The leadership team is made up members of the following organizations:
BLACK IN GERONTOLOGY AND GERIATRICS (BIGG)
HBCU COLLABORATIVE INTEREST GROUP
Dr. Tamara Baker is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is an appointed member of the US Department of Veterans Affairs Geriatric and Gerontology Advisory Committee, and Editor-in-Chief of Ethnicity & Health. She was recently appointed as a Scientific Committee Member to the National Institutes of Health’s Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee. Dr. Baker’s research broadly focuses on health disparities and health equity, cultural diversity/sensitivity, and social determinants of health among older adults. She received her BA from North Carolina Central University (HBCU) and MA from Norfolk State University (HBCU).
Dr. Candi Nwakasi is an Assistant Professor of Gerontology in Human Development and Family Sciences. His background includes undergraduate training in biochemistry, and graduate training in public health, and social gerontology. His previous work experience before joining academia spanned medical, pharmaceutical, and non-profit sectors.
He is a co-founder of Black in Gerontology and Geriatrics (BIGG), an organization that works to amplify the voices and efforts of Black people in the field of aging. He serves on the board of PACE-RI, and the editorial board of Journal of Aging Studies. With a focus on aging disadvantaged populations, Candi’s research includes cancer survivorship, cognitive decline and caregiving, and sociocultural factors influencing health care access.
Darlingtina Esiaka, PhD, CPG, CPH, is a Post-Doctoral Associate in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Rutgers University. She has a dual-title Ph.D. in Social Psychology and Gerontology from the University of Kansas, a Masters in Psychology from Arkansas Tech University with Distinction, Graduate certificates in Health Psychology and African Studies from the University of Kansas, a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with First class honors and a Diploma in Social Works from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Her research interests revolve around two major themes. One focuses on the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) in older Black men. She examines how to detect progression and conversion to ADRD in Black men, long before the presentation of behavioral symptoms. The second focuses on the early detection of cancer in older Black men. She investigates psychosocial factors that predict fatal stage cancer diagnosis and survivorship in older Black men.
She has received over 20 awards and recognitions, including the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity – Kathleen McCluskey-Fawcett Woman Mentoring Women award, the Gerontological Society of America (GSA)’s Career Development and Junior Investigator Diversity Fellow Award. Her work has been supported by federal and private funders such as NIA, New Jersey Health Foundation, and Alzheimer’s Association. Dr. Esiaka is a Black Men’s Brain Health Fellow and a scientist at the Michigan Center for Contextual Factors in Alzheimer’s Disease. She is a certified Public Health professional and credentialed by the National Association of Professional Gerontologists. She has published over 20 journal articles and book chapters. Dr. Esiaka is affiliated with several professional organizations, including the Society for Psychological Study of Social Issues, where she serves as a council member and chairs the internationalization committee.
A recent graduate from Wake Forest University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology, specializing in health and the determinants of well-being. As a dedicated scholar and advocate, I am deeply passionate about understanding the intricate relationship between societal structures, individual behaviors, and overall health outcomes.
Dr. Ashley Jennings is a Department Chair and Assistant Professor of Gerontology in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Bethune-Cookman University. Dr. Jennings’ has an extensive background in higher education and community engagement. Merging her passion for health and serving the community, she focuses on initiatives that provide education and resources to older adults and caregivers of underserved populations. Dr. Jennings’ research has addressed the impact of Historically Black Colleges & Universities to include health disparities, social impact, and food insecurity.
Dr. Jennings’ professional affiliations include the National Council of Certified Dementia Care Practitioners. ElderSource Advisory Council and Vice President of the ElderSource Institute Board of Directors. She is a member of the Gerontological Society of America, where she is an HBCU Interest Group leader. A member of the Southern Gerontological Society and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® and a plethora of community service organizations.
Topics of Interest: Gerontology Education, Caregiving, HBCUs, LGBTQ+
David Ekerdt conducts research on work and retirement; residential relocation and possession downsizing; and older adults’ imagination of and expectations for the future. He served as 2018 President of the Gerontological Society of America.
Dr. Washington is an associate professor at the University of Georgia. Her medical social work practice background informs her research interests in family caregiving, psychosocial interventions, and health equity.
Fayron Epps, PhD, RN, is a nurse with over 20 years of experience creating culturally relevant programs to reduce health disparities for underserved populations. She is currently serving as an Associate Professor and the Director of Community and Research Engagement in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Emory University, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. She is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, Southern Gerontological Society, and Gerontological Society of America. Dr. Epps’ ultimate goal is to place culturally-tailored evidenced-based programs and interventions in the hands of those individuals who need them the most.
I am a clinician, researcher and neuroepidemiologist with interest in cross-cultural studies of dementia. I have served as principal
investigator and mentor on many funded projects. I review articles for many journals on aging and dementia.
Roland J. Thorpe, Jr., PhD, MS, is a Professor in the Department of Health, Behavior, and Society, Founding Director of
the Program of Men’s Health Research in the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions (HCHDS), Deputy Director
of HCHDS, and Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Alzheimer’s Disease RCMAR at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of
Public Health. He holds joint appointments in the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology in the Department of
Medicine, and the Department of Neurology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and the Department of Sociology
at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Thorpe is a social epidemiologist whose
research focuses on the association of how social determinants of health impact health and functional outcomes among
men across the life course. Dr. Thorpe earned a bachelor’s in theoretical mathematics from Florida A&M University.
Dr. Aishah Scott is a joint appointed Assistant Professor of Black Studies and Health Science at Providence College. She is an advocate for social justice and closing gaps in healthcare for underrepresented communities. Currently, she is working on her book manuscript entitled, Respectability Can’t Save You: The AIDS Epidemic in Urban Black America. This work focuses on the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Black American community and the role of “respectability politics,” or moral policing, on state and community leaders from 1980-2010.