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City of Chattanooga

Mayor's Council for Women

Statewide Women's Policy Conference

Speaker Bios

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Altha J. Stewart, M.D.
Senior Associate Dean for Community Health Engagement, 
The University of TN Health Science Center at Memphis

Altha J. Stewart, M.D. is Senior Associate Dean for Community Health Engagement for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. An Associate Professor and Chief of Social and Community Psychiatry, she is also Director of the Center for Health in Justice Involved Youth at the UTHSC. In 2018 she began a one-year term as the 145th President of the American Psychiatric Association, the first African American elected to this position in the 175-year history of the organization. Prior to joining the faculty at UTHSC, she served as Executive Director of the Memphis/Shelby County System of Care program. A native of Memphis, Dr. Stewart worked for decades as CEO/Executive Director in large public mental health systems in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan, overseeing the management and development of programs for persons with mental illness and substance use disorders. She received her medical degree from Temple University Medical School and completed her residency at Hahnemann University Hospital (now Drexel University). She was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Regis College in 2006 and a Doctor of Science from her alma mater, Christian Brothers University in Memphis in 2018. Dr. Stewart is past president of the Black Psychiatrists of America, the Association of Women Psychiatrists, and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation. She is the recipient of the Memphis Child Advocacy Center Community Advocate Award, the Black Psychiatrists of America Lifetime Achievement Award, the HealthCare Hero – Physician Award from the Memphis Business Journal, and the 2019 Annual Africa in April Executive of the Year award.

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Beverly L. Watts
Executive Director, 
Tennessee Human Rights Commission

Nashville native Beverly L. Watts was appointed the Executive Director of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission in July 2007. Prior to her current appointment she served as Special Advisor to the Chair at the U S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission responsible for state and local relations. She has more than 30 years of experience in civil rights enforcement and education in the public and private sector. From October, 2004 to October 2006 she served as the first Executive Director of the National Fair Housing Training Academy. 

Beverly served for more than 12 years as the Executive Director of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights and served in numerous other leadership positions in Illinois, and Kentucky. She was one of the first Title IX Coordinators in the US at the Office for Civil Rights and has served as adjunct faculty in Sociology at Spalding University. She was Senior Consultant for Ralph G. Moore & Associates(RGMA) in Chicago assisting clients in developing strategic initiatives in operations, diversity and supplier diversity programs She has presented to numerous organizations on leadership, civil rights, diversity, and motivation at the local, national and international level.  

Beverly Watts is a past President of the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies (IAOHRA) where she currently serves as the 1st Vice President.  She currently serves on the Equal Educational Opportunities Group (EEOG) and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) Boards. She is a member of the TN Access to Justice Commission. She is a past Chair of Women Executives in State Government, has served on the CABLE Nashville and the YWCA of Middle Tennessee boards. 

Beverly is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the 2019 CABLE Power of Inclusion Champion Award, the 2018 CABLE Spirit of Leadership Award, 2018 YWCA Academy of Women, 2016 YWCA Nashville Athena Nominee, the ECHO 2014 Dreamers Award, the 2014 Frances Dancy Hooks Award, the YWCA 2014 Carrie Hull Award, the City of Louisville Martin Luther King award and the 2005 induction into the KY Civil Rights Hall of Fame.

She is a graduate of Tennessee State University, Southern Illinois University.  She has completed the Duke University Leadership Program for State Executives and the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government Executive Leadership Program.

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Cary Rayson, MSW
Community Engagement Coordinator, 
Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee 

Cary is the Community Education Coordinator for Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee (PCAT).  In this role she facilitates a range of training and public education events to increase awareness and utilization of primary and secondary child abuse prevention programs.  She helped found ACE Nashville in 2015, a collective impact initiative to reduce childhood adversity and promote individual, family and community health and also coordinates a collective of nonprofit organizations in Nashville to disseminate and facilitate Stewards of Children, (child sexual abuse prevention training for adult learners). Since coming to PCAT in 2014 she has also assumed grant writing, legislative advocacy and development responsibilities for the agency.

