|African Americans are more likely to die in emergency rooms than peacefully at home. African Americans also have the highest rates of illness, yet are the least likely to discuss end-of-life preferences with loved ones or be aware of and take advantage of palliative care.
As you know, Compassion & Choices has traditionally focused on advancing medical aid-in-dying policies. Polling now confirms that Americans from all demographic backgrounds support medical aid in dying, which provides an opportunity for the organization to shift some of its focus to the broader needs of the African American community.
We are committed to raising awareness, identifying materials that will empower African Americans around end-of-life medical decision-making, and strategizing enhancements to Compassion & Choices’ policies and priorities, specific to the needs of our community.
Jason Gaulden is the Communications Director of America Succeeds, responsible for providing communications, fundraising, and operational support to the home office and affiliates in his role. He is also the founder and principal at Gaulden Group LLC, a consulting firm specializing in strategy, communications and fundraising services to public and private institutions. Jason draws upon fifteen years of professional experience in varying roles: executive leadership, philanthropy, marketing, technical writing, fund development, and nonprofit board service. Jason is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and graduated with honors. He later served two terms as Chair of the University’s Alumni Board.
Shirley Tabb is a preeminent Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW – Washington DC and Licensed Clinical Social Worker – Clinical tract (Maryland) advocate who has assessed and helped over 1000 people in the District of Columbia access community resources and home health services under the Home and Community Based Medicaid Waiver for the Elderly and Disabled. Shirley has history of hosting her own talk show on DC Cable Television where she discussed pertinent issues facing poor, elderly, and disabled people receiving or in need of Medicaid or private-pay home health care. These shows are available for viewing on YouTube and Vimeo.
Shawn Perry executive produces and host of The Senior Zone; a weekly radio program dedicated to serving the needs of the older adult community. Since 2012, Shawn has worked tirelessly to promote the wellbeing of older adults and champion their causes. He attributes his reverence for the older adults to his late grandmother, Rosa Perry, who instilled a profound sense of empathy for the vulnerable, frail and elderly. Shawn is a retired military officer; serving nearly 22 years in the U.S. Air Force, has a B.S. from the University of Maryland, and has lived in the Washington, D.C., area for the past 32 years.
Sultan Shakir is the Executive Director of SMYAL, an organization that works to support and empower lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in the Washington, D.C., metro area. Sultan works to expand opportunities for young LGBTQ people through youth empowerment. Prior to joining SMYAL, Sultan worked at the Human Rights Campaign where he served as a director of the D.C. and Maryland marriage equality campaigns, and in his most recent role, led the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Project, working to make campuses safer and more inclusive of LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff.
Dr. Omega Silva is professor emeritus of medicine at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and a medical review officer for Employee Health Programs in Bethesda, Maryland. She is a long-standing advocate for universal health care and a committed supporter of the advancement of women in medicine. In 1999 Dr. Silva was appointed President-Elect of the American Medical Women’s Association.
Omega Silva graduated cum laude with honors in chemistry from Howard University in 1958. She spent the next five years working as a chemist as the National Institutes of Health, and in 1963 returned to Howard University to train as a physician. After earning a doctor of medicine degree in 1967, Dr. Silva completed a residency in internal medicine at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Washington, D.C., and from 1970 to 1974 served as a fellow in endocrinology at George Washington University.
Dr. Silva has made numerous media appearances to highlight issues in women’s health including smoking, cervical cancer, and thyroid disease. She has also participated in various career days and educational events at local schools, and has been an editorial referee for Chest, Archives of Internal Medicine and The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics.
In 1984, Dr. Silva received a Letter of Commendation from the President Reagan and in 1995 she was given a Letter of Thanks from President Clinton for her participation in health care reform. In 2003 Dr. Silva was elected to a Mastership at the American College of Physicians. She is also listed in American Men and Women of Science, Who’s Who in Black America, Who’s Who in Professional and Executive Women, and Who’s Who of American Women.
Rev. Madison Shockley The Rev. Madison T. Shockley II is the pastor of the Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad, CA. He brings to Pilgrim Church a wealth of experience from his work in the political, non-profit and media environments. Originally ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1979, he served churches in St. Louis, Denver and Seattle. In 1990, he joined the United Church of Christ when he accepted the call to the Congregational Church of Christian Fellowship, UCC, in Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, he became a leader in the aftermath of the 1992 riots by organizing and hosting an interracial dialogue to heal the broken community.
Madison was called to Pilgrim Church (as the first African American pastor of this predominantly Anglo congregation) in 2004. Along with performing his pastoral duties with Pilgrim, Madison currently serves on the board of directors of American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. He recently served several terms on the boards of ProgressiveChristianity.org and Interfaith Community Services.
