Meet Our Board Members
Merri Roussell is no stranger to the Community. She is a Community Health Worker (CHW) who has an extensive history (15 plus years) of working with families and communities statewide. Her role with Louisiana Healthcare Connections as a Community Health Service Representative affords her the opportunity to build community relationships, educate while connecting members to resources, as well as provide enrichment to the community through health and educational events.
Merri is a crucial partner in collaborating with schools locally and statewide to bring awareness to anti – bullying. The program No One Eats Alone, teaches 5th graders about inclusion and isolation. The goal is to impart best practices for the students to be respectful of their peers. Merri’s community service entails health fairs, resources fairs, feeding the hungry, volunteering at nursing homes, building strong collaborations, and the list goes on.
Merri works tirelessly to impact the community’s health outcomes. She ambitiously strives to increase her audience reach. She serves on several community coalitions and is honored to serve on the LACHON Board.
Charles Haywood is a native and resident of New Orleans, LA who has provided twenty years of advocacy, community service, social service and HIV prevention/education work in and around New Orleans and Tampa, FL. He has had the opportunity to coordinate and facilitate focus groups promoting healthy behaviors, build support systems within the LGBTQ community, provide case management services, lead peer education projects, and work as a PrEP Navigator for local clinics. Charles is currently working with Women with a Vision as the Ending the Epidemic (ETE) Program Associate. As the ETE associate, he works diligently to create necessary conversations that address stigma, racism, homophobia, transphobia and ways to reduce risks/ HIV transmission within communities across Louisiana.
Catherine Gray Haywood is the current chair for Louisiana Community Health Outreach Network, and she has worked for Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC) for 20 years. Catherine received her BSW from Southern University at New Orleans. Catherine has worked for the last 30 years advocating for individuals living below the poverty level, as well as, working to educate communities about health disparities such as HIV/AIDS, breast and cervical cancers, other cancers, obesity, and active living,
She is one of the founding members of Women with a Vision, a non-profit organization that has been in existence for the last 30 years. She provides structured mentoring for community members about the PRC’s activities. She also implements training programs for community residents, barbers, stylists, and health care providers around health issues. Catherine provides information on webinars that present community-based participatory research for organizations and neighborhood associations.
In the past she has worked with people leaving prison in the pre-release program through the Community Service Center. She has served as Co-Regional Director for the South region for the National Community Committee (NCC), a member of the Executive Board of the Louisiana Cancer Control Partnership, and a member of the leadership committee for the American Cancer Society’s COFFEE Program. Catherine was one of two Community Health Worker Core Consensus (C3) Project fellows in the nation and she is a National Association of Community Health Workers board member.
Dana Rae Feist is a clinical research coordinator with over fifteen years of cancer prevention and control experience, particularly working with underserved populations in the areas of clinical trials, community outreach, and patient navigation. She chaired the Louisiana Healthy Communities Regional Coalition, which helped to improve the health and quality of life of Louisianans by mobilizing communities through implementing policy, systems, and environmental changes in order to build healthy communities. A major highlight of the coalition was advocating for the passage of Smoke-free NOLA, which eliminated smoking in bars and casinos in New Orleans. Ms. Feist successfully supervised a patient navigation program, implemented and enhanced targeted outreach efforts, and coordinated statewide partnership efforts. As a professional development coordinator, she monitored and organized professional development activities for staff and the public. In her current role, as coordinator of Cancer Care Delivery Research (CCDR), she works with oncology staff in developing and implementing recruitment strategies, as well as, manages the day to day activities of CCDR studies including problem solving, communication, and protocol management.
Gail Sherman is a Community Outreach (CHW) Coordinator. She has over 15 years of experience in working with under-served populations in the areas of housing, homelessness, and health. She serves as a liaison between clients/patients to ensure that the lines of communications remain open, help clients and homeless Veterans to maintain employment stability, increase skill levels, and achieve great self-determination. She assists patients with obtaining access to health care, employment and other community resources. Gail is adept at explaining a variety of community services, and programs to homeless Veterans and broader community representatives in a clear and accessible manner. Gail also conducts health education and holds health fairs at community events. Her goal is to earn a reputation as an engaging, empowering, trustworthy, honest, and effective Community Outreach Coordinator who delivers services and resources for her clients/patients.
Ashley Wennerstrom is an Associate Professor at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans. She has been a proud ally of the CHW workforce for over a dozen years. She focuses on CHW workforce development, policy, and community-academic partnered research. Ashley is a co-founder of LACHON. She is also a founding board member and the chair of the policy committee for the National Association of Community Health Workers.
