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Maternal Health Learning and Innovation Center
Accelerating innovative and evidence-informed interventions that improve maternal health and eliminate maternal health inequities
Tanisa Adimu, MPH, is an assistant project director at the Georgia Health Policy Center and is a co-leader of the Community Health Systems Development team. Adimu has specialized experience in developing, administrating, and evaluating community health interventions designed to improve the quality and access of healthcare services and prevention strategies. At the center, she provides technical assistance to rural networks and consortia.
Jamie Agunsday is a master’s prepared Registered Nurse who has been serving families in southern New Jersey for nearly 8 years. She spent more than 7 years at the bedside as a labor and delivery nurse, helping families grow safely and with dignity.
Jamie has a long history of advocacy both professionally and personally. While receiving her master’s degree in sociology from the University of Central Florida, she worked as a crime victim advocate supporting survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and stalking. As a nurse, Jamie has been deeply impacted by seeing women and birthing people experience serious complications during pregnancy, childbirth, and in the postpartum period. Over the course of her nursing career, Jamie has earned her master’s degree in nursing. She has lobbied Congress and holds a leadership role in her professional organization. Jamie has served on multiple committees and developed collaborative initiatives to help improve the care of pregnant and postpartum individuals in the clinical setting.
Jamie’s work also focuses on inspiring, teaching, and mentoring other nurses to make childbirth safer. Above all, through her work Jamie seeks to center the voices and amplify the stories of those most impacted by adverse outcomes and health disparities as a way to make meaningful improvements in the health and well-being of all people giving birth. Jamie is a lifelong New Jersey resident where she lives with her husband and 2 children.
Christie Allen, MSN, RNC-NIC, CPHQ is a senior director of the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health and associated projects at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, focused on leading programming and interventions nationally on patient safety, quality improvement, and improving outcomes for all birthing families. With over 20 year of nursing experience, she has worked as a Board-Certified Lactation Consultant, NICU and high-risk obstetrical nurse, and managed a state-wide program for pregnant individuals with active substance use disorder.
I am an energetic, goals- driven public health advocate.
As an entrepreneur, I help nonprofit and public health organizations secure funding and reach their strategic goals through grant writing, program management, and program evaluation.
As a state government employee, I use data-driven strategies to lead a department, manage resources, and ensure compliance with federal, state, and local regulations. This ensures participants have access to program benefits in an efficient and effective manner.
Shaquelle (or Shaq) is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and has an extensive background in health education and health promotion in perinatal populations in the outpatient and inpatient environment, which is a tremendous asset to the Women’s and Infant Health team portfolio. She most recently served as the Perinatal Health Education Intern at UF Health Shands Hospital where she assisted in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of quality improvement initiatives for the Mother/Baby, Labor and Delivery, and Neonatal Intensive Care units. Shaquelle has also served as the Lead Care Coordinator for the UF Mobile Outreach Clinic, a nonprofit organization that provides free health care services to underserved individuals. There, she not only interacted directly with patients as an educator and wellness coach but also coordinated numerous education initiatives on topics including sexual and reproductive health, mental health, and chronic conditions. She most recently worked on a Pregnancy Packet Project to provide perinatal resources and materials to undocumented and uninsured women in Alachua County, FL.
Shaquelle is passionate about health equity and wants to discover the potential of health education specialists in being assets in reducing racial disparities in maternal mortality. Shaquelle’s role at AMCHP focuses on implementing a Community of Practice for the Safer Childbirth Cities Initiative, funded by Merck for Mothers.
My Current Work
Shaquelle currently works on the Safer Childbirth Cities (SCC) Initiative as one of the team members who hosts the Community of Practice (COP). This COP is comprised of 20 city-based grantees who were funded to implement programs to equitably address maternal morbidity and mortality in their cities. The AMCHP SCC team provides technical assistance, capacity building, and a space for grantees to feel supported as they implement their work.
Ask Me About
Safer Childbirth Cities Initiative, Women’s & Maternal Health, Health Equity. Hobbies include playing the piano and trying to train my dog!
Professionally, I have gained an extensive amount of experience in senior level public health roles. I have lead the development of public health initiatives and co-created fund development strategies that intersect multiple health topics. Outside of the office, I’m extremely passionate about learning new personal development activities and volunteering to improve health outcomes in my community.
Alessandra Bazzano PhD, MPH is Associate Professor with tenure in the Department of Social, Behavioral, and Population Sciences, and Director of Tulane’s Center of Excellence in Maternal Child Health (CEMCH). As one of only 13 Centers of Excellence in the United States, CEMCH trains future leaders in the field of maternal child health, which seeks to address health equity among children, adolescents, women, people with disabilities, families, fathers, and LGBTQ+ communities using the life course approach to impact reproductive, perinatal, developmental and other key health outcomes. Dr. Bazzano has worked broadly in MCH, nutrition, and international health for more than 20 years with continuous external research funding from national and international agencies, and has deep experience in teaching and mentoring undergraduate, graduate, and early career trainees, leading to the Tulane University President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Dr. Bazzano applies an interdisciplinary lens to research, teaching, and service, informed by collaborations across professional boundaries, and has served as Carnegie Corporation of New York Professor of Social Entrepreneurship through the Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking, supporting research on public health and equity-centered design thinking. Ongoing research projects include community- and school-based work on children’s health and psychosocial development, impacts of COVID-19 on minoritized communities, health system and community-based approaches to chronic disease management and diabetes prevention, integrated social behavioral change through community influencers, and systematic reviews related to perinatal health, menopause, and the use of design thinking in public health. Dr. Bazzano works alongside colleagues in Nigeria, Cambodia, and Ethiopia on MCH & nutrition projects, and partners with organizations and public health professionals globally in public health training programs. Inside and outside the university, Dr. Bazzano is committed to improving equity, diversity, and inclusion, with past participation in the inaugural Tulane Leadership Institute Anti-Racism Leadership Program, as well as ongoing initiatives aimed at addressing oppression and social injustice.
Shana Bellow, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist at INOVA Health System Women’s Behavioral Health Perinatal Psychologist.
Lauren Blachowiak, MEd, is the Government Affairs Manager at the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP). In this role, she executes AMCHP’s policy activities, including advocating for Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant funding, promoting AMCHP’s federal policy agenda, and supporting the AMCHP policy team. Prior to joining AMCHP, Ms. Blachowiak served as the Disability Policy Fellow with the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), where she advocated for federal policies benefiting individuals with disabilities, their families, and the professionals who support them. She holds a Master of Education in Early Childhood Special Education from Vanderbilt University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University.
Kelly Bower’s research and her public health nursing practice focus on the elimination of racial disparities in women’s, maternal, and infant health. She aims to understand the structural and social determinants that underlie disparities and develop interventions to reverse them. In particular, her work leverages existing health care and public health services, such as maternal, infant, and early childhood home visiting, to implement interventions that promote health equity. Dr. Bower applies a community-engaged approach to her research that comes from her 20 years of experience practicing as a public health nurse working with government and non-profit organizations in Baltimore City, birthing hospitals throughout Maryland, and home visiting programs across the country. She has received funding from the Health Resources & Services Administration and the National Institutes of Health. She earned her PhD from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where her dissertation focused on the relationship between residential segregation, food store availability, and racial disparities in obesity among women.
