HIVE 2019-2020 Cohort

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2019-2020 COHORT

Angie Brown


Angelita (Angie) H. Brown spent most of her formative years in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  She was drawn to the great city of New Orleans, Louisiana where she attended Dillard University receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, then matriculating to Texas A&M-Commerce campus where she completed her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. Currently, she is an ABD PhD student studying in the field of Health Psychology. Now residing in New Orleans, LA for the last 35 plus years, she is now proclaiming to be a native by default.  She is a proud mother of three amazing young adults and wife to a wonderful husband.

Angie is currently honored to be the HIV Testing and Prevention Manager for the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies (IWES).  She has amassed more than 25 years in the HIV arena serving in various capacities in areas of both prevention and intervention. Prior to IWES she has worked for many noteworthy Community Based Organizations and Universities; including Planned Parenthood-Gulf Coast where she served as the Director of Education, Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI), LSU Health Sciences Center –School of Nursing, Great Expectations (Healthy Start), Our Lady of Holy Cross College and the University of New Orleans.  Throughout her tenure, Angie has served on several local community coalitions, collaboratives and Boards.

Brittany Hunt


Brittany Hunt graduated from Vassar College in 2012 with a double major in English and Women's Studies. She went on to receive her Masters in Social Work from Tulane School of Social Work in 2014, and has since been working as an advocate for sexual assault survivors across the state. She currently works doing systems-level advocacy at the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault. She also works doing client services at the New Orleans Abortion Fund.

Ashley Hill


Ashley Hill is a native New Orleanian, parent, Certified Lactation Counselor, and Holistic Doula. She is a Member-Owner of Birthmark Doula Collective and the founder of The Uptown Doula. Through her personal experiences as a teen mother, Ashley has developed a passion for assisting other young parents as they navigate through pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond. As a single working parent, she understands the importance of community support and is committed to assisting others through the core values of self-love, acceptance, truth, vulnerability, freedom and power! Ashley currently serves as The Advocacy and Outreach Coordinator for Birthmark Doula Collective, Lactation Counselor for The New Orleans Breastfeeding Center and Community Doula for the Take Care Program in the Scottlandville area of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

She co-facilitates a prenatal and postpartum education and support group for homeless and human trafficked parents under the age of 22. She is a member of the Maternal & Child Health Coalition in New Orleans, the Louisiana Chapter of Postpartum Support International, a contributor to New Jersey based Parent Advocacy group, Honor Your Mamas and serves as a Parent Advisor for the Aspen Institute’s Postsecondary Achievement for Parents Initiative. Ashley is currently providing accessible lactation, postpartum and advocacy services to persons of color, and working towards improving reproductive and parental rights for pregnant and birthing persons who are carcerally involved. As the parent of a 15-year-old, Ashley has committed herself to supporting, educating, advocating for and celebrating parents of every age and circumstance!!!

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

-Lilla Watson

Caressa Chester.


Caressa supports Foundation for Louisiana’s Climate Justice Program and their work funding, power-building and connecting coastal communities. She is passionate about addressing the ways that environmental destruction continues to marginalize those that are already vulnerable. By addressing inequity at its root, she believes we can strategize about the future with community at the forefront. It is most important to Caressa to support communities of color, namely women, to live with dignity and power. As a newly trained doula, she hopes to incorporate principles of equity and empowerment into a reproductive justice framework at the foundation.  She believes that nature is a space of healing, empowerment and wellbeing, and is interested in all of the ways appreciation for, preservation of, and adaptation with water and land can be achieved. When she is her best self, Caressa is throwing pottery, tenderly caring for her many houseplants, dancing, riding her bike regularly and baking.

Crystal Scrantz


Crystal Scrantz has worked for Faith House since 2004.  Throughout her career, she has worked with both adults and children who were affected by domestic violence.  Crystal is committed to providing the very best services to survivors and continually strives to improve the local response to domestic violence in our community. Crystal is the founder and chair of the Lafayette Domestic Violence Council, Lafayette’s High Risk Response Team and Fatality Review Panel. She was instrumental in the creation of the Family Justice Center of Acadiana.

Debbie Hollis


Debbie Hollis is a multimedia artist, nonprofit consultant, and Progressive community activist. Originally from rural Winn Parish, she has lived in Shreveport/Bossier since 1990. After a successful career in the private and nonprofit sectors, she received her degree in Art & Visual Culture from Centenary College in 2004. She is the past President of the National Organization for Women - Shreveport/Bossier Chapter, and serves as the Administrative Director of Works In Progress Louisiana (WIPLA), a nonprofit organization that provides business development services to creative professionals who live/work in North Louisiana. This year, Debbie is planning to run for the Louisiana State Senate District 37 seat in Caddo/Bossier Parishes. She is married to Alan Dyson, and has two adult sons.

Keisha Bishop


Keshia Bishop was born and raised in Opelousas, LA. She moved to Baton Rouge in 1998 where she spent eight years working as an Organizer for American Federation of Teachers.  She joined Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in 2016 as the Senior Field Organizer where she is responsible for grassroots efforts to organize, empower and mobilize supporters to take action in support of Planned Parenthood’s mission. She brings over 10 years’ experience in grassroots organizing in both the labor union and reproductive rights. She is dedicated in building a movement by identifying and recruiting other supporters and advocates, building relationships with coalition partners, faith-based leaders, elected officials and the community, as well as coordinating grassroots mobilization efforts, including the voter education, engagement and mobilization efforts in support of both state and federal legislative issues.

Kimberly Novod


Kimberly Novod is an educator, doula, and health advocate. She is the founder of Saul’s Light Foundation, a 501(C)(3) nonprofit, dedicated to supporting neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and bereaved families in New Orleans. As executive director of Saul’s Light, Ms. Novod is an organizational member of the Maternal Child Health Coalition and Touro Synagogue’s Mental Health Awareness Committee. She is also a Louisiana-certified secondary teacher. In 2014, Ms. Novod’s son, Saul, passed away as a result of complications from his premature birth. His legacy is the inspiration for Saul’s Light.

Maggie Gustafson


Maggie Gustafson, LMSW, MPH, is the Adolescent Health Program Manager at Louisiana Public Health Institute. Maggie started working with New Orleans' schools in 2011 as an Americorps member with Communities in Schools at Sarah T. Reed High School assisting in the case management of pregnant and parenting students. She obtained her Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health degrees from Tulane University in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Upon graduation, Maggie was hired by LPHI to serve as the Family Health Evaluation and Program Coordinator, and later manager, where she assisted in the design, implementation, and evaluation of adolescent sexual health programming around the state. In this role Maggie was responsible for building the capacity of health providers, educators, and organizations to provide comprehensive sexual health information and services to youth with a trauma-focused lens.

She also worked with communities to gather and synthesize their own data in order to develop data-driven programming around adolescent sexual health. From 2017 to 2018, Maggie served as the Teacher Support Specialist for Safe Schools NOLA, providing training, coaching, and supports to teachers on trauma-informed approaches for students. She also facilitated evidence-based group interventions with students with trauma histories. Maggie is passionate about holistic, student-centered health programming and working with schools and organizations to provide social, emotional, and sexual health information for students. Originally from New York, she has made the Crescent City her home since 2011. She is an avid Saints fan, runner, potter, and dog mom to two pups, Gus and Chance.

Mary Lingwall


Mary Lingwall has been active in the abortion funding movement since 2011 and has volunteered with the Client Services Committee at NOAF since 2015. Mary is a receptionist at the Women’s Health Care Center (New Orlean’s only abortion provider), a radical full-spectrum doula, and a waitress and bartender at Willa Jean. Originally from Texas, Mary holds a Bachelors degree from the Plan II Honors program at the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied reproductive health and adultery in the novel of the long nineteenth century. In 2017, Mary earned her Master of Public Health in maternal and child health from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, with a focus on the intersection of the legal rights of pregnant women and maternal health outcomes in the US. In her free time, Mary enjoys reading and cuddling with her cat Ouija F Baby Lingwall.

Nia Weeks.


Nia Weeks is the Founder and Executive Director of Citizen SHE United, an advocacy group in Louisiana that is building an aligned base of Black Women who inform, advocate for, and enact a collective policy agenda to address the needs of Black women across the state. She is the former director of Policy and Advocacy at Women With A Vision located in New Orleans Louisiana. Nia is a native of New Orleans, and has spent years fighting for the rights of women, children, and families. Nia received her bachelor’s degree in Communications with a minor in Women’s studies at Indiana State University, where her advocacy training began. After completing her undergraduate education, she worked in public relations before beginning law school. She then graduated with a law degree from the Loyola School of Law in New Orleans in 2009.

The year immediately following law school, she clerked for a City Court Judge. Immediately after, she worked extensively to develop New Orleans Supervised Visitation Center, Harmony House, into a program that fulfilled the needs abused women and children. After successfully revitalizing the program, she accepted a position at the Orleans Public Defenders Office where she served as a staff attorney. While she loved litigating, she felt that she could be more effective to the community by entering the work in a way that addressed the policies and systems that caused the most harm. In that air, she found her way to Women with A Vision.

Her work at Women with a Vision was built on a 28-year legacy. As the inaugural Director of Policy, she has accomplished a lot, including drafting and passing three reproductive justice resolutions in three key cities, testifying in support of city and state legislation, coordinating an effort to kill harmful legislation against women who chose to work in dance clubs throughout the state, multiple speaking engagements including Columbia Law School Equal Justice Conference. It was in this spirit that Citizen SHE United was born.

