Candidate Statements – 2014 Board Elections
Candidate statements from our 2014 board elections.
We face significant challenges in securing access to good health care that actually reflects women’s lives and needs. Responding to these challenges requires strong advocacy and vision and NWHN fills that role. I hope to bring my extensive knowledge of women’s health policy and organizing as well as my legal, fundraising and organizational management experience to support this critical work.
Advancing women’s rights at the intersection of equality and power has been the animating feature of my career. I had that “ah-ha” moment in college, when I faced blatant sexism while running for student body president. I won that election and went on to immerse myself in women’s rights. In law school, I was the co-founder and first President of the Harvard Chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice. After graduation, I helped found an international women’s rights organization working to embed gender equality and reproductive rights in new government structures around the world. Then as Legislative Assistant and Counsel to Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, I saw the power of being an advocate on the inside and used my position to push a strong international women’s right agenda. Most recently, as Director, and now Senior Policy Advisor, for Reproductive Health at the National Partnership for Women & Families, I work directly on the changing nature of the health care system and what it means for women’s health. I have seen the challenges and opportunities, and I hope I can bring this perspective and passion to the NWHN.
Charlea Tarmas Massion
Women’s health is my passion. During medical school I observed the gap between what women need to be healthier and what our healthcare system had to offer. Ever since, both in my medical work and in my women’s health activism, I have focused on narrowing that gap. My work, as a family physician in community clinics and the Indian Health Service, as a hospitalist and a palliative care physician, has allowed me to learn from my patients how physicians can provide better care to women. For over 20 years I taught at Stanford Medical School introducing students to the psychological, political, social, and cultural aspects of women’s health-all topics that deserve more attention in that curriculum! Also I have created innovative programs for women health professionals on stress management and building healthier lifestyles because I believe that taking care of ourselves deeply influences what we offer to our families, patients and communities. I am a long-term Network member, and currently serve on the NWHN Board as Fundraising Chair and on the Executive Committee as Secretary. I have been an “Rx for Change”; columnist in the Women’s Health Activist for over five years and co-authored NWHN’s book “The Truth About Hormone Replacement Therapy.” I want to continue to strengthen NWHN by helping secure a robust financial future, by supporting our Raising Women’s Voices program as the ACA offers healthcare to millions more Americans, and by narrowing the gap between the healthcare we have and what we need!
All women have the right to bodily, intellectual, and emotional integrity, free from coercion and judgment. I believe gender equality demands a radical transformation in the way we think at the individual and institutional level about women, their bodies, their sexuality, and their lives. For almost a decade, I have volunteered and worked to advance women’s rights, particularly the right health. During law school, I externed at the Human Rights Law Network in New Delhi, India where I worked on a number of human rights issues affecting women. After law school I volunteered at Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan in Rajasthan, India where I attended protests and rallies to speak out against Dalit atrocities and communal violence, and helped to ensure food security for the rural poor. During my legal fellowship at the Center for Reproductive Rights, I gained wide-ranging experience related to women’s health and rights through legal research and analysis, litigation, advocacy, the investigation of rights violations, and public outreach. Currently, as an attorney at the National Health Law Program I work to achieve reproductive justice within the context of advocating for the legal rights of low-income individuals and communities. As member of the ACCESS Women’s Health Justice Board, I help to ensure that ACCESS succeeds in its mission of combining direct services, community education, and policy advocacy to promote California women’s access to quality and affordable health care. I believe my experiences promoting and protecting the rights of low-income and underserved women, and their communities, access to affordable, quality health care make me well-suited for the Board of NWHN.
To tell the story of my journey as a women’s health advocate is to put together many pieces over the span of my life so far. Growing up in rural Iowa, I experienced first hand the challenges women there face in overcoming poverty, isolation, and access to care for the health and wellbeing of themselves and their families. I went on to work in the nonprofit sector for nearly 10 years providing nutrition education, crisis and mental health counseling, and sexual health education to predominantly low-income female clients.
During this time, I served as president of a nonprofit organization providing access to community supported agriculture and farmers markets for low-income families. Our clientele included several immigrant women who were determined to help treat their children’s chronic health issues (including asthma, allergies, and developmental disabilities) with better nutrition. This group was very active in supporting each other, and provided invaluable feedback to us in developing our program and educational materials. This was a great formative experience for me–witnessing and guiding these women to empower themselves to be healthier despite their limited resources.
After graduating with a Masters of Public Health in 2008, I worked with a team of researchers developing and testing interventions for victims of domestic violence. In 2012 I moved to Virginia, where I coordinate the review and surveillance of domestic violence-related homicides.
I look forward to the opportunity to further expand my experience and reach into the world of women’s health in service to the NWHN board.
I am a child of a blended immigrant single parent household—my father is an African American evangelist, and my mother is from India—the diverse upbringing has shaped my worldview.
My road to becoming a women’s advocate has been shaped by women I have worked alongside with and my personal journey as a survivor of sexual assault. As a 22-year old college intern at NWHN, I learned the power of making informed decisions and had my first exposure to U.S. policy. My first job out of college as a case manager for women recently diagnosed with HIV was a transformative experience where I began to understand social justice and women’s rights.
I received a Master’s in Public Health from Emory University and went on to work at several leading national HIV/AIDs advocacy organizations in California, as an educator and advocate for women living with HIV, including Women Organized to Respond to Life Threatening Diseases and Project Inform. I also served as the Executive Director for The Well Project, a global web portal on women and HIV. Currently, I am the Program Officer at the United Nations Foundation for a project that focuses on Reproductive Health Advocacy.
I would be honored to be selected as a NWHN board member and offer my skills in grant writing, fundraising, organizational development, program development and design, evaluation, facilitation and passion for women’s rights. NWHN invested in me as young emerging feminist, I would love to return the investment.
My first job out of college in 2001 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 immediately became part of something much bigger than myself. I felt the pulse and electricity of the power of women and their bodies, and the connection that women have to each other. 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 Adams Morgan neighborhood of 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 fundraiser who works tirelessly to raise money for progressive causes and hope to bring this talent to the NWHN Board.”
For the past four years, I’ve had the honor of serving as a board member of National Women’s Health Network (NWHN). I’ve been able to provide the NWHN with my leadership skills by serving on the Executive Committee for the past two years as the Vice President of Administration. However, most importantly I have gained a camaraderie of like-minded women all working for health equity, reproductive health, and a health care system guided by social justice. For this reason and my commitment to women’s health, I am seeking a second term on the NWHN Board. As the Office Chief of the Arizona Health Disparities Center at the Department of Health Services I am responsible for addressing the impact of social determinants of health on Arizona’s most vulnerable residents. Additionally, as a NWHN board member, I am able to impact women’s health by addressing inequities in policies that negatively impact women. I have worked on various initiatives to address women’s health including a founding member of the first Domestic Violence Awareness Week on the UA campus. This was the foundation to my work in power dynamics and gender equality, which led to a two-year fellowship on HIV/AIDS at the CDC. I went on to earn an MPH in Maternal and Child Health. I look forward to being able to continue to provide the NWHN with my experience and knowledge in health equity, program development and management, evaluation, grant writing, and youth mentorship to the NWHN Board of Directors.