Staff & Board of Directors
Cynthia A. Pearson
Cynthia A. Pearson (Cindy) is the Executive Director of the National Women’s Health Network. Cindy is one of the nation’s most experienced and respected women’s health advocates. During her more than 20 years at the head of the NWHN, Cindy has led campaigns to protect women from risky drugs and devices; require the government to research conditions that affect women; ensure that women have access to full information about medical products and clinical trials; expand women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health care services; and protect women against coercion and abuse.
Cindy protects the independence of the NWHN’s voice on women’s health issues by cultivating a thriving national membership that enables the NWHN to remain one of the few women’s health organizations that will not accept financial support from pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, insurance companies or the tobacco industry.
Cindy regularly testifies before Congress, the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration and is a frequent speaker at conferences. Cindy has appeared in print and on the air as a consumer expert on women’s health issues, including the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Nightline, Good Morning America, CNN, NPR, and the Melissa Harris-Perry show.
Cindy is a transplanted Californian, where she obtained her B.A. from the University of California, San Diego. She began her career at Womancare, a feminist clinic, and worked as an abortion rights organizer for Colorado NARAL. She continues to support independent abortion providers through her service as the President of the Board of Directors of Women’s Health Specialists in far northern California.
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.
Hannah Camp is the Development Associate, responsible for maintaining the NWHN database and supporting the NWHN donors and members. Hannah is a former NWHN Development Intern and recent graduate from American University in Washington, DC where she received a bachelor’s degree in Public Health and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Along with interning at the NWHN, while in school, Hannah worked at AU’s Health Promotion and Advocacy Center as a Peer Health Educator, where she provided presentations on a variety of health topics to college students. She also spent a semester abroad in Kenya where she interned at Women’s Empowerment Link as Gender-Based Violence Intern, conducting research on the link between child marriages and reproductive and sexual health.
M. Isabelle Chaudry is the NWHN’s Senior Policy Manager, responsible for developing and leading their women’s health and consumer safety policy efforts, with a particular focus on historically marginalized communities.
Isabelle actively lobbies, at the grassroots and federal level, on women’s health and cosmetics policy and has provided expert testimony before Congress and the Food and Drug Administration. Her advocacy has been recognized by Democracy Now!, PBS NewsHour, Good Morning America, NBC News and a host of other publications and networks.
Over the course of her career, Isabelle has held clerkships with government, labor unions, and nonprofit organizations including, AFL-CIO, National Education Association, National Lawyers Employment Association (as a Peggy Browning Fellow), and Congress. Prior to NWHN, Isabelle served as a law clerk for the Senate HELP Committee, and as an Associate Staff Counsel at the Pennsylvania State Education Association.
Isabelle earned a J.D. with distinction in Alternative Dispute Resolution from Howard University School of Law and a Bachelor of Science degree from Howard University. She is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and is currently an LL.M. candidate in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law. She also serves as a Board Member for Women’s Voices for the Earth.
Sarah is the Policy Advocacy Director, responsible for directing the NWHN’s legislative, regulatory, and judicial advocacy efforts and managing the NWHN’s policy team. She serves as the NWHN’s primary issue area expert on federal health reform implementation and defense, drug and device safety and efficacy, and sexual and reproductive health. She also directs federal policy initiatives for Raising Women’s Voices (RWV). She has been quoted on behalf of the NWHN in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, USA Today, Reuters, Cosmopolitan, Rewire, Prevention, Yahoo News, Vice, ABC News San Francisco, and other print, TV, and radio outlets.
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) for five years, where she directed the Member’s legislative agenda and supervised her DC-based staff of eight. Over the course of her career, Sarah has staffed every issue area that comes before the federal government, with in-depth knowledge of health policy, tax policy, financial services and banking, consumer protection, and the federal budget. Her experience includes work on the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, Medicare, reproductive health, and the impact of banking and tax policy on income inequality, among other areas. Her legislative accomplishments include provisions enacted into law in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Small Business Innovation Research reauthorization, and multiple National Defense Authorizations. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in political science and a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Arizona State University and a Master of Arts 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.
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.
Kalena is the Senior State Advocacy Manager for Raising Women’s Voices (RWV), responsible for strengthening and expanding the RWV network of regional coordinators in targeted states. She provides strategic support, technical assistance, organizational capacity building, customizable campaign assets, and networking resources to RWV regional coordinators while proactively monitoring developments in the field. She also leads the NWHN’s sub-grant process, which includes a bi-annual funding cycle, and coordinates RWV’s annual 2-day conference. She has represented RWV as a speaker at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Black Women’s Roundtable National Summit, among other conferences, and served as advisory committee member for the Take Root: Red State Reproductive Justice conference.
Throughout her career, she has worked to elevate marginalized voices in health policy conversations and expand health access. Prior to joining the NWHN, Kalena served as Navigator Coordinator for Enroll Michigan and chair of the Enroll West Michigan coalition. Her accomplishments include developing and supporting outreach, education, partnership, enrollment strategies and efforts that resulted in Enroll Michigan ranking in the top 10 for ACA enrollment. 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. Kalena received personal recognition from the Obama Administration for best practices in outreach and enrollment implementation. She has a Bachelor of Science in biomedical science from Grand Valley State University.