Aimée Brill is a mother, facilitator, consultant, birth justice activist, community-based doula trainer, and is the Co-Director of Village Birth International (VBI), based both in Syracuse, NY, New Jersey, and northern Uganda, and the Co-Director of JustBirth Space. She has been practicing as a perinatal health professional providing local, national, and international advocacy, consultancy, mentorship, doula trainings, and education since 2003.
Dr. Nakeitra L. Burse, is the Owner/CEO of Six Dimensions, LLC, a certified woman owned, minority owned public health research, development and practice firm. She is also the Executive Producer of the short documentary, Laboring with Hope. Dr. Burse is a lifelong Mississippian that has been a servant in the field of public health for over 14 years. Her work is centered around health equity and social justice issues and improving health outcomes for Black women and their families.
ShLanda R. Burton is an Advanced Certified Birth Doula and a Community Nutrition Specialist. She is the South Eastern Regional Director for DONA International. ShLanda serves as the Founder and Executive Director at The National Birth Coalition where their mission is to establish the maternal and infant health of Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) as a severe priority, to empower, explore and advocate for the most effective, evidence-based, culturally competent policies and practices for improving outcomes for parents and babies.
Dr. Rachel Caskey is an Associate Professor in the College of Medicine at UIC. She is a dually board-certified Internist and Pediatrician and health services researcher. She has combined her clinical interest in womenâ€™s reproductive health with her public health interest in population health to develop a robust research platform focused on reproductive health care delivery through scalable system-level interventions.
Karen A. Chustz, MSW, is Senior Program Manager for NHSA’s AIM CCI initiative. Karen has more than 25 years’ experience in non-profit and public health agencies. Prior to joining AIM CCI, Karen served as Director of the Bureau of Regional and Clinical Operations at Louisiana’s Office of Public Health where she was responsible for administration of the agency’s clinical and population health initiatives across nine regional teams. Karen’s experience also includes work as Chief Operations Officer at an FQHC as well as Program Officer for Community Services at a multi-service non-profit. From 2012 – 2015, Karen was Louisiana’s State WIC Director. Her experience also includes Vice President of Clinical and Community Health Programs at California Family Health Council (now Essential Access Health), California’s grantee for Title X family planning services. She also has extensive experience in maternal and child health as well as educational health programming. Early in her career, Karen served as Chief Program Officer for Great Expectations Foundation, which administered New Orleans’ Healthy Start project. While at Great Expectations, Karen diversified the organization’s funding and services portfolio to support HIV prevention services among women of color and teen pregnancy prevention programming for middle and high school students. Karen earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Loyola University of New Orleans and a Master of Social Work with a concentration in Administration, Planning and Organizational Development with a focus on healthcare systems from Southern University at New Orleans.
Dorothy Cilenti, DrPH, MSW, MPH, has worked in local and state public health agencies in North Carolina for more than 20 years. She is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Dept of Maternal and Child Health at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health where she directs the Maternal Health Learning and Innovation Center and the National MCH Workforce Development Center, under cooperative agreements with the Health Resources Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
Leslie Coney is a rising 2nd year PhD student in Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington. Her research interests include Black maternal health, community-based participatory design, and trauma-informed design. She has experience with qualitative methods (i.e. interviews, co-design, etc) and is a newly selected National Birth Equity Collaborative Research Scholar.
Sarah Copple is a nurse leader on staff at the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) as the Manager of Clinical Program Development. She received her Associates Degree in Nursing from Mercy College of Health Sciences, then her BSN and MSN from Walden University. She is certified in Maternal Newborn Nursing and Obstetric and Neonatal Quality and Safety. She worked for 22 years in Maternity Services at a UnityPoint Health- Des Moines in many roles, including staff nurse, unit-based educator and clinical education specialist. Currently in addition to her role at AWHONN, she provides outreach education with Blank Children’s Hospital Advocacy and Outreach and is on the Scientific Advisory Committee for the American Red Cross. In 2010 she was honored to receive the 100 greatest nurses in Iowa award and in 2019 she received the AWHONN Award of Excellence for Clinical Education. She is published on how she enhanced a neonatal resuscitation course for new providers. In all her roles she has been passionate in providing quality education to promote the health of women, pregnant and postpartum people, and newborns.
My passion for breastfeeding bloomed when my daughter was born in 2009. “My favorite saying is that I birthed her and she birthed a Lactation Consultant”. The passion to support new families in the postpartum period also blossomed, especially supporting Black families. When I learned about the low rates coupled with the lack of support, I went on to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) as well as a Postpartum Doula. When I found out about Chocolate Milk Café I was excited to join a group of badass Facilitators and expand my network of providing Lactation/ Human Milk feeding support in the Black community.
Leslie deRosset has been working in maternal and child health for more than two decades. She has spent her career working internationally, in North and South Carolina with state government, non-profit organizations and now at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is an Implementation Specialist. Within the MHLIC, Leslie serves as a Coach for the state of Montana and supports the Innovation and Engagement Core. Leslie is passionate about improving the inequities that cause disparities in maternal and child health. Leslie lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband, two teenagers (16 and 18) and Stella, her yellow lab.
James Dills, MPH, MUP, is a Health Integration Associate at the Georgia Health Policy Center (GHPC), where he works to improve public health by advancing Health in All Policies perspectives of decision-making. His areas of expertise are health impact assessment (HIA), systems thinking, and healthy community design. Jimmy also supports the Systems Integration Core of the National MCH Workforce Development Center.
Deitre Epps, founder and CEO for RACE for Equity, has over 25 years of experience in providing education, training, and technical assistance to health, human services, and education leaders to support evidence-informed strategies towards improving individual and community wellbeing. Her work has included capacity building and direct support for leaders to implement data driven decision making with Results Based Accountability™ (RBA). As a global consultant, she works with international agencies to advance culturally and linguistically appropriate strategies that achieve results.
Lauren Everett has been working in the public health field for 10 years. As Director of the Cradle Cincinnati Learning Collaborative for Cradle Cincinnati, Lauren partners with healthcare organizations to identify opportunities to improve systems of care for pregnant patients and their families in an effort to reduce adverse birth outcomes. She received her Masters in Public Health with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health from Emory University.
