Cicely Allen

Leadership Institute Advisory Committee

Cicely Allen is a Program Associate with Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association. After working in the insurance industry for 13 years, she changed career paths and began providing program support to organizations  that service and uplift marginalized communities. Committed to racial justice, Cicely currently serves as a Racial Equity Fellow with the Detroit Equity Action Lab. She is a graduate of Henry Ford College and Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts. Cicely enjoyed gratifying breastfeeding experiences with both her children and developed a passion to advocate for black breastfeeding mamas that lacked support in their breastfeeding journey. She is a proud Detroiter where she resides with her husband and their two children.

Dr. Gail C. Christopher, D.N.

Leadership Institute Advisory Committee

Dr. Gail Christopher is an award winning social change agent with expertise in the social determinants of health and well-being and in related public policies. She is known for her pioneering work to infuse holistic health and diversity concepts into public sector programs and policy discourse. Dr. Christopher recently retired from her role as Senior Advisor and Vice President at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, where she was the driving force behind the America Healing initiative and the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation effort. Dr. Christopher also served as Kellogg’s Vice President for Program Strategy and worked on place-based programming in New Orleans and New Mexico. In 2015 she received the Terrance Keenan Award from Grantmakers in Health. She chairs the Board of the Trust for America’s Health. In 2019, Dr. Christopher became the Executive Director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity. 

She is the visionary for and architect of the WKKF led Truth Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) effort for America. TRHT is an adaptation of the globally recognized Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) model. TRHT evolved from the decade long WKKF America Healing, racial equity and racial healing initiative, designed and led by Dr. Christopher. Over the last ten years she has had responsibility for several other areas of foundation programming. These include, Food, Health and Well-Being, Leadership, Public Policy, Community Engagement and place-based funding in New Orleans and New Mexico. 

In August of 2017, Dr. Christopher left her leadership position with WKKF to launch the Maryland based Ntianu Center for Healing and Nature; and to devote more time to writing and speaking on issues of health, racial healing and human capacity for caring. She is currently Chair of the Board of the Trust for America’s Health. 

Gail is a nationally recognized leader in health policy, with particular expertise and experience in integrative health and medicine, social determinants of health, health inequities and public policy issues of concern to our nation’s future. Her distinguished career and contributions to public service were honored in 1996 when she was elected as a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. In 2007 she received the Leadership Award from the Health Brain Trust of the Congressional Black Caucus for her work in reducing racial and ethnic health disparities; in 2009 she was named a Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) Honorary Fellow – the highest recognition given to a non-SOPHE member, who has made significant contributions to health education and to public health; in 2011 she was awarded the “Change Agent Award” by the Schott Foundation for Public Education; in 2012 she was the recipient of the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) John C. MacQueen Lecture Award for her innovation and leadership in the field of maternal and child health. Most recently in 2015 she was the recipient of the Terrance Keenan award for Grantmakers in Health. She is chair of the board of the Trust for America’s Health. 

Gail has more than 30 years of experience in designing and managing national initiatives and nonprofit organizations. She brings extensive knowledge and experience in creating a comprehensive approach to well-being and is nationally recognized for her pioneering work to infuse holistic health and diversity concepts into public sector programs and policy discourse. 

A prolific writer and presenter, Gail is the author or co-author of three books, a monthly column in the Federal Times, and more than 350 articles, presentations and publications. 

Her national print and broadcast media credits are numerous, and include The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Dallas, Times, National Journal, Essence, “Good Morning America,” “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” National Public Radio and documentaries on PBS and CBS. 

Prior to joining the foundation, Gail was vice president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies’ Office of Health, Women and Families in Washington, D.C. There, she led the Joint Center Health Policy Institute, a multi-year initiative created to engage underserved, racial and ethnic minorities in health policy discussions. Previously, she was guest scholar in the governance studies department at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. and executive director of the Institute for Government Innovation at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She has additional experience at the National Academy of Public Administration, Howard University School of Divinity, Americans All National Education Program and Family Resource Coalition of America. She has also launched, led and managed three public commissions. Under her sponsorship, the landmark Dellums Commission research into conditions faced by young men of color produced policy recommendations to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities. 

