The United States faces a maternal health crisis, with unacceptably high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity. The poorest health outcomes are among Black women and birthing people, and are driving these dreadful statistics. Under the Biden–Harris administration and 117th Congress, this issue has been made a priority. Policy efforts are being made to advance maternal health equity, particularly for Black and Indigenous women and birthing people.

Join us on Tuesday, September 21 from 2:00 to 3:00 PM ET as we review the progress that has been made and discuss the path forward to ensure that we adequately address this crisis, with an intentional focus on Black women and families.

Please register to obtain the Zoom link.

Keynote Speaker:

  • Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

Introductory Remarks: 

  • Mark Zuckerman, president, The Century Foundation

Moderator:

  • Dr. Jamila Taylor, director of health care reform and senior fellow at The Century Foundation

Panelists:

  • Jack DiMatteo, legislative assistant, Office of Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14)
  • Kalisha Dessources Figures, special assistant to the president for gender policy, The White House
  • Aza Nedhari, CEO, Mamatoto Village

Presented by The Century Foundation and Irving Harris Foundation.


Speaker Bios:

Chiquita Brooks-LaSure is the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), where she oversees programs including Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the HealthCare.gov health insurance marketplace. A former policy official who played a key role in guiding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through passage and implementation, Brooks-LaSure has decades of experience in the federal government, on Capitol Hill, and in the private sector. As deputy director for policy at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and earlier at the Department of Health and Human Services as director of coverage policy, Brooks-LaSure led the agency’s implementation of ACA coverage and insurance reform policy provisions. 

Mark Zuckerman is president of The Century Foundation. He served in the Obama White House as the deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council, leading teams on key initiatives, including reducing student debt, increasing accountability at for-profit educational institutions, reducing workplace discrimination, increasing wages for home health care workers, and expanding access to job training. Prior to that, as staff director of the House Education and Labor Committee, he helped win passage of landmark legislation such as the Affordable Care Act; the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act; and the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act.

Dr. Jamila Taylor is director of health care reform and senior fellow at The Century Foundation, where she leads TCF’s work to build on the Affordable Care Act and develop the next generation of health reform to achieve high-quality, affordable, and universal coverage in America. A renowned women’s health expert, Taylor also works on issues related to reproductive rights and justice, focusing on the structural barriers to access to health care, racial and gender disparities in health outcomes, and the intersections between health care and economic justice. Throughout her twenty-plus year career, Taylor has championed the health and rights of women both in the United States and around the world.

Jack DiMatteo is a legislative assistant for Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14). DiMatteo covers health policy for Congresswoman Underwood, including the Black Maternal Health Caucus. He also covers veterans, Social Security, and foreign affairs issues. He is from Deerfield, Illinois.

Kalisha Dessources Figures currently serves as special assistant to the president for gender policy on the White House Gender Policy Council.  She works on a range of policy issues, including education, justice reform and maternal health. She also leads the Council’s strategies on girls and on Black, Indigenous, and women and girls of color—serving as the primary liaison to the Domestic Policy Council’s racial justice and equity work. Before joining the administration, Kalisha worked on the Biden–Harris transition as deputy director for issue and constituency engagement. Before serving on the transition team, Kalisha consulted for a number of organizations and initiatives that focus on racial equity, gender equity, and civic engagement—including National Young Women’s Initiative, the United State of Women, and When We All Vote—while working on her PhD at Yale University, where her research focused on the disparities that women and girls of color face in the education system, welfare system and justice system. Kalisha served in the second term of the Obama–Biden administration as policy advisor to the White House Council on Women and Girls. In that role,  she managed the interagency policy portfolio focused on advancing equity for women and girls of color. Kalisha is a former middle and high school math and science teacher. She received her bachelor’s from Cornell University, and her master’s from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. She is a proud Haitian-American and is from New York.

Aza Nedhari, MS, CPM brings more than eighteen years of experience in community organizing, reproductive justice, and program development. She is a mother, licensed certified professional midwife, family counselor, and the co-founding CEO of Mamatoto Village. Aza is a fiercely dedicated woman who believes that by promoting a framework of justice, the reduction of barriers in maternal and child health begins to dissipate, giving rise to healthy individuals, healthy families, and healthy communities. Aza is pursuing her doctorate in human services with a concentration in organizational leadership and management with an eye towards the sustainability of Black led-organizations and cultivating innovative models of perinatal care delivery.