Georgia Maternal Health Task Force

Retreat 12

The Georgia Maternal Health Task force is made up of key people from research, the state health department, hospitals, payors, academia, and the community who are dedicated to improving maternal health in Georgia. The Maternal Health Task Force members meet quarterly to discuss strategies in 4 priority work groups: 1) maternal health data, 2) maternal health policy, 3) clinical care coordination and resource alignment, and 4) education and community engagement. Task force members created a 5-year Draft Strategic Plan in September 2023 to propose changes for the better.

The Maternal Health Task Force first started back in January of 2023, when HOPE for Georgia Moms began its search for experts and leaders in state and community organizations, professional organizations serving the perinatal population, and individuals presenting to the community. HOPE for Georgia Moms is recruiting passionate people for its Maternal Health Task Force and embraces the participation of persons with lived experience.

Task Force Members

Thumbnail for Angela Doyinsola Aina Angela Doyinsola Aina View Bio
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Angela Doyinsola Aina

Angela Doyinsola Aina, MPH is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, where she works to convene Black Maternal Health professionals and community-based organizations to develop trainings, programs, quality improvement initiatives, research projects, and black feminist advocacy strategies to advance holistic maternity service provision, policy, and systems change in global public health. She has over 14 years of public health experience, working in different capacities on projects focused on: incorporating health equity strategies into reproductive and maternal health initiatives; strengthening strategic planning and community-based workforce development; and data collection. Ms. Aina has served as a Public Health Analyst, Health Communications Specialist, and a Public Health Prevention Service Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for over 5 years, working on Zika and Pregnancy, scientific program management, and 2014 Ebola response staffing. She holds a Master of Public Health degree in International and Women’s Health from Morehouse School of Medicine where she conducted a sequential mixed-method analysis of the reproductive health attitudes and behaviors of Nigerian-born immigrant women in the U.S., and a Bachelor of Science degree from Georgia State University in Psychology and African-American Studies. Angela’s expertise and perspectives on Black Maternal Health has been featured in media outlets, such as the Huffington Post, The Atlantic, the Root, and HLN/CNN. In March of 2020, she was recognized as a 2020 WebMD Health Hero and highlighted as an advocate for Black Maternal Health in Time Magazine. She is passionate about and committed to work that seek to achieve: the self-determination of women of African descent; the elimination of violence against women; the promotion of Black and African women’s rights and  leadership; and womanist solutions to social and economic injustices. Angela enjoys all things diasporic Black cultural expressions in dance, music, art, fashion, theatre and film. 

Thumbnail for Angela Snyder Angela Snyder View Bio
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Angela Snyder

Dr. Angela Snyder is a Research Professor at Georgia State University and is the Director of Health Policy and Financing at the Georgia Health Policy Center. Her work includes research, policy evaluation, and technical assistance in program implementation for state- and community-level health projects. Her research uses both qualitative and quantitative data (including administrative databases) to study the health outcomes that result from the organization and financing of public health systems. Much of her previous research has been in child health and wellbeing focusing on evaluating policy options for increasing health insurance coverage for children and the quality of care received by children enrolled in public benefit programs. She has accomplished this work through a fifteen-year partnership with the Georgia Department of Community Health. Most recently, through a partnership with the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, she has applied her knowledge of Medicaid to co-lead the policy core of the Maternal Health Learning and Innovation Center and has also partnered on the Maternal Telehealth Access Project. Dr. Snyder received her Ph.D. in health policy from Yale University and her M.P.H. in health systems management from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., Dr. Snyder worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for nine years.

Thumbnail for April Ruffin April Ruffin View Bio
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April Ruffin

Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield
Medical Director

Dr. April Ruffin is a Fellow in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a Medical Director with Anthem as part of the Georgia Commercial Group. She has been specifically dedicated to the University Systems of Georgia since 2016. In this role, Dr Ruffin oversees and works very closely with the entire medical management and utilization team to ensure exceptional healthcare for Anthem members.

Dr. Ruffin graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Biology. She remained in state and completed medical school at the Medical College of Georgia. While in Medical School, Dr. Ruffin developed and passion for Obstetrics and Gynecology during her 3rd year rotation and decided to purse OB/GYN as a career. She completed residency at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. She then returned to the Atlanta area for private practice. Dr. Ruffin continues to practice Gynecology in the Atlanta area serving a predominantly indigent population. She has maintained a special interest in maternal and child health and served for many years on the Executive Leadership Team for the March of Dime, March for Babies-Downtown Atlanta Chapter.

Thumbnail for Ayodele Foster-McCray Ayodele Foster-McCray View Bio
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Ayodele Foster-McCray

Ayodele Foster-McCray is a medical anthropologist and the administrative and research associate for the Atlanta Doula Collective (ADC). Using her extensive training in qualitative methods and health communication, she currently works to support the ADC in its important work to expand and professionalize the Black perinatal workforce in Georgia.

