Rivera Conference to Address Latino Health

UC Riverside hosts 27th annual event honoring the legacy of poet and former Chancellor Tomás Rivera

painting of Tomas Rivera

Internationally known muralist Barbara Carrasco created this portrait image of Tomás Rivera for the annual conference, scheduled this year for Feb. 20.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Artists, scholars, activists, and health professionals will address Latino health at the 27th annual Tomás Rivera Conference at the University of California, Riverside on Friday, Feb. 20.

The conference theme, “Communidad y Salud/Community and Wellness: Latinas/os, Medicine and the New Health Humanities,’’ embraces a variety of topics, including physicians on the frontlines, mental health diagnosis and treatment, elder and hospice care, addiction and recovery, health advocacy through music, storytelling and community wellness, and building personal and communal fiscal health. The program will include a screening of the award-winning documentary “CODE BLACK,” a 2014 film told from a physician’s perspective about the Los Angeles County Hospital emergency medicine department, one of America’s busiest trauma centers. Luis Enriquez, R.N., a featured subject in the film, will join Dr. Paul Lyons of the UCR School of Medicine for discussion.

Additional presenters include Martha Gonzalez and Quetzal Flores of the Grammy Award-winning group Quetzal; Sandra and Ruben Islas of the Islas Foundation; UCR anthropologist Juliet McMullin, associate director for community engagement with the Center for Healthy Communities; and cultural workers Luis Alfaro, Sara Guerrero, Raquel Salinas, Elizabeth Szekeresh and Moisés Vázquez on the role of the arts in health advocacy. The conference will begin with a performance by the Segundo Jueves Latina/o Play Project, followed by Assembly Member Jose Medina (D-Riverside) honoring the legacy of Tomás Rivera. The day will conclude with UCR School of Medicine students and members of the medical community publicly reaffirming the Hippocratic Oath.

Rivera Conference events begin at 10:30 a.m. and continue until 5 p.m. in Highlander Union Building 302. All events are free and open to the public, but confirmed registration is required by the morning of the conference to reserve lunch and participation in Master Class Workshops. Space in the workshops is limited. Tickets will be distributed at the on-site registration desk.

Early reservations are highly recommended at tomasriveraconference.ucr.edu or in person at 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 20 in HUB 302. Parking will be available for $6 in Lot 30 and $8 in Lot 6 (pay by space, back section). Parking permits may be purchased at kiosks at the University Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard entrances to campus.

On Thursday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m. there will be a special pre-conference community event at the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts, located in the 3800 block of Main Street in downtown Riverside. Playwright and performer Luis Alfaro, recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship (known colloquially as the “genius grant”), will present his solo play “St. Jude.” Alfaro wrote the play about caring for his father after heart surgery and the ensuing lessons of health and healing.

“Tomás Rivera coined the term civic morality to describe the responsibility the university has to lead conversations about key issues that directly impact the Latina/o community,” said Tiffany Ana López, a professor of theater, holder of the Tomás Rivera Endowed Chair in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and the conference organizer. “Health, medicine, and wellness remain central and are what many consider matters of civil rights.

“This year’s Rivera Conference theme is incredibly important and timely given the commencement of UCR’s School of Medicine and UCR’s recent award of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to innovate new programming in health humanities. Our goal is to stage a conversation that will connect many different voices to better understand the work we are doing at the university and in the community to navigate challenges in the areas of health, wellness and medicine and better our work as change agents.“

López teaches in the UCR Department of Theatre, Film and Digital Production. She is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation; she is also a Fulbright Scholar. She has collaborated with theaters such as The Mark Taper Forum, Company of Angels, and Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble, and is a member of the advisory board for the National Latina/o Theater Commons, a founding member of the Latina/o Theater Alliance of Los Angeles, and resident scholar for the Los Angeles Theatre Center. She also directs the “Segundo Jueves” (“Second Thursday”) staged reading series of Latina/o plays at the Barbara and Art Culver Center for the Arts in Downtown Riverside.

The annual Tomás Rivera Conference honors the legacy of Rivera, who was UCR’s chancellor from 1979 until his death after a heart attack in 1984. Rivera was the first Hispanic and first minority chancellor in the UC system. He also was an award-winning writer of poems, short stories and literary essays.

Supporters of the conference include the Office of the Chancellor, Office of the Provost, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Dean’s Office, School of Medicine, Center for Healthy Communities, Culver Center, Chicano Student Programs, Department of Theatre, Film and Digital Production, Printing and Reprographics, the Tomás Rivera Endowment, and Concha Rivera, widow of the late chancellor.

The Rivera Conference is part of a larger group of events showcasing engaged scholarship on U.S. Latinos, with the UC International Migration Conference happening the same day.

Schedule of Events

10:30 a.m.: Registration, check-in and coffee. Public space performance by Segundo Jueves Ensemble. Segundo Jueves is a monthly Latina/o play reading series at the Culver Center created, directed and produced by López.

