The NWHN’s Board Candidate Statements – 2018

Kentina Washington-Leapheart

I am a Black, queer-identified, wife, mother, and second-career minister. When and where I enter, all of these identities come with me informing all that I do, and it has been my deep joy to bring my full self into my work as a healthcare chaplain for 6 years, and for the last two years as a program director working on reproductive justice issues for a progressive, faith-based non-profit. Whether at the bedside, preaching and teaching in a congregation, or on the front-lines of a protest, being in places where I can hear stories — and share my own — helps to keep me grounded in the critical, sacred work that it is to advocate for safe, comprehensive healthcare for all women, especially those who are the most vulnerable in society. I am rooted in and guided by the reproductive justice framework in all that I do and it my deepest desire to live in a world where all women are afforded the possibility to reach their full potential. Reaching that full potential includes having unrestricted, equal access to medical systems and providers who are committed to caring for them in just, holistic ways. I would be honored to offer my insight, ideas, energy, and passions as a member of the NWHN board.


Francine Thompson

My quest for justice and reproductive autonomy has been central my adult life, but the justice and activist seeds were planted much earlier. I remember my grandmother encouraging us to speak up when we see an injustice and telling her story of her refusal to sit in the “nigger row” on her first day of school. My activist spirit was stoked at a very early age, as I accompanied my mother to protests in front of the local Piggly Wiggly for their lack of diversity in hiring practices. When my older sister found herself pregnant in high school in the early 1970s, and was told that she could no longer participate in extracurricular activities, I watched my mother take her cause to the school board and have that policy changed. The desire to actively seek truth, minimize power imbalances and uplift the lives of women is central to my very being. For the past 30 years I have done that by working directly in abortion care. Throughout my reproductive health care career, I have known and highly respected the work of the National Women’s Health Network. As part of the Emma Goldman Clinic staff, I embraced the work done around Depo Provera, coercive sterilizations and contraception, and mirrored the Network’s language in our consents and client information. I continue to be a committed activist for reproductive justice and am strongly convinced that health care should be delivered with a feminist approach. I would be honored to have the opportunity to serve as a Board member of the NWHN.


Karen A. Scott, MPH (c), MD, FACOG

I am a southern Black cis woman, physician, social scientist, and activist with board certification in Obstetrics and Gynecology. My background and expertise include more than 20 years of health education, health care service and leadership in community based practice and program management in high need — low resource communities in the Midwest and West Coast. In 2013, I disrupted my medical career and pursued public health and the integration of sexual and reproductive (S&R) justice theories into S&R health education, communication, training, and practice. As an interdisciplinary scholar, my clinical and research interests include the analysis of individual, community, institutional, and structural factors that inform S&R health care quality, access and utilization, with a focus on the relationship between S&R health equity and patient — provider communication and shared decision making. I also explore the omission, minimization, and/or invisibility of black cis, queer, and trans women in S&R health services research and public health approaches to justify a paradigm shift towards a radically inclusive sex positive/sex pleasure framework that broadens sexual intention and motivation beyond the purpose of romance and reproduction. Currently, I am a Professional Fellow in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio while I complete my thesis requirements towards the Executive Master of Public Health in Applied Epidemiology at Emory University, Atlanta Georgia. My thesis research is a retrospective analysis of patient and provider factors informing the implementation of progesterone in preventing recurrent preterm birth.


Tiffany Reed

My first job out of college was at the Emma Goldman Clinic for Women in Iowa City. That clinic, the loving staff, and the incredibly strong women whose hands I held in the procedure room changed my life. I was forever determined to devote my life to fighting for access to comprehensive health care for all women. That goal propelled me from snowy cornfields to the diverse community of Washington, DC where I began my work at the National Abortion Federation, counseling women on a national scale. For eight years, I connected with overseas military women, minors, low-income women, women escaping abuse, rape survivors — all maneuvering a complicated, harsh system promoting senseless delays and medical fiction. There, I learned the intricate details of the Medicaid system, landscape of abortion funding, and the myriad of laws that serve as hurdles to women seeking access to health care across America, not to mention our military bases world-wide. The lack of local resources for women got me fired up to become the founding Board President of the DC Abortion Fund; a role I treasured for six years. In my “paid life” I am a skilled direct marketing professional and fundraiser who works tirelessly to raise money for progressive causes and have brought this talent to the Network as a Board of Director. As the current Treasurer of the Board, head of the Development and Treasurer committees, and member of the personnel committee, I hope to be re-elected for my second term this summer!


