Meet the Board of Directors

Florence Champagne, MSW, Chairman and CEO

Florence suffered a heart attack March, 2012, and as a result, she had emergency open heart surgery.   Due to being uninsured at the time, she did not readily receive the diagnostic testing and life-saving treatment.  She found that she was not alone, and met other African-American women along the way, who were either uninsured or underinsured, which impacted their ability to receive treatment, thus, creating a life-threatening disparity.  Being a heart survivor, she found purpose in her pain as she provides support, advocacy, and leadership to women living with heart disease.

Florence is spokesperson for WomenHeart: A national coalition of women who support women living with or who are at risk of heart disease.  To that end, her accomplishments include being on the Dr. Oz show, speaking on Capitol Hill about heart health disparities, written articles as well as her participation in patient education videos, sharing her personal story empowering women to become advocates for their heart health.  Through her advocacy, education, and speaking engagements, Florence has reached approximately 6,000 women.  Florence received a BA from George Mason University in Art Therapy and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Howard University. Her history includes working at the White House, the Department of Justice and the US House of Representatives.  She is a published author publishing her first book called “Inez’s Granddaughter”.  Florence is a member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and Sisters for Sisters Network, Inc.  She is originally from Philadelphia and currently resides in Upper Marlboro, MD.

Sandra Crewe, Ph.D., Vice Chair
Dr. Crewe is the Dean of Howard University’s School of Social Work.  She holds a BSW and MSW from the National Catholic School of Social Services, Catholic University of America. She earned her Ph.D. in Social Work from Howard University in Washington, DC. She is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW). Her research interests include Family Caregiving and Kinship Care (emphasis on older adults), Program Development and Evaluation, and Cultural Competence. She has published articles in the Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Affilia, and  the Journal of Health and Social Policy. She serves as the director of the Multidisciplinary Center for Social Gerontology.
Dr. Crewe is a gubernatorial appointee for the Maryland Affordable Housing Trust; member of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (Resident Leadership Faculty); member of the board of directors, American Association of Service Coordinators (chair professional development committee); advisory council member of the Women’s Health Institute and HIV/AIDS Consortium (Howard University); and member and chair of the ethnogeriatric and culture committee, Washington DC Area Geriatric Education Consortium Center (WAGECC). She is also a Master Faculty Scholar for WAGECC and member of the NASW Aging Specialty Group and served as a member of the expert panel for Family Caregiving Standards. Dr. Crewe also serves on the Council of Social Work’s professional development committee. She is a program evaluation/development consultant for the Department of Social Development (provincial government), Cape Town, South Africa.


Alexis Cecile Tolliver, Acting Treasurer
Alexis is originally from East Orange, New Jersey, where she started out her career as a school teacher, reading specialist, then school administrator for the Newark, New Jersey Public School System. She later relocated to Washington, DC as First Lady, where her husband, Dr. Reverend Richard L. Tolliver, was the fourth Rector at the St. Timothy Episcoal Church in Washington, DC.

Alexis Cecile worked for the Fairfax County Public School System as an educator for 28 years.  She later retired from the Fairfax County School System in 2008, in order to become a caregiver for her mother in New Jersey.  In addition to her career as an educator, Alexis retired from her career as a Professional Photographer.

Alexis is a Graduate of Fisk University where she received her BA in Education.  She received her Masters in Reading from New York University, and later received her Masters in Education and Administration from Seton Hall University.

She is a current member of the Potomac Chapter of Girl Friends, Inc., a member of the Coalition of African Americans in the Performing Arts (CAAPA), the Wake-Robin Golf Club for 31 years, the Hi-Lo Bridge Club, and a former member of the Prince George’s County Chapter of Links, Inc.  She currently resides in Clinton, MD, where she has received numerous awards for her artistry in landscaping.

Khaleelah Cohen, M.A., Secretary
Khaleelah has over six years of research and collegiate teaching experience; and a professional background in non-profit program development and volunteer services spanning over 12 years.
In her previous roles, she oversaw the enhancement and execution of numerous program initiatives and national training conferences. As Director of Programs at WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, she managed community-based education initiatives, peer support programs, social media campaigns and led the planning and execution of the organization’s annual conferences for patients and national hospital partners. In 2017, Khaleelah launched her consulting business and has worked for clients such as WomenHeart, The Myositis Association and the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research, managing various aspects of patient volunteer programs, training, campaigns and special projects. She continues her work in the non-profit sector, serving community members through her position as Community Benefit Specialist with MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and continues to offer consulting services for non-profit organizations.
Khaleelah received her MA in Sociology from the University of Maryland, College Park, and B.A. from the University of California, Riverside where she graduated Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa.  She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Open My Heart Foundation and The Talking Drum, Incorporated. Khaleelah is a California native and resides in the District of Columbia with her husband and three children..


