The American Kidney Fund Health Equity Coalition

Association of Black Cardiologists

Founded in 1974, the Association of Black Cardiologists, Inc., (ABC) is a nonprofit organization with an international membership of over 2,000 health professionals, lay members of the community (Community Health Advocates), corporate members, and institutional members. The Association of Black Cardiologists, Inc. is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians. ABC is dedicated to eliminating the disparities related to cardiovascular disease in all people of color.

Levather (Neicey) Johnson, RN, BSN, ESQ JD, Senior Director of Programs

L. Neicey Johnson, registered nurse, and attorney is the founder and executive director of VSNS, Inc. (Visions), a Georgia not-for-profit personal service and mentoring organization in metro Atlanta since 2003. Neicey has over 25 years of varying administrative and clinical healthcare experience and is the founder of a healthcare consulting firm and served over 10 years as co-producer of a local public television show. She is an active volunteer and participant of several community-based business boards, including the Diversity Leadership Council of the American Heart Association, and Southeast Region Health Equity Council, and a lifetime member of the Association of Black Cardiologists.

American Diabetes Association

The moving force behind the work of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is a network of more than 565,000 volunteers, their families and caregivers, a professional society of nearly 16,000 health care professionals, as well as more than 250 staff members. The ADA leads the fight against the deadly consequences of diabetes and fights for those affected by diabetes. They fund research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes, deliver services to hundreds of communities, provide objective and credible information and give voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes.

Abby Smith, MSW, MPH, Director of Health Equity and Community Engagement

Abigail is the current Director, of Health Equity & Community Engagement, the American Diabetes Association. Abigail Smith holds a Master's in Social Work from Boston College ('09), and a Master's in Public Health from Yale University ('14). In her current role with the ADA, she focuses on reducing health disparities and improving health equity on local and national initiatives. Abby has been rooted in issues of social justice and health equity throughout her career, as reflected in her time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana, her position as a Program Manager working with the pre-trial population of Baltimore city, her work with CPS-involved families and foster youth in Washington State, and her Health Policy Transformation efforts in the Office of the Governor for the State of Hawaii.

American Nephrology Nurses Association (ANNA)

The American Nephrology Nurses Association improves members' lives through education, advocacy, networking, and science. Since it was established as a nonprofit organization in 1969, ANNA has been serving members who span the nephrology nursing spectrum, with a membership of over 8,000 registered nurses and other health care professionals at all levels of practice. Members work in such areas as conservative management, peritoneal dialysis, hemodialysis, continuous renal replacement therapies, transplantation, industry, and government/regulatory agencies. ANNA achieves these goals by providing the highest quality educational products, programs, and services.

Nikeyia Davis, MBA-HCM, MSN, APRN, AGPCNP, NP-C, CNN, Chair of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

Nikeyia is involved in several professional nursing organizations and holds a variety of board positions. She currently serves as the American Nephrology Nurses Association (ANNA) Michigan Chapter President and is the Committee Chair designee for the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee at the national level of the organization. Past roles with ANNA also include, Health Policy Representative, where she attended meetings with the United States Congress and staff to voice concern with kidney care for people with chronic kidney disease, kidney transplant recipients, and organ donors.

She is the current Secretary of the American Nurses Association-Michigan Chapter and has served as a panelist for Professional Issues on Moral Resilience and End Nurse Abuse Advisory Committees as well as on the Nursing and Health Policy Committee. Nikeyia is continually building her legacy of promoting positive health outcomes by starting her own nursing blog, The Kidney Chronicles and her own business, KED Talks: Kidney Education, LLC, to educate the community on measures to take to prevent kidney disease.


AstraZeneca is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription medicines in Oncology and BioPharmaceuticals, including Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism, and Respiratory & Immunology. Based in Cambridge, UK, AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries, and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. For more information, please visit and follow us on Twitter @AstraZenecaUS.

Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly and Company

In January 2011, Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly and Company announced an Alliance that centers on compounds representing several of the largest diabetes treatment classes. Depending on geographies, the companies either co-promote or separately promote the respective molecules each contributing to the Alliance. The Alliance leverages the strengths of two of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies to focus on patient needs. By joining forces, the companies demonstrate their commitment, not only to the care of people with diabetes, but also to investigating the potential to address areas of unmet medical need.

Tameka Sanders

Tameka Sanders is a Senior Associate Director of Patient Advocacy and Professional Relations (PAR) at Boehringer Ingelheim.  In her role she provides strategic direction for engagement with patient organization and professional medical associations.  She is also responsible for helping to ensure that patient insights are captured to help inform the clinical development program.  Tameka began her career in research and development working at MedImmune Inc. in their protein engineering department. Her passion for people in underserved communities led her to accept a role at Digene Corporation where she was part of a team that developed an HPV test for women in developing countries.  Tameka spent most of her career in pharmaceutical sales, where she was able to witness first-hand some of the inequities within our healthcare system. Tameka currently serves as member of Boehringer-Ingelheim's Health Equity Team.  She is honored by the opportunity to be part of an industry that is helping to drive systemic change to improve health inequities.

Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc. 

Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Incorporated is a professional organization of more than 8,000 registered professional nurses and student nurses representing many cultures and diverse ethnic backgrounds.  The organization has a rich legacy which started in 1932 with the vision to impact communities through healthcare education and services. The organization continues to identify and develop nursing leaders to affect change in the numerous communities within its service areas which are found throughout the United States.

Stacey Johnson, DNP, RN, CCM, SAFE, MSN, National Secretary

Dr. Stacey Johnson started in Chi Eta Phi in the spring of 1996 at Hampton University's School of Nursing in Hampton, VA. She has 25 years of nursing, with a multifaceted skill set and experience, in clinical areas ranging from Acute care, Community Care, and Executive Administration.

Soror Johnson has held several leadership roles in Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc. She was the elected charter president of the first graduate chapter in Westchester, NY; the immediate past Assistant Regional Director and current Regional Treasurer within the Northeast region of Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc. Dr. Johnson is also the current elected National Secretary of Chi Eta Phi Sorority Inc. She is an active member of the Westchester County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., the National Black Nurses Association, and CMSA.

Home Dialyzers United

Home Dialyzors United's mission is: "To inspire, inform, and advocate for an extraordinary quality of life for the home dialysis community." Since its founding in 2006, HDU has been recognized as an effective provider of support to home Dialyzors, having a substantial influence within the community. HDU provides support, education, information, and encouragement to Dialyzors, family and care partners on home dialysis. HDU's members and advisors include clinicians and renal professionals worldwide.

Nieltje Gedney, Executive Director

Nieltje is the current Executive Director of Home Dialyzors United (HDU), having been past Treasurer and Vice President of HDU for over 5 years. She comes to HDU as an 8-year solo home hemodialyzor, and 20 years of pro-actively managing CKD due to AKI. Active in the Policy and Advocacy Committee, she has spoken at numerous events including the Alliance for Home Dialysis, American Kidney Fund, National Kidney Foundation, SONG, Annual Dialysis Conference, The Kidney Project, and Kidney Health Initiative (KHI), ANNA and Kidney Week. She is a contributor at Kidney Views Blog, CJASN, and Seminars in Nephrology as well. Nieltje's patient advocacy stems from experience on Capitol Hill beginning at 16, whereshe learned that power in numbers can bring about change.

Nichole Jefferson, President

Nichole Jefferson, who currently resides in Dallas, TX, was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease in 2003 and experienced both forms of dialysis (HD and PD). On June 12, 2008, she received the gift of life, a kidney transplant. Due to a series of medical challenges, she faced following her transplant, Nichole realized that a transplant was simply another form of treatment and not a cure. This realization initiated her enthusiasm for advocacy.