Thumbnail for Cheryl G. Franklin Cheryl G. Franklin View Bio
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Cheryl G. Franklin

Cheryl G. Franklin, MD, MPH is an Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) and is a practicing gynecologist with Morehouse Healthcare (MHC). Dr. Franklin seeks to address, through research, advocacy, clinical services, and public policy, some of the nation’s health disparities, especially those which disproportionately affect African American women. She is an affiliate physician with the MSM Center for Maternal Health Equity, helping to guide maternal health equity projects, including as co-PI for Georgia Implementing a Pregnancy Outcomes Vision for Everyone (IMPROVE). Her other research interests include Obesity and Physical Inactivity; Cardiovascular Health for Women; HPV-Mediated Genital tract cancers; Mobile-health Technology and Telemedicine; and Global Health. Dr. Franklin is the immediate past medical director of MHC and is skilled at coordinating the delivery of multispecialty healthcare services in the 21st century, value-based, healthcare environment.

Dr. Franklin currently serves on the Peach State Health Plan Board of Directors and the March of Dimes’ Atlanta Market Board where she provides input to its Mission Impact Committee. She recently served on the Board of Directors for the Morehouse Choice Accountable Care Organization and Education System (MCACO-ES), a statewide collaboration of community-based healthcare partners that “take responsibility for the cost improvement, efficiency, quality and effectiveness of community and population health”. Cheryl is an alumnus of Stanford University, Columbia University School of Public Health, and Harvard Medical School.

Thumbnail for Hannah Cooper Hannah Cooper View Bio
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Hannah Cooper

Dr. Hannah Cooper holds the Rollins Chair of Substance Use Disorders Research and directs Spark, the Rollins Program on Substance Use Disorders. Her scientific expertise includes studying the social determinants of drug-related harms, with a particular focus on harm reduction and health equity. She applies multilevel, geospatial, and qualitative methods to explore these topics. Dr. Cooper co-leads TADA, a NIDA-funded pre-doctoral program designed to train doctoral students in applying advanced data analytics to studying and ending drug-related harms.

Thumbnail for Jane Ellis Jane Ellis View Bio
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Jane Ellis

Dr. Jane Ellis, Associate Professor in the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Emory University School of Medicine, is a Georgia native and grew up in the Brunswick/St. Simons area.  She attended Georgia Tech where she received her BS, MS and PhD.   She then attended medical school at Emory University where she received her MD, and subsequently pursued her residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Following completion of her residency, she pursued a fellowship in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Emory. She joined the faculty at Emory in 2005 and has been an attending physician on the Obstetrics service at Grady Memorial Hospital since that time.  She is actively involved in medical student, resident and fellow training and teaching at Grady and has won both teaching and research awards. She is the medical director for the Emory Regional Perinatal Center at the Grady Health System, which is the largest Regional Perinatal Center in the state and is responsible for the quality of obstetric care provided in the 40 county North Georgia regional area. Dr. Ellis is the OB Medical director for the M and I Grant, which is a grant funded by both federal and state money to ensure quality care for indigent pregnant women at Grady and the other regional perinatal centers.  She is a founding and current member of Georgia’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee and is actively involved in the implementation of local, regional, and state patient safety and quality initiatives such as the AIM patient safety bundles, the Georgia Perinatal Quality Collaborative and the Levels of Care initiative (House Bill 909). She is also active at the national level in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists committee on Maternal Mortality.  Dr. Ellis has particular interests in identifying causes of and reducing maternal mortality, patient safety and quality initiatives, and maternal/fetal outcomes in pregnant patients with medical comorbidities.

Thumbnail for Jennifer Barkin Jennifer Barkin View Bio
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Jennifer Barkin

Dr. Jennifer Barkin is a tenured Professor of Community Medicine and OBGYN at the Mercer University School of Medicine. She serves as the Vice-Chair of the Community Medicine Department and is also the Executive Director of the Center for Rural Health and Health Disparities, which is one of two rural-health focused NIH Centers of Excellence in the country. A University of Pittsburgh-trained biostatistician (M.S.) and psychiatric epidemiologist (PhD), she completed a postdoctoral scholarship at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Dr. Barkin’s intellectual property, the Barkin Index of Maternal Functioning (BIMF), was developed during her time as a doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh. The BIMF has been commercially licensed nine times, including for the clinical trials for FDA-breakthrough postpartum depression medication Zulresso®. She serves on the Steering Committee for the Georgia Clinicians for Climate Action and the clinical advisory board for Memora Health and Joyuus, Inc. In her former role as Chair of Corporate Sponsorship for Postpartum Support International, Georgia Chapter, she led a record-breaking fundraising effort for the Black Maternal Mental Health Summit. She has provided expert testimony before the Georgia House of Representatives Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Committee. She has participated on numerous expert panels including the New England Journal of Medicine’s Resident 360 Roundtable, the Global Women’s Leadership in Climate Panel, and the Mothers and Others for Clean Air Month panel.  