Gail holds a doctor of naprapathy degree from the Chicago National College of Naprapathy in Illinois and completed advanced study in the interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in holistic health and clinical nutrition at the Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities at Union Graduate School of Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Lakisha Cohill

Leadership Institute Advisory Committee

I’m Lakisha Cohill, a 34 year black mother, photographer, and activist from Birmingham, Al. I’m a mother first to a beautiful, exceptional, and marvelous 16 year old little girl, who actually saved me from a life of destruction, and for that I owe her everything. Life definitely hasn’t been a set of Crystal stairs, but I’m grateful for every obstacle because they’re what transformed me into the person, mother, and artist I am today. My childhood began in Shelby County, where I spent some of  my adolescent years, and ended in Birmingham, Alabama where I transformed from a broken child into a phenomenal woman, and have resided for 25 years now. My passion for art began at the age of 6, the world around me was so ugly, dark, and depressing, so as a child I allowed my imagination to run away with me. I saw the beauty in everything, the poverty stricken area I grew up in, my mother who never really showed me any love, and the 5 family members who stole my childhood. I always had a different perspective of life, and the flowers growing from the concrete represented me, I just wanted to show the world that no matter how bad things seem there’s always beauty in every ugly situation. I attended Lawson State Community College where I obtained an Associates in Arts, and continued my education at UAB where I obtained a BA in Telecommunications. I’m currently attending UAB earning my bachelor’s degree in science majoring in psychology to figure out how to break the general cycle of mental illness within the black community. I started my Cinematography company in 2016, and the reason it was started wasn’t to gain financially. I began my company as a way to raise money to fund the mentoring program I started the same year. I started a program where I teach at risked children the art of photography, and film to keep them off the streets, in school and focused. In exchange for a donation, no matter the amount I would provide a media service. It also allowed me to provide photos for family at a great price who simply couldn’t afford them. why I became a photographer, so I could create beauty from every ugly situation, and when I accomplish it the joy I feel is indescribable. I just wanted to change the world through art by changing every bad situation into a beautiful moment! Outside my love for children, I also grew a love for mothers, parents, and families, especially the ones from my community. The stereotypes that are placed on us, and by us I mean Black people are depressing, degrading, and I was on a mission to change that. I created a #MyBlackIsBeautiful Movement in 2017, and began creating content that showed black people do it to. I highlighted black doctors, lawyers, actors, married couples, black fathers raising their children, and my favorite black moms nursing. In 2017 I shot my very first breastfeeding piece of 9 black moms breastfeeding their babies and it went viral. Since then my work has been featured on major platforms such as Huff post, People Magazine, Popsugar, BET, YAHOO,Essence, Ebony, and many more. The goal of my work isn’t to be famous, but to change the world by telling stories through my lenses, and creating beauty from ugliness. Hope you enjoy it just as much as I enjoyed creating it.

Jaye Clement, MPH, MPP

Leadership Institute Advisory Committee

Jaye Clement is the Director of Community Health Programs and Strategies with the Office of Community Health, Equity and Wellness at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. She is responsible for aligning the System’s commitment to its communities by engaging new and existing partners around issues of community health and managing metrics and data sets to continuously improve strategies that contribute to engagement and community health improvement strategies. Besides working to align the HFHS Community Health Needs Assessment and the corresponding Implementation Plans for each of its 5 hospitals, Jaye also staffs the Detroit Regional Infant Mortality Reduction Task Force and holds administrative oversight for their nationally-recognized and award-winning Women-Inspired Neighborhood Network: Detroit program. She also directs a Community Health Worker Hub for the health system, and serves as the lead for Community Outreach Assessments with the Henry Ford Cancer Institute’s Cancer Committee. 

Jaye earned her MPH in health behavior and health education from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and her MPP from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, both in 2005. In 2017, she completed a three-year fellowship in the inaugural class of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Community Leadership Network. She also works closely with the Detroit Community-Academic Urban Research Center (URC) as a Community Policy Advocacy Trainer, serves on the board of directors for the Michigan Community Health Worker Alliance, and is an advisory board member for Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association. Jaye is a mother of two boys, wife and life-long Detroiter. 

