Dr. Lewis Wall

Dr. Lewis Wall

President of the Board, Dignity Period

Dr. Lewis Wall has a longstanding interest in the health of women in sub-Saharan Africa and has carried out clinical, research, and teaching activities in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Liberia, Niger, Uganda, and Ethiopia.

In 2014, he spent eight months as a Fulbright Scholar in Ethiopia at the College of Health Sciences, Mekelle University, working to improve residency education in obstetrics and gynecology. At the medical school commencement in October 2014, he was awarded the University Gold Medal by President Kindeya Gebrehiwot for meritorious service to medical education. Lewis has published more than 100 articles and book chapters on gynecologic subjects and is currently completing a book on childbirth trauma and obstetric fistulas in the developing world.

During his time in Mekelle, he and his wife Helen became familiar with the work and story of Freweini Mebrahtu, founder of Mariam Seba Sanitary Pad Factory. The challenge of menstrual hygiene in Ethiopia stood out as a problem that can be solved even if it involves complexities of ethnographic and anthropological research and education. He worked with colleagues at Mekelle University and Freweini at Mariam Seba to work out a partnership, and Dignity Period was born.

Lewis graduated from the University of Kansas and subsequently attended Oxford University in England as a Rhodes Scholar, where he studied social anthropology. A distinguished clinician and academic researcher, he has held faculty positions at Duke University, Emory University, the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans, The Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (UCLA), and Washington University in St. Louis. He is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology and the sub-specialty of female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery (urogynecology). In 2015, Lewis was named the inaugural Selina Okin Kim Conner Professor of Arts and Sciences in the Department of Anthropology at Washington University after a productive career as Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the School of Medicine.

Lewis has served on the boards of numerous medical and charitable organizations, and is pleased to serve as the board president of Dignity Period. He and his wife Helen have two sons and live happily in St. Louis with their dog, Sadie. Lewis and Helen are members of Peace United Church of Christ in Webster Groves, MO.

Lynn Coatney

Lynn Coatney

Vice President of the Board, Dignity Period

Lynn is a decades-long community volunteer in New Orleans. She and her husband, Mike, invest in nonprofits, especially those which improve education and access to health care, through the Mike and Lynn Coatney Family Foundation. This foundation supports Worldwide Fistula Fund, Hamlin Fistula USA, Healing Hands of Joy, Ochsner Clinic maternal and pediatric projects, and Luke’s House Clinic.

While Lynn has been active supporting nonprofits in New Orleans and in Africa for years, the first stamp on her passport was Ethiopia. Along with her husband and two daughters, she visited family friends, Lewis and Helen Wall, in Ethiopia during the spring of 2014. After touring the Mariam Seba Sanitary Products and meeting Freweini Mebrahtu, she was eager to work with Dignity Period. Lynn has a passion for improving education and health care and as vice president of the board for Dignity Period, she can do both.

Lynn was born and raised in upstate New York and West Virginia. She earned both a B.S. in education and a M.Ed. in special education from The University of Texas at Austin. She was a teacher/consultant for visually handicapped students in Austin and metro New Orleans. She has been a board member of St. Martin’s Episcopal School, an active member and chair of missions at Rayne Memorial Methodist Church, and is a neonatal foster parent at the Louisiana SPCA. She and her husband have two daughters and a son and live in New Orleans, LA.

Lynn is excited that Dignity Period gives her family an opportunity to make a difference by improving the quality of life for young girls and women in Ethiopia. She plans to continue learning about the cause, working with Dignity Period, and spreading awareness about the needs of Ethiopian girls through fundraising in the U.S.

Helen Wall

Helen Wall

Secretary/ Treasurer of the Board, Dignity Period

Helen Wall became involved with the Mariam Seba Sanitary Products Factory when she and Dr. Lewis Wall, her husband, both lived in Mekelle in northern Ethiopia for nearly eight months in 2014. Helen is an avid seamstress, and has won several national contests in wearable art. She used this talent to teach sewing to Ethiopian women and verify the high quality of Mariam Seba’s reusable sanitary pad. She is passionate about the work of Dignity Period.

Helen and Lewis have traveled extensively throughout Africa. After Lewis graduated from medical school, they spent three months in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where they worked as volunteers in a mission hospital. During that stay Helen used her sewing skills to produce hospital curtains, bed sheets, surgical caps and gowns, anything that was needed. In addition, Helen has accompanied and supported Lewis in his travels to Niger, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Uganda.

Born in northern England, Helen graduated from Lanchester Polytechnic and began working as a research technician in plant biochemistry, first at University College, London, and then at the Rothamsted Experimental Station in Harpenden, the world’s oldest, continuously operated agricultural research center. After taking an opportunity to study in the U.S., she received her master’s degree in botany from the University of Kansas, where she met her future husband, Dr. Lewis Wall. They were married in England and returned to the United States, where Lewis was entering medical school.

Lewis and Helen, when not traveling the world, reside in St. Louis, Missouri where Lewis practices medicine and teaches at Washington University. They are very active in their community and have two boys, Jimmy and Thom, both of whom are living on the east coast.

Matt Fisher

Matt Fisher

Board Director

Matt has immersed himself into the community since moving to St. Louis, joining several non-profit organizations based in the area. Over the years, Matt has become involved with Dignity Period, Miriam School, and Friends of Kids with Cancer, all of which focus on improving the quality of life for children. These three organizations appealed to him because of his passion for helping young people, especially those facing challenges.

Matt learned about Dignity Period when he and his wife, Amy, attended the introduction meeting in November of 2014. There they met Freweini Mebrahtu, and learned about the work that she does through the Mariam Seba Sanitary Pad Factory. Freweini’s inspiring story and her dedication to improving the lives of young girls in Ethiopia very much resonated with Matt and Amy. They have two young girls themselves, and it was unfathomable to think menstruation is a taboo subject that causes young girls to miss school and many times drop out of school all together. Dignity Period provided an opportunity for Matt and his family to positively impact the lives of young girls and women in Ethiopia.

Matt was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana and moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 2005 where he and his family currently live today. Matt earned a degree in Finance from the University of Missouri – St. Louis, and subsequently earned his CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS designation and the Accredited Investment Fiduciary. Matt is currently a partner with Mariner Wealth Advisors, and serves on the board for both Miriam School and Dignity Period.

Matt and Amy have three children Malia (16), Brayden (15), and Payton (11), and spend much of their time keeping up with their kids’ activities. In Matt’s free time he enjoys golf, fishing, and coaching his kids in basketball.