Gretchen Carlson Advocacy Fellows take a central role in our advocacy campaign to change public policies across the nation and acquire the skills to lead others to do the same. By the end of their training, Carlson Fellows have what it takes to help families everywhere be healthy and strong.

Carlson Fellows participate in advocacy trainings via web meetings, educational opportunities, special projects and outreach to policymakers, as well as an exciting three-day event in Washington, DC with policymakers and leaders.



E. Starr Barbour has over 15 years of executive leadership experience with some of America’s top companies including General Electric, IBM and Accenture, having spent the better part of her career as a management consultant leading financial transformation, large scale IT implementations and change management engagements. In 2016, Starr founded STILLGOING, an online “live” guided meditation platform promoting workplace wellness and employee productivity. She also created Triangle Accountability Solutions (TAS), a boutique management consulting firm working to support some of the most complex challenges facing Federal government. Starr is a member of the Sigma Psi Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and currently holds the position of March of Dimes Chair.


Midwife, Nurse Practitioner
Hannah Bergbower, RN BSN MPH, began working as a Registered Nurse in 2010 after graduating from Lakeview College of Nursing. As an undergraduate nursing student, she worked at a community hospital as an OB Tech and first experienced the calling of maternal child health. She went on to receive a Masters of Public Health in 2012 from Indiana University. In 2014, Hannah moved to Tanzania with the Global Health Service Partnership where she worked as a Nurse Educator and also completed a two-year Fellowship in Global Clinical Education from Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Global Health. Hannah then went onto Malawi where she worked with Partners in Health before returning to the U.S. Currently a student at the University of Pennsylvania where she is completing a Master of Science in Nursing to become a Nurse-Midwife and Women’s Health/Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner. She is also a Paul D. Coverdell Fellow and an Associate Scholar for the Center for Global Health at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.


Freelance journalist
Breann Bierman-Vogt is a full-time mom, part-time marketing professional and volunteer advocate for mothers and babies. She is a March of Dimes MOMentum Gretchen Carlson Advocacy Fellow, and a member of the March of Dimes' National Volunteer Leadership Council. She is chair of the NICU Parent Advisory Board in the NICU where her premature son was born and is a peer-to-peer mentor with Project NICU.


Director of Strategic Initiatives, United Health Group
Dr. Carolyn Brooks is a Director of Strategic Initiatives on the Product Development team at UnitedHealthcare Community & State where she is responsible for designing, implementing and scaling products and programs aimed to improve health outcomes for those they serve. She previously worked with the Harvard Prevention Research Center where she evaluated community interventions to prevent chronic diseases and reduce health disparities. Carolyn has also worked in a variety of roles at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including serving as the Health Equity Coordinator for the Division of Community Health where she led health equity efforts in the implementation of national community health initiatives. Prior to the CDC, Carolyn worked with the Southern Center for Communication, Health and Poverty. She completed her Doctor of Science degree in Social & Behavioral Science and Nutrition from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a Master of Arts in Health Communication from University of Georgia.


Stay-at-home mom; Army veteran
Emily Collins is a graduate of the University of Dayton and is a former Army officer. After leaving the military, Emily received a Master of Arts in Teaching and has since taught second and third grade. Emily is a mother of three, including a recent NICU graduate. Her youngest son, Nicholas, was born ten weeks premature following a high risk pregnancy that ended in a placental abruption. Nicholas spent two months in the NICU, but is now a healthy four month old. Emily has written extensively about her experience as a NICU mom on her blog, With Love from the NICU, and her work as been featured on The Mighty, Just BE Parenting, The Little Red Bird Press and Her View from Home.


Director of Development, Major Gifts, USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism
Ashley Cooper is a Southern California native, foster care adoptee and the proud mother of four-year-old twins. She currently serves as Director of Development at the USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism. Ashley has held numerous leadership posts with organizations including the USC Society of Trojan Women and the USC Alumni Regional Board, and was recognized with a Widney Alumni House Award for her contributions to the USC alumni community. An active member of her local Moms Demand Action chapter and South Bay Cares, Ashley is passionate about education, the environment, and the well-being of mothers and children everywhere. She graduated magna cum laude from USC as a first-generation college student and subsequently obtained a master’s degree in Strategic Public Relations, where she was awarded the Director’s Award for Excellence for the most outstanding graduate student in her program.


Assistant Professor, Public Health Graduate Program, Purdue University
Dr. Andrea L. DeMaria is a tenure-track Assistant Professor within the Department of Consumer Science at Purdue University and the first faculty hire at Purdue with a joint appointment in the Public Health Graduate Program within the College of Health and Human Sciences. She joined the faculty at Purdue after completing four successful years as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Public Health at the College of Charleston. Prior to that, Andrea was a women’s health postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas Medical Branch within the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women’s Health housed in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Her research has encompassed an interdisciplinary approach to understanding women’s reproductive and sexual health behaviors and disparities. Andrea’s work seeks to improve women’s lives through translating research into practice, empowering women to have a voice and shared decision in their healthcare and capitalizing on community collaborations. She has received numerous awards for her contributions to research, teaching, and supporting the community. Most recently she received the 2018 Outstanding Graduate Faculty member in Public Health at Purdue University and in 2017 she received the Purdue University Department of Consumer Science Excellence in Research Award.


