VILLAGE TEAM

WHO WE ARE

The four original founders of Uzazi Village (Hakima Tafunzi Payne, Mariah Chrans, Rebecca Liberty, and Tash Reed) had their first community meeting on December 9th, 2011 at the Kansas City Health Department, when community members were invited to share what their vision was regarding community-based maternity care. Uzazi Village was officially founded in May of 2012.

With the support of our community, we continue to dedicate our time to decreasing maternal and infant health inequity among Black and Brown communities.

Join Uzazi Village to make a difference for families in your community

4232 Troost Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64110  •  (816) 541-3718

Hakima Tafunzi Payne, is the founder, and Executive Director of Uzazi Village, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating health outcome disparities in maternal and infant health in African-American communities. She holds a bachelor’s in nursing and a master’s in nursing education.

Ms. Payne is the creator of the Village Doula Program (a community-based home visiting community health worker program for pregnant individuals), Chocolate Milk Café, (a breastfeeding support group for Black families), the Village Circle, an Afro-centric group prenatal care model, and Culturally Congruent Care (an anti-racist medical education curriculum). She speaks nationally on the topics of Black maternal and infant health.

Ms. Payne works tirelessly to make birth safer, the village healthier, and to promote anti-racist care models for African-American families. She is the subject of two documentaries, “Sister Doula” and “Pregnancy and Prejudice.”

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Netta Thompson is the COO at Uzazi Village. She is a Certified Breastfeeding Educator and holds a master’s degree in health administration with an emphasis on Education. She has been in the healthcare field for more than 17 years.
In 2015 she began working on a mother/baby unit at a local hospital and noticed that there were not enough women of color in the important role of teaching and assisting black mothers with breastfeeding. After many months of research, she began her journey towards becoming a lactation consultant and was referred to Uzazi Village in 2017. Under their teaching, guidance, and support, she is now ready to take the International Lactation Consultant boards.
Netta is an active participant in Cradle KC, a collaborative in Wyandotte County whose focus is to eliminate racial bias in the healthcare system and create systems to empower families of color. Her goals are to make breastfeeding a natural conversation in the healthcare field with expectant mothers, assist and provide support to women in her community throughout their pregnancy, and provide them with the tools and education to meet their individual goals of exclusively breastfeeding.
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About Daina

Daina McMullen, a Kansas City native and decorated US Navy veteran with 8.5 years of service in the South Pacific, serves as Executive Assistant at Uzazi, supporting high-level leaders in a fast-paced environment through proactive learning and innovative problem solving.

With her extensive experience in Human Resources and as an Executive Assistant, she inspires positive change through her work, elevating our organization’s potential with her unwavering commitment and forward-thinking approach.

Her dedication to progress shines through in her dual role as a loving wife and bonus mom to two boys and one girl, while still finding time to fuel our organization’s success with her strategic insights and unparalleled enthusiasm.

She passionately supports the leaders at Uzazi Village with her 12 years of Human Resources and Executive Assisting expertise. She has her Associate Degree in Math and Science and is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Biology

Kellye McCrary is the Human Resource Manager of Uzazi Village. Kellye originally pursued a degree in Fashion Design with a minor in accounting but the universe had something different in mind. After running her own business for 25 years, and working in the nonprofit sector since 2002, Kellye was led to Uzazi Village in 2015, climbed the Uzazi ladder and was trained to be a Perinatal Full Spectrum Doula, Certified Community Health Care Worker, Perinatal Doula Instructor and Program Director.

Throughout Kellye’s life in Kansas City, where she was born and raised, she discovered she worked and lived in zip codes that statistically had the highest infant mortality rates. Being a single mother of one brainy and beautiful babe, Kellye knows the importance of a place like Uzazi Village in our community that supports and connects families to resources, support groups and other needs to help them through what life throws our way. Being a part of such an organization was aligned with her mission of being able to help other families navigate through pregnancy and life’s peaks and valleys.

Kellye enjoys traveling, textile upcycling, designing handbags and creating essential blends.

Tovah Tanner, a resident of Kansas City, has dedicated her efforts towards facilitating a liberating way of life through educational and professional pursuits. Her family’s entrepreneurial heritage, her own resilience, and her progressive offspring form the pillars of her endeavors. She occupies the positions of Communications Coordinator and Community Outreach, mediating public relations between Uzazi Village and local affiliations and families. Additionally, she is responsible for the organization’s marketing strategy.

Possessing over two decades of experience in the healthcare sector, Tovah has amplified socio-economic growth and boosted financial stability, particularly in historically underfunded communities. Her passion for health and wellness has led her to make significant transformations in gardening, mental and physical wellness, homeschool education, and financial literacy.