11 a.m.: Honoring Tomas Rivera – Assembly Member Jose Medina (D-Riverside) and Tiffany Ana López, conference director

11:15 a.m.: Musical Performance, Martha Gonzalez and Quetzal Flores with Quetzal. Plenary lunch (ticket with confirmed registration)

12:15 p.m.: Welcome by UCR Provost Paul D’Anieri

12:30 – 1:15 p.m.: Keynote Plenary – Presentations by featured Master Class Workshop leaders and respondents

1:15– 1:30 p.m.: Move to Master Class Workshop spaces

1:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.: Master Class Workshops

      • Screening of Documentary Film “CODE BLACK,” talk-back with Luis Enriquez, R.N. Enriquez is a 27-year veteran emergency trauma nurse at L.A. County/USC Trauma Center. The talk-back facilitator is Paul Lyons, senior associate dean for education at the UCR School of Medicine.
      • Elder and Hospice Care, Luis Alfaro. This workshop explores the complexities of elder care, including the ways it can unearth physical and emotional traumas, and looks at the empowering ways performance facilitates the processing of loss and building of community. Alfaro is the only playwright to have received two Kennedy Center Fund for New American Play awards in the same year. He is an assistant professor at the University of Southern California in the M.F.A. Dramatic Writing Program.
      • Health Advocacy through Music, Martha Gonzalez and Quetzal Flores. A collaborative songwriting workshop by Grammy Award-winning musicians and art activists focused on the role of music in health advocacy and fostering personal and communal wellness. Gonzalez is the recipient of a Fulbright Garcia-Robles fellowship for her research on transnational musical social movements across the Americas and Europe, and is a Ford Dissertation Fellow. Her academic interests in music have been fueled by her musicianship as a singer and percussionist for East L.A.’s Quetzal. Quetzal Flores is the founder of the band Quetzal, which won both a Grammy and a Latin Grammy for its 2012 album “Imaginaries.” The relevance of Quetzal’s work has been noted in a range of publications from dissertations to scholarly.
      • Latino Health Access and Community Theater, Moisés Vázquez and Sara Guerrero. This workshop uses the recent Diálogos project of Santa Ana to look at the ways theater provides a form of outreach to improve knowledge about health crises and health care. Vázquez is a community health worker for Latino Health Access, a nonprofit organization founded in 1993 to improve public health and awareness in a community of uninsured and under-served families. He is the liaison for the Dialogue/Diálogos project between South Coast Repertory and its partner organization LHA. Guerrero is the founding artistic director of the award-winning Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble based in Santa Ana. She is on the artistic staff and theatre conservatory of South Coast Repertory, where she is also the engagement director heading South Coast Repertory’s Dialogue/Diálogos
      • Addiction and Recovery, Raquel Salinas. This workshop focuses on breaking silences and healing wounds left behind by addiction by utilizing creativity as a tool to explore different levels of healing and as a means to help maintain sobriety. Salinas has been performing as a solo artist since 1993One of her latest performance pieces, “Mami, Mami Quien Soy? You know who you are,” is about the challenges and revelations found in caring for a loved one who’s living with dementia.
      • Mental Health Diagnosis and Treatment, Elizabeth Isela Szekeresh. This workshop shares about the journey to obtain mental health diagnosis and treatment in the public health care system. Szekeresh is the managing director and founding member of Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble based in Santa Ana, and is a co-founding member of Slip of the Tongue performance group. Her work is published in Chicana/Latina Studies: Journal of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social.
      • Storytelling and Community Wellness, Juliet McMullin. This workshop focuses on the role of comics as a narrative form that powerfully visualizes individual and shared moments of illness. McMullin is an associate professor in the UCR Department of Anthropology and associate director for community engagement in the Center for Healthy Communities at the UCR School of Medicine. She and Tiffany Ana López and Dr. Paul Lyons were recently awarded an NEH Humanities Initiatives grant to build a medical humanities program at UCR.
      • Building Communal and Fiscal Health, Sandra and Reuben Islas. This workshop by philanthropists and founders of the Islas Foundation expands the definition of health to encompass finances as well as body and mind. Sandra Islas is the founder of LPAN: Latino Producers Action Network, a nonprofit dedicated to the development, production, promotion, preservation, and distribution of Latino/Chicano theatre, art, and film.

3:30 – 4:45 p.m.: Closing roundtable. Presenters and participants reconvene with these respondents:

  • Angie Chabram-Dernersesian, a founding scholar of Chicana critical studies and professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at UC Davis
    Michelle Habell-Pallan, a professor in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies and adjunct in the School of Music and Communication at University of Washington
    Luis Leon, an associate professor of religious studies at University of Denver

4:45 – 5 p.m.: Reaffirmation of the Hippocratic Oath. Students of the UCR School of Medicine and members of the medical community.

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-7847
E-mail: bettye.miller@ucr.edu
Twitter: bettyemiller

Additional Contacts

Tiffany Ana López
E-mail: tiffany.lopez@ucr.edu

Conference registration
E-mail: cynthia.smith@ucr.edu

Archived under: Arts/Culture, Health, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Top of Page