Speak Life! 2023, presented by Excellus BCBS, brings together a powerhouse slate of speakers to discuss the urgent need for health equity, with a special focus on Latino health. This year's theme is ¡Acción ahora! / Action Now!. Speak Life! is organized annually by our African American and Latino Health Coalitions.

The Greater Rochester Health Foundation Keynote address will be delivered by Felipe Luciano, a prominent Latino activist, poet, and journalist known for his eloquence, vision, and passion for social justice. Luciano is a former Fordham University and Union Theological Seminary lecturer with a Master’s Degree in Christianity and Social Ethics. As a two-time Emmy recipient, former WNBC-TV New York news anchor, and host of two radio shows on WBAI radio in New York City, Luciano lectures nationwide on issues like emerging markets, youth and gang violence, coalition building, diversity, and multiculturalism. Raised in poverty in East Harlem and Brooklyn, Luciano has overcome adversity to become a leading voice for Latino communities in the US.

Also speaking live at this year's conference will be Dr. Adolfo G. Cuevas. Dr. Cuevas is an Assistant Professor at New York University's School of Global Public Health, where he investigates how discrimination and other psychosocial factors affect health and health inequities using epidemiological, psychological, and biological approaches. He is also a scholar in the Center for Anti-Racism, Social Justice and Public Health. Dr. Cuevas has been recognized for his research on race, racism, and health by the National Minority Quality Forum and the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at Harvard University. He has published in top scientific journals and directed a team of researchers at Tufts University. 

Additional remarks will be given by NYS Department of Health Associate Commissioner Wilma Alvarado-Little, who will appear virtually at the event. Alvarado-Little is a healthcare advocate, medical interpreter, and trainer with over 25 years of experience in promoting culturally and linguistically appropriate healthcare services. She has played a key role in the implementation of interpreter programs in hospitals and clinics, and has worked to educate healthcare institutions on the role of medical interpreters. Wilma has served on state and national advisory boards and participated in efforts led by the Joint Commission, American Medical Association, and the Office of Minority Health. Alvarado-Little serves as the Director of the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Prevention at the New York State Department of Health.

A panel of Latino community leaders will be moderated by John Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a coach and strategist who has worked with over 50 healthcare organizations across 37 states to improve healthcare services for women, people of color, and the poor. He has also worked on social and organizational change initiatives for over 22 years, impacting hundreds of thousands of people and employees in both corporate and non-profit sectors. John has been involved in numerous local change efforts and has received several accolades, including being selected as the NYS Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Hispanic Businessperson of the year and serving as a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow. He returns for the second year in a row to moderate our event.

The Strathallan Hotel

Appearing on the special panel are

  • Dr. Paula Cupertino, University of Rochester Medical Center Professor of Public Health Sciences and Oncology and Wilmot Cancer Institutes' first Associate Director of Community Outreach, Engagement and Disparities
  • Anthony Jiménez, Assistant Professor, Rochester Institute of Technology Department of Sociology and Anthropology
  • Angélica Pérez-Delgado, President/CEO of Ibero American Action League
  • Daisy Rivera Algarín, Director of Neighborhood Service Centers for the City of Rochester and Chair Emeritus of Latinas Unidas

The event emcee is our very own Wade Norwood, Chief Executive Officer for Common Ground Health. Norwood is a Rochester native who has held leadership positions in the community for over 30 years. Norwood has been involved in creating engagement initiatives that target underserved populations in health improvement, such as the African American Health Coalition and the Latino Health Coalition. Norwood has chaired various state and local workgroups on health care workforce and integration initiatives for families affected by poverty. He also serves on the board of the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement and as an at-large member of the New York State Board of Regents. Norwood is also an active member of Rochester's faith community and serves as the president and senior pastor at the Holy Jerusalem Spiritual Church.

This year's event is presented by Excellus BCBS.