Prior to coming to Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee Cary was the Executive Director of Magdalene, a residential community at Thistle Farms for women with a history of prostitution and addiction.   Cary received her Bachelors of Arts from Vanderbilt University in 1982 and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Tennessee in 1986.

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Christine Raino
Senior Director of Public Policy, 
Shared Hope International 

Christine Raino joined Shared Hope International in 2011 as part of a new domestic policy initiative, and helped draft the legal analysis of the 50 states and District of Columbia that laid the foundation for the annual Protected Innocence Challenge Report Cards. Currently, as Senior Director of Public Policy, Christine leads state and federal legislative advocacy efforts to advance protections and services for child sex trafficking victims. She also authors and leads research initiatives on emerging topics related to child sex trafficking. To ensure that policy efforts advanced by Shared Hope’s Center for Justice & Advocacy are shaped and informed by survivors and on-the-ground implementation, Christine convenes the JuST (Juvenile Sex Trafficking) Response Council, a group of over 30 experts from the areas of policy development, survivor leadership, federal and state child serving agencies and service provision, to examine the nuanced and complex challenges that advocates encounter when working to connect exploited youth to qualified and appropriate services.

 Christine is a licensed attorney and obtained her J.D. from American University. Prior to obtaining her law degree, she worked with refugees, asylees and victims of trafficking through federal and state resettlement programs at the International Institute of Boston.

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Dr. Cornelia Graves
Medical Director,
Tennessee Maternal Fetal Medicine
Perinatal Services at St Thomas Health Systems

Dr. Graves is a graduate of Baylor University where she received honors. Dr. Graves received her medical degree from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and was recipient of the Purdue Fredrick Award for Excellence in Women’s Healthcare. She completed her internship and residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She completed her Maternal-Fetal Fellowship at Vanderbilt University. During her fellowship, Dr. Graves received special training in Obstetrical Critical Care and became the director of one of the first Critical Care Obstetrical Units in the nation. She is currently the Medical Director of Tennessee Maternal Fetal Medicine and the Medical Director for Perinatal Services at St Thomas Health Systems. She is also a Professor at the University of Tennessee and serves as clinical and adjunct professor for Vanderbilt University and Meharry Medical College, respectively.

In 2012, Dr. Graves along with Dr. Stacy Davis, a cardiologist started the Collaborative Perinatal Cardiac Center ,a joint venture between Tennessee Maternal Fetal Medicine and  St. Thomas Health, which is one of the first in the nation to address maternal heart care from the preconception period through postpartum care and prevention. 

Considered a national expert in the management of maternal disease, Dr. Graves is extensively published and has received numerous teaching, research, professional and community awards. She has been actively involved in research and has served as an investigator on studies involving asthma, HIV, diabetes, and drug addiction during pregnancy. She is an immediate past member of the Board of Directors of the Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine. 

She has been instrumental in the formation of a Maternal Mortality Review Committee for the State of Tennessee and currently serves as a member of the review committee and a member of the CDC committee on Bias in Maternal Mortality. She also serves as the project leader for the Maternal Section of TIPQC.

In her spare time, Dr. Graves serves a keyboardist and choir director for her church and works with the youth ministry.

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Courtney Bullard
Founder, 
Institutional Compliance Solutions

Courtney has decades of experience representing institutions and organizations in matters involving sexual misconduct, including 8 years as a University system attorney. Since starting ICS in September of 2016, Ms. Bullard has become a thought leader on institutional compliance in addressing instances of sexual misconduct, bullying and hazing, speaking nationally at conferences and events. She provides legal and consulting services for public and private higher education institutions and K-12, serves as an external investigator in to allegations of sexual misconduct, most notably in the Ooltewah basketball case, and provides expert witness testimony on matters dealing with institutional response to allegations of sexual misconduct, bullying and hazing in litigation. Courtney is the host of The Law & Higher Ed Podcast and is nationally recognized for her contributions to the news media, including the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and VICE news on HBO.