Thumbnail for Jennifer Stein Jennifer Stein View Bio
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Jennifer Stein

Jennifer Stein is the Executive Director for Prevent Child Abuse Georgia (PCA Georgia) a Georgia State University Research Center located in the School of Public Health. Jennifer joined PCA Georgia in 2021 after seven years of leading Prevent Child Abuse Habersham where she launched the Family Resource Center of Northeast Georgia. With more than two decades of management experience collectively in compliance operations, sales, and nonprofit management, Stein has a gift for discerning organizational capacity and implementing a collaborative vision for excellence. At PCA Georgia, Jennifer partners with the Division of Family & Children Services to lead the implementation of the state’s Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention Plan (CANPP). Additionally, as the fiscal agent for Strengthening Families Georgia (SFG), Jennifer serves on both the governance and strategic planning committees within SFG’s leadership infrastructure. She is trained and certified in Mandated Reporter Trainer, HOPE trainer, Parents as Teachers, Darkness to Light, Nurturing Parenting, Strengthening Families, National Family Support Network Standards, the Supervised Visitation Network’s standards training, and administrative training to elevate industry best practices. Additionally, Jennifer plays an integral role on Georgia’s Justice for Children Committee, Georgia’s Child Abuse Prevention Treatment Act Panel (CPSAC), Child Fatality Review Prevention Subcommittee, and Georgia’s Family Support Network; she previously served globally in the Supervised Visitation Network as a board member and officer.

Thumbnail for Jessica Dudley Jessica Dudley View Bio
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Jessica Dudley

Jessica Dudley currently serves as President and CPO of United Way of Hall County. She graduated with her Master’s in Social Work from Edinboro University. Jessica oversees the United Way One Hall and Unite Us initiatives. One Hall seeks to break the cycle of poverty in Hall County by understanding poverty from the perspective of Hall County’s most vulnerable citizens; working side-by-side with local churches and public, private and non-profit sectors to tackle the root causes of poverty. The Unite Us platform is a social care network that allows for electronic referrals and communication between non-profits and service organizations to connect local individuals and families to the social services they need in real-time to navigate life and find pathways out of poverty. Jessica also served as the project director of the Two Georgia Initiative, a collaborative effort with Lumpkin County government, nonprofits, businesses, and residents in the areas of indigent health care and equalization measures to address health equity barriers. In addition, Jessica is currently chair of the Northeast Georgia Health System Advisory Council, Salvation Army board member, and participated in the Lead Forward Executive Leadership Program with the North Georgia Community Foundation.

Thumbnail for Katie Kopp Katie Kopp View Bio
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Katie Kopp

Katie Kopp, MPH, is a Senior Manager with the Office of Women’s Health at the Georgia Department of Public Health. She manages the Maternal Mortality Review Committee, the Maternal and Neonatal Center Designation program, and coordinates programs for maternal mental health. Previously, Katie was the Director of Government Relations where she served as the liaison between the Department of Public Health and the Georgia General Assembly. She received her Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration from Clemson University and her Master of Public Health in Maternal and Child Health Policy and Leadership from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Thumbnail for Keisha Callins Keisha Callins View Bio
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Keisha Callins

Dr. Keisha Reneé Callins is a Georgia-trained physician and public health professional.  An Obstetrician/Gynecologist with Community Health Care Systems (CHCS), she is committed to providing healthcare services to rural and underserved areas in middle Georgia, with practices in Twiggs and Jones counties. Dr. Callins, the Joy McCann Endowed Professor, also serves on the faculty as a clinical professor at the School of Medicine in the Department of Community Medicine, a department she previously chaired.  She is actively involved in pipeline mentorship, translational research, legislative advocacy, and community engagement. Her personal mission statement is, “You may not be able to change the world, but you can change the world of everyone with whom you interact”.

Thumbnail for Kimarie Bugg Kimarie Bugg View Bio
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Kimarie Bugg

Dr. Kimarie Bugg, DNP, FNP-BC, MPH, IBCLC, is Chief Empowerment Officer (CEO) and Change Leader of Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, Inc. (ROSE), a nonprofit corporation developed in 2011, to address breastfeeding inequities and disparities in the African American community. Dr. Bugg previously worked for Emory University, School of Medicine, as a nurse practitioner, private practice pediatrics as an NP, as a perinatal nurse consultant for the state of Georgia, perinatal educator, hospital nurse administrator, special care nursery staff, bedside breastfeeding consultant and pediatric emergency clinic staff nurse. Kimarie was a board member of the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) and faculty for CHAMPS (communities and hospital’s advancing maternal practices) a Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. She also provided training for WIC Breastfeeding administrative staff and Peer Counselors nationally. Dr. Bugg completed a Community Health Leadership Program, within the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine that stressed best practices to provide global health equity and eliminating health disparities through action-oriented projects. Mrs. Bugg is married to Dr. George W. Bugg Jr. a neonatologist and they are the parents of five adult children.

