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Columbus, OH 43215


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Council to Host Annual Black History Month Celebration and Poindexter Awards Recognition

BHM awards

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Columbus City Council presents a celebration of African American history in the success and shaping of Columbus. This year's theme will be focused around Black Health and Wellness.

During the ceremony, Council will honor the recipients of the 2022 James Preston Poindexter Awards, named after Reverend James Preston Poindexter, the first Black member of Columbus City Council. Additionally, the ceremony will feature a poem from local poet CarolineINSPIRES Bennet to commemorate the event. 

The 2022 Keynote Speaker is Dr. William "BJ" Hicks II.

hicks2William J. Hicks II, MD (“B.J.”), is a neurologist specializing in vascular neurology. As a vascular neurologist, Dr. Hicks specializes in conditions of the cerebrovascular system, including ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes.  His main areas of interest include rapid access to acute stroke rescue therapies and clinical trials.  Dr. Hicks serves as the Co-Director of the Riverside Methodist Hospital Comprehensive Stroke Center.  He’s been a key leader for the OhioHealth StrokeNetwork, bringing stroke expertise to the bedside of roughly 30 Hospitals and Emergency Rooms throughout Ohio.  In addition, his work as the OhioHealth Physician Lead of Columbus’ Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit has helped usher in a unique stroke treatment to the city.

The 2022 Poindexter Award Honorees are:

tavares Charleta B. Tavares is the Chief Executive Officer of PrimaryOne Health. A former Councilmember, serving from 1999-2010, Tavares is also a former member of both the Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate. Tavares is the first: Democrat and Black woman to serve in the Ohio House of Representatives (1993-1998) and Ohio Senate (2011 – 2018) from Franklin County; Black woman to serve in Leadership in the history of the Ohio General Assembly (1996); and Democrat woman to serve in Leadership in both the Ohio House (1996-1998) and Ohio Senate (2014-2018).  

PrimaryOne Health has grown from $25 million to $43+ million during Tavares' tenure. In addition to primary care, dental, vision, physical therapy, pediatrics, pharmacy, nutrition, specialty and supportive services, the agency has integrated mental health and substance use disorder services including Medication-Assisted Treatment. PrimaryOne Health’s diverse racial, ethnic and cultural patients include more than 35 percent speaking a primary language other than English. 

roberts Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika W. Roberts leads the organization and a team of more than 500 public health professionals who are focused on neighborhood-based approaches that address the social determinants of health from safe, affordable housing and education to jobs and violent crime in order to decrease the health disparities that exist.

Dr. Roberts has a prolific 20 year public health background at the local, state and national levels. Prior to her appointment as Health Commissioner in December 2017, she was the Medical Director and Assistant Health Commissioner at Columbus Public Health. She also built a solid foundation in public health early in her career by investigating outbreaks in Ohio for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and leading an STD clinic and hepatitis prevention efforts at the Baltimore City Health Department.

laura espy bell Dr. Laura Espy-Bell is a board certified Emergency physician and a native of Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Espy-Bell’s passion is centered on leadership, mentorship, diversity, and health disparities. She is an active member of the Physician Diversity Steering Committee, working to increase diversity and promote inclusion among OhioHealth residency programs and medical staff.

Additionally, Dr. Espy-Bell is the founder of The Columbus Black Physician’s Network, established in 2016, a social/service organization created to promote networking, provide mentorship, and volunteerism among African American physicians in the central Ohio area. Recently, Dr. Espy-Bell lead an advocacy campaign in which she produced and directed a video featuring approximately 25 African American physicians in the Columbus area, that went “viral” speaking directly to communities of color about the impact of the Covid-19 virus and encouraged them to get vaccinated.

jefferson blair Dr. Jefferson Alfred Blair was a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist, primarily on the staff of Grant and St. Ann's Hospitals. He served the central Ohio community for over 45 years and delivered over 12,000 babies. Dr. Jefferson was the first African American to be accepted into the medical internship program at The Ohio State University. 

As a community servant, he received numerous awards from the central Ohio community for both his professional and civic contributions. He was a member of the National Medical Association, American Medical Association, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Sigma Pi Phi Boule (Lambda Chapter), American College of OB/GYN, American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopy, Columbus Medical Association, The Ohio State Alumni Association, The Medical Group of Ohio and many other civic and social organizations.

Dr. Blair passed away in 2011. 


Dr. William J. Hicks is an oncologist practicing in Columbus, specializing in the care and treatment of patients with cancer. He works at the and James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute within Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University.

Dr. Hicks has over 48 years of experience in the medical field, operating his own private practice, serving as a professor at The Ohio State University, and practicing oncology at Ohio State. Dr. Hicks is a past president of the Columbus Chapter of the National Medical Association. 

This event will be held virtually, with residents wishing to view the program watching online via Council's Facebook page, YouTube channel, or on CTV. 

Stay tuned for future information on speakers and program.