Plenary Sessions

2021 Plenary Sessions

Ready and Resilient: Envisioning Preparedness into the Future
April 13, 12:15-2:00 pm ET

Our public health preparedness and response systems have been tested in extraordinary ways, throwing into sharp focus the need for ongoing collaboration and coordination across all levels of government and with private sector partners. New leadership within federal agencies, charged with moving the nation’s public health and healthcare preparedness infrastructure forward, will bring change and a new vision for preparedness. Hear our new national leaders describe their goals and expectations for building a resilient and ready public health infrastructure and give suggestions for how to engage local, state, tribal, and territorial partners.


  • Bechara Choucair, MD
    Vaccinations Coordinator
    White House COVID Response Team
  • Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH
    Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
  • Jonathan Greene
    Deputy Assistant Secretary
    Office of Operations and Resources
    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
  • Jennifer Kertanis, MPH
    Farmington Valley Health District​

A Path Forward: Paving the Way to Restore the Public’s Trust in Science and Public Health
April 14, 11:30 am-1:00 pm ET
As the nation’s public health professionals worked to safeguard the public during the unprecedented pandemic, the impact of misinformation and the eroding trust in science and public health was starkly visible. Proactively communicating challenges during public health emergencies can shape the public’s perception of the response. To help us navigate this new and changing landscape, members of the media will share their experience covering the COVID-19 pandemic, explore what it takes to build and sustain public trust, and offer advice for developing messages that resonate with the public.


  • Adriane Casalotti
    Chief, Government & Public Affairs
  • Michelle Lehman
    Executive Vice President Public Affairs
    National Association of Broadcasters
  • Sheri Fink, PhD
    The New York Times
  • Charles D. Ellison
    Executive Producer & Host of Reality Check
    WURD Radio
  • Lauren Weber
    Midwest Correspondent
    Kaiser Health News

Forging the Way: Meeting the Challenges of a Historic Vaccination Effort
April 15, 2:30-4:00 pm ET
With the biggest vaccination effort in US history underway, public health at the local, state, and federal level have mobilized like never before. Planning and response efforts have been adapted as complexity compounds at every stage. These adaptations include everything from fluid guidelines, to developing new points of dispensing models, multiple types of vaccines with unique protocols, and coordinating logistics with multiple entities. This session will examine how local, state, and federal response agencies addressed these unprecedented challenges during the initial phase of administering COVID-19 vaccines and share lessons learned that can be applied to current and future mass vaccination campaigns. Speakers will also discuss the necessity of prioritizing health equity during COVID-19 vaccine distribution.


  • Boris Lushniak, MD, MPH
    Professor and Dean
    UMD School of Public Health
  • Lisa Coen
    U.S. Public Affairs Lead
    Pfizer Vaccines
  • Richard Hughes, IV, JD, MPH
    Vice President of Public Policy
  • Phyllis Arthur
    Vice President, Infectious Diseases and Diagnostics Policy
    Biotechnology Innovation Organization