Eager meeting-goers began filing into the Philadelphia Convention Center early on Sunday. Escaping the brisk Philly weather, passionate public health professionals traveled from all over the world for science, for action and for health.

Golda AssanteNear the 2019 APHA Annual Meeting and Expo registration line, Golda Asante, MIH, still wearing her coat, found the Mix and Mingle Lounge to shake off the morning chill. Asante traveled from Ghana to Philadelphia to attend the meeting. And while she has attended international health conferences for her work on HIV, this is her first visit to the United States.

“I am presenting here, but I also want to benefit from other presentations and attend sessions,” said Asante, who will present at session 4155.0 “Strengthening collaboration with spiritualists and herbalists in HIV prevention, treatment and care services in Eastern and upper East Regions of Ghana.”

smiling womenOn a nearby bench, Charlotte Phillips, MD, and Kandra Strauss-Riggs, MPH, set up their schedules on the APHA Annual Meeting app. The Annual Meeting is an excuse for the long-time family friends to get together. This year’s Annual Meeting in Philadelphia was a nice central meeting point, Phillips coming from Brooklyn, New York, and Strauss-Riggs from Rockville, Maryland.

Phillips has been involved with APHA for “quite a long time.” She’s the chair of Brooklyn for Peace and is involved with APHA’s Peace Caucus. Her primary passion is working to counter how militarism impacts societal health and directly harms lives through violence.

“I’m here to try and bring together the issues of health and war and peace,” she said.

Strauss-Riggs is the education director at the National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health. Her focus is the intersection of climate change and disaster, but she comes to the Annual Meeting to find opportunities to collaborate and make new connections. This year, she is hoping to get involved with the Women’s Caucus.

“The Annual Meeting is always very exciting,” she said. “I’m excited by the myriad of public health topics that are covered here.”

Rolicia MartinRolicia Martin, MPH candidate at Morgan State University, drove in from Baltimore to attend the Annual Meeting’s Student Day. Her primary focus is sexual violence prevention, but she thinks that epidemiology is “a lot of fun.” Networking is her primary reason for making the trip.

“I’m on a mission,” she said. “I’m going to apply for a doctoral program, so I’m here to talk to schools … and talk about fellowship opportunities.”

Dimetri O'BrienDimetri O’Brien, an Annual Meeting first timer, will spend most of the next few days at Booth 1020 in the expo hall, where he will represent the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. O’Brien is motivated to find ways to ensure people have equal access to health care and hopes he can step away from the booth to attend sessions on black disparities in health.

“It’s really good to see people out here in the name of health,” O’Brien said. “But I also heard that there’s a dance, and that sounds really fun.”

Photos from top: Annual Meeting attendees Golda Asante, Kandra Strauss-Riggs and Charlotte Phllips, Rolicia Martin, and Dimitri O'Brien. (Photos by Aaron Warnick)