Critical Futures

An interview-based podcast by the IHJE. It’s Critical, because the time is now to conjure the world we want to live and thrive in. It’s also Futurity: the intentional imagining and materializing of liberated futures.

2 July 2023

Series 1, Episode 5: "Maintaining Longterm Anti-Racist Alliances in Healthcare"

Featuring Pat Matthews-Juarez and Paul Juarez from Meharry Medical College, along with Rev. Neely Williams from the Tennessee Community Engaged Alliance Against COVID-19

About Our Guests

Pat Matthews-Juarez

Dr. Pat Matthews-Juarez is Vice President of Faculty Affairs and Development at Meharry Medical College where she oversees and supports faculty appointment, promotion and tenure. Dr. Matthews-Juarez also serves as Professor of Family and Community Medicine at Meharry Medical College. There she advocates for equal access to primary care physicians and health services regardless of patients geographic location or financial situation. Special attention and training within programs at Meharry Medical College are dedicated to providing medical care for underserved populations. 


Dr. Matthews-Juarez joined the SelfMade Health Network Leadership Council in August 2015.  Representatives serving on the Leadership Council advise, assist, support and advocate on issues of strategic importance to the operations and functions of the SelfMade Health Network in fullfillment of its mission: advancing the prevention of commercial tobacco use and cancer in populations experiencing tobacco- and cancer-related health disparities.

Widely published, her written abstracts and peer-reviewed publications focus on alleviating health disparities, cancer care, and minority health in rural areas. Dr. Matthews-Juarez firmly believes prevention and better health equity for individuals can lift an entire community and vast populations can enjoy better quality of life. She also believes there is still progress to be made in health system after people are diagnosed. Screening gets a lot of attention but following care throughout the continuum can increase survival rates. Combating the psychosocial and religious stigma can help reduce the health barriers certain populations experience.


Dr. Matthews-Juarez serves on several boards, committees and councils focused on minority health disparities and intercultural cancer care initiatives nationwide including Virginia, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina and Washington DC. She has also moderated and served as the guest speaker for a multitude of nationally-acclaimed organizations.


Highlighted Work:


*The above profile was sourced from the SelfMade Health Network’s Leadership Council bio on Pat Matthews-Juarez

Paul Juarez

Dr. Paul D. Juarez is a Professor of Family and Community Medicine and the Director of the Health Disparities Research Center of Excellence at Meharry Medical College. He is nationally recognized for his research in health disparities, particularly in the area of injury prevention, and for using community based participatory research methods. He was appointed in December 2016 as Chair, Advisory Committee on Minority Health, Office of Minority Health, and US Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Juarez has been at the forefront nationally in using the exposome paradigm to identify the mechanisms and pathways through which environmental exposures ‘get under the skin.’ He has led a transdisciplinary team that has pioneered efforts that look at the effects of the natural, built, and social environments on health and health disparities at critical developmental periods across the lifespan and in applying “big data” computational methods and analytics to population health. Dr. Juarez has published widely on topics of the exposome, youth violence, health equity, and community engagement.


Highlighted Work:

*The above profile was sourced from the National Center for Medical Education Development and Research’s bio of Paul Juarez

Rev. Neely Williams

Rev. Neely Williams serves as the Director of Community Engagement and Education for HealthWorks and the Tennessee Community Engaged Alliance Against COVID-19. She is a minister, a community advocate, and a community organizer who has been serving on the front lines for over 40 years. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from American Baptist Theological College and later obtained a Master’s in Divinity Degree from Vanderbilt University. As a lifelong learner her journey includes pursuit of a doctoral degree in Community Pastoral Counseling. 

She began her work as a community partner in research as a member of the Stakeholder Advisory Board for the Vanderbilt-Meharry Institute for Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA) research in 2007, and recently became a member of the Dissemination Core of the CTSA. She has actively participated in the work of Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), an independent, nonprofit research organization since its inception over ten years ago. Rev. Neely has been an active participant on the national PCORnet Stakeholder Engagement Committee and also served as the Patient Co-Principal Investigator on the PCORnet Bariatric Surgery Demonstration Project, helping to bring the patient perspective to the project at the highest level of decision-making as a CO-PI. She is presently a CO-PI for the PCORnet Engagement Core and a patient representative on the Steering Committee and the Executive Management Team (EMT).   

She is the Community Pastor of New Unity Church in North Nashville and also the founder and Administrator of Community Partners’ Linked Network; a collaborative of individuals and community organizations that seek to meet the needs that emerge in the community for capacity building and program implementation. 

Rev. Neely is a great-grandmother that loves to cook, sew, garden, read and spend her time between her Nashville home and her historical family home in Jackson, Tennessee. Rev. Neely focuses on LIVING, LAUGHING, and LOVING to this journey’s end.


Highlighted Work:

Tennessee Community Engaged Alliance Against COVID-19


The overall aim of the Tennessee Community Engaged Alliance Against COVID-19 (TN CEAL) is to increase our understanding of factors that contribute to the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 in underserved communities of Tennessee and establish effective, community-engaged strategies that increase knowledge, awareness, testing, and vaccine readiness, and begin to address structural inequities and COVID-19 disparities.


The Tennessee COVID-19 Community-engaged Research Coalition (TCCRC) was established in response to an NIH initiative. The TCCRC will coordinate a statewide, community engaged, research response to inform mitigation efforts to reduce the spread and adverse outcomes of COVID-19 among socially vulnerable persons. The TCCRC has brought together 33 academic and community partners across Tennessee (see Appendix B). Many partners currently are involved with COVID-19 research, testing, and prevention activities while others have extensive experience conducting  community engaged research, and/or experience working with vulnerable populations. In addition to co-investigators identified in this application, a number of academic partners not directly involved have participated in discussions leading to the approach undertaken in the proposed study and have expressed an interest in staying involved.


Highlighted Work:

*Description of TN CEAL sourced from the TN CEAL “Our Mission” page

Anti-Racism Consortium

The Institute for Healing Justice & Equity (the Institute or IHJE) aims to eliminate disparities caused by systemic oppression and to improve individual and community health and well-being through systems change and deep community partnership. As part of these core goals, IHJE created a panel of content experts, community advocates, and organizations called the Anti-Racism Consortium. Each consortium member has a history of working to:

  • develop and advocate for anti-racist health policy;
  • address the root causes of health inequities; and
  • develop programs and interventions that address multiple levels of medical racism, structural racism in health and the health care system.

In the Critical Futures podcast series, Consortium members describe their work and perspectives related to anti-racist health policy as well as structural racism in the healthcare system. These interviews are also conducted with a community partner that the members have worked alongside — with the goal of highlighting how to deeply work with community in a way that shares power and that moves us all towards liberation.

Additional Credits

This episode was produced as part of the work of the Anti-Racism Consortium. Support for the Consortium was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.

Episode Host: Kira Banks | Director of Healing Justice, IHJE.

Audio Production: KJ Schaeffner | Web Developer + Designer, IHJE.

Podcast Artwork: Wriply M. Bennet.

Theme Music: Future Vision/FineTune Music via Adobe Stock.