let’s thank God for allowing us to be able to afford the meal, the health to enjoy the meal and even the company (if you have company) that is dining with you. As a person who loves to post and share on social media myself, I’m learning that everything doesn’t require a post and it’s okay to unplug and that, in my opinion, is how we Live Our Best Lives!

www.DrSheilaDWilliams.com

If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.

Dr. Sheila D. Williams, Ph.D.
Mental Health Advocate
Best-Selling Author of
‘My Mother’s Keeper’
Internationally Certified Speaker,
Trainer and Coach
www.DrSheilaDWilliams.com
Facebook: @DrSheila
Instagram:
@DrSheilaDWilliams
LinkedIn: @DrSheilaDWilliams
Twitter: @DrSDWilliams

This article originally appeared in The Florida Star

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Advice

Parenting Points: Redirecting Your Child’s Attention

CHICAGO DEFENDER — Gently redirect your child(ren) to what they are expected to do or where they should be. Remind them of the goal or mission and agree on a set time for its completion. Whether it is homework or watering the lawn, this directive will reset their focus, give them a clear and attainable target and make them accountable to get it done.

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Marnita Coleman (Photo by: iammarnita.com)

Okay, so who doesn’t get a little distracted? From time to time, everyone does. Our children are no exception to the rule. They are very easily distracted, so instead of getting frustrated and flying off the handle, be prepared for when it happens.

Gently redirect your child(ren) to what they are expected to do or where they should be. Remind them of the goal or mission and agree on a set time for its completion. Whether it is homework or watering the lawn, this directive will reset their focus, give them a clear and attainable target and make them accountable to get it done.

Remember, the keyword is “gently” redirect. You are meant to build them up. Therefore, speak in warm tones with age-appropriate words and remember to smile. A loud or harsh response doesn’t always yield an immediate turnaround of obedience from your child(ren). Acting and reacting with patience and love will create win-win situations.

We want our children to know the successful feeling of staying on task; a sense of accomplishment is a huge booster of self-esteem and we should help them achieve this.

So, stay calm. We must be with them when they go astray and we must be there to help them get back on track!

Marnita Coleman is an author and host of The Marnita Show, a parenting show heard daily across the globe. For more information, log onto TheMarnitaShow.com.

This article originally appeared in the Chicago Defender

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Advice

Parenting Points: Enjoying Life Together!

CHICAGO DEFENDER — Parents be mindful not to drag your children through life. How can you expect them to be grateful when their special time with you revolves around weekend errands? We know these duties are necessary but throw in a special treat that involves activities you both enjoy every now and then. Let your children know how mindful you are of them and that you value their time.

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Marnita Coleman (Photo by: iammarnita.com)

Marco and his 10-year-old son, Troy, rose early on Saturday to spend all day together.

“The early bird catches the worm,” Marco would always say.

The first stop on their route was to the barbershop for a fresh haircut and then onto the car wash. Marco was adamant about having a clean ride. Just before heading home to mow the lawn, they dropped by Walmart for some household supplies.

When they finally reached home, Troy asked, “Dad, when are we going to spend some time together?” Marco was perplexed because they had been together all day. However, Troy was referring to quality time.

Parents be mindful not to drag your children through life. How can you expect them to be grateful when their special time with you revolves around weekend errands? We know these duties are necessary but throw in a special treat that involves activities you both enjoy every now and then. Let your children know how mindful you are of them and that you value their time.

Marnita Coleman is an author and host of The Marnita Show, a parenting show heard daily across the globe. For more information, log onto TheMarnitaShow.com.

This article originally appeared in the Chicago Defender

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Advice

Smart Financial Moves for Every Stage of Life

PASADENA JOURNAL — Regardless of what stage of life you’re in, you must make financial and investment decisions that will be with you for the remainder of your years. But the moves you make when you’re just starting out in your career may be quite different from when you’re retired. So, let’s look at some of these moves, stretched out across your lifetime.

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Regardless of what stage of life you’re in, you must make financial and investment decisions that will be with you for the remainder of your years. But the moves you make when you’re just starting out in your career may be quite different from when you’re retired. So, let’s look at some of these moves, stretched out across your lifetime.