Dianna Frick is an epidemiologist with the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) in the Maternal and Women’s Health Branch. Ms. Frick provides data support to maternal health programs, including the State Maternal Health Innovation Program, the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM), the Maternal Depression and Related Behavioral Disorders Program, the Maternal Health Portfolio Evaluation, and others. She recently coordinated the development of the Maternal and Infant Health Mapping Tool, an interactive online tool for creating and customizing county-level maps on maternal and infant health. Ms. Frick earned her Master of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Dr. Stacie Geller has been a local, national, and international leader in addressing maternal health for over 25 years. She has extensive experience working in maternal health focused on factors associated with maternal morbidity and mortality. She was the Principal Investigator of a CDC/Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPH) cooperative agreement “Investigation of factors associated with maternal mortality” where she developed an innovative model for early identification of high-risk pregnant women. Using this model, Dr. Geller has done extensive work in IL to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality. Her work has been adopted by the CDC and ACOG and recommended as a best practice for in-depth hospital review across the U.S. Dr. Geller has worked with IDPH to develop the MM and SMM review processes and committees. She is a founding member of both of the state’s MMRCs and co-chairs the SMM review committee. Dr. Geller is involved in a number of policy and program initiatives to improve maternal health care. Currently, Dr. Geller is the Co-PI of a PCORI grant to address the disparities in prenatal and postpartum care for Black women in Chicago. Dr. Geller’s work in maternal health extends to global circles as well.
Dr. Anne Elizabeth Glassgow is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. She has research training and clinical expertise in health disparities research and healthcare interventions for vulnerable populations. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with more than 20 years of experience, she has clinical expertise on an individual-level and understands socio-environmental factors that contribute to poor health and mental health in vulnerable populations.
Dr. Glassgow is also the Executive Director and Research Director of the Coordinated Healthcare for Complex Kids (CHECK) program. CHECK is a large demonstration program funded by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Innovation Center. CHECK has enrolled a cohort of more than 17,000 children with Medicaid, from birth to 25, who have chronic medical conditions.
Before joining CHECK, she was the Project Director and co-investigator on the P60 Center of Excellence in Eliminating Health Disparities, P60 ARRA Supplement-Comparative Effectiveness Research for Eliminating Disparities, and P60- Environmental Supplement, funded by the NIH-National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. This provided her the opportunity to work on several health disparities research projects, including a randomized, controlled trial, testing the efficacy of patient navigation in increasing early detection and treatment of breast cancer in women residing in medically underserved areas.
She is currently a co-investigator on Promoting Adolescent Health (PATH), a randomized clinical trial funded by the NIH-National Institute of Mental Health to test the efficacy of a depression prevention intervention for adolescents.
Dr. Glassgow has also written multiple IRB applications, funder reports, and grant applications. Her primary cancer relevant research interest is in health disparities. Specifically, her interest is in identifying individual, community, and health system-level determinants that contribute to risk for poor outcomes and serve as protective factors related to cancer control.
Dr. Tyra Toston Gross is an Associate Professor of Public Health at Xavier University of Louisiana, where she has worked as a public health instructor, researcher and mentor since August 2015. Given her interest in maternal & child health, the majority of Dr. Gross’ research has focused on the health of reproductive-age women. Her current research projects explore the health of Black postpartum women in Louisiana, infant & young child feeding during emergencies, and smoking cessation needs for low-income pregnant women.
Arden Handler, DrPH is Director of the Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health and Professor of Community Health Sciences at the University of Illinois School of Public Health. Dr. Handler’s research career reflects her long-standing commitment to reducing disparities and improving the health of women, pregnant and postpartum persons, children, and families. Dr. Handler is Co-PI (multiple PIs) of the HRSA funded Innovations to ImPROve Maternal OuTcomEs in Illinois (I PROMOTE-IL). She is a former member of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality (SACIM) and a nationally renowned leader in maternal and child health advocacy, policy, epidemiology, and public health system improvement.
Dr. Angelica Hardee currently serves as Vice President of Health Strategy at the American Heart Association where she is dedicated to Greater Cincinnati/NKY’s community health initiatives. In this role she provides leadership focused addressing top health priorities of region by leading work related to hypertension, e-cigarette/tobacco use and healthy food access. Her goal is making community the most equitable and healthy region in the United States.
Dr. Hardee is leading policy, system and environmental focused on decreasing individuals with uncontrolled hypertension. Educating youth on the dangers of E-Cigarette use. Creating policies and programming to improve access to healthy food and convening researchers, physicians and advocates to share best practices. She engages with community organizations and neighborhoods coalitions to identify their health & wellness priorities.
Dr. Hardee is dedicated to addressing health-related social needs in the community. She currently serving her second term is a Governing Councilor for the Community Health Planning and Policy Development section of the American Public Health Association. She is also an advocate for higher education and teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses at the University of Cincinnati (UC). Dr. Hardee is passionate about her community and serves as President of the Urban League Young Professionals of Greater Southwestern Ohio and a Board Member for the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio. With her involvement she plans to help young professionals become civically engaged to identify and address issues of public concern and make a difference in the community.
Dr. Hardee also serves on the executive board of Bond Hill Roselawn Collaborative Board, Cancer Justice Network Board, UC Community Advisory Board, Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training Community Partner Council, Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council, and others. She also serves as a mentor for many high school students, college students and young adults.
In 2018, Dr. Hardee was recognized by the National Urban League Washington Bureau with a Certificate in Advocacy. She also received Lead Tribune Media Group’s 2018 Healthcare Leadership Award and was a finalist for Legacy Leadership’s 2018 Next Generation Leader Award. She is also a semifinalist in Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leader Award and was honored as one of Greater Cincinnati’s 2018 Thirty Under 30.
Prior to her current role she served as Senior Manager of Gen-H, Greater Cincinnati/NKY population health agenda where she led the 35 hospital, 28 local health departments and 25-county Regional Community Health Needs Assessment and Community Health Implementation Plan. Dr. Hardee began her career at UC where she completed her doctorate while teaching Epidemiology, Global Health, Environmental Health and many others. In addition, Dr. Hardee collaborated on multiple publications focused on maternal and child health.
Dr. Hardee is a native of Cleveland, OH and three-time alumna of the University of Cincinnati where she received her bachelors, masters and doctorate focused in public health, health policy and global health systems.
Kimberly D. Harper, MSN, RN, MHA, is a registered nurse with 17 years of experience in Maternal and Child Health. Her breadth of experience ranges from leadership and nursing roles in labor and delivery units, postpartum care, public health home visiting programs, and hospital administration. She holds several roles at the UNC Center for Maternal and Infant Health where she provides training and technical assistance to state and national maternal health initiatives.
Dr. Lich specializes in the application of systems thinking, operations research, and systems science simulation modeling techniques for health policy, public health delivery, and medical decision making. Dr. Lich has been invited to talk about the use of systems science methods to inform policy and the dissemination and implementation of evidence-informed practice in a variety of settings, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Veterans Health Administration, and numerous meetings and workshops. She teaches on these topics at UNC and co-led the System Dynamics track at the NIH-sponsored Institute for Systems Science and Health during the summer of 2012.
Dr. Lich has worked most extensively in tobacco control and health system planning, but recent projects involve developing both qualitative and quantitative models to support informed decision-making about how to allocate limited resources to translate evidence into real-world practice around stroke care, severe mental illness, care for children and youth with special health care needs, and colon cancer in collaboration with federal, state and community partners across the United States. Her research passion is to advance the way we use models (both quantitative and qualitative) and local data to improve decision making by engaging system stakeholders in the process.
