Meet the Team

The Ochsner-Xavier Institute for Health Equity and Research is guided by a multidisciplinary leadership team aimed at developing and implementing a coordinated strategy to address health inequities in our community.

Eboni Price-Haywood, MD, MPH, FACP

OXIHER Director, Ochsner Health; Professor, Ochsner Clinical School - University of Queensland
Dr. Price-Haywood is a General Internist and Professor at the UQ-Ochsner Clinical School. She spent her career focusing on disease prevention, health promotion and care delivery improvements, with a focus on advancing health equity. She is nationally recognized as a member of the Board of Governors for the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute. She most recently served as Director of the Center for Outcomes Research here at Ochsner. She earned her Medical Degree and Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University (JHU) School of Medicine and JHU Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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Christopher Williams, PhD

OXIHER Director, Xavier University of Louisiana
Dr. Williams is an associate professor in Pharmacology and Chair of the Division of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences in Xavier’s University College of Pharmacy. Over the past decade, Dr. Williams’ research has focused on nuclear receptor biology and anti-estrogen resistance in breast cancer. Throughout his career Dr. Williams has remained committed to mentoring underrepresented minorities in the biomedical sciences and providing educational pathways to enter STEM fields. In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Williams, in partnership with the ThermoFisher Just Project, developed the on-campus laboratory at XULA which also provides no-cost testing to local/regional HBCUs.

Victoria Smith MD, FAAFP

Health Equity Council Chair, Ochsner Health
Dr. Victoria McGhee Smith is a Family Physician and Associate Medical Director for St. Charles Parish Hospital and Primary Care for the River Region at Ochsner Health. She currently serves on the Ochsner Health Board of Directors. Dr. McGhee Smith earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Yale University. She earned a medical degree from Harvard Medical School and completed a residency at LSU Health Sciences Center-New Orleans / Kenner Regional Medical Center. Dr. McGhee Smith has served as the Medical Director of Ochsner Physician Partners. She is a zealous advocate of health promotion, disease prevention and population health. Dr. McGhee Smith has a passion for education having taught elementary school through Teach For America, adult basic education at El Camino Community College in California and Family Medicine at Meharry Medical College. Dr. McGhee Smith has received many honors, including 2018 City Business Woman of the Year and the 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Award at Ochsner Health.

Chamika Hawkins-Taylor, MHA, PhD

Outcomes Research, Xavier University of Louisiana
Chamika Hawkins-Taylor is an assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy at Xavier University of Louisiana. She received her PhD from the University of Minnesota, College of Pharmacy with an emphasis on social and administrative pharmacy and health disparities. She also received her masters and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Southern California and University of California, Davis respectively. Her research has been broadly focused on race, age and geography-based disparities. Most recently, her research has centered on the social impact of poorly managed diabetes, disparities in limb amputations among African Americans and the impact of housing arrangements on quality of life of elderly, Black populations. She is the 2020 recipient of the Early Career Award by the Pharmacy Section of American Public Health Association in recognition of early-career leadership and innovation in public health pharmacy.

Beau Raymond, MD, FACP

Population Health, Ochsner Health
Dr. Raymond is a Board-Certified Internist now serving as the Medical Director of Ochsner Health Network and Medical Director and President of Ochsner Physician Partners. He is currently serving on the Board of the Ochsner Accountable Care Network. Prior to joining Ochsner, Dr. Raymond was Vice President, Physician Practice Administrator and Chief Medical Information Officer at East Jefferson General Hospital. His experience included serving on the Steering Committee and later as a Board Member for Gulf South Quality Network. Dr. Raymond earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Loyola University, earned a Medical Degree from the Louisiana State University School of Medicine, and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at LSU-New Orleans.

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Amy Thierry, PhD, MPH

Population Health, Xavier University of Louisiana
Dr. Amy Thierry is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at Xavier University Louisiana. She completed her BS in Biological Sciences from LSU in Baton Rouge and holds an MPH in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences from the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans where she was an Albert Schweitzer Fellow from 2009-2010. Dr. Thierry earned her PhD in Biobehavioral Health with a minor in Demography from Pennsylvania State University. She was a postdoctoral scholar at Duke University in the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development. With expertise in quantitative analysis of national survey and biomarker data, Dr. Thierry's research focuses on understanding how social inequality via chronic stress pathways drives population-level disparities in chronic disease and physical disability related outcomes in older adults.

