Mary Fleming, MD, MPH


President, The Reede Scholars; Director, Leadership Development to Advance Equity in Health Care, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA; Co-Founder, Senior VP of Health Equity, Cayaba Care, Philadelphia, PA

A Louisville, KY native, Dr. Mary E. Fleming, completed her undergraduate degree at Xavier University of Louisiana, medical degree at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Meharry Medical College.  Due to her interests in eradicating health inequities and improving healthcare for the underserved, she matriculated to Harvard Medical School as a Commonwealth Fellow in Minority Health Policy where she obtained a Master in Public Health from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.  She practiced as a generalist in a Norristown, PA community hospital for four years before deciding to transition to be a full-time locum tenens physician.  In this capacity, she has worked in several states across the country.  This practice model also allowed her to travel to Kenya for six months to volunteer with Our Lady of Lourdes Mission Hospital in Mutomo.

Currently, she works clinically in Baltimore, MD, Louisville, KY, Norway, ME and for Cayaba Care, a maternal health start-up, in Philadelphia, PA. In addition to her clinical work, she consults as a medical expert reviewer, physician editor and leads a non-profit, Reede Scholars. As President of the Reede Scholars, she develops strategies for collective action among the Scholars to address health equity and social justice.  In 2021 she became Director of the Leadership Development to Advance Equity in Health Care Program in the Executive and Continuing Professional Education department at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.  As an ardent champion of health equity, she continues to explore avenues to grow her skill set in order to serve the vulnerable populations of this country and globally. 

Healthier Children Make Healthier Students: Rethinking Health Education in Boston Public Schools


The goal of this project will be to develop a comprehensive, age-appropriate health education curriculum drawing from National, State and Local Standards to address the needs of Boston Public School (BPS) students.


The Boston Public School System’s Department for Health and Wellness committed to revising and expanding the Health Standards for grades K-12.  Currently, the challenges of the BPS students include obesity, inadequate physical activity, violence and risk behaviors.  In rewriting the Health Standards, we will be mindful of providing medically-accurate, medically-appropriate and comprehensive information on all subjects from Healthy Eating Habits to Violence Prevention to Reproductive Health.  Framing the curriculum in the context of a whole person, we will address the health needs of students as it extends from the individual level to the community level while acknowledging the urban setting in which the students reside. 


Creating a model that centered on the student as an important part of a larger community led to the development of the framework Me, You, Us and Community.  This four-part framework meshes well with the four grading periods and contains 10 major content areas in alignment with other curricula across the state and across the country.  While focusing on nutrition and physical activity, the curriculum also emphasizes aspects important to an urban area such as safety and injury prevention and substance use prevention.  Also, the curriculum contains age-appropriate sexual health and mental and emotional health skills.

Future Direction:          

As most persons in public health agree, education may be the most profound predictor of health in the future and educating our youth should include a strong foundation in health curriculum.  BPS plans to move forward with implementation and assessment of this new model in the next school year.  By integrating health topics into traditional content courses and then focusing on skill attainment in higher grades, BPS intends to prepare their students to actively engage in learning health and practicing healthy behaviors.

Preceptor and Sponsoring Agency:

Barbara Huscher-Cohen, Boston Public Schools, Department of Health and Wellness