October 14, 2008

Is HIV Becoming a Black Disease?

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Is HIV Becoming a Black Disease?

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About Me

Wynfred Nathaniel Russell is an educator, a community health activist, and a communications consultant. He was born in Upper Caldwell, Montserrado County to the parents of James Nathaniel and Georgia Carr Russell. His formative years were spent in Nimba County, where he attended the Ganta United Methodist High School.

He was a sophomore at the University of Liberia when he fled like most Liberians due to the raging civil war. He settled in the Ivory Coast and enrolled at the University of Abidjan for a year before receiving a full academic scholarship to study in the United States. Wynfred holds a bachelor’s degree in broadcast communications and journalism, and a master’s degree in public affairs and political science from Northern Michigan University, and a graduate certificate in Global Studies/Third World Studies from North Carolina State University. He served as a student council representative and general manager of the university-run radio station – WUPX 89.9. He has since emerged as one of the most promising young Africans within the State of Minnesota.

Wynfred was recruited by the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities as Coordinator of Graduate Studies, where he managed its esteemed doctoral program in economics, which has produced two Nobel Prize laureates. After one year in that position, the Department of African American and African Studies at the University of Minnesota hired him as an adjunct instructor.

He also managed the department’s community outreach programs and served as a faculty advisor to the African Student Association (ASA) and the Liberian Student Association (LiSA). As part of the university’s “resident expert on West Africa,? Wynfred has made numerous media appearances on MPR, NPR, CNN, CBS Radio, Radio Jamaica, WCCO - TV, and KARE 11. He has written articles for the Minnesota Spokesman Recorder and been a guest columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Mshale newspapers. In addition he has been interviewed by the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times Magazine, the Chronicles of Higher Education, Minneapolis Star Tribune, and Detroit Free Press.

Wynfred served as the representative for African Immigrant Community on the City of Brooklyn Park Stable Neighborhood Action Planning (SNAP) task force. He served a two-year term as an appointee of the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health on its Community Cooperative Council for HIV/AIDS Prevention (CCCHAP), which allocates HIV prevention money throughout the state of Minnesota.

Project Lifeline, which Wynfred founded and coordinates, hosted a professional development workshop for Liberian religious leaders to increase their skills in HIV/AIDS intervention in 2005. He has visited and spoken at nearly every church in the Twin Cities, where Liberians worship to bring the HIV/AIDS awareness message, including hosting sporting events to increase youth awareness around HIV/AIDS.

He organized a leadership workshop for OLM and ULAA in 2006. He has interfaced with the Medical School at the University of Minnesota to host series of health related projects for the Liberian community, including a health audit and health fair.

Two months ago, Wynfred facilitated two workshops for the American Refugee Committee (ARC) in Monrovia and Gbarnga for its Liberian and expatriate staff. His work was lauded in a commendation letter from ARC’s CEO and President as outstanding!