Meet Our Team

Addressing racism is a challenging effort and our team brings together a variety of experience and expertise.

Leona Hess, PhD, MSW
Founder and Co-Director, The Center for Antiracism in Practice

Dr. Hess is a change leader, systems thinker, and experiential facilitator with extensive experience supporting social change within institutions. In 2018, she joined Icahn Mount Sinai as Director of Strategy and Equity Education Programs, where she leads a transformational process to develop the capacity of leaders, staff, and students to dismantle racism. In 2021, she expanded this work as the Founder and Co-Director of the new Center for Antiracism in Practice. Trained in change management methodologies, and relationship systems coaching, Dr. Hess facilitates opportunities to engage in deeper dialogue, challenge the status quo, promote critical thinking and systems thinking, and identify sound actions and a strategy toward systemic change. She has taught master’s degree-level courses at Columbia University and City University of New York on contemporary social issues, focusing on systems of oppression such as racism, sexism, ableism, and heterocentrism. Dr. Hess holds a PhD from Columbia University, a Master’s of Social Work from New York University, and a BS from George Washington University.

Ann-Gel S. Palermo, DrPH, MPH
Co-Director, The Center for Antiracism in Practice

Dr. Palermo is the Co-Director for The Center for Antiracism in Practice ; Senior Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; and  Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer in Education and Research of the Mount Sinai Health System’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion. Dr. Palermo provides leadership and strategic vision and guidance in the integration of diversity, equity, and inclusion principles into the structures, policies, and practices of the education and research environments. Dr. Palermo spearheads and works in partnership with senior leaders to develop and implement initiatives with effective accountability and assessment mechanisms to foster a holistic, equitable, and thriving environment for Mount Sinai faculty, staff, students, and trainees. 

Joseph Truglio, MD
Director of Clinical Education, The Center for Antiracism in Practice

Joseph Truglio graduated from Georgetown University in 2003, and Georgetown University School of Medicine in 2007. He went on to complete a combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics residency program at The Mount Sinai Hospital from 2007-2011 during which time he also completed an MPH in Global Health, and served as Chief Resident for Medicine and Pediatrics. He stayed at Mount Sinai working in Medicine and Pediatrics as well as the Department of Medical Education as the Course Co-Director for The Art and Science of Medicine. Dr. Truglio has since initiated several innovative programs and curricula which seek to reduce health inequities and dismantle systems of oppression, most notably a Train-the-Trainer program for community health workers in rural Bangladesh, the Pediatric Visiting Doctors and Complex Care Program at Mount Sinai, and numerous curricula that focus on anti-racism, white supremacy culture, mass incarceration, spirituality, and transgender and gender non-binary health. He is the founding Program Director of the Internal Medicine and Pediatrics residency program, which seeks to reduce inequities in marginalized and oppressed populations by creating leaders in MedPeds primary care. He sees patients at Settlement Health and through home visits in East and Central Harlem.

Talia Swartz, MD, PhD
Director of Graduate Research and Education, The Center for Antiracism in Practice

Talia Swartz, MD, PhD, is Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and Medical Education. She is a physician-scientist who is board certified in Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease. Her clinical interest is in care for people with HIV and her basic science interest is in the biology that underlies chronic HIV infection and severe COVID-19. Dr. Swartz is Co-Director of the MD/PhD Program and Associate Dean for MD/PhD Education. She has been deeply committed to supporting the training of physician scientists through recruitment and support of diverse trainees who are navigating dual training in medicine and biomedical science. She is involved in innovative curricular development, outreach, and student support, both at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and through the AAMC GREAT Group MD/PhD Section Communications Committee where she has been developing resources to make physician scientist training available to a more diverse group of future trainees.

Jay Johnson, CHES
Education Program Manager, The Center for Antiracism in Practice

Jay Johnson is the Education Program Manager for The Center for Antiracism in Practice. She is a community antiracism educator and abolitionist focused on the ways racism and other interlocking systems of oppression affect the overall health of our communities. With a bachelor’s degree in Public Health and experience serving as a catalyst for change in community-based and corporate landscapes, she leverages the power of radical communication, accountability, and a belief in everyone’s ability to change to inform her antiracism approach to lay the groundwork for transformative change for both individuals and organizations.