Staff & Board of Directors
Cindy is the NWHN’s Executive Director, responsible for the organization’s overall direction and activities. Cindy began at the NWHN as the Program Director and has, over the years, coordinated the internship program, managed the information clearinghouse, and directed NWHN’s program and policy work. A transplanted Californian, Cindy moved to the DC region after obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California at San Diego and working as an abortion-rights organizer for Colorado NARAL. Before moving to DC, Cindy worked in several capacities at Womancare, a Feminist Women’s Health Center. She is the president of the board of directors of Women’s Health Specialists in Northern California and the treasurer of the National Breast Cancer Coalition.
Communications and Digital Marketing Manager
Evita Almassi has 10 years of experience in the nonprofit, communications and digital media realm. Her strengths are in the digital media space with a focus on writing, editing, and moving messages with forward thinking organizations. With a proven track record of success in obtaining results, Evita has led social media advocacy campaigns and has experience raising profiles for nonprofit organizations. Evita attended the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington where she received both her undergraduate degree in Political Science as well a Master’s in Social Work with an emphasis on public policy and administration. In her spare time she enjoys traveling the world with her Fiancé, Chris, long walks with her pup Teddy, and spending time with family and friends.
Sarah is the Policy Advocacy Director, responsible for leading the NWHN’s legislative and regulatory advocacy efforts. She also directs federal policy initiatives for Raising Women’s Voices (RWV). Prior to joining the NWHN, Sarah worked for Congress from 2005 to 2015, including serving as the Washington Director to Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA) from 2010 to 2015. Her experience includes work on the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, Medicare, reproductive health and justice, and the relationship of banking and tax policy on income inequality, among other areas. She has bachelor’s degrees in political science and history from Arizona State University and a graduate degree in foreign policy from George Washington University.
Erin is the Office Manager, responsible for managing the office’s daily functions and ensuring that everything runs smoothly. She is the main point of contact for vendors and also reaches out to them if anything goes wrong. She joins the NWHN after spending the last 10 years working in residential property management and commercial real estate, where she managed research teams and coordinated large projects. Erin attending the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she focused on History and Art History.
Susan K. Flinn
Susan is the NWHN’s newsletter editor, responsible for the content and production of the Women’s Health Activist. Susan is a DC-based consultant who helps public health and social change non-profit organizations work more effectively. She specializes in women’s health, reproductive and sexual health, HIV/AIDS prevention, LGBTQ equality, and access to health care. Prior to forming her consulting firm, Susan was the Legislative Affairs Director for Advocates for Youth. She served as the Maryland NARAL state organizer and worked on the successful campaign to codify Roe v. Wade into state law. She has a Bachelor’s degree in architectural history from Bryn Mawr College and a Master’s in Public Policy & Women’s Studies from the George Washington University.
Federal Policy Associate
Alyssa is the Federal Policy Associate, responsible for monitoring and analyzing federal policy issues and coordinating legislative and regulatory advocacy efforts for the NWHN and Raising Women’s Voices. Prior to joining the NWHN, Alyssa interned with Senator Patty Murray’s (D-WA) office in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and with the National Partnership for Women & Families. As a Schiffer Fellow at the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health, Alyssa published a white paper on the public health impacts of state-level abortion restrictions. Originally from California, she worked as a Public Health Associate for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2011–2016 in Montana, Idaho, and Ohio on environmental health, immunization, and occupational safety and health issues. She has a Bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California at San Diego and is finishing up her MPH in health policy at George Washington University. Alyssa will fill in for Sarah while she is out of the office on maternity leave this summer.
Michelle M. Lockwood
As the Development Director, Michelle is responsible for taking care of and expanding our membership, while exploring new avenues for our supporters to further the NWHN’s mission. A graduate of Shepherd University with a BA in Communications, her college experience led her to become vocal on many issues women face. Beginning her career as an event planner and alumni communications coordinator at Shenandoah University, Michelle got her official start in fundraising as the Direct Marketing Coordinator at the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). She joined the NWHN after spending three years as the Development Manager for the Society of Interventional Radiology Foundation. After supporting the advancement of an educational institution, a women’s organization, and a health care foundation, she’s excited to contribute to the cause of empowering women to take control of their health care choices.