Lead MFM sonographer with over 10 years of experience in taking care of high-risk moms and their babies. She works side by side with MFM providers to provide care for patients, has a passion for teaching sonography and assists in teaching other sonographers, MFM fellows, residents, and medical students to systematically approach a fetal ultrasound.
Devon Herzoff is an MSW intern at the Two-Generation Clinic, and a student at Jane Addams College of Social Work with a mental health specialization. He is part of the Integrated Behavioral Health Training Program with a focus on evidence-based practice.
Dr. Kim Hires is known internationally for her work on burnout, leadership, and education. She is a Leadership Burnout Coach, Consultant, Speaker, Author, and host of the Leadership Antidote Podcast. Her client portfolio includes startups, small businesses and large organizations with over $1 billion in annual revenue. She combines formal analytical training and coaching to help Leaders develop the mindset and skills needed to become industry Leaders of today and tomorrow. Dr. Kim founded The Nightingale Firm in 2014 after surviving burnout and recognizing that Leaders are seldom trained on how to ensure their well-being. Today, she provides individual coaching services, team dynamic coaching, corporate training and speaking.
As Kimberly A. Hires, PhD, RN, her professional career includes degrees and experiences from some of the top institutions in the US including Johns Hopkins University, the National Institutes of Health, and the University of Miami. She is an award-winning former professor and leader development expert.
Corporate clients include: various agencies under InterPublic Group (IPG) (Kinesso Matterkind, Acxiom, and Initiative Agency), Civic Entertainment Group, Hunter PR, Advocate Aurora Health, Alcorn State University, Georgia State University, Georgia Healthcare Association, Georgia Department of Public Health, Wellstar Health System, BlackRock, Planned Parenthood, University of KwaZulu Natal (South Africa), Arizona State University, Arizona Department of Child Services, Global Ties US, United States Department of State, Square Trade, D2L, Perkins+Will, and American Institute of Architects. Individual Coaching Clients hold leadership positions with Amazon, Disney, McKinsey & Company, Silicon Valley Bank, US Department of Defense, Humana, SallieMae, Media Brands, Emory University Health System, National Athletic Association, Civic Entertainment Group (a Seacrest Global Group Company), Invisalign, AetnaCVS, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and more. Through a partnership with GDS Summits, Dr. Kim also facilitated group sessions with executives from Boeing, Microsoft, Google, WellsFargo, TrueReligion, Advance Auto Parts, The Carlyle Group, L3Harris Technologies and ZF Group.
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Lorenza has her MPH degree with a concentration in maternal and child health, is a BACE-certified childbirth educator, DONA approved birth doula trainer and Spinning Babies® Approved Trainer. She has been a birth advocate in the Boston area for over 25 years. Passionate about normal birth, Lorenza has supported hundreds of laboring women and has trained and mentored dozens of doulas in the New England community. She was a founding member of Accompany Doula Care. For many years Lorenza also taught childbirth education classes in ways that encouraged and stimulated participants to embrace the powerful, beautiful and magical experience of birth.
Tomeka James Isaac is a leading voice for reproductive empowerment, working to eliminate racial disparities in pregnancy care, and advocating for health equity for all. Like most in this space, a life-altering past experience called her to this work. Tomeka is a speaker, educator, and advocate. Alongside her husband, she co-founded Jace’s Journey, a nonprofit organization named after their late son Jace Alexander to address racial disparities in maternal health outcomes, where Tomeka serves as Executive Director.
Carole Johnson is the Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
Johnson joined HRSA from the White House COVID-19 Response Team. She previously served as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services, leading the state’s largest agency and providing health care and social services to one-in-five New Jerseyans. During her tenure as Commissioner, the Department expanded Medicaid coverage of mental health and substance use disorder services, created new Medicaid benefits to improve maternal health outcomes, and integrated Medicaid into the newly launched state-based Affordable Care Act marketplace. Under Johnson’s leadership, the Department also substantially increased child care rates for the first time in a decade, expanded food assistance benefits, and created an Office of New Americans to support the state’s diverse communities.
Johnson served for more than five years as the Domestic Policy Council public health lead in the Obama White House, working on the Ebola and Zika responses, implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and combatting the opioid epidemic. In addition, she served on Capitol Hill as health staff for the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging and for members of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee.
At the Department of Health and Human Services, Johnson previously managed health care workforce policy issues for HRSA. She also was policy director for the Alliance of Community Health Plans, program officer with the Pew Charitable Trusts health program, and senior government relations manager with the American Heart Association.
She holds a master’s degree in government from the University of Virginia
Congresswoman Robin Kelly has dedicated her career to public service as an advocate for Illinois families. Since being elected to serve the 2nd Congressional District in 2013, she has worked to expand economic opportunity, community wellness, and public safety across the state, championing numerous initiatives to generate job growth, reduce health disparities, and end gun violence.
Congresswoman Kelly is Vice Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (the main policy-writing body of the House) and serves on the Health, Energy, and Consumer Protection and Commerce subcommittees. Her Energy and Commerce work is focused on expanding access to healthcare, consumer protection for American families and economic development.
Additionally, she is a Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and serves on the national security and civil rights and civil liberties subcommittees. She also represents the Midwest (Region IV) on the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which sets the policy direction of the Democratic Caucus, and serves as a member of the House Democracy Partnership.
A staunch champion of common sense gun reforms and responsible community policing, Representative Kelly is a Co-Chair of the Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce and is the author of The 2014 Kelly Report on Gun Violence in America, the first-ever Congressional analysis of the nation’s gun violence epidemic that offers a blueprint for ending the crisis.
Committed to improving the health and wellness of vulnerable communities across the country, the Congresswoman serves as the Vice Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, and Co-Chairs the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls. She also Co-Chairs the House Democratic Policy Group and House Tech Accountability Caucus.
Prior to her election to Congress, Kelly was a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, served as Chief Administrative Officer of Cook County (the second largest county in the United States) and was Chief of Staff to Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias – becoming the first African American woman to serve as Chief of Staff to an elected constitutional statewide officeholder.
The daughter of a small business owner and postal worker, Congresswoman Kelly moved to Illinois to attend Bradley University in Peoria, where she earned her B.A. in psychology and an M.A. in counseling. She later received a Ph.D. in political science from Northern Illinois University. She lives in Matteson with her husband, Dr. Nathaniel Horn, and has two adult children, Kelly and Ryan.
Francoise Alisha Knox-Kazimierczuk earned her Ph.D. from Miami University and is an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati in the College of Allied Health Sciences. Dr. Knox-Kazimierczuk is trained in mix methods and the principles of Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) to address racial health disparities through a critical race theory lens, which she uses to explore disparities in maternal child health.
Leandra Lacy, MPH, CHES is a Training and Technical Assistance Specialist at the Urban Institute. Her educational and professional background is in behavioral sciences and health education, particularly in the sexual and reproductive health fields. Leandra is involved in several studies at Urban related to maternal health, which focus on ways to improve maternal health equity through avenues like diversifying the maternal health workforce and using Medicaid as a policy lever to improve outcomes.
