Howard Brown Health Announces First Fellowship Class of Future Public Leaders Program

The Gregory Shapen Public Health Fellowship Endowment Fund Is Supporting Six LGBTQ undergraduates in 2021 with Professional Development in Community Health

(Chicago, Ill., June 2021) – Howard Brown Health is honored to announce the first six fellows to receive paid internships as part of the Gregory Shapen Public Health Fellowship Endowment Fund. The program was established in June 2020 after a $1 million gift from George and Juanita Shapen, the largest private gift received by Howard Brown in its 46-year history. The fellows will support Howard Brown’s Center for Education, Research and Advocacy and are listed below:

Sana Ali, (she/her), University of Illinois at Chicago: Ali is Pakistani American, born and raised in the Chicago suburbs. She is pursuing a political science degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago while simultaneously studying law and public health. She has student-level experience in both medicine and advocacy and intends to use her experience as a Shapen Fellow to combine her love for both through health and social justice. 

Andre Hall, (he/him), University of Chicago: Hall is majoring in romance languages and literature with a concentration in Spanish. He has completed all premedical requirements and plans to use his love of languages and public health to foster a global-health atmosphere wherever he is called to practice medicine. He spent the past year interviewing and documenting the experiences of people living with HIV on the South Side of Chicago during the COVID-19 pandemic as part of a qualitative study.

Audrey Nevar, (she/her), University of Illinois College of Medicine: Nevar is a first-year medical student at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. She was born and raised in St. Louis and attended Truman State University. As a transgender woman, she is acutely aware of the challenges that many members of the LGBTQ community face when seeking health care. She wants to serve the community throughout her career as a physician.

Leslie Tovar, (she/her), Albion College: Tovar is a first-generation college student from Dallas, and she is majoring in psychology and planning for a career in medicine. Tovar volunteers on and off campus and plans events to allow students to engage with the community. As a Shapen Fellow, she anticipates an intensive program that would further her interest in health care and community engagement.

Tessa Volpe, (she/her), Northwestern University: Volpe is majoring in human development & psychological services and is also in her third year of studying Spanish. Volpe loves this interdisciplinary approach of studying the psychological, cultural, and sociological factors that influence development, and she has taken classes across a vast range of topics including psychology, sociology, legal studies, English, gender studies, social policy, and cognitive science. As a Shapen Fellow, Volpe looks forward to supporting the public health of the Chicago LGBTQ+ community, of which she is proud to be a part.

Zebaneeka Washington, (she/her), Purdue University Northwest: Washington graduated high school in 2020 in the top 10% of her class with honors and is majoring in biological science with a concentration in health studies and a minor in chemistry. She plans to pursue a career in the medical field and looks forward to working as a Shapen Fellow in order to experience working in health care as part of a collaborative team.

By supporting paid internship opportunities for underrepresented LGBTQ undergraduates, the Shapen Fellowship encourages the professional development of future leaders with interests in LGBTQ health. For more information about the The Gregory Shapen Public Health Fellowship Endowment Fund, see the press release here.

Howard Brown Health exists to eliminate the disparities in health care experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people through research, education, and the provision of services that promote health and wellness. Howard Brown is the largest LGBTQ organization in the Midwest, providing primary and specialty health care, social services, and infectious disease screenings to more than 35,000 people each year. In response to the pandemic, Howard Brown has limited services to eight of its 11 clinic locations and launched telephone and video options for patients to access care via telehealth.  Learn more at


Media Inquiries:
Erik Roldan, Director of Communications and Marketing


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
This site is not optimized for Internet Explorer. Please consider viewing the site in a modern browser such as Edge, Chrome or Firefox.