Staff

Our staff members are committed to working and acting in the best interest of New Orleans’ communities.

STAFF

deon2 StaffDeon Haywood: Executive Director

For more than 25 years, Deon has worked as a human rights defender and advocate for poor women, Black women, and queer women in the Deep South. Since Hurricane Katrina, she has led Women With A Vision to a vibrant, locally-rooted international network addressing the complex intersection of socio-economic injustices and health disparities. In 2009, Deon oversaw the launch of WWAV’s NO Justice Project, a campaign to combat the sentencing of women and trans* people arrested for street-based sex work under Louisiana’s 203-yr-old “crime against nature” felony-level law, which resulted in a federal judicial ruling and the removal of more than 700 women from the sex offender registry. In recognition of her leadership at the intersection of HIV/AIDS, harm reduction, LGBTQ rights, reproductive justice and criminalization, Deon was honored as the 2011 “Political Activism Award” from Forum for Equality, the “Teri Estrada Memorial Award” from AIDS Law Louisiana, the 2010 Community Spotlight from TheBody.com, BET.com’s 2012 “Health Hero,” and the representative from the U.S. South to the 2013 Frontline Defender’s Dublin Platform. She also testified in front of the United Nations Global Commission on HIV and the Law in 2011. Currently, Deon sits on the board of BreakOUT!, a youth-led organization fighting the criminalization of LGBTQ youth in New Orleans. She also holds the auspicious honor of being crowned the Mardi Gras 2012 Queen of New Orleans’ own Krewe du Vieux, themed “Crimes Against Nature.” Deon was born and raised in New Orleans.

quita StaffShaquita Borden: Director of Research & Evaluation

Shaquita has been with WWAV since 2008. She was born and raised in New Orleans and was prompted, after volunteering with WWAV, to change careers.Shaquita is passionate about working to improve the health of the city’s residents using a participatory approach to understand the structural drivers of women’s health disparities. She earned her M.P.H. from Louisiana State University’s School of Public Health and her B.A. Dillard University, and is working towards her PhD in Health Education and Health Promotion at University of Alabama at Birmingham. In 2013, Shaquita was awarded the Billy R. Cox Endowed Scholarship in recognition of her work on public health issues for the gay, lesbian, bi and trans-gender populations.

christine StaffChristine Breland: Program Director

Christine came to Women With A Vision in the summer of 2014 to complete her practice experience for a Masters of Public Health with a concentration in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at LSUHSC. Born in New Orleans, Christine has received a Masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. She loved working as a substance abuse counselor, just not within dysfunctional systems. After serving with the Peace Corps, she chose to change her career path and sought out WWAV to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to work to reduce health disparities and promote social justice.

NiaNia Weeks: Director of Policy & Advocacy

A native of New Orleans, Nia 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, Nia worked in public relations before beginning law school. She graduated with a law degree from the Loyola School of Law in New Orleans in 2009. Nia then served as a law clerk for Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, the Housing Authority of New Orleans, the Louisiana Public Defender Board, and Essence Music Festival. After passing the Louisiana Bar, Nia served as a law clerk for the Honorable Judge Angelique Reed in First City Court in Orleans Parish and was the director of a supervised visitation center for victims of domestic violence named Harmony House. Before coming to WWAV, she served as a public defender in Orleans Parish for two years.

Keesha - 2

Lakeesha J. Harris:Reproductive Justice and Sexual Health Program Manager

Lakeesha J. Harris is the Reproductive Justice and Sexual Health Program Manager at WWAV.  Previous potions held by Lakeesha include being a Health Educator, Community Health Worker, and Alternative Insemination Coordinator at Chicago Women’s Health Center, one of the last remaining feminist health centers in the country. As a community healer Lakeesha’s primary focus is on centering the complete health and health care access for Black people, specifically queer and trans Black people, who are often shut out of services that are culturally affirming, financially accessible, and whole being centered. Lakeesha holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Women and Gender Studies from Northeastern Illinois University and Master’s level credits in Political Science. In 2011 she was selected as a Student Laureate of NEIU and received numerous awards for her work as a community activist, poet, and one of the Founders of Seeds Literary Arts Journal of NEIU. She is a Playwright whose collaborative political literary work, Spirit House, was commissioned by the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center for the educational engagement and healing of the community. As a practicing healer, her work has spanned more than two decades and evolved from her roots as a Certified Nurse Assistant, Doula, Apprentice Midwife and Community Health Worker.  Lakeesha was recently trained as a Street Medic with Chicago Action Medical and is a practicing Reiki Master – Teacher.

michelleMichelle Wiley: Crossroads Program Manager & Case Manager

Michelle is a Mississippi native who relocated to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Michelle has worked over twenty five years in social services, mental health, and community advocacy. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Social Services and minor in Education from University of Southern Mississippi. Before coming to Women with a Vision, Michelle worked as a Case Manager in the medical field assisting individuals with mental disabilities who were not able to receive proper resources to manage daily living. Upon relocating she was hired at Women with a Vision where she oversees our Crossroads Diversion program. She helps to meet the needs of clients and their families by providing case management services, while facilitating group sessions. Michelle works diligently advocating for her clients to get their charges dropped once completing the program. Her passion is making sure they have the resources, proper skills that are needed to cope with the streets of New Orleans.

mwendeMwende Katwiwa: Community Organizer, Young Women With A Vision

Born in Kenya and living in New Orleans for the past 7 years, Mwende is a graduate of Tulane University with a dual degree in Political Economy with International Perspectives and Africa and African Diaspora Studies. She has interned in the past with the United Nations Population Fund, the Public Leadership Education Network, the World Affairs Council of New Orleans and other similar organizations. She is co-editor of a website, Winnovating, that is dedicated to profiling women innovators in various fields, is a board member of PATOIS: The New Orleans International Human Rights Film Festival, a member of Wildseeds: The New Orleans Octavia Butler Emergent Strategy Collective, and a local poet known as FreeQuency on the National Poetry Slam scene.

 

ravenRaven Frederick: Community Outreach Specialist

Raven is a native of New Orleans with several years experience as a case manager, community health worker, and outreach worker in Orleans and Jefferson parishes. Before coming to WWAV, Raven worked as a community health worker promoting women’s health through education and community resources by working to decrease the infant mortality rate among African-Americans in both Jefferson and Orleans Parish. Raven holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, La. and a Master’s Degree in Health Service Administration from Strayer University. Raven is a Certified Community Health Worker from Tulane University, and a Certified Medicaid Representative from the Department of Health and Hospitals. Whether helping one child, assisting one women, or strengthening one family through women’s health promotion and prevention activities, Raven is committed to the health and wellbeing of New Orleans families.

photo 111 StaffCatherine Haywood: Community Health Promoter

A native of New Orleans and a long-time community health advocate, Catherine has worked in health education and community outreach for more than 25 years. She was one of the co-founders of Women With A Vision in 1991. Over the years her work has focused on addressing health disparities among under-served populations in New Orleans, centering on HIV/AIDS, harm reduction, women’s health issues, obesity, and physical activity promotion. Catherine is very passionate about making sure grassroots community members—not just heads of community agencies—are at the table and truly heard when public health research and programs are being designed. Her leadership experience includes heading several national and local committees. She is chair of the Louisiana Community Health Outreach Network (LACHON), a board member of the Louisiana Cancer Control Partnership, a board member of the American Cancer Society’s Circle of Friends for Education and Early-Detection Program, and the Co-Regional Director of the Southern Region for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Community Committee, to name a few. Currently, along with serving as the Community Health Promoter at WWAV, she is the Community Service Program Manager at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

dianneDianne Jones: Outreach Worker

Originally from the 6th ward of New Orleans, Ms. Jones is a formerly-incarcerated mother, community organizer, and advocate for currently and formerly-incarcerated women and mothers in New Orleans. A former volunteer at VOTE (Voice of the Ex-Offender) and a volunteer doing juvenile-justice work with youth in Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, Dianne is currently an Outreach Worker with WWAV, coordinating our work with formerly-incarcerated women and girls. Dianne was first incarcerated at the age of 14. In the years following, she was trapped in the criminal justice system and sent to a number of institutions before her incarceration at Orleans Parish Prison in the early 1990’s (at a time considered by some to be the height of the jail’s most dysfunctional and inhumane treatment of prisoners). After her release from Orleans Parish Prison, and having witnessed the massive injustices facing prisoners, Dianne was moved to organize with currently and formerly-incarcerated women. She noticed a glaring need for services and a lack of support pre- and post-release. She founded Phenomenal Women, a collective of women making space for formerly-incarcerated women and helping them to get back on their feet and reclaim their dignity. She is also a member of Mothers of Tough Sentencing, a group of women advocates whose children are currently incarcerated in Louisiana.

amandaAmanda Emily Smith: Administrative Assistant

Born and raised in New Orleans, Amanda is a single Mom, a poet, a sex-positive activist,a yoga and reiki practitioner,  and community organizer.  She  earned her Associate of Arts in General Studies with Emphasis in English at Delgado Community College in 2008. She will receive her Bachelors of Science in English with a minor in International Business from Dillard University in 2018. She is also a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Recipient for which she wrote “From Mamie to Modern Day: The Evolution of Black Female Sexuality from a Feminist Approach.” Her writing will also appear  in “Luminescent Threads:  Connections to Octavia Butler” to be published by Twelfth Planet Press in June 2017. Amanda devotes my free time to liberation and justice through Mothering, community service, and poetry & performance on topics including Motherhood, Black womanhood, and sacred sexuality. She is proud to serve as the administrative assistant at Women With a Vision.

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