I grew up on a small Oklahoma farm and knew as a child I wanted to become a doctor. Early on, my parents taught me about human rights violations around the world. Later, in college, I became intrigued by international affairs and studied factors that lead to genocide, torture, and other human atrocities. Rarely, if ever, did my professors discuss comprehensive solutions to these problems. By the time I entered medical school, I had also become attuned to the suffering of animals around the world. It was then that I began to seriously consider the structural link between violence against people and animals, and what we can do to address its root causes.
Today, as an internist and preventive medicine physician, my expertise spans the fields of medicine, public health, and ethics. My work bridges my love and respect for people and animals. For more than a decade, I’ve cared for patients, evaluated and treated survivors of torture and sexual violence, taught medical students and residents, and led key research and policy initiatives. I’ve collaborated with national and international agencies, lectured in academic centers and public spaces in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia, and appeared on local, national, and international radio and television programs.
Internationally, I’ve had the privilege of working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda, and the Federated States of Micronesia. In the United States, I’ve been fortunate to work with nonprofit organizations providing health care and advocacy for homeless, immigrant, underinsured, and other marginalized populations in urban and rural settings.
Much of my work centers on the connections between human and animal well-being. My book, Phoenix Zones, shows how people and animals across the globe can help each other recover from trauma and heal—an experience known as the “Phoenix Effect.” Please join others and me as we work together to grow a Phoenix Zones Movement.
“The thinking man must oppose all cruel customs no matter how deeply rooted in tradition or surrounded by a halo. We need a boundless ethics which will include the animals also.”
– Albert Schweitzer, M.D.
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