Tovah Tanner has taken conventional sayings and phrases such as “you can do whatever you set your mind to” from a redundant string of words to a vibrant statement of potential and progress.

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Sierra Gordon, a Certified Perinatal Doula and Uzazi Village Perinatal Doula Trainer, is a passionate advocate for reproductive education and rights. With a heart full of dedication, she took on her calling in birth work in 2020 and has since been empowering future doulas with invaluable knowledge and tools.
She’s a beacon of inspiration and support at the Ida Mae Patterson Center, serving as an Education Doula and a member of the Mental Wellness team.
Sierra’s commitment extends beyond just training – she believes in educating the entire family and community about reproductive health. Her mission is to fill the gap in our society’s understanding of reproductive health, ensuring everyone can navigate and take control of their own reproductive lives.
Sierra’s fervor is not just about imparting knowledge, but about nurturing a community of well-informed individuals who can educate and support their own families and communities. Her calling to train, educate, and mentor quality doulas is heartfelt and crucial, especially as the demand for trained doulas increases.
With each teaching opportunity, Sierra cherishes the chance to learn something new, demonstrating her unwavering dedication to her calling. She also carries immense pride in her heart for her husband and their son. Their presence brings an immeasurable and genuine joy to her life.
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“Hope is something of extraordinary power, it can feed the soul, it can light the way, it can move someone from darkness to light. This is exactly how I see my connection to the community as a Doula”.

Ruth McCleery has years of experience, working with women and families of all backgrounds, combating maternal and infant mortality within the hispanic community. She focuses on building trusting relationships with her clients and their families to address their birthing needs and process as THEY take control of one of the most amazing experiences of their life.

“La esperanza es algo de poder extraordinario, puede alimentar el alma, puede iluminar el camino, puede mover a alguien de la oscuridad a la luz. Así es exactamente como veo mi conexión con la comunidad como una Doula”.

Años de experiencia, trabajando con mujeres y familias de todos los orígenes, combatiendo la mortalidad materna e infantil dentro de la comunidad hispana. Construir una relación de confianza con mis clientes y sus familias, para abordar sus necesidades y procesos de parto a medida que ELLOS toman el control de una de las experiencias más increíbles de su vida.

Nadirah Muhammed is not just a devoted mother and loving wife, but also a seasoned Office Manager with a deep understanding of administrative tasks and managerial responsibilities. With her extensive organizational skills, she ensures that the office operates without a hitch, creating a seamless work environment. You can think of her as the heartbeat of the office, the central figure that keeps everything coordinated and running smoothly. Nadirah is the first point of contact for all staff members, ready and equipped to handle any issues or concerns that might arise. She actively facilitates open communication channels within the office, ensuring everyone’s opinions and ideas are heard and respected. But Nadirah doesn’t just stop at being effective and efficient. She’s dedicated to creating an office environment where everyone feels appreciated and motivated to perform their best. She truly believes that a positive workplace boosts productivity and morale, and she strives to make her office a place where everyone feels significant and driven to excel.
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My name is Christian King. I am the mother of three children, a community health worker, substitute teacher and currently pursuing a degree in History for Secondary Education. I am a native of Kansas CIty, MO and I enjoy traveling, gathering with friends and family, baking, educating, and trying new foods. My interest in becoming a doula came after developing Gestational Hypertension that progressed to Preeclampsia. I was not aware of how sick I was and how dangerous the condition is. I spent almost two weeks admitted in the hospital, most of the time alone. My daughter was born as a late term preemie, spending 1 week in the NICU. Once I learned how sick I really was, I decided to help other Moms to never be unaware and alone. I became a SIster Doula after learning how little my community knew about their rights and options, the degree of inequalities and biases faced, the large margin in which our women and babies die, and how many women just lack support. I believe women should be loaded with knowledge and feel so much love, support, and empowerment that she is able to create the ideal image for her birth experience, including cases of emergency. I believe that women should not feel alone after having a baby or when dealing with loss. I contribute to a birth knowledge, empowerment, a peaceful and serene environment, and hands on support when needed. Women should be able to always make informed decisions when it comes to themselves and their babies. I am passionate about birth and understanding how babies and our bodies work together during labor and delivery. I believe that understanding this can help reduce C-Sections and help women change the way we receive medical care.

My philosophy about birth is being knowledgeable to make informed decisions about your birth experience, being empowered enough to advocate for yourself, and creating a birthing environment suitable and comfortable to create the most calming and controlled journey to your baby’s journey earthside.

