Vanessa Nicholson DrPH, MPH
MOTHER Lab Unit lead
Dr. Vanessa Nicholson is a community health practitioner with over 10 years of experience in the field of public health. Her formal training in the field began during her undergraduate years at Mississippi State University's Longest Student health Center where she trained as a peer health educator. Shortly after, she began working at the Department of health while completing her Master's in Public Health degree at Jackson State University. During this time. she led a team whose work resulted in a statewide plan for addressing the needs of HIV positive Mississippians. Once she received acceptance to the University of Texas Health Science Center, she acquired several roles in research development and grant writing, while also developing partnership with the community via outreach initiatives. Dr. Nicholson completed her doctoral program in 2017 and is currently as Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine.
Nina Ashford, Dr.P.H., M.P.H.
Maternal and Child Health Policy Unit Lead
Dr. Ashford is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine. She is committed to health equity through innovative person-centered policy, public health programming, and evaluation. She has over 16 years of experience working across multiple sectors including government, academia, and community-based non-profits. Dr. Ashford’s dissertation examined the role of Patient Activation on clinical preventive service utilization among Medicare beneficiaries. She is currently the Deputy Director for the Program Alignment Group at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office. She also spent 7 years leading the State and Population Health portfolio at the CMS Innovation Center.
Linda Hudson, Sc.D., M.S.P.H., Sc.M
Community Engaged Research Unit Lead
Dr. Hudson is anl Assistant Professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine. The strength of her contribution has been in community-based practice, implementation, management and evaluation of programs designed to facilitate health-related behavior change by addressing individual and community level determinants of health. In her early doctoral work, although not published, was designed to examine chronic disease prevention behaviors among women specific to protective behaviors associated with Lupus (secondary data analysis from a national study), and prevention behaviors associated with Obesity (e.g. physical activity and nutrition) among women in an urban environment. Her most recent work has been in the community-based formative research designed to adapt a nationally tested curriculum addressing CVD prevention, for the express use of African-American Women. (Manuscript in process)
Shikhar Shrestha, PhD
Maternal and Child Health Epidemiological Data Unit Lead
Dr. Shrestha is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at the Tufts University School of Medicine. His research studies the opioid crisis, emphasizing prenatal opioid exposure and associated health outcomes, opioid overdose events, and harm reduction. He received his Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico in 2019 - his dissertation research examined post-discharge healthcare utilization in infants with a neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome. Dr. Shrestha's current research primarily focuses on the nexus of accessibility and acceptability of substance use treatment using Geographic Information Systems.
Education & Training Unit Lead
Along with charisma and leadership, Sundé brings to the Center of Black Maternal Health and Reproductive Justice over a decade of experience in providing strategic guidance and advice to senior leadership, maximizing budgetary resources, expanding partnerships, and improving operations. It has been said of Sundé that “…she has a buoyancy and positive, forward-thinking outlook; Sundé takes the initiative to identify problems and devise solutions, she organized the day-to-day operations to Swiss clock precision and her communication skills of are a high order.”
Sundé’s strong background in business, the pharmaceutical industry, and academia fuels her passion for public health and life science research, improving operational efficiency and shaping organizational strategy and culture. Her career has afforded her to work with companies and institutions such as Pfizer, Boston University, Boston Medical Center, and Harvard University.
Sundé received her BA in Biochemistry (Eastern University) and holds a Master of Business Administration, with a concentration in Pharmaceutical Business (University of the Sciences Philadelphia), and she has also studied law. She is a Certified Life Coach, Notary Public, and a Certified NFL Contract Negotiator.
Judith Jeanty, MPH, is from New Jersey where she received her Bachelor of Science from Montclair State University and her Master's in Public Health with a concentration in Community Health and Prevention from Drexel University. She was previously a program management officer at the New Jersey Department of Health where she managed statewide doula funded programs. Her research interests include Maternal and Child Health, health disparities and reproductive health specifically amongst Black women and low-income communities. She is passionate about increasing access to doula services and achieving health equity. She is the project manager for the Be a Mom R01 study and served as the 5th annual Black Maternal Health conference coordinator working directly under Dr. Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagha.