I am a medical anthropologist and certified nurse midwife who engages a reproductive justice framework to contextualize and address the social drivers and repercussions of maternal morbidity and mortality. I use mixed methods to examine causal pathways and unforeseen consequences that link reproduction and health disparities in communities with intersecting identities of oppression. I conceptualize my global and domestic research programs as part of broader efforts to anchor reproductive trends in maternal mortality and morbidity in bio-social and socio-medical realms.
My current research focuses on the health system structures and obstetric racism that drive disparities in maternal morbidity and mortality. Maternal mortality is 6x higher for Black women in Chicago than white women and >50% of these deaths are potentially preventable. With funding from the PCORI foundation and in partnership with the non-profit organization, Melanated Midwives, this project assess the implementation and impact of a culturally-adapted and patient-centered model of maternity care inclusive of broad structural changes to attenuate the impacts of structural racism. Melanated Group Midwifery Care (MGMC) was designed with our community partners to center the voices of Black women and adopt the Illinois Maternal Mortality Review Committee’s(MMRC) recommendations for preventing maternal death. MGMC merges four evidence-based interventions: 1)Racial concordance between patients and providers; 2) Group prenatal care; 3) Maternal care coordination; and 4) In-home, postpartum doula support. The overall goal of this initiative is to increase maternal health equity and attenuate the impacts of structural racism in maternal healthcare.
My global work focuses on how social, political and historical processes shape reproductive health experiences and outcomes across geo-political borders. In Central Asia (Tajikistan/Afghanistan), I am interested in how political instability (e.g., fall of the USSR, decades of civil wars) reverberates to peripheral regions and impacts the everyday lives of families. Between 2005-2008, I conducted surveys of maternal mortality and comparative ethnography to understand women’s experiences in two villages across a narrow geo-political border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan in the Badakhshan region. I am currently supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation to examine how large-scale male migration to Russia impacts the reproductive experiences of Tajik women who are married at increasingly younger ages to fill labor shortages and ensure the remittances of migrants.
I completed my BA at Emory University and my MA and PhD in Anthropology at Stanford University. My early research in global maternal health drove me to also pursue my MSN at Yale University and become certified as a nurse-midwife. My midwifery practice informs and grounds my academic research. Currently, I attend births in both the hospital and community settings in Chicago
Shannon Lightner-Gometz is a public health leader who has served in leadership capacities in state and federal government and within a national nonprofit to transform the health of communities. She currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) where she oversees all programming and regulatory functions at the Department. Prior to this role, she served as Deputy Director of IDPH, overseeing the Office of Women’s Health and Family Services where she worked to improve the health of women and children in Illinois.
She holds master’s degrees in social work and in Public Administration from Columbia University and a Bachelor Degree from UCLA. She volunteers in her Bronzeville community and is actively involved in many civic engagement efforts and political efforts across the country. She serves on the Camp Kupugani Parent Advisory Council and is an active parent volunteer for The Ancona School.
Kyesha (Ky) Lindberg is an experienced nonprofit executive currently serving as the Executive Director of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia (HMHBGA). Mrs. Lindberg has over 15 years of experience leading local, state, and national efforts designed to solve complex social problems through innovation and creative design thinking centering equity in her overall approach. In her current role, she works with multisector stakeholder groups to improve maternal and infant health from conception through 12 months postpartum. Her work focuses on improving policies, bolstering the workforce, and expanding access to education, clinical and community-based resources to ensure moms, birth givers and babies survive and thrive. She is a wife and mother of 3 amazing sons. Her life’s work is grounded in her lived experiences which reflects similar challenges faced by marginalized populations.
Erica Livingston is a postpartum centric full spectrum doula, educator, doula mentor, curriculum and content builder and co-founder of Birdsong, and a Connector at JustBirth Space. Erica has been serving the New York birth and parenting community since 2013. She’s served 400+ families in the pregnancy, birth and postpartum period and still feels the immense joy she felt the very first time.
Tiffany Manuel, PhD, is President & CEO or TheCaseMade. DrT (as she prefers to be called) is a dynamic speaker, best-selling author and the President and CEO of TheCaseMade, an organization dedicated to helping leaders powerfully and intentionally make the case for systems change. In her role at TheCaseMade, DrT works with hundreds of passionate social changemakers, innovators and adaptive leaders around the United States who are building better, stronger communities that are diverse, equitable and inclusive. By aligning their community stakeholders around the kind of deep systems changes that can improve population outcomes, these leaders are able to grow their impact, scale their programs, and harness the investments they need to improve their communities.
DrT grew up in Detroit, Michigan during one of the most turbulent times in the city’s history. It was because of the challenges of that experience that she champions better policy, programs, investments and services that can transform our cities and communities for the better. It is also the reason that DrT has worked to expand opportunity, equity and inclusion through 25+ years of professional and volunteer experience spanning the private and non-profit sectors, government and academia.
Trained as a social scientist in quantitative and qualitative methods, she is a selfprofessed “data, policy, and messaging wonk!” She is passionate about translating the insights harvested from her research and practice to improve our ability to build public will around the critical issues that matter most. She holds doctorate and master’s degrees in public policy from the University of Massachusetts Boston, a master’s degree in political science from Purdue University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago.
DrT has served on numerous nonprofit and social-impact boards and is a lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, an African American public service sorority.
Assistant Director at University Health and Program Coordinator for TX RMOMS Program. She has designed and managed health promotion and disease prevention programs for over 10 years and prides herself in relationship building and finding innovative solutions to grant challenges.
Tayo Mbande is a native of California with deep family roots in Chicago. She is a Maternal Health innovator, birth and postpartum doula and co-founder of Chicago Birthworks Collective, Chicago’s largest Black doula company. She is also the founding Executive Director of The Love Package Project, a nonprofit organization supporting Black families with free curated care packages and community doula support. Tayo is also a member of the Board of Directors for Chicago Volunteer Doulas, Inc and has been supporting Black families across the Chicagoland area and Northwest Indiana for the past 7 years. Tayo Mbande is a mother to four and wife to one radical educator. She prioritizes the work of making the experiences of marginalized families more equitable, enjoyable and liberated. With a commitment to reproductive justice and liberation, Tayo works in a number of capacities and sectors to amplify the stories of Black parents and birthing people and create solutions to alleviating the structural barriers that contribute to poor reproductive outcomes.
Ushma Mehta, PhD, MPH is the Epidemiologist for the Maternal Health Innovations Program within the Maternal Health Branch in the Division of Public Health (DPH), NC Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Mehta has worked in multiple roles at DPH including on the NC chemical surveillance program, managing COVID-19 outbreak and cluster data, and, in her current role, working to improve maternal health outcomes in the state using innovative approaches to augmenting and strengthening North Carolina’s perinatal systems of care. Her interest in public health was sparked as a Peace Corps Volunteer living and working as a science teacher in a small village in Nepal. After her service in the Peace Corps, Dr. Mehta went on to obtain an MPH in Family and Child Health, with a focus in international maternal and child health from the University of Arizona. Following this, she completed a doctorate in Nutrition Epidemiology from the University of North Carolina where her research focused on the relationship between maternal health and infant feeding. Dr. Mehta has worked as a consultant on several maternal health research projects including the Postpartum Mobile Mothers Study (PMOMS) at the University of Pittsburgh; the BUILD Health Challenge, a national demonstration of multi-sector collaborations to improve community health; the Title V needs assessment at the Georgia Department of Public Health; and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Clinical Updates in Women’s Health Care/Nutrition monograph.
Karen Minyard, PhD, has led the Georgia Health Policy Center since 2001 and is a research professor with the Department of Public Management and Policy at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies (Georgia State University). Her research interests include financing and evaluation of health-related social policy programs; strategic alignment of public and private health policy through collective impact; the role of local health initiatives in access and health improvement; the role of targeted technical assistance in improving the sustainability, efficiency, and programmatic effectiveness of nonprofit health collaboratives; and health and health care financing. Minyard has applied a realist approach to much of her work over the last six years. This work involves multiple projects, the largest of which included eight rounds of sense making over five years to revise the original literature based theory about health system transformation. She maintains her connection with communities by working directly with local health collaboratives and serving on the boards of AcademyHealth, National Network of Public Health Institutes, and Communities Joined in Action. She also serves on the executive trio of ARCHI, Atlanta Regional Collaborative for Health Improvement. She received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Virginia, a master’s degree in nursing from the Medical College of Georgia, and a doctoral degree in business administration with a major in strategic management and minor in health care financing from Georgia State University.
Amy Mullenix currently serves as the Deputy Director for the National Maternal and Child Health Workforce Development Center and the Maternal Health Learning & Innovation Center, two national training and technical assistance centers housed in the MCH Department at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In this role, she coordinates and supports partnerships among the multiple academic and practice partners engaged in each Center to build the capacity of MCH practitioners across the country. For the National MCH Workforce Development Center, Ms. Mullenix also serves as the primary liaison with states and other jurisdictions as they seek technical assistance opportunities, and serves as a team coach for their health transformation work. In the Maternal Health Learning & Innovation Center, she also serves as a Maternal Health Innovation state team coach.
Mullenix, a Nebraska native, previously worked as the state coordinator of the North Carolina Preconception Health Campaign at the March of Dimes and as a bilingual social worker for pregnant women and families in public health departments and community health centers in North Carolina and Nebraska.
Ms. Dorian Mundy is a doctoral candidate at the University of Toledo where her research focus is maternal and child health. Prior to attending UT, Ms. Mundy was part of the Cradle Cincinnati Team working to address infant mortality.
Josselyn Okorodudu is a community organizer with over 15 years experience helping families navigate medical and social systems in Cincinnati. She currently leads community and clinical engagement for Cradle Cincinnati as the Director of Community Strategy. Her work focuses on mobilizing black female leadership toward the goal of lessening disparities in infant and maternal mortality in Hamilton County. Josselyn is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati and is currently pursuing her MBA at the University of Western Alabama.
Giannina completed her master’s degree at the University of Toronto’s Women and Gender Studies Institute, where she specialized in women’s health. She has a breadth of skills in qualitative methods. Her culminating master’s thesis explored the experience of immigrant women during the postpartum period, and she has worked on numerous qualitative projects, designing, implementing, and analyzing data to better understand and empathize challenging and complex problems. Bringing a lens for equity in maternal health, Giannina previously worked with Abilitypath as a research intern designing and implementing focus groups and surveys to gauge the needs of caregivers of children with developmental disabilities. She also previously worked as a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant for Ed Tech Recruiting conducting workshops to introduce staff to diversity and equity principles. We are excited for the knowledge she will bring to her projects while at AMCHP.
Dr. Patil has a PhD in anthropology from Ohio State University and her research focuses on how the social world becomes embodied and expressed as health, illness, or suffering. The motivation for her research stems from a concern for social justi ce. Her research draws on ecological and social determinants frameworks to make sense of complex health-related problems. She applies these models as she develops and tests strategies to reduce health disparities and strengthen health systems both in the USA and in sub-Saharan Africa. Her mentoring focuses on fostering the productive careers of students and newer investigators.
Rachel Peragallo Urrutia, MD, MSCR, is an obstetrician gynecologist who is also trained in preventive medicine. She is the Medical Consultant for the Women’s Health Branch of the NC Department of Public Health. She has expertise in providing preventive care to women of reproductive age, including postpartum and preconception care. She has experience with qualitative research, systematic reviews, and preventive services guideline development. Her greatest desire is that all her patients would have an equitable chance of achieving their own health and reproductive goals.
Laura Phelan is the Policy Director for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), the state’s Medicaid agency, which she has worked to improve maternal and child health outcomes, expand health care access and affordability, and advance health equity. Prior to her current role, Laura served in the HFS Bureau of Managed Care as an MCO Account Manager and as the Program Manager for the Medicare-Medicaid Alignment Initiative (MMAI). Laura has previously served as the Policy Director for Get Covered Illinois, a Presidential Management Fellow within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ budget office and the U.S. Senate Finance Committee health team, and as a Dunn Fellow in the Illinois Governor’s Office. Laura has a Master of Public Administration from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and a Bachelor of Arts from Illinois Wesleyan University.
Chanel Porchia-Albert, Founder and Executive Director of Ancient Song Doula Services, lends leadership to this project in developing the conversation guide for focused conversations with individuals who birthed at LIJMC, rooting conversation findings in a reproductive justice lens and contributing to the development of the metrics and measures to comprise the resultant accountability system.
Laura Powis, MPH, is the Program Manager for Evidence-Based Policy & Practice on AMCHP’s Evidence and Implementation team. In this role, she manages AMCHP’s Innovation Hub, an online platform that houses the MCH Innovations Database, a searchable repository of “what’s working” in the field of MCH that includes effective policies and practices from the field that are positively impacting MCH populations. She also serves as the Core Manager for the Evidence-Based Decision Making Core at the National MCH Workforce Development Center. Laura received a Master of Public Health in Maternal and Child Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health and a Bachelor of Science in Human Development from Cornell University. Laura supports the MHLIC’s Policy Core.
Garsy Presumey-Leblanc, MS is the Respectful Care Project Coordinator for the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health and associated grants at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, focused on the integration of respectful care into bundle development and equity components of other projects. With backgrounds in medical anthropology, public health, and religious studies, she looks forward to aiding in the push for equity in all aspects of maternal health.
Whitney Robinson is obsessed with seeing Maternal Healthcare improve in her lifetime. Through design frameworks and jam sessions, she is focused on improving the experiences of Black women through pregnancy, postpartum, and the journeys in between. With over 10 years in tech, as a product manager, and mother of 4 lil wild humans, she has a conviction to use her skillset and personal experiences to see rapid innovation happen for the community.
Aida Rodriguez, MSW, is a bilingual Social Worker in the Two Generation Clinic at UIC. Aida has over ten years of experience working with diverse populations in the Chicago area in different projects. She specializes in postpartum behavioral health treatment.