Jennifer A. Riley-Collins, J.D.

Leadership Institute Advisory Committee

Jennifer A. Riley-Collins, is a native of Meridian, MS and a resident of Clinton, MS. She is the youngest of the seven children of Joe H. and Bobbye N. Riley. 

She is a 1987 Magna Cum Laude graduate of Alcorn State University. In 1993, she earned her Masters of Criminal Justice Administration from the University of Central Texas in one year while serving on Active Duty as a primary staff officer. In 1997, she returned to Mississippi after receiving a merit based scholarship and in 1999 received her Doctor of Jurisprudence from Mississippi College School of Law, graduating a full semester ahead of her classmates. She has completed 12 hours toward a Master of International Relations. Jennifer has also been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by Alcorn State University and the Mississippi Institute of Higher Learning 

Ms Riley Collins is the current County Administrator for Hinds County, overseeing the daily administration and operations of the largest and most populated county in the state. She is accountable to the Board of Supervisors for the management of almost 900 county employees and a budget and assets exceeding $200 million dollars. 

Jennifer was the 2019 Democratic Nominee for Attorney General. Her candidacy garnered national recognition and support. Despite having not previously run for any governmental office, she secured the second highest number of votes on the Democratic ballot. 

Jennifer is an attorney licensed to practice in both state and federal courts. Her legal career has primarily focused on ensuring the constitutional rights and civil liberties of all persons are protected. Because of her passion she was was the dedicated former Executive Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, a Senior Attorney with Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Juvenile Justice Fellow at Mississippi Center for Justice. Jennifer has also been an active trial litigator focused on Medical Malpractice and Pharmaceutical Litigation. 

Jennifer has studied and written about issues impacting issues of justice and equity in Mississippi to include issues related to criminal justice reform, juvenile justice, poverty, LGBT rights, and voting rights. She has authored/co- authored a number of professional publications and training materials to include Mississippi, An Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Representation in Youth Court Proceedings, Published by the National Juvenile Defense Center – Fall 2007, Handcuffs in Hallways, Published by the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law – Winter 2017, Exploring Racial Equity for Infants and Toddlers: The Case for Justice from the Start, Published by the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law – Spring 2017, and Striking the Right Balance: An Analysis of Body Worn Cameras in Mississippi Published by the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi – Winter 2018 . 

In 2018, Jennifer was recognized by the National Bar Association’s Women Lawyer Division as a Hidden Figure. She is a 2014 finalist for the MS Commission on Status of Women Woman of the Year for the Law Enforcement/Military category. In 2008, she was nominated for recognition as one of Mississippi’s Most Outstanding Women Lawyers. 

Jennifer retired from the United States Army in June 2017 as a Colonel after 32 years of distinguished service as a Military Intelligence Officer. She served a total of 14 years on active duty and 18 years as a member of the U. S National Guard and U. S. Army Reserves. Her duties include deployment to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as stateside deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Her last assignment was Military Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for the Army Manpower and Reserve Affairs responsible for Army Protection and Insider Threat Mitigation at the Pentagon. Other field officer positions include Battalion Commander of Detachment 8, Strategic Intelligence Command at the Naval Air Station in Fort Worth where she provided support to the Defense Intelligence Agency; Command Inspector General of Power Projection Platform Camp Shelby, and Brigade Intelligence and Security Officer for the 177th Armored Brigade. She has been thrice been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, awarded the Joint Service Medal, and thrice awarded the Army Commendation Medal. She also has received the Global War on Terrorism Service Ribbon and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Bronze Distinction. 

Jennifer is a member of the Mississippi Bar Association, the Magnolia Bar Association, Mississippi Women Lawyers Association, the National Bar Association, the NBA Women Lawyers Division, Jackson Revival Center Church, Jackson, MS (serves as Legal Ministry Leader and as a member of the Usher and Greeters Ministry, Leadership Jackson, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She has been a Racial Diversity Trainer for Leadership Madison. 

Her greatest role in life is that of mother of her three sons, Joseph, Jonathan, and Joshua and grandmother of Travis Michael and Drew Riley.

