The fourth annual East Central Mississippi Public Health Conference will be Friday and Saturday at Dancing Rabbit Inn.

The opening keynote speaker will be J. Nadine Gracia, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and the Director of the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

She will speak at 9:30 a.m. Friday following a welcome by Mayor James A. Young.

Under Dr. Gracia's leadership, the Office of Minority Health oversees the implementation of the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities and the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities.

A pediatrician with epidemiology training, Dr. Gracia previously served as Chief Medical Officer for the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health. There, she provided policy and programmatic leadership for a portfolio that included child and adolescent health, climate change, disaster preparedness, environmental health, global health, Haiti recovery, and the White House Council on Women and Girls. She led the development of the HHS 2012 Environmental Justice Strategy.

Dr. Gracia is a former White House Fellow, serving at HHS in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health and the Office of the Secretary.

She also served as a policy advisor in the Office of the First Lady, assisting in the development of the Let's Move! initiative to solve childhood obesity.

An honors graduate of Stanford University, Dr. Gracia received her medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh and holds a Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania.

She completed postgraduate training at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, where she was Chief Pediatrics Resident. She served as a clinical instructor and general pediatrics research fellow at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, conducting research on community risk factors for violence. For more information on the conference, contact the Mayor's Office at (601) 656-3612.