Amy Romano MBA, MSN, CNM is a maternity care leader and nurse-midwife committed to improving perinatal and reproductive care through care model innovation, community-integrated care, and quality improvement. She is the Founder and CEO of Primary Maternity Care, a consulting company focused on strengthening community-based perinatal care models.
Early in Pauline’s career, she spent time delivering services in San Bernardino County High Desert in Maternal-Health, Family Planning and other Public Health services such as vaccinations and home health care. Pauline spent some years in the California Department of Health, Medi-Cal Program, developing and implementing policies for reimbursements. Pauline then transferred to lead the State SIDS program. For 23 years, Pauline was the Executive Director of the San Jose Mothers’ Milk Bank, a non-profit organization providing donated Human Milk to NICUs and families whose infants failed to thrive. Pauline developed policies to assure the public safety on processing human milk, organized and led the development the Human Milk Association of North America, maintained the operations, marketing and distribution of pasteurized human milk. During her term, the organization distributed from 2,000 oz of milk in 1991 to over 650,000 oz of milk in 2019. During her employment, she was appointed as President and Vice-President of HMBANA, Board member of the US Breastfeeding Committee, Advisory committee for PATH for the development of milk banks globally as the first vaccine for infants and assisted the first milk bank in Japan. In 2019, Pauline stepped down from the leadership position and currently hold a consultant position in operation and regulation with the San Jose Milk Bank. Pauline continues to do pro bono work with HMBANA and the Asian American Pacific Islander Native Hawaiian ( AAPINH) Collaboration in California to advance breastfeeding goals and develop culturally sensitive support for mother/birthing persons.
Dr. Shirley Scott is a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner on an HRSA-funded State Maternal Health Innovation Program entitled “Innovations to ImPROve Maternal OuTcomEs in Illinois (I PROMOTE-IL).” I PROMOTE-IL, a multi-faceted initiative that aims to improve maternal health and reduce maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity during pregnancy and through one year postpartum.
Dr. Scott enjoys working with individuals from puberty through adulthood with more than 20 years of medical and teaching experience in maternal/child health. Currently, Dr. Scott works at UIC’s Two-Generation Clinic, where parents and children of all ages can receive comprehensive primary care separately but simultaneously from a team of providers.
Dr. Scott serves as a member of the Illinois Maternal Mortality Review Committee (MMRC) and the Illinois Maternal Mortality Review Committee for Violent Deaths (MMRC-V), responsible for reviewing preventable issues for all maternal deaths in the state.
Rebecca A Severin, MPH, CPH has worked in the hybrid Human Service/ Public Health realm for the past thirteen years. Rebecca received her Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in Community Health from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. She began her career with the State of Florida, Department of Children and Families conducting investigations related to child maltreatment.
Rebecca transitioned her career to focus on preventative initiatives and spent four years with the Healthy Families Florida Network, an accredited affiliate of Health Families America, in a leadership capacity. As a results of her training and experience with Healthy Families America and Parents as Teachers evidence-based home-visiting models, Rebecca provided programmatic monitoring as an independent contractor for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program (MIECHV) for the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA).
Rebecca obtained her certification in Public Health from the National Board of Public Health Examiners in June 2016. Rebecca commenced working with the North Carolina Division of Public Health in 2018 as the Maternal Health Program Manager and provided oversight to the NC Safe Sleep Campaign, the 17P Initiative, the Perinatal/Neonatal Outreach Program Coordinator program, and Local Health Department maternal health data. She transitioned into her current role as the NC Maternal Health Innovation Program Supervisor in June 2021.
In her role as the Maternal Health Innovation (MHI) Program Supervisor, Rebecca providers leadership to ensure grant requirements, proposed strategies, and activities of the MHI Program are carried out. Rebecca facilitates, develops, and implements grant components by collaborating with MHI program staff, contractors, and other partners. She provides supervision to the MHI program staff and manages eight programmatic contracts and the project budget.
Rebecca has a background in program implementation, program management, reflective supervision, facilitation, strategic planning, consultation, quality improvement, and contract administration. Rebecca has a passion for understanding the root causes of racial disparities in maternal health, Birth Equity and Reproductive Justice.
As the Executive Director of Cradle Cincinnati, Dr. Meredith Shockley-Smith is committed to building on the substantial reductions in infant mortality with a sustained focus on health equity and the elimination of the racial disparities of birth outcomes that still plague our community. In her previous role with the organization, she founded Queens Village, a community of Black women who
work towards self healing and systems change in the medical space. In addition, she is a Field Professor at the University of Cincinnati Medical School in the department of Pediatrics.
Erica is a Maternal Health Strategist and Advocate with extensive expertise in Tech Policy and National Security. She is also a philanthropist dedicated to serving as a Maternal and Infant Health Ambassador in partnership with the March of Dimes. As detailed in her 2021 international best-selling book, Special Delivery – From Pregnancy to Toddlerhood (A Little Perspective), In 2017, Erica was forced to utilize her analytical expertise that she developed professionally while serving at the FBI and across the U.S. Intelligence Community to save her own baby’s life. As a result, she is a crusader for maternal health equity and active mom blogger – storyteller of her miracle baby girl, Nia providing hope and inspiration to others.
Erica continues to further her maternal health strategy and advocacy work as a Consultant to INOVA Women’s Behavioral Health focused specifically on the maternal mental health of black and brown mothers. Erica serves on the INOVA Children’s Hospital NICU Advisory Council. Additionally, Erica works closely with clinical experts and administrative staff on the patient experience to improve the quality of care and engages directly with healthcare providers on how to support families with unfavorable prenatal diagnosis. She connects with families to navigate extended neonatal and pediatric hospitalizations, while educating them on their healthcare rights and resource availability. She most recently served as a featured presenter at the Maryland Academy of Family Physicians Annual Summit in early 2022, highlighting the health impact and implications of an unfavorable prenatal diagnosis to mothers and their babies.
Erica is a proud first generation college student and a native of Memphis, TN. Her academic degrees include a Bachelor of Paralegal Studies from the University of Mississippi and a Master of Public Administration from Arkansas State University. Erica is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc (AKA), Chi Beta Omega Chapter located in Northern VA, holding an executive officer role. She currently resides in Alexandria, VA with her husband, and miracle daughter.
Shokufeh Mojgani Ramirez, PhD, MPH is the Associate Director of the Tulane Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health (CEMCH), a training grant funded by the HRSA Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB). In this role, she mentors and provides leadership development experiences for maternal and child health graduate students, helping them prepare to enter the public health workforce. She has been affiliated with the training grant for fifteen years, in various staff roles. Prior to this, she worked for health departments at the city, county, and state levels, as an epidemiologist and program manager. Her dissertation focused on preparing the public health workforce to address racism and her current research continues those efforts. She teaches SBPS 6140 Development of Leadership and Communication Skills in Public Health. She is also the director of the MCH academic program.
