Our Staff

Tekisha Dwan Everette

Executive Director

“There must exist a paradigm, a practical model for social change that includes an understanding of ways to transform consciousness that are linked to efforts to transform structures.” - bell hooks

Dr. Tekisha Dwan Everette’s passion for social justice was fueled by her personal experiences and influences as a child. As a youth, she experienced delays in diagnosing asthma, and faced challenges accessing and navigating the health care system. These experiences gave Everette first-hand knowledge of the importance of health and health care access. This, combined with her admiration for social justice trailblazers such as Thurgood Marshall, Barbara Jordan, and Sandra Day O'Connor, inspired Everette to dedicate her life’s work toward eradicating health care inequities through advocacy and policy.

Everette has built a successful career in public policy, particularly health care policy, and advocacy in the non-profit, state, and private sectors. Before taking the helm of Health Equity Solutions (HES), she served as the Managing Director of Federal Government Affairs with the American Diabetes Association, where she provided strategic leadership on policy and advocacy initiatives with the White House, several federal agencies, and Congress, which led to important victories for people with and at risk for diabetes. Prior to this, Everette worked as a government relations consultant with Drinker, Biddle, and Reath, LLC, where she represented the interests of several nonprofit health care organizations on issues such as health reform, Medicare, Medicaid, and federal appropriations. Everette has also worked for the Service Employees International Union, RESI, the State of Maryland, and the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation.

Everette earned her doctorate in Sociology from American University with a concentration in race, gender, and social justice as it relates to social policy.  She received her Master’s of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Center of Public Administration and Policy at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (popularly known as Virginia Tech) and holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and Interdisciplinary Studies from the same institution.

Everette is an alumna of the Masters Series for Distinguished Leaders and the National Urban Fellows America’s Leaders of Change program. She is a lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Association of Black Sociologists..

When Everette is not advocating for health care policy and social justice, she enjoys fulfilling her thirst for cultural enrichment through travel. She believes seeing the world helps one to expand their worldview and cultural understanding and her goal is to visit every US city and touch every continent at least once.  In her spare time, Everette enjoys listening to music, writing poetry, dancing, and cooking.

Christian Kallfelz

General Operations Support

Christian Kallfelz is a General Operations Specialist whose interest in community based non-profit service began with a volunteer role for the City of Dublin Ireland Youth Services Board. Since then, Christian worked as a Community Program Coordinator and Certified Youth Mentor for the Hartford Knights Youth Organization. Through this opportunity he gained a sense of the social inequities faced by our community and the necessity for access to resources and care. Christian employs an affinity for human services, the written word, and interpersonal skills as contribution to the HES team.

In his time away Christian enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time with family.

Samantha Lew

Policy and Advocacy Analyst

Samantha Lew received her Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Policy Practice from the University of Connecticut. During that time, she completed two practicums focusing on public policy and research, in which were at the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition and the Connecticut Association for Human Services. This drove her passions even further of affecting change on the policy level. Samantha recognizes and highly values investigative work regarding policies on health care and service access and in creating equitable systems in which are successful and sustainable for all Connecticut residents.

In her most recent work as a Research Assistant for the University of Connecticut, School of Social Work, Samantha provided infrastructure development assistance on several grant projects, as well as recently presented at the 32nd Annual Research & Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health with colleagues on their publication of a review and analysis of 51 State’s policies addressing substance-exposed infants.

Invigorated by her move to the United States when she was very young, Samantha sees a just health care system for Connecticut, in which all residents, regardless of race, ethnicity and socio-economic status can access. Samantha strives to learn something new every day and bring that enthusiasm into her professional capacities and personal life.

Dashni Sathasivam

Program Manager, Policy & Outreach

Dashni Sathasivam is compelled by the intersection of health policy and advocacy and believes engaging communities and amplifying the voices of those directly impacted by policies as central to achieving structural changes that advance health equity.

Originally from Wisconsin, her role as the Latino Outreach Coordinator with the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center's Cancer Health Disparities Initiative and service as a City Year Milwaukee AmeriCorps Member informed her community-based participatory approach to health and partnership building.

Dashni graduated with a Master’s in Public Health in health policy from the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH). In recognition of her commitment to social justice within YSPH and the wider New Haven community, she was awarded the inaugural YSPH Student Award for Outstanding Contributions in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Gender & Women's Studies and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Karen Siegel

Director of Policy

Karen Siegel, Director of Policy, comes to policy work from a prior career writing and editing health-focused material for a wide range of audiences. She conducted advocacy and policy-focused health research at Connecticut Voices for Children with a particular interest in promoting health equity in Connecticut’s Medicaid program and through state-level health systems transformation. Karen also engaged in research on infectious disease control policies in preschools in Singapore. Karen is passionate about social and racial justice in her home state of Connecticut informed by years of living in Southeast Asia, which broadened her understanding of how the structures of government impact perceptions of cultural differences. She earned an MPH from John’s Hopkins University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan. In her time away from work, Karen enjoys traveling, reading, and being goofy with her family.