Board of Directors

Rev. Tommy J. Rodgers— President

Rev. Tommy Rodgers is a long-time member and former chair of the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition Board of Directors. He is currently the senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church. He shares his role in preventing infant mortality. He knows firsthand the importance of making sure every baby has a healthy start. “My youngest, Kelsey, was born 2lbs, 14 oz. Because we are blessed to have her, it is a blessing to help someone else.” Rev. Rodgers, a lifelong Northeast Florida resident, has made an impact through his service on the Coalition Board, including a year as Board Chair in 2008. He also participated in the Jacksonville Community Council, Inc. (JCCI) Infant Mortality study that same year, and chaired the implementation committee that oversaw the establishment of many of the strategies. “To see babies living viable lives as a result of good health makes all of our efforts worthwhile. To know one more child is alive because we served makes a difference.”

Palatka, FL

Raynard Washington, PhD – Past President

Dr. Raynard Washington is the director of the Mecklenburg County Public Health Department, one of four departments that make up the Mecklenburg County Health and Human Services Agency. He is responsible for managing all public health and environmental health activities in Mecklenburg County. Raynard joined the County in 2020 as deputy health director and was promoted to director in 2021. Prior to joining the County, he served as chief epidemiologist and deputy health commissioner for the City of Philadelphia and as a health research scientist for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthcare, Research and Quality. Raynard holds a Bachelor of Science in biological science and chemistry, a Master of Public Health in epidemiology and a Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh.

Charlotte, NC

President-elect: Vacant

Vice President-elect: Vacant

Felicia Hanney, MPH, CBE, CLS — Secretary

Felicia Hanney is the Project Manager for Indianapolis Healthy Start (IHS). Felicia manages day-to-day operations of the IHS program, which provides case management, health education, and outreach to pregnant and parenting women in 11 zip codes in Marion County that have the highest rate of infant mortality, and poor birth outcomes. In her role, Felicia collaborates with policy makers, state agencies, and community stakeholders to spread awareness about infant mortality, and to educate the public about maternal and child health and IHS’s goal to eliminate health disparities in birth outcomes and infant survival rates in Marion County. Felicia is the current workgroup leader for the Mom’s Safe Sleep work group for the Marion County FIMR Community Action Team / Community Consortium Action Network’s Safe Sleep Workgroup. Felicia has over 19 years of combined volunteer and professional work experience in public health, with focus areas in population health, women, and minority health related issues. Felicia has contributed to and presented at local, state and national conferences with focuses on; maternal mental health, safe sleep practices, quality improvement, and strategic doing. Felicia Hanney earned her Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in Health Promotion Health Education from Wright State University in Dayton, OH and received her Bachelors in Exercise Science from Indiana State University. In addition to the NHSA Board, she is also a Martin Center Sickle Cell Initiative board member.

Indianapolis, IN

Corrina Levine Jackson, BS, MSN — Treasurer

Corrina has over 24 years of experience managing Healthy Start Programs; thirteen years with the Tulsa Health Department as the Program Manager and eleven years with the CommunityService Council as the Program Director. Corrina has work experience that dates back to 1992, when the first initiative in Tulsa to reduce infant mortality was started. She helped create an evidence-based model that would later be used as part of all of Tulsa’s Healthy Start programs. In 1997, Corrina channeled her efforts toward sustaining the Save Our Babies program. Corrina has spent 25 years following the same mission: reducing infant mortality and staying involved with maternal and child health programs. Corrina is currently the CEO of Supporting Healthy Initiatives For Tulsa, Inc. (SHIFT), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that she established in 2021. Corrina’s education includes receiving a MS in Organizational Leadership Management from Southern Nazarene University in 2001 and an undergraduate degree from Oklahoma State University in Business Management in 1993. She chairs NHSA’s Finance Committee.