Angela Snyder, Ph.D. M.P.H. is a Research Associate Professor at Georgia State University and is the Director of Health Policy and Financing at the Georgia Health Policy Center. Her work includes research, policy evaluation, and technical assistance in program implementation for state– and community–level health projects. Her research uses both qualitative and quantitative data (including administrative databases) to study the health outcomes that result from the organization and financing of public health systems. Much of her previous research has been in child health and wellbeing focusing on evaluating policy options for increasing health insurance coverage for children and the quality of care received by children enrolled in public benefit programs. She has accomplished this work through a fifteen-year partnership with the Georgia Department of Community Health. Most recently, through a partnership with the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, she has applied her knowledge of Medicaid to co-lead the policy core of the Maternal Health Learning and Innovation Center and has also partnered on the Maternal Telehealth Access Project. Dr. Snyder received her Ph.D. in health policy from Yale University and her M.P.H. in health systems management from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., Dr. Snyder worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for nine years.
Venus Standard, MSN, CNM, is a midwife, that believes in educating women and their families to live a healthy lifestyle by supporting family planning; promoting healthy, natural childbirth and encouraging breastfeeding. She enjoys partnering with her patients to ensure that their physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and cultural needs are met.
Karie E. Stewart is a full-scope midwife practicing on the south side of Chicago with the UIH Miles Square Auburn-Gresham clinic and the former Director of Midwifery Services at the University of Chicago Medical Center. She is the President of the American College of Nurse-Midwifery Illinois Affiliate Board and the Founder of Melanated Midwives, a nonprofit organization that addresses Black Maternal health disparities and Maternal Health Deserts through the creation and implementation of evidence-based research while also providing family planning, prenatal, postpartum, and mental health education sessions within the community. Currently she is the co-Principal Investigator on a PCORI funded project to examine Black Midwives for Black Women: Maternity Care to Improve Trust and Attenuate Structural Racism over the next 5 years. Her goal within this project is to highlight the importance of the collective use of racial concordant midwifery care, group prenatal care, nurse care coordination, and doula home visit during the postpartum period to address the Black Maternal Health Crisis.
Crystal Patil is Professor of Nursing at UIC and a medical anthropologist with 20 years of qualitative and mixed-methods analytical expertise related to health systems innovations and implementation science including group prenatal care.
Kylea Liese is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at UIC. She is a medical anthropologist and practicing nurse midwife who brings 13 years research experience in maternal health disparities and 10 years of midwifery practice to leading this project. She is an expert in maternal mortality and maternal health care disparities research.
Stacie Geller is the G. William Arends tenured Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the College of Medicine and the Director of the Center for Research on Women and Gender and the National Center of Excellence in Womenâ€™s Health at UIC. Her scientific expertise is in applied clinical, health services, and epidemiological research focusing on maternal mortality and morbidity.
Nan Strauss, JD has worked in maternal and reproductive health for over 17 years as an attorney, human rights researcher, policy expert, consumer, and advocate. She is the Managing Director of Policy, Advocacy, and Grantmaking for Every Mother Counts, where she leads efforts to advance policies that expand access to evidence-based, respectful care.
Born and raised in Uganda, Lydia has lived in the USA and Denmark. She has a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from Makerere University in Uganda where she practiced as a medical doctor before moving to the US. She also received a Master’s in Public Health Leadership from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Lydia is an energetic family and career-oriented woman who enjoys using the skills she has acquired in evaluation and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to support organizations in cultural development and measuring success of their programs for the communities they serve using the Results-Based Accountability framework. She is experienced in evaluation, intercultural development, and public health.
Kai Tao is a seasoned certified nurse midwife with experience in health policy, programs, and clinical operations. Her experience includes opening a birth center for underserved womxn in AZ to expanding medical abortion scope for APRNs and starting affordable vasectomy services in IL.
For the last 19 years, she has been practicing as a CNM with a large FQHC and attending deliveries at Northwestern Prentice Hospital. Her previous day jobs include overseeing operations for 17 ambulatory family planning clinics and serving as a Senior Policy Advisor, co-creating the Illinois Family Planning Action Plan- a multipronged approach to expanding contraceptive access via payment reform. Prior to her role as the Principal of Impact and Innovation for ICAN! (Illinois Contraceptive Access Now), Kai was the Chief Program Officer for the Chicago Department of Public Health overseeing the Maternal, Infant, Child and Adolescent Health Bureau and STI/HIV Bureau. Kai is an OB advisor for the Illinois Perinatal Quality Collaborative, championing immediate postpartum LARC and Birth Equity. Dr. Tao has been actively engaged in patient safety and quality improvement work for the last decade with ACOG in various roles currently serving as an associate reviewer with their Voluntary Review of Quality Care (VRQC) program. Kai received her Master of Science and Doctor of Nursing from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center and her Master of Public Health from Harvard School of Public Health.
Director-Perinatal Neonatal Program, University Health in San Antonio, Texas. Rebecca has collaborated with rural South Texas healthcare professionals for the past 25 years. Our goal is to provide evidence-based care for high risk maternal-fetal patients by providing simulation/didactic-education in rural areas medical deserts. We create infographics, resuscitation pocket cards and posters to expand education and training through these educational tools.
Dr. Sam Wainwright is board-certified Internist and Pediatrician, a physician in Two Generation Clinic, and completing a health services research fellowship in UIC’s School of Public Health. He is researching the impact of value-based care redesign on Medicaid populations, and leveraging health-system transformation to support families burdened by the impacts of structural racism. He completed the Harvard/Massachusetts General Hospital combined residency in internal medicine and pediatrics.
Dedicated to servicing the women, children, and families of the greater Metro Atlanta area since 1999, Catrina Williams’ role as an Assistant Nutrition Counselor and resource mom allowed her to touch thousands of families who were at risk, under serviced, and living in poverty. She provided them with the basic essentials of good nutrition and family support through readily available resources and counseling. Becoming certified as a doula in 2000 has allowed her to touch and assist with numerous births. She came to the Center for Black Women’s Wellness in 2005 as a Family Support Specialist in the field for 14 years empowering, educating, impacting, and coach thousands of teen mothers, fathers, and children. As CMC she oversees a staff of six that providing prenatal education, interconceptional education, family involvement, grandparent participation, and performs developmental assessments for children under the age of 18 months in one on one home and virtual visits. She also conducts and facilitates events for family development. She became a Certified Lactation Counselor in 2017 where she help create and facilitate curriculum for Magic Milk Mommies breastfeeding group.
She has overcome trials and hardships, while also suffering the loss of her firstborn son. She has been able to triumph over it all while still providing life changing services to women, fathers, children, and families of Atlanta through her life’s experiences and lessons, education, and most of all with a HEART and PASSION TO SERVE.
Kristina Wint, MPH, is the senior program manager for reproductive and maternal health and wellness. She obtained her master’s degree in public health in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. While matriculating her graduate degree, Ms. Wint focused her studies on maternal and child health, her culminating project focusing on the experiences of community doulas working with low-income African-American women. Kristina has worked with the IMPLICIT Network, specifically in the dissemination, implementation, and quality improvement of IMPLICIT ICC, the IMPLICIT model of interconception care.