COVID-19 and Implications for the LGBTQ+ Community

Panel Moderator:

Chris Surfus, MBA, MPA, Ph.D. Candidate

Chris Surfus is the President of the American Society for Public Administration’s Michigan Capital Area Chapter in Lansing, MI. Surfus is the Founder, President, and Treasurer of The Council for Human Rights, a decade-old 501(c)(3) human rights organization in Grand Rapids, MI. Surfus has been consulting, founding, managing, and leading 501(c)-based organizations for over 10 years. Past research activities include presentations at 12 public affairs conferences including MPAC, NECOPA, ASPA, the Opportunity Conference, and the upcoming IPPA conference. Surfus has chaired or co-chaired three conferences in the past 2 years on the Flint Water Crisis, COVID-19, and LGBTQ+ issues. Surfus has authored a chapter in The Routledge Handbook of LGBTQIA Administration and Policy, edited by Dr. Wallace Swan, has a pending book chapter on Flint and Environmental Justice, and a published MPA capstone “Equity Issues in LGBT Funding” through Grand Valley State University. Surfus resides in Grand Rapids, MI, which is Michigan’s second largest city after Detroit.

Panel Speakers:

Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian MD, MPH

Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian earned an MPH in molecular epidemiology, completed Internal Medicine residency and Infectious Disease fellowship at the University of Michigan. Dr. Bagdasarian has numerous peer-reviewed publications in the field of infectious diseases and epidemiology, including several publications on COVID-19. Dr. Bagdasarian consults for the World Health Organization on international outbreak preparedness and response. Since July 2020, she has served as Senior Public Health Physician at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services where she provides input on communicable diseases, outbreak and pandemic response and public health policy.

Dr. Wally Swan, MPA, MAPA, DPA

Dr. Wally Swan has taught public policy, administrative ethics, public and non-profit finance and organization theory at Western International University, University of St. Thomas, Metropolitan State University, Nova Southeastern University, and has served on the faculty of University of Electronic Science and Technology of China. He currently is a Contributing Faculty Member at Walden University and Adjunct Instructor at Hamline University. He has held city-wide elected office at the Minneapolis Board of Estimate and Taxation; and is currently a member of the board of JustUs Health (the result of a merger of Rainbow Health Initiative, Minnesota AIDS Project, and Training to Serve); and he is on the Stewardship Committee at All God’s Children Metropolitan Community Church of Minneapolis. He is the Immediate Past Chair of the LGBT Advocacy Action Section of the American Society for Public Administration.

Paula Overby, BA, BS

Paula Overby is a career systems analyst, currently employed as the IT director at the Friends School of Minnesota. Overby is a member of the Healthcare Policy Advocates in Minnesota, which is focused on cost accountability in the HMO industry. Overby is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with majors in Psychology and Computer Science. Following several years as a community based mental health advocate, she managed a successful career in software quality assurance doing data analysis, systems analysis, and process design while maintaining priority as a mother to her three children. Paula is a transgender woman. Her identity became the central focus of a four-year custody battle in which Paula represented herself in defense of her role as a mother and primary care parent. The courtroom ordeal inspired her recent autobiography, ”The Transgender Myth – Through the gender looking glass,” where she examines the historical, social, political, economic and legal impact of gender on her life as a transgender woman. Paula currently works as a political organizer, advocating for structural change in our electoral process and promoting an independent voter movement. Paula was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Minnesota’s second congressional district in 2014 and 2016; and is the Green Party’s Minnesota endorsed candidate for U.S. Senate in 2018.