Regional Field Manager for Raising Women’s Voices
Kalena is the Regional Field Manager for Raising Women’s Voices (RWV), responsible for strengthening and expanding the RWV network of advocates in targeted states. She also provides strategic support and technical assistance to RWV regional coordinators while proactively monitoring developments in the field. Prior to joining the NWHN, Kalena served as Navigator Coordinator for Enroll Michigan and chair of the Enroll West Michigan coalition. Her experience includes work on Affordable Care Act implementation and health insurance marketplaces, Medicaid, outreach and enrollment, mobilizing coalitions and stakeholders, and social determinants of health. A graduate of Grand Valley State University with a BS in biomedical science, her college experience led her to become a passionate health advocate.
Board of Directors
Mia Kim Sullivan
Mia Kim Sullivan is the director of Civil Liberties & Public Policy (CLPP), a national program based at Hampshire College, which educates new activists and leadership to advance reproductive and sexual rights, freedom, and justice. Mia has led leadership development programs at CLPP for almost a decade. She has presented for learning circles at the Ms. Foundation for Women and the Women Donors Network, and written about the reproductive justice field for the RESIST fund. Mia previously worked as a staff attorney at civil legal services organizations in Massachusetts and Michigan, engaging in state and Federal litigation, community organizing and education efforts, and policy advocacy. Mia currently serves on the advisory board for Take Root: Red State Perspectives on Reproductive Justice, and the legacy council for the Third Wave Fund.
Kira S. Jones
Action Vice Chair
Kira S. Jones, MA, is the Communications Officer for Breast Cancer Action. Formerly she was the former Academic Advising Coordinator for the College of Fine Arts at the University of Utah. Kira’s academic research and activist writings have primarily focused on how the rhetoric of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month conditions women (and men) to a breast cancer conversation that includes contradictory ideas about breast cancer detection, prevention, activism, and breast cancer as a disease. This discourse emphasizes personal responsibility over social context, thereby obscuring the need for social justice, environmental protection, and collective responsibility to prevent and reduce breast cancer. Kira has worked with women’s health organizations across the country including NARAL Pro-Choice America, the Brooklyn-Queens Chapter of NOW, and Breast Cancer Action (BCA). She has also volunteered for Planned Parenthood Association of Utah/Planned Parenthood Action Council, NARAL Pro-Choice New York, and Women’s Voices for the Earth. She is a former NWHN intern. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and a Master’s degree in Communication Studies.
Admin Vice Chair
Kimberly Robinson is the Director of Health Services at Women’s Health Specialists, an independent feminist health center. She has a strong passion for women’s health and management which has led her to her current position. She oversees the operations for multiple clinics and satellite services. Kimberly is also responsible for the training and recruitment of all clinical staff including residents and medical students, helping to train the next generation of abortion providers. As a women’s health activist, she works with colleagues, communities and allies to build constituencies that demand reproductive justice for all women.
Nadiah Mohajir is the Executive Director of HEART Women & Girls, in Chicago. She describes herself as a woman with many identities and being a public health and social justice nerd is one of them. She discovered her interest in health disparities as a young girl, when she would visit her grandparents in Pakistan. As she grew older and pursued her academic and professional career, she was dismayed to see that disparities weren’t that far from her home in Chicago. She began exploring ways to work to help reduce disparities in vulnerable populations – particularly in maternal and child health.
Tiffany Reed is a Senior Account Executive at the direct marketing agency Mal Warwick | Donordigital, where she has lead the direct mail and telemarketing fundraising strategy for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Whitman-Walker Health, Children’s Health Fund, TechnoServe, and Women for Women International. In her spare time, she loves taking on pro-bono clients, including the NWHN, the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW), and the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. She previously held a marketing position at EMILY’s List, fundraising for pro-choice Democratic women leaders. After President Obama’s election, she led the Democratic National Committee’s direct mail program. Her first job after college was serving as a social worker at the Emma Goldman Clinic for Women, where the experience of advocating for low-income women’s access to health care transformed her life. She was the president of the DC Abortion Fund from 2005 to 2011.
As a Nigerian American woman that grew up in Trenton NJ, Dr. Amutah-Onukagha is keenly aware of the inequities experienced by women living in economically depressed neighborhoods as a result of the systemic effects of discrimination and differential access to healthcare. These life experiences have shaped her research career and deepened her interest in the health of women from marginalized backgrounds. Ndidiamaka 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. She received her Master’s in Public Health from The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services in Maternal and Child Health in 2005. Her dissertation focused on infant mortality in Washington, DC and it specifically examined neighborhood level disadvantage, social determinants of health, and race/ethnicity as predictors of infant mortality. She also received a BS in Public Health and BA in Africana Studies from Rutgers, The State University of NJ. Her research examines the relationship that HIV positive African American women have with their adolescent daughters. She is interested in understanding the nature of mother-daughter communication with the goal of mitigating HIV sexual risk through the development of interventions.
