Center for Surgery and Public Health

Improving Language Concordant Care in Boston and Beyond

Language barriers are a critical, yet often overlooked, dimension of achieving equity in health care experiences and outcomes. The Language Equity Symposium (LES) is a convening of experts from across the healthcare continuum to discuss best practices and advancements in language equity in healthcare. The 2023 LES offered researchers, administrators, and policymakers opportunities to learn about cutting-edge research, projects, and policies improving healthcare language equity and justice around the United States. Thank you for joining us to connect with your peers, hear from experts, and learn about how to improve the healthcare system for patients with language access needs/barriers. The Boston Language Equity Symposium was organized by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Please see below for our Key Takeaways:


9:00 – 9:15 am 

Welcome, Introductions

9:15 – 11:00 am 

Quickshot Presentations (10 minutes)

  • Alisa Khan, MD, MPH | Boston Children’s Hospital
  • Gezzer Ortega, MD, MPH | Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • MyDzung Chu, PhD, MSPH | Tufts Medical Center
  • Jorge Rodriguez, MD | Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Katie Huber, MD, PhD | Tufts Medical Center
  • Rose Molina, MD, MPH | Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Miguel Linares, MD, MPH | Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Ana Sofia Ore, MD | Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

11:10 am – 12:10 pm

Panel: “The Future of Language Access”


  • Divya Chaturvedi, MPA, M.Phil, MA | Executive Director, Found in Translation
  • Iris Coloma-Gaines, JD | Statewide Language Access Attorney, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
  • Juan Fernando Lopera | Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Beth Israel Lahey Health
  • Sucharita Kher, MD | Vice Chair for Clinical Operations and Quality, Department of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine
  • Crystal Rosa | Language Access Manager, City of Cambridge
  • Bill Tan, MEd | Founder, Transcendent Endeavors, Canopy Innovations, Inc., and Blossom

12:15 – 1:00 pm

Discussion and Q&A with panelists

Quickshot Presenters

Alisa Khan, MD

Alisa Khan, MD, MPH is a pediatric hospitalist and health services researcher at Boston Children's and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She has led studies to improve family-centered rounds, family safety reporting, and patient safety. She also studies disparities in communication and safety in hospitalized patients and families who use languages other than English for care. Her research has been published in the BMJ, JAMA Pediatrics, Pediatrics, and Academic Pediatrics. Dr. Khan has received funding from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, and the Charles. H. Hood foundation, and other organizations.

Gezzer Ortega, MD, MPH

Gezzer Ortega, MD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor of Surgery and Lead Faculty for Research and Innovation for Equitable Surgical Care at the Center for Surgery and Public Health in the Department of Surgery at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Harvard Medical School, and adjunct faculty at the Patient Reported Outcomes, Value & Experience Center. Born in a low-income Brooklyn neighborhood to immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic, Dr. Ortega’s work centers on improving surgical care for low-income and historically underserved populations and promoting language-concordant care for patients with limited English proficiency (LEP).

MyDzung Chu, PhD, MSPH

MyDzung T. Chu, PhD, MSPH, is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Public Health and Community Medicine at the Tufts University School of Medicine. She is also the Director of the ADAPT (Addressing Disparities in Asian Populations through Translational Research) Coalition at the Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute. As an environmental epidemiologist, her research focuses on environmental and social drivers of health equity for Asian and immigrant populations. She is collaborating with community and clinical partners on several projects, including assessing heat stress and air pollution in open spaces throughout Chinatown Boston, elucidating heavy metal sources associated with increased gestational diabetes risk for Asian women, and evaluating cultural responsiveness of the Mental Health First Aid for Asian populations in Greater Boston. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the George Washington University and a PhD in Population Health Sciences from Harvard University. She is a JPB in Environmental Health Fellow and a former Agents of Change in Environmental Justice Fellow and Gates Millennium Scholar.

Jorge Rodriguez, MD

Dr. Rodriguez is a hospitalist and researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care. His research and passion lie in the meaningful intersection of medicine, social justice, and technology. He is currently focused on bridging disparities in patient-facing health technology, especially patient portals, mobile apps, and telehealth.