Holly Jones, Financial Secretary
Holly is a survivor that thrives!  At the age of 19 years old she was diagnosed with Polymyositis with Interstitial Lung Disease.  In 2014, her lung disease progressed causing her to develop Pulmonary Hypertension and required her to be on oxygen daily.  After six years of being in clinical remission, the Pulmonary Hypertension progressed into Congestive Heart Failure.  

Holly has turned her tears into triumph.  She is a social media guru and the host of a Facebook Live talk show, called “Krazy N Christian”. Where she speaks on trending topics, life as a Christian, and important information about health and wealth that helps to build the community. Her Facebook page, Polymyositis: Bringing Awareness, informs and encourages those living with the rare disease. She gives her audience  insights on what she is  experiences as a patient, wife, mother, relative, and friend.  She embarked on her own social media support group called HERstory In Color on Facebook and YouTube where videos are submitted of women diagnosed with any invisible disease telling their story to help others.  She is also the Co-leader of the Women of Color division at The Myositis Association.

She resides in Porter, Texas, is a wife of 14 yrs (Kameron), a mother of two daughters and one son (Kynadee, 11) (Kynsley, 6) (Kamedon, 13-stillborn).  Her favorite  quote is, “Live your life in such a way, for those who don’t know God, will come to know God because they know you.” Inspired by Philippians 1:27-30.


Gloria Ward Ravenell, Board Member
Gloria is a heart survivor that thrives!  As a child she suffered from rheumatic fever, which led to congestive heart failure and aortic heart valve replacement, and she wears a defibrillator implant.
Gloria retired from the Federal Government after 32 years of service. Following retirement she became a licensed Realtor in the DMV, and an Outreach Regional Coordinator for the Capital Area Food Bank.  She is also a 20-year breast cancer survivor and board member and political advocacy and fundraising director for Supporting Our Sisters International, Inc., a breast cancer organization. Gloria is a member of Sisters Helping Sisters breast cancer ministry at Ebenezer AME church in Fort Washington, MD and has been a strong supporter of the Open My Heart Foundation since its inception.  She was the first Vice Chair, of the National Congress of Black Women founded by congresswoman Shirley Chisholm; a model and liturgical dancer with the Prince George’s County (PGC) Senior Performing Arts Troupe showcased by the PGC Department of Parks and Planning.   She lives her life knowing that God has placed a fence of protection around her.  She plans to continue her world travels and study world cultures   She is the mother of two, a grandmother and great-grandmother.  Gloria lives in Oxon Hill, Maryland with her husband professor Jerry B. Ravenell.


Alma Thomas, Board Member

Ms. Thomas is an Engineer with the Federal Government. She holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Howard University and a MS in Computer Information Systems from University of Phoenix. She also completed her post graduate studies in Management and Organizational Leadership.  Her career in the federal sector has includes engineering, aviation, software, information technology, data management, cloud services, acquisition, policy development, strategic planning, supervisory and management. She has worked for the federal government in several Departments and Agencies.

Ms. Thomas has been an active member of the Howard University Alumni PG County Chapter, and has volunteered with NSBE, JR Chapter and LEAP Forward to assist in program development and fundraising as well as support activities for STEM students and scholarships for students. Ms. Thomas is also a member of The Links, Incorporated.


Julia Hardeman Tsadick, Board Member

Julia earned her Bachelor’s Degree from University of Michigan and earned a Master’s in Education from Howard University. She has continued her studies at Virginia Tech. University, the University of the District of Columbia, and George Washington University. She has been a School Psychologist for over 30 years, and is also licensed as a School Administrator in Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Julia is also the CEO of “Educational Assistance” an organization that provides contractual educational services, and she is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of a newly formed a non-profit, Rainbows and Windows, Inc., organizations, a non-school hour program for children and youth.

She has served on The National Congress of Black Women’s, Culture of People with Disabilities Committee, and served as Chair of the NAACP Committee for the Top Ladies of Distinction, Prince Georges County Chapter. She is a member of the National Association of School Psychologists, Vice President of the District of Columbia’s Association of School Psychologist, and a member of the Maryland Association of School Psychologists. In her free time Julia enjoys spending time with family and friends. Growing up in Motown, she has a love for music, dance, and theatre.  


