Keynote: Perspectives on Health Equity with Dr. Rashawn Ray and Licy Do Canto

Summit: Disruptors and Transformers

Online Keynote

Event Description

This keynote discussion explored structural conditions that have lead to health disparities before COVID and during the current pandemic as well as policy levers to address these inequities.


  • Event Materials
    Rashawn Ray, Ph.D., M.A., David M. Rubenstein Fellow, Governance Studies, Brookings Institution
  • Licy Do Canto, Executive Vice President, Managing Director, BCW Public Affairs and Crisis (moderator)


Rashawn Ray, Ph.D., M.A., a David M. Rubenstein Fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution, is professor of Sociology and executive director of the Lab for Applied Social Science Research (LASSR) at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is also one of the co-editors of Contexts Magazine: Sociology for the Public. Formerly, Ray was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. Ray’s research addresses the mechanisms that manufacture and maintain racial and social inequality with a particular focus on police-civilian relations and men’s treatment of women. His work also speaks to ways that inequality may be attenuated through racial uplift activism and social policy. Ray has published over 50 books, articles, and book chapters, and nearly 20 op-eds. Recently, Ray published the book How Families Matter: Simply Complicated Intersections of Race, Gender, and Work (with Pamela Braboy Jackson) and another edition of Race and Ethnic Relations in the 21st Century: History, Theory, Institutions, and Policy, which has been adopted nearly 40 times in college courses. Ray has written for the New York Times, Newsweek, Huffington Post, and NBC News. Selected as 40 Under 40 Prince George’s County and awarded the 2016 UMD Research Communicator Award, Ray has appeared on C-SPAN, MSNBC, HLN, Al Jazeera, NPR, and Fox News. His research has been cited by the Washington Post, Associated Press, Reuters, CNN, ESPN, Vox, The Root, and The Chronicle. Previously, Ray served on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington Planning Committee and the Commission on Racial Justice with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Licy Do Canto drives healthcare and social impact policy and strategy as executive vice president and managing director in the BCW Public Affairs and Crisis practice and helps shape strategic direction on diversity, inclusion and belonging for the firm and its clients across North America, in public and corporate affairs, government relations, communications, crisis and reputation management. Licy also leads the BCW Healthcare Team in Washington, D.C. An expert in public affairs, policy and diversity and inclusion, with over twenty five years of experience at the international, national, state and local levels across the nonprofit, philanthropic, corporate and government sectors, Licy is an accomplished, values driven leader with unparalleled experience in developing and leading integrated public affairs campaigns combining strategic communications, public relations, political/legislative initiatives, policy, coalition building , grassroots efforts and advocacy. Before joining BCW, Licy built and lead a nationally recognized minority owned strategic public affairs and communications firm, served as Health Practice Chair and Principal at The Raben Group, was the Chief Executive Officer of The AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth and Families, and managed and helped set the leadership direction for strategic policy, communications, and advocacy investments in executive and senior government affairs roles for the American Cancer Society and the nation’s Community Health Centers. Before joining the private sector, Licy was domestic policy advisor to U.S. Congressman Barney Frank and served in several capacities in the Office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy. During his extensive tenure in Washington, D.C., Licy has played a leading role in efforts to draft, shape and enact legislation and policy to improve the public health, health care safety net and the lives, livelihoods and well being of the nation’s disadvantaged and underserved communities. Licy has worked with Moet Hennessey to drive diversity and inclusion across Wall Street and corporate America. He has partnered with Vice President Al Gore, senior government officials, scientists, NGOs and activists, on global climate change impact and sustainability across Africa. H e also was appointed by MA Governor Charlie Baker as a chair to a statewide commission advising his administration on ways to extend economic prosperity and wellbeing to black communities across the state of Massachusetts. Licy is a graduate of Duke University and holds a certificate in public health leadership in epidemic preparedness and management from the University of North Chapel Hill School of Public Health and Kenan Flagler Business School, and is the recipient of multiple industry awards and citations for his leadership, policy and public affairs acumen, including being named to The Hill Newspaper list of most influential leaders in Washington, D.C. consecutively over the last ten years. As a global citizen, Licy has lived in Turkey and Spain, and is fluent in Spanish and Cape Verdean Portuguese.

This keynote was part of our Summit, a program of our 2020 Signature Series.