Thumbnail for Kristina Lam Kristina Lam View Bio
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Kristina Lam

Kristina Lam, MD, MPH, is a medical epidemiologist at the Georgia Department of Public Health. She received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Emory University and a Doctor of Medicine from Mercer University. She completed an internship in Emergency Medicine at Emory University and residency in Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine. She currently serves as the lead epidemiologist supporting the Georgia Perinatal Quality Collaborative, the Maternal Mortality Review Committee, and other programs and initiatives led by the Office of Women’s Health.

Thumbnail for Kyesha Lindberg Kyesha Lindberg View Bio
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Kyesha Lindberg

Kyesha (Ky) Lindberg serves as Georgia Health Initiative’s Vice President of Community Engagement.  In this role, she leads and engages community partners and the Initiative team in the creation and implementation of philanthropic initiatives that advance health equity.  Lindberg brings nearly 20 years of experience leading local, statewide, and national efforts to address health disparities through policy, education, outreach, and coalition-building.  After spending her early career working in policy and education in Michigan, Lindberg came to the Southeast as Regional Lead, Early Childhood Partnerships for LENA Research Foundation. Most recently, she served as CEO of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia, a nonprofit organization which identifies and supports policy and practice solutions to increase maternal and infant health outcomes. Ky leverages her own experiences navigating maternal health inequities to ground her in this work and fuel her commitment to positive change.

Thumbnail for Laura Layne Laura Layne View Bio
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Laura Layne

Laura Layne, MSN, MPH, is a Registered Nurse with almost 20 years of experience in nursing and public health. She serves as the Women’s Health Director at the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and in this role is responsible for statewide programs to improve maternal and infant care including leading the Georgia Perinatal Quality Collaborative to implement equitable, data-driven quality improvement initiatives. She previously served as the Deputy Chief Nurse for Quality Improvement in the Office of Nursing at DPH and has a Lean Six Sigma green belt certification. She is a former Global Service Corps volunteer and has a strong clinical background in primary care and public health nursing. Since 2006, she has maintained an adjunct faculty and clinical instructor position at the Emory University School of Nursing and for the last five years has served as the Co-Director of the Farm Worker Family Health Program. Her educational background includes a dual Master’s degree in Public Health and Nursing and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Emory University, and a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Spanish from Auburn University.

Thumbnail for Laurisa Guerrero Laurisa Guerrero View Bio
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Laurisa Guerrero

Laurisa Guerrero, MPH, serves as the Executive Director of the Georgia Council for Recovery (GC4R). Laurisa has worked with multiple teams of peer recovery coaches providing support to individuals with substance use disorders in emergency departments, neonatal intensive care units, the Department of Family and Children Services, family treatment courts, and a recovery support warm line. Laurisa earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Kennesaw State University and a master’s degree in public health from Emory University. Laurisa is a person in long-term recovery from substance use disorders and has not felt the need to use drugs or alcohol to change the way she feels since October 2014.

Thumbnail for Lisa Carhuff Lisa Carhuff View Bio
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Lisa Carhuff

Lisa Carhuff, RN, MSN, Director of Program Development at HomeTown Health, has served the health care industry for over thirty-five (35) years with a primary focus in quality improvement, population health and patient safety leadership spanning the healthcare continuum. Prior to joining HomeTown Health in August 2019, she served at the Department of Community Health focused on improving access to quality health care for Georgia’s rural and underserved populations.

A native of rural Mississippi, Lisa received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Mississippi Medical Center and her Master of Science Degree in Nursing focused on Rural Populations from the University of Alabama.

Lisa has achieved certifications in Lean Sigma Green Belt, TeamSTEPPS Master Trainer, instructor certification in Youth, Adult and Public Safety Mental Health First Aid and is a Certified Compassion Fatigue Professional. Most recently she received certification as a Gallup Strengths Coach.

Lisa and her husband Carl, a retired Air Force fighter pilot, reside in Warner Robins, GA. Together, they have four grown children and two grandsons.

Thumbnail for Lisa Ehle Lisa Ehle View Bio
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Lisa Ehle

Lisa Ehle, MPH, has over 15 years of experience in healthcare quality improvement including leading statewide quality collaboratives and implementation of local and national initiatives to improve perinatal health, transitions of care, and hospital patient safety. Lisa is passionate about improving care for moms and babies and in 2011 she co-founded the Massachusetts Perinatal Quality Collaborative and led early elective delivery efforts at MA birthing hospitals. She went on to support several improvement projects focusing on avoidable readmissions and care coordination in California prior to relocating to Georgia. Lisa currently serves as the Sr. Manager for Maternal Quality Improvement within the Office of Women’s Health and leads the Georgia Perinatal Quality Collaborative’s (GaPQC) maternal initiatives. She received her bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation Sciences from Boston University’s Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and a Master of Public Health degree from Boston University School of Public Health.