About Delia

Praise Him! I’m Delia Pearl, a mother of six beautiful little expressions of myself 4 girls and 3 boys and a bonus son! Ever since I was 10 years old I had a passion and a desire to become a midwife for mothers that might be overlooked due to their economic status or lack of education or support given by their surrounding healthcare providers. It all stemmed from learning that a older brother of mine in Cuba had a disability in his legs due to the lack of education the medical staff had about breached babies. I vowed to myself that I would never let that happen again to another person.

I later learned that my journey to becoming a Midwife started with learning and serving as a Doula. My OB/ Great Friend Dr. Mualik introduce me to Uzazi Village and Mama Hakima and that’s when my dreams started to become my reality.
I believe that childbirth is the rewarding result of being blessed to carry human life in your womb. The Journey should be filled with knowledge, power, love and lots of laughter no matter what your circumstance or social status is. I just want to bring ‘ big sister vibes’  and enjoy this journey with you!
Daysha Lewis, a mother of four, has a personal and professional life that authentically reflects her commitment to empowering families, particularly mothers. She navigates the complex terrain of parenting and marriage with a contagious burst of enthusiasm, infusing her journey with joy and love. In her professional life, she holds two significant roles that align with her personal mission of education, empowerment, and advocacy. She serves as a Village Doula at Uzazi Village and as a Parent Educator at Start at Zero. As a doula, Daysha provides vital support to mothers during the life-changing period of childbirth. She is there to guide, comfort, and assist, making this transformative time easier and more manageable. Her role as a Parent Educator involves equipping parents with essential parenting skills. She ensures that parents are well-prepared and confident in their ability to raise their children successfully. Both of these roles underline Daysha’s unwavering commitment to her mission. They shine a light on her profound dedication to fostering empowerment in mothers and families, a mission that shapes her professional and personal life in meaningful ways.
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Lady-Charde Lenoir-Howard, a devoted wife, mother of three, and a friend to many, has always had a nurturing heart. Her personal journey through motherhood ignited a passion for becoming a Doula, recognizing that each pregnancy is a unique miracle and life-changing event. In her leisure, she indulges in baking, reading, and writing poetry, bringing warmth and creativity into her home.
Her commitment to serving her community is both humbling and inspiring. Lady eagerly assists families to feel confident, empowered, and valued throughout their birth experience. She strongly believes that effective parenting, which begins with pregnancy and birth, has the power to better our world.
As a birth doula, her joy lies in witnessing women become confident and ecstatic about the birth and early parenting of their children. She encourages parents to confront their fears and anxieties, empowering them to make choices that feel right for their family. As Maya Angelou once said, “When you know better, you do better.” This philosophy guides Lady’s work, helping parents create realistic expectations for their birth and parenting experiences. She truly believes that happiness blooms from meeting these realistic expectations.

Clarisa Evans is a highly dedicated Senior Student Midwife working at the renowned Ida Mae Patterson Center for Maternal and Infant Wellness. She’s been involved in various local midwifery practices, offering her expertise and support. Clarisa’s prior experiences as a full spectrum Doula, a patient care specialist, and a childbirth educator have armed her with the skills and knowledge to emphasize the importance of ongoing midwifery care. She’s a firm believer that this critical care can lead to better birth experiences and can make the journey to becoming a parent much smoother.

In addition to her professional commitments, Clarisa is a vehement defender of black maternal health and infant mortality issues in the United States. She’s taken it upon herself to shed light on this significant matter, dedicating her time and energy to educate her community about the different choices they have during pregnancy, within or beyond a hospital environment.

Away from her impactful work, Clarisa is a devoted wife and a mother to three children. She greatly enjoys the tranquility offered by the great outdoors, often spending quality time with her family in nature’s embrace.