Meredith Field

In the ’80s, I grew up surrounded by many aunts. I listened to their horrific stories of childbirth — fear, pain, and maltreatment they received from their doctors. Most of them had low-risk pregnancies but, to their disappointment, ended with C-sections. They were told, and believed, it was because they had narrow pelvises. In rural PA, the nearest obstetric doctor was thirty miles or more from our community, so second opinions and alternatives were non-existent. As I went through puberty and eventually became sexually active, I learned that access to education and care was equally lacking in other areas of women’s health. In college I understood how ‘good’ I had it, as I began to hear the experiences of women who were not cis, hetero, white and/or insured…and thus was born my deep commitment to issues regarding women’s health. Through community education and outreach, state-level activism, college teaching, and academic research, I continue to work for women’s health equity and justice. In my volunteer and teaching roles, I educate and support women regarding issues of body image, nutrition, and all aspects of reproductive health. I also raise awareness about biological sex differences in how certain diseases manifest and the differing treatments needed. My doctoral research addresses the fact that rural women have even fewer options for their health care than they did thirty years ago due to multiple factors such as the continuing trend of hospital closures and consolidations, and the challenge of keeping medical specialists in rural areas.


Joy Eckert

My first interest in women’s health came from growing up in South Carolina and seeing the devastating effects of intimate partner violence and the unacceptable female homicide rate in the state. I was shocked and saddened that there were few policies or legal protections available to women affected by intimate partner violence. My interest in women’s health grew as I pursued a Master’s of Public Health degree. Today, as a public health researcher, I examine how the pharmaceutical industry influences the practice of medicine. I am part of a team that creates continuing education for health professionals on topics such as contraception, taking a sexual history, HIV prevention, and opioids. Our team also tracks and analyzes the impacts of pharmaceutical marketing in the District of Columbia. I am passionate about protecting women from unnecessary harms that can come from health and hygiene products marketed to women. During my personal time, I have volunteered with local organizations to conduct sexual health outreach programs, including handing out condoms and literature about sexually transmitted infections. I am committed to improving policy at the national and local level as well as reaching individual women with the tools they need to lead healthy lives. The Network has a long-standing commitment to defending the health of women. As a member of the NWHN board of directors, I will seek to use my voice to empower and inform women, especially those who are most vulnerable.


Mae-Gilene Begay

I am a Native American, member of the Navajo tribe, residing on the Navajo Nation, managing a tribal public health program for over 17 years. I serve in three local community leader positions, am a state certification
board member, and completed a three-year term as chair of the Community Health Worker Section with the American Public Health Association in November 2017 and now serve as their Nomination Committee chair. I serve on various public health related committees with my work. With a bachelor and master’s degrees in social work, I am very comfortable working with the people in addressing their issues. I especially love to advocate for better health and social issues, realizing many people are unable to speak for themselves and rely on us with the skills to help them. I am cognizant with tribal politics and have some understanding how state and national politics work. My work takes me to many collaborative and partnership projects with higher learning institutions that have broadened my knowledge and skills with seeking much needed resources for clienteles/beneficiaries. The projects resulted in addressing and researching environmental health impacting the lives of our Native Americans.


Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagho

I am a 1st generation Nigerian American women that is keenly aware of the role of disparities and the impact it has on women’s health. I consider myself to be a woman’s health activist, that is focused on improving and eliminating disparities in the quality and access to care for vulnerable populations of women. As a racial minority and the child of immigrants, I understand the complexities of navigating healthcare care for women in the United States and around the world, and I have dedicated my career and research to this mission. My formal research training and lived experiences have shaped and refined my perspective on the world and ultimately how I approach my work. As a maternal and child health researcher and public health practitioner, my contributions to science have focused on reproductive health and HIV prevention and treatment among women of color. I received my PhD in Maternal and Child Health and am an Assistant Professor of Public Health at Tufts University School of Medicine. As a reproductive scholar-activist, I am deeply committed to advocating for sexual and reproductive health justice for women. Specifically, I aim to develop interventions that are grounded in the social determinants of health and through my research, I aim to highlight the experiences of women to important policy arenas that impact their health. In sum, it would be an honor for me to be able to contribute to NWHN’s efforts to advance social justice in women’s health.