Arnetta Tolley

Arnetta Tolley

  • In your 20s and 30s: During this period, you should strive to place yourself on a sound financial footing by taking steps such as reducing, and hopefully eliminating, your student loans and embarking on saving for retirement through investments such as a 401(k) and IRA. You also might buy a home, which offers some financial benefits, but be careful not to become “house poor” by devoting too much of your monthly income to mortgage payments. If you have young children, you might also want to start saving for college, possibly through a 529 plan, which offers tax benefits, high contribution limits and the ability to switch beneficiaries, as needed. And if you do have a family, you’ll certainly need to maintain adequate life insurance. Also, since you’re at the early stages of your working life, you should chart a long-term financial and investment strategy with the help of a financial professional. Your strategy should encompass your important goals, risk tolerance and time horizon. And you’ll want to revisit your strategy regularly to accommodate changes in your life and financial situation.
  • In your 40s and 50s: These are the years in which your career advances, leading to bigger salaries. The more you earn, the more you should be putting away in your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan, along with your IRA. During the middle-to-end of this particular period, you might fi nish helping pay for your child’s higher education – which should free up even more money to put away for retirement. You also may want to consider long-term care insurance, which can help protect you against the devastating costs of an extended stay in a nursing home.
  • In your 60s, 70s … and beyond: Once you’re in this age range, chances are pretty good that you’ll either retire soon or are already retired. (Although, of course, you may well want to work part-time or do some consulting.) However, you certainly haven’t “retired” the need to make financial and investment decisions, because you’ll have plenty, including these: When should I take Social Security? Will my investment portfolio provide me with enough income to help keep me ahead of inflation? How much can I afford to withdraw each year from my retirement accounts without outliving my resources? Again, a financial professional can help you deal with these and other issues.

Also, if you haven’t done so, now is the time to draw up your estate plans, so you can leave the type of legacy you desire – one that provides for the next generation (or two) and the charitable organizations you support. You’ll need to work with a legal professional to create estate planning documents and arrangements appropriate for your needs.

You will spend a lifetime making financial and investment decisions – so put in the time and effort, and get the help you need, to make the best decisions you can.

[Arnetta Tolley, Financial Advisor, Edward Jones 626-744-2740 or arnetta.tolley@edwardjones.com.]

This article originally appeared in the Pasadena Journal

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#NNPA BlackPress

New Parents and a Newborn with Sickle Cell Disease: What Now?

NNPA NEWSWIRE — In this article, I’d like to introduce you to TaLana Hughes, a mother of three who is also the executive director of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Illinois (SCDAI). TaLana has one child with Sickle Cell Disease and two children with the sickle cell trait.

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It’s important to know that in recent years we’ve seen advances in understanding and scientific breakthroughs that are potentially paving the way for better care of people with SCD. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

Ask Dr. Kevin

By Dr. Kevin Williams , Chief Medical Officer for Rare Disease at Pfizer

The “Ask Dr. Kevin” series is brought to you by Pfizer Rare Disease in collaboration with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) to increase understanding of sickle cell disease.

Dr. Kevin Williams is the Chief Medical Officer for Rare Disease at Pfizer where he leads a Medical Affairs organization of approximately 150 medical colleagues around the globe. He pursued medicine after being inspired by his father’s work as a general practitioner in his hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Dr. Kevin is passionate about raising awareness and increasing understanding of rare diseases, such as sickle cell disease, in the African American community.

For the last two years, I’ve been honored to talk with you about sickle cell disease (SCD) through this column, sharing important information and my perspectives as a medical professional. Now, as the “Ask Dr. Kevin” series enters its third year, I wanted to change things a bit by letting you also hear directly from those who matter most—people living with SCD and their caregivers.

In this article, I’d like to introduce you to TaLana Hughes, a mother of three who is also the executive director of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Illinois (SCDAI). TaLana has one child with SCD and two children with the sickle cell trait.

As TaLana knows from both personal experience and through her work with SCDAI, learning that your child has SCD can feel overwhelming and scary. While family and friends can be an important source of support, they may not always know the best way to help—and parents may find it hard to explain what they need.

In order to help people better understand what it’s like to be a parent of a newborn with SCD, and how family and friends can be most helpful, TaLana and I share our thoughts below on some of the most common questions we’ve been asked about the topic.

What are the biggest fears and challenges parents face upon learning their child has SCD?

TaLana: Immediately after my child received the diagnosis, my husband and I experienced an initial wave of shock and fear. It became suddenly apparent that both of us have the sickle cell trait which we passed down to our child. After the initial shock wore off, a million questions started to run through our minds, and we wondered what this would ultimately mean for our daughter.

Dr. Kevin: I know that for many parents, an SCD diagnosis can certainly be overwhelming, and I see how parents may fear the worst. However, it’s important to know that in recent years we’ve seen advances in understanding and scientific breakthroughs that are potentially paving the way for better care of people with SCD.

I also can’t stress enough to new parents the importance of setting up a healthcare team for their child as soon as possible. Receiving care early and often can help reduce the impacts and complications of the disease. SCD takes a toll on all systems of the body, so having a team made up of a pediatric hematologist, primary care doctor, and other specialists, such as an eye doctor, pulmonologist, cardiologist, and dentist, is key to the health of the child.

What are some tips for helping parents cope with the news?

TaLana: I know that I needed time to digest the news to really understand how the diagnosis would impact our child and family. Once I had a stronger understanding of the disease and how it would manifest over time as my child grew, I started to have a better idea of the support needed from my family and our local community.

