Advisory Board

Justine Diamond (she/her) maintains a strong commitment to racial justice and human rights through her work with nonprofits, small businesses, and community spaces. Throughout the past decade, her work in non-profit organizations has centered around workers’ rights, immigrants’ rights, access to health care, and direct services for unhoused people. During this period she engaged in legislative advocacy, fundraising, educational curricula design, program evaluation, and creating effective organizational systems. Justine has also served as a legal case manager and office manager at a law firm for a number of years, cultivating knowledge of legal processes and management skills. She has worked as a Spanish interpreter, providing services to Spanish speakers in most of her positions. Justine currently manages Maypop Community Herb Shop in New Orleans, a business providing affordable community access to medicinal herbs and herbal knowledge with the belief that healthcare is a human right. She also manages her own business, Elspeth’s Airs Natural Perfumes, which links creativity and beauty with healing and empowerment. Justine also serves on the Racial Equity & Inclusion Committee of Lift Louisiana.

Kytara Epps (she/her) is a fat, queer Black feminist public health practitioner. She is a graduate of Tulane University’s school of public health. She is interested in all things relating to reproductive health and rights of black women and girls. Her approach to health is through a queer black feminist and fat positivity lens. A native Detroiter, Kytara currently lives in New Orleans. She has worked with Planned Parenthood and served as a presenter and track coordinator at Allied Media Conference for the past 6 years. Kytara also serves on the Racial Equity & Inclusion Committee of Lift Louisiana.

Ciara Hart (she/her) is a former public school teacher and proud Louisiana native who is committed to making our state a better place to live, learn, and raise a family. As a former teacher, she has experienced the frustration and exhaustion felt by so many educators in our public schools, often fighting uphill for her students to have all the opportunities they deserve. As a community organizer with the South Louisiana Coalition for Education Ciara has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with parents, aunts, grandfather, and other stakeholders in kids’ lives to fight for greater equity and better outcomes for kids in urban centers and rural areas. In the Fall of 2019, Ciara vied to become the District 6 Member for the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, in hopes of creating equitable policies for all students. Although the results were not in her favor, 40,000 constituents in Baton Rouge, voted for a vision of #EquityforALL. During her time as the Director of Organizing, for the South Louisiana Coalition for Education, she worked to create strategy around community engagement pertaining to the issues that impact them most. Recently, Ciara was elected at the start of the pandemic to local Democratic Party leadership where she aims to increase voter engagement and advocacy  amongst younger generations. While working to engage young voters, Ciara also worked as the leading consultant for the Baton Rouge  Youth Voice Initiative, a program of the Baton Rouge Alliance for Students and the Mayor's Office. Through this initiative over 500 students were asked, in order to improve educational policy in Baton Rouge. Currently, Ciara serves as the External relations Manager for Education Trust, Louisiana; an organization dedicated to dismantling educational inequity at the policy level from cradle to career. Through consistent community engagement Ciara remains vigilant in her fight for equity for all kids, communities, and families across the state of Louisiana.  

Justin “Jay” Hartley (they/them) is a community and political organizer based out of New Orleans, Louisiana, with additional roots in the Chicagoland area. Their intersectional youth-based activism centers on reproductive, racial, and climate justice, as well as electoral parity for multiply-marginalized communities. These passions are derived from their Black, queer, disabled, and first-generation identities. Justin is heavily involved in the College Democrats of America and currently serves as the President of the College Democrats of Louisiana. Justin has worked with multiple political and issue-based campaigns, candidates, non profits, and individuals to meet their goals and demand justice. They are a fourth-year student at Tulane University pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Social Policy and Practice and a certificate in Gender-Based Violence. Justin enjoys exploring local up-and-coming food spots, taking care of their 26 (and counting!) plants, and reading feminist and womanist theory.

Jamila Johnson, JD (she/her) (Secretary) is the Deputy Director at the Promise of Justice Initiative and is the former Senior Supervising Attorney for Southern Poverty Law Center’s criminal justice work in Louisiana. Her work in Louisiana has focused on reversing the “new Jim Crow” and eliminating the structural racism in the criminal justice system. Prior to coming to work and live in Louisiana, Jamila learned how to “fight like a girl” on the Board of Directors for Legal Voice: a progressive feminist organization using the power of the law to make change in the Pacific Northwest with, and on behalf of, those affected by gender oppression and injustice. Her advocacy against gender oppression began when she chaired a municipal women’s commission driven much by her personal experiences as a single teenaged mother in a low-income community. She believes in the human right to maintain the bodily autonomy that allows people to have children; to not have children; and to parent the children we have.

Nishi Kumar (she/her) is a civil rights attorney in New Orleans and litigates around various criminal justice issues affecting currently and formerly incarcerated people throughout Louisiana. She most recently went to trial on a federal class action suit on behalf of the 6,000 people incarcerated at Angola prison based on the lack of adequate medical care and accommodations for people with disabilities. She graduated from NYU Law School in 2015, where she was a Hays Civil Liberties fellow, a Notes Editor on the NYU Law Review, and co-chair of the South Asian Law Students Association. After graduation, she clerked for Judge Watford on the Ninth Circuit and Judge Furman on the Southern District of New York. Prior to law school, she was a middle school math teacher in New Orleans.

Davante Lewis (he/him) is the director of public affairs and outreach for LBP, focusing on higher education policy, monitoring legislative developments and working with advocacy groups and coalitions partners in forging a common agenda and action plan to advance LBP’s policy agenda. Prior to joining LBP, he was an elementary school teacher in the Coweta County School System in suburban Atlanta. Davante is a graduate of McNeese State University with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Communications. While there, he served as a two-term Student Body President, the Chair of the Louisiana Council of Student Body Presidents and a Board Member of the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors. Davante also served as one of the first members of the Louisiana Legislative Youth Advisory Council, serving as the Vice Chair.