In San Diego County, Madison is recognized as a leader for immigrant rights, reproductive choice and marriage equality for the LGBTQ community. His sermonsare eagerly heard for his unique combination of biblical scholarship, progressive theology and current events. He is also nationally known for leading the church through the development of a policy for ministering to sex offenders in the church. He transformed the crisis into a ‘teachable moment’ through the intense media attention to this story. He has been interviewed on ABC’s Good Morning America, the New York Times, National Public Radio and more.
Beyond the pulpit, Madison was a grassroots candidate for the Los Angeles City Council in 1999 and 2003. In 1998, he began writing commentary for the Los Angeles Times and in 2005, became a contributor to the award-winning website, Truthdig.com on a wide range of topics including religion, race, politics, reproductive choice and popular culture. He has also published columns in the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Diego Union Tribune and the North County Times on a wide variety of topics. He is a widely-sought speaker and panelist on progressive religion and politics. Madison has been a workshop and seminar leader for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice for over a decade at the National Black Religious Summit on Sexuality and has written a presentation entitled “A Theology of Reproductive Choice”.
A native of Los Angeles, he was educated at Harvard College and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He holds the Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York City and has done advanced graduate work at Claremont Graduate University in New Testament Studies. He is married to the former Gayle P. Welch, and they are the parents of four adult children.
Lucille Ridgill is a Medical Director for VITAS Healthcare, the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care. Dr. Ridgill oversees the medical care and treatment of VITAS patients in their homes, nursing homes, assisted living communities and personal care homes in Coastal Cities, California. She also consults with patients’ attending physicians, supervises VITAS team physicians, guides staff and volunteers, and serves as a resource to practicing physicians and other healthcare professionals on the benefits of hospice and palliative care for patients and their families. Board certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Dr. Ridgill received a Bachelor’s Degree from Creighton University and a Medical Degree from Creighton University Medical School, both in Omaha, Nebraska. She completed a residency at UCLA-Charles Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles. Dr. Ridgill is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine.
Channte’ Keith, director of programs for National African American Tobacco Prevention Network, received her master’s degree in public administration from North Carolina Central University and has dedicated most of her career to tobacco control. Keith has served in capacities including program development, community outreach and grant management. She is responsible for the My Doc Cares Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Program which supports doctors in their efforts to address patient tobacco use. Today, Keith continues in public health with NAATPN by developing the strategic direction for its tobacco, cancer and HIV programs.
Delores Lewis has served in various capacities in Newark’s city government for 33 years, proudly serving in the Kenneth Gibson, Sharpe James and Ras Baraka administrations. Currently she serves as a volunteer Coordinator for the senior community for Mayor Baraka, a role she cherishes.
She recently joined in the fight to allow seniors a say in how they wanted their last chapter to be written by working with the group Compassion & Choices. Delores has led an awareness and education campaign so that her Newark seniors know about their end of life options. Delores’ work with Compassion & Choices led her to bring a contingent of seniors to Trenton, the state capitol, to advocate for end of life options, with some of her seniors letting her know they were travelling to Trenton for the first time in their lives.
Reverend Charles Winston McNeill, Jr., is a native of Erwin, North Carolina. He is one of five children and the oldest son born to Charles Winston McNeill, Sr., and Bessie Campbell McNeill. He has been married to the former Audrey McDonald for 22 wonderful and magnificent years. From their union, they have a lovely daughter named Jade Noelle.
It was at the age of eighteen that Reverend McNeill received his call to the ministry. Upon receiving his call, he served in the United States Army as a Chaplain Assistant in Germany and Oklahoma.
He has pastured in Oklahoma and New Jersey where he has successfully lifted dysfunctional and vanishing congregations, turning them around to become lucrative and productive.
Reverend McNeill has worked as an investigator for the United States Department of Labor and he was previously employed by the Metropolitan Police Department as a police officer.
He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of the District of Columbia; a Masters Degree from Andersonville Theological Seminary; and several certificates from the University of Oklahoma and Temple University.
His many accomplishments include receiving awards from the U.S. Army; Outstanding Student Award; Veterans Academic Achievement Award; University of the District of Columbia’s Dean’s list; Commendable Performance Award and Outstanding Police Service Award from the Metropolitan Police Department; Outstanding Performance Award from the United States Attorney’s office.
Reverend McNeill is the President of the National Capital Baptist Convention of Washington, DC & Vicinity, he also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., he is the Second Vice President of the Minister’s Conference, the Third Vice Moderator of the Mt. Bethel Baptist Association and he is the Washington, DC Faith Command Leader of the National Black Church Initiative, he is a Board member & the Treasurer of the United Community Against Poverty (UCAP), he also appeared on MSNBC as a commentator.
Reverend McNeill is a diehard Redskin fan who enjoys reading, playing chess, tennis and golf. He loves a good conversation on current events and Black History. He is a dedicated family man who believes in the importance of family and community activism. More importantly, he is a child of the Heavenly Father, a true believer in the omnipotent power of God.