Nichole shares her story with her community and underserved populations and speaks with legislators regarding the need for early detection and other issues relating to chronic kidney disease. She became a Field Ambassador for the American Association of Kidney Patients in 2017, joined the Home Dialyzors United (HDU) Board of Directors in 2017, and was recently elected President of the Board. In addition, she serves on the Kidney Precision Medicine Project Community Engagement Committee and is the co-leader of the NIDDK APOLLO Community Advisory Board.

Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program (KDSAP)

The Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program (KDSAP) was created in March 2008 with two key objectives: student career development and community outreach. KDSAP is a student-run organization targeting college students and aims to provide opportunities for community outreach to raise public awareness and promote early detection of chronic kidney disease (CKD). In addition, KDSAP offers many innovative programs to benefit its student members, including speaker series each semester that expose students to scientific and medical professions while facilitating the development of mentor-mentee relationships. Members may also participate in community outreach and develop leadership skills by organizing, managing, and running monthly kidney health screenings in medically underserved communities.

Kundhan Dasari, Student, University of California-Berkley

Kundhan Dasari is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Public Health and minoring in Public Policy, who is passionate about healthcare, advocacy, and politics. Mr. Dasari enjoys research, volunteer work at local clinics, and has experience in the Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program and worked at Stockton Cardiology Medical Group which has made him an effective communicator. Mr. Dasari has been the recipient of the Cal Alumni Association - Leadership Award Scholarship, The Leadership Award is a one-year, merit-based scholarship that recognizes undergraduate students at UC Berkeley who demonstrate innovative, initiative-driven leadership impacting their academic, work, or community environments. Mr. Dasari has also been the recipient of the City of Tracy Outstanding Youth Mentor award and the #Digital4Good National Award, which is given to students and organizations that raise awareness of the power of student's voices for social good in social media.

National Health Council

Created by and for patient organizations more than 100 years ago, the National Health Council (NHC) brings diverse organizations together to forge consensus and drive patient-centered health policy. NHC promotes increased access to affordable, high-value, sustainable health care. Made up of more than 145 national health- related organizations and businesses, the NHC's core membership includes the nation's leading patient organizations. Other members include health-related associations and nonprofit organizations including the provider, research, and family caregiver communities; and businesses NHC's strives to provide a united voice for the 160 million people living with chronic diseases and disabilities and their family caregivers. They envision a society in which all people have access to quality, affordable health care that respects goals and aspirations to promote their best possible health outcomes.

Omar A. Escontrías, DrPH, MPH, Vice President, Research, Education & Programs

By the time Dr. Omar Escontrías joined the National Health Council in April 2022 as its Vice President of Research, Education, and Programs, he'd already spent decades building a career fighting systemic health care inequalities in historically underrepresented and racial/ethnic (HURE) communities.

Escontrías was impressed with NHC's 2022 to 2024 strategic plan, especially those areas of focus regarding the advancement of health ecosystem policy reforms to optimize patient health and prioritizing health equity across the health ecosystem.

Backed up by his wealth of bicultural experiences, from his earliest days as a child in México, to his years organizing community outreach projects, Dr. Escontrías is thrilled to be contributing to the NHC's patient-centered advocacy and policy engagement efforts.


National Hispanic Medical Association

Established in 1994 in Washington, D.C., the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA) is a non-profit association representing the interests of 50,000 licensed Hispanic physicians in the United States. The mission of the organization is to empower Hispanic physicians to lead efforts to improve the health of Hispanic and other underserved populations in collaboration with Hispanic state medical societies, residents, medical students, and other public and private sector partners. NHMA provides policymakers, healthcare providers, and our partners with expert information and support in strengthening health service delivery to Hispanic communities across the nation.

Elena Rios, MD, M.S.P.H., F.A.C.P., President & CEO

Dr. Rios serves as President & CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association, (NHMA), representing 50,000 Hispanic physicians in the United States. The mission of the organization is to improve the health

of Hispanics. Dr. Rios also serves as President of NHMA's National Hispanic Health Foundation to direct educational and research activities.

