In honor of Women’s Health Month, we’re featuring four founders and organizations supporting women in the health and wellness space. These organizations support women across both the physical and mental wellness space including expecting mothers, families, female entrepreneurs, and single women who are learning how to balance work, career, family and personal needs to thrive.
Jade Kearney, SheMatters
Jade Kearney is the CEO of SheMatters, an online platform and mobile app where tech meets wellness. The app is designed to support Black women/ WOC who experience postpartum comorbidities by helping them to build healthy habits that can be tracked and openly celebrated. With communities struggling now more than ever post- pandemic and with social unrest, these services are critical.
SheMatters released the first edition of The Pink Book in 2022, a guide for black mother’s navigating the safest hospitals for pregnancy. This guide will be updated and released yearly.
In addition, Jade released her book Lean While Black: Guide to Black Entrepreneurship which is currently available on Amazon and in major bookstores. Lean While Black is a detailed look into lean startup methodology as it relates to BIPOC founders. The journey is no doubt different for Black founders, but Kearney attests that simply acknowledging the differences does not get to the root of the problem. As a Lean Startup Expert, Kearney breaks down the principles of lean startup methodology and the many challenges and nuances Black founders have due to biases and systemic racism in Silicon Valley culture.
In addition, Jade is also the Founder of Black Girl’s Tech Day, an annual conference for women of color. The conference started in 2021 in NY, New York, expanded to Pretoria, South Africa in 2022, with plans for Atlanta and Los Angeles in the near future! Kearney created Black Girl’s Tech Day to provide Black Female Founders in tech with an opportunity to network, learn and celebrate their unique contributions to the entrepreneurial community and to support founders by offering expert panels, funding resources and mentorship. Kearney is also a regular keynote and panel speaker at industry conferences. She has a background in diversity and inclusion and a Master’s degree in Digital Media Design from NYU. As a Black female founder and mother, her goal is to inspire other women of color to experience their power through entrepreneurship.
Talitha Phillips, Claris Health
Talitha Phillips is a labor and postpartum professional doula and the CEO of the non-profit community health organization, Claris Health, which has helped expecting parents in Los Angeles with health and wellness needs in all stages of pregnancy for over 45 years.
Talitha was first introduced to Claris as a patient and became the Director of Claris Health at age 23, working to build the organization over the last twenty years. She grew the non-profit from a small resource center to a permanent facility and mobile clinic supporting the Los Angeles community. Talitha recognizes that women and families facing pregnancy and sexual-health choices need options, support, and wrap-around care before, during, and after these choices.
Claris Health provides free-of-charge and affordable medical care services, as well as peer-to-peer support. Claris Health’s reach also extends beyond the walls of their clinics with a mobile medical unit that launched just before the pandemic and serviced the community throughout. Today the mobile medical unit goes into some of LA’s most under-resourced and unsheltered communities, making 20 stops a month.
Some of the programs Claris offers families and expectant mothers & fathers in Los Angeles include: Low to no-cost medical care for physical and mental health, STI/pregnancy testing, prenatal care through the Centering Pregnancy program, well-woman exams, prenatal care, and medical referrals.
There are also support groups for pregnancy loss and abuse, emergency MediCal and other social services, court-approved parenting classes and therapy for people nationwide, sexual health education in schools with their program Reality Check, and more! Claris Health is licensed by the State of California and accredited by AAAHC; partnering with over 290 community organizations.
Ivana de Maria, StoryPlace
Ivana De Maria is a driven entrepreneur, social activist, and actor/producer with an impressive film and television career including projects for Netflix, HBO, ViX, Univision and AppleTV. She is also the Founder of Storyplace, leading the way for social journaling as a means of expression, community and wellness.
Storyplace, the storytelling app which originally launched in 2019, recently debuted it’s next chapter including a reimagined design, functionality and a focus on social journaling and redefining vulnerability in community. The app’s mission is to offer a tool for people to process their day to day by sharing their thoughts, feelings, and stories in a safe space with a community that appreciates vulnerability and celebrates authenticity. Users share their journals within the community and learn about life through other people’s experiences. The app already boasts 45,000 users located around the world and has over 25,000 stories shared!
Ivana believes that vulnerability and empathy are what the world needs the most right now, and created Storyplace to provide a responsible tech platform that people trust and where they can express the truth about their emotional wellbeing. Storyplace provides a safe & trusted environment for people to come together over shared experiences. The app has a zero tolerance- no hate speech or bullying policy and Ivana leads by example in sharing her own personal stories and wearing vulnerability as a strength.
Kimberley Nixon, Open Venture
Kimberley Nixon is the Founder and Managing Partner of Open Venture Capital which
invests in startups from Seed to Series A, across the spectrum of health and wellness.
Kimberley has a unique story having overcome cancer in her twenties, a journey that showed her the several inequities in care and also inspired her to create a life that values “time freedom.” and inspires others to take risks on themselves to find financial and personal success.
Kimberley is an Operator turned VC, leveraging her career experience to help drive momentum for founders through capital, advisory and incubation. She also seeks to make Venture, as an asset class, more accessible to female investors, particularly women of color. She is looking for more women of color investors. This means you, reader!
Two important stats that Kimberley keeps top of mind: Black Founders received just 1% of all
capital raised ($215.9 billion) in the U.S. in 2022, and that 80% of Venture firms don’t have any Black investors.”We’re simply not building via traditional means fast enough or in a sustainable fashion. It means, we must think differently about our approach. Who we partner with, how we take risks, how we re-invest, it all matters.”
Most recently, Nixon’s risks are paying off! She recently announced an equity
investment from financial institution Bank of America. This partnership will allow the
fund to continue to invest in her mission at a larger scale. Some of Open Venture
Capital’s current investments in wellness and mission-based companies include Pear
Suite, No Limbits, Op e n, and Break the Love. Prior to launching OVC as a solo general practitioner, Nixon’s professional background included senior executive roles at Deloitte, Under Armour and Manduka Yoga, as well as managing a private real estate portfolio.
Neferteri Plessy is a trailblazer for mom entrepreneurs, business owners and leaders. A sought-after motivational speaker, Neferteri has coached over 5,000 women into living their best life now. As the founder and CEO of Single Moms Planet, a national 501(c)(3) non-profit, she has developed programming, events and resources which have not only uplifted and inspired thousands of mothers, but also celebrated their amazing achievements. She is the creator of the “SMP 100 Business Accelerator” brand, a global movement that empowers mothers in business. Neferteri has been featured in The Huffington Post, BBC News, MSN Lifestyle, KIIS FM, and the cover of LA Weekly.
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