Dr. Kevin: I’ve seen incredible connections and support systems form when parents of a child with SCD talk with other parents going through the same thing. There’s a certain comfort that comes from talking to those who have “been there, done that.” Parents can meet other families through local community groups, online platforms like oneSCDvoice*, which includes curated content and a wealth of information for those in the SCD community, and the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA), which publishes a calendar of local SCD events around the country.

How can family and friends offer support?

TaLana: I tell parents of children with SCD to educate their loved ones about the disease and to communicate how it affects your child. Teaching others about the condition gives me the opportunity to explain what kind of specific support I need. It also allows my family and friends to figure out how to best provide support—whether it be a ride to an appointment, a change of clothes for an overnight stay in the hospital, or help with small chores at home.

Dr. Kevin: I also encourage family members and friends to learn as much as they can on their own, because there are still a number of misperceptions about the disease. For example, the belief that a baby born with SCD will die before reaching adulthood. As I mentioned in a previous article, this is a myth! The majority of children with SCD live to adulthood, thanks to advances in SCD care. However, the life expectancy of someone with SCD in the US is only between 40 and 60 years, compared to average US life expectancy of 78.8 years. By understanding the truths about SCD, family and friends are in a better position to provide meaningful support and be allies.

What tools are most helpful for new parents caring for their child with SCD?

TaLana: I always carry a notebook with me so I can take notes and keep track of my child’s “baseline” and SCD history to see how the disease manifests over time. I have an overnight bag in my trunk that includes a change of clothes and snacks. I carry a thermometer in my purse to take my child’s temperature and an incentive spirometer to help facilitate stronger breathing. I’ve also joined a group chat with other parents who have children with SCD, and this has been one of my most important tools for connecting with and learning from other parents who share this experience.

Dr. Kevin: These are great suggestions. I would also encourage parents to connect with their local SCD organization, like an SCDAA local chapter. With a disease like SCD, which is rare in the US and often misunderstood, connecting with others who have similar experiences and challenges is so important for building your support system.

Do infants experience pain crises? What are the warning signs? What is your best advice for new parents when it comes to handling a newborn having a crisis?

TaLana: Yes, infants can have pain crises. However, because they can’t communicate with words and explain any pain they are experiencing, recognizing pain crises can be difficult. In my own experience, the first warning signs are usually dactylitis, where the hands and feet begin to swell, and a fever. However, because new parents usually pay attention to anything out of the ordinary seen in their newborn, they often are able to notice how their own child displays warning signs.

When it comes to noticing something out of the ordinary in my child, I always play it safe. I also find it really beneficial to speak with other parents with children who have SCD and to learn about what they see in their own children and discuss how they’ve handled episodes of pain.

Dr. Kevin: It’s also important for parents to understand that pain crises are unfortunately a universal experience for people with SCD. Crises typically manifest in infants aged six months and older, and they are often unpredictable and can occur up to several times a year. So, to TaLana’s point, learning to recognize what a pain crisis looks like in their child will help parents know when to seek help.

What do babysitters or other caregivers need to know?

TaLana: I make sure other caregivers and babysitters know about my child’s personal regimens and what to do in case of an emergency. I share important pointers, like to make sure my child is hydrated and never around smoke, which can increase the risk of Acute Chest Syndrome (ACS), a bout of pneumonia or a serious lung condition due to the sickling of red blood cells, in people with SCD.

Lastly, I make sure they know how special my child is and all the wonderful qualities she has. I tell them her likes and dislikes, hobbies and interests, and what makes her laugh. Having SCD may be a normal part of my child’s life, but I make sure she is not defined by her condition.

Dr. Kevin: I agree wholeheartedly. Children with SCD are children first and foremost. While the disease affects them, it certainly does not define them—nor should SCD or any disease define the person who has it.

For more information about parenting a child with SCD, check out “A Parents Handbook for Sickle Cell Disease” and the CDC’s “5 Facts You Should Know about SCD.”

Keep up to date on Pfizer’s SCD efforts by visiting our page here. You can also follow Pfizer on Facebook and Twitter.

*Supported by Pfizer

About Dr. Kevin Williams

Dr. Kevin Williams is the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Pfizer Rare Disease. In this role, he leads a Medical Affairs organization of approximately 150 medical colleagues around the globe supporting Pfizer’s efforts and portfolio in Rare Disease. Dr. Kevin joined Pfizer in January 2004 as a Director of Regional Medical & Research Specialist working in the HIV disease area. After moving into a Team Leader position in July 2005, he served in various leadership roles during his career at Pfizer. Dr. Kevin moved into his current Rare Disease CMO position in May 2016.

Dr. Kevin received his medical degree from the UCLA School of Medicine and is board certified in Internal Medicine. Following a 2-year fellowship in Health Services Research at UCLA and a brief academic career as an Instructor of Medicine at the UCLA School of Medicine, he spent     8 years in private practice caring for HIV-positive patients while maintaining an academic appointment at the UCLA School of Medicine as an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine. In addition to his medical degree, Dr. Kevin has a Master’s in Public Health from the UCLA School of Public Health and a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School.

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