Join us in the fight against HIV and AIDS: Donate to The Well Project.
A community begins with a common bond, a set of shared interests and
beliefs, and a vision. People build that community. Meet our team.
Dawn Averitt, Founder and Emeritus Board Member
Dawn Averitt is the Founder and Emeritus Board Member of The Well Project, a
non-profit organization formed in 2002 to improve the lives of women living
with HIV and AIDS and change the course of the AIDS pandemic through a
comprehensive focus on treatment and prevention for women. Dawn was diagnosed
with HIV in 1988 at age 19 and has since become one of the nation’s most
prominent HIV and AIDS advocates as well as an accomplished speaker and
published writer on women’s health issues. As the founder of the Women’s Research Initiative on
HIV/AIDS (WRI), Dawn has been instrumental in shifting the research
paradigm to include more women and people of color.
In 2010, Dawn was named to the Presidential Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS
(PACHA). Her numerous board and panel affiliations range from a Food and Drug
Administration Advisory Panel to several NIH Working Groups. Dawn is a member
of the Perinatal HIV Guidelines Working Group as well as a member of the Office
of AIDS Research Advisory Council. She has served on the organizing committees
of several important scientific conferences, such as the Conference on
Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections and the National Women and HIV
Conference. Dawn also serves as an advisory board member for most of the
pharmaceutical companies involved in the HIV arena. In July 2007, Dawn received
a Women Leading Global Change Award from the World YWCA for her leadership in
the HIV and AIDS pandemic.
Richard Averitt, Co-Founder and Chair of the Board
Richard Averitt joined The Well Project in early 2002 to help his sister,
Dawn, evolve the vision of The Well Project into a sustainable public service
organization. Richard is proud to lend his passion and expertise to his role as
Chair of the Board, after serving the organization in a number of capacities,
including chief technology strategist, executive director and board member.
Richard has been creating and managing businesses for 20 years as either a
partner or proprietor in various industries. He is delighted to apply his
business knowledge towards helping improve the lives of people around the
Abby Charles, The Well Project Board Member
Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Abby Charles joined The Well Project
Board of Directors in the Spring of 2012. She presently works as a Program
Manager at the Institute for Public Health Innovation, the Public Health
Institute for DC, MD and VA. Ms. Charles joined the Institute after serving for
five years at The Women's Collective, a nationally-recognized organization
providing care, prevention, and advocacy services for women, girls and their
families living with and at risk for HIV in the Metropolitan DC area.
Leveraging her knowledge and experience in sexual health and HIV, Ms. Charles
provides leadership and coordination for two programs in DC and Northern
Virginia that aim to increase the participation of people living with HIV/AIDS
in medical care using a network of peer Community Health Workers and by
increasing connectedness among clinical and non-clinical service providers. In
this role she has been an advocate for including peers as integral members of
the interdisciplinary care team and as essential members of the health system
in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Ms. Charles is involved in various community HIV coalitions and community
advisory boards (CABs)including the DC Community Coalition, the DC D–Center for
AIDS Research CAB, and the GW University HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN)
CAB. Ms. Charles also volunteers on the Board of Directors for The Women’s
Collective and the Alumnae Association of her High School Alma Mater, Bishop
Anstey High School, as well as serves as the language arts coordinator at the
Cultural Academy for Excellence.
A dancer and performing artist, Ms. Charles performs with the Taurus
Broadhurst Dance company as well as with other dance and theater companies. In
the fall of 2012, Ms. Charles will be featured as a monthly host of CaribNation
Television a Caribbean based television show that airs in the DC region as well
as in 19 islands of the Caribbean.
An alumnus of George Washington University, Ms. Charles earned a Bachelor’s
of Science in Environmental Science and a Master’s of Public Health in Global
Health. In 2006 Ms. Charles was awarded the George Washington University Martin
Luther King Junior Award for Service and was honored with an Impact award from
the GW Black Alumni Association. Ms. Charles is also an inductee of the George
Washington University Wall of Fame.