Kathryn Huber, MD, PhD

Kathryn Huber, MD PhD, is a Radiation Oncologist at Tufts Medical Center and Associate Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine. She specializes in the treatment of thoracic, breast, and head and neck cancers and is the Director for the residency training program at Tufts.

Rose Molina, MD, MPH

Dr. Rose Molina (she/ella) is an obstetrician-gynecologist and scholar-activist with a passion for applying language and immigration status as critical lenses for understanding and eliminating inequities in maternal health. She is an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School. She completed a Global Women’s Health Fellowship and obtained a Master of Public Health in Clinical Effectiveness from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She works at The Dimock Center (a federally qualified community health center), where she cares for a large community of Spanish-speaking immigrants, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She is the Lawrence Director of Professionalism, Humanism, and Health Equity in Medicine and the inaugural Director of the Medical Language Program at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Molina works at Ariadne Labs (a joint center for health system innovation between Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health) to design, test, and spread solutions to enhance the quality and equity of pregnancy care in the US and around the world. She is currently an AHRQ Learning Health Systems K12 scholar and is building a research portfolio to enhance trust when language barriers are present in pregnancy care.

Miguel Linares, MD, MPH

Miguel Linares is a research fellow in the Division of General Medicine and a primary care doctor at Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center. He graduated from the Internal Medicine residency program at Brigham and Women's Hospital in June of this year. His research interests center on health disparities, with a focus on the impact of technology on health outcomes and the patient experience of those with non-English language preferences.

Ana Sofia Ore, MD, MSc, MPH

Dr. Ore is a PGY-4 general surgery resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA. She is originally from Lima, Peru, where she obtained her MD from San Martin de Porres University. Graduated with a MSc in Clinical Research from Dresden International University in Germany and completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in the Pancreas and Liver Institute at BIDMC/Harvard Medical School before residency. She graduated with a Master in Public Health with a double concentration in Clinical Effectiveness and Public Health Leadership. She completed a two year postdoctoral research fellowship at the Center for Functional Glycomics and Harvard Medical School identifying new marker candidates for colorectal cancer. Her research interests involve colorectal cancer, improving oncologic outcomes after surgery, health disparities, access to language concordant surgical care and new technologies on how to perform bowel anastomoses. She currently is the chair of the GME Diversity, Inclusion, Advocacy Council at BIDMC.


Divya Chaturvedi, MPA

Divya brings considerable knowledge and experience working with immigrants and has been a passionate advocate for empowerment of women. She has a Master’s in Public Administration from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. She also holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from the Institute for Nonprofit Practice (INP). Her previous work experience spans across countries in Asia and Africa as well as the United States working with various nonprofit and international development organizations such as UNDP, UN Woman, Ford Foundation, and the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL). Prior to joining Found in Translation, Divya served as a Co-Executive Director of Saheli Inc., a nonprofit serving immigrant survivors of domestic violence, a role in which she has demonstrated exceptional leadership and nonprofit management skills. She is a passionate advocate for the inclusion and language access of immigrant women in Massachusetts and has been a speaker at conferences and universities, sharing her knowledge and experience on these critical issues. In recognition of her dedication and commitment to empowering immigrant women, Divya was appointed by the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators to serve as a Commissioner on the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women.

Crystal Rosa

Crystal Rosa is the daughter and granddaughter of Americans who were once undocumented Mexicans. Graduated from George Washington University with a double major in Psychology and Criminal Justice. After backpacking across the country in 2010, Crystal began her career in police oversight as an investigator in Washington, DC. Dedicated to social justice, Crystal joined the City of Cambridge in 2015 working for the Human Rights Commission and the Commission on Immigrant Rights and Citizenship. Crystal later joined the Family Policy Council to establish the Language Justice Division and the create Language Access Manager position for the City of Cambridge.

