The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) conducted this virtual town hall to encourage all Marylanders to protect themselves, their families and communities by getting vaccinated against COVID-19 when they become eligible. The Combating COVID in Our Communities: Experts answer questions about the COVID-19 Vaccine virtual town hall supports GoVAX, the state’s grassroots public outreach and equity campaign to promote COVID-19 vaccine confidence. In partnership with WBFF, NAACP and CASA, the virtual town hall will feature a moderated panel discussion of medical professionals, subject matter experts and community advocates so that Marylanders can learn more facts about the COVID-19 vaccines. The panelists include Dr. Jinlene Chan, MDH Deputy Secretary of Public Health Services; Reverend Kobi Little, NAACP President Baltimore City; Dr. Nana Yaw Adu-Sarkodie, primary care physician at Jai Medical Center; and Dr. Michelle LaRue, Director of Health and Human Services at CASA. The panel discussion will be moderated by WBFF’s Brandi Proctor.

Dr. Jinlene Chan has been on the forefront of the state’s COVID-19 response, particularly with the state’s engagement of minority and vulnerable populations. She previously served with the Anne Arundel County Department of Health for 12 years and worked in a number of capacities before being named the county’s acting health officer in 2012. She was officially appointed to the job in 2014 and served there until she left to serve as the Acting Deputy Secretary of Public Health Services at MDH in 2017. Earlier this year, Dr. Chan was appointed to her current role as MDH Deputy Secretary of Public Health Services. Dr. Chan received dual bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and Spanish literature from the University of Georgia and attended the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, where she received her medical training.

Reverend Kobi Little currently serves as the President of the NAACP Baltimore City Chapter. He is an experienced and trusted leader, problem solver and community builder.

He started his career as an organizer in Washington, DC, participating in the Free South Africa Movement and marching in the snow for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Since that time, Reverend Little has managed and advised city council, mayoral, state legislative, congressional, senatorial, presidential and grassroots issue campaigns across the United States. Reverend Little maintains a lifelong commitment to working with young people and developing student leaders. He has broad and deep policy experience in a wide range of issues, including healthcare, education, community and economic development, international affairs, human rights, social justice, emergency management and law enforcement. Reverend Little’s passion is sharing his insights and experiences to empower individuals, organizations and communities to reach their goals. Reverend Little has been an active and effective partner with MDH in their community outreach and grassroots community engagement strategies to improve the health of all Marylanders.

Dr. Michelle LaRue is the Director of Health and Human Services at CASA and is a public health professional with over 20 years of experience. Dr. LaRue has spearheaded a number of national and international public health initiatives, while working for a number of national non-profit organizations in the U.S. focusing on health literacy, health inequities, healthcare access, cultural competency, case management, health navigation and health education. Dr. LaRue has also represented CASA on a number of local and state advisory groups, most notably Virginia Governor-elect Northam’s transition team. Dr. LaRue also serves as the health expert and spokesperson for CASA, having conducted countless interviews with both national and international media outlets in both Spanish and English. She leads CASA’s health program across Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Dr. Nana Yaw Adu-Sarkodie is a participating primary care physician specializing in Family Medicine with Jai Medical Center. For more than 50 years, Jai Medical Center has been proudly serving the Baltimore community and he provides health care to the community through extensive outreach. Dr. Adu-Sarkodie also currently serves as the Deputy Director for Geriatrics and Extended Care at the Maryland VA. He and his team provide a continuum of care for older adult Veterans including home visits; delivering primary care services to the nations’ most frail and vulnerable veterans.

Dr. Adu-Sarkodie completed medical school at Ross University School of Medicine and completed both a residency in Family Medicine and a Fellowship in Geriatric Medicine at LSU-New Orleans. He also holds a Master’s in Public Health degree with a concentration in Population and Family Health from Columbia University. In addition to working for the VA full-time, he has served as an adjunct instructor at Morgan State University’s School of Community Health and Policy, and provided after-hours coverage for nursing home and post-acute care facilities with a telemedicine-enabled physician group. Dr. Adu-Sarkode is a well-educated and accomplished physician and is committed to the health and wellness of the communities that he serves.

Brandi Proctor is the anchor for FOX45’s midday talk show, BMore Lifestyle. The Baltimore native has been with FOX45 News for more than 18 years and is a proud alumna of Western High School in Baltimore City. She is also a member of the illustrious Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the National Association of Black Journalists. Brandi encourages all youngsters to pursue their dreams. She recommends hard work, dedication, networking, and most importantly, internships in order to succeed in the field of communications. Brandi aggressively worked her way through the ranks in the television world, beginning as an intern with FOX45 while pursuing her undergraduate degree in Broadcast Journalism at Morgan State University. She later became the Associate Producer for FOX45 Morning News as she continued her studies to earn a master’s degree in Television Management. Brandi has worn various hats behind the scenes, such as managing crews on breaking news events and being instrumental in researching some of the hard-hitting investigative stories, while providing entertaining segments and traffic reports regularly.