Black History Month 2022

                                    Watch the Recording

Please join us for a discussion with African American service members from across the country to learn more about the sacrifice and service of our nation's heroes. 

The discussion will be moderated by Wendy Williams, Executive Director, University of Chicago's Office of Civic Engagement. Attendees will hear about the service member's duty to country, career paths, and opportunities afforded by the armed forces. 

Convenings are open to all invitees who are compliant with UChicago vaccination requirements and, because of ongoing health risks, particularly to the unvaccinated, participants are expected to adopt the risk mitigation measures (masking and social distancing, etc.) appropriate to their vaccination status as advised by public health officials or to their individual vulnerabilities as advised by a medical professional. Public convening may not be safe for all and carries a risk for contracting COVID-19, particularly for those unvaccinated. Participants will not know the vaccination status of others and should follow appropriate risk mitigation measures. We are complying with all University guidelines on the Go Forward website and, at this time, masks are required to be worn by unvaccinated and vaccinated attendees inside International House.

Persons with disabilities who need assistance should contact International House in advance of the program at 773.753.2274 or e-mail

Zachary (Zach) Newman (Emcee)

Pritzker Medical Student, US Army Veteran and President for Veterans and Military-Affiliated at Pritzker

Zach is a native of Minnetonka, Minnesota and a 2014 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Electrical Engineering and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the US Army Medical Service Corps. Zach served for five years at Fort Hood, Texas with the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, First Cavalry Division as a Medical Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer, Brigade Support Medical Planner, and Battalion Assistant Operations Officer and was deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Spartan Shield in 2017. Zach was promoted to Captain in 2018 and subsequently left active duty in 2019 to complete a Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical program at Goucher College in Towson, Maryland and is now a second-year medical student at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

Wendy Walker Williams (Moderator)

Executive Director of Community Partnerships, University of Chicago, Office of Civic Engagement

Wendy Walker Williams is the Executive Director of Community Partnerships with the University of Chicago Office of Civic Engagement. In this role, Wendy works to ensure community stakeholders are informed and engaged in UChicago's efforts to provide social and economic opportunities in neighboring South Side communities. Working closely with community leaders and elected officials, Wendy helps create and advance community engagement strategies that build and sustain strong partnerships and connect community stakeholders across the South Side to the University.

An advocate for affordable housing, Wendy has more than 25 years of experience working in nonprofit leadership, civic engagement, land use planning, and community development. As executive director of the South East Chicago Commission (SECC), a nonprofit organization focused on improving the quality of life in the Kenwood, Oakland, Hyde Park, Woodlawn and Washington Park communities, Wendy led a programmatic shift from enforcing building code and tracking crime statistics to strengthening the neighborhoods through economic and community development initiatives. Under Wendy’s leadership, SECC led the effort to designate 53rd Street, Hyde Park's main retail corridor, as a Special Service Area, branding it “Downtown Hyde Park.” During her tenure, the SECC implemented various business district improvement initiatives in Woodlawn, Washington Park and Kenwood, established the Neighborhood Enhancement Grants program to support high-impact neighborhood beautification projects, and launched the Woodlawn and Washington Park summits.

Earlier in her career, Wendy served as an Assistant Commissioner for the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Deputy Director of Finance and Administration for Gallery 37, and Senior Program Manager for the Chicago Housing Authority Office of Community Relations and Involvement. In addition to serving as the Chairman of the Housing Authority of Cook County, she serves as Secretary and Trustee of the Du Sable Museum of African American History, a member of the Board of Directors of ACLU-IL and is active in many national and local civic organizations.

Major General Telita Crosland

Deputy Surgeon General and Chief, Medical Corps, Office of the Army Surgeon General

Major General Telita Crosland is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. In addition to her Doctorate of Medicine, she also holds a Master of Public Health from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences and a Master of Science in National Resource Strategy from the Eisenhower School.

MG Crosland entered the Army as a Medical Corps Officer in 1993. She is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians and is a recipient of The Surgeon General's “A” proficiency designator.

MG Crosland has served in a variety of leadership positions including: Officer in Charge, Camp Walker Health Clinic, South Korea; Officer in Charge, Bennett Health Clinic, Fort Hood, Texas; Associate Program Director, Department of Family Medicine, Fort Lewis, Washington; Chief, Soldier Care, Fort Lewis, Washington; Deputy Chief, Department of Family Medicine, Fort Lewis, Washington; Commander, U.S. Army Health Clinic, Grafenwoehr, Germany; Senior Medical Officer, Office of The Surgeon General, Falls Church, Virginia; Commander, U.S. Army Medical Department Activity, Heidelberg, Germany; Deputy Commander, U.S. Army Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany; Medical Corps Branch Chief, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Fort Knox, Kentucky; Commander, U.S. Army Medical Department Activity, Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, United States Army Medical Command, Falls Church, Virginia; Commanding General, Regional Health Command- Atlantic, Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Her awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit (2 Oak Leaf Clusters); Meritorious Service Medal (4 Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Commendation Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters), Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Staff Badge and the Parachutist’s Badge. She is a member of the Order of Military Medical Merit.