Civil Rights Attorney, Stowell & Friedman, Ltd.; New Trier Township Trustee
Gail Schnitzer Eisenberg is a civil rights attorney at Stowell & Friedman, Ltd., focusing on workplace discrimination and harassment. She was elected New Trier Township Trustee in 2017 to a four-year term. Gail previously worked as a managing associate in Dentons’ Litigation and Dispute Resolution practice. She began her legal career as a Staff Law Clerk to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and also taught appellate advocacy at Loyola University School of Law. Gail has volunteered her legal services with the ACLU, Women Employed, WeWill, Domestic Violence Legal Clinic, the National Immigrant Justice Center and Equip for Equality, and has worked directly with children through the Girl Scouts and the Constitutional Rights Foundation. She currently chairs the Young Lawyers Group of the Jewish United Fund and the Legislative Committee of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers. A mother of two, Gail captains a March of Dimes team in honor of her daughter, Julia, who was born prematurely. She graduated magna cum laude from Northwestern Law and summa cum laude from the University of Illinois with her MA/BA in Political Science.


Assistant General Counsel, Employment & Litigation,, LLC
April Hamilton is Assistant General Counsel on the Employment and Litigation team at GoDaddy. She has previously practiced in the areas of education law, business and government litigation, administrative law, professional licensing and public procurement law. April has served on public boards and volunteered her time with the Junior League of Arizona on the Special Public Affairs, Logistics, and Phoenix Day Healthlinks Committees. She has a daughter and a son, ages 4 and 1. After the birth of her daughter in 2014, April began volunteering with March of Dimes as member of the Arizona Advocacy Committee. She currently serves as the Arizona Advocacy Chair and is on the March of Dimes Arizona State Board of Directors. April received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of South Dakota.


Pediatrician; Clinical Director of the Tulane NICU Graduate Clinic; Tulane Medical School professor
Dr. Meghan Howell is a board certified pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics through Tulane University School of Medicine. She attended graduate school, medical school and completed her pediatrics residency at Tulane. During her time at there, she gained experience working with a wide variety of children, including work in the section of community pediatrics working with a large immigrant population. Meghan’s academic interests center around the long term care of medically complicated infants and children, with a special focus on the NICU graduate. In the fall of 2017, she opened and now directs Tulane’s NICU Graduate Clinic, a multi-disciplinary clinic focused on both the medical follow-up of NICU graduates, including babies affected by extreme prematurity and neonatal abstinence syndrome. A key component to the follow-up care received through the NICU Graduate Clinic, she incorporated key partnerships with developmental psychologists to ensure adequate maternal mental health screenings as well as additional caregiver-infant support. Meghan is also a mother of two.


South Carolina
Communications professional
Kate Morrow, of Columbia, South Carolina, has over ten years of experience as a senior level executive in health care communications and non-profit management. She is passionate about her community, giving back and most recently, for increasing awareness on premature labor and babies born too soon. After her twin children, Jack and Lilly, were born at 28 weeks gestation and spent 76 days in the NICU, Kate felt an extreme calling to do more. Her twins are six months old now, thriving and home with Kate and her husband, an attorney for the South Carolina Attorney General’s office. She and her family served as the March of Dimes South Carolina ambassador family this year. After resigning from her career due to medical circumstances, Kate is focused on advocating for better maternity leave and more flexible career options for women.


Health Care Administrator; Wellness Director, Westside Health Authority
Jaidalyn Rand-Ousley leads a team of community wellness workers in conducting in-home wellness visits for seniors, single mothers, and other special need populations. With a Master’s Degree in public health, she has spent several years working and volunteering to improve health outcomes for women, children and seniors. Jaidalyn is an avid learner and enjoys conducting research on various issues impacting the health of women and children. Her latest research project was with the Chicago Department of Public Health where she collected and analyzed data assessing emergency preparedness for perinatal care in rural and urban areas throughout the state of Illinois. She is committed to improving health and reducing mortality rates for mothers and infants in underserved areas. She is a passionate advocate for health equity and reducing social and economic barriers to wellness. Jaidalyn is currently a medical student at Trinity School of Medicine as well as a proud mother and wife.


Health Communications Director, AgriSafe Network
Knesha Rose-Davison is the Health Communications Director with AgriSafe Network, a nonprofit organization that addresses occupational health issues within the agricultural community. With over ten years of public health experience in community health, health disparities and advocacy, Knesha is passionate about serving vulnerable populations and ensuring health access and equity. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences (2002) with a minor in Chemistry and a Master’s of Public Health (2006) with an emphasis in Health Promotion from Northern Illinois University. In June 2016, she obtained a certificate in Agricultural Medicine which focused on rural occupational health and environmental health and safety. Knesha is a member of the American Public Health Association’s Black Caucus of Health Workers and the Louisiana Public Health Association where she serves in leadership. She is a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., and resides in Metairie, LA with her husband and two fur babies.


Stay-at-home mom; dedicated March of Dimes volunteer
Natalie Sawyer is a stay-at-home mom who divides her time between organizing the chaos of four young boys, managing a household and volunteering for local organizations. In between all of that, she teaches Power Yoga. A summa cum laude graduate of Abilene Christian University, Natalie is a skilled and resourceful trainer with the ability to identify persuasive techniques to motivate and educate people. In 2013, Natalie had twins born at 27 weeks, followed by a 95-day stay in the NICU. Once graduating from the NICU, she dedicated herself to volunteering with Young Lives, an organization that provides mentorship to teen mothers. Natalie then went on to charter a program for mentoring sixth grade girls at a local elementary school. She is a passionate volunteer, most recently having served as the chair for the 2018 March for Babies, NE & Central Arkansas, as well as holding a position on the March of Dimes NE & Central Arkansas board.


Pediatrician; Medical Director Newborn Nursery, Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital
Dr. Emily Scott is a pediatric hospitalist at Indiana University Health and Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, Indiana. For the past 4 years, she has served as the medical director of the well newborn unit at IU Health Methodist Hospital. In this role, Emily provides compassionate and evidence-based care to newborn babies and their families. Her special interests are breastfeeding promotion, educating families about safe sleep practices and providing family-centered care to families affected by substance use disorder. Emily is also the well newborn education director and teaches medical students, pediatric and family medicine residents daily. She has won several teaching awards, including the Morris Green Pediatric Faculty Teaching Award and the Indiana University Trustee Teaching Award. Emily is also involved in advocacy work for newborns and children and was recently elected as vice president of the Indiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (INAAP). Emily had previously served as co-chair of the perinatal and infant mortality committee and is currently the chapter breastfeeding coordinator for INAAP. She is actively involved in several projects with the Indiana Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative and has presented at a state and national level on neonatal abstinence syndrome, breastfeeding and safe sleep practices. Emily has two young children.


OB/GYN; Medical Director of Centering Pregnancy, Dept of OB/GYN, UWSMPH
Dr. Kristen Sharp is an OB/Gyn at the University of Wisconsin and the medical director of their Centering Pregnancy program, a group prenatal care model that has been shown to improve birth outcomes. Through her work as an OB/Gyn she came to learn about the health disparities that exist related to birth outcomes and infant mortality, especially the disparities that exist in her own state. She has dedicated a large portion of her career to learning about the underlying causes of these disparities and working with her institution and community on solutions. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Washington University and her MD from Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine. Kristen completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Michigan. She lives with her husband and two young children.


NICU Family Support Navigator
Leigh Townsend, MPA, CPXP serves as the NICU Family Support Navigator at Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, LA. She is the parent partner with the NICU’s Quality team, and is proud to serve as the parent voice for the 84 bed Level III NICU. Working with families from across Louisiana impacted by NICU stays every day has made Leigh passionate about preventing pre-eclampsia and all preterm births. She has volunteered with March of Dimes since 2007 on both a local level for March for Babies and national level with Share Your Story. Since experiencing pre-eclampsia and the premature birth of her first child in 2006, Leigh has been drawn to maternal and child health work. Her second and third sons were also born preterm, and are thankfully healthy and doing well. Leigh believes preterm birth affects a woman and her baby(ies) across the life span and sees it as an urgent public health issue in all 50 states.


Procurement Supervisor, City of Phoenix, Human Services Department
Laura Vargas is a procurement supervisor for the city of Phoenix, Human Services Department. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Development at Binghamton University. After college, Laura joined AmeriCorps and moved to Arizona. She worked with the homeless for over a year and then became a public servant in various positions with the state of Arizona, ensuring public money was spent in a fiscally and ethically responsible manner. Laura’s son Lucien was born premature at 28 weeks weighing 1 lb, 3 oz and was given a 50/50 chance of survival and severe disability at birth. After a long struggle, today he is a healthy 2-year-old. His birth made Laura realize that change is needed in our health care system. She believes there is work to be done and wants to get her hands dirty.


Marketing Manager; Vice President of the Board, Save Babies Through Screening Foundation
Sarah Wilkerson is a mom and rare disease warrior. Her son Noah was born with a rare genetic disorder called MCADD in 2009. He was born on a Friday, and the state lab responsible for running Noah’s newborn screening test that would identify his MCADD was closed for the weekend, leaving his life-saving test sample untouched over the weekend. Those were days he didn't have to spare, and a day before his test results were turned around, Noah passed away. Since then, Sarah has worked tirelessly to speed up newborn screening test results. In 2013, Noah's story was featured in an investigative journalism series from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel called “Deadly Delays,” which influenced a change in federal law in 2014 via the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act. The bill's language emphasized timely newborn screening test results throughout. National best practice guidelines for timely tests were created, and Sarah helped influence what was included.
She also recently helped update Colorado's newborn screening law, which was passed in June 2018. The new law makes sure the state lab stays open a minimum of six days a week regardless of weekends or holidays, brings the state into compliance with national guidelines by adding additional rare diseases the test screens for and creates funding and a far more structured program for newborn hearing tests, among other things. Sarah and her husband have two younger children.