NWHN Welcomes 7 New Members to Our Board of Directors

The following statement can be attributed to Cynthia A. Pearson, Executive Director of the National Women’s Health Network.

The National Women’s Health Network is pleased to announce that we have elected seven new members to our Board of Directors. We’d like to announce the election of Ndidiamaka Amutah Onukagho, Mae-Gilene Begay, Joy Eckert, Karen A. Scott, Francine Thompson, Kentina Washington-Leapheart, and Meredith P. Field to the NWHN Board of Directors. Thanks to the NWHN membership, we are able to elect board members who reflect the values and diversity of the people we represent.

As the NWHN continues to move our mission forward and improve the health of all women, we welcome the addition of these seven outstanding board members. The diversity of their expertise will strengthen our ability to develop and promote a critical analysis of health issues in order to affect policy and support consumer decision-making.

The NWHN has accomplished many victories in the past year alone. We have successfully defended the Affordable Care Act, mobilized the public to tell the incoming commissioner for the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to uphold high scientific standards for safety and effectiveness in the face of industry calls for deregulation, and worked to center patients in the conversation around long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) such as IUDs and implants. We are excited to see the impact our newly elected board members will have on this important work.

Ndidiamaka Amuth-Onukagha

Dr. Amutah-Onukagha received her PhD in Public Health with a focus on Maternal and Child Health at the University of Maryland, College Park School of Public Health in 2010. In 2005, she received her Master’s in Public Health from The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. She also received a BS in Public Health and BA in Africana Studies from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She is an Assistant Professor of Public Health at Tufts University School of Medicine, where her research examines the relationship that HIV positive African American women have with their adolescent daughters.

Mae-Gilene Begay

For over 18 years, Mae-Gilene Begay has directed the Navajo Nation Community Health Representative (CHR) Outreach program. She earned a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Denver in 2007 and received the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work Service Award in March of 2015. Mae-Gilene is very active with the American Public Health Association (APHA) and has served as the Chair of the APHA Community Health Worker Section and now serves on the APHA Community Health Worker Nomination Committee. She also serves on the New Mexico Department of Health Community Health Worker certification board.

Joy Eckert

Joy Eckert, MPH is a Research Associate at the George Washington University, Milken Institute School of Public Health. She researches how pharmaceutical marketing impacts health and health care. She also works with a team to develop and create non-industry funded continuing education for health care providers. She is passionate about protecting women’s health with rigorous, science-based regulation. Joy earned her Master’s in Public Health in Epidemiology from George Washington University.

Karen A. Scott

Karen A. Scott is an activist physician with a board certification in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Her 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. Karen is the co-director of the Racial Equity Pilot Project, California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, Stanford University School of Medicine and a clinician scientist at the UC San Francisco and San Francisco State University Social Innovation Urban Opportunity Lab.

Francine Thompson

Francine Thompson is the Director of Health Services at the Emma Goldman Clinic. She is responsible for the operations and management of the abortion and gynecology departments at the clinic, as well as other health service departments. Her 30 years as an administrator of an independent, not-for-profit, feminist health care clinic that provides abortion care has given her extensive experience in reproductive health care management. She has overseen the development and implementation of many innovative services and has incorporated fiscal, service, and organizational adjustments to ensure the clinic’s survival.

Kentina Washington-Leapheart

Kentina Washington-Leapheart is the Director of Programs for Reproductive Justice and Sexuality Education at the Religious Institute. A self-identified queer womanist follower of many paths including the Way of Jesus, Kentina earned a BA in Public Administration from Miami University and a Master of Divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. A “second career” religious professional who followed the call to seminary after working in the financial services field, Kentina worked for more than five years in various clinical settings as a chaplain before transitioning into her role at the Religious Institute. Kentina derives deep joy from her primary vocation: caring for her family.

Meredith P. Field

Meredith P. Field, MSED, is completing a dual title PhD in Rural Sociology and Women’s Studies at Penn State University. Her dissertation work explores rural women’s experiences seeking access to maternal health care in a context where the availability of maternal health care continues to decline. Her other areas of interest include menstrual health, bodies, and sexual health. Meredith has worked in higher education for more than ten years, and she currently teaches in Penn State’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department. She has been an activist since she was a child, beginning with local environmental issues and expanding to issues of women’s health, prisoners’ civil rights, along with other human rights and social justice topics.

The National Women’s Health Network is supported by our members and by choice we do not accept financial support from drug companies or medical device manufacturers. We bring the voices, concerns and needs of women consumers to policy and regulatory tables.

Cindy Pearson was the NWHN’s Executive Director from 1996 to 2021. One of the nation's leading advocates for women's health, Cindy often testified before Congress,  NIH and the FDA and was frequently featured in the news as a consumer expert on women’s health issues. When she retired, Cindy received a Congressional Resolution in honor of her outstanding contributions to the health of women and girls.

Read more from Cindy Pearson.