Opiaah A. Jeffers (pronounced Oh-Pea-Uh) (she/her) is a research analyst, whose work focuses on the health of mothers, children, adolescents, foster care youth, and LGBTQ+ people. Ms. Jeffers’s research interests include examining the factors related to maternal health disparities within the United States, especially for Black/African American women. She is particularly interested in the impact of childhood trauma on—and the sexual and reproductive health of—LGBTQ+ youth and families. Additionally, Ms. Jeffers wants to use her lived experiences to ask important research questions and accurately represent the voices of groups that have been historically excluded from research.
Ms. Jeffers holds a Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in epidemiology from the University of Maryland-College Park. Her graduate capstone project was titled “Pregnancy Wantedness and Breastfeeding Duration Among African American Women: Results from the 2017 to 2019 National Survey of Family Growth.” In graduate school, Ms. Jeffers worked for the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development (GUCCHD), where she contributed to mixed-methods research studies. One study, in collaboration with the Washington, DC Department of Health, examined the role of daily experiences of racism and accessible, high-quality perinatal and postpartum care for Black women living in Wards 5, 7, and 8 in Washington, DC. Prior to graduate school, Ms. Jeffers was a science and mathematics teacher. Her time as an educator and the experience of becoming a parent showed her the importance of community and postpartum support for birthing persons and families and sparked her passion for pursuing a graduate degree in public health. Ms. Jeffers is a trained perinatal community health worker and was a volunteer COVID-19 contact tracer for the Prince George’s County Health Department.
Ms. Jeffers is proud to have overcome tremendous odds to reach her stage in life and career, and one driver of her public health work is showing other women/femmes from marginalized backgrounds—particularly queer and/or economically oppressed people of color—that they can find a place in STEM. In her free time, Ms. Jeffers enjoys cooking and recreating healthy meals that are featured on social media, traveling with her family, friends, or even solo, digital couponing, and taking care of her many plants.