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Elizabeth Condrey
Certified Sexual Risk Avoidance Specialist, Adverse Childhood Experiences Trainer,
Licensed Paramedic, & Founder of Real Boundaires 1, LLC

Elizabeth Condrey is a certified Sexual Risk Avoidance Specialist, Adverse Childhood Experiences trainer, and a licensed Paramedic.  She holds a B.S. degree in Emergency Medical Care from Western Carolina State University and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She has worked as a paramedic in multiple states, a public health educator, and is the founder of Real Boundaries 1, LLC.  

 Mrs. Condrey passionately believes that every individual deserves the opportunity to set the path for their tomorrow and that path is so much easier when risky activities are avoided, like engaging in irresponsible sexual acts or maintaining unhealthy relationships. The decisions that individuals make about sex and relationships can have a substantial impact on their mental and physical wellbeing, which spreads into our communities and creates a broader impact. This has led to Mrs. Condrey’s mission and that is to champion all people and promote healthy decisions in relationships and in life by promoting well-being through outreach and education. In addition, she strongly believes that parents should feel empowered to teach and guide their children by equipping parents with tools and resources to guide their children to healthy relationships.  This can be done by working together to build a common narrative around sexual education and by restoring family values.

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Elyse Shaw
Study Director,
Institute for Women's Policy Research

Elyse Shaw is a Study Director at IWPR and directs IWPR’s projects on the Status of Women in the United States, women’s political participation, women in leadership, and issues specifically pertaining to women and girls of color, which examines the intersectional nature of race and gender on women’s lives. She also works extensively on sexual harassment in the workplace, women’s entrepreneurship and business ownership, workforce development and job training initiatives, and contributes to IWPR’s research on global women’s issues, including providing technical assistance to the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization on the establishment of a gender policy institute in Palestine. 

Elyse has presented IWPR research at conferences and on numerous webinars, panels, and to visiting international thought leaders and has provided commentary on a broad range of research topics. She has been quoted in local and national media outlets including The Washington Post and Public Radio International. She authored or co-authored several publications, including The Status of Women in Northeast Florida: Strengthening the Pipeline for Women’s Advancement to Leadership; Assets for Equity: Building Wealth for Women in Central Ohio; Sexual Harassment and Assault at Work: Understanding the Costs; Closing the Gender Gap in Patenting, Innovation, and Commercialization: Programs Promoting Equity and Inclusion; and Undervalued and Underpaid in America: Women in Low-Wage, Female-Dominated Jobs. Prior to joining IWPR in August 2012, Elyse received her Masters of International Relations from American University’s School of International Service, where she studied peace and conflict. She was awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Bryn Mawr College.

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Feroza Freeland
Policy Associate,
A Better Balance: The Work and Family Legal Center

Feroza Freeland is a Policy Associate at A Better Balance: The Work and Family Legal Center, serving in the organization’s Southern Office based in Nashville, Tennessee. In this role, Feroza engages in advocacy and coalition-building work to advance policies to ensure that individuals at all income levels across the South are able to care for themselves and their loved ones without sacrificing their economic security. These policies include paid family & medical leave, workplace pregnancy accommodations, and lactation rights, among others. Currently, Feroza serves as the Chair of the Advocacy Committee for the Nashville Breastfeeding Coalition. 

Feroza is a proud native of Memphis, Tennessee, and she is passionate about pursuing more just and equitable public policies in the South. Feroza has worked on a variety of legislative and electoral campaigns across the state of Tennessee and has engaged in organizing and policy advocacy on issues including workers’ rights, equity in public education, and healthcare access. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a degree in political science and Hispanic studies.