Dr. Nastassia Davis

Leadership Institute Advisory Committee

Dr. Nastassia Davis is a licensed registered nurse with over 15 years’ experience in maternal & child health and perinatal nursing. To compliment her nursing background, she became an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in 2009.  Most recently, Nastassia was appointed to assistant professor of nursing at Montclair State University.  Over her career Nastassia developed a passion for eliminating disparities in black infant and maternal health.  In 2018 she went on to found a nonprofit, the Perinatal Health Equity Foundation where she serves as the executive director.  Through the nonprofit Nastassia established Sistahs Who Breastfed, a breastfeeding support group for black women which operates in several NJ cities.  She has a Doctorate of Nursing Practice from American Sentinel University, a Masters of Science in Nursing education from Mercy College, and a Bachelors of Science in Nursing from the college of New Rochelle,  She is active in several committees and organizations including the Association of Women’s Health Obstetrics and Neonatal Nursing and the Black Mamas Matter Alliance.  Nastassia’s research and clinical interest include implicit bias/racism in healthcare, breastfeeding in the black community, obstetrical violence, high risk OB, and reproductive justice.

Kiddada Green, MAT

Leadership Institute Advisory Committee

Kiddada Green is the founding executive director of Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association (BMBFA). In this role, she is responsible for the organization’s vision, administration, operations and program development. Before fully transitioning into her role with BMBFA, Kiddada spent much of her early career with Detroit Public Schools. She often attributes the development of her leadership to her years with DPS, where she served as both a literacy coach and instructional specialist. 

As a community organizer, Kiddada advocates for racial justice in maternal child health. She has spearheaded the formation of the Black Breastfeeding Caucus and is the co-creator of both Mommy- Friendly Detroit and Black Breastfeeding Week. Kiddada serves on several committees and special projects including the US Breastfeeding Committee COVID-19 Infant Young Child Feeding Constellation and MI Department of Health & Human Services Maternal Infant Strategy Group. 

A thought leader and field builder – Kiddada put forth recommendations for The U.S. Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding and the State of Michigan Breastfeeding Plan. Her work has been published internationally in Breastfeeding Medicine and she has been featured in several noteworthy publications, including Ebony Magazine, Womens eNews and The Root

An avid learner, Kiddada is a proud esteemed member of the inaugural class of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Community Leadership Network Fellowship Program. She is a social entrepreneur, successfully completing a business accelerator fellowship with Ascension Health. In 2020, Kiddada launched Ask Kiddada, a leadership consulting firm. 

A Spartan and a Grizzly, Kiddada holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Michigan State University and a Master’s Degree in the Art of Teaching from Oakland University. She is a proud and devoted wife, mother and advocate.

Dr. Tonce Jackson

Leadership Institute Advisory Committee

Dr. Toncé Jackson is the Health Equity Manager for the PHFE WIC Program in Los Angeles, CA. She has 13 years of progressive experience at the WIC Program. As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Lactation Educator and Health Equity Manager, she is passionate about innovative, community and place-based solutions to eradicate disparities and improve health outcomes for women, infants, children, and families. In 2015, she co-created CinnaMoms, a modern breastfeeding and parenthood support brand and intervention for African American/Black families at the PHFE WIC program. CinnaMoms provides a space for families to reimagine motherhood and to reclaim breastfeeding. Toncé is also the Chair of the National WIC Association’s Maternal Mortality Task Force and member of Los Angeles County African American Infant and Maternal Mortality steering committee. She is interested in maternal mortality/morbidity prevention and reduction, especially among Black women. Toncé is a recent graduate from her alma mater, Cal State University, Los Angeles, Doctorate in Educational Leadership program. She also holds a Master’s degree in public health from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She plans to use her advanced degree to further research for equitable maternal and infant health and breastfeeding solutions. 

