Center Leader Recognized for Work on Black Maternal Health


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headshot of a womanBreana Lipscomb, Senior Manager of the Maternal Health and Rights Initiative at the Center for Reproductive Rights, was recently awarded the inaugural Kira Johnson Advocate of the Year Award for her work on Black maternal health. 

Presented on June 23 by March for Moms and 4Kira4Moms, the award is designed to expand the movement for maternal health by providing training and a platform for an advocate to deepen their work. It is named for the late Kira Dixon Johnson, who tragically lost her life following a repeat c-section with her second son.

“The Advocate of the Year Award is an incredible opportunity to recognize an outstanding person for their hard work advocating for maternal health,” said Katie Shea Barrett, Executive Director of March for Moms. “Moms and families face devastating and deadly consequences because our health care system fails to protect mothers, and we should honor and uplift those who are fighting for change.”

Lipscomb played an integral role in the extension of postpartum Medicaid coverage for mothers in Georgia during the 2020 legislative session. She worked tirelessly to convene stakeholders, testify at hearings, and equip lawmakers with critical information to move a bill forward that will extend postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to six months. The bill passed Georgia’s General Assembly on June 24 with nearly unanimous, bipartisan support and awaits the Governor’s signature. The legislation is expected to benefit almost 65,000 Georgia mothers. 

“I’m honored to receive this recognition, and to work with March for Moms and the Johnson family to advocate on behalf of mothers,” said Lipscomb. “Advancing maternal health—especially in underserved communities—is a vital part of the Center’s mission to advance reproductive rights as fundamental human rights. Through our Maternal Health and Rights Initiative, we cultivate deep partnerships with and amplify leadership of communities most impacted by this issue in order to effect change.”

Lipscomb joined the Center’s U.S. Human Rights team in 2017 as its first U.S. Maternal Health and Rights Initiative Manager. In her role, she develops advocacy campaigns to promote Black maternal health, particularly in the South. She mobilizes stakeholders such as policymakers, reproductive justice community members, public health professionals, medical professionals, and advocates to advance state-level policies that further reproductive rights as human rights.

Center's Initiative Seeks to Improve Access to Safe and Respectful Maternal Health

The Center’s U.S. Maternal Health and Rights Initiative promotes the human rights of pregnant, birthing, and postpartum people in the United States. Harnessing the power of law, policy, and strategic advocacy, the Initiative seeks to improve access to safe and respectful maternal health care for all who need it, and to ensure that all people have an opportunity to attain the highest standard of maternal health possible for themselves. The Initiative seeks government accountability for discrimination and inequalities in U.S. maternal health, and it provides advocates, lawmakers, and leaders with human rights-based advocacy tools that they can use to catalyze policy change.

Breana works tirelessly and in powerful partnership with allies to expand access to safe and respectful maternal health care and address racial inequities in maternal health outcomes and experiences,” said Risa Kaufman, Director of U.S. Human Rights at the Center. “This meaningful award is a testament to Breana’s national leadership and her deeply valued expertise in advancing Black maternal health and rights in the United States.”

“We are thrilled to honor Breana with the inaugural Kira Johnson Advocate of the year award,” said Charles Johnson, husband of Kira Johnson and founder of 4Kira4Moms. “Breana’s relentless commitment to improving maternal health outcomes embodies everything that Kira’s legacy represents. We are looking forward to working closely with Breana to empower and strengthen families.”  

Lipscomb serves as a Board member of Black Mamas Matter Alliance, and has more than 15 years of experience in public health, including in nonprofits and state government.

Update: the bill extending postpartum Medicaid coverage in Georgia was signed into law July 16.