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Abdul El-Sayed | Physician | Host of America Dissected | Author of Medicare for All | Former Public Health Commissioner of Detroit
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed made history when he became the youngest-ever public health official in a major American city. When the pandemic swept over America, the epidemiologist served as a voice of reason, reassurance, and credibility as the nation battled misinformation. He is the host of the podcast America Dissected, frequent commentator on CNN, author of Medicare for All, and a leading advocate for health equity and progressive values—dubbed one of the movement’s “brightest young stars” by Bernie Sanders. In his talks, El-Sayed nspires and lead us toward a more accessible, just, and resilient healthcare system for everyone.

“Abdul El-Sayed understands something very profound. That at the end of the day, no matter how much wealth and power the big moneyed interests have...what is more important than their money is ordinary people coming together in the struggle for economic, social, racial, and environmental justice.”

— Sen. Bernie Sanders

At 30, Abdul El-Sayed served as Detroit’s Health Commissioner—making him the youngest health official in a major American City, ever. In his first book, Healing Politics: A Doctor’s Journey into the Heart of Our Political Epidemic, he shares his powerful personal narrative, along with compelling forays into science and history, to diagnose an underlying national epidemic: the epidemic of insecurity. Compassionate, bold, and uncompromising, El-Sayed proposes a new direction to bridge the divides this epidemic deepens, and shares his vision of a more democratic America. And his dedication to making that happen has won him the praise of people like Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who said, Abdul inspires me, his commitment inspires me, his background, his work inspires me, and we have to have each other’s backs.” In his second book, Medicare For All: A Citizens Guide, El-Sayed teams up with Dr. Micah Johnson—a respected physician and policy advisor—to write the most engaging, accessible, and clear-eyed guide for actually achieving universal healthcare coverage in America. “Regardless of your politics, their thought-provoking writing will push you to think more deeply and critically about the future of health care in America,” declares Vivek H. Murthy, the former Surgeon General of the US.


His popular new podcast, America Dissected, takes an in-depth look at ten key healthcare issues facing Americans today. Part of the Crooked Media podcast family (Pod Save America, Lovett or Leave It), America Dissected offers Abdul El-Sayed’s exceptional historical, political and social insight into how we got here, and what it means for our health: not only as people, but as a nation. Covering everything from the anti-vax movement and superbugs to the loneliness epidemic and the opioid crisis, it’s a timely, troubling, yet ultimately hopeful look at the past, present, and future of American healthcare. Also a CNN Political Contributor, El-Sayed lends his expertise to the network, with a focus on the Coronavirus and the 2020 Presidential Election.


As Health Commissioner, El-Sayed rebuilt Detroit’s Health Department post-privatization during the city’s municipal bankruptcy.  He led the Department to multiply city funding for public health tenfold, attract millions of dollars in grants, and become a national leader in public health innovation.  After this, El-Sayed ran to be the first ever Muslim-American governor of Michigan. His campaign—with its unapologetically progressive focus on public health, education, diversity, and dialogue—excited Americans across the nation.

Prior to his work in public service, El-Sayed was tenure-track faculty member at Columbia University’s Department of Epidemiology; Director of the Columbia University Systems Science Program; and co-Director of Global Research for Population Health. El-Sayed holds a Doctorate in Public Health from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, as well as an MD from Columbia University. He graduated with Highest Distinction from the University of Michigan. At graduation, El-Sayed was selected to deliver the Student Commencement Address alongside President Clinton, who said of him, “I just wish every person in the world could have heard you speak today.” 


Speech Topics

Politics & Society
19 Lessons from COVID-19 Rebuilding Our Post-Pandemic Future
Public health is about prevention. And in that respect, we failed—not just in preventing the pandemic, but in protecting Americans from its worst consequences: disease, death, and destitution. How could this have happened to the nation that was arguably in the best position to avert catastrophe? Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, a physician, epidemiologist, and recent author of the book Healing Politics, offers a unique and medically-informed perspective on what went wrong.
First and foremost, our healthcare system is a house of cards, says El-Sayed. Without strong foundations, the stress of COVID-19 threatened to overwhelm public health almost immediately. Secondly, the persistent lag in data distorted the public’s perception of progress, and may have even contributed to a sense of “false hope.” Finally, though COVID-19 did not cause the extreme disparaties in our society, it definitely exposed them. How can we move forward now that we’ve seen all of this preventable destruction?
In this talk, El-Sayed—the host of the massively popular public health podcast America Dissected—helps us trace how we got here, and what this experience will teach us about the future. Moving forward, it’s essential that we rebuild our fragile healthcare system with a robust infrastructure; close all of the gaps in our data; and address the epidemic of insecurity in our nation. If you’re at all interested in how we can emerge from this crisis stronger than before, this talk is a must-listen.
Politics & Society
American Problems, American Solutions Building a More Just Society, Together
The health of our nation is suffering. The opioid crisis, the anti-vax movement, the Flint water crisis, and an epidemic of loneliness are just the tip of the iceberg of issues affecting Americans. How does our care for one another—or lack thereof—reflect on us as people, and as a nation? In this talk, Abdul El-Sayed explores the historical, political, and social circumstances that got us where we are today—and how we can move toward something better.
Sharing his powerful personal narrative, along with compelling forays into science and history, El-Sayed explores the underlying national epidemic at the root of our issues: the epidemic of insecurity. It’s no secret that the American healthcare system is flawed, as is the political system that keeps it that way—but El-Sayed knows firsthand that it doesn’t have to be this way. And with the climate crisis encroaching, and all the additional health implications it will bring (diminished air quality, precarious water supply, extreme heat), we need to act now. It’s time to let go of our perceived differences and focus on our shared humanity. Unapologetically progressive, compassionate, and uncompromising, El-Sayed proposes a bold new direction to bridge the divides the insecurity epidemic deepens, and shares his vision of a more democratic America.
Civic Engagement
A Clean Bill Rebuilding Detroit’s Ailing Health Department

In this talk, Dr. El-Sayed guides audiences through the process of rebuilding a city’s health department from the ground up. He discusses what happened in Detroit that led to the privatization of a 185-year old Health Department, and how he and his team went about rebuilding it. With vibrant, moving examples, he’ll show your audience the critical role of local public health, the evolution of healthcare, and the vital part politics must play as we move forward. 

Politics & Society
The Gubernatorial Gambit Tales from the Campaign Trail
In this talk, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed talks about his experience running for governor of Michigan—a state that voted for Donald Trump—as a millennial, Muslim-American doctor in 2018. A charismatic speaker, El-Sayed discusses why he ran, what he learned, and what it means for our evolving political ecology. In this talk, El-Sayed shares stories from the campaign trail and touches on themes relating to how we form our personal and political identities, courage in public service, and the responsibility that each of us has to do the basic work of our democracy: to reach beyond our safe relationships to ask “Who are we?” and “Who do we want to be?”