Tulsa, OK

Cynthia Dean

Cynthia Dean is the Chief Executive Officer of Missouri Bootheel Regional Consortium, Inc., Principal Investigator /Director of Programs. Ms. Dean’s background contains more than 25 years’ experience working with community-based and grant-funded programs. Before serving as Project Director of the Missouri Bootheel Healthy Start program, Ms. Dean served as Regional Director of Cardiovascular Health Programs at the State of Missouri Department of Health, S.E. District office in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, for 10 years. She has worked with the Center for Disease Control as a liaison with community-based programs and has facilitated trainings and workshops at numerous academic institutions. Cynthia received a National Leadership award in 2013 recognizing her ability to improve opportunities for rural underserved families. She was appointed by Governor Nixon to the Delta Leadership Institute 2014-2015 Graduate Class and was selected in 2016-2017 as a Missouri Foundation Health Fellow Leadership fellow among 25 State-wide Missouri Candidates. She served as a member of the Board of Directors and member of the Executive Committee for the Missouri Foundation for Health and is the Past President of  NHSA. Ms. Dean has received national, state, and regional honors, including State of Missouri Employee of the Month and Year. She was appointed as a CDC Task Force Member for Health Disparities and served on numerous boards, including Chair of the State Minority Health Alliance. Selected among 12 women from the State of Missouri to participate in a Women Executive’s Leadership Development Program funded by the Missouri Foundation of Health, The UPS Foundation, and the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, Cynthia has co-authored seven published journal articles on the topics of Community-Based Risk Reduction Prevention Strategies in Underserved Populations and has presented at National, State, Local and International conferences. She attended Alabama State University.

Sikeston, MO

Thurma McCann Goldman

Dr. Thurma McCann Goldman decided early in her career to focus on public health in order to serve communities in need. After completing her undergraduate and medical education at Howard University in Washington, DC, she pursued a residency in pediatrics at the Martin Luther King, Jr. General Hospital in Watts, Los Angeles, CA, followed by fellowships in Ambulatory Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. She obtained her Master’s in Public Health from the University of California at Los Angeles, School of Public Health in the area of Population, Family,  and International Health. Dr. Goldman’s work history spans all levels of community medicine and public health. She started a private practice in the rural high desert of southern California and traveled to remote locations to provide immunizations to disadvantaged children. She then joined the staff at D.C. General Hospital in Washington, DC, where she piloted HIV counseling and testing programs for youth at high risk for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV infection.

Dr. Goldman’s work in public health then took her to the federal government, where she served as Medical Officer in the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). She directed the development and implementation of the Presidential Initiative to Reduce Infant Mortality in the United States –The National Healthy Start Program. When Dr. Goldman joined the HIV/AIDS Bureau’s (HAB) Division of Community-based Programs, she shared the U.S. domestic experiences with HIV prevention and treatment with the world. She became lead of the HAB International Program where Dr. Goldman represented HRSA as a Deputy Principal to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Dr. Goldman joined The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and became Chief of Party of the CDC South Africa Program. Now in retirement, Dr. Goldman seeks to utilize all of these experiences and further her commitment to expand services to underserved populations through consultation.

Washington, DC

Karen Howard, J.D.

Karen Howard is a Senior Policy Director at the Alliance for Early Success where she leads a portfolio of state and national Alliance partnerships and investments focused on home visiting, child welfare, family economic stability, and racial equity policies for young children and their families. Prior to joining the Alliance for Early Success, Ms. Howard worked as the Vice President of Early Childhood Policy at First Focus on Children, where she led the organization’s work in cross-cutting policy initiatives that impact the early health, development, and well-being of children, with specific emphasis on children at risk. With more than 20 years of experience in the legal, policy and advocacy arenas, Ms. Howard has served as the Director of Policy for the Nurse-Family Partnership, a leading evidence-based home visiting program, and as legislative counsel in the office of Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO), where she focused on health and education policy. Earlier in her career, Ms. Howard served as Deputy Attorney General in the Colorado Office of Attorney General.

Washington, DC

Belinda Pettiford

Belinda Pettiford has worked for over 30 years in public health and currently serves as Chief of the Women, Infant, and Community Wellness Section at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. In this capacity, she oversees the state’s maternal health, family planning, preconception health, teen pregnancy prevention, sickle cell, and numerous programs focused on equity in birth outcomes. Belinda has provided leadership for numerous national, state, and local efforts. She co-chairs the Perinatal Health Committee of the NC Child Fatality Task Force (CFTF). The CFTF is a legislative study commission directed by the North Carolina General Assembly. Belinda also serves as chair of the Advisory Committee on Infant and Mortality (ACIMM, formerly called the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality, and is a current board member and Past President of NHSA. She is also a Past President of the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP). She received her Master of Public Health (MPH) from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and undergraduate degrees from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro.