Jenna Conley, Communications Consultant
Jenna Conley has managed communications efforts for The Well Project since
2007. Jenna is a public relations expert specializing in health care
communications and president of Conley Communications, which provides a full
range of healthcare and science communications services to a broad range of
clients. Jenna has more than 15 years of experience in public relations, and
has developed a specialty in HIV/AIDS communications. Her clients include
institutional, government, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology clients groups
that are interested in increasing awareness about HIV/AIDS and ending the
domestic and global pandemic.
Jennifer Johnsen, MD, MPH; Contributing Writer and Editor
Jennifer Johnsen began writing and editing articles for The Well Project in
December 2010. As a physician trained in public health, she is committed to
empowering women to be active participants in their own health. She strives to
provide easily accessible and medically accurate information while recognizing
women’s unique needs.
Most recently, Dr. Johnsen conducted a literature review for IAPAC
(International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care) that is being used to
develop guidelines to improve adherence to HIV treatment regimens. She was also
acknowledged for her analytic and written contribution to a book by the World
Bank entitled “The Global HIV Epidemics among Men Who Have Sex with Men.”
Before her HIV/AIDS work, Dr. Johnsen served as Director of Health Programs for
The Health Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the
health and well-being of lesbians and other members of the LGBT community
through education, advocacy, support, and access to care.
Dr. Johnsen earned her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Yale
University, finished a master of science in public health at the Colorado
School of Public Health, and completed her medical training at the Stanford
University School of Medicine. She is also a qualified independent instructor
of mindfulness-based stress reduction, and a strong advocate of the value of
mindfulness in promoting health.
Krista Martel, Executive Director
Krista Heitzman Martel joined The Well Project in 2009 and has overseen the
expansion of The Well Project’s online resources including the web portal,
social media initiatives, the A Girl Like Me blog, and its mobile
application. Additionally, Krista has been instrumental in identifying ways the
organization can maximize its reach using new technology to better meet
the needs of its ever-increasing global audience. Krista began working in the
area of HIV education in 1995, shortly after her sister was diagnosed with HIV.
Struck by the amount of stigma attached to the disease, as well as the lack of
available resources for women living with HIV at that time, Krista was inspired
to focus her career’s efforts on advocacy for HIV+ women, reducing stigma, as
well as providing easy-to-use and language-appropriate information to people
living with HIV and their providers. Today, Krista is excited to see and
participate in advancements in HIV treatment, research and the quality of
life for many living with HIV, but the ongoing social stigma, ever-increasing
rates of infection in women and lack of universal treatment access continue to
fuel her passion for her work at The Well Project.
Prior to her work at TWP, Krista helped develop and implement
several women's peer treatment education training programs for HIV+ women
in partnership with W.O.R.L.D., assisting in training over 40 teams of women
across the US to conduct 'HIV Universities' in their communities. Krista
also was the Vice President at Visionary Health Concepts, where she supervised
the production of over 40 topical low-literacy educational
booklets/comic books in English and Spanish related to HIV and hepatitis.
Tonia Poteat, MMSc, PA-C, MPH, Medical Editor
Tonia Poteat has been involved in the fight against AIDS since 1989 when she
began volunteering at an AIDS service organization while in college. She is a
certified HIV Specialist by the American Academy of HIV Medicine. She has
devoted her clinical practice to providing compassionate, knowledgeable medical
care to people with HIV since 1996. She serves as a consultant clinical trainer
for the Southeast AIDS Training and Education Center as well as the Region III
STD/HIV Prevention Training Center. She currently cares for patients at Chase
Brexton Health Services in Baltimore while completing her PhD at Johns Hopkins
School of Public Health.
Ms. Poteat graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor’s degree in
Biology in 1991. She received a Master of Medical Science degree from Emory
University’s Physician Assistant Program in 1995 and a Master of Public Health
from Rollins School of Public Health at Emory in 2005.
Kim Reed, The Well Project Board Member
CEO/Managing Director at Reed International Law & Consulting,
Kim specializes in international business law, such as mergers &
acquisitions, corporate governance and compliance, emerging markets,
infrastructure/project finance, international litigation and arbitration, and
advising nonprofit organizations and start-up companies. Her expertise is in
Russian and central/eastern European countries, but has worked on transactions
and litigation on six continents and over 30 countries. In her consulting
practice, Kim has also advised presidential and other national candidates
around the world on creating field operations/campaigns among expat populations
outside their home countries. She is admitted to the bars of Washington, DC,
Maryland and California, as well as several federal courts.