Meredith Sugarman, MPH, is an ally to community health workers. She conducts research on policies related to workforce development for community health workers. Through continued partnerships with the CDC and the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD), she has led the initial development of a public-facing, searchable database of CHW-related documents as a resource for state health departments, researchers, CHW organizations, and CHW allies. She also partners with community and academic stakeholders to develop and implement an array of community- partnered participatory research projects to address health disparities in New Orleans.
Yolanda Michelle Criss is a Louisiana native. She is married to Dallas Criss Sr. and is the mother of one son, Dallas Criss Jr. She graduated from Scotlandville Magnet High School in 1984 and continued her education at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Yolanda obtained a Bachelor degree in Psychology and further, a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling.
Over last 30 years, Yolanda has been working tirelessly servicing the underserved communities/populations within the great state of Louisiana. However, within the last 8 years of her career she has been the manager of the Community Education and Outreach team with AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana. This role has been especially fulfilling to her as she has always believed in a holistic approach to healthcare, which is the exact approach AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana takes.
Yolanda has a wealth of knowledge and experience and lends her expertise to a plethora of community organizations. To name a few, she works with Volunteers of America -Greater Baton Rouge, Department of Children and Family Services, and Catholic Charities. Additionally, she serves on the several boards, Louisiana Community Outreach Network (LaCHON), South Baton Rouge Kiwanis and Metro Health Board of Directors. Throughout all of her accomplishments and all that she has endured, she credits all of her success to God.
Dr. Torrie T. Harris, MPH is the Health & Equity Strategist for the New Orleans Health Department.She also serves as Adjunct Faculty at Xavier University of Louisiana, in the Public Health Sciences Department, teaching Master of Public Health students. In her role as Equity Strategist she works to incorporate a racial equity framework into the the structure and function of all programs of the Health Department. Dr. Harris has dedicated her 20 year career in public health to addressing health disparities, community development and community organizing, Dr. Harris is involved with a number of community coalitions to empower communities to advocate for their own health and to encourage economic opportunity.
Dr. Harris also oversees the Department's Trauma-Informed Schools Collaborative working with community partners to train school administrators and counselors makes schools safe spaces for children and communities. Dr. Harris also partners with Making Connections, a black men and boys mental health project funded by the Prevention Institute. She also serves on the Xavier University La. Clinical And Translational Science Center, Community Advisory Committee. Dr. Harris' primary career goal is to undue racism within the public health and healthcare systems to assure equitable health outcomes for all people.
Dr. Harris obtained her Bachelor degree in chemistry at Xavier University of Louisiana, Master of Public Health at Tulane University School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine and her Doctorate in Public Health with a concentration in Health Behavior and Health Systems & Services Management from the University of Kentucky, College of Public Health. She is also a recent graduate of the Health Impact Partners, Health Equity Awakened Leadership Institute and the United Way Nancy Marsiglia, "We the People" course, studying the U.S. Constitution.
Victoria Williams, a Licensed Master Social Worker is a highly dedicated, passionate mother of three girls. She is also a Doula, Maternal Child Health Consultant, Perinatal Community Health Worker, and a Program Coordinator. She has an extensive background within each of these fields, and fully enjoys being able to support, guide, and enrich the lives of families within the community so they can live prosperously during such transformational times.
Victoria was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and always admired to become a valuable resource that families and new mothers could rely on. She earned a Bachelor's in Social work from the Miles College in Fairfield and later moved to New Orleans in 2011 to complete her Master's in Social Work from Tulane University. In Addition, Victoria has an impressive inventory of prestigious training certificates, including focuses on infant mental health and perinatal mood disorders.
Throughout her career, Victoria has held various incredible roles. She was a Labor and Delivery Social Worker at Tulane Medical Center, a Family Service Coordinator for the Recovery School District Early Head Start program, part-time navigator for Ednavigator, and was a Program Manager for several non-profit organizations within New Orleans, aiming to raise awareness around healthy eating, breastfeeding and donating breast milk. In fact, she was so successful that she collected over 1,000 gallons of breastmilk to distribute to NICU babies all across the state of Louisiana. She is also stamped as the woman who created the state's first farmers market incentive program for WIC and breastfeeding moms during her time as a WIC Program Manager at Market Umbrella.
Though Victoria has evidently made her lasting positive mark in the world, she has no plans on stopping any time soon. She currently serves as a board member for the local Postpartum Support International (PSI) chapter and is a member of the Louisiana Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review (LaPAMR) board. Furthermore, Victoria is avidly working on three new projects, with a mission to improve birth outcomes for those in Louisiana: Sista Midwife Productions, New Orleans Breastfeeding Center-The Perinatal Community Health Worker (PCHW), and Birthmark Doula Collective. From training programs, building community support, and providing support services, she is on track to unleash amazing birth outcome results for families across the state.