Thumbnail for Lynne Hall Lynne Hall View Bio
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Lynne Hall

Lynne, RN, BSN, works for the Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) as advocate for patient safety and quality. She also represents GHA as a Maternal/Child Expert with the Georgia Department of Public Health. With over 30 years in the healthcare field, Lynne began her career as a Labor and Delivery and neonatal nurse for 18 years when Quality Improvement became her passion. Working directly with the DPH Commissioner Dr. Fitzgerald of the Georgia Department of Public Health in 2013, Lynne was instrumental in reducing Early Elective Deliveries in Georgia, improving the rate from 32% down to 2% utilizing her Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certification skills. Lynne has been a member of the Leadership Team for the Georgia Perinatal Quality Collaborative since 2012. She currently serves on the Maternal Mortality Review Committee. Lynne became a Master TeamSTEPPS Trainer in 2012. Teaching and sharing her knowledge are another one of her passions. She is also a Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. Lynne received her BSN from Emory University and graduated Cum Laude. She is also a cat lover with 2 cats of her own!

Thumbnail for Madison Scott Madison Scott View Bio
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Madison Scott

Madison Scott is the Director of Policy and Research at Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia. Receiving her B.A. and J.D. at University of North Carolina, she is passionate about bringing her legal background to maternal and infant health policy, data and equity.

Thumbnail for Makayla Walker Makayla Walker View Bio
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Makayla Walker

Makayla Walker is a 28-year-old woman from Covington, Georgia. She is a mother of two boys. Makayla became interested in maternal health after her own near miss experience and battle with severe postpartum anxiety. She is on a mission to change maternal health outcomes and bring awareness to the issues mothers face during the prenatal and postpartum period. Makayla is the founder of Postpartum Warriors and the author of the postpartum workbook and journal entitled “Everything Is Going to be Okay”. She enjoys spending time with family and learning new things.   

Thumbnail for Marsha Stringer Marsha Stringer View Bio
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Marsha Stringer

Marsha Stringer, RN, MSN, FNP-C, AGACNP-BC, has more than 25 years of healthcare experience as a RN and NP and works as a nurse practitioner for the Georgia Heart Institute. She is a Newtown Florist Club board member and the chairman of the African American Health Disparities Committee in which the mission is to bridge the health disparity gaps in their local black community through education and conversations. She is actively involved in her local community in areas focused on healthcare, education and homelessness.

Thumbnail for Padmashree Chaudhury Woodham Padmashree Chaudhury Woodham View Bio
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Padmashree Chaudhury Woodham

Dr. Padmashree “Champa” Chaudhury Woodham is Professor in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, MFM Fellowship Program Director at the Medical College of Georgia, and Director of the Regional Perinatal Center at Wellstar MCG Health. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Emory University in 2001. She then attended Emory University School of Medicine to complete her MD and remained at Emory to finish her Internship and Residency in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2009. Dr. Woodham then went on to complete a fellowship in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2012. She is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Maternal-Fetal Medicine. Dr. Woodham joined the faculty of Mercer School of Medicine at the Medical Center Atrium Health Navicent in Macon, GA as the Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine in August 2012, where she spent the first 10 years of her career. During that time, Dr. Woodham served numerous leadership roles, including Director of the Regional Perinatal Center, Chair of the Finance Council, and Vice Chair of the Atrium Health Navicent Leadership Council. Among her various honors and achievements, she received the ACOG/CREOG National Faculty Award. Additionally, Dr. Woodham serves as a reviewer and editor for numerous publications. She is a Medical Advisor for Georgia’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee. Dr. Woodham was the 2022-2023 President of the Georgia OBGYN Society.

Dr. Woodham provides high risk obstetric care to patients with a range of complex maternal and fetal conditions. She specializes in ex utero intrapartum treatment (EXIT procedures), fetal thoracoamniotic and vesicoamniotic shunt placement, ultrasound-guided fetal pericardiocentesis and pleurocentesis, percutaneous umbilical cord blood sampling, intrauterine fetal transfusion, as well as abdominal cerclage placement via transvaginal approach. Her research involves predictive markers for pre-eclampsia and techniques to better predict growth restriction on fetal ultrasound.