Colonel Kenneth Wilson

Trauma Medical Director, University of Chicago Medicine

Dr. Kenneth Wilson is a native of Baltimore and Emory University graduate who attended medical school at Howard University. He has worked for more than a decade as a trauma and acute care surgeon for both adult and pediatric patients, including most recently at Hurley Hospital in Flint, Michigan, as the director of Pediatric Trauma. He treats all related conditions, including giant ventral hernias, a condition that can occur after abdominal trauma and requires an extremely complex surgical approach. Dr. Wilson has a long history as a military surgeon and is currently a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, where he has multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dr. Wilson is an active researcher, and has been widely published on topics including military trauma and trauma surgical outcomes. He is interested in the association between race and socioeconomic status on trauma-related health outcomes. He currently serves as Director at the University of Chicago's trauma center. 

Colonel Gary Cooper

Medical Recruiting Brigade Commander

Col. Gary Cooper was born in Albany, Georgia. He enlisted in 1986 and served as an active duty enlisted Soldier until 1994. He received his Bachelor of Business Administration under the Green to Gold Program from Savannah State University and completed his Masters (MBA) in General Management from Touro University International. Col. Cooper completed the Reserve Officer Training Corps program as Distinguished Military Graduate and received his commission in August 1996. Cooper’s military education includes the Combat Casualty Care Course, AMEDD Officer Basic Course, Medical Logistics Management Course, AMEDD Officer Advanced Course, Combined Arms Staff Service School (CAS3), the Capabilities Developers Course and the Command and General Staff College (ILE, CGSC). He attended and graduated from Senior Service College (SSC) at the US Naval War College in Newport, RI in 2019.

His past assignments include: From 1997-1999 he served as Platoon Leader, 127th Forward Surgical Team, Yongsan, Korea. From 1999-2001 he performed duties as the Medical Supply Officer for Ireland Army Community Hospital, Ft. Knox, KY., from 2001- 2004 he served as the BN S4, 421st Medical Evacuation Battalion, where he was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF 1), from May 2004 – Oct 2006 he served as the HHC, 30th Medical Brigade Company Commander, where he deployed in support of OIF 05-07. From 2006-2009, he served as the Chief, Operations Branch and Chief, Central Contingency Operations at the US Army Medical Materiel Agency (USAMMA), Ft. Detrick, MD. From 2009-2011, he worked as the 70K Deputy Consultant at the Office of the Surgeon General (OTSG), Falls Church, Va., 2011-2012 he had a tour of duty in the 32D Training BDE in San Antonio, TX (SATX), as the 232D MED BN Executive Officer, 2012-2014 he served as Chief, Supply Chain Management, Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC), LOG Division, San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC), 2014-2016, he served as Commander, Troop Command, BAMC, 2016-2017 he worked as Chief, Requirements Determination Division a Combat Developer for Health Readiness Center of Excellence (HRCoE) at AMEDD C&S in SATX and completed his tour of duty as the G4/ACSLOG, Regional Health Command-Central (RHC-C). He is currently assigned as the Deputy G4 OTSG/MEDCOM, stationed at JBSA, Fort Sam Houston, TX.

His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (with seven (7) oak leaf cluster), the Expert Field Medical Badge, the Air Assault Badge, the German Schutzenschneer, the German Sports Badge and the Department of the Army Staff Badge. He is a member of the Order of Military Medical Merit.

He is married to Mrs. Kimberly Cooper, and together they have three children, Anja 31, Brielle 19, and Trianne 16.

Command Sergeant Major Teela Washington

3rd Medical Recruiting Battalion Command Sergeant Major

Command Sgt. Maj. Teela Washington is a native of Champaign, Illinois. She enlisted in the U.S. Army May 5, 1992 in Baltimore Maryland as an Information Technology Specialist. She attended BCT at Fort Jackson, South Carolina and AIT at Fort Gordon, Georgia. As an IT Specialist, she served in positions from Squad Leader to Section Chief, All Army Track Team Member, and Drill Sergeant, serving in the 122nd Signal Battalion, Camp Red Cloud Korea, the Electronic Proving Ground, Fort Huachuca, Arizona, and the 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, Fort Jackson, South Carolina. 

In 2003, Command Sgt. Maj. Washington changed her career path and became a member of  U.S. Army Recruiting Command. Since her transition she has held every position from Recruiter, to Operations Sergeant Major, serving in the Macon Georgia Recruiting Center, Warner Robins Georgia Recruiting Company, Indianapolis Indiana Recruiting Company, 2nd Recruiting Brigade-Redstone Arsenal, AL, and 6th Recruiting Brigade-Las Vegas, NV. In 2018, Washington was the only sergeant major out of 30 other candidates to be selected to attend the Penn State Fellowship Program at the Sergeants Major Academy, where she taught in the Department of Army Operations for the last three years.

Command Sgt. Maj. Washington's military education includes the Information Technology Specialist Course, U.S. Army Drill Sergeant School, U.S. Army Recruiting School, Guidance Counselor Operations Course, Department of the Army's First Sergeant's Course, Master Trainer Course, Master Resilience Training Course, Senior Training and Education Manager's Course, and Sergeants Major Academy, Class 66. 

Her civilian education includes a High School Diploma from Frederick High School in Maryland, two Bachelor's degrees, and two Master's Degrees. She is currently pursuing a third master's degree in Instructional Design at Western Kentucky University and a Doctorate of Business Administration with a concentration in Project Management at Walden University. Washington is also a Certified Scrum Master and a Certified Scrum Product Owner.

Washington's awards include the Meritorious Service Medal (4th Award), the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal (5th Award), the Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Leadership Development Ribbon (Numeral 5), the Overseas Service Ribbon, and the Army Superior Unit Award.