Recordings of Sunday Platform addresses
Podcast icon

Addressing the Root Causes of Health Disparities; Will Ross, MD, MPH

October 29, 2023
Face of a sad looking black child.
Photo by TopSphere Media

Our health status should not be predicated on our place of residence, but that is invariably the case across the country, and particularly true in St. Louis, where the life expectancy living in an inner-city ZIP code is 18 years lower than someone living in a ZIP code less than 10 miles away. There are many factors that have conspired to reduce the health status of Black Americans in the U.S. These include social and structural determinants of health, such as systemic racism and sociocultural barriers, which lead to inadequate social and built environments, inadequate information and knowledge, risk-promoting lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors, exposure to carcinogens, and diminished access to health care. The persistence of unconscionable disparities obligates systemic reform to improve the health of the African American community. Rebuilding our neighborhoods and schools, and eliminating intergenerational poverty would go a long way to improving the health of African Americans in St. Louis.

Will Ross, MD, MPH, is associate dean for diversity, principal officer for community partnerships, and alumni-endowed professor of medicine in the Nephrology Division at Washington University School of Medicine. For over 25 years, Dr. Ross has developed innovative medical school pipeline programs and recruited and developed a diverse workforce of medical students, residents and faculty. He has promoted health equity locally, nationally and globally through collaborations with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and public health officials in Ethiopia and Haiti. He recently co-developed an undergraduate program in public health in Haiti. He is the founder of the former Saturday Free Health Clinic and co-founder of Casa de Salud Latino Health Center. Dr. Ross is also advisory board chair and founding member of the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience, a magnet health professions high school in St. Louis. A graduate of Yale University, he completed medical school at Washington University School of Medicine, an Internal Medicine residency at Vanderbilt University, and a Renal Fellowship at Washington University. He completed a Master of Science in Epidemiology at Saint Louis University School of Public Health.


Unedited Video

Can We Cultivate Compassion?; Amy Miller, MSW, Interim Director

October 22, 2023

A rudimentary dive into compassion research unearthed this: “…While cynics may dismiss compassion as touchy-feely or irrational, scientists have started to map the biological basis of compassion, suggesting its deep evolutionary purpose. This research has shown that when we feel compassion, our heart rate slows down, we secrete the “bonding hormone” oxytocin, and regions of the brain linked to empathy, caregiving, and feelings of pleasure light up, which often results in our wanting to approach and care for other people…” (UC Berkley, “Greater Good Magazine”)

What could be more impactful on a community than a desire to approach and care for other people? The intentional cultivation of compassion is not only possible, but necessary. Historically, we may have troubled ourselves with any number of other endeavors, but in the turmoil of today, it becomes increasingly urgent that we focus on co-creating spaces where people feel seen, supported, and cared for. Compassion literally means “to suffer together,” but I’d like the focus to be on “relieving suffering together.”


Unedited Video

Antiracism as Daily Practice: Changing White Communities One Step at a Time; Rev Dr Jennifer Harvey

October 8, 2023

White Americans can choose behaviors in our everyday lives to grow racial justice. It’s especially vital for white people to engage in and with our families, through our social networks, in our neighborhoods, and at our jobs to make antiracism a daily living commitment. Meanwhile these are some of the hardest places to do so. We have real power in our relationships with other white people—and not enough of us have used it. We need to talk about why white people struggle with knowing what to do about racism, and the significance of emotions like grief and anger (as well as the harmful role of shame) in reckoning with the transformation our communities need to become the partners in justice that Black communities and other communities need and deserve. Not only is such transformation vital to the well-being of U.S. democracy, it’s vital to the freedom and wholeness of white people too.

Rev. Dr. Jennifer Harvey is a writer and educator long engaged in racial justice and white antiracism. Her books include the New York Times bestseller Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in Racially Unjust America and Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation. She has written for the New York Times and CNN, appeared on CNN’s Town Hall on Racism with Sesame Street, and been heard on NPR’s All Things Considered and “It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders.” After serving nearly 20 years at Drake University as a professor of religion, she recently became the vice president for Academic Affairs and academic dean at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. Dr. Harvey is ordained in the American Baptist Churches (USA).


Unedited Video

We Can’t Be Cats (But That Doesn’t Make Us Sheep); Amy Miller, MSW, Interim Director

October 1, 2023

You’ve heard the idiom about trying to manage a challenging group, “It’s like herding cats?” This is funny (and true) because, well, cats are impossible to herd. They do what they want, when they want.

You’ve also heard “Don’t be a sheep.” Being called a sheep is an insult. It means someone views you as just going along with things. At the Ethical Society, we don’t want to fall into complacency and group think; we value being individuals who have our own opinions.

But, when we are in community together, what is the sweet spot between these extremes? How do we balance doing what is best for the “greater good” with honoring ourselves and our own autonomy and ideas? Let’s explore this together with our Interim Director, Amy Miller, as we continue to “Explore the Human Condition.”

Amy is a clinical social worker, relationship coach, mediator, and the author of Easyish: Keys To A (Relatively) Easy Relationship, published in 2021.


Unedited Video

The War of Intersections: Fighting The Cause of Our Division; Heather Fleming

September 24, 2023
Africian American woman, Heather Fleming in a blue dress with her arms crossed.
Heather Fleming

Across the country, we continue to see attacks on critical race theory, DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), access to books and libraries, sex education, affirmative action, women’s reproductive rights, civil rights, and much more in our legislatures and institutions. To many, these issues seem to be overwhelming to fight individually, but for those who have been immersed in the issue, the prevailing understanding is that we are really fighting one common enemy that presents itself in a myriad of ways. Heather Fleming, founder and director of the MO Equity Education Partnership, explains the connection to each of these issues and how we all can work collectively to defeat this movement.

