Providing Comprehensive Care to Underserved Communities

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Nikki Bromberg, MSW

Nikki Bromberg, MSW currently works at Drexel University serving as Associate Director of Alumni Engagement, Health Sciences including the College of Medicine, the Dornsife School of Public Health, and the College of Nursing and Health Professions. In this role, Nikki helps to develop programming that brings together students, alumni and community members around critical conversations like the opioid epidemic and harm reduction strategies and the long-term trauma effects of mass shootings within the educational setting. Nikki proudly served as Philadelphia FIGHT’s first official Volunteer Manager from 2016 to 2018 and completed her MSW internship at the organization, working with AIDS Education Month programming and the Youth Health Empowerment Project. As Volunteer Manager at FIGHT, Nikki had the pleasure of overseeing students from Jefferson’s Population Health MPH program and continues to be inspired by their commitment to community-based healthcare and health equity for the most marginalized members of society.

Mario Cruz, MD

Dr. Cruz is regarded as one of the best pediatricians in Philadelphia. A board certified pediatrician, Dr. Cruz joined Philadelphia FIGHT as the Medical Director for our Pediatric and Adolescent Health Centerin 2017. He completed his undergraduate training in Biology and Psychology from Union College, his medical school training at Albany Medical College, his residency training at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, and his Chief Residency at the Albert Einstein Medical Center. He joined Philadelphia FIGHT Pediatrics after 9 years as an academic pediatrician at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, where he led the medical training program as an Associate Residency Program Director. He also has experience working in private practice through Advocare.

Currently, Dr. Cruz is a Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Drexel University College of Medicine, has additional training in Child Abuse Pediatrics through the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Child Abuse Preceptorship and has completed formal training in Educational Scholarship through the Academic Pediatric Association’s Educational Scholars Program.

Dr. Cruz has published and presented in the fields of curriculum development, mentorship, quality improvement and violence prevention. He was a key member of the St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children HIV Screening Work Group that increased the rate of routine adolescent HIV screening in the primary care clinic from less than 5% to greater than 95%. In addition he has educated hundreds of health care professionals, regionally and nationally, on the practical implementation of Intimate Partner Violence screening.

Dr. Cruz has received many awards for his leadership skills, humanistic traits, innovation and community service efforts. He is a two-time recipient of the prestigious Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching as well as the Alpha Omega Alpha Volunteer Clinical Faculty Award from Drexel University College of Medicine. In 2017 Dr. Cruz received the Community Advocate Award from the Lutheran Settlement House for his efforts to prevent childhood exposure to domestic violence. In 2019 he received the Greater Philadelphia Social Innovation Award for Innovations in Healthcare.

Dr. Cruz is a spanish-speaking pediatrician who enjoys working with children of all ages and has special expertise in managing families exposed to emotional trauma. Currently, Mario resides in Philadelphia with his wife (Patti) and two children (Dominic and Felix).

Kari Hexem, DMD, MPH

Dr. Hexem is the Dental Director and general Dentist at Philadelphia FIGHT Family Dentistry. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine with honors in Community Oral Health. She has a BA in Anthropology from Reed College and her MPH is from Oregon Health Sciences University in Epidemiology/Biostatistics. She is a member of the American Dental Association (ADA), the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), the American Academy of Oral Medicine (AAOM), the National Network for Oral Health Access (NNOHA), the American Association of Public Health Dentistry (AAPHD), and the American Dental Education Association (ADEA). She is also a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Division of Community Oral Health at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine.

Val Sowell, PHR

Val Sowell, PHR is the Staff Training and Enrichment Manager for Philadelphia FIGHT. She has been at FIGHT since 2000 in a variety of roles, including Project TEACH Coordinator, Editor of the HIV/AIDS Resource Guide for the AIDS Library, and Staff Benefits Manager. She currently guest lectures for the Project TEACH classes on the topics of “The Global AIDS Pandemic and the Origins of HIV” and “Research for an HIV Cure”. As a person of trans experience, she conducts “Gender 101” workshops at FIGHT and other settings, as well as conducting staff trainings on “Harm Reduction Principles and Practices,” “HIV and Hep C Basics,” and “Implicit Bias at FIGHT.” She has a BA in English from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as well as a PHR certificate from HRCI (Human Resources Certification Institute).


This panel shares the history, vision and programs of Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health Centers, charting their growth from 1990 to today. Originally formed as a clinical research organization committed to ending the AIDS epidemic, FIGHT expanded into an AIDS Service Organization (ASO) and has since become a large Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) incorporating dental care, behavioral health and recovery programs, and pediatric, adolescent, and adult primary care, with a special focus on treating HIV and curing Hep C. FIGHT is unique because the health services are embedded in an organization that prioritizes digital access and digital literacy while addressing the needs of formerly incarcerated persons, homeless and unstably housed individuals, and anyone at risk of HIV.

In addition, the panel discusses the relationship between the Jefferson College of Population Health and Philadelphia FIGHT, particularly with the JCPH MPH students.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe FIGHT’s history in community research and how the type of programs they offer positively affect underserved communities.
  2. Explain various successes and challenges of building a multi-disciplinary practice servicing some of Philadelphia's most vulnerable citizens.
  3. List ways Federally Qualified Health Centers impact populations and how they play an important role in population health.

Presentation: 56:48