Susan Richardson, FNP, Medical Editor
Susan Richardson has been an advocate for women’s health services since the
1970’s. Her commitment to educating the public about HIV began in 1986 when she
trained community groups as an “AIDS instructor” for the Red Cross. One decade
later she began directly caring for women with HIV and AIDS as a Family Nurse
Practitioner. Her passion continues today through her clinical practice,
providing quality medical care to both women and men who are HIV-infected. As
an HIV Specialist certified by the American Academy of HIV Medicine, she
currently cares for patients at AID Gwinnett, a Ryan White-funded clinic
outside of Atlanta. She also provides clinical training as faculty of the
Southeast AIDS Training and Education Center.
Ms. Richardson earned her nursing diploma from Crawford W. Long Memorial
Hospital School of Nursing in 1984, and graduated from Emory University in 1989
with Master of Nursing and Master of Public Health degrees.
Maura Riordan, The Well Project Board Member
Deputy Director of Access, Advocacy & Innovation for AIDS United
Ms. Riordan's HIV/AIDS work spans back to the late 1980's when she began
working with gay men who were dying of AIDS. Before her current job with AIDS
United (previously National AIDS Fund), she served as Executive Director of
Women Organized to Respond to Life-threatening Diseases (WORLD) for 7 years.
Through working with both HIV+ gay men and HIV+ women, Maura has seen how
gender inequities, racism, poverty and homophobia are fueling the HIV epidemic.
She has dedicated a significant amount of work to raising the profile of HIV+
women in the epidemic and working to stop a trajectory for American women that
mirrors the global reality of women serving as the majority of those infected
Valerie Scott, The Well Project Board Member
Managing Director at The Strategic Continuum Company
Valerie has over 18 years of strategic business planning and tactical
execution with a primary focus on patient and consumer communications,
including grass-roots and community-based initiatives including the development
of the HIV University Peer-Based Treatment Education Training Program, which
helped 40 teams of women start peer-based treatment education programs in their
communities. While she has worked in several specialty disease areas, Valerie
has largely concentrated in HIV disease, helping pharma and biotech companies
better engage patients in accessing HIV treatment.
Karen Wirth, The Well Project Board Member
Visiting Scholar, Kenan-Flagler Business School, The University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill
Karen has worked in pharmaceuticals and medical education for 25 years with a
focus on HIV and Hepatitis. Most recently Karen was at HealthMatters
Communication developing medical education programming. Prior to joining
HealthMatters in 2001, Karen was at GSK (formerly Glaxo and GlaxoWellcome) for
over 13 years. Karen led the marketing team for the product launch of Agenerase
and developed grassroots initiatives for women, incarcerated and substance
users with HIV as well as direct to patient campaign; “Be Smart About HIV”
which entailed creating three distinct campaigns (Gay, African American,
Latino) and included print, billboards, website, radio, television and special
events. Karen received her BS in Pharmacy from Albany College of Pharmacy and
her Masters in Business Administration from the Kenan-Flagler Business School
at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
Kelly Womack, Operations Manager
Kelly Womack joined The Well Project in early 2002 to manage the
organization's accounting records. Over the years, her role has evolved to
include everything from accounting and administrative work to anything needed
to help keep The Well Project running smoothly and efficiently. She has
overseen direct mail initiatives, responding to general inquiries for TWP,
facilitating technical issues and learned to use complex CMS software.
Today, Kelly supports the Executive Director and the Director of Online
Services by providing support for the organization's financial and operational
functions on a day-to-day basis. Kelly enjoys the rewards in applying her
knowledge to such a worthy cause.
Women's Research Initiative on HIV/AIDS (WRI) View the bios of our WRI members
Information provided on this website is for educational purposes only. It is designed to support, not replace, personal medical care and should never be used as a substitute for personal medical attention, diagnosis, or hands-on treatment. We recommend all medical decisions be made in consultation with your personal health care provider.