Center Administrative Assistant
Ja'na Baylor hails from Chicago, IL and received her BA in Theatre Art Therapy from DePauw University. She currently serves at the Administrative Assistant at the Center for Black Maternal Health and Reproductive Justice, an Administrative Coordinator in the DEI Cannabis arena and in her community as a Full-spectrum Doula at the local birth center, specializing in Abortion support.
Throughout her academic career, she's facilitated art workshops for youth with diverse abilities and contributed to community-based conversations on the use of art therapy as a tool to decolonize language and ability barriers that exist within institutions. She's eager to intersect her creative toolkit and Administrative experience with her passion for Black and Brown birth equity.
Isatta specializes in content creation, strategy and operations. She believes that the key to growing digital communities is to combine thoughtful writing, compelling visual content and proper strategy informed by insights. Isatta has a keen interest in amplifying the stories of overlooked populations and is passionate about creating messaging that helps drive resources and opportunities to these communities.
Isatta obtained her BSBA in Marketing and MA in Communication from Suffolk University and has worked across different industries including non-profit, health care, education, podcasting and influencer marketing.
Marline Edmond MA, MCHES
Social Media and Marketing Consultant
Marline D. Edmond is a first-generation Haitian- American Health Communication Consultant with ten combined years of expertise in health and human services, health tech, social media, strategic organization, community engagement, and stakeholder management.
She earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Education with a concentration in Public Health from Montclair State University in 2014; became a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) in 2015; earned a Master of Art in Health Communication & Strategic Organization from Rutgers University-New Brunswick in 2018; then became a Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) in 2021.
Marline is a second-year doctoral student at Howard University Cathy Hughes School of Communications (CHSOC) Communication, Culture, and Media (CCMS) program. As a critical cultural health communication scholar, she challenges systems of oppression that prevent the African diaspora and under-represented communities from achieving equitable health information and access to quality care.
Furthermore, her research includes the media framing and representation of Haitians in public health crises, the use of technology in crisis communication, and how mobile health (mHealth apps) can improve Black women’s health and reproductive justice (e.g., Breast cancer, Black Maternal Health, Uterine Fibroids, and Endometriosis).
Senior Administrative Assistant
Tonia Rhone is a third-year MD student at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. Tonia attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and earned her BS. Ed in Health Science Studies. Choosing a non-traditional path to medicine, she attended Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and earned a master’s degree in Medical Physiology before applying to medical school in 2019.
Tonia spent her gap years as a Clinical Research Coordinator and Assistant at the Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland, OH. Her role in research focused on evaluating novel multidisciplinary care interventions and barriers to implementation in interventional cardiology. This experience further ignited a passion for combating racially disparate outcomes in medicine, with a specific interest in improving existing institutional practices and developing new interventions.
Recognizing the need for this work in maternal healthcare, Tonia is committed to being at the forefront of advocacy and translational research. Tonia also serves as a part of the Black Maternal Health Leadership Team at Tufts University School of Medicine, led by her mentor Dr. Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagha.
Kimberly Pothemont is an undergraduate student at Tufts University, planning to major in Biochemistry. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, where she attended Prep for Prep, a leadership development program that incorporates a rigorous academic component to prepare students for placement in leading independent schools. Through this program, she attended The Hotchkiss School for high school. Kimberly’s previous role in clinical research was focused on the presence of medical trauma in chronically ill patients.
There she studied how adaptive strategies in healthcare models can be implemented to create an inclusive and supportive environment. Her collaborative work led to her first published research paper. Kimberly spent her summer as an Operations Intern at CityBlock Health, researching how racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities impact healthcare delivery. Kim is thrilled to be a member of the MOTHER Lab Leadership team as a dedicated contributor to maternal health research and hopes to gain a stronger understanding of Black maternal health disparities while actively participating in eradicating them.