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D’Lita “Dee” Parker, APRN WHNP-BC, is not just a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner at the Ida Mae Patterson Center, but a professional with an impressive decade of experience in her field. Recently, her career journey has taken her to the doors of Uzazi Village, where she’s been offering her expertise for the past three months.
Beyond her profession, Dee is a genuine person who greatly values her roles as a mother and a healthcare provider. Her commitment towards her job is evident in the compassionate care she provides to women. In her leisure time, Dee is an adventurer at heart, often found exploring uncharted territories on international trips. Additionally, she relishes spending quality time with her loved ones, indicating her strong family values.
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Courtney Pauley, a registered nurse at Ida Mae Center, has a deep passion for women’s services. She noticed a significant gap in the services provided to breastfeeding mothers, which ignited her determination to learn more. This led her to Uzazi Village’s lactation internship, where she was mentored by Melissa Jackson RN IBCLC, a respected professional in the field. Through unwavering dedication and commitment, Courtney earned the prestigious IBCLC certification, which greatly enhanced her ability to provide high-quality support.
What fuels Courtney’s drive is her heartfelt desire to restore and disseminate essential ancestral breastfeeding knowledge, particularly in the underserved communities of the KC metro area. She believes that this overlooked knowledge, especially relevant to black and brown families, is a vital resource that needs to be revitalized and shared widely. Courtney’s mission is to address the systemic neglect of this knowledge that spans a century, and passionately strives to bring it back into circulation.
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Rochelle Evans, formerly the Administrative Doula at Ida Mae Patterson Center, now serves passionately as a Village Doula. Her mission is to unlock the divine potential and healing within everyone, particularly People of Culture, enabling them to live empowered lives, free from constraints. Her family, including her husband Morrell, their son, Morrell II, and beloved pets, Demo and Mekka, fuel her dedication.
Rochelle’s calling to birth work began in childhood, caring for her siblings and supporting friends through the transformative journey of pregnancy, birth, and loss. The realization of her role came upon her own pregnancy, leading to a deeper understanding of the disparities faced during childbirth.
Embracing her thirst for knowledge, Rochelle found Uzazi’s program during her 2017 pregnancy and enrolled in 2020, juggling a demanding 50-hour work week. A layoff during training was seen not as a setback, but an opportunity, leading to her full-time role as a Village Doula.
Rochelle encourages you to see your reflection in the care she provides. She is committed to empowering your family towards the birth and postpartum experience you deserve. She views each birth as sacred, each journey unique as a baby’s fingerprint, and considers it a privilege to serve families in such a special time.
Rochelle is a Certified Full Spectrum Doula, Community Health Worker, Hypnobabies Certified Hypno Doula, and Reiki Master. She is currently working towards Prenatal Yoga and Cannabis Doula Certifications. In her downtime, she explores photography, new restaurants, cooking, travel, and cherishes time with her family and friends.
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As Uzazi’s Community Life Wellness Coordinator, Shafeeqa Small is able to introduce essential foods and alternatives, fostering a love for food through hands-on cooking demos, tastings, and food preparation advice. For two decades, Shafeeqa has developed methods to enhance food relationships, serving not only as a Holistic Facilitator but also as a chef, earth mother, beekeeper, and food advocate and educator.
The power of food to nurture and heal was evident in Mama Hakima’s dedication to Uzazi Village and its unique focus on nutrition. Recognizing the need for a nutrition-centric role, Mama Hakima and Shafeeqa both realized that solely relying on licensed nutritionists could dismiss the significant importance of our traditional food practices, heritage, and a non-judgmental perspective towards healthy food relationships, the essence of our village.
At Uzazi, Shafeeqa offers mothers and families more than just meals; she presents food as a cognitive stimulant, address food insecurity, and challenge societal stereotypes. The mission is to reinforce the restorative, life-sustaining power of food, beyond mere nutrition. Uzazi Village, for Shafeeqa, is not merely a place; it’s a nurturing sanctuary where she’s prospered and continue to serve passionately.
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Dr. Marcus Ramos-Pearson is a dedicated dentist serving Uzazi Village’s expecting families. Hailing from North Carolina, he’s recently made Kansas City his new home. His academic journey began at the North Carolina School of Science & Mathematics, continued at Queens University of Charlotte, and culminated in a doctorate from the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Dental Medicine.
Beyond dentistry, Dr. Marcus is a man of many talents. His college days saw him as a rugby and cheer athlete. His interests are diverse, encompassing Latin dancing, cooking, reading, writing, and gaming. Currently, he is making an impact in Grandview, practicing at Comfort Dental.
He provides a comprehensive range of dental services, from routine exams to teeth whitening. Whether you need a root canal, dentures, or teeth removal, Dr. Marcus is committed to meeting your oral health needs.
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Rosie Warren is not just an herbalist, but a passionate explorer who revels in the discovery of each new herb and its potential to help others. Each plant’s unique qualities ignite her creativity and determination. Her commitment to understanding and harnessing the power of plant medicine has been a ten-year journey, fueled by her unending desire to learn.
Her specialty lies in crafting unique tea blends and oil infusions from whole herbs. This journey was sparked by a mother’s love and her desire to provide the best for her family, leading her to cultivate her own garden full of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. This ignited her fascination with the healing properties of plants.
In 2018, her path took her to Uzazi Village as a Doula student. Here, she combined her passion for herbs and plant medicine to enrich the experiences of mothers and families. She now runs a successful herbal medicine store, “Nature Made Me,” in Kansas City, Missouri, offering a plethora of bulk herbs, healing skincare products, tea blends, and more.
Beyond her store, Rosie is a beacon of herbal education, leading classes and managing urban community gardens. She advocates for natural remedies that are often overlooked, sharing the wisdom of herbal medicine with her community.
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