Deborah Frazier currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer for the National Healthy Start Association. Ms. Frazier has a stellar national reputation having spent 30 years of her professional career in the field of maternal and child health. She is a past member of the HHS Secretary’s Committee on Infant Mortality (SACIM), and the former Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Health for the State of Arkansas. Ms. Frazier has a long and very rich history with Healthy Start and the Association serving as grantee evaluator, technical advisor to projects, Project Director for New Orleans Healthy Start, founding member of the Association and past board member. In her role as Co-Chair of the Association’s Development Committee, she was responsible for securing funding critical to the growth and expansion of the organization – establishing regional conferences, the Healthy Start Leadership Institute and the Partnership Grant with AMCHP and CityMatCH. Ms. Frazier has lent her expertise and knowledge as a consultant to numerous national organizations including The American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists developing and implementing their National Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Program (NFIMR), the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) to evaluate community-based programs and to the National School Health Workgroup to develop national standards and policies for school health programs. She has provided consultation to community-based programs across the country involving the development of strategic plans, needs assessments and designing programs and services for those in need.
Karen A. Chustz, MSW, is Senior Program Manager for NHSA’s AIM CCI initiative. Karen has more than 25 years’ experience in non-profit and public health agencies. Prior to joining AIM CCI, Karen served as Director of the Bureau of Regional and Clinical Operations at Louisiana’s Office of Public Health where she was responsible for administration of the agency’s clinical and population health initiatives across nine regional teams. Karen’s experience also includes work as Chief Operations Officer at an FQHC as well as Program Officer for Community Services at a multi-service non-profit. From 2012 – 2015, Karen was Louisiana’s State WIC Director. Her experience also includes Vice President of Clinical and Community Health Programs at California Family Health Council (now Essential Access Health), California’s grantee for Title X family planning services. She also has extensive experience in maternal and child health as well as educational health programming. Early in her career, Karen served as Chief Program Officer for Great Expectations Foundation, which administered New Orleans’ Healthy Start project. While at Great Expectations, Karen diversified the organization’s funding and services portfolio to support HIV prevention services among women of color and teen pregnancy prevention programming for middle and high school students. Karen earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Loyola University of New Orleans and a Master of Social Work with a concentration in Administration, Planning and Organizational Development with a focus on healthcare systems from Southern University at New Orleans.
Valerie Newsome Garcia, PhD is the Community Transformation Strategist for NHSA – AIM CCI. Prior to joining National Healthy Start Association, she has held faculty appointments at NYU School of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, Brooklyn College, and selected as a JPB Environmental Health Fellow at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her work is focused on addressing the social, environmental, and structural determinants of health in underserved communities. Some of her past work has examined the sociocultural factors related to increased HIV risk among Black women, environmental barriers to healthy eating in NYC public housing, geographic and cultural factors related to healthy sleep behavior, and the relationship between neighborhoods and cardiovascular health. Dr. Garcia completed her doctoral training in Biobehavioral Health (Ph.D.) at Penn State University, and holds degrees in Psychology (B.S., M.S.) from Florida A&M University.
Alicia Aroche, MEd, brings over 20 years of experience in community engagement, public health research, racial equity, justice and healing, communications and storytelling. She has led a community-based participatory research team at Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) Center on Society and Health as Senior Community Engagement Manager and served as Communications Manager and Community Engagement Advocate for the cross-sector, cradle-to-career collaborative Bridging Richmond, in Richmond, VA. In this work, she participated in models that shared power and centered voices of community members, investigating causes and community-identified interventions, to address health disparities influenced by social determinants of health. As part of the Clinical and Translational Research team at the VCU Wright Center (VCU Health), she advised academic and physician researchers on culturally sensitive alignment between social science and practice-based research and the expressed needs of marginalized communities.
As a communications professional, Alicia’s experience includes developing and implementing communications plans, planning and delivering events in both virtual and in-person environments, documentation and storytelling. She has worked as the Director of Racial Justice and Healing at Initiatives of Change USA (IofC USA), where she led the team’s Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) work, as well served as the program director for the Narrative Change Collaborative. Alicia’s storytelling work has earned awards such as the best-animated short film at the Atlanta Underground Film Festival and the Dikalo Award (“Message” in Cameroonian) for best short documentary at the Festival du International PanAfricain de Cannes in France (see article). Alicia holds a Bachelor of Science in Mass Media and a Master of Education with a focus in Participatory Action Research from Virginia Commonwealth University. Since 2018, she has served as an international affiliate with the Concordia University Center on Oral History and Digital Storytelling in Montréal, Québec, Canada.