Raleigh, NC

Natasha Ray

Natasha Ray, MS, is a healthcare and family advocate who has been working in the New Haven community for the past 23 years. For the same length of time, she has worked for the New Haven Healthy Start Initiative at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, as the Consortium Development Coordinator, Core Services Manager, and Director. In these roles, Natasha was responsible for developing relationships between New Haven’s community residents, medical providers, and other community-based organizations to establish a Maternal and Child Health Consortium with the goal of creating a community-driven approach to reducing the infant mortality rates in New Haven’s communities. As the Core Services Manager, Natasha was responsible for examining and assessing how families are navigated through medical and social service systems. The purpose is to identify gaps, barriers, accessibility to care; to implement evidence-based practices across systems and create policy change.

For the past 20 years, she has worked closely with the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at Yale School of Medicine on multiple community-based participatory research projects. She has served as a connector to the community, as a co-researcher, in an advisory capacity, and is the Chair of the Center for Research Engagement Steering Committee. Natasha possesses a vast amount of experience and knowledge in community organizing, creating partnerships, relationship development, and research. In 2014, she was a recipient of the Yale Elm-Ivy Award for her Community/Academic work in New Haven. In 2019, Natasha became the Director of the New Haven Healthy Start Program. As Director of the program, Natasha brings a unique perspective to this role given her history with the program.

New Haven, CT

Madie Robinson

Madie A. Robinson is the Executive Director/CEO, celebrating 30 years of community-based work with Pee Dee Healthy Start, Inc (PDHS). PDHS, an initiative established under Robinson’s tenure, addresses disparities among rural residents in the Pee Dee area. A native of Florence, SC, Robinson has dedicated her life to “giving back to the community.” Robinson holds a Master of Social Work from the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and a Bachelor of Arts in History, from Bennett College, Greensboro, NC.

Madie is the former Project Director/Senior Vice President (United Way of South Carolina), Deputy Director/Vice President (Healthy Start Project, United Way); Program Director (Division of Maternal Health- South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control); Associate Director of Social Work (SC DHEC), District Social Work Director (SC DHEC); Caseworker (South Carolina Department of Social Services); Motivational Speaker; Panelist (National Health Policy Forum-Washington, D.C.); and writer, “The Importance of Supervision.” A former manager in the South Carolina Resource Mother’s Program, Robinson has a plethora of professional community-based experience to effectively and efficiently address the needs in the Pee Dee area.

Robinson’s professional affiliations/organizations include: Licensed Independent Social Worker-Advanced and Clinical Practice; National Association of Social Workers; American Public Health Association; NHSA founding and current Board Member and Legacy Member); and Florence County First Steps Partnership Board of Directors. Madie chairs NHSA’s Government Relations Committee.

Florence, SC

Ronald Sharpe

Mr. Sharpe is a partner in the Investigations and White-Collar Defense group at Jones Day in Washington, D.C. His practice focuses on internal investigations, regulatory compliance and due diligence counseling, defending white-collar cases, and advising corporate clients on a variety of issues stemming from government enforcement actions. Mr. Sharpe is an Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center and serves on the board of directors for Bread for the City’s Bread, Inc. Mr. Sharpe is a native Washingtonian and a graduate of Tulane University and Stanford Law School. Professor Sharpe began his legal career as an associate in the firm’s Washington office before leaving the firm for public service.

Mr. Sharpe formerly served as the presidentially appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of the Virgin Islands. As the district’s chief federal law enforcement officer, Mr. Sharpe supervised all federal criminal and civil litigation matters, coordinated law enforcement efforts across various agencies, and determined the district’s strategic priorities. While U.S. Attorney, he served on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, led a 28-agency task force responsible for dismantling international drug trafficking and money laundering organizations operating in the Caribbean and the United States, and was selected to a federal magistrate judge merit selection panel. Prior to becoming U.S. Attorney, Mr. Sharpe served for over a decade as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. In that role, he was a senior assistant in the Fraud and Public Corruption Section and acted as lead counsel in dozens of jury trials and hundreds of criminal investigations and prosecutions including matters involving financial fraud, organized crime, and homicides. He has also argued cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

Washington, DC

Lashelle Stewart, MBA

Lashelle Stewart is the Executive Director for Baltimore Healthy Start, Inc. She is a graduate of the UCLA/Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Executive Program and a member of Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute’s Bunting Leadership Fellowship’s inaugural graduates. She has provided services to families for over 25 years. Lashelle has a passion for working with mothers and babies and takes pride in delivering services that will have multi-generational impact. Lashelle implemented the Parent Leadership Group at the agency, coordinated with the Judy Center and Enoch Pratt Free Library for the Story Time events at the center, reinstated the child development program and Fatherhood Services. She also established a partnership with Baltimore City Community College to offer GED classes. She is especially proud of a partnership with Oh Taste Lactation to offer a breastfeeding group at Baltimore Healthy Start. Lashelle currently serves on the Board of Directors for the NHSA, Maryland Breast Feeding Coalition and Behind the Smile. Lashelle has been with the agency since 2015. She chairs NHSA’s Membership Committee.

