Born and raised in Tennessee, Jordan Scruggs is a communicator and activist that specializes in reproductive justice and progressing LGBTQ rights. The passion of their community activism comes from being raised by a plethora of Black 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.
Judith is from Fond-des-Blanc, Haiti, and immigrated with her family to the United States in 2004. She holds a B.A. in History from Williams College and a Masters of Divinity from Vanderbilt Divinity School. Judith is fluent in Haitian Creole and conversational in French. Prior to joining TIRRC staff, she worked at the Healing Trust Foundation and the Jean Crowe Advocacy Center. She also interned as a Policy Intern with TiRRC in 2014, and she came on staff as a Policy Officer May 2018. As Policy Officer, she monitors the legislative process for potential impact on the immigrant community and building coalitions to support immigrants and refugees in Tennessee.
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 to Nashville 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.
Lizzy has focused her career on gender equity and building power amongst working people in the South. She is the current Southeast Digital Organizer for the Working Families Party, building digital and grassroots solidarity across the region and supporting the electoral programs of the party. Prior to the Working Families Party, Lizzy organized with Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood, pioneering innovative and inclusive programming, leading all direct actions, legislative and electoral campaigns, and training in Middle Tennessee to secure reproductive rights for all Tennesseans. She was the 2019 recipient of the Planned Parenthood Global Youth Ambassador Fellowship, connecting local reproductive rights work to global struggles for Reproductive Freedom. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, and a Masters of Science in Social Work from the University of Tennessee. She serves on the New Leaders Council board in Nashville and is an active member of her union, Workers United Local 1115. Her love for her community is rooted in her experience as an immigrant and transnational adoptee, seeds planted by her birth mother and tended to by her mother, Lisa.
Olliette is the Founder and President of O2 Strategic Partners which provides support for organizations with government affairs and public policy strategies, co-facilitates exploratory leadership workshops, and aids organizations with strengthening anti-violence initiatives. O2 Strategic Partners works with organizations to develop and implement efforts to embed the perspective of people with direct lived experience to improve measured outcomes for their clients. Olliette has 20 plus years of experience leading nonprofit organizations and social justice and community building strategies. She is the former Executive Director of the Family Safety Center of Memphis and Shelby County (FSC), a public private partnership focused on the co-location of services and increase access to resources for survivors of intimate partner violence. She received the 2016 Loretta Ross Award from SisterReach for her contributions and dedication to enriching the lives of women, girls, and their families in Memphis. Olliette lives in Memphis, Tennessee with her husband and their two dogs: Loki, a German Shepherd/Husky mix and Luna, a Siberian Husky.
Aftyn Behn, LMSW, is the current Campaign Director for RuralOrganizing.org, a national organization supporting progressives in rural power-building nationwide. In 2016 after Trump’s election, Aftyn returned to her home state of Tennessee, where she has fought to increase abortion access and preserve reproductive freedom by training the next generation of leaders, electing pro-choice candidates at every level of government, and organizing hundreds of events, rallies and marches across the state to push back against existing systems of oppression in her home state. Aftyn grew up in East Tennessee and received her MSW from the University of Texas at Austin Steve Hicks School of Social Work, specializing in public policy.
Anna has a Ph.D. in Political Science and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies from Vanderbilt University. She served as Co-Executive Director of Healthy and Free Tennessee from 2017-2023. In 2016, she was the recipient of the Tennessee Human Rights Rising Advocate Award issued by Tennessee United for Human Rights. She became interested in community organizing and global movements for human rights while living and working overseas in the UK, France, Senegal, Bangladesh, Rwanda, and Afghanistan. She also serves on the board of Brooklyn Heights Community Garden.
Briana Perry, Interim Executive Director
Briana is a native Memphian. She attended 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 served as Co-Executive Director of Healthy and Free Tennessee for five years from 2017-2022. She is currently the Director of Liberatory Learning and Capacity Building at Communities for Just Schools Fund. Briana also serves on the coordinating committee for the Official Black Lives Matter Memphis Chapter. Contact: [email protected].
Nina Gurak, Policy Director
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: [email protected].