Dr. Rios also serves on the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda Boards of Directors, Centene Health Policy Advisory Committee, Centene Health Equity Committee, Office of Research on Women's Health Advisory Committee, NIH, US Department of Health and Human Services, and the VA National Academic Affiliations Council.

National Medical Association

The National Medical Association (NMA) is the collective voice of African American physicians and the leading force for parity and justice in medicine and the elimination of disparities in health. The National Medical Association (NMA), established in 1895, is the largest and oldest national organization representing African American physicians and their patients in the United States. NMA is committed to improving the quality of health among minorities and disadvantaged people through its membership, professional development, community health education, advocacy, research, and partnerships with federal and private agencies. The NMA is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to sponsor continuing medical education for physicians.

Randall Maxey, MD, Ph.D., Past President, and Past Chairman of the Board

Dr. Maxey is a Past President and Past Chairman of the Board of the National Medical Association, the collective voice of African American physicians in the United States. He is also the founding president of the Alliance of Minority Medical Associations (AMMA), which supports the moral imperative that all individuals are equally entitled to receive high-quality health care that can improve and prolong life.

Dr. Maxey served as Past President of the Golden State Medical Association and the Charles R. Drew Medical Society. During his career, he made noted contributions to research regarding the prevention and treatment of renal failure, especially in cases complicated by cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Randall W. Maxey is a nephrologist in Inglewood, California, and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Memorial Hospital of Gardena and Centinela Hospital Medical Center. He received his medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years.

National Minority Health Association

The National Minority Health Association was founded in 1988 by Dr. David L. Dalton, Chairman, and CEO of UNIVEC, INC. Today, the NMHA is administering an $11.1M HRSA grant to reduce COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and deploy new programs that focus on patient-centered, value-based care, reduce costs, and improve outcomes for minorities and underserved communities, all in its mission to bring about health equity for all. To learn more, please visit

NMHA also welcomes new members to the Health Equity Action Leaders network and encourages donations to combat health inequity through

Twitter: @thenmha



Instagram: @nationalminorityhealth

THE. Art Alliance:

Burgess Harrison, Executive Director, MBA

Burgess Harrison, MBA, brings a wide breadth and depth of expertise to the National Minority Health Association. He comes with more than 25 years of home health/ home care tech, electronic visit verification (EVV), and telehealth technology experience. He is a pioneer in EVV and Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) and possesses a unique understanding of the market and the issues patients, providers, and vendors face.

As Executive Director of the NMHA, he is leading the organization in its mission of health equity through Operation Healthy You™, technology, vaccine education, and hesitancy reduction programs, clinical trial diversity; dementia caregiver training; and utilization of Patient Activation Measure™ (PAM) to the healthcare system.

National Minority Organ Tissues Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP)

At National Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP), their mission is to reduce the rate and number of ethnic minority Americans needing organ and tissue transplants through disease prevention and education. National MOTTEP is the first program of its kind to include a two-fold strategy in addressing the problems minorities face when searching for organ and tissue transplants. First, they venture to increase the number of persons becoming organ/tissue donors. Secondly, they increased awareness for disease prevention and the behaviors that lead to the need for transplantation in the first place. MOTTEP is excited to bring even more change and support minorities in the coming years for disease prevention, and the ongoing focus on living kidney donation.

Velma Scantlebury-White, MD, FACS; Professor of Surgery at TCU and UNTHSC; Medical Director

Dr. Scantlebury-White is a Barbadian-born American transplant surgeon. She was the first African American woman transplant surgeon in the United States. She has received many honors in her career, having been named to both the "Best Doctors in America" and "Top Doctors in America" lists multiple times.

Dr. Scantlebury is currently a Professor of Surgery at Texas Christian University and the University of North Texas Health Science Center. She also serves as the Medical Director of, the Black Doctors Consortium in Philadelphia, PA.

