Mallory Ward

With nearly half of American women forgoing critical preventive care services post-pandemic, May’s National Women's Health Month serves as a call to action for policymakers, advocates, and health care providers to come together and advance collaborative policies prioritizing the well-being of all women and girls, ensuring equal access to health care and life-saving preventive measures.

As a nationally recognized leader in women’s health, Millicent Gorham, CEO and Chair of the Board of the Alliance for Women’s Health and Prevention (AWHP), has championed innovative policy solutions to address health equity, reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes for more than three decades. We sat down with her to discuss the current women’s health landscape, the value of partnership and mentorship, and her collaboration with the Reservoir team.


Reservoir: As we wrap up National Women’s Health Month, it must be a busy time for AWHP. What is AWHP’s focus and what are the most pressing issues you’re currently working on?

Millicent: The Alliance for Women’s Health and Prevention’s focus is on policy relating to women’s health from a prevention point of view, with a health equity lens. Our priority is to drive policy to ensure women get the right preventive health screenings, by the right providers, at the right time.

In January, AWHP commissioned a survey with Ipsos that revealed nearly half of American women are forgoing preventive care services. Our priority is to promote policies that increase access and remove barriers to care. Our current focus is on breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, osteoporosis preventive care and vaccinations, as we recognize these preventive health screenings and vaccinations as important life-saving measures.

We proactively engage on current issues. For instance, the United States Preventive Services Task Force recently updated their breast cancer screening recommendations encouraging women to start screening at age 40, followed by screenings every other year. Lowering the age for initial screening is good news, but we are pushing for annual screenings in recognition of the science suggesting women are getting breast cancer at an earlier age.


Reservoir: What do you wish more people would know about the unique considerations within women’s health? 

Millicent: Women need to make sure they are taking care of themselves in addition to taking care of everyone else. When Mama goes down, the whole family goes down. There are preventable, significant consequences to families and the workforce when a woman becomes ill. We need to look at women’s health holistically, encouraging men, partners and workmates to support women in getting their preventive health care services.


Reservoir: AWHP is a new organization. As you’re looking to educate and engage with other like-minded stakeholders within the Beltway and nationally, what do you look for in these partners?

Millicent: We are looking for thoughtful and respectful partners committed to our aligned goals that recognize women have unique health care needs. I want to walk hand-in-hand with our partners – sharing assets, resources and successes.

AWHP can partner with organizations on a number of issues, such as mental health, maternal health, obesity, vaccinations and more. We frequently engage with our partners on vital initiatives. Recently, our current partners joined us by signing a letter urging the administration to preserve the ACA preventive care requirement. We also have a wonderful AWHP Board and Advisory Council that informs our work and provides recommendations for mutually beneficial partnerships.


Reservoir: Speaking of relationships, we know mentorship is incredibly important to you. Why is that?

Millicent: I am a collector of people – I have met many wonderful people, and I enjoy helping people navigate and bring excitement to their lives. From a professional perspective, one of my tenets is we should never be more than three clicks away from getting what we need.

As a mentor, I not only guide my mentees but also advocate for their advancement and push to open doors and create opportunities for them. Relationships evolve over time and are a mutual exchange of support and knowledge. Mentorship goes beyond just sharing advice; it's about empowering individuals to find personal independence and represent excellence in our professions.


Reservoir: The Reservoir team has been privileged to work with you and AWHP from the start. What do you find unique about working with our team?

Millicent: These are some of the most brilliant women who can craft powerful messages by working together to bounce ideas off one another, expand on each other’s ideas and quickly execute. The efficiency and speed with which ideas are turned into action is truly impressive. What sets Reservoir apart is their excellence in everything they do.

I also appreciate the team’s energy; it not only fuels productivity but also brings enthusiasm to our collaborations, and I love the mutual support and recognition shown to one another. I can truly say I have laughed and smiled every day I have been here.


Please note: This interview has been edited for brevity.