Deborah Grimes, RN, JD, MSHQS

Health Careers & Equity Education, Ochsner Health
Deborah Grimes serves as Ochsner Health’s first VP Chief of Diversity and Inclusion. She received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from UAB worked as Registered Nurse for 10 years. She graduated from the Birmingham School of Law with a Juris Doctor Degree and worked at UAB Risk Management as a Healthcare Attorney. After obtaining a Master’s in Science Degree in Quality and Patient Safety, she was appointed as UAB Health System’s first Chief Diversity Officer. Deborah was named by Savoy magazine as one of the Most Influential Women in Corporate America in 2019.

Missy Sparks, PhD

Health Careers & Equity Education, Ochsner Health
Missy Sparks serves as Vice President of Talent Management in Human Resources at Ochsner Health. She leads her team in developing a diverse talent pipeline to support top quality patient care. In her role she oversees workforce development with a focus on opening career pathways for the unemployed/ underemployed, college and post-graduate internships and fellowships, orientation & onboarding, performance management and engagement for more than 32,000 team members. She serves on the Workforce Development Boards of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, YouthForce NOLA, Morris Jeff Community School and Communities In Schools of the Gulf South.

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Florastina Payton-Stewart, PhD

Health Careers & Equity Education, Xavier University of Louisiana
Dr. Florastina Payton-Stewart serves as Associate Professor, Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs and Faculty Administrative Fellow for Diversity and Inclusion at Xavier University of Louisiana. She received a B.S. degree in Chemistry from Xavier University of Louisiana in 1999 and her PhD in Bioorganic Chemistry at Tulane University in 2007. After receiving her Ph.D., Dr. Payton-Stewart held a postdoctoral position at Tulane University Medical School from 2007-2010. She is the recipient of various honors, such as the Cancer Association of Greater New Orleans Fellowship, the GALA Dissertation Writing Fellowship, the Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium Fellowship and the Susan G. Komen Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Yvens Laborde, MD

Community Engagement, Ochsner Health
Dr. Laborde, is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and currently serves as the Medical Director of Global Health Education and as an assistant professor of medicine for the Ochsner UQ/Clinical School. He attended medical school at LSU Shreveport followed by an internship at Tulane and a residency in internal medicine at Ochsner. Dr. Laborde joined the Ochsner staff in 1995 and was instrumental in the development and growth of the Ochsner West Bank region. He also became the first black physician elected to the Ochsner Board of Directors where he served two terms. Dr. Laborde has dedicated his career to serving the local and global community. He led the Ochsner relief efforts in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and Hurricane Dorian in 2019 and was the recipient of the 2011 Alton Ochsner Community Service Award for his humanitarian efforts.

Tonia Moore, MA, MSHCM

Community Engagement, Ochsner Health
Tonia R. Moore currently serves as the director of community engagement for Ochsner Health. She has over 16 years of equity-focused leadership and experience both in public health policy and government relations, and five years in health care administration. She has extensive experience with the Louisiana Public Health Institute where she most recently directed the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living Program. She currently serves as chair of the City of New Orleans Pay Equity Commission, president of the Southern University 1880 Society Annual Fund and a member of the American Public Health Association. Tonia received both a bachelors and master’s degree in Political Science from Southern University and A & M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She also obtained a Master of Science in Health Care Management from the University of New Orleans.

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Margarita Echeverri, MSc, PhD

Community Engagement, Xavier University of Louisiana
Dr. Echeverri serves as Associate Professor and Educational Coordinator in Health Disparities, Cultural Competence and Diversity at Xavier University of Louisiana College of Pharmacy. She is a social and behavioral researcher with a strong background in cultural & linguistic competence, health literacy, health disparities, and community-based participatory research. She also serves as the Associate Director of the Community Engagement & Outreach Resource Core at the Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science Center (LACaTS). Her research focuses on factors influencing patients’ health behaviors and decisions related to prevention and treatment of chronic diseases, as well as development of strategies to improve communication and understanding among healthcare providers, patients, and researchers. She received her Master and PhD degrees at Tulane University and is the recipient of the 2015 Norman Francis Faculty Excellence in Service Award for outstanding service to the community, the university and the profession.

Veronica Gillispie-Bell, MD, FACOG, MS

Advocacy & Government Relations, Ochsner Health
Dr. Veronica Gillispie-Bell is a Board-Certified Obstetrician & Gynecologist and Associate Professor for Ochsner Health in New Orleans, Louisiana. She serves as the Senior Site Lead and Section Head of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Ochsner Kenner. Additionally, she serves as the Director of Quality for Women’s Services for the Ochsner Health System and is the Medical Director of the Minimally Invasive Center for the Treatment of Uterine Fibroids. Dr. Gillispie-Bell is also the Medical Director of the Louisiana Perinatal Quality Collaborative and Pregnancy Associated Mortality Review for the Louisiana Department of Health. She has served in several local and national leadership roles and received many accolades for her clinical, academic, and community services contributions.

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Catherine Levendis, JD

Advocacy & Government Relations, Ochsner Health
Catherine Levendis is the Assistant Vice President of Government Relations for Ochsner Health. She received her Juris Doctor from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center and her Master of Social Work from Louisiana State University. Ms. Levendis began her career at the White House, serving in the Office of Presidential Messages and later as Deputy Director of the Office of Presidential Student Correspondence. In this role, she helped President Bill Clinton respond to thousands of students who wrote to him each week. Upon return to Louisiana, Ms. Levendis served as Health Policy Advisor to Governors Mike Foster and Kathleen Blanco. She later worked for the Louisiana Legislature as an attorney for the House Health and Welfare Committee, and subsequently served as the Deputy Director for Health Care Reform in the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. She has worked for Ochsner Health in Government Relations for the last nine years, focusing primarily on advocacy efforts at the state level.

William Kirchain, PharmD, CDCES

Advocacy & Government Relations, Xavier University of Louisiana
Dr. Kirchain is the Director of the Xavier University College of Pharmacy Health and Wellness Center. He oversees a large community-based practice focused on the prevention and early detection of disease and the promotion of wellness through self-care and healthy lifestyle choices. In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Kirchain teaches pharmacy law and regulation at Xavier. He currently or has served as President of the Louisiana Pharmacists Association, the Chair for Public Policy, Louisiana Society of Health-system Pharmacists, Vice Chair for the Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners’ Advisory Committee for Collaborative Practice, Louisiana Delegate of the APhA House of Delegates and the Board of Directors Louisiana Pharmacists Association.

Susan Olet, PhD

OXIHER Biostatistician, Ochsner Health
Susan Olet is a Biostatistician for OXIHER. She has over 22 years of experience in designing, implementing, and analyzing observational studies and identifying disease risk factors and determinants of response to interventions for Cardiovascular and Cancer research, Circulatory Biomarkers of Extracellular Matrix and MicroRNA (miRNA), and Multidrug-resistant in commensal bacteria. She has conducted population studies within the United States. Her current work focuses on health disparities, health equity and social determinants of health in outcomes research.

Russell M. Frazier, PhD

Department Chair of Political Science, Xavier University of Louisiana
Dr. Russell M. Frazier currently serves as Department Chair of Political Science at Xavier University of Louisiana. Dr. Frazier is a former Southern Regional Education Board and Benjamin Lever Doctoral Fellow. Dr. Frazier is an active member of the American Political Science Association (APSA) and an active member of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). He has a progressive and diverse career in higher education that spans almost 22 years. As a result, he has developed and managed an array of academic curriculum and has published multiple articles concerning Louisiana shift-share projections, the level of democratic authority in the federal rulemaking process and cooperative federalism. Dr. Frazier earned his B.A. and MPA from Kentucky State University. After serving several years as a university administrator, he earned a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Arkansas.
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