MOSAIC Will Highlight Health Equity Stories by People of Color : UMass Amherst

The University of Massachusetts Amherst-based Western Massachusetts Health Equity Network will present a series of free events in April and May designed to highlight the visionary justice work of people of color across the region – from the Connecticut River valley to the Berkshire Hills.


MOSAIC filming

The MOSAIC interviews were filmed at a variety of locations.

Billed as an “evening of transformational inspiration,” MOSAIC will feature a local artist’s 30-minute film commissioned by the health network to highlight and connect each event. The film is in English with Spanish subtitles. The presentations also will include live performances, refreshments, a panel discussion and cultural explorations specific to each venue. Events will be held in Amherst, Holyoke, Springfield, Great Barrington, Florence and Turners Falls. A detailed schedule is provided below. The series begins April 14 at UMass Amherst.

In the works since the pandemic began, MOSAIC represents a new version of the network’s biennial health equity summit.

“Instead of one large gathering, we commissioned a film that will serve as a centerpiece to meaningful discussions and action on health equity across Western Massachusetts,” says Risa Silverman, coordinator of the Western Massachusetts Health Equity Network, a project of the School of Public Health and Health Sciences. “For the first time, we will bring these important discussions to towns throughout our region with thought-provoking events that amplify the voices of people working within and for our communities of color toward equity, justice and representation in all aspects of life – including health care.”

Holyoke storyteller and Hampshire College graduate Michelle Falcón Fontánez, who seeks to make social change through photography, film, theater and installation art, was chosen to produce the film that became MOSAIC. Her aim is “to illuminate voices that have not been heard.”

A diverse group of health equity leaders was tapped to discuss their stories in the film:

  • Florence Afanukoe, a Pittsfield High School graduate originally from Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa, is a health sciences student at the University of Bridgeport in her junior year. The social justice advocate plans to help diversify health care and address health inequalities.
  • Rhonda Anderson – an herbalist, silversmith, educator and activist – is Iñupiaq-Athabascan from Alaska. Founder and co-director of the Ohketeau Cultural Center, Anderson works in area schools and the Five College Consortium near her home and is the Western Massachusetts commissioner on Indian affairs. She has served on several indigenous panels and roundtables.
  • Dayna Campbell is an assistant professor in the public health program at American International College in Springfield and co-executive director of the Women of Color Health Equity Collective (formerly MotherWoman Inc.). Her research focuses on diversity and inclusion, cultural humility, culturally responsive planning and disparities in health status and outcomes.
  • Lynnette Elizabeth Johnson is a Wilbraham poet, performing artist, voice actor and event host. The author of four collections of poetry, she seeks especially to nurture and inspire women and Black folk through art.
  • Ysabel Garcia, a first-generation Dominican immigrant, is the founder of Estoy Aqui, a Springfield-based suicide prevention initiative that provides social justice training and culturally relevant outreach in Latino/Latinx and Black communities.
  • Vanessa Martinez, who earned her Ph.D. from UMass Amherst, is a professor of anthropology and the honors program coordinator at Holyoke Community College. Originally from Puerto Rico, she is the director of operations, clerk and research chair for the Women of Color Health Equity Collective. A trained cultural and medical anthropologist, Martinez conducts research in health equity and culturally responsive pedagogy relating to health, education, policing and immigration, among other social issues.
  • Arthur Wright, born and raised in segregated communities in North and South Carolina, migrated to Berkshire County in the late 1960s, where he raised his family and put down roots. He worked as a chef in the Berkshires and then formed several businesses, including a limousine service and junk-car hauling, before retiring at age 90. In recent years, he has become involved in and supported by BRIDGE (Berkshire Resources for Integration of Diverse Groups through Education).

YOU’RE INVITED to a free MOSAIC event near you.


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