Heather Fleming is the founder and director of In Purpose Educational Services (IPES), author of the book My Black Friend Says…: Lessons in Equity, Inclusion, and Cultural Competency, and founder and director of the MO Equity Education Partnership (MoEEP). Prior to her work in organizing and equity training, she started her career working eight years in the public service sector. She then moved into education and served as an English Language Arts teacher for 14 years before becoming a full-time equity and inclusion training and program design professional. Her goal for her work in this field is to promote healing, understanding, and equity for all.


Unedited Video

For Your Consideration; Emiel Barrett. EdD

September 23, 2023
Puerto Ricans American man,  Emiel Barrett, smiling and sitting in a chair.

Emiel’s presentation delves into the intricate dynamics of code-switching and implicit bias, and explores how people with marginalized identities navigate diverse environments, including adapting their communication styles to fit cultural expectations. It sheds light on the subtle yet powerful impact of implicit bias on our perceptions and interactions. Emiel’s presentation will encourage critical self-reflection and equip community members with strategies to foster more inclusive and equitable interactions.

As a leadership and professional development practitioner, Emiel specializes in developing and coaching executives, teams, and emerging leaders. For more than 26 years, he has successfully facilitated the untangling of interpersonal and organizational complexities that plague team dynamics. His work is grounded in research and experience in the fields of leadership development, executive presence, “the habit of coaching,” and diversity, equity and inclusion. Dr. Barrett served in the US Navy for 21 years; during this time, he crafted a focused, direct, and warm approach that wastes no time in engaging with leaders to discover the most equitable solutions for their organizations.

He earned a doctorate of education from the University of New England and an M.B.A. from Texas A&M University. He is a professional certified coach with the International Coaching Federation and a certified practitioner of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Hogan Assessment.


Unedited Video

To Build: My Decade With the Ethical Society of St. Louis; Kyle Nienhaus

September 1, 2023
Kyle Nienhaus with his daughter on his shoulders.

Summiting ten years of membership, Kyle Nienhaus shares his experiences with the Ethical Society of St. Louis including reflections on personal growth, challenges still to be met, memories of friends along the way, and hopes for our children’s future. Humanist values are human values worth wanting, and Kyle intends to show the “how-come?” and the “what-for?” of that age-old question: “Why?”

Member Kyle Nienhaus is an independent philosopher and musician, author of the forthcoming Humanist, All Too Humanist: A Nietzsche Interpretation and trained at Berklee College of Music. He was born and raised in St. Louis where he lives with his wife Nikki and their daughter Lorelai.


Unedited Video

Perspectives on Kilimanjaro; Mary Ann Perkins

August 20, 2023
Photo of Mt Kilimanjaro
Photo by Sergey Pesterev

Kilimanjaro – the world’s tallest freestanding mountain – rises nearly 20,000 feet above sea level in safari lands on the border between Tanzania and Kenya. The mountain has five distinct ecological zones at different altitudes, with jungle at the foothills and glaciers at the summit. Some 35,000 tourists attempt to reach the peak each year, encountering physical and psychological challenges along the way. Some 10-25 percent of them have to turn back, succumbing to altitude sickness, injury, exposure to the cold or other adverse conditions. On June 14, Mary Ann Perkins and her daughter, Danielle, reached the summit. In her address to the Ethical Society, Mary Ann will draw parallels between their experiences on the mountain and humanist perspectives on life.

Member Mary Ann Perkins grew up in St. Louis County and then lived overseas–in Germany, Lebanon and Thailand–for most of the next two decades. During that time she had two children, left the Mormon church and completed two master’s degrees. After returning to the St. Louis area, she became a member of the Ethical Society and restarted the religious transition peer-support group that meets at the Ethical Society every Monday at 7 p.m.


Unedited Video

How the Core Values Provide Me with a Behavioral Roadmap to Joy and Meaning; Dan Overmann

August 13, 2023

Member Dan Overmann will give a personal account of how the core values provide a behavioral “roadmap” leading to an enriched quality of life for himself and others – a life quality that is characterized by joy and meaning. Eliciting the best in the human spirit is the navigational keystone of the roadmap.

Dan is a sole practitioner architect and owner of dro Design & Planning. The majority of his work involves the planning, design and implementation of healthcare facilities such as hospitals and clinics. He and his wife Mary joined the Ethical Society 26 years ago to provide a non-religious, value-centered learning environment for their two children. He currently serves the Ethical Society as a member of the Lay Leadership Development Committee, the Welcome Team, and the Platform Host Team.


Unedited Video

Exploring Ethical (Pop) Culture; Louise Jett, MEd, Leader Intern

August 6, 2023

Creativity and storytelling help us cultivate meaning and bring joy into our lives. How can we harness the power of creativity to grow our movement and reach new audiences? Where can we find Humanism (and our values) in popular culture? Leader Intern Louise Jett explores pop culture that honors Ethical Humanism.


Unedited Video

New to the Ethical Society?
  These podcasts will help:

Discuss our Platforms on Facebook.


If you like what you hear, please make a tax-deductible donation to support the Society.




Listen on Google Play Music

Single page listing of all podcasts.