The Most Potent Forms of Fear Come in the Name of Love | Dr. Mehret Mandefro | TEDxPaloAlto
Dr. Mehret Mandefrois an award-winning film producer/writer who draws from her background as an anthropologist, Harvard-trained physician, and health policy expert to craft textured narratives that explore the social determinants of health. She uses her interdisciplinary training as the foundation to approach social issues she has chosen to tackle as an artist and filmmaker and create what she calls “visual medicine”.
Dr. Mehret’s work stems from a shared belief that storytelling is the most powerful tool we can use to bridge societal divides in our world. Her goal is to create art that engages the public in a deeper conversation about cultural change and challenges audiences to rethink the way they see the world. Integral to her work is the development of public engagement campaigns that help audiences build on lessons learned in her films.
Dr. Mehret Mandefro produced and co-wrote the critically acclaimed documentary Little White Lie about family secrets and facing the truth which was the top-rated broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens during the 2014-2015 season. She also produced the narrative film Difret about a famous women’s rights case that outlawed the kidnapping of child brides in Ethiopia and was the first film to win audience awards at both the Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals.
Prior to film, she began her career as a physician and public health practitioner working extensively with HIV infected and affected communities in Botswana, South Africa, Ethiopia, and New York on issues of prevention and treatment. She completed her primary care internal medicine residency at Montefiore Medical Center and subsequently joined the research faculty of the Division of General Internal Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania as a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar where she received a pilot grant to explore the public health uses of media and create the media production company Truth Aid with her producing partner Lacey Schwartz.
She was subsequently appointed by President Barack Obama as a White House Fellow and worked on behavioral health policy issues for returning Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and co-chaired the health systems and life experiences sub-committee of the Federal Inter-Agency Health Equity Team, which was responsible for developing the nation’s first public health strategy to eliminate health disparities. Upon completion of her fellowship, she joined the Obama administration and served as a health policy advisor in the Office of the Secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs. She was most recently Chief Medical Officer of Amida Technology Solutions and on faculty in the Department of Health Policy at the George Washington School of Public Health and Health Services.
Dr. Mehret Mandefro is currently President of Truth Aid which specializes in producing fiction and non-fiction films about social change. Her latest films include the feature documentary How It Feels To Be Free about the political contributions of trailblazing black female entertainers which she is producing with American Masters and the feature film Sweetness in the Belly starring the Oscar nominated actress Saoirse Ronan. Mehret Mandefro has a BA in Anthropology from Harvard University, an MD from Harvard Medical School, and a MSc in Public Health and Anthropology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as a Fulbright Scholar. She currently lives with her husband and three kids in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Alexandria, VA.