Dr. Paul Underwood, Board Member

Paul Underwood MD, FACC, FSCAI, RAC is an interventional cardiologist with over 30 years experience in the private practice setting. He completed medical school and residency at the Mayo Clinic and completed cardiology training at the Cleveland Clinic. He learned interventional cardiology at Iowa Heart Center and practiced interventional cardiology in Phoenix, AZ. There he has been an influential member of cardiology society through the Society for Cardiac Angiography and Intervention and the American College of Cardiology (where he sat on the Arizona Board of Councilors). Most notably, he is a life member and former president of the Association of Black Cardiologists. In addition to patient care responsibilities, Dr. Underwood is passionately committed to elevating the health of communities.

In 2009 he joined Boston Scientific Corporation as a medical director for Interventional Cardiology/Structural Heart. Dr. Underwood is committed to making ideas become reality with particular emphasis on benefits of minority participation in clinical research. In addition to his clinical responsibilities at Boston Scientific, he also serves as the medical director for Close the Gap, Boston Scientific’s health equity education initiative. His professional interest has been on the creation of collaborative clinical,

Advisory Committee

Patrice Desvigne-Nickens, M.D., Advisory Committee
Dr. Nickens is a program director in the Heart Failure and Arrhythmias Branch in the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She is responsible for the scientific development and fiscal management of research programs focused on prevention, recognition, and treatment in cardiovascular medicine.  She is responsible for initiative development, coordinating workshops and meetings, and preparing all reports within these scientific areas for the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences and the Institute Director.

Among her various responsibilities, Dr. Desvigne-Nickens is particularly interested in disparities in the practice of medicine and cardiovascular health and the effect on women and minorities.

Prior to joining the NHLBI in 1991, Dr. Desvigne-Nickens was a primary care physician at the Johns Hopkins Health Plan in Baltimore. In that position, she treated patients of diverse socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds who were afflicted with various complex chronic disorders such as hypertension, diabetes, and coronary heart disease.

Dr. Desvigne-Nickens has reviewed or edited dozens of scientific manuscripts and is an author or coauthor of numerous articles and studies. She is a member of the American Heart Association, the National Medical Association, and the Association of Black Cardiologists.


Peggy Morris, Advisory Committee
Peggy is the President and Founder of Sisters 4 Sisters Network, Inc. (S4SN).  S4SN is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization driven by membership.  The key to the organization’s success is creating an empowerment, motivational and informative environment developed in a Spirit of Sisterhood, where their focus is on Education and Mentoring, Health and Wellness, Entrepreneurship, and Domestic Violence.  She has created a platform to bring women together to share information, resources and contacts to help elevate each other to the next level in their business. Their motto is “Women Helping Women to Connect”.   Peggy is also a host of a Web TV online radio program called 4Sisters LIVE.  There she helps to provide a platform which allows them to bring information to the community with guests on the topics of Education and Mentoring, Health and Wellness, Domestic Violence, and Entrepreneurship.  


Dr. Terri Peters, Advisory Committee
Dr. Terri Peters is a Compound Pharmacist and co-owner of Quality of Life Pharmacy along with her husband and Pharmacist, Dr. Rick Peters serving at the forefront to improve patient outcomes through Specialty Compounding and Disease Management.  She is also the Ambulatory Clinical Care Pharmacist in Charge at the University of Maryland Laurel Medical Center, where she turned the pharmacy into a full service hospital pharmacy to serve the state in treating Maryland Covid-19 patients. She is a Health Coach for Weight Loss and Associate Professor for Experiential Education for Howard University Doctor of Pharmacy Candidates. She is a Member of the Prince George’s County Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, and Co-Chairs the Health Committee. She is also a Member of the Prince George’s County Health Coalition.


Dr. Karen Smith, Advisory Committee

Dr. Smith participated on numerous committees and boards throughout her career and most recently enhanced her professional basket of services providing treatment for substance abuse disorders, healthcare reform and improvement initiatives, and onsite education experience for learners in healthcare. Most recently her work with the American Medical Association as Physician Champion for the Diabetes Prevention Program allows her to provide viable workflow options for practices to create accessible, quality, efficient, and cost wise strategies.  The practice of Karen L. Smith, MD, PA is most recently selected as one of three Health Leads EOPC entities which will engage primary care and their partners in system redesign to promote greater equity in health. She is married to Michael Hendricks and they have four adult children Marcus, Marquise, Mikara, and Michaela. She is a faithful member The House of Emmanuel Church. 


Honorary Board Members

Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton

Honorable Melony Griffith

Honorable Aisha Braveboy

Barbara DeBaptist

Former National President, NCBW

Jennifer Donelan

Former NBC News Anchor

Heart Survivor

Cassandra A. McCullough

Association of Black Cardiologist


Sylvia Traymore Morrison


Dr. Willie Jolley

Motivational Speaker, Author

DeeDee Strum

University of Maryland

Saundra Crewe

Dean of Howard University’s School of Social Work