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JULY 21: Social Determinants of Health: Closing the Life Expectancy Gap (Part 1)

This panel is dedicated to the life, work and legacy of Dr. Steve Whitman.


  • David Ansell, MD, MPH - Rush University Medical Center

  • Maureen Benjamins PhD - Sinai Urban Health Institute

  • Dr. Linda Rae Murray, MD MPH - Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Illinois School of Public Health


  • Anne Evens - Elevate Energy

David Ansell, MD, MPH - Rush University Medical Center


David Ansell, MD, MPH is the Michael E Kelly Presidential Professor of Internal Medicine and Senior Vice President/Associate Provost for Community Health Equity at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. He is a 1978 graduate of SUNY Upstate Medical College. He did his medical training at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. He spent 13 years at Cook County as an attending physician and ultimately was appointed Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine at Cook County Hospital.  From 1995 to 2005 he was Chairman of Internal Medicine at Mount Sinai Chicago. He was recruited to Rush University Medical Center as its inaugural Chief Medical Officer in 2005, a position he held until 2015. His research and advocacy has been focused on eliminating health inequities. In 2011 he published a memoir of his times at County Hospital, County: Life, Death and Politics at Chicago’s Public Hospital. His latest book is The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills was published in 2017. 

Maureen Benjamins PhD - Sinai Urban Health Institute

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Maureen Benjamins, PhD is a Senior Research Fellow at the Sinai Urban Health Institute (SUHI). Her research focuses on health disparities and the influence of social factors on these disparities. Dr. Benjamins has led several initiatives to study health equity nationally and in Chicago. Currently, she is leading a comprehensive study of racial disparities in mortality across the biggest cities in the U.S. She was also the co-Principal Investigator of the Sinai Community Health Survey 2.0, which is a representative survey of 1,500 adults and 400 children in 9 Chicago communities and one of the largest community-driven, face-to-face health surveys in Chicago history. In addition to her research efforts, Dr. Benjamins developed and directs the Sinai Population Health Institute, an interprofessional institute focusing on health equity and social determinants of health. She runs two internship programs for medical students and is an adjunct faculty member at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. She received her BA from Duke University and her master’s and doctorate in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin. She held a post-doctoral fellowship in gerontological public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Benjamins is grateful to have been mentored by Dr. Steve Whitman and for the opportunity to work at SUHI for the past 15 years.

Anne C. Evens, PhD    


 Anne Evens is the Chief Executive Officer of Elevate Energy, a nonprofit organization based in Chicago.   At Elevate, we design and implement programs that reduce costs, protect people and the environment, and ensure the benefits of clean and efficient energy use reach those who need them most. Elevate Energy seeks to create a world in which everyone has clean, healthy, safe and affordable heat, power, and water in their homes and communities — no matter who they are or where they live. Making the benefits and services of the clean energy economy accessible to everyone is how we fight climate change while supporting equity. Dr. Evens has worked in energy efficiency and affordable housing for over twenty-five years in both the nonprofit and governmental sectors in the U.S. and in southern Africa.

Ms. Evens sits on the boards of Health Alliance International and the Rebuilding Exchange.  She’s an alumni of the Harvard Business School, Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. In addition, she acted as lead researcher on the Chicago Climate Action Plan and the Regional Energy Plan for the Chicago Metro Agency for Planning (CMAP). Ms. Evens received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a M.S. University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Linda Rae Murray - Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Illinois School of Public Health

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Dr. Murray has spent her career serving the medically under served. She has worked in a variety of settings including practicing Occupational Medicine at a Workers Clinic in Canada, Residency Director for Occupational Medicine at Meharry Medical College, and Bureau Chief for the Chicago Department of Health under Mayor Harold Washington. Dr. Murray worked as Medical Director of the federally funded health center, Winfield Moody, serving Cabrini Green Public Housing Project in Chicago. Dr. Murray has been an active member of a wide range of local and national organizations including serving as a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Board of Directors of Trinity Health ( a large Catholic Health system).

In 1997 Dr. Murray returned to the Cook County Health System where she served as Chief Medical Officer - Primary Care for the twenty three primary care and community health centers comprising the Ambulatory & Community Health Network of the Cook County Bureau of Health Services; and as an attending physician in the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Cook County Hospital. The Cook County Health and Hospitals System is one of the nation’s largest public system of medical care and operates two hospitals, the public health department for suburban Cook County, health services a County Jail and the network of health Centers (ACHN) operated by the County. Dr. Murray has worked in leadership roles in many public health organizations including NACCHO’s (National Association of City & County Health Officers) Health Equity and Social Justice Team, the national executive board of APHA. During 2011 she served as President of the American Public Health Association. In December 2014, she retired from her position as the Chief Medical officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health of the Cook County Health & Hospital System , the PHAB accredited and state certified public health department for suburban Cook County. In December 2018 Dr. Murray stopped seeing patients as a voluntary attending in Internal Medicine ending over forty years of clinical practice.

Today she serves as an Honorary Attending of Cook County Health and is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois School of Public Health (Occupational & Environmental Health and Health Policy & Administration Departments). She serves on many local and national boards including the Chicago based Health and Medicine Policy Research Group; and chairs the board for the National Collaborative for Health Equity. She remains passionate about increasing the number of Black and Latino health professionals and serves on the Urban Health Program Community Advisory Committee at the University of Illinois. Dr. Murray is devoting the rest of her career to being an enthusiastic full time trouble maker. She has been a voice for social justice and health as a basic human right for over fifty years.