Meet the AIM CCI Team


Deborah L. Frazier

Deborah Frazier currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer for the National Healthy Start Association. Ms. Frazier has a stellar national reputation having spent 30 years of her professional career in the field of maternal and child health. She is a past member of the HHS Secretary’s Committee on Infant Mortality (SACIM), and the former Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Health for the State of Arkansas. Ms. Frazier has a long and very rich history with Healthy Start and the Association serving as grantee evaluator, technical advisor to projects, Project Director for New Orleans Healthy Start, founding member of the Association and past board member. In her role as Co-Chair of the Association’s Development Committee, she was responsible for securing funding critical to the growth and expansion of the organization- establishing regional conferences, the Healthy Start Leadership Institute, and the Partnership Grant with AMCHP and CityMatCH. Ms. Frazier has lent her expertise and knowledge as a consultant to numerous national organizations including: The American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists developing and implementing their National Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Program (NFIMR); the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) to evaluate community based programs; and to the National School Health Workgroup to develop national standards and policies for school health programs. She has provided consultation to community-based programs across the country involving the development of strategic plans, needs assessments, and designing programs and services for those in need.

Haywood L. Brown

Haywood L. Brown, MD, is the Co-Principal Investigator on NHSA’s AIM CCI grant and Medical Consultant for Women’s Health, who began his role with NHSA in March 2020. Dr. Brown, a physician, researcher and leader in higher education, is the University of South Florida System’s Vice President for Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity and Title IX administrator. Along with his USF System role, Dr. Brown is also Associate Dean for Diversity at the Morsani College of Medicine and Chief Diversity Officer for USF Health. At USF Health, Dr. Brown provides vision, leadership, coordination and strategic planning for the design and implementation of a USF Health-wide platform to enhance diversity, equity and respect. He works to align USF Health’s diversity initiatives with the university’s strategic plan and provides guidance on the recruitment and retention of a diverse community of students, faculty and staff.Dr. Brown comes to USF from Duke University Medical Center, where he has worked in several capacities since 2002. Most recently, Dr. Brown served as the F. Bayard Carter Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and has held leadership roles in a number of university committees. He has also been actively involved in diversity initiatives within his department, university-wide and in the broader Durham, N.C. community. Throughout his career, Dr. Brown has made it a point to focus on serving diverse populations. Prior to his time at Duke University, Dr. Brown spent more than a decade at Indiana University School of Medicine. He received his bachelor’s degree from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University and his medical degree from the Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University.

Saanie Sulley

Saanie Sulley, MD, PHD, MBA, is a data manager with the AIM CCI project, providing data infrastructure and analytics support to participants in the project. He is a health infomatician with experience in medicine, clinical decisions support systems (CDSS), healthcare data integration and predictive modeling. His interests include utilizing healthcare data in improving health outcomes and gaining better understanding of care processes, health equity, social determinants of health and improving access to maternal pediatric care through quality improvement in these areas. Saanie earned his PhD from Rutgers University in biomedical informatics and an MBA in healthcare management from Columbia Southern University.

Karen Chustz

Karen A. Chustz, MSW, is Senior Program Manager for NHSA’s AIM CCI initiative. Karen has more than 25 years’ experience in non-profit and public health agencies. Prior to joining AIM CCI, Karen served as Director of the Bureau of Regional and Clinical Operations at Louisiana’s Office of Public Health where she was responsible for administration of the agency’s clinical and population health initiatives across nine regional teams. Karen’s experience also includes work as Chief Operations Officer at an FQHC as well as Program Officer for Community Services at a multi-service non-profit. From 2012 – 2015, Karen was Louisiana’s State WIC Director. Her experience also includes Vice President of Clinical and Community Health Programs at California Family Health Council (now Essential Access Health), California’s grantee for Title X family planning services. She also has extensive experience in maternal and child health as well as educational health programming. Early in her career, Karen served as Chief Program Officer for Great Expectations Foundation, which administered New Orleans’ Healthy Start project. While at Great Expectations, Karen diversified the organization’s funding and services portfolio to support HIV prevention services among women of color and teen pregnancy prevention programming for middle and high school students. Karen earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Loyola University of New Orleans and a Master of Social Work with a concentration in Administration, Planning and Organizational Development with a focus on healthcare systems from Southern University at New Orleans.

Amber Wilson

Amber Wilson is NHSA’s AIM CCI Program Coordinator. She is originally from Gaffney, South Carolina, and received her bachelor’s degree from Winthrop University. She began her career in maternal and child health in the WIC program where she was a nutritionist,  Certified  Lactation Counselor and managed a team of nutritionists, peer counselors and Registered Dietitians. After spending several years at WIC, she transitioned into a  community/rural health setting where she provided lactation education and support, delivered chronic disease prevention and management programs, assisted with the implementation of policy, systems and environmental changes related to childhood obesity in the school setting, and coordinated COVID-19 sites. She is passionate about maternal and child health and recently obtained her certification as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. During her free time, she enjoys listening to music, cooking and watching documentaries.

Ashley Calderone

Ashley Calderone is NHSA’s AIM CCI Clinical Implementation Manager. As a Master’s Prepared Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Ashley has an extensive clinical background serving birthing families and babies. She has worked to decrease disparities and increase access to resources in her own community by serving on the Board of Directors, most recently as Vice President, for the Martin County Healthy Start Coalition in Florida.

Ashley is a graduate of the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Education and Behavior and a Master’s of Science in Nursing. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Nursing Practice from the  University of Central Florida. Through all of this, Ashley’s proudest accomplishment is being mom to two beautiful breastfed children.

Lidyvez Sawyer

Lidyvez Sawyer, EdD, MPH, is the Equity Implementation Strategist for NHSA’s Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health Community Care Initiative (AIM CCI). Prior to this role, Mrs. Sawyer served as the Director of Community Health Wellness and Strategic Partnerships for the Stephen and Sandra Sheller Eleventh Street Family Health Practice of Drexel University. She also served as the former Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Drexel University College of Medicine. Mrs. Sawyer serves as a faculty member for the Arcadia University College of Health Sciences.

Lidyvez has dedicated over 15 years to public health service and specializes on the Sanctuary trauma-informed care model and anti-racism practice and racial trauma integration as a social determinant of health. She earned her master’s in public health in 2016 from Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health. She graduated with honors, earning an EdD degree in Leadership and Management, with a concentration in Policy in 2021 from Drexel University School of Education and was named the recipient for the Dr. Terrence Daniels Memorial Award for her research centered on social justice and equity within academic institutions.

Valerie Newsome Garcia

Valerie Newsome Garcia, PhD is the Community Transformation Strategist for NHSA – AIM CCI. Prior to joining National Healthy Start Association, she has held faculty appointments at NYU School of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, Brooklyn College, and selected as a JPB Environmental Health Fellow at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her work is focused on addressing the social, environmental, and structural determinants of health in underserved communities. Some of her past work has examined the sociocultural factors related to increased HIV risk among Black women, environmental barriers to healthy eating in NYC public housing, geographic and cultural factors related to healthy sleep behavior, and the relationship between neighborhoods and cardiovascular health. Dr. Garcia completed her doctoral training in Biobehavioral Health (Ph.D.) at Penn State University, and holds degrees in Psychology (B.S., M.S.) from Florida A&M University.

Alicia Aroche

Alicia Aroche, MEd, brings over 20 years of experience in community engagement, public health research, racial equity, justice and healing, communications and storytelling. She has led a community-based participatory research team at Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) Center on Society and Health as Senior Community Engagement Manager and served as Communications Manager and Community Engagement Advocate for the cross-sector, cradle-to-career collaborative Bridging Richmond, in Richmond, VA. In this work, she participated in models that shared power and centered voices of community members, investigating causes and community-identified interventions, to address health disparities influenced by social determinants of health. As part of the Clinical and Translational Research team at the VCU Wright Center (VCU Health), she advised academic and physician researchers on culturally sensitive alignment between social science and practice-based research and the expressed needs of marginalized communities.

As a communications professional, Alicia’s experience includes developing and implementing communications plans, planning and delivering events in both virtual and in-person environments, documentation and storytelling.  She has worked as the Director of Racial Justice and Healing at Initiatives of Change USA (IofC USA), where she led the team’s Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) work, as well served as the program director for the Narrative Change Collaborative. Alicia’s storytelling work has earned awards such as the best-animated short film at the Atlanta Underground Film Festival and the Dikalo Award (“Message” in  Cameroonian) for best short documentary at the Festival du International PanAfricain de Cannes in France (see article). Alicia holds a Bachelor of Science in Mass Media and a Master of Education with a focus in Participatory Action Research from Virginia Commonwealth University. Since 2018, she has served as an international affiliate with the Concordia University Center on Oral History and Digital Storytelling in Montréal, Québec, Canada.


Susan Kendig

Susan Kendig, JD, WHNP-BC, FAANP, is a Women’s Health Integration Specialist with SSM Health – St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis, MO. Prior to joining SSM Health – St. Mary’s, she was a teaching professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where she led the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner program for almost two decades. Sue is a member of the Council on Patient Safety in Women’s Health Care, AIM Executive team and the Women’s Preventive Services (WPSI) Advisory Panel, a collaborative interdisciplinary effort to develop, review, update and disseminate recommendations for women’s preventive health care services. In Missouri, she serves as Vice-Chair of the Missouri Women’s Health Council and was an appointee to the Missouri Patient Safety Commission and the Missouri Task Force on Prematurity and Infant Mortality.

Fleda Mask Jackson

Fleda Mask Jackson, PhD, is the president of Majaica, LLC, a national research firm/ think tank, and leader of Save 100 Babies©, a cross-sector network devoted to a social determinant approach to equitable birth outcomes. Dr. Jackson has served as a consult-ant/advisor and collaborator with organizations such as the Harvard Medical School, the Ford Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation and as a member of the Advisory Committee on Health Disparities for the Director of the CDC and as a member of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality (SACIM). Jackson graduated from Spellman College and the University of Illinois and is the recipient of the Spelman College Alum-nae Achievement Award in Health and Science. She has been honored by the Black Ma-mas Matter Alliance for her MCH research and work and by the National March of Dimes for her contributions to that organization and the field. Dr. Jackson has been previously involved with NHSA, most notably as the author of our Stress and Depression toolkit. Dr. Jackson’s role on the AIM CCI grant is as a subject matter expert (SME).

Deidre McDaniel

Deidre McDaniel, MSW, LCSW is the President & Founder of Health Equity Resources and Strategies, LLC (H.E.R.S.) with over 20 years of experience in maternal & child health.  Ms. McDaniel provides guidance to healthcare systems and public/private organizations on how to successfully implement and sustain equitable systems of service delivery to address disparities. Ms. McDaniel is also a Doctoral Fellow at Morgan State University, and a Faculty Trainer with the Once Upon a Preemie Academy. Ms. McDaniel’s current research interests are in anti-racist healthcare practices and eliminating disparities in birth outcomes for African American women. Ms. McDaniel employs a critical equity framework through which to understand all healthcare systems, policies, and practices. As a licensed certified social worker, she has dedicated her career to improving health outcomes for women and children; and as a leader in the field, she demonstrates cultural humility, effective communication, and sound content expertise. Ms. McDaniel serves as the Clinical-Community Bundle Integration Specialist with the AIM-CCI project.

Dr. Crear-Perry

Joia Adele Crear-Perry, M.D.

Joia Adele Crear-Perry, MD—a thought leader around racism as a root cause of health inequities, Speaker, Trainer, Advocate, Policy Expert, and fighter for justice – is the Founder and President of the National Birth Equity Collaborative. Recently, she addressed the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to urge a human rights framework to improve maternal mortality. Previously, she served as the Executive Director of the Birthing Project, Director of Women’s and Children’s Services at Jefferson Community Healthcare Center and as the Director of Clinical Services for the City of New Orleans Health Department where she was responsible for four facilities that provided health care for the homeless, pediatric, WIC, and gynecologic services within the New Orleans clinical service area. Dr. Crear-Perry has been celebrated for her work to improve the availability and utilization of affordable health care for New Orleans’ citizens post the Hurricane Katrina disaster of 2005. Currently, her focus has expanded nationally and internationally as it relates to Maternal and Child Health.

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