Amber Wilson is NHSA’s AIM CCI Program Coordinator. She received her degree from Winthrop University and began her career in maternal and child health in the WIC program where she was a nutritionist, Certified Lactation Counselor and managed a team of nutritionists, peer counselors and Registered Dietitians. After spending several years at WIC, she transitioned into a community/rural health setting where she provided lactation education and support, delivered chronic disease prevention and management programs, assisted with the implementation of policy, systems and environmental changes related to childhood obesity in the school setting, and coordinated COVID-19 sites. She is passionate about maternal and child health and recently obtained her certification as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. During her free time, she enjoys listening to music, cooking and watching documentaries.
Ashley Calderone, DNP, RN, CLC, IBCLC, C-ONQS, is the Clinical Implementation Manager with the AIM CCI project. She has clinical experience in Pediatric, Postpartum, and Neonatal Intensive Care Units. Ashley is a subject matter expert in the field of lactation. Her interests include improving teamwork and communication, standardizing processes, and breaking silos to create more equitable systems of care. She is also interested in programs aimed at improving access to quality health care as a means of addressing preventable maternal morbidity and mortality through quality improvement. Ashley earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of Central Florida with a focus in Nursing Systems. She also holds degrees in Nursing (MSN) and Health Education & Behavior (B.S.) from the University of Florida.
Iman Newsome, BSN, MPH, is the Program Coordinator for the Supporting Healthy Start Performance Project (SHSPP) grant. She is a full-spectrum doula and childbirth educator in the Washington, DC, area and has been holding space and supporting people through a variety of reproductive health experiences for the last seven years.
Iman first fell in love with maternal health after discovering her passion for birth and the postpartum period after her maternity health clinicals. Years later, she still finds herself immersed in the work toward healthy and positive birthing outcomes and strives towards cultivating safe birthing spaces within hospital and out of hospital settings. Her additional passions include advocacy, inclusion and evidence-based practices. This, coupled with her commitment for maternal health, has guided her to becoming a public health practitioner by obtaining her Master of Public Health in Global Health Leadership from Trinity Washington University, with the aim of becoming one of the many change agents that collectively bridge the gaps in maternal care on individualized and organizational levels.
Iman also serves as a doula member on the Maternal Mortality Review Board Committee and the CDC’s Perinatal Quality Collaborative for Washington, DC. These experiences along with her dedication for change in the maternal health system fuel her to work towards reducing disparities and inequity in maternal mortality and morbidity on a city wide, national and global level.
Caroline Valencia, MPH, is the Program Manager for the Supporting Healthy Start Performance Project (SHSPP) grant. Caroline has always been passionate about maternal and child health, having interned and worked for various Healthy Start Coalitions in Florida. Her previous roles include Data Specialist with the Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) in Alachua County and Community Liaison with the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Palm Beach County. Prior to coming to NHSA, Caroline was a Senior Health Planner & Program Manager, where she worked on various public health issues including fetal and infant mortality, obesity prevention, asthma and HIV.
Bea Haskins, MS, has been NHSA’s Communications Coordinator since 2016. However, her NHSA story goes back way before then! Bea is a longtime special events coordinator and nonprofit organizational consultant. Formerly a member of the Senior Management Team at the original Healthy Start project in Baltimore, Bea was involved in the formation of NHSA in 1999, working with one of the founding board members on our incorporation and attainment of our 501(c)(3) status. In fact, for NHSA’s first 11 years, NHSA’s office was in Bea’s home office in Baltimore. Bea was the logistics coordinator for NHSA’s annual conferences from 2000-2008, as well as 12 regional conferences held in 2004 and 2006 around the country. As Operations Manager during that time, Bea handled the day-to-day operations of the Association, wrote or assisted on grant proposals and reports and just about anything that needed her organizational touch. Bea left NHSA in 2008 to pursue other interests, but was persuaded back in 2016 to tackle a project that CEO Deborah Frazier said, “Only you can do it!” Deborah then convinced Bea to stay on to assume her earlier role as newsletter editor. Today Bea not only does the monthly newsletter, Getting off to a Healthy Start (which Bea actually named back in 1999), but other communications and tasks as requested. In addition to the work she does with NHSA, Bea works with other nonprofits and is on the board of directors of the Hanover (PA) Area Historical Society, where she chairs the Strategic Planning Committee.