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Jeannine Carpenter
Interim Executive Director and Director of Research & Policy,
Women's Fund of Greater Chattanooga

The Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga unites efforts for social change that improve life for women and girls across the region. Through advocacy and philanthropy, the Women’s Fund catalyzes movement toward a just society that is safe, nurturing, and full of opportunity for women. As the Interim Executive Director and Director of Research and Policy for the Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga, Jeannine Carpenter leads research, policy recommendations, lobbying, issue education, and advocacy engagement efforts designed to elevate Tennessee beyond its status as one of the worst states in the country for women. 49th simply isn’t good enough. 

Jeannine believes that advocacy is for everyone – regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, race, physical ability, economic status, or educational attainment. One of her favorite parts of working at the Women’s Fund is empowering all women to use their voices and passions to make the difference that they want to see in the world. 

Before joining the Women’s Fund, Jeannine worked in education, communications, and issue advocacy, as well as adapted athletics. Jeannine received a PhD in Sociolinguistics from Duke University, a Master’s Degree in English language studies and a Bachelor of Arts from North Carolina State University. She currently lives in Chattanooga with her husband, Richard, and their rescued Doberman, Nikki.

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Julia Burrows
Senior Policy Advisor to Mayor Darrell Steinberg,
Sacramento, California

Julia Burrows is the Senior Policy Advisor to Sacramento, California Mayor Darrell Steinberg. Her portfolio includes housing, climate, and transportation issues as well as support for gender and diversity advancement. Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office in June 2019, she served as the director of the Governing Institute, a think tank and affiliate of Governing magazine, working to advance better state and local government. The Institute work included facilitating the Women in Government Leadership Program, established to honor women in elected office, provide in-person leadership training, and pay it forward to mentor other women in office. A total of 125 women from across the country participated in the network. Julia worked for Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson as a sustainability advisor and President/ CEO of Greenwise Joint Venture, a nonprofit established by the mayor to advance the green economy in Sacramento. She previously served 22 years with the City of Roseville, California in various roles, including Deputy City Manager and Economic Development Director. Julia has been honored as a 2007 Athena International Award winner, a Sacramento Business Journal Women Who Means Business and 40 under 40 Young Leader recipient and is a Senior Fellow with the American Leadership Forum – Mountain Valley Chapter. Julia earned a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental policy analysis and planning from the University of California at Davis. She and her husband Chris live in Carmichael, California and are the proud parents of three children, Andrew, Austin and Brynne.

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Susan Vandergriff
Executive Director,
A Step Ahead Chattanooga

Susan Vandergriff is the Executive Director of A Step Ahead Chattanooga, a local nonprofit that empowers women by offering information about and free access to long-term, reversible birth control (IUDs and the implant.) Passionate about helping others live their best lives, Susan knows that access to birth control gives a woman the opportunity to complete an education, earn more money, have healthier pregnancies, take care of her children, and live life on her terms.

A native of the beautiful Sequatchie Valley, Susan has worked in Chattanooga most of her adult life. She completed her undergraduate degree in Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as an adult student in 2003 while simultaneously working at SunTrust bank, homeschooling her older child throughout his school career, and operating her own business as a Licensed Kindermusik Educator. 

In 2012, Susan chose to leave her eighteen-year banking career to pursue a graduate degree with a desire to eventually transition to the nonprofit world. Upon completion of her Master’s degree in Human Services Counseling in 2015, she accepted a position at A Step Ahead where she held positions of Director of Operations and Outreach, and Vice President, before accepting the position of Executive Director in fall 2018. 

Susan loves investing in both her local community and globally as well. She is a proud member of the 2019-2020 Leadership Chattanooga class. She previously served as Vice Chair of the Hamilton County Community Advisory Board (CAB) and on the board of Eternal Family Project. Susan is especially interested in breaking cycles of poverty and has volunteered with organizations in Ethiopia, Guatemala, and Haiti that focus on orphan prevention.

Susan's family is a blend of biological, adoptive, and bonus children. She and her husband, Sam Tibbs, have six children between them, ranging in age from nine to twenty-one.

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