Stephanie Meredith is going to be busy soon.
Meredith, HDI’s Medical Outreach Director, has been invited to be a part of several medical conferences in the US and Canada starting this month and continuing until April.
In February, she travelled to and presented at the Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action Conference in Dallas, Texas, and she hopes to follow that with presentations at USC Columbia genetic counseling student cohort, the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics in Toronto, the sixth congress on the ethical, legal, and social implications of genomic research in New York City and the International Society for Prenatal Diagnosis in Boston.
She will also be representing HDI at the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry’s One Voice Conference in Chicago, and the Disability Policy Seminar in Washington D.C.
With so many conferences in so many places, Meredith has a lot of opportunities ahead of her, and she’s excited to take advantage.
Meredith is experienced in delivering the types of talks she’ll be giving in these conferences and has a different approach for each audience.
“When I talk to the advocacy organizations, I’m teaching or training them on how to be methodical and diplomatic,” she said. “Are you actually capturing those families with Down syndrome in your area who have babies being born? How do we figure out whether you are or not? And where are your gaps? And I’m going to be talking about how to support families who have Black and Hispanic children with Down syndrome. We recently completed a research study that found that there was some implicit and explicit bias in those conversations.”
Stephanie will also be working on how to help medical professionals build up their best practices.
“I talk about some of the ways in which bias can be present in conversations and what they can do to make those diagnosis conversations more supportive to families and also more equitable in how they talk about disabilities,” she said. “They’ll say, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry, your baby has this condition,’…we don’t need to frame it as bad news. It is likely unexpected news, but it’s not inherently bad news.”
She’s particularly excited to present to the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, where she will share the stage with some experts on disability and ethics, many of whom have disabilities themselves.
“I’m even more excited that my colleagues are sharing their perspectives too,” she said. “I think that it’s really important, especially for geneticists and with the history of some of the discrimination against people with disabilities in genomics.”
Not only does Meredith have the opportunity to share her knowledge and help lift up others with lived experience, she also has the chance to experience a lot of different places in the process. It’s a great chance to travel and learn about new places and people. While she’s excited to see new places and try some new foods, she is also knows that traveling gives her the chance to learn more about the people she needs to work with.
“When you’re doing community engaged work, it helps to have those personal relationships with people,” she said. “Sitting down and breaking bread with people and being in the place where they live helps you to have closer connections and a greater appreciation for what they’re dealing with.”