WC Executive Committee
Our Executive Committee is composed on our committee chairs/co-chairs, the immediate past chairs, the current chair and the chair-elect.
Please contact our current chair, Dr. Michelle S. Williams at for more about leadership opportunities.
Michelle S. Williams
Michelle S. Williams, PhD, MSPH, MPH, MCHES, is an assistant professor in the Department of Global and Community Health at George Mason University. Her current research activities are focused on developing and disseminating culturally-relevant health education/promotion interventions that will lead to: improvements in the health outcomes of African American breast cancer survivors in rural communities in the US; increases in uptake of cervical cancer screening among women in Ghana, West Africa; and increases in uptake of the HPV vaccine in among vaccine-eligible individuals in the US.
Immediate Past Chair
Sarah Gareau, DrPH, MCHES is the Immediate Past Chair of the Women’s Caucus and APHA Caucus Collaborative. She is also an elected member of the APHA Executive Board. Since 2012, Sarah has been employed as a Maternal & Child Health Policy Analyst at the University of SC Institute for Families in Society where her applied research focuses on improving maternal health equity and birth outcomes, as well as addressing access to healthcare for the uninsured. Sarah also serves as an elected member of her neighborhood association, helped to develop a statewide COVID-19 e-advocacy group, and is the proud momma of two boys. Sarah first became a member of the Women’s Caucus in 2004 because of our commitment to reproductive justice and birth equity.
Program Planning Committee Co-Chair
Nakesha Powell is a native of Arkansas and a staunch advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness for women and girls. Armed with a degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Public Health Management she is a Health Communication Specialist. Focusing on an ever-expanding list of public health issues that includes HIV prevention, domestic violence, and sex trafficking; Powell spends both her days and nights ensuring the manifestation of her personal belief that “everyone deserves access to quality healthcare without regard to income or race.” She is the founder of HER Initiative, a non-profit which serves as a conduit of resources and health information for black women and girls, is a chartering member and former co-chair of the health committee for the National Council of Negro Women Greater Atlanta Section, and the HIV program manager for The Black Women’s Health Imperative. She enjoys reading, traveling, and spending quality time with family. On any given day, Nakesha is sure to be somewhere impacting lives through mentoring and other civic engagement. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
Social Media Committee Co-Chair
Ilexis Lindsey, MPH, CHES is the Social Media Co-Chair for the Women’s Caucus. Ilexis is currently employed at the Georgia Department of Public Health and works as the REACH Community Health Coordinator for Community-Clinical Linkages and Breastfeeding, and the District Liaison for COVID-19 SPOC Operations. She is a graduate of Jackson State University and Texas A&M University. Ilexis is passionate about all things women’s health, specifically breastfeeding, chronic disease prevention/management, maternal health, and infant health.
Caucus Collaborative Representative
Dr. Megan L. Smith is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Community & Environmental Health at Boise State University. Dr. Smith received her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from the College of Education and Human Services at West Virginia University in 2015. She has a teaching degree from California State University Chico (2008) and a BA in Psychology (with an emphasis on diverse populations and education) from University of California, Santa Cruz (2006). Dr. Smith’s work builds on education, human development, and public health science to study the contextual factors that promote or thwart health outcomes (particularly substance abuse, mental health, and sexual risk behavior) for young people. Previously a K-12 teacher, she often focuses on the school environment. While working for the WVU School of Public Health, she served as Director of Child & Adolescent Health initiatives for the Prevention Research Center. She is currently on the evaluation team for SAMSHA/West Virginia Department of Education’s Project AWARE, promoting emotional health and safety in West Virginia public schools. She is proud to be a member of the successful Planet Youth Team to continue promoting the notion that true prevention is possible if you start at the community level and change the culture of health. She is committed to public health advocacy and deeply believes it is the mission of public health professionals to continue to advocate for and champion equity and health for all. Recently her work has focused specifically on adolescent girls’ mental health needs and women running for office in historic numbers.
Caucus Collaborative Vice Representative
Erika Thompson, PhD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Systems in the School of Public Health. Her research focuses on women’s sexual and reproductive health issues and community health. She is also the Director of the Maternal and Child Health MPH program.
Nikki Keene Woods
Membership Committee Chair
Dr. Nikki Keene Woods is an Associate Professor at Wichita State University in the Department of Public Health Sciences. She has earned master degrees in Behavioral Science and Public Health in addition to a PhD in Behavioral Psychology from the University of Kansas. She is a maternal, infant, and child health researcher and educator with an emphasis on addressing health disparities. Nikki has considerable experience in women’s health issues related research and practice. She is an active member of the Kansas Public Health Association (Kansas APHA affiliate). She has previous experience on the KPHA board and executive committee. Her work includes over 25 publications and a book chapter on improving health outcomes for those most at-risk, including women’s health topics such as birth spacing, prenatal education, and reproductive rights. Her work is collaborative and community-based and often incorporates learnings from her time working with the community toolbox, the free online resource for community health and development. Nikki shares her work through practiced-based case studies in her public health courses