Steering Committee


Dr. Nikia Grayson, Memphis, TN

Dr. Nikia Grayson is a public health activist, anthropologist and nurse-midwife who has devoted her life to serving and empowering people in underserved and marginalized communities. Nikia has more than 10 years experience working in public health, with her more recent work focusing on reproductive rights, birth justice, and midwifery. She is passionate about ensuring all persons have the rights and means to make decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive health.




Max Carwile, Knoxville TN


Max Carwile has lived in East Tennessee for her entire life and received her B.A. in Women's Studies from East Tennessee State University in 2015. Through being the co-creator of the Knoxville Abortion Doula Collective she aims to decrease abortion stigma and increase abortion access. She works at Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee as the Tennessee Stories Project Coordinator and East Tennessee Organizer. Max realized what she wanted to do with her life through campus organizing around sex education, reproductive health access, sexual assault prevention and healing, suicide prevention, and everything and anything to do with abortion. She spends her free time playing with many cats, watching too much television, trying not to hit her head on things, and being a member of the Knoxville Feminist Action Brigade.


Brenda Gadd, Nashville TN

Brenda Gadd is a partner at Hancock & Gadd Public Strategies, where she represents nonprofits and socially conscious companies in the public policy arena. Prior to starting her own public affairs practice, Brenda served in lobbying and public policy roles for the Tennessee Bar Association and CivicPoint. In 2014, she managed the successful statewide retention election of three Tennessee Supreme Court Justices. Brenda began her career working on political campaigns and quickly rose through the ranks to serve as a chief of staff in the Tennessee Senate and then as a legislative liaison in Governor Bredesen’s administration. In addition to Healthy and Free Tennessee, Brenda serves on volunteer boards for the Lawyers Association for Women’s Marion Griffith Chapter, Justice for Our Neighbors, Tennessee Equality Project, The Sycamore Institute, Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, Tennessee Lobbyist Association and was a founding board member of Emerge Tennessee. Brenda has been recognized for her leadership through the Young Leaders Council, Leadership Middle Tennessee, and Nashville Emerging Leaders and serves as chapter director of Nashville’s New Leaders Council. Brenda is the proud alumna of Maryville College, Nashville School of Law, and the Women’s Campaign School of Yale University.

Lyndsey Godwin, Nashville TN

lindsey_godwin.jpgLyndsey Godwin is the Assistant Director for the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality at Vanderbilt Divinity School. With an eye on intersections and multiple-issue lives, she works to connect academics, activist, organizers, artists, faith leaders, and educators in order to have deeper conversations and develop more impactful justice practices. While she primarily approaches her work looking at religion, gender, and sexuality first, she prioritizes community-based work that empowers youth, centralizes those most marginalized, and lifts up issues of racism, classism, and other forms of systematic oppression. She’s a queer, white, feminist sexuality educator, a youth volunteer in a Baptist church in the south, who is seeking to develop anti-racist practices and liberatory spaces that center engaged, shared learning. 


Jordan Scruggs, Chattanooga TN

Born and raised in Tennessee, Jordan Scruggs is a communicator and activist that specialises inreproductive justice and progressing LGBTQ rights. The passion of their community activism comes from being raised by a plethora ofBlack women and men who stressed the importance of change through community actions. Through this passion, Jordan has been an activist for progressing LGBTQ rights in Tennessee since advocating for anti-bullying rights for LGBTQ youth in schools to state politicians. Their hard work resulted in being given MTV’s Logo Youth Trailblazer Award and becoming a board member for Nooga Diversity Center. Recently their activism was highlighted by Organizing for Action which led to introducing the President of The United States, Barack Obama in 2015. Today Jordan focuses on writing with Echoing Ida to include the necessity of action for comprehensive reproductive education and justice in Tennessee.

Elise Krews, Nashville TN

Elise grew up in Shreveport, LA, where she completed a B.S. in Biology at Centenary College in 2014. After 2 years of working within the healthcare system and witnessing the impact of systemic inequality on people’s bodies and lives, Elise moved toNashville in 2016 to pursue her M.Ed. in Community Development & Action at Vanderbilt University. Her experience navigating abortion access in Louisiana and passion for health equity prompted her to focus on community-based work in reproductive health. During this time, Elise collaborated with Planned Parenthood in Nashville and the Tennessee Stories Project on research and advocacy work related to reducing abortion stigma, comprehensive sex education, and access to reproductive health care. Elise continues to build upon this through her role on Healthy and Free Tennessee’s Steering Committee, and is committed to developing and supporting policies and practices that advance reproductive freedom in Tennessee. 


Briana Perry, State Co-Director


Briana is a native Memphian. She moved to Nashville in 2009 to attend college at Vanderbilt where she majored in Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies. She obtained her Master of Education in Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in 2016. Before completing her master’s degree, Briana taught in Memphis for two years. It was during this time period that she began her work with HFTN around the Fetal Assault Law and the Vote No on 1 Campaign. Briana is able to bring her interest in Black feminism to the work, especially her salient interest in issues that affect Black mothers. Briana serves on the coordinating committee for the Official Black Lives Matter Memphis Chapter. Previously, Briana was a Program Coordinator at the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center at Vanderbilt. Contact:


Anna Carella, State Co-Director

anna_carella.pngAnna has been proud to call Tennessee home since 2009. She’s a Ph.D. candidate at Vanderbilt in Political Science with a Graduate Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies. She became interested in community organizing while working overseas, inspired by international human rights activists who connect local advocacy to global justice and vice versa. She has lived and worked in France, Senegal, Bangladesh, Rwanda, and Afghanistan. She began working on reproductive freedom in Tennessee during the Vote No on 1 campaign in 2014 and has been involved with feminist organizing ever since, including the fight against the Fetal Assault law with HFTN. She led successful lobbying efforts for Advocates for Women's and Kids’ Equality (AWAKE) reducing sentences for HIV+ sex workers and strengthening legal protections for victims of domestic violence. She was a founding member of the Nashville chapter of Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) and the Nashville Feminist Collective. Contact:

Nina Gurak, Policy Fellow, If/When/How RJ Fellow

Nina is an organizer, educator, and policy nerd. Originally from outside of Philadelphia, PA, she has worked in policy at local, state, federal, and international levels. Nina got her formal organizing start at Planned Parenthood of Southern New England where she was a Generation Action intern and member of the Youth Leadership Advisory Council. Most recently, Nina earned her J.D. from Drexel University School of Law. In law school, she served as a legal intern for the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania and the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women and volunteered with Project Safe, a harm reduction collective focused on the needs of street-based sex workers and substance users in Philadelphia. In 2016, Nina earned her B.A. in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Government from Wesleyan University. Contact: