The Every Woman Southeast Initiative could not happen without support from partners at the local and regional level. We appreciate the time and energy people from all nine states have provided as we’ve taken our first steps forward in developing a partnership. We welcome help from anyone who is interested in volunteering his or her time and expertise.
If you are interested in getting involved in our initiative, please click on the >get involved link.
You can also contact Sarah Verbiest, leadership team coordinator, at 919-843-7865.
SARAH VERBIEST, Co-Founder and Director
Why I started Every Woman Southeast: If the definition of insanity is trying to achieve different results by doing the same thing, then I created EWSE to break the mold and make real change happen in the South. All women deserve the right to live productive, safe, healthy and happy lives – and to provide this for their families. We have a lot of challenges in the South in reaching that goal, and need to connect and activate the energy and ideas of leaders and influencers to overcome them. Since there don’t seem to be enough seats for “regular” women leaders at the “power” table – we will just make it a whole lot bigger!
My passion: Speaking truth to power, making way for innovation, and elevating diverse women’s voices into decision-making spaces
What pushes my buttons: assumed privilege, microaggression, people who say “no”
More about me: As a public health social worker, I’ve spent the last 20 years working to improve the health of women and babies in North Carolina and the southeast. I’ve taken on this challenge from every angle I can – as a mom, program leader, strategic planner, educator, lobbyist, fundraiser, connector, systems-thinker, manager, researcher and partner. Every Woman Southeast let’s me bring this all together with laser focus on key drivers for change.
Ask me about: Leadership development, preconception health, marathon training, partnership building, Girl Scouts, boundary spanning, parenting a teenager with ADHD and strategic planning.
ERIN MCCLAIN, Program Manager
Why I’m excited about working with Every Woman Southeast: I love helping create a space where professionals who care about Southeastern women and their health can connect and collaborate to tackle the thorny issues affecting women and work smarter with our region’s limited resources.
My passion: Learning more about women’s lives and experiences; fostering the development of the next generation of women leaders; ensuring the voices of the marginalized cannot be ignored by those in power.
What pushes my buttons: Apathy, inequity, meanness
More about me: I’m a bio-mama, an adoptive mama, and a maternal and child health program manager who has worked with women and girls and the people who serve them in the US and abroad for the last 15 years. I’ve developed, implemented, and evaluated programs on a wide variety of topics, including perintatal tobacco cessation, reproductive life planning, and infertility prevention, as well as humanitarian relief, civil society development and conflict transformation. Every Woman Southeast allows me to bring these experiences together to work for health and wholeness for women in the South.
Ask me about: Quality improvement and systems change, preconception and interconception health, qualitative research methods, ballroom dancing, forced migration, conflict transformation, punk music, Girl Scouts.
ANGELA AINA, Program Manager
Why I’m excited about working with Every Woman Southeast: I like working with professionals across the southeast region in sharing best practices in maternal and reproductive health, and in programmatic and research collaboration.
My passion: Uplifting and incorporating womanist perspectives into the work of women’s wellness and community healing and building.
What pushes my buttons: Hypocrisies, Lack of Integrity, Cultural Appropriation and Cultural Oppression.
More about me: I have over 7 years of experience with strategic planning and capacity building with non-profit and community based organizations working in the areas of sexual and reproductive health education and advocacy; and have worked with agencies on projects focusing on HIV/AIDS, Cervical Cancer, and general reproductive health for women, adolescents and African-immigrant populations.
Ask me about: Strategic Planning, program management, organizational capacity building, health equity, reproductive justice, black and African feminisms, social justice movements in the global south, dance styles, singing, and fashion.
LEADERSHIP TEAM MEMBERS
Our leadership team is still growing and evolving. Our current structure ensures communication back to state teams by having at least one liaison person from each state as a member of the leadership team. We will continue to recruit members as we move forward with specific initiatives over the next year.
CAROL BRADY, Florida
Carol is inspired by the women she has worked with over the last 25 years in maternal and child health – both fellow staff as well as mothers in the community. Her passion is women's health and supporting women in childbearing and beyond. As Carol notes "Everyone loves babies – not so much the moms – I love the moms!" Women's health is linked to women's empowerment and their ability to achieve their goals. For Carol EWSE is a vehicle for translating ideas into action. It is a forum for cultivating the next generation of leaders in women's health. In her spare time, Carol admits to being an HGTV addict and loves to sew home décor.
CINDY CHAFIN, Tennessee
Cindy is inspired by the thought of being able to make a difference in this world in spite of her being only one person. She says, “I may only be one person and cannot save the world, but I sure want to make a difference to the people and lives that I can reach. My passion is and has always been better health for everyone – ‘health’ in every sense of the word – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.” She believes that everyone has a right to be informed about health and health-related issues – that nobody should be disadvantaged by a lack of knowledge about a given health-related topic or matter. EWSE provides her a network of people that embody her same ideals for better health and more education.
CHARLENE COLLIER, Mississippi, Tennessee
Charlene is a physician who is passionate about facilitating positive changes within health systems to improve birth outcomes. She is a native of New Jersey but now lives in and loves Mississippi and is committed to being ‘part of the solution’ to the health challenges women face there. Being a new mom has only increased her motivation to help more women in Mississippi have healthy pregnancies and babies. Being part of EWSE is a source of energy, support and encouragement.
JUANITA GRAHAM, Mississippi
Juanita has a passion for both public and congregational health nursing. She fully recognizes the role of the community and faith in health and well-being and volunteers monthly at the free medical mission sponsored by her church. She loves to write, but doesn’t limit herself to research manuscripts and health care articles. She is a published poet and wishes that she had more time to devote to her passion.
PAIGE HALL SMITH, North Carolina
Paige is the director of the Center for Women's Health and Wellness and professor of Public Health Education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is also the founder and co-director of the Breastfeeding and Feminism International Conference. If you have a question about breastfeeding advocacy give her a call! As a native North Carolinian, Paige finds renewal in Appalachian music, strength in Unitarian Universalism and joy in the love of family.
TRACY HAMILTON, North Carolina
Tracy's passion is making sure that moms having equal access to quality healthcare services and community resources to have healthy babies. She works tirelessly to uplift and strengthen communities by protecting the health and well-being of moms and their babies. For Tracy, EWSE means connecting with professional colleagues to collaboratively work together to address the unique health needs of women and children in the southeastern states - our neighbors, friends, family members, associates, etc. In her opinion, we all bring our diverse skill sets and experiences to the table to help improve the health of women. She believes that we are obligated to help and serve others. Even though she doesn't have any pets, Tracy loves watching Animal Planet, especially shows like Tanked! She loves spending quality time with her husband and their two young sons.
PIIA HANSON, Texas (Washington DC)
Piia loves food and family! She comes from a long line of clinicians that provided healthcare to the underserved and was raised in the South where every life event is celebrated with a meal. With this, she has a lifelong mission to help ensure that families have access to resources, like food and health care, which help them to thrive. She is positive, energetic, has one of the best laughs you’ll ever hear, and has a knack for connecting the right people to each other.
JESSICA HARDY, Alabama
Jessica is passionate about empowering women and girls to lead healthy lives and loves being able to do so. EWSE gives her a platform – a network – for outreach to the women around her. In her spare time, she is an active yoga instructor and a massage therapist, and loves reading, meditating, and spa days for women.
LYNETTE HICKS, Tennessee
Lynette is committed to empowering people and encouraging them to be the best at whatever they aspire to do. Her commitment to working with children and families have garnered her the reputation of the HUGS lady. She encourages and assist any woman who is pregnant or has a young child to connect with the community resources available to them. Her children’s saying when she is out and about town is “Always on the job”. Lynette eats, sleeps and breaths preconception health. She is truly a before, during and after woman.
VERONICA KAY FREEMAN, North Carolina
Kay is inspired by creating possibilities from impossible situations. Her passion is to reach for the greatest potential in everyone she meets. In doing so, she evokes her own excellent potential for critical thinking and problem solving for the greater good of many underserved populations. Kay is most drawn to helping those diverse, high risk populations who lack a voice for themselves. Advocacy is the tool she uses to create tangible voices for the most vulnerable. Helping those who can’t help themselves is the greatest reward of all. EWSE means accessing the opportunity to further inspire and be continually inspired by like-minded individuals who share a common mission to improve the health and wellbeing of families across the southeastern states. She believes in health equity and the importance of preserving life, culture, history and serving diverse communities suffering from social, economic and health disparities. Kay is the most content when she is travelling and listening to the sound of wheels turning on pavement and smells the fumes of gasoline burning. As a former over the road trucker and wife of a die-hard truck driver, her goal is to one day return to the ultimate tranquility of continual road trips!
ELIZABETH MOORE, North Carolina
Originally from Canada, Elizabeth has lived in the Raleigh area of North Carolina for the last four years. She is passionate about advocating for women’s rights, promoting women’s health, and abolishing inequity in the South. In her spare time she is learning how to knit and how to parent her new infant daughter, mostly by trial and error.
MONICA D. MURPHY, North Carolina
Monica chose to pursue a career a Public Health during her time working as a Cardiac Surgical Technologist. It was during this time, that she recognized the challenges and barriers that can negatively impact a person's ability to change their health behaviors and lifestyles to achieve better health and well-being. Over the past 8 years, Monica has worked across local, state, and federal levels of public health in programs that include Family, Youth, and Infant Health; Global Health; Health Equity; Chronic Disease; and Community Engagement. Monica's public health sweet spot is in designing and implementing community-based programs and developing public health/healthcare partnerships. In addition to considering herself a "Public Health Gladiator", Monica enjoys being light on her feet as she twirls around the dance floor doing Detroit Ballroom Dancing and Chicago-style Stepping.
DEMETRA PEOPLES, Alabama
Demetra has worked for the state of Alabama as a Licensed Social Worker for twenty-two years. She became a social worker because she feels passionate about the values articulated by the National Association of Social Worker’s Code of Ethics: service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence. Her passion is to help women embrace their inner strength, and encourage them to live an authentic, healthy, and more fulfilled life. Her goal is for women to live in complete wellness – strong and healthy in mind, body, and spirit.
