Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Meet Morénike!

"I guess I was born to be an advocate; I hope somebody will look at me and think that they can do this, and more, too."

Meet Morénike!
Born in the US to immigrant parents, Morénike's advocacy journey began with middle and high school stints as a volunteer tutor; later, she worked with refugee children in a housing project and as a mentor in public schools during her undergraduate years. 

After graduating with a BA in International Relations, Morénike spent several years in the non-profit sector working with a variety of disenfranchised groups, including women, at-risk youth and teens, and refugee families.

In recent years, she has channeled the majority of her advocacy efforts into social justice and community health endeavors.

Morénike currently chairs the Global Community Advisory Board for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)'s Division of AIDS (DAIDS) funded AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG), which is the world's oldest and largest international community HIV clinical trials program.

She has also served in several other capacities within DAIDS such as:

Chair of the local Houston Area Research Team's Cross-Network community advisory board (representing the ACTG, AIDS Malignancy Consortium [AMC], and the HIV Vaccine Trials Network [HVTN]);

ACTG Community Scientific Subcommittee member;

ACTG Underrepresented Populations Committee representative;

ACTG-HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) InterScientific Committee representative;

A5282 HIV/HPV protocol team member;

IMPAACT1077 HAART-Standard "PROMISE" maternal/child HIV protocol team member;

ACTG/International Maternal Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trials Group (IMPAACT) liaison;

HPTN 064 (Test and Link to Care) protocol team community advisory group state representative;

Houston maternal/pediatric HIV CAB member (representing IMPAACT, Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Studies [PHACS], Adolescent Trials Network [ATN], and Ryan White Part D).

Houston Project-Wide Ryan White Part D community advisory board member.

Morénike has also previously chaired the Houston Ryan White Planning Council in addition to chairing its Operations and the Quality Assurance Committees and various Ryan White workgroups and formerly served on the CDC-funded elimination of Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission US Working Group.

She is the founder of the former Positive Playdates, a playdate group (now merged with a local nonprofit) that connected HIV affected families and refugee youth.

Morénike completed a multi-disciplinary fellowship in neuro-developmental disabilities leadership. She has served on the Infant and Children's Mental Health Task Force, the Minority Prematurity Partnership, the Mothers' Wellness Collaborative, and the Families and Schools Together Board. She was one of the founding members of the Houston Area Partnership for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).

Recently, Morénike founded Advocacy Without Borders, an initiative to reduce disparities through education, community advocacy and self-empowerment. The mission of Advocacy Without Borders is "to encourage ALL people to make a difference, regardless of their differences." Morénike is currently involved in a variety of leadership efforts related to Ryan White Part D advocacy.

Morénike, who is currently completing her Master's degree in Education (focusing on Developmental Delays), hopes to further her studies in a doctoral program in Social and Behavioral Public Health. She is the proud mother of six beautiful biological and adoptive children; together they comprise a proud multicultural, multinational, neurodiverse, HIV affected family.