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Columbia Community Scholars Address Health and Wellness in Harlem and Beyond

At the Columbia Community Scholars Dialogue on Wellness, November 7, 2018, at Columbia University’s Faculty House, two Columbia Community Scholars—food, dining, and culture writer Lil Nickelson and Vivian Williams-Kurutz, Founder and Executive Director of the Harlem Wellness Center—discussed issues surrounding health and wellness in the Harlem community and beyond.

About the Columbia Community Scholars Program

The Columbia Community Scholars Program, administered by the Office of Government and Community Affairs and the School of Professional Studies, enables independent scholars to pursue their lifelong learning aspirations through access to Columbia University courses and resources.

About Lil Nickelson

Lil Nickelson is a food, dining, and culture writer focused on “Healthy Living for People of Color,” a multi-faceted approach to promoting healthy living habits for residents of Upper Manhattan. Lil’s love of home cooking dates back to her childhood spent preparing meals from scratch at her mother’s side. When she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, Lil began relying on her cooking skills and her love for walking to take charge of her health; she encourages others to do the same. In “Dining with Miss Lil,” her monthly online column for Harlem World Magazine, she has shared her quest to establish a healthier relationship to food. Nickelson holds a master’s in Business Administration from New York University and has worked at, as well as taken courses at, the Institute of Culinary Education.

About Vivian Williams-Kurutz

Vivian Williams-Kurutz is founder and executive director of the Harlem Wellness Center (HWC), which combats health inequity by targeting populations most vulnerable to adult onset diseases that are preventable by lifestyle choices. HWC offers a holistic approach to wellness that includes yoga, mindfulness meditation, bodywork, special workshops, outdoor activities, weekend retreats, healthy eating, social interaction, and reconciliation (racial, socio-economic, gender, and generational) to reinforce community in an ever-changing neighborhood. Since 2003, Ms. Williams-Kurutz has been committed to cultivating a health-conscious Harlem community engaged in holistic living practices that fortify body, mind, and soul wellness. She is certified as a personal trainer, meditation teacher, yoga instructor, and Thai massage practitioner. In addition, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in mental health counseling. With her husband, she is also a co-owner of Plowshares Coffee on the Upper West Side.