Thumbnail for Quantrilla Ard Quantrilla Ard View Bio
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Quantrilla Ard

Dr. Quantrilla Ard, PhD, is a champion of reproductive justice and maternal health disparities and serves as a Certified Patient Family Partner with MoMMA’s Voices through the Preeclampsia Foundation, and a Family Health Advocate through the H.E.A.R.T for Georgia program. She is an engaged member of the Healthier Generations Community Action Network and also volunteers with the March of Dimes Atlanta Collective Impact as Co-chair of the Dismantle Racism Workgroup and steering committee member. Currently, she uses her social media platforms to engage, educate, and inform others on her doctoral research and personal experience with preeclampsia. In addition, she often provides expert opinion on maternal health in various print and online media outlets. Lastly, Dr. Ard humbly stewards a grief and loss community and podcast, both entitled It’s All Grief to Me, as a coach and liason for individuals navigating their journeys. You can follow her and the work she is involved in at 

Thumbnail for Renée Byfield Renée Byfield View Bio
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Renée Byfield

Renée Byfield, MS, RN, FNP, C-EFM is a clinical leader, specializing in obstetric and newborn care. She is currently the co-author and Program Director for Perinatal Quality Improvement’s Implicit and Explicit Bias Program. She has been a nurse educator in both academic and hospital settings. At Temple and Drexel University Nursing schools in Philadelphia, PA. Ms. Byfield Clinical Assistant Professor in both undergraduate and master programs. She has held obstetric educator roles at St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical Center – New York Presbyterian. At Cornell, she became Patient Safety Administrator for the obstetric service where she coordinated quality improvement and perinatal patient safety initiatives and sat on the Perinatal Maternal Mortality Review Committee. She developed and launched interdisciplinary simulation drills and team training as an AHRQ TeamSTEPPS master trainer. As a Senior Manager of Clinical Program Development at AWHONN she authored and facilitated development of the Perinatal Orientation Education Program (POEP) and the Neonatal Orientation Education Program (NOEP), 3rd and 4th editions. Ms. Byfield authored the first edition of AWHONN’s Obstetric Patient Safety (OPS) Program focused interdisciplinary management of postpartum hemorrhage utilizing simulation-based training.

Thumbnail for Rose Johnson Rose Johnson View Bio
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Rose Johnson

Reverend Rose Johnson is the executive director of the Newtown Florist Club. Reverend Rose has lived and worked in the community for a long time. She served as the National Program Director for the Center for Democratic Renewal, and served as a National Program Director and board member for the National Coalition for Burned Churches. She is dedicated to ensuring that people are treated fairly, justly, and with human dignity.

Thumbnail for Seema Csukas Seema Csukas View Bio
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Seema Csukas

Dr. Seema Csukas is the Vice President, Chief Medical Officer for the Georgia Market at CareSource, a not for profit, multi-state health plan. She serves as a liaison to the state, healthcare providers and community organizations regarding clinical initiatives that impact improved quality care outcomes for members. Previously, Dr. Csukas was with the Georgia Department of Public Health addressing maternal and child health at the local, state and national levels with a particular focus on infant mortality, maternal mortality, birth to five populations and partnership development. Prior to that, she worked as a primary care pediatrician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta serving low income families and promoting community engagement in children’s health issues.

Thumbnail for Sekesa Berry Sekesa Berry View Bio
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Sekesa Berry

Sekesa Berry is a Birth Justice Activist and community leader for Black Birth Workers throughout Metro Atlanta. She honors many titles such as the Founder and Director of the Atlanta Doula Collective, Developer of the Maternal Health Consultant Training, a Lactation Specialist, and a Traditional Midwife and Author. However, there is one title that Sekesa raises above all others – Mother. She is a loving mother to four children and a community mother to many. She believes that mothers are the first teachers to their youth and therefore at the center of nation building. Respectively, for over a decade Sekesa has worked closely with several grass-roots organizations and local non-profit foundations in an effort to decolonize birth, curtail birth traumas, and restore natural birth rights. Through these efforts Sekesa continues to be a valued and resourceful woman within her community.

Thumbnail for Shaconna Haley Shaconna Haley View Bio
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Shaconna Haley

Shaconna Haley is a Holistic Intuitive Practitioner™, Perinatal Consultant, Certified Holistic Doula (CHD), Independent Sociological Researcher and Dean of Students for The Matrona Foundation’s Birthkeeper Program. She has over 28 years of experience in women and girls’ life course transitions, education, reproductive empowerment, mentoring/life coaching, and as a holistic doula/ birthkeeper. She is Founder of InnerLight Holistic Doula & Perinatal Consulting. Shaconna obtained a B.A. in Psychology from Hampton University, M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Ball State University and M.A. in Sociology and doctoral studies, specializing in Sociology of Birth and Race, Gender, Social Justice from American University. As a Holistic Prenatal & Birth Doula, she has received doula training from DONA International as a Birth Doula and the Matrona Center Holistic Doula Certification. In addition, Shaconna proactively serves Georgia and Atlanta Metro community as a contributor to the Georgia Postpartum Support International Advocacy Committee, Birth Equity Lab of The Center for Black Women’s Wellness (CBWW) & IHI and the Georgia Perinatal Quality Collaborative (GaPQC) Health Equity sub-committee, the Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA) Research Advisory Committee, HMHB Doula Access Work Group, 4th Trimester Collaborative and, at the national level the National Preeclampsia Foundation’s Racial Disparities Task Force. Most recently, Shaconna serves as Dean of Students for the Matrona Foundation Quantum Midwifery Birthkeepers Program.