Kenneth Scarborough is the Fatherhood and Men’s Health Consultant for the NHSA’s Male Involvement Where Dads Matter Initiative (WDMI). He provides technical assistance, support and tools for the Healthy Start projects advancing best practices and training for father involvement/inclusion and men’s health issues. His previous roles include Chief Program Officer and Director of Ready4Work at Operation New Hope in Jacksonville, Florida, and Project Manager and Male Involvement Coordinator for REACHUP, Incorporated in Tampa, Florida. For more than 35 years, Ken has worked with African American and Hispanic boys and men in mentoring relationships, which he has learned is essential for growing lives and building healthy communities. He and his wife Linda, with their children Kris and Karissa, are serving as short-term missionaries at El Lugar Church in San Jose, Costa Rica. Ken provides expertise in the areas of Leadership Development, Operational Development, Global Outreach and Men’s Ministry.
Lidyvez Sawyer, EdD, MPH, is the Equity Implementation Strategist for NHSA’s Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health Community Care Initiative (AIM CCI). Prior to this role, Mrs. Sawyer served as the Director of Community Health Wellness and Strategic Partnerships for the Stephen and Sandra Sheller Eleventh Street Family Health Practice of Drexel University. She also served as the former Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Drexel University College of Medicine. Mrs. Sawyer serves as a faculty member for the Arcadia University College of Health Sciences.
Lidyvez has dedicated over 15 years to public health service and specializes on the Sanctuary trauma-informed care model and anti-racism practice and racial trauma integration as a social determinant of health. She earned her master’s in public health in 2016 from Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health. She graduated with honors, earning an EdD degree in Leadership and Management, with a concentration in Policy in 2021 from Drexel University School of Education and was named the recipient for the Dr. Terrence Daniels Memorial Award for her research centered on social justice and equity within academic institutions.
Miriam Campbell, MPH, is the Senior Program Manager for the Supporting Healthy Start Performance Project (SHSPP) grant. Miriam has experience in quality improvement, program evaluation and epidemiology. Prior to joining NHSA, she was a Clinical Practice Consultant of Maternal and Child Health at UnitedHealthcare where she was responsible for oversight and delegation of high-risk maternity and child programs across 31 local health departments in North Carolina. At UHC, Miriam actively participated in various maternal and child health workgroups as well as an inclusion and diversity committee to support and guide the development of an equitable and results-based organization. She was also the subject matter expert of breastfeeding for the UHC Community Plan of North Carolina.
Previous roles include Grants and Performance Manager at Healthy Start New Orleans and Program Manager at Tulane School of Social Work and Tropical Medicine. Miriam is also working on her doctorate in public health with a focus on breastfeeding and medication-assisted treatment at the University of South Florida. During her free time, Miriam enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, learning new languages and cooking.
Saanie Sulley, MD, PhD, MBA, is a data manager with the AIM CCI project, providing data infrastructure and analytics support to participants in the project. He is a health infomatician with experience in medicine, clinical decisions support systems (CDSS), healthcare data integration and predictive modeling. His interests include utilizing healthcare data in improving health outcomes and gaining better understanding of care processes, health equity, social determinants of health and improving access to maternal pediatric care through quality improvement in these areas. Saanie earned his PhD from Rutgers University in biomedical informatics and an MBA in healthcare management from Columbia Southern University.
