In 2008, we lost Dr. AGene Copelloa beloved member of the National Physicians Alliance (NPA) Board of Directors and a founding leader of the organization’s Council of Consumers. In the final months of his life, Gene served as co-chair of the NPA’s Secure Health Care for All campaign and was deeply committed to our mission of building a physician organization dedicated to patient-centered advocacy.

Dr. AGene Copello

Launched in 2010 as the AGene Copello Physician Leadership Summit, the NPA continued to provide professional development to selected physicians from across the country through the expanded Copello Health Advocacy Fellowship. In December of 2019, NPA merged with Doctors for America (DFA) to leverage the mission and impact of both organizations. This fellowship continues to honor the life and work of Dr. Gene Copello through ongoing action on behalf of patients.

Gene had more than 20 years of HIV/AIDS program and public policy experience, most recently as Executive Director of the AIDS Institute and as an Assistant Professor and Director of the Center for Public Policy Research and Ethics at the University of South Florida College of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and International Medicine. He had also served as Chief of HIV Services for the City of San Francisco and spent six years as Executive Director of the San Mateo County AIDS Program in California.  He began his career in HIV/AIDS as a faculty member at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where he also founded and directed the Vanderbilt AIDS Project. Previously he served as the President of the International Society for AIDS Education and Prevention and was the founding Community Co-Chair of the Southern AIDS Coalition. Gene received his doctoral degree in medical ethics and public policy from Vanderbilt University as well as a master of divinity degree in ethics.  He earned his master of social work degree from the University of Tennessee.

Program Overview

Doctors For America’s Copello Fellowship program is a unique opportunity to build leadership and advocacy skills to improve the health of your patients and community. Twelve extraordinary leaders will meet monthly to learn from experts and each other about advocacy, action planning, media relations and communication strategy, engaging your legislators and so much more!

The program is open to medical students, residents, practicing physicians and retirees – your willingness to learn and make a difference is all that is needed. You must be able to attend monthly advocacy leadership meetings (2nd Thursday 8 pm ET), participate in Impact Area subcommittee meetings, and attend DFA’s National Leadership Conference in Washington, DC, June 6 – 8, 2024, and the program graduation at the National Leadership Conference in 2024. (Time commitment 1 – 2 hours per week.)

Our 2023–2024 Cohort

Nicole Damari

Nicole Damari recent graduate of the University of Cincinnati / Cincinnati Children’s Combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics program. She received her undergraduate degree in biology and anthropology from Brown University in 2012, and her MS in pathobiology in 2013. Prior to medical school, she held an AmeriCorps VISTA position at the Arizona Department of Health Services in the Refugee Health Program. She attended medical school at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, where she was involved in advocacy and services initiatives aimed at eliminating health disparities for all marginalized and underserved communities, and she continued that work in residency with specific focuses on LGBTQ health and refugee health. She is committed a career as a physician-advocate, advocating for her patients both inside and outside of the healthcare setting.

Fabrizia Faustinella

Fabrizia Faustinella is a board-certified internist who has worked in the Texas Medical Center for over thirty years, as a trainee and as a faculty member at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Health Science Center, now John P. McGovern Medical School, in Houston, Texas. In both institutions, a constant element of her work and career has been extensive and direct patient care, patient advocacy, and an unwavering  dedication to the education of future generations of physicians.

Fabrizia’s Baylor career started in Dr. Lawrence Chan’s lab, in the Department of Cell Biology. Later, her interest in the molecular basis of genetic diseases and in gene therapy brought her to Dr. Tom Caskey’s lab in the Department of Molecular Genetics. After completing a residency program in internal medicine at Baylor, Fabrizia readdressed her career choices to reflect her commitment to patient care and medical education, bringing science and humanism together to benefit patients and  improve the health of our community.

While working in the TMC, she has made an effort to seek, develop, and foster inter-institutional collaborations in education and research between Baylor and UT. Examples are the work done as Chair of the Comprehensive Clinical Competency Exam Committee, the participation in the combined BCM-UT Master Teacher Fellowship Program and, prior to that, a collaborative study on neural injuries and liposome-mediated gene transfer of nerve growth factors in primary septo-hippocampal cell cultures.

As a Co-chair of the TXACP-HPPC (Texas Chapter of the American College of Physicians-Health and Public Policy Committee) her current refined focus is health care access, health care cost and disparities, and patient-physician relationship.

Carson Hartlage

Carson Hartlage (they/he) is an MD/PhD Student at the University of Cincinnati originally from Toledo, Ohio. Carson is pursuing a PhD in Biomedical Informatics to use medical geography and clinical informatics to study health equity issues. Carson’s clinical interests include family medicine, transgender health, and psychiatry. Carson is also a passionate advocate for health justice, with experience in organized medicine and state and local advocacy. His advocacy priorities include transgender and LGBTQ+ rights, environmental and climate justice, and equitable healthcare access.

Shriya Veluri

Shriya Veluri is a second-year dual degree MD candidate at UT Health San Antonio and MPD candidate at the UT Health School of Public Health in Houston. Throughout her educational pursuits, Shriya has developed a passion for minority issues, including women’s health, refugee and immigrant care, and racial/ethnic disparities in care. She aims to find an area of intersection between medicine and public health and craft a career that integrates both fields. In her free time, Shriya is an avid classical dancer and enjoys long walks and experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen.