Sarah Mosely (she/her) (Treasurer) is the International Rescue Committee’s Senior Technical Advisor for Women’s Protection and Empowerment programming and has worked in humanitarian assistance on preventing and responding to violence against women and girls in disaster and conflict settings for 17 years.  Beginning her career in 2005 in Darfur, she has since worked across multiple country contexts in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, overseeing and advising on gender-based violence prevention and response programming in emergencies. Sarah has worked in management leadership for the past six years and currently oversees the IRC’s technical team providing strategic leadership on the organization’s programmatic, policy and resource development priorities for GBV prevention and response. Ms. Mosely has a Master of Public Health from Tulane University and is passionate about ending violence against women and girls.

Geraldine Neville (President) (she/her) is an advocate for reproductive rights, equity in health care access, and education. A first generation Latine college graduate, she is particularly interested in how these issues affect traditionally marginalized, immigrant, and Spanish speaking communities. She earned a BA in Public Relations with a double minor in Marketing & Small Business Development, and an MPS in Health & Wellness Management, with a concentration in Corporate Wellness & Health Leadership both from Tulane University. She is the Director of Operations, with WAKE (Women’s Alliance for Knowledge Exchange), and prior Senior Administrative Program Coordinator with Tulane University, School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health Sciences.  Her professional journey began as a bilingual Community Liaison with Planned Parenthood of Central New Jersey. Following her 2007 move to New Orleans, she filled a similar role with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast developing, and delivering culturally competent, reproductive health education in English and Spanish, in clinical and community settings. An alumni of Tulane University Leadership Institute’s first Anti Racism Leadership Program, and former Adjunct Lecturer with Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation & Design Thinking at Tulane University, she led a change making, undergraduate career development lab. She is the former Vice President, serving President, and a founding Lift Louisiana Advisory Board member.

Dr. Pratibha Rayapati (she/her) is a practicing OB/GYN in New Orleans and Metairie and is deeply passionate about social and reproductive justice. She graduated from University of Georgia with a degree in Biology. She then went on to receive her Doctorate of Medicine from Medical College of Georgia and subsequently completed her residency in OB/GYN at Tulane University. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Tulane University, and in addition to providing clinical care to patients in the greater New Orleans area, she helps train the next generation of physicians by teaching medical students and residents. She also serves as a faculty advisor for the Tulane chapter of Medical Students for Choice and is the course director for an elective on reproductive and family planning. She is also active in equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts at Tulane.

Erich Schrader (he/him) has worked in nonprofit fundraising and campaign organizing since 2014, starting as a street canvasser in New Orleans advocating for marriage equality. Since then, he has overseen canvass offices around the country and has been able to fundraise on behalf of groups like Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Audubon Society, and the National LGBTQ Task Force. In addition to fundraising, he has campaigned for progressive candidates, most recently having worked on a campaign to elect Democrats to the Texas State Legislature during to 2018 Midterms.

Ellie Schilling, JD (Ex Officio Member) (she/her) is an attorney in New Orleans with extensive experience representing health care providers, and is one of the only attorneys in Louisiana who regularly represents reproductive health care providers. She has represented clinics and other health services providers in enforcement proceedings or other disputes against health care regulatory bodies, including wrongful license revocation actions. Ellie also litigates cases in both state and federal court to challenge new laws and regulations that restrict access to health care. She represents physicians in disputes with the disciplinary agencies that regulate the health care profession, and in suits against hospitals for wrongfully suspending hospital privileges. She works closely with local and national advocacy groups, including testifying as an expert at the Louisiana Legislature, to oppose new laws that would damage reproductive health care rights and access, and works to raise public and media awareness surrounding these issues. She also helped to establish the Louisiana Coalition for Reproductive Freedom and serves on its Executive Committee. Ellie received her undergraduate degree in English and German from Colgate University and her law degree from Tulane Law School.  

Zain Tewalthomas (she/her) is the Director of Development and Communications at OneJustice, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that brings life-changing legal help to those in need. Zain holds Bachelor's degrees in Anthropology and Women's Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master of Public Administration from the University of New Orleans. Zain grew up internationally in Bolivia, Pakistan, Venezuela, and Ukraine. Her volunteer hours are dedicated to supporting the Ukrainian resistance, fighting for LGBTQIA+ and Reproductive Justice, and working with community initiatives to help heal Louisiana from the pain of mass incarceration. A 12 year resident of New Orleans, she spends as much time as she can engaging in the culture of the city, working on her Mardi Gras costume, and traveling.

Angela Tucker (she/her) is an Emmy and Webby award-winning filmmaker who makes narrative and documentary films. She recently produced BELLY OF THE BEAST (dir. Erika Cohn), a documentary feature on PBS’ Independent Lens, and has directed A NEW ORLEANS NOEL, an upcoming Lifetime holiday film starring Keisha Knight Pulliam and Patti LaBelle. Past directorial works include ALL SKINFOLK, AIN’T KINFOLK (PBS’ Reel South) and (A)SEXUAL (Netflix and Hulu). She was also a co-executive producer of the PBS series AFROPOP. She is a Women at Sundance Fellow, a grantee of Firelight Media’s inaugural William Greaves Fund, and a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. She received her MFA in Film at Columbia University. Her boutique production company TuckerGurl Inc. develops and produces stories that highlight underrepresented communities in unconventional ways. Born and raised in NYC, Tucker makes her home in New Orleans, LA.


Interested in joining the Advisory Board?

Members advise, oversee policy and direction, and assist with the leadership and general promotion of Lift Louisiana and our programs. Support the organization's mission and needs by becoming a member. If interested, please contact us.