Susan Kendig, JD, WHNP-BC, FAANP, is a board certified women’s health nurse practitioner and attorney with over three decades of experience as in maternal health care, as a health care provider, educator, and strategist. Her clinical practice and policy work is grounded in a strong background in the intersection of clinical practice and community health. Throughout her career, Sue has worked to improve patient safety and quality of care. Active in public service, she has held appointments to CMS Medicare Evidence Development & Coverage Advisory Committee (MEDCAC). A member of the Alliance for Innovation in Maternal Health (AIM) Executive Committee, she has significant experience in patient safety bundle development, serving as co-lead in developing maternal safety bundles related to maternal mental health, postpartum and women’s health care. She serves on the NQF Perinatal and Women’s Health Standing Committee and was a member of the NQF Measures Application Partnership (NQF MAP) Medicaid Adult Workgroup and Social Determinants of Health Data Integration Workgroup. In her home state of Missouri, she served as an appointee to the Missouri Commission on Patient Safety, which led to the development of the Missouri Center for Patient Safety. Sue then worked with the Center in achieving recognition as one of the first ten federally listed Patient Safety Organizations in the country. Sue is committed to the concept of clinical and community integration as a tool to improve health outcomes, and to optimize quality and equity in health care service delivery. To this end, she has provided technical assistance to integrated primary care medical home/behavioral health home and other value-based care initiatives, and collective impact maternal and infant mortality reduction efforts in urban and rural communities. She is honored to support the AIM CCI team as their Clinical –Community Integration & Patient Safety Implementation Strategist.
Fleda Mask Jackson, PhD, is the president of Majaica, LLC, a national research firm/think tank, and leader of Save 100 Babies©, a cross-sector network devoted to a social determinant approach to equitable birth outcomes. Dr. Jackson has served as a consultant/advisor and collaborator with organizations such as the Harvard Medical School, the Ford Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation and as a member of the Advisory Committee on Health Disparities for the Director of the CDC and as a member of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality (SACIM). Jackson graduated from Spellman College and the University of Illinois and is the recipient of the Spelman College Alumnae Achievement Award in Health and Science. She has been honored by the Black Ma-mas Matter Alliance for her MCH research and work and by the National March of Dimes for her contributions to that organization and the field. Dr. Jackson has been previously involved with NHSA, most notably as the author of our Stress and Depression toolkit. Dr. Jackson’s role on the AIM CCI grant is as a subject matter expert (SME).
Deidre McDaniel, MSW, LCSW, has over 20 years of experience in the maternal health field and has worked across a wide variety of settings: hospitals, private healthcare systems, government, nonprofit and policy institutions. Ms. McDaniel provides guidance to state agencies, hospitals and public/private organizations on how to successfully implement and sustain quality improvement projects to reduce severe maternal morbidity and mortality. She employs a critical equity framework through which to understand all health care systems, policies, and practices. Ms. McDaniel is a leader in the maternal health field, demonstrating empathy, cultural competence, compassion, effective communication, an equity mindset and sound content expertise. Ms. McDaniel is a Doctoral Fellow at Morgan State University and a licensed certified social worker and has dedicated her career to improving health outcomes for women and children. Deidre serves as an SME on the AIM CCI Project.
Haywood L. Brown, MD, is the Co-PI on NHSA’s AIM CCI grant and Medical Consultant for Women’s Health, who began his role with NHSA in March 2020. Dr. Brown, a physician, researcher and leader in higher education, is the University of South Florida System’s Vice President for Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity and Title IX administrator. Along with his USF System role, Dr. Brown is also Associate Dean for Diversity at the Morsani College of Medicine and Chief Diversity Officer for USF Health. At USF Health, Dr. Brown provides vision, leadership, coordination and strategic planning for the design and implementation of a USF Health-wide platform to enhance diversity, equity and respect. He works to align USF Health’s diversity initiatives with the university’s strategic plan and provides guidance on the recruitment and retention of a diverse community of students, faculty and staff. Dr. Brown comes to USF from Duke University Medical Center, where he has worked in several capacities since 2002. Most recently, Dr. Brown served as the F. Bayard Carter Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and has held leadership roles in a number of university committees. He has also been actively involved in diversity initiatives within his department, university-wide and in the broader Durham, N.C. community. Throughout his career, Dr. Brown has made it a point to focus on serving diverse populations. Prior to his time at Duke University, Dr. Brown spent more than a decade at Indiana University School of Medicine. He received his bachelor’s degree from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University and his medical degree from the Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University.