Public Health in the Time of a Pandemic: A Conversation with Dr. Barbara Ferrer

Friday, October 30
11 a.m. – 12 p.m. Pacific

Dr. Barbara Ferrer has been guiding Los Angeles through the COVID-19 pandemic, with millions of Angelenos turning to her for information on their individual safety and community health.

Renowned journalist Lisa Ling will join Dr. Ferrer in conversation about how her lifelong dedication to health and social justice converges with today’s fight against COVID-19.

You’ll hear Dr. Ferrer’s story and learn how the virus has magnified racial and socio-economic inequities across our city—as well as how we can address these disparities. We will also anticipate the future when a vaccine becomes available, and its implications for public health.

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Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd
Director, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

Dr. Barbara Ferrer is a nationally-known public health leader with over 30 years of professional experience as a philanthropic strategist, educational leader, researcher, community advocate, and public health director.

Currently, Dr. Ferrer is the Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which protects health, prevents disease, and promotes equity and well-being among LA County’s more than 10 million residents. She oversees a budget of over $1.3 billion, directs a multidisciplinary workforce of nearly 5,000 staff, and works to integrate services with her colleagues at the Departments of Health Services and Mental Health.

Most recently, Dr. Ferrer served as the Chief Strategy Officer for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, overseeing programming and mission driven investments.  Prior to working for the Foundation, Dr. Ferrer was the Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission, the city’s health department. Under her leadership, the City of Boston saw significant improvements in health outcomes, including a decrease in the rates of childhood obesity, smoking, and infant mortality.

Dr. Ferrer also held various leadership positions at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, including Director of Health Promotion & Chronic Disease Prevention, and Director of the Division of Maternal & Child Health. She also served as a Headmaster at a district high school in Boston.

Dr. Ferrer received her Ph.D. in Social Welfare from Brandeis University, a Master of Arts in Public Health from Boston University, a Master of Arts in Education from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and a Bachelor of Arts in Community Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Lisa Ling
Award-winning journalist and author

Lisa Ling is the Executive Producer and host of THIS IS LIFE on CNN, now in its seventh season. For the show, Lisa has embedded with a notorious biker club and covered the pill addiction crisis in the mostly Mormon state of Utah.

For five seasons prior, Lisa EP’d and hosted Our America on OWN.  She was also a field correspondent for The Oprah Winfrey Show and contributor to ABC News’ Nightline.  For these shows she reported from dozens of countries; covering stories about gang rape in the Congo, bride burning in India and the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, among other issues that are too often ignored.

Lisa was the first female host of National Geographic’s flagship show Explorer which sent her to cover the phenomenon of female suicide bombing, the spread of the MS-13 gang—considered the world’s most dangerous gang, and the humanitarian crisis inside North Korea.

She got her start in journalism as a correspondent for Channel One News where she covered the civil war in Afghanistan at 21 years of age.  She later went to become a co-host of ABC Daytime’s hit show The View, which won its first daytime Emmy during her time at the show.

Lisa is the co-author of “Mother, Sister. Daughter, Bride: Rituals of Womanhood,” and “Somewhere Inside: One Sister’s Captivity in North Korea and The Other’s Fight to Bring Her Home” that she penned with her sister Laura.

In 2014, President Obama appointed Lisa to the Commission on White House Fellows.  She is an advisory board member for Fostering Media Connections, The Amani Project, and a Baby2Baby angel.

Lisa lives in Santa Monica with her husband Paul Song and daughters Jett and Ray.

Introduction by

Dr. Despina Kayichian 
Chief Medical Officer, Venice Family Clinic

Despina Kayichian is responsible for the clinical program at Venice Family Clinic. Dr. Kayichian oversees more than 100 staff members, including physicians, nursing and medical assistant staff. She also oversees the recruitment, clinical training and supervision of over 500 clinical volunteers, including more than 350 residents. Dr. Kayichian also served as Venice Family Clinic’s Chief Medical Officer between 2014 and 2016, before she left to become the Chief Medical Officer of Glendale Adventist Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Kayichian is an internist and nephrologist who has experience in a wide variety of settings, including group and solo private practice, in the Long Beach VA Health Care System, as a hospital Physician Utilization Medical Director, and as an Associate Clinical Professor at University of California, Irvine.

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