Join us for the first virtual Taft Lecture Series offering of 2021! Local leaders will come together to discuss the health disparities that became impossible to ignore during the COVID-19 pandemic. This lecture series will include a panel discussion with a Q&A session to follow.

We invite you all to join us for this virtual offering on Tuesday, April 13, beginning at 7 PM.




Dr. Louito Edje
Associate Dean of Graduate Medical Education, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

Louito Edje, MD, is the associate dean of Graduate Medical Education at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. She is a board-certified family physician and fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Dr. Edje holds dual appointments as a professor in the Department of Medical Education and the Department of Family and Community Medicine. She was named Ohio Academy of Family Physicians 2012 Family Physician of the Year.

As a member of Ohio Delegation to the American Medical Association, Dr. Edje advocates for patients, colleagues and the medical profession. She was appointed in 2019 to the

Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education’s Family Medicine Residency Review Committee, an organization that improves healthcare by assessing and advancing resident and fellow education through accreditation.

Dr. Edje also has a master’s in Health Professions Education from the University of Michigan. Her professional interests include health professions education and health policy.


Renee Mahaffey Harris
President/CEO of The Center for Closing the Health Gap

Renee Mahaffey Harris is a committed advocate for the underserved and marginalized populations in Greater Cincinnati and the region. She leads The Health Gap in its mission to lead the efforts to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities through advocacy, education, and community outreach. During her tenure at The Health Gap, Harris jointly implemented the City of Cincinnati’s Health in All Policy, and launched several groundbreaking community-based health initiatives including the Do Right! Campaign and the Black Women’s Health Movement, which is an Ohio collaboration with the national organization Black Women’s Health Imperative. Harris serves as a member of the Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s COVID-19 Minority Strike Force, is President of Ohio African American Health Disparities Coalition, the Co-Chair City of Cincinnati Racial Equity Taskforce, and a member of the National Council on Black Health-Subcommittee on national programs. In 2021, she was chosen as a MLK Humanitarian Award winner due to her dedicated and agile leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Dr. O’dell Owens
President and Chief Executive Officer | Interact for Health

Dr. O’dell Moreno Owens is the president, chief executive officer and a board member of Interact for Health and InterAct for Change. He joined Interact as president in October 2016.

Dr. Owens holds both an MD and a master’s of public health from Yale University Medical School, where he also completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology. Owens completed a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology at Harvard Medical School and served as a clinical instructor in reproductive endocrinology. After returning to his native Cincinnati in 1982, Owens established an in vitro fertilization program at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. He achieved Cincinnati’s first successful conception and delivery as well as the first pregnancy from a frozen embryo.

In recent years, Dr. Owens has served as the Hamilton County Coroner, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College President and Medical Director/Interim Health Commissioner of the Cincinnati Health Department.


Dr. James Powell
Co-Founder, Chief Medical Officer | knowRx

Dr. Powell is Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer for knowRX, Inc., developers of a cloud based digital health platform powered by Maestro ML℠ – machine learning technology that orchestrates various encounters important to equity in therapeutics to enable investigator and patient engagement and inclusion for speed and efficiency in clinical trials, and the knowRX app for personalized medication selection, management, and adherence.

Dr. Powell has authored many publications on molecular pharmacology, basic and clinical research, and has conducted numerous lectures and scientific presentations including several on clinical trials in people of color.


Dr. Anisa Shomo
Primary care physician specializing in family medicine

Anisa Shomo, MD, is an experienced, fellowship-trained primary care physician specializing in family medicine. She has been providing primary care in Cincinnati for over a decade and sees patients of all ages, from newborns to older adults. She spent the first four years of her career working in a school-based health center caring for children and adults. She is also fellowship trained to care for older adults (geriatrics).

Dr. Shomo is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Board of Family Medicine and the Cincinnati Medical Association (Executive Board President – 2021). She has authored a self-improvement book, and is well-known for her ability to engage the community in areas such as helping to organize health events, healthy cooking classes, gardening classes, opioid-related treatments and more.



Funded by The Charles P. and Eleanor Taft Memorial Fund, the Taft Lecture Series features provocative thinkers, writers, teachers, theologians, social justice activists and leaders in the fields of religion, social science, the arts, politics and more. Lectures are presented once or twice or year, as the featured speakers’ schedules permit.

The series honors the community leadership of its namesakes. Charlie in particular was know for integrating sacred and civic values. The son of U.S.  President William Howard Taft devoted his life to public service –– as both a member of city council and mayor of Cincinnati,  as the 40-year warden of Christ Church (now Christ Church Cathedral) and as co-founder of the World Council of Churches.

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