Dr. Arthur R. James, MD, FACOG

Leadership Institute Advisory Committee

Dr. Arthur R. James is an Obstetrician, Gynecologist, and Pediatrician who has been involved in the care of underserved populations for the entirety of his medical career. He has been the Medical Director of two different Neighborhood Health Centers (FQHC-site), Medical Director of Bronson Methodist Hospital’s Women’s Care Clinic, and founding/Medical Director of Borgess Medical Center’s Women’s Health office. In each of these efforts, he has been instrumental in expanding services to indigent patients, patients using drugs, HIV positive pregnant patents, and to teens. He is also the founder and former Medical Director of the Kalamazoo County Fetal and Infant Mortality Review team and, for many years, lead Kalamazoo County’s efforts to reduce infant mortality. He is a former Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Pediatrics at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Co- Chair of the Ohio Collaborative to Prevent Infant Mortality, and Senior Policy Advisor to the Ohio Department of Health (2011-2016). 

He has also been a member of the Health and Human Services Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality, a former member of the Board of Directors for the National Healthy Start Association, former board member for the Centering Healthcare Institute, Inc., former Executive Director of The Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and is currently co-chair for the Center for Disease Control and March of Dimes Health Equity workgroup, Senior Consultant to First Year Cleveland (a Cuyahoga County community-wide effort to decrease the infant mortality rate and eliminate racial disparities in birth outcomes), Evaluator for the Indianapolis Healthy Start Project, and co-principal investigator for the national AIM-CCI program. 

Dr. James has received numerous local and national awards for his advocacy to achieve equity in birth outcomes. He is also a frequent national speaker on infant mortality, especially regarding the national racial disparity in birth outcomes.

Monifa Lindo

Leadership Institute Advisory Committee

Monifa Lindo is a BMBFA Mommy Ambassador who is passionate about preserving life and fostering dignity. She has volunteered with the organization in various projects and is motivated to help reform maternal infant health injustices. She has worked in the insurance industry for ten years. Lindo has over a decade of journalism and marketing experience with a diverse set of client groups. She is also curator for Foodie for the Mind, Body and Spirit.

Aza Nedhari, LM, CPM, MS

Leadership Institute Advisory Committee

Aza brings more than 18 years of experience in community organizing, reproductive justice, and program development.  She is a licensed Certified Professional Midwife, Family Counselor, and the Founding Executive Director of Mamatoto Village. 

Aza is a fiercely dedicated woman who believes that by promoting a framework of justice, the reduction of barriers in maternal and child health begins to dissipate; giving rise to healthy individuals, healthy families, and healthy communities. 

Aza is pursuing her Doctorate in Human Services with a concentration in Organizational Leadership and Management with an eye towards the sustainability of people of color led-organizations and cultivating innovative models of perinatal care delivery in high needs communities.

Aza is a mother to three spirited and gentle children. 

Victoria Reese, MPA

Leadership Institute Advisory Committee

Victoria is the founder of ChangeWorks LLC ~ Coaching & Nonprofit Consulting a company specializing in building human and organizational capacity. With 30 years of mission-driven work encompassing equity, social justice, and expanding economic opportunities for vulnerable populations, Victoria has been at the forefront of many community development issues. She has developed many programs, obtained a federal charter to operate a credit union, and spent 4+ years focusing her energy on creating strategies to decrease disparities in maternal and infant child health. She has a niche for moving programs from inception to fruition. She is actively engaged in the community serving on numerous agency boards, committees, coalitions, and grantmaking bodies. Victoria has experience with organizations at every stage of the nonprofit lifecycle and specializes in individual and peer coaching, organizational development, strategic planning, board development, fund development, and program development strategies. Victoria holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Western Michigan University and has two passions: Building capacity within nonprofits and awakening the purpose in women enabling them to walk boldly and authentically in the world. She is a certified professional coach, and has wide-ranging facilitation instruction from Thinking Collaborative and the Interaction Institute for Social Change and holds a certificate in fund raising management from The Fund Raising School.

Whitney Robinson

Leadership Institute Advisory Committee

Whitney is always finding herself immersed in a problem space she “has no business being.” Whether it means becoming a self-taught leather craftswomen to reduce leather waste or hosting jam sessions for black and brown women to plot their maternal victories, she enjoys jumping feet first into real world problems. With over 10 years in tech, as a product manager, and mother of 4 lil wild humans, the more unpredictable the challenge the better. Follow he maternal health work at The-Renee.com