Thumbnail for Shelley Spires Shelley Spires View Bio
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Shelley Spires

Shelley Spires is currently the CEO of Albany Area Primary Health Care, Inc. where she has worked for the past 22 years. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Georgia Southwestern University in Human Resource Management in 1998. From 1998 – 2000, Shelley served as Human Resource Director for America’s Counseling Service. In 2000, Shelley worked for Dooly County Medical Center until it closed in 2001. At that time, Shelley went on to serve as Human Resource Director for Albany Area Primary Health Care, Inc. With much support and encouragement from her boss and family, Shelley went on to pursue her Master’s of Science with a concentration in Health Care Management from Troy State University in 2003. She served as Human Resource Director until 2009 when she was promoted to Deputy Director for Albany Area Primary Health Care, Inc. In 2013, the CEO announced his plans to retire and the Board of Directors started a search committee for the next CEO. At that time Shelley applied and was offered the job effective September 2015.


  • 2015 Small Town America’s 100 Most Influential People
  • 40 under 40 for Dougherty County
  • 2013 Graduate of Leadership Albany
  • Chair of the Recruitment and Retention Committee for the Georgia Association of Primary Health Care, Inc.
  • Board member of the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved
  • Member of the Georgia Association of Primary Health Care Workforce Committee
  • Member of Rural Committee for the National Association of Community Health Centers
  • Member of the Legislative Committee for the National Association of Community Health Centers
  • Member of the Dougherty County Rotary
  • Member and Past President for the Georgia Rural Health Association
  • Member of the United Health Care FQHC Advisory Group
Thumbnail for Shontel Cargill Shontel Cargill View Bio
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Shontel Cargill

Shontel Cargill is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) whose passion for helping others, commitment to service, and dedication to being a change agent in the community led her to a professional career in mental health. She has over a decade of clinical and leadership experience. She is currently serving as a Regional Clinic Director for Thriveworks, a national mental health company. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Georgia and a Master of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Valdosta State University. She specializes in marriage and family therapy, couples therapy, and perinatal mental health.

Shontel has a lifelong commitment to moving the needle forward in perinatal mental health care as a survivor, advocate, perinatal mental health professional, and as President of the Georgia Chapter of Postpartum Support International. After experiencing the loss of her daughter and enduring birth trauma, she turned her pain into passion and purpose to help mothers and families who have experienced loss, Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs), birth trauma, infertility, and those who are impacted by maternal mortality in the state of Georgia. Her goal is to eradicate disparities in our healthcare systems, increase the number of trauma-informed trained providers in the state of Georgia, and improve access to healthcare for all.

Thumbnail for Stephanie Aristide Stephanie Aristide View Bio
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Stephanie Aristide

Stephanie received her Master of Public Health with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health from Florida International University. She has experience working with the National MCH Workforce Development Center as a Title V intern and a Fellow with the Association of State Public Health Nutritionists (ASPHN) program completing public health research, program planning, and data collection. Stephanie’s professional goals are to implement sustainable changes within health policy to improve quality care within the healthcare system and women’s reproductive health. Stephanie is the Policy & Advocacy Associate with Black Mamas Matter Alliance. In her role she supports BMMA’s current policy and advocacy portfolio with a focus on the state of Georgia and other southeastern state stakeholders including partner engagement. She tracks state legislation, and industry policies related to Black Maternal Health, assist with the coordination of programmatic activities such as the Black Maternal Health Week Campaign (BMHW), and the Black Maternal Health Conference and Training Institute (BMHC).

Thumbnail for Suchitra Chandrasekaran Suchitra Chandrasekaran View Bio
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Suchitra Chandrasekaran

Dr. Suchitra Chandrasekaran graduated Med school from Northwestern University, Residency in OBGYN at Ohio State University, MFM Fellowship and Masters in Clinical Epidemiology at The University of Pennsylvania, and then was on faculty for 6 years at the University of Washington on an NIH funded grant.

Moved to Emory as faculty in 2020 and am a physician scientist with an interest in maternal cardiovascular and metabolic health.

Thumbnail for Tamara Mason Tamara Mason View Bio
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Tamara Mason

Tamara Mason, MPH, CHES is a public health professional, consultant, and advocate who works to improve the health and well-being of marginalized communities. Tamara graduated from Brown University in 1998 with a B.A. degree in Health and Society, with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health. She earned a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree, with a concentration in Behavioral Sciences and Health Education in August 2003 from the Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University. She has held several research and program management positions within Emory University, including serving as the Director of a breast cancer education and outreach program for over a decade. Currently, Tamara is the Director, Maternal and Child Health Collective Impact, at the March of Dimes. In this role, she leads the efforts in Atlanta to reduce the inequities in preterm births and maternal mortality. Tamara is also the Founder and Principal Equity Consultant of Mason Consulting, Inc. LLC. Mason Consulting assists communities and organizations with improving their health outcomes and indicators via a health equity and social justice lens. Lastly, Tamara is also a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and certified labor doula.