For over 18 years, Mae-Gilene Begay has been directing the Navajo Nation Community Health Representative (CHR)/Outreach program. The Outreach program includes STD Prevention, TB Control and the Navajo Birth Cohort Study (NBCS) project with the NBCS being the newest program (2012). About 90 percent of the CHR program clienteles are elderlies over 55 years old.
She earned a Masters in Social Work from the University of Denver in 2007 and received the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work Service Award in March 2015. Mae-Gilene is very active with the American Public Health Association (APHA) and serves as the APHA CHW Section past chair and now serves as APHA CHW Nomination Committee. She also serves on the New Mexico Department of Health CHW certification board, the first installed board. And most recently elected to the National Women’s Health Network board.
Mae-Gilene has been an avid advocate for increasing oral health literacy in Navajo and increase awareness with the health disparities in oral health and other chronic diseases among the Navajo people. Her program is focused on primary prevention to improve general health of the Navajo people by exploring innovative options.
Dazon Dixon Diallo
Dazon Dixon Diallo is Founder and President of SisterLove, Inc, established in 1989, the first women’s HIV/AIDS and RJ organization in the southeastern United States. For 16 years she has served as adjunct faculty in women’s health at Morehouse School of Medicine’s Masters of Public Health Program in Atlanta, GA. She currently chairs the Metro Atlanta HIV/AIDS Services Planning Council, and is a member of the AIDS Research Advisory Council of the Division of AIDS at the National Institutes of Health. She is a founding member of the 30 for 30 Campaign for Women in the National HIV AIDS Strategy, and she serves on the HIV/DV National Advisory Committee for the National Network to End Domestic Violence. In 2012, she received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from her alma mater, Spelman College. For more than twenty years, she has hosted a weekly radio program focused on black women, called “Sistas’ Time” on WRFG 89.3FM and www.wrfg.org in Atlanta. She holds a Master’s degree in public health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and a Bachelor’s degree from Spelman College.
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 Masters in Public Health in Epidemiology from George Washington University.
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, and other human rights and social justice topics.
Anu Manchikanti Gomez
Anu Manchikanti Gomez, MSc, PhD is an assistant professor at the School of Social Welfare at the University of California Berkeley. Anu’s research focuses on violence; reproductive health; and HIV among youth, women, and racial and ethnic minority groups. Over the past 10 years, she has conducted research on violence, reproductive health, and HIV in the U.S. and abroad. Her work has consistently focused on reducing health disparities among disadvantaged populations, particularly youth, women, and racial and ethnic minorities. As a researcher, her overarching goal is to understand individual, couple- and community-level influences on sexual risk behavior among young women and men, and to develop multi-faceted interventions addressing these factors. She received her doctorate in Maternal and Child Health from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Kentina Washington-Leapheart is the Director of Programs for Reproductive Justice and Sexuality Education at the Religious Institute. In this role, she combines her love for justice and education with her experience in pastoral care and chaplaincy, journeying alongside multi-faith clergy, seminarians, and communities of faith as they seek to be thoughtful, courageous, and responsible in the care of their minds, bodies, and spirits . 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 5 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. She and her wife Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart reside in Philadelphia with their tween daughter.
Karen is a southern Black cis woman, physician, social scientist, and activist 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. In 2013, she disrupted her 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 centered in reproductive justice and feminist intersectional scholarship, her clinical and research interests include the analysis of individual, community, institutional, and structural factors that inform S&R health care quality, access, and utilization. She further focuses on the relationship between S&R health equity and patient -provider communication and shared decision making. She also explores 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. Karen will obtain her Executive Master of Public Health in Applied Epidemiology at Emory University in the summer of 2018. 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 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. She continues to be challenged and motivated with the unending assaults within the reproductive justice and abortion care movement. Her passion includes training students and volunteers and the next generation of feminist, health care providers and activists.
Cindy Pearson, Executive Director, ex officio
Cindy provides strategic direction for the NWHN’s advocacy projects and speaks widely about the NWHN’s model of science-informed feminist health advocacy. Under Cindy’s leadership, the NWHN has received national recognition for its role in catalyzing governmental response to women’s health needs, including the creation of federal offices of women’s health, research addressing health questions important to women, strengthened protections for volunteers in clinical trials, withdrawal of dangerous drugs and the approval of breakthrough reproductive health technologies. Cindy is a co-founder of Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need.