Jennifer Jones-Vanderleest

Dr. Jones-Vanderleest is an attending physician in Public Health-Seattle & King County Jail Health Services where she provides comprehensive medical care. She also leads a jail health elective for family medicine residents and co-directs the HIV telemedicine program. In 2022, this program won the Cesar Augusto Caceres Award for Technology Use in HIV Practice from the Institute for Technology in Health Care. Currently she is a Clinical Associate Professor of Health Systems and Population Health at the University of Washington and faculty in the Northwest Public Health and Primary Care Leadership Institute.

Prior to moving to Seattle, Dr. Jones-Vanderleest was the Chief Resident in Family and Community Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco-San Francisco General Hospital where she won the Chancellor’s Award for Community Service for her work with sex workers.  As a member of the National Health Service Corps, she worked in a FQHC based Health Care for the Homeless program, and then served as the Medical Director of HIV/STD Services for the Tucson-Pima County Health Department and was a professor in the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

Temitope Olasehinde

Dr. Temitope Olasehinde attended Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (MSU CHM) for medical school and is now a current PGY-3 Internal Medicine Resident at University Hospitals/Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. During her time in university, she served as the Ethnocultural Support Services Coordinator of her university, as well as on the City’s Diversity Inclusion and Anti-Oppression Committee. In these roles she advocated on behalf of underrepresented community groups, such as refugees and immigrants, and made recommendations to the City Council on matters related to discrimination, inclusivity and equity. In medical school, she served as the Chapter Vice-President of the Student National Medical Association where she developed various programming to advocate on behalf of underrepresented medical students, physicians, and youth in the community. She is ultimately interested in pursuing gastroenterology in the future and is passionate about health-disparities research. She eventually wants to expand her career into national health policy and international health to affect change on a larger-scale and advocate for those living in third-world countries. She enjoys biking, traveling, and learning new languages in her free time.

Rajadhar Reddy

Raj Reddy is DFA’s new Vice Chair of Access to Affordable Care and sits on DFA’s FDA Task Force. He completed MS3 at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where he holds the Edgar King Scholarship. He is now jointly enrolled at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the London School of Economics for an MS in Health Policy, Planning, & Financing. Raj was born and raised in a bordertown in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, where learning about his local FQHC led him to study health and social policy. Raj was a McDermott Scholar at UT Dallas, a Bill Archer Fellow at the National Academy of Medicine in DC, and a Health Policy Fellow at the Joint Commission. His focuses include public coverage (eligibility, benefits, and prices), safety net programs, and decarceration. He is also the national Medical Student Section Delegate for the American Medical Association, where he directs all student advocacy. Raj aspires to be a neurologist, with interests in stroke, dementia, chronic pain, and end-of-life care.

Dominique Rehl

Dominique Rehl is a third-year medical student at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. Originally from Colorado, she completed her Bachelors of Science in Health Sciences at The Ohio State University. During the COVID-19 pandemic and her gap year, she became a certified Basic EMT. She aims to be a primary care provider with interest in reproductive health, LGBTQ+ care, and abortion care. She is also interested in reducing stigma surrounding opioid use disorder, and completed research using virtual reality to reduce stigma in medical trainees during her second year of medical school. She is a passionate advocate for high quality abortion education in medical school, and served as vice president of her school’s Medical Students for Choice chapter. She also served on her school’s student government as Director of Wellness, and remains dedicated to applying osteopathic principles to promote wellness in patient care. Dominique has a love for nature and the outdoors, and enjoys hiking, indoor and outdoor cycling, and spending time with family.

Anand Singh

Anand Singh is a medical student at Anne Burnett Marion School of Medicine at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX. He is passionate about healthcare policy, community health, and mentorship. He is currently a member on the American Medical Association Foundation Board of Directors where he oversees initiatives to improve our nation’s health. He is actively involved in organized medicine at local and national levels, holding several leadership positions with the goal of promoting health equity through advocacy and policy-making. Additionally, he conducts research through the John Peter Smith Health Network Center for Epidemiology and Healthcare Delivery Research to improve access and quality of care for minority and low-income populations, focusing on cancer and chronic disease. In his free time, he enjoys running, trying new cuisines, and learning and teaching various dance styles, ranging from Bollywood to Hip-hop. He aspires to be a physician-advocate who not only positively impacts his patients’ lives but also creates systemic solutions to improve population health.

Polly Wiltz

Dr. Polly Wiltz (she/her) is second year resident physician in Emergency Medicine at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in Cleveland, OH. She received her medical degree from Pacific Northwest University College of Medicine in Yakima, WA.  Her professional interests include immigrant health, advocacy, gun violence prevention and reduction, and increasing reproductive health access for marginalized communities in the emergency department. Her career goals include expanding into health policy and population health to create and influence legislation that protect health and human rights for people living in the United States. Her hobbies outside of medicine include kayaking, hiking, theatre, reading, exploring with her family and pets, and naps.