KWELI RASHID-HENRY, North Carolina
Kweli is passionate about contributing to and passing on a legacy of resilience and fostering intergenerational conversations about beliefs in what makes women of color healthy, wealthy and wise. She believes that communities can and should offer support to its members and acknowledges the synergizing efforts of EWSE across the South that uplift women in the community. She says, “Our coalition uses its resources in a mighty way to serve women in the community with some of the worse outcomes. This allows us to flip the statistics on its head and focus on our collective strengths, thereby allowing those most affected by poor health to create and direct change in [their] own lives.” Relating to many others in the South, she would rather be hot than cold and rained out than snowed in, and ultimately intends to be a support to every woman in her life.
LORI REEVES, Florida
Lori is a regional program director and manager of quality improvement initiatives, and absolutely loves working on collaborative projects to improve birth outcomes. Since she was a teenager, she was bothered by the suffering of people who have less. She says, “I’ve never understood how we can allow a single child to go hungry or live without health care.” Since her tour of duty in the U.S. Navy, she has focused her passion on maternal and child health and has never regretted it for a moment. She helped bring a $2 million vitamin settlement grant to the Florida Chapter of the March of Dimes, which was used to implement a four-year preconception health campaign that included vitamin distribution to women of childbearing age. In addition to women and children, she loves reading science fiction novels and invites everyone to ask her about her book collection!
D’ANN SOMMERALL, Alabama
D’Ann is passionate about helping those patients with an atypical, story: homeless individuals, drug abusers (present and former), indigent patients and female patients who need GYN care. She connects with those who have struggled with life and believes that she has been blessed to be a nurse practitioner to provide medical/emotional care to her patients. EWSE has rekindled her passion for teaching young women about caring for themselves - for their present and their future and their future children. She LOVES teaching family nurse practitioner students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her spare time is spent being “Queen” to her grandchildren, as they are her princesses!
KIM SUMPTER, Georgia
Kim is the Director for Healthy Babies for United Way of Greater Atlanta and loves what she does. As an advocate and mother of 4 children, she understands the needs of women and their families. Employed by one of the largest non-profits in greater Atlanta, she understands the South and why the work of EWSE is so important. To her position and the Coalition, Kim brings more than ten years’ experience in extensive leadership and management skills to the community impact work. She has supervised and managed both early education and maternal child health focused initiatives and is responsible for managing private foundation, federal, and state grants. She has provided oversight to multiregional investment processes and has been skillful in identifying, cultivating and sustaining strategic partnerships to develop a collaborative network of individuals and organizations. Her mantra is “anything for the cause”, the cause of women that is!
LUCY WILLMS, South Carolina
Lucy envisions the South to be a place where women’s voices are heard, where justice prevails, and where everyone has an equal chance at a healthy future. She loves that EWSE promotes the health and wellbeing of all women and their families. When she’s not busy being a social-working do-good warrior, she can be found hanging off a rock cliff, perusing a farmers market, or exploring a new place on the map with her brand new baby, her partner in adventure, and her dog somewhere in tow.
NATASHA WORTHY, Georgia
Natasha is inspired by many things, but the most inspirational aspects of her life are her faith and her family. She says, “People are my passion, each encounter helps me become a better person and I pray that I have that same effect on others.” Interestingly, she also has a deep love for pickles!
KIM WYCHE-ETHERIDGE, Tennessee
Dr. Kim is inspired to conquer what often seems to be the unconquerable. She says, “I love when people say it can't be done, or it can't be done by you! This inspires me to succeed.” She also believes that everyone should have access to the opportunities that have historically been reserved for some – that everyone deserves the privilege to succeed and excel. Finding a way to do this is her passion, and EWSE provides a platform for her to hear the voices and make a difference in the lives of women of all ages.
AMANDA ZABALA, North Carolina
Amanda is inspired by the miracle of life. As a child she was fascinated by pregnant bellies, and has since been dedicated to them. She is passionate about fighting to eliminate health and health care disparities and is working to ensure the health of all moms, babies, families and communities. EWSE represents for her a Coalition of professionals who all share the same passion for life, and Amanda is thrilled to be connected to a network of such powerful voices. Outside of her professional duties, she spends all of her free time with her daughter – coloring, going to the park, reading books, watching movies, and gazing at the stars.
JULIE ZAHARATOS, Georgia
Julie is passionate about looking closely at the interplay between environment and health. She says, “The social factors that influence how successful we are in life are fascinating.” For this reason, and because she had a preterm baby herself, she works at the March of Dimes Georgia Chapter to promote healthy pregnancies. Every Woman Southeast is a place to come together and better understand what influences us and how we can work together. There are stark disparities in health and success in the southeast and with this forum we work together to uproot negative cycles and improve lives. She may be a Yankee by birth but she loves southern food, music, culture, the movie “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?” Southern Gothic literature, and dancing barefoot at musical festivals!