Baltimore, MD

Renisha Stewart

Renisha Stewart has been employed at UF Health Jacksonville as a Respiratory Technician for the past four years. She has been instrumental in providing advice and out of the box ideas to the Magnolia Project to assist in recruiting and engaging participants for services. Ms. Stewart is excited to give back and help the Magnolia Project, where she was a former participant, by leading their advisory council, the Magnolia Ambassadors. Renisha entered services at the Magnolia Project at the age of 13. During her time in the program, she participated in various groups offered by the program including a 16-week Make A Difference Leadership Academy where she displayed incredible leadership skills.

She prides herself on breaking the cycle and beating the odds of teen pregnancy especially, since she grew up in a high teen pregnancy area. Renisha states that the women of the Magnolia Project tried their best to keep her active in positive activities while participating in services and beyond. Ms. Stewart continues to manage her reproductive health, by planning not to have children until she is ready or by choosing to not have children at all. Additionally, Ms. Stewart advocated for funding in Washington D.C. and Tallahassee FL. with members of the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition Board, project supervisor and CEO of the organization and expressed that the experience was “priceless.’’

Jacksonville, FL

Henry Thompson, DSc, FACHE, CPPO, CPPB, C.P.M.

Dr. Henry Thompson currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the Community Health Center of Richmond, Inc. (CHCR), located in Staten Island, New York. CHCR is a non-profit community health center with a $19 million operating budget, four locations, 112 staff members, and over 45,000+ annual patient visits. He was appointed as the CEO at CHCR in November 2009. Dr. Thompson is a visionary healthcare leader with over twenty (20) years of expertise in Strategic Planning, Profit and Loss, Revenue Growth, Turnaround Management, Supply Chain Leadership, Organizational Development, Process Improvement, Project Management, Community Partnerships, Regulatory Compliance, and Board Relations.

Dr. Thompson received his Doctor of Science degree in Healthcare Leadership from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, AL. He has achieved double master’s degrees in Liberal Studies and Public Administration from the University of Miami located in Coral Gables, FL; and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Connecticut located in Storrs, CT. He is board certified in healthcare management and a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE). Dr. Thompson holds nationally and internationally recognized credentials in supply chain and public procurement. Dr. Thompson is a Life Member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Dr. Thompson has received numerous awards and recognition for his leadership and service, including being named in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 to the Staten Island Power 100 (City & State NY), 2021 Community Developer Award (Central Family Life Center), 2017 Primary Care Transformation Award (Staten Island Performing Provider System), 2016 Business of the Year (Historic Tappen Park Community Partnership), 2013 Up & Comers Award (Modern Healthcare), and numerous other awards throughout his professional career.

Staten Island, NY

Valerie Wheatley

As a skilled civic and community leader with over 25 years of executive management experience, Valerie Wheatley has been providing leadership and direction as the Chief Operating Officer for Clover NOLA since 2013. She is responsible for all daily business operations including programmatic, administrative, and financial. In 2020, New Orleans City Business recognized Ms. Wheatley as one of the Women of the Year. Recently, Ms. Wheatley secured over $1.7 million from the W.K. Kellogg and Humana Foundations to support Clover’s Whole Family Approach that primarily focuses on economic security through education, career pathways, and family supports. She currently serves on the National Educare Learning Network (ELN) Steering Committee and the NHSA Board of Directors. In 2016, Ms. Wheatley oversaw the development and construction of Clover’s Patrick F. Taylor Campus, a 24,000 sq. ft. facility that houses both an early childhood learning center and adult day health care center.

For over 10 years, Valerie was on the board of Healthy Start Pittsburgh where she served from 2011- until her relocation to New Orleans; she was also Board President. Among Valerie’s many accolades and accomplishments, she considers receiving the 2006 Wilford A. Payne Award for outstanding contributions in the advancing and promoting the mission of Healthy Start, Inc. as among her most cherished.

New Orleans, LA

Join NHSA for our two monthly webinars: the Women’s Health Series or Grand Rounds on the first Thursday of each month and Fatherood on the third Thursday of the month.