Bill Tan, MEd

Bill Tan is the founder of Transcendent Endeavors, a venture studio building innovative products that transcend barriers, promote positive change, and improve lives. As the Principal Investigator for multiple NIH innovation awards, his work focuses on helping underserved communities to overcome obstacles. Its portfolio of endeavors includes the Canopy suite for enabling language-concordant communication between patients and healthcare providers, the Aqueduct platform for promoting appointment adherence and patient engagement, and the BLoSSoM ebook system for spreading the joy of reading -- in multiple languages -- to kids and their grownups. Bill was a Crain’s 40 Under 40 Rising Stars, and was named by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a New York City Venture Fellow. He is an associate faculty member at Ariadne Labs, a joint center at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Bill earned a bachelor’s degree from the Stern School of Business at New York University, where he was elected president of the entrepreneurs club, and a Master of Education at the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, where he was a Presidential Public Service Fellow.

Sucharita R. Kher, MD

Dr. Sucharita R. Kher is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine and a highly regarded Pulmonary and Critical Care Physician with expertise in asthma, COPD and tobacco dependence at Tufts Medical Center. An avid advocate for lung health, she developed the Asian Lung Clinic for non-English speaking patients at Tufts Medical Center focusing on providing linguistically appropriate, efficient care and improving access for language minorities. Currently, as Vice-Chair, Dr. Kher oversees clinical operations and quality within the Department of Medicine and is passionate about ensuring that every clinical initiative has a health equity lens. She led the Building Partnerships for the Health of Linguistic Minority Summit at Tufts Medical Center in 2022 that brought various stakeholders together to outline a strategy towards building a Center for Linguistically and Culturally Sensitive Care within the Dept. of Medicine. Dr. Kher earned her medical degree from the University of Mumbai (India), completed residency in Internal Medicine at Cook County Hospital (Chicago), and fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Tufts Medical Center.

Juan Fernando Lopera

As Beth Israel Lahey Health’s inaugural Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, Juan Fernando Lopera leads the system’s efforts to transform care delivery for the underserved, while establishing diversity, equity and inclusion capabilities across the system. He is also responsible for the system’s community benefits and community relations efforts. Before joining BILH, Juan Fernando served as Vice President and Corporate Business Diversity Officer at Point32Health, where he led company-wide diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and co-chaired the company’s Anti-Racism Leadership Taskforce. He also oversaw the Rhode Island Medicaid business and led marketing and community outreach efforts for Tufts Health Public Plans. Previously, he served as the company’s Director of Health Services leading medical cost management and provider contracting strategy and analytics. Earlier in his career, Juan Fernando served as Director of Affordability Strategies at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and held management roles at Deloitte Consulting. Juan Fernando’s civic engagements include, Vice-Chair of the Dimock Center Board, Trustee of Stonehill College, Co-Founder of the Health Equity Compact, Co-Chair of The Boston Foundation’s Latino Legacy Fund, Eastern Bank’s Board of Corporators and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Economic Opportunity Board. He has also served on State of Massachusetts appointments, including the COVID-19 Health Equity Advisory Group, Latino Empowerment Council and the Health Policy Commission Advisory Council. Juan Fernando earned a B.S. from the School of Management at Boston College. He is originally from Medellin, Colombia and resides in Waltham, MA with his wife and two children. In his spare time, Juan Fernando is a competitive cyclist and was the 2019 Massachusetts Masters Road Champion.

Iris Coloma-Gaines, JD

Iris Eileen Coloma-Gaines joined the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) in May 2018 as the attorney for the Health Starts at Home Project, a collaborative research initiative of immigrant families served by Boston Children’s Hospital’s Martha Eliot Health Clinic. In May 2019, she became MLRI’s statewide Language Access Attorney. She has practiced poverty law for over 30 years in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Ms. Coloma-Gaines began her career at Southeastern Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (now, South Coastal Counties Legal Services) primarily practicing family law and landlord-tenant law. After relocating to Philadelphia, she joined Philadelphia Legal Assistance where she launched and led a migrant farmworker practice. There she litigated individual and multi-plaintiff cases in federal agencies and courts. She also partnered with Philadelphia area law schools and colleges and directed a longstanding immigrant-focused tax law clinic. After assisting Pennsylvania’s farm workers for seventeen years, Ms. Coloma-Gaines returned to her native Massachusetts and joined Greater Boston Legal Services’ Employment Law Unit, representing low wage immigrant workers in tax matters. Ms. Coloma-Gaines is fluent in Spanish and is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants. She completed her undergraduate degree at Boston College and earned her J.D. from Suffolk University Law School.