With her goals on improving others' lives through her dedication to being a wonderful wife and mother to her fully breastfed children, it is clear that Victoria is a powerhouse in everything she does. From lactation support, home visits, community program management, to being the gentle hand supporting and encouraging new moms as they birth their child, she is the pinnacle representation of what empowerment means. She has already demonstrated her love for leaving the world a better place than she found it, and it is exciting to see what positive transformation she will induce next.
Though Victoria loves what she does, when she is not working, you can find her spending time with her family, taking beautiful day trips, enjoying the Farmer's Market, and being a proud plant mom.
Dr. Donisha Dunn is a board certified Psychiatrist and Internal Medicine physician. She is also a certified yoga teacher through Swan River Yoga. She received her undergraduate degree at Louisiana State University and went on to Louisiana State University Health Sciences in New Orleans, where she obtained her medical doctorate. Dr. Dunn subsequently completed a dual residency in Psychiatry and Internal Medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois where she served as Chief Resident.
After completion of residency training, Dr. Dunn returned home and joined the faculty at Tulane University as Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine in the departments of both General Internal Medicine and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She served as a primary care provider, psychiatrist, and Director of Mental Health at Tulane University Community Health Center (TUCHC), an NCQA tier 3 Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH). At TUCHC, Dr. Dunn introduced psychiatric services as part of the Patient Centered Medical Home.
She developed an innovative model of care that fully integrated mental health into the primary care setting. She implemented quality improvement initiatives and research on addressing mental health and the collaborative care model. During her time at Tulane she incorporated the Combined Internal Medicine and Psychiatry Resident clinic into the medical home, and supervised Primary Care track-Internal Medicine Residents as well as those in the Combined Psychiatry/Internal Medicine residency program. She is grateful that her faculty appointment also supported her service with St Anna’s Episcopal Church Medical Mission, whose mobile unit provided free acute medical and psychiatric care for some of the most underserved people of New Orleans.
In 2014 Dr. Dunn-Lombard began private practice and consulting through Integrated Care and Consulting LLC with a continued interest in promoting integration of mental health and primary health care systematically. She became the consulting psychiatrist for JenCare Neighborhood Medical Centers in New Orleans, a primary and specialty care practice for seniors. At JenCare she lead a newly established Behavioral Health Center of Expertise to develop quality improvement initiatives across their markets nationwide for the treatment of mental illness in the primary care setting. Since 2015 she has served as the psychiatrist for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) New Orleans supporting sustainable team-based models of care where mental health and primary medical care are both prioritized. Since 2019 she has been the consulting psychiatrist for PACE Greater New Orleans, an all-inclusive primary care organization serving frail older adults with the aim to keep them living in their homes and in the community for as long as possible. She currently provides curbside consultation for primary care providers through a relationship with Quartet Health. She has provided care for hospitalized patients in the Greater New Orleans area at Oceans Behavioral Hospital in Gretna and Seaside Behavioral Center in Algiers.
She has served on various governing boards supporting the wellbeing of the community. She served on the Governing board for the NOLA Partnership for Mental Health. This partnership brought together patients, caregivers, providers, advocates, and academics to find evidence-based solutions to the problems facing people with mental illness. She has recently joined the governing board for The Louisiana Community Health Outreach Network(LACHON), an association for community health and outreach workers whose mission is to support community health workers while advocating for improvements in community health. She serves on the governing board for Santosha Village whose aim is to reduce homelessness and contribute to a greater sense of wellbeing and community among those who are unhoused.
She has participated in research and training development as part of the leadership in various programs, including REACHNOLA’s Mental Health Infrastructure and Training Project during her time at Tulane, a disaster recovery model focused on developing mental health services and capacity-building within a disparities-focused, community-academic participatory partnership framework in Post-Katrina Greater New Orleans. More than 400 community providers from more than 70 health and social services agencies participated in the trainings. This was a partnered development of a training and services delivery program involving physicians, therapists, community health workers, and other clinical and non-clinical personnel to improve access and quality of care for mental health services in a post-disaster setting. She has participated in the development of trainings and community engagement for Resilient Baton Rouge, which provides funding, training, tools and a workspace for collaborators to focus on disaster-related complications through a partnership of community members, health services providers, community organizations, government, and academic participants that can encourage and support improved mental health services for disaster-impacted communities.
Dr. Dunn has dedicated her career to the wellbeing of our community with an eye on physical, mental, spiritual, and social aspects of health. She has offered free yoga classes throughout the community, such as at Broadmoor Arts and Wellness Center, and now on Facebook Live, as a result of the COVID19 pandemic. In various capacities, she will continue to do her best to contribute to the happiness and wellbeing of our community and the reduction of suffering for all.