Board & Staff, 2023
Meet Our Board Members
Nedra Wadsworth is the Owner & Executive Director of IAM Wellness Solutions, Inc. and one of the Principal Consultants of The Inclusion Group, Inc., with over 25 years of progressive experience as a Health Educator, Community Health Worker, and Patient Navigator.
In addition, Nedra serves organizations and businesses to connect their products and services to the community by designing, administrators, promoting, and implementing community engagement health strategies. She has cultivated relationships with the medical community, city & state health departments, state universities, community leaders, organizations, and the faith-based community to optimize project goals and output to address complex health issues, and deliver innovative programming strategies and proven results for her clients.
Rosamar Torres Martinez works as the Intervention Coordinator for the Louisiana Breast and Cervical Program (LBCHP). As a coordinator for program, she is responsible for overseeing the program’s community clinical efforts. Torres completed her Master’s in Public Health at Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Prior to her current role, she worked developing, managing and implementing nutrition and cardiovascular health education programs. She is originally from Puerto Rico and New Orleans is her home.
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.
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.
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.
Shamekia W. Sauceberry
Shamekia W. Sauceberry is a Senior Community Health Educator at Amerihealth Caritas Louisiana. Shamekia has been with Amerihealth Caritas Louisiana for 10 years. Shamekia was born and raised in Houma Louisiana; she is a 1997 graduate of H L Bourgeois High school. Shamekia attended Nicholls State University where she studied Child, Family, Consumer Science. Shamekia has recently finished training with Sista Midwife Productions and is now a certified Lactation consultant, Doula, Childbirth Educator, and a Healthy Louisiana Birth Ambassador. Shamekia is married to Mr. Ceon Sauceberry Sr. and has three wonderful young adult children. Shamekia is an active member of Community Action Network and
LACHON where she serves as a board member, she is also involved in many community projects. Shamekia’s favorite scripture is Proverbs 31:25. Shamekia’s personal philosophy is “Live everyday like it’s your last”. Shamekia enjoys making sweet treats on her spare time , which has lead her to open a small business by the name Chocolate Girl where each treat is made with LOVE.
Courtney Martin is the Director of Family Services at Crescent City Family Services with over a decade of successful experience in the maternal and child health field. Crescent City Family Services is a unique organization and the first to combine a WIC organization and a Healthy Start grantee, allowing for further services to be provided to families, utilizing collective impact to make a difference in their community.
Her passion in the maternal child health field began at the City of New Orleans Healthy Start Program one of the original 15 grantees where she was mentored and was able to over the years expand on her knowledge and will to help others. She has worked for and with other well-known organizations including Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine as a mentor and on several research projects including the GROW Consortium with support from the NIH/NIEHS as a lay community health worker serving as a community facilitator, community organizer, home visitor, and medical interpreter to improve health literacy. Also, currently a part of the pilot study team with Tulane University through funding from the NHLBI for the Maternal Community Implementation Project, to evaluate implementation strategies to deliver lifestyle intervention through the Diabetes Prevention Program in WIC Clinics to postpartum women with recent gestational diabetes diagnosis.
During the week you can find Courtney developing goals and initiatives to direct the company’s course, maintaining relationships with clients and community partners, as well as serving as a leader within the organization. She is a firm believer that it takes the community to build the community. Courtney is Texas born and New Orleans raised, and a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University with a Bachelor’s of Science.
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.
Tonya Freeman Brown
Tonya Freeman Brown, a 1991 Bachelor of Science in Biology recipient from Xavier University of Louisiana, is a 13-year breast cancer survivor. She has self published her story in her memoir “I Am Free: A Gateway of 111 Affirmations Healing Mind Over Breast Cancer.” Self-care and writing are mainstays in Brown’s life.
She is a Massage and Sound Bowl Therapist, as well as a coach for others seeking to liberate themselves through self care, professional, personal and spiritual development processes and experiences.
In 2019, the performance artist co-wrote and released the single “Runnin’” along with her
identical twin sister Sonya Freeman.
Recently, Tonya’s leadership landed her at the New Orleans Health Department (NOHD), where she serves as the Community Initiatives Lead. In this role, she engages her community in the awareness, recruitment and retention of New Orleans Medical Corps volunteers (NOMRC).
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.
Nanette Bester brings over 30 Years of Community Health Worker experience to the organization. She has spent the past 10 years as Director of Outreach & Enrollment with Southeast Community Health Systems. She also serves as the Advocacy Coordinator, a member of the Administrative Team, and the Disaster Response Team. At Southeast Community Health Systems, she works closely with individuals to obtain insurance through The Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, Medicare, and assists individuals with other SDOH. She also works in collaboration with various community partners to bring awareness to the community about the various services being offered at Southeast Community Health Systems. Prior to joining Southeast Community Health Systems, Nanette held positions as Community Health Educator, Community Liaison, Case Manager, and HR Director. In the realm of nonprofits, her area of expertise spans from being a director at a group home, developing programs for at-risk youth, working with elderly patients in community group homes, and currently serves as the Social Services Director for her local church. She is a faithful volunteer with The American Red Cross and The United Way.
During her off time, Nanette likes to travel and spend time with her family and friends. She is an avid sports fan and likes to attend various sporting events. Nanette lives in Petal, MS with her husband (Willie), daughter (Latasha), and her granddaughter (Sabreya).