2021 CAPH/SNI Annual Conference Speakers


Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly was appointed in 2019 by Governor Gavin Newsom as Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, overseeing California’s largest Agency committed to expanding health coverage and access and providing safety net services for our most vulnerable neighbors.

Previously, Dr. Ghaly worked for 15 years in County health leadership roles in San Francisco and Los Angeles. In San Francisco, he was Medical Director of the Southeast Health Center, a public health clinic located in the Bayview Hunters Point community. In addition to having a large primary care pediatrics practice, Dr. Ghaly led the clinic’s transition to the patient-centered medical home model of care, expanded specialty care and diagnostics services, and addressed issues such as teen health, youth violence, food security, and environmental health issues.

In 2011, Dr. Ghaly became the Deputy Director for Community Health and Integrated Programs for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. In this role, Dr. Ghaly directed clinical operations in the juvenile detention system and led the transition of jail health services from the Los Angeles County Sheriff and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health into one integrated system of care.He also led a County team to expand health and behavioral health services on the Martin Luther King, Jr., health campus in South Los Angeles, which included the opening of the public-private Martin Luther King, Jr., Community Hospital.

A native of Minneapolis, Dr. Ghaly earned his M.D. and M.P.H. from Harvard. Dr. Ghaly is married to Christina Ghaly and has four young children.


Adam Jentleson is the author of Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy, and the Executive Director of Battle Born Collective. He is a veteran of presidential campaigns and served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Senator Harry Reid until Reid retired in 2017. In his capacity with Reid, he was a senior advisor on political, legislative and communications strategy through the fights of the Obama years. He is a go-to source for reporters, activists and Congressional staff, along with members of Congress, for creative approaches to legislative strategy.

He has been cited as an authority by every major national American news outlet and several international ones. Described as a “rules whiz” by Huffington Post, his strategies receive extensive public attention and become topics of discussion for senators, and his recommendations are often adopted. A recent plan devised by Jentleson was published by the New York Times and described by CNN on-air as “the Jentleson Plan”; Senator Elizabeth Warren was asked about it in a television interview, while George Stephanopoulos asked Senator Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Democratic Leader, to respond to it on ABC’s “This Week.” In addition to the New York Times, Jentleson’s writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Politico, and GQ.

Jentleson is the author of Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy, which was released in January to rave reviews from the New York Times and the Washington Post and others, and selected as an Editor’s Pick by the New York Times. Jentleson’s work has been cited as influencing the debate over reforming the filibuster in the Senate and motivating Democrats to be aggressive.


Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, MHS is Associate Dean for Health Equity Research; C.N.H Long Professor of Medicine, Public Health, and Management; and Director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center at Yale. Her research focuses on health and healthcare equity for marginalized populations with an emphasis on the social and structural determinants of health, the influence of healthcare systems on health disparities, and the advancement of community-academic partnered scholarship.

Dr. Nunez-Smith currently serves as Senior Advisor to the White House COVID-19 Response Team and Chair of the Presidential COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force.

Previously, she served as co-chair of the Biden-Harris Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board and chair of the governor’s ReOpen CT Advisory Group Community Committee.

Originally from the US Virgin Islands, she attended Jefferson Medical College, residency at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and fellowship at the Yale Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program.


Dr. Robert Sapolsky is John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Professor of Biological Sciences at Stanford University and Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery in Stanford’s School of Medicine. He is also a research associate at the Institute of Primate Research operated by the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi. Dr. Sapolsky is a recipient of a MacArthur genius fellowship.

Professor Sapolsky is the author of several books, including Stress, the Aging Brain and the Mechanisms of Neuron Death (MIT Press, 1992); The Trouble with Testosterone (Macmillan Library Reference, 1997); and Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: A Guide to Stress-Related Diseases and Coping (W.H. Freeman, 1995), which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. His 2008 National Geographic special on stress, and his on-line lectures about human behavioral biology, have been watched tens of millions of times.

The humor and humanity he brings to sometimes-sobering subject matter make Dr. Sapolsky a fascinating speaker. He lectures widely on topics as diverse as stress and stress-related diseases, biology and the free will debate, the biology of our individuality, the biology of religious belief, depression, memory, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease.