The Century Foundation, a leading progressive think tank, today announced that renowned health care and social justice advocate Elizabeth Dawes will be its new Director of Maternal and Reproductive Health. With extensive experience as a policy expert, strategist, and movement builder, Dawes will lead TCF’s efforts to advance maternal health equity and reproductive justice, with a specific focus on eradicating the structural barriers facing Black women and people of color.

“Recent years, from the disparate impacts of the pandemic to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, have presented immense challenges to reproductive rights and Black maternal health—but they’ve also galvanized a nation,” said Mark Zuckerman, TCF President and former deputy director of President Obama’s Domestic Policy Council. “There is no one better to lead TCF’s work in these arenas than Elizabeth. When Elizabeth confronts a problem or sees voices going unheard, she doesn’t wait, she takes action—building coalitions, making the case for change, and seeing progress through. That’s what makes an incredible leader, and that’s exactly what she’ll bring to TCF’s health care team.”

Dawes is co-founder of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, having ideated and co-planned the very first convening in 2015 of what became the Alliance and later serving as the group’s steering committee chair and co-director. Among her many accomplishments, Dawes helped establish the globally renowned Black Maternal Health Week and the Black Maternal Health Conference and Training Institute, both the first of their kind solely dedicated to Black maternal health, rights, and justice.

“This is an inflection point for both reproductive rights and Black maternal health. There is no way we can solve these crises, let alone make progress, if we’re not putting the people most affected at the center—namely, Black women and people of color,” said Elizabeth Dawes, TCF’s new Director of Maternal and Reproductive Health. “I’m thrilled to join the TCF team and look forward to expanding our maternal and reproductive health impact and making important policy wins.”

Earlier in her career, Dawes was a senior policy analyst at Population Reference Bureau (PRB), where she worked to bridge the research-to-policy gap by building the capacity of researchers, journalists, and advocates to communicate evidence to policymakers. Prior to PRB, Elizabeth was a senior associate at the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, where she worked to expand access to contraception through policy advocacy.

In recent years, TCF has been a leader in the development of the Momnibus, an ambitious package of legislation that aims to tackle the maternal health crisis from all dimensions. The organization’s Black Maternal Health Policy Collective, which includes more than a dozen Black policy leaders, has become the go-to place for Capitol Hill lawmakers and advocates working to improve health outcomes for Black pregnant women. In addition, TCF’s health care team is working to stop the attacks on abortion by making the case for expanding the availability of medication abortion and helping to craft a visionary new bill in Congress, The Abortion Justice Act.