Featured Speakers

Dionne Toombs, Director of the Office of the Chief Strategist

Dr. Dionne Toombs is the Director for the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS). In this role, she provides leadership on a wide range of issues affecting science programs and science policy in agricultural research, education, and economics. She comes to OCS from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) where she was Director of the Division of Nutrition, leading a collaboration of nutrition science leaders across the Department. Under her leadership, the Division provided direction in science policy and program development to ensure the safety of America's food supply and the availability of healthy food to its citizens.

She served as National Program Leader for NIFA's Agriculture Food and Research Initiative (AFRI), leading large competitive grant programs to fund research into nutrition, food science and technology, and food safety.

Dr. Toombs received her Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences from Howard University. She earned her Master of Science degree from Alabama A & M University and her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Bethune-Cookman University.

Elliot Robinson, JD, MDiv

Founder, Creative Tension, Inc.

Reverend Elliott Robinson JD, MDiv is the founder of Creative Tension, a non-profit dedicated to inspiring and empowering a generation to discover, embrace and utilize ‘creative tension’ in their pursuit of justice for all people. Launched in 2017, Creative Tension blends multimedia, trainings, lectures and curricula to examine historic movements that used ‘creative tension’ to combat systems of violence and oppression. He currently leads bi-weekly discussions focused on “The Jim Crow Years” on the Creative Tension podcast, weaving together voices from the past and modern-day experts on race and culture.

When Robinson is not sharing stories that connect the dots of history to the present, it’s likely he’s hosting an episode of The Wellness Blueprint podcast. Robinson, alongside co-host Dr. Maiysha Clairborne, shares tips and information to help listeners live their best lives mentally, spiritually and physically. 

Guided by the Scripture Matthew 22:37-40 and principle, “Love God, Love People,” Robinson fulfills this purpose as a public theologian, leadership advisor and preacher committed to change. He is an ordained Itinerant Deacon in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME Church) and serves at Saint Philip AME Church (Atlanta). Robinson also serves as a Research Assistant for the Department of Research and Scholarship of the AME Church

Robinson is currently a Teaching Assistant at the Candler School of Theology. He’s currently engaged with the Introduction to Preaching course taught by Dr. Teresa Fry Brown, the Bandy Professor of Preaching.

Growing up in Brooklyn, NY, Robinson earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the State University of New York at New Paltz and went on to receive his Juris Doctor from Howard University School of Law. He obtained a Master of Divinity from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, where he graduated with honors as both a Sims Garrett and Larry Ted May Scholar. He currently resides in Atlanta, GA with his wife and two children.

Gina S. Brown, PhD, MSA, RN

For more than 25 years, Dr. Gina Brown has been working professionally in many spheres within North America, Asia and Africa. Her expertise as a professional administrator (educator and nurse), in addition to her wide academic experience in many areas (traditional, adult and on- line learning), has allowed for: the building of numerous academic graduate and undergraduate programs; the securing and management of millions of dollars of grant funding; the writing, management and expertise of the academic accreditation process on all levels; as well as the management of human resources and numerous other non-academic areas, all which are noted as hallmarks of her accomplishments.

Dr. Brown holds four degrees; an undergraduate nursing and an undergraduate biology degree, both from Oakwood College (now Oakwood University) in addition to graduate studies in anatomy; a Master of Science degree in Health Services Administration from Central Michigan University in 1989; and a PhD degree in Administration (with a focus on Nursing, Policy and Ethics) from George Mason University in 1999.

Administratively, Dr. Brown has garnered experience in a number of roles, from that of a specialization in various avenues within the healthcare arena, to that of professor, associate vice president, and now working as the dean at the College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences at one of the most prestigious academic institutions, Howard University. 

Dr. Brown has demonstrated expertise within the educational arena, becoming the first dean for the School of Graduate and Professional Studies at Columbia Union College (now Washington Adventist University), while holding the title of Associate Vice President. She was responsible for the entire adult education program, which consisted of all graduate programs (Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Nursing-Business Leadership, Master of Arts in Religion, Master of Arts in Public Administration, Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology (licensure and non-licensure track), Nursing Education and Healthcare Administration). Under her administration 7 of the 8 graduate programs were created. Additionally, she held responsibility for all bachelor degree programs in Business Administration, Health Care Administration, Social Work, Organizational Management, Information Systems, RN-BSN Education, Secondary Education; all certificate programs which include Security Resource Management and Drug and Alcohol Counseling; and all new adult education programs. 

Dr. Brown also held the position of dean of the School of Health Professions, Science and Wellness at Washington Adventist University for 12 years. Within this position, she was charged with total oversight for the following departments; nursing (largest department within the University), biology, biochemistry, chemistry, health wellness and physical education, respiratory care and all health related pre-professional programs. The graduate programs of Nursing Business Leadership, Nursing Education and Healthcare Administration were also under her leadership.

Currently, Dr. Brown serves as the dean for the College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences at Howard University. Under her current portfolio, she is responsible for clinical laboratory sciences, health management, nursing (undergraduate and graduate), nutritional sciences (undergraduate and graduate), occupational therapy (graduate), physician assistant, physical therapy and radiation therapy. Dean Brown’s current goals include but are not limited to supporting, encouraging and promoting excellence in teaching, scholarship and service. Ensuring that program development, delivery and assessment in addition to ensuring that student success is priority will be hallmarks of her accomplishments.