Workshop Speaker Bios
35th Annual Fair Housing Workshop Series, April 27, 2023
Health & Housing
Paul Haan, Lead Programs Specialist (Administrative Analyst II) at City of Grand Rapids Community Development Department
Haan is responsible for developing policy to incorporate childhood lead poisoning prevention strategies into rental housing code enforcement. Prior to joining the City, he served as the Executive Director of the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan. He established and led this nonprofit, which prioritizes children's health and wellbeing by eliminating harmful housing conditions, beginning in Grand Rapids’ hardest hit neighborhoods, for 14 years. Haan also served as the Project Coordinator of the Get the Lead Out! interdisciplinary collaborative which is committed to eliminating childhood lead poisoning in Kent County. He completed his Bachelor of Arts at Calvin University.
Maureen Kirkwood, President and CEO of Health Net of West Michigan
Maureen Kirkwood is President and CEO of Health Net of West Michigan, which works ensure community members are connected to the resources they deserve to live healthier lives by bridging the healthcare and social services systems. Their vision is to create a community where everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. They connect their clients to resources and work alongside them from an empowerment perspective to provide tools for problem-solving and advocacy to reduce barriers they might be facing. Prior to joining Health Net, she served as the Director of Health Initiatives at First Steps Kent, a nonprofit organization that works to ensure that policies, programs, and supports are in place so that children are healthy, thriving, and developmentally on track when they start kindergarten.
Roshanak Mehdipanah, Associate Professor at University of Michigan's School of Public Health
Roshanak Mehdipanah is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education in the School of Public Health. She completed her PhD at the University of Pompeu Fabra, Spain and her MS from the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo, Canada. Her research focuses on how urban policies, particularly related to the built environment, impact health and health inequities of individuals, neighborhoods and cities. Dr. Mehdipanah has brought particular attention to how housing policies and real estate markets shape health inequities among individuals and across neighborhoods. Through community-based participatory research that is supported through grants from the NIH, the WHO, and foundations, she has developed an understanding of how housing is a determinant in health, and has established how housing instability exacerbates health risks.
Environment & Housing
Iris Gipson, Community Ambassador for Community Collaboration on Climate Change (C4)
I’m Iris Gipson, I am proud to be a C4 Community Ambassador. I love serving the community I was born and raised in. Being a part of creating a village for all in the community to thrive, excel and succeed.
Ryanne Nichols, Community Ambassador for Community Collaboration on Climate Change (C4)
My name is Ryanne Nichols and I am a new C4 Community Ambassador. I am a disabled adult (wheelchair bound). In my lifetime, I can see changes in the climate with my own eyes. Worse, when there are extreme weather events, intensified by climate change, I see how the disabled community suffers more than others. I want to bring climate justice to the disabled community in GR.
Vivek Shandas, Professor at Toulan School of Urban Studies & Planning at Portland State University and SUPR (Sustaining Urban Places Research) Lab Founder and Director
Vivek Shandas is a Professor of Climate Adaptation at Portland State University. Dr. Shandas examines the assumptions about the building and design of cities and their implications on human health and social justice. With specific interests in the application of data science to inform environmental threats, and community engagement for developing effective solutions to a changing climate, his project management and publications span physical and social sciences. He serves as an advisor to several Federal, State, and local agencies, nonprofits, and to CAPA Strategies, a climate consultancy. During his spare time, he revels in the mountains and rivers of the Pacific Northwest.