Dr. Scantlebury has been passionate about educating minority communities regarding the need for more organ donors and the rising number of patients in need of transplantation. As a board member of the National MOTTEP (Minority Organ and Tissue Transplant Educational Program), she continues to promote education regarding the higher incidence of renal failure and the need for dialysis within the African American community.

The George Washington Medical Faculty Associates

The GW Medical Faculty Associates has a rich heritage in academics and research as the first medical school in the nation's capital and the 11th oldest in the United States. Their physicians teach and mentor medical students, residents, and researchers at The GW University School of Medicine & Health Sciences.

To date, The GW Medical Faculty Associates employs over 2,150 employees located in the US and across the world from as far away as Qatar.

The GW Medical Faculty Associates goals include improving the patient experience through better access, quality, and coordination of care. To achieve these goals, the organization will leverage the latest technologies for delivering a state-of-the-art experience and will engage in partnerships that offer best practice learning and tools to empower employees to deliver an exceptional experience.

Ashte Collins, MD

Ashté Collins, M.D., FASN is a physician in the Division of Kidney Disease & Hypertension at the George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates and an Associate Professor of Medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. He graduated from the Xavier University of Louisiana with a B.S. in Biology and received his medical degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

Dr. Collins completed his internal medicine residency at the George Washington University Medical Center. He then served as Chief Medical Resident at George Washington University. After his chief residency, Dr. Collins completed his nephrology fellowship training at the George Washington University Medical Center. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Nephrology.

Dr. Collins is the director of the outreach practice at George Washington University's Division of Kidney Disease and Hypertension, expanding GWU's reach beyond the university campus. He is the medical director of the Fresenius NxStage Lanham dialysis center. Dr. Collins' clinical interests include chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury, hypertension, kidney stones, continuous renal replacement therapies, and home hemodialysis. His research interests include cardiovascular disease in chronic kidney disease, medical education, health disparities in patients with kidney disease, and outcomes in end-stage kidney disease patients. He has partnered with the American Society of Nephrology to produce the nationwide annual nephrology workforce report and nephrology fellows' survey.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Vertex is a global biotechnology company that invests in scientific innovation to create transformative medicines for people with serious diseases. The company has multiple approved medicines that treat the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis (CF) — a rare, life-threatening genetic disease — and has several ongoing clinical and research programs in CF. Beyond CF, Vertex has a robust clinical pipeline of investigational small molecule, cell and genetic therapies in other serious diseases where it has deep insight into causal human biology, including sickle cell disease, beta thalassemia, APOL1-mediated kidney disease, pain, type 1 diabetes and alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.

James Ingram II

James Ingram II is the Director, Policy and Alliance Development at Vertex, a health care biotech company which invests in scientific innovation to create transformative medicines for people living with serious genetic diseases. In his current role, Ingram works closely with the minority health advocacy and professional medical community, and other relevant social and civic organizations to foster key partnerships and alignment on important minority health-related topics. James has spent a majority of his professional career in government affairs and advocacy, including more than 15 years advocating on important topics such as cancer research, cancer survivorship and working to address cancer health disparities in minority and other underserved populations. James currently serves on the Board of Directors for a national young adult cancer survivorship organization and is a longstanding and active member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. James shares a deep passion for helping elevate the perspectives and voices of the minority health community.

Individual Contributor

Dr. Anika Lucas

Nephrology Fellow, Duke University (Fellow, AKF Clinical Scientist in Nephrology)

Dr. Anika Lucas is a nephrology fellow at Duke University. Her current research focuses on racial differences in adverse pregnancy and postpartum outcomes in women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), with a goal to more accurately identify women who are at particularly high risk for adverse events. Dr. Lucas conducts studies on an international cohort of women with SLE from the United States, Canada, Germany, and Italy — one of the largest reported multi-ethnic cohorts of pregnant women with SLE in the world — and evaluates the relations between maternal second trimester estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and the likelihood of adverse pregnancy outcomes including preeclampsia, preterm birth, fetal loss, and small size for gestational age. Additionally, she explores the potential role of APOL-1 genetic mutations on these important outcomes.

