La-Verna Fountain was named associate vice president for construction business services at Columbia University. Fountain will help lead the university’s outreach and communications efforts regarding construction-related employment opportunities and will oversee its construction initiative for minority, women and local business enterprises. Under this initiative, Columbia aims to spend 25 percent of its total construction, maintenance and repair-procurement budget with such vendors, with 15 percent going to minority-owned businesses, 5 percent to woman-owned businesses and 5 percent to local businesses. Prior to assuming her new role, Fountain was associate vice president and chief operating officer of the university’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs.
Brian D. Smedley, M.D.
Brian D. Smedley, M.D., was named vice president and director of the Health Policy Institute at The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. An expert in racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care, Smedley is co-founder of The Opportunity Agenda, a communications, research and policy organization in New York City. In his new role, he will oversee all operations of the institute, which explores disparities in health, and generates policy recommendations on long-standing health equity concerns. Smedley graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and social reforms and holds a Ph.D. in psychology from UCLA. He was a senior program officer at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and prior to that he was director of public interest policy at the American Psychological Association.
Jennifer Wider joined the Thurgood Marshall College Fund as vice president of development. She will serve as the fund’s senior development executive and will oversee its overall $15 million annual fundraising campaign. Wider previously worked for TMCF as assistant national director of corporations. Prior to her appointment as vice president of development, Wider was the national director of corporate relations for the United Negro College Fund, a role in which she was responsible for a national $29 million corporate fundraising campaign. Before that, she was director of financial development for the National Congress of National Black Churches. During her tenure there, she secured major funding from federal government agencies, including the Departments of Education, Health, and Labor. She holds a marketing management degree from Syracuse University.