Founder and Board of Directors
DR. LYDELL LETTSOME
Founder & Board Member
The Rev. Lydell C. Lettsome, M.D. is a board-certified general surgeon with a background of study in Christian and Medical Ethics. He received his bachelor’s degree in Psychology & Pre-Medical Sciences from Columbia University. From there he earned his M.D. at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pa. A Fellow of the American College Surgeons, Dr. Lettsome is also a member of Physicians for a National Health Plan and the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons. He is currently in private practice in Orange County, NY.
Dr. Lettsome is a practicing Christian who not only expresses his love of God and people through his surgical skill but also through his service to the community and the world. He has travelled the world providing free medical and surgical care with various missionary groups. In addition, as a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. he participates in several local community service endeavors. He is also the founding director of the Vanbert Health Equity Project.
In the midst of a demanding surgical career, he completed a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in NewYork City in 2010. He was ordained in April 2011 and strives to make full proof of his ministry through preaching, teaching, and writing. In addition to several articles on universal healthcare and health equity. Dr. Lettsome is the author of Stolen Money, Stolen Health, an award-winning primer on universal healthcare in America. Dr. Lettsome and his wife the Rev. Raquel S. Lettsome, Ph.D. have two children Tiffany and Luke.
DR. ASIA McCLEARY-GADDY
Asia T. McCleary-Gaddy, PhD, is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at McGovern Medical School. She is a proud native of New York, who graduated with her B.A in Psychology from Rice University in distinction in research and creative works and her PhD from the University of Vermont in Experimental Social Psychology.
Asia is a researcher and administrator who is interested in the ways stigmatization (discriminations, prejudice, stereotypes) affects health and educational outcomes for minority populations. Some of her publications include, "Negative religious coping as a mediator between perceived prejudice and psychological distress among African Americans: A structural equation modelling approach." and "Preference for second-generation African immigrants over Native-born Black Americans: A college admission simulation." In her position as Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Asia implements evidence-based interventions for structurally competence practice in medicine.
Dr. McCleary-Gaddy was also the recipient of an NIH Diversity Supplement for Health Related Research where she investigated the psychological, Physiological, and behavioral effect of weight stigma in the workplace. Asia is passionate about pathways programs that are designed to provide educational and career support to students belonging to racial/ethnic minorities entering health professions programs. As the product of many K-12 STEM pathways program, she believes this is her way of giving back to the individuals who have sacrificed for her success.
The Reverend Audrey Akins Williamson is a proud Alumna of Rutgers University, New Brunswick Theological Seminary and Princeton Seminary. Formerly a Visiting Professor of Sociology, Religion and Gender Studies at Monmouth University, she currently serves as an educational consultant and mentor for the RISE Together Women of Ministry of Color (WOMIC) a national network to empower and encourage women in ministry, and is the Founding Director of the Collaborative for Faith Leadership, both programs housed at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She currently serves as the Nina M. Neely Minister for Christian Education, providing leadership to the educational endeavors of Mother AME Zion Church in Harlem. She was formerly the Senior Pastor at the St. James AME Zion Church in Matawan. NJ
Audrey has served as a Faith and Climate Change Fellow for the former Vice President Al Gore, and in the inaugural cohort of the John Templeton Foundation and American Association for Advancement of Science Lifelong Learning Fellowship, at the Yale School of Divinity and Yale School of Medicine, the focus to encourage the exchange of knowledge and expertise between and within the communities of faith and science. She works closely with Northwell Health, Hackensack Meridian Hospital and the Mount Sinai Center for Stress, Resilience and Personal Growth, as well as Columbia and New York Universities to amplify the needed health resource in traditionally disadvantaged communities in New York and New Jersey.
Rev. Williamson is engaged in the community in meaningful ways, and holds Regional leadership in the Links, Incorporated, and is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
TIFFANIE YOUNG LOFTON
With over 15 years in television, Tiffanie Young Lofton is a production expert who devises production schedules and structures, writes budgets that receive network approval, and excels at building and fostering production teams that creatively and effectively produce outstanding programming. She has produced series, pilots and development projects in various genres including docu-soap, true crime, home renovation, style makeover, competition, culinary, clip shows, and more.
Tiffanie oversees projects domestically and internationally, on location and in studio, with staff and crew ranging from 10 to 100+ people. She communicates and meets with network execs, reviews releases and contracts with legal prior to and throughout production, sets up payroll and insurance, creates cash flows and monitors network payment milestones, maintains detailed cost reports, liaises with talent agents and managers, and negotiates graphics and other vendor agreements.
Strategizing success is a constant process, not just for a large-scale media company, but for the individual freelancer as well. Tiffanie recognized this early on in her career and began coaching clients on how to navigate their careers. Now, she offers her guidance to college seniors seeking to enter the industry.
Some of Tiffanie's production credits are Beat Bobby Flay, BBQ Brawl: Flay V Symon, Flipping Exes, The Flay List, Love At First Swipe, Rachael Ray's Kids Cook Off, and What Not to Wear. She has produced projects for Food Network, TLC, Bravo, HGTV, Lifetime, and several others.
Creatively, Tiffanie is the writer and producer of “It Is Finished,” a play first performed in 2012 and the screenwriter of “Back In The Game,” a feature film. She is passionate about developing programming that enhances family, faith, and social values.
Tiffanie holds a Master of Arts in Producing for Film and TV, specializing in production management and entertainment law, and a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Media and Spanish from American University in Washington, DC.
Born in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, Tracy is first and foremost a father of three incredible young men. He is also an accomplished professional who seeks to give back to those who lack the resources to compete in today’s society. Tracy has spent his career in Health Care. He has over 20 years’ experience in Healthcare Audit and Compliance and currently serves as a Compliance Director for the #4 hospital in the U.S., NewYork Presbyterian Hospital. Tracy holds a Master’s degree from New York University’s Wagner School of Public Health where he studied Healthcare Finance and Management. In 2019, he was recognized as a “Rising Star” in the healthcare industry.
Tracy is passionate about creating opportunities for youth to explore careers in STEM. In addition, his passions for healthcare and anti-racism align perfectly with VHEP’s mission. As a former member of the Emmanuel Baptist Church’s Economic Development Board, he played a prominent role in leading their Teen Entrepreneurship program. Tracy currently serves on the Board of the Imani Baptist Church where he helped reinvigorate their Sunday School program and improve their financial reporting and decision making. Tracy dedicates himself to achieving and maintaining excellence in his chosen field and hopes to continue to create opportunities for others to pursue and master their chosen fields as well.
Michel’le J. Bryant was thrusted into health equity when she was involved in a serious car accident in high school. As she navigated her road to recovery in rural South Jersey, the high degree of health disparities were inescapable. This journey left her with an insatiable urge to do the necessary work, so that others didn’t have to endure the same hardships. Her work as the Secretary for the Vanbert Health Equity Project allows her to combine her health equity passion, faith, love for her community, and professional experience.
In addition to her work with the Board, Michel’le serves as the Phase 1 Manager at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine. In this role, she provides supervision of the curriculum support team as it relates to course delivery, including all communications, operations, and the learning and curricular management systems of the pre-clerkship curriculum. Prior to joining the School of Medicine, Michel’le served at New York University as the Oral Health Nursing Education and Practice (OHNEP) Coordinator; she also managed a permanent supportive housing facility where she coordinated the day to day operations of a 30 bed permanent supportive housing facility for formerly homeless individuals struggling with substance abuse and mental health illnesses in Philadelphia.
In an effort to be prepared to face the most pressing health equity challenges, she is currently pursuing her doctorate in the health sciences at Seton Hall University.