Dr. Lucas is a graduate of Wellesley College, received a master's degree from Harvard Divinity School, and obtained her medical degree at Temple University School of Medicine.

She completed her residency in internal medicine at the University of Connecticut.

As part of her research fellowship, Dr. Lucas continues to receive additional training in research methods through the Clinical Research Training Program at Duke.

Crystal Scott

AKF Ambassador

Crystal is committed to contributing to the fight against kidney disease and regularly speaks to anyone and everyone about the importance of protecting your kidneys. Originally from Rochester, New York, she now resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, putting her close to the nation's capital and her advocacy efforts in Congress.

Crystal is a kidney disease warrior and was on in-center dialysis for about three months before transitioning to peritoneal home dialysis for 6.5 years. She received a deceased donor transplant in December 2018.

It is the fate of too many minorities to fall through the healthcare cracks. Because of this, Crystal has been searching for ways to help patients self-advocate and learn about kidney health. Crystal has now advocated for kidney disease patients as an AKF Ambassador for over six years and has advocated before elected officials at the local and federal level on various occasions. She has spoken out in favor of the Living Donor Protection Act and the need to expand Medicare coverage for transplant recipients beyond three years to lifetime benefits. She is especially passionate about expanding coverage for immunosuppressant medication to protect the precious gift of a donated kidney.

Dr. Elaine Ku

Associate Professor and Director of Nephrology Transition Clinic, University of California San Francisco (AKF Clinical Scientist in Nephrology)

Dr. Ku is a pediatric and adult nephrologist and a clinical epidemiologist. She is an Associate Professor at the University of California San Francisco in the Divisions of Nephrology and Pediatric Nephrology. She is also the Director of the Nephrology Transition Clinic, which focuses on helping adolescents and young adults transition to adult care. Dr. Ku sees kidney transplants and chronic kidney disease patients in her clinic.

The global context of her research program focuses on understanding differences in the epidemiology, clinical management, and outcomes of children versus adults with kidney disease and the conduct of clinical trials to test interventions that will improve the survival of patients with kidney disease. Her specific areas of focus currently include 1) cardiovascular risk in patients with kidney disease; 2) disparities in access to kidney transplantation and transplant outcomes, and 3) risk factors for progression of chronic kidney disease.

Leigh-Ann Williams

MPH, MS; AKF Ambassador & Research fellow, Dillard University

Leigh-Ann is a lifelong resident of the greater New Orleans area. Her educational background includes a B.S. in toxicology from University of Louisiana Monroe, an M.S. in toxicology from the University of Florida, and a MPH from Louisiana Health Sciences Center New Orleans. Leigh-Ann is the program coordinator for the federal 340B drug pricing program at West Jefferson Medical Center and is a Post Masters research fellow at Dillard University. In additional to her other roles, she is also a patient ambassador for the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) and a certified Kidney Health Coach and an ambassador with the American Kidney Fund. Leigh-Ann is a 2021-2023 board member for the Kidney Health Initiative's Patient and Family Partnership Council (PFPC). Leigh-Ann's hope as an ambassador is to continue the work she has been doing with her foundation, The LeighWilli Foundation, to advocate, educate, encourage, and empower people with kidney disease.

Dr. Rachel Perlman

Clinical Associate Professor in Nephrology and Internal Medicine- University of Michigan (AKF Kidney Disease Prevention, Education & Outreach Committee)

Dr. Perlman attended Bryn Mawr College and then received her medical degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. She did her Internal Medicine Residency and Nephrology Fellowship at the University of Michigan — where she currently works. As a nephrologist, Dr. Perlman enjoys taking care of dialysis patients, especially people on home dialysis. In addition to her clinical work in nephrology, she is very committed to medical education. Dr. Perlman teaches at the University of Michigan Medical School and serves as Associate Program Director for the Internal Medicine Residency Program. She has published articles on dialysis and anemia as they relate to chronic kidney disease.

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