Thumbnail for Tamika Lasege Tamika Lasege View Bio
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Tamika Lasege

Dr. Tamika Lasege is a pediatrician and neonatologist who has over 10 years of experience in Managed Care. Dr Lasege currently serves as Chief Medical Officer for Georgia Medicaid at UnitedHealthcare. Dr. Lasege leverages her formal education, personal and professional experiences, and her passion to enhance the lives of children and underinsured populations with quality healthcare through direct patient care and/or advocacy. Dr. Lasege’s clinical interests include Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, Value-Based Care, and health equity.

Thumbnail for Tembele Yangadawele Tembele Yangadawele View Bio
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Tembele Yangadawele

Dr. Tembele Yangadawele is originally from the D.R. Congo and has committed his life to take care of those who are in medical need with no prejudice or discrimination. He has provided primary care, including maternal care in the wonderful state of West Virginia over the past 8 years and hopes to do the same here in Georgia.

Thumbnail for Toby Goldsmith Toby Goldsmith View Bio
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Toby Goldsmith

Dr. Toby Goldsmith is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine. Since 1996, Dr. Goldsmith has worked as an academic psychiatrist at major medical centers in Ohio, Florida, and Georgia, specializing in the care of pregnant and postpartum women. She has a BS from Cornell University, an MD from the State University of NY at Buffalo College of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and did her residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. As Director of PEACE for Moms, Dr. Goldsmith’s work on the project includes everything from providing clinician consultations to working on budgets.

Thumbnail for Tosi Adeniyi-Miller Tosi Adeniyi-Miller View Bio
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Tosi Adeniyi-Miller

Tosi Adeniyi-Miller is a Senior Analyst, Maternal Child Health Advocate for Center for Black Women’s Wellness, and Co-founder of a women’s nonprofit, Criado Studios, dedicated to bridging the gap between women and wellbeing. Her commitment to fostering positive change is reflected in her analytical expertise and her role as a prenatal yoga instructor, with a mission to make the US a safer place to birth.

Thumbnail for Vanesa Sarazúa Vanesa Sarazúa View Bio
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Vanesa Sarazúa

Vanesa Sarazúa is Founder & Executive Director of Hispanic Alliance Georgia. As Executive Director, she seeks to improve the quality of life of Latinos in Georgia, promoting inclusion and multicultural understanding through collaborations, initiatives and services. Her extraordinary commitment to those Latinos living in poverty and suffering has been demonstrated in her long-standing work through CASA, working and advocating with Latino families and refugee resettlement, as well as working with migratory field working families by facilitating the Migrant Education team at Hall County schools. Her commitment is demonstrated through her facilitation and collaboration with more than 30 local partners in helping serve 10,000 families through the COVID crisis; reaching over 30,000 individuals through education and outreach in the community on topics like Census, COVID prevention and care, substance use, domestic violence, legal and housing resources and prevention. Ms. Sarazúa is the first Latina recipient of the 2020 Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce Silver shovel award, has received the Mundo Hispanico Organization award and is a graduate of Leadership Hall. She is married, mother of 5 children, and holds a BS in Social Work. She serves on the Executive Board of Greater Hall County Chamber of Commerce, Regional Ninth District Advisory Board, Human Services Delivery and Administration (HSDA) Community Advisory Board at the University of North Georgia, and serves on the Hall Family Connection Board. She is currently a member of the Georgia Maternal Health Task Force.

Thumbnail for Zachary Taylor Zachary Taylor View Bio
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Zachary Taylor

Dr. Zachary Taylor is the health director for North Health District, District 2, based in Gainesville. Dr. Taylor is also the interim health director for North Georgia Health District, District 1-2, based in Dalton. District 1-2 includes Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens, and Whitfield Counties. Originally from LaGrange, Dr. Taylor graduated from LaGrange College with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry. He earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia and his Master of Science degree from the University of Maryland. He completed an internship in internal medicine at the University of Kentucky and a residency in preventive medicine at the University of Maryland. Dr. Taylor served for 30 years as an Officer in the United States Public Health Service, including clinical practice with the Indian Health Service from 1983 to 1987 and public health practice with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other Health and Human Services agencies from 1989 to 2015. Dr. Taylor retired with the rank of Assistant Surgeon General. He and his wife, Joanie, live in Gainesville, Georgia.

The Georgia Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) has prioritized four areas for strategic action. These areas include Maternal Health Policy, Maternal Health Data, Education and Community Engagement, and Care Coordination and Resource Alignment. Strategies addressed in each of these action priority areas aim to eliminate disparities and achieve healthy outcomes and positive experiences for all pregnant persons.