Kimberly Robinson is an independent consultant on reproductive justice issues, including the health of Black women. Kimberly has worked in direct services at a variety of settings, including for many years as the Director of Health Services at Women’s Health Specialists, an independent feminist health center. While at Women’s Health Specialists, she oversaw the operations for multiple clinics and satellite services and was 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, Kimberly works with colleagues, communities and allies to build constituencies that demand reproductive justice for all women.
Action Vice Chair
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.
Admin Vice Chair
Francine is the Excecutive Director of 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.
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.
Lacey Alexander is a PhD-prepared registered nurse. She is currently an Advanced Fellow in Women’s Health at the VA in Madison, Wisconsin. Her postdoctoral research is focused on implicit weight bias among clinicians. Specifically, she is exploring how negative interactions between patients and clinicians about weight can create barriers to quality and timely care delivery. Lacey also continues to moonlight at the VA in hospice care, serves as her hospital’s LGBTQ Veteran Care Coordinator, and teaches a large undergraduate course about gender and health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is excited to serve on the Board of Directors because she is passionate about creating resources to guide consumers in making safe decision about their health.
Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagha, PhD, MPH, CHES, is an associate professor in the School of Medicine at Tufts University. Ndidiamaka’s research focuses on 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.violence; reproductive health; and HIV among youth, women, and racial and ethnic minority groups. 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 also completed the Kellogg Health Scholars Postdoctoral Fellowship from 2010-2012.
Abigail Arons, MPH, is a senior clinical research coordinator at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Since 2001, she has led program evaluation and policy analysis projects at UCSF focusing on reproductive and sexual health, including long-acting contraception, sexual health education, and adolescent pregnancy prevention. Currently, she leads a national clinical trial to prevent HPV-related anal cancer among adults living with HIV.
In addition to her professional expertise in reproductive health, Abigail took a crash course in breast cancer when she was diagnosed at age 31. After completing active treatment, she joined the Board of Breast Cancer Action, a national watchdog organization for the breast cancer movement, to advocate for more effective, less toxic treatments, and for a greater focus on the root causes of cancer, including environmental factors. Abigail is thrilled to join the Board of the National Women’s Health Network.
Sequoia Ayala, JD, MA (She/Her/Hers/Ella/Ela) is the Director of Operations for the Move to End Violence. A mover and a shaker, Sequoia brings 8+years of diverse experiences in organizational management, movement lawyering and facilitating change for and with women and communities of color. Her commitment to gender and racial justice is rooted in her deep respect and appreciation for all people. Sequoia has a juris doctorate from the American University Washington College of Law and a master’s degree in International Development from the AU School of International Service. Sequoia is a passionate defender of human rights and has led justice-centered projects for and with people living with HIV, survivors of gender-based violence, and immigrant and refugee communities in the Deep South and Global South. n her free time, she enjoys singing and dancing són and admiring her plant babies in her home garden. She lives in Georgia with her husband, three children, and dog Nina.
Yamini is a convener, strategist, and facilitator who has been working in HIV for over a decade. Yamini’s background ranges from youth development to women’s health, reproductive justice advocacy, health equity, racial & gender justice. She is passionate about supporting the resiliency of communities locally and worldwide. She is a UC Berkeley alum with an undergraduate degree in Ethnic Studies and is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Health at San Francisco State University with an emphasis in Health Education. She’s a first-generation immigrant and is raising her children in San Francisco, California
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.
Leslie is in the process of completing an undergraduate Political Science degree at the University of California Berkeley. Leslie is an organizer and activist whose work surrounds community building in the Central Valley. For the past six years her work has been centered around reproductive justice and youth leadership. She discovered her passion for reproductive justice in high school, when she experienced the difficulties individuals in the Central Valley experience when trying to access reproductive resources. Her most recent research includes working with Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare with assistant professor Anu Gomez for birth control access for women in rural communities. In this position Leslie worked with fellow community researchers and developed and conducted an inclusive survey. Leslie also worked as an undergraduate research apprentice with Berkeley (Emerita) Professor, Kristin Luker regarding the history of birth control and contraception.
Joy Eckert, MPH is a Senior Research Assistant at the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy. She researches the regulation of biomedical products and clinical trial policy. She focuses on policy that supports the efficient development of safe and effective drugs. 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, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociology at University of Cincinnati. Meredith’s research interests focus on bodies, reproduction, health, medicine, and development as they intersect with social movements, science, technology, and society. Her recent research projects explored topics related to reusable menstrual products and access to maternal health care in rural areas of Pennsylvania. She is currently working with the Ohio Policy Evaluation Network and studying how policy changes regarding access to contraceptives and abortion in rural parts of Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia affect people’s lives. Meredith 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. She has worked in higher education for more than fourteen years. She earned her dual title PhD in Rural Sociology and Women’s Studies from The Pennsylvania State University.
Cynthia A. Pearson, Executive Director, ex officio
Cynthia A. Pearson (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.