Citizen SHE United reorganizes Louisiana’s political power structures to recognize Black women as activists, leaders, and elected officials who represent a crucial base of power. SHE’s strategies include leadership development, policy creation, collective advocacy, cultivating candidates, training campaigners, mobilizing Black voters, and engaging elected officials.

Nia currently resides in New Orleans and is the mother of four children, Taylor 19, Jordan 18, Peyton 14 and Cameron 10.

Pearl Ricks


Pearl Ricks lives in New Orleans, LA and is a boots-on the-ground and in-the-office advocate. Playing a hands on role when possible, her primary focus is bridging the gap between the people, the programming, its funding, and partnership opportunities. With sharing information freely and collaborative efforts, Pearl hopes to make connections that will move the work forward in a healing and just way.

Robin Barber


Robin D. Barber is the Statewide Community Engagement Coordinator for Lift Louisiana, with over 18 years of experience in the community health outreach and education field.  Robin's experience also includes four years with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast as the Public Affairs and Education Specialist (New Orleans) and four years with the American Red Cross (SELA chapter), after hurricane Katrina, as the Community Outreach Liaison to the faith-based community.  Prior to moving to New Orleans in 2005, Robin served as a Designated Requestor and Health Educator for LifeLink of Georgia in Atlanta, Georgia for nine years. Robin hails from Westbury, L.I. New York and is a graduate of Spelman College (c'79).  She has one daughter and is the proud grandmother of three wonderful grandchildren.  In her spare time, Robin enjoys listening to jazz music, going to music concerts and festivals and gardening.

Shametria Gonzales


Shametria works as a Rape Prevention Educator for the New Orleans Family Justice Center, a facilitator for the Teen Sex and the Law program for the Children's Advocacy Center, a backup medical advocate for University Hospital assisting victims of sexual assault, and also co-authored a book with her nine year old daughter in order to raise awareness on the effects of childhood trauma, titled The Reflection Eyes See. After Shametria came to the New Orleans Family Justice Center as a victim of rape and domestic violence, the advocates at the center saw something in her and offered her a job at the front desk. It was hard and her transition and healing process was tough, but with the support of an entire organization just six months later she was promoted to be over the Speak Up program. She now uses her experience and story as a tool to spark the attention of the youth, teens, and young adults she speaks to with the hopes of preventing dating violence, and raising awareness on sexual assault. She also started a company called Spiritually Connected were she travels the states and speaks on Redeveloping Yourself As a Woman After Trauma.

Thalia Nakouzi


Thalia Nakouzi earned her Bachelors of Science in Community Health from the State University of New York at Cortland College. Immediately after graduation, Thalia worked as Health Educator for Morris Heights School Based Health Center. There she was one of the first health educators to be part of the school based model and assisted in implementation of the school based health centers throughout New York City Public Schools. After leaving Morris Heights Health Center, Thalia began her tenure with Planned Parenthood, which to date has totaled six years.  Thalia currently serves as the Community Engagement Team Manager for New Orleans.  Prior to joining PPGC, Thalia served as the Education and Training Manager for Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic (PPHP) in New York.  Throughout her career with Planned Parenthood, Thalia has held numerous roles, responsibilities and accomplishments such as: reengagement and establishment of partnerships, implementation of health center based education, development of a sexual health curriculum for New York State Department of Corrections; community mapping; expansion of medical services (i.e., PrEP); restart of external professional trainings; community and partnership collaborations; supervision of mobile HIV testing unit; participation and presentation for NYS Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS). In addition, Thalia is certified by the State of New York and Louisiana as a Rape Crisis Counselor and Hospital Advocate. Thalia is also a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).

Thalia is a self-proclaimed foodie and would walk 500 miles for a good mani/pedi. Thalia is the proud stepmom to three pretty cool boys.

Veronica Martinez


Veronica Martinez, LPC-S, NCC is the Director of the Trauma Recovery Services at the New Orleans Family Justice Center.  Veronica is a Licensed Professional Counselor, National Certified Counselor, and a Board Approved Supervisor for Provisional Licensed Professional Counselors. Veronica has 12 years of experience working as a therapist in schools, community agencies, and has her own private practice as well. She is currently on the board of the ALGBTIC Division of the Louisiana Counseling Association and often works with the LGBTQ+ population. Veronica began working for the New Orleans Family Justice Center in 2015 and became Director of the Trauma Recovery Program in 2017. Veronica oversees a team of five therapists and about four counseling or social work graduate interns. Veronica enjoys watching scary movies, loves dogs, and loves being a mommy to her two year old son.