This page is for paid virtual meeting attendees

Please note session links are activated 10 minutes prior to the meeting start time.  

Welcome and Introduction | 8:30 a.m.

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  • Leslie Boney | Director, Institute for Emerging Issues Read Bio

Mental Health and Well-Being During the Pandemic |
8:40 a.m.

Our physical and mental health are interconnected and this pandemic is affecting nearly everyone’s well-being in big and small ways. This session will explore the mental health care system’s response during COVID-19, examine the impact of racial health disparities on personal and community health, and provide practical care guidance that everyone can benefit from. Watch Session Recording 


  • Cherene Caraco | Chief Executive Officer, Promise Resource Network Read Bio
  • David Lucas “Luke” Smith, M.D. | Executive Director, El Futuro Read Bio
  • Giselle Corbie-Smith, M.D. | Professor of Internal Medicine, Director, Center for Health Equity Research, Department of Social Medicine, UNC-Chapel Hill Read Bio
  • Moderator: Leah Brown | Chief Executive Officer, Acnos Pharma


Discussion Sessions | 9:40 a.m.

(Click one of the ‘JOIN SESSION’ links below)
These active engagement sessions are a space to hear about the real-time digital inclusion challenges being experienced by local communities and hear from experts and other participants on promising solutions. Participants are encouraged to share stories, information, and resources and learn from others across different sectors, regions and perspectives. These sessions will be facilitated by IEI staff but driven by participants. The more diverse the audience, the richer the discussion.


  • Advocacy Resources: 
    One in five Americans had a diagnosed mental health condition prior to the pandemic. This session will overview resources for people experiencing mental health challenges, and provide information on how caring advocates can promote mental health and well-being for their loved ones at a time when connections to care networks have frayed.

    • Karen Gross | National Association on Mental Illness (NAMI) High Country Read Bio


  • Anxiety and Stress:
    Chronic anxiety and stress can have a disastrous impact on physical and mental health. The brain is not wired for long-term stress response, which many of us are enduring as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic persists, multiple stressors are compounding to increase mental health challenges for many of us. This session will help participants learn resilience strategies that enable them to manage the chronic stressors of daily life.

    • Sherry L. Tabron, MSW, LCSW | Therapist/Owner, Sherry Et El Counseling Services, PLLC Read Bio


  • Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and Mental Health:
    The convergence of racism and the coronavirus pandemic have put a spotlight on Black mental health. Black communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, according to an April study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A series of high-profile Black deaths, and associated racial trauma, is an added mental health burden for minorities. This session will examine the dual impact that COVID-19 and persistent struggles for racial justice have on mental health outcomes in communities of color. 

    • Kwesi Brookins, PhD | Department of Psychology, North Carolina State University Read Bio
    • Ericka Ellis-Stewart | Director of Advocacy, Mental Health America of Central Carolinas Read Bio


  • Connectedness During Physical Distancing:
    Practicing physical-distancing is a necessary precaution, but it also creates a sense of social isolation. This session will explore this tension, and identify ways to maintain and build community, and create shared space and bonding opportunities during COVID-19.

    • Marcela Cervantes-Torres | Assistant Director, Carolina Latinx Center, UNC Chapel Hill Read Bio


  • Teens and Young Adults:
    Social interaction and burgeoning independence help young people learn about themselves and the world around them. COVID-19 has made these difficult due to stay-at-home orders, group gathering limits, and physical-distancing requirements. This session will provide practical ways for caregivers and other trusting adults to guide young people during this time, provide stability, protect their social-emotional well-being, and develop resilience during these uncertain times.

    • Kate Barrow | Community Engagement Specialist, NC Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services
    • Angel Bowers | Associate Director for Counseling and Prevention Services, North Carolina State University Read Bio


  • Senior Support and Care:
    Seniors are more susceptible to increased health risks as they age, and COVID-19 further underscores their status as a vulnerable population. This session will explore the emotional and mental health distress in the aging community as a result of the pandemic, and provide resourceful information for caregivers and advocates of seniors.

    • Krista Westervelt | Development and Communications Director, Chatham County Council on Aging Read Bio
    • Jennifer Link, MSW | Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Triangle J Council of Governments
    • Rebecca Freeman, MPH | Health Aging Specialist, NC Department of Health and Human Services Division of Aging and Adult Services


  • Young Children:
    The coronavirus pandemic has created unique challenges for young children and their caregivers. Children thrive on routine, balance, and social interaction and depend upon responsive relationships with adults. This session will focus on how to support the social-emotional well-being of children. We’ll identify practical ways families, teachers, and caring adults can promote young children’s resilience during COVID-19 and beyond.

    • Ennis C. Baker, MSW, LCSW | ITTI Care Project Director, Duke Center for Child & Family Policy Read Bio


Sharing Assembly | 10:35 a.m. 

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  • Alicia James and IEI Team


A Path Forward | 11:05 a.m.

This session will acknowledge the difficulty of these challenging times, and encourage us to reframe this moment in a way that reveals the possibility and opportunity ahead. Watch Session Recording starts at 31:50


  • Jaki Shelton Green | NC Poet Laureate Read Bio


Closing | 11:25 a.m.

Watch Session Recording starts at 56:47

  • Leslie Boney | Director, Institute for Emerging Issues