Keynote Lecture By Linda Sarsour

Moderator: Judith Rivera, doctoral student

From the 40th Annual Minority Health Conference: Advocacy for Change: Celebrating Past Successes and Planning for the Future

February 22nd, 2019

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About The Presenter:

Linda Sarsour is an award-winning racial justice and civil rights activist, seasoned community organizer and mother of three. Ambitious, outspoken and independent, Linda shatters stereotypes of Muslim women while also treasuring her religious and ethnic heritage. She is a Palestinian Muslim American and a self-proclaimed “pure New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn!” She is the former Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York and co-founder of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPOWER Change. Linda has been at the forefront of major civil rights campaigns including calling for an end to unwarranted surveillance of New York’s Muslim communities and ending police policies like stop and frisk. In wake of the police murder of Mike Brown, she co-founded Muslims for Ferguson to build solidarity amongst American Muslim communities and encourage work against police brutality. She is a member of the Justice League NYC, a leading NYC force of activists, formerly incarcerated individuals, and artists working to reform the New York Police Department and the criminal justice system.

Linda co-chaired the March2Justice, a 250-mile journey on foot to deliver a justice package to end racial profiling, demilitarize police and demand the government invest in young people and communities. Linda Sarsour was instrumental in the Coalition for Muslim School Holidays to push New York City to incorporate 2 Muslim high holy holidays in to the NYC Public school calendar. New York City is now the largest school system in the country to officially recognize these holidays. Linda is also a Senior Fellow at Auburn Seminary along leading social justice faith leaders. Most recently, she was the National Co-Chair of the Women’s March on Washington, dubbed the largest single day protest in US history.

She has received numerous awards and honors including “Champion of Change” by the White House, YWCA USA’s Women of Distinction Award for Advocacy and Civic Engagement, the Hala Maksoud Leadership Award from the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, 2017 Webby Awards, the Andrew Young Foundation’s Annual International Leaders Award, the Shirley Chisholm Award by the New York City Council and recognized by the NAACP New York State Conference amongst others. Sarsour was named among 500 of the most influential Muslims in the world, 50 of the world’s greatest leaders by Fortune Magazine and featured on the Time 100’s list of the world’s most influential people. Linda was profiled on the front page of the New York Times Metro Section and dubbed “Brooklyn Homegirl in a Hijab” and they introduced Linda to their readership as “Mixing street smarts, activism and her Muslim identity, Linda Sarsour has become a political force.” She has written for and has been featured in local, national, and international media discussing impact of domestic policies that target Arab and Muslim American communities, criminal justice issues and Middle East affairs. Linda is well respected amongst diverse communities in both in New York City and nationally. She is most known for her intersectional coalition work and building bridges across issues, racial, ethnic and faith communities.

About the Moderator:

Judith Noemi Rivera is a PhD Candidate in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at the UNC School of Medicine and NC State College of Engineering. Judith graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2011 with Bachelors of Science degrees in both Physics & Mathematics, and again in 2013 with a Master of Science in Medical Physics. Judith’s doctoral research is focused on radiation therapy technology development, finding novel ways to use radiation to cure cancer for underserved populations.

As an undergraduate Judith served on the National Council for the Society of Physics Students as the Associate Zone Councilor for the Southwestern U.S, advocating for more accessible science education in marginalized communities along the U.S. – Mexico border.

As a PhD student Judith has prioritized serving her community, especially within the Graduate Student Association at NC State. From 2016-2018 she served as the Biomedical Engineering Department student representative, advocating for the unique needs of fellow students to the GSA and university. From 2017-2018, she served as Chair of the Political Action Committee, where she worked with the GSA to increase student participation in government. In 2018, she founded the Legislative Affairs and Student Advocacy committee and in her ongoing role as its Executive Liaison keeps students apprised of legislative affairs at the local, state and federal level. As the current Vice-President for External Affairs, Judith also regularly drafts Public Comments regarding legislation and/or policies that impact marginalized student groups as part of her duties. In addition, Judith has specific training in Public Policy through the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and is the Southeast Regional Director for the National Association of Graduate & Professional Students (NAGPS), where she lobbies on behalf of graduate students to policy- and law-makers in Washington D.C. to help improve graduate student access to healthcare, STEM research funding, and higher education.

Judith is passionate about advocacy and activism at all levels of government and believes that the greatest impacts on society begin at the individual level. After graduation Judith will continue to advocate for policy makers to develop targeted approaches to improving healthcare access for underserved patient populations through evidence-based decision-making.


Old Well Sponsor ($10,000 +)

UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

Bell Tower Sponsor ($5,000 – $9,999)


Carolina Sponsor ($2,000 to $4,999)

Carolina Level Sponsors

Tar Heel Sponsor ($500 to $1,999)

  • Anonymous (2)
  • Beghou Consulting
  • Cynthia Butler
  • Kauline Cipriani, PhD
  • Kristin Z. Black, PhD*
  • Dr. Robert and Wendy Reasenberg, in Honor of Dr. Victor Schoenbach
  • Dr. Victor and Marion Schoenbach, in honor of Bernice Green Otudeko and Edward Ellis
  • UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health Department of Epidemiology
  • UNC Athletics
  • UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
  • UNC Center For Health Equity Research

* We are honored and grateful to have received support from our past Co-Chairs, indicated with an asterisk above.

Related Links:

Minority Health Conference home page

Minority Student Caucus link

Minority Health Conference archived webcasts

Minority Health Project home page

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