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.


Kathleen McCarther  Ave Stokes   Ryan Tenney   Tricia Coggins    Gregory Wyatt


Hakima Tafunzi Payne


Netta Thompson


Kellye McCrary

Program Coordinator

Ceciley Wong

Office Manager

Chad Onianwa

Community Outreach & Communications Director

Ameenah Johnson

Director of Education


Izula Jade Maximillian

Community Gardener

Ruth McCleery

Doula & Kansas Office Administrator

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

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

Hakima, known to her community as Mama Hakima, is a co-founder and CEO of Uzazi Village, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating health outcome disparities in maternal and infant health in African-American communities. She holds a B.A. in Nursing and a Master’s in Nursing Education. Hakima is the creator of the Sister Doula Program (a community-based home visiting community health worker program for pregnant individuals), Chocolate Milk Café, (a breastfeeding support group for Black families), and the Village Circle (an Afro-centric group prenatal care model). She sits on her local Fetal Infant Mortality Review Board (FIMR) to address Black infant mortality, is a member of the Rockhurst University Institutional Review Board (IRB), and is an anti-racism trainer with HTP Consulting. She is an editor of the Clinical Lactation Journal and also sits on the board of Alive and Well Communities, a nonprofit dedicated to the principles of trauma-informed care and the elimination of toxic stress in Missouri residents. She is a certified trainer for Community Health Workers, and speaks nationally on the topics of Black maternal and infant health. Hakima works tirelessly to make birth safer, the village healthier, and to promote anti-racist care models for Black and African-American families. She is the creator of Melanin Uprising, a bimonthly webcast produced with Dr. Paul Scott, that explores the intersection of race, research, and healthcare. She is the subject of an upcoming documentary, “Sister Doulas,” and the author of a soon to be published book, “Birthing While Black.” 

Netta 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. Netta’s 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.

Kellye McCrary 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 and was trained to be a Perinatal Doula, Certified Community Health Care Worker, Perinatal Doula Instructor, and then transitioned to be the Program Director of Uzazi Village. 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 moms to resources, and 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 moms navigate through pregnancy and life’s peaks and valleys. In her free time, Kellye enjoys sewing, designing handbags, and learning about essential oils.

Ceciley is the Office Manager at Uzazi Village, where she works hand-in-hand with the entire Uzazi Village team to conquer Black Maternal Health and reduce disparities in health care. When Ceciley isn’t assisting the Executive Team, she is providing the highest quality care to each client that walks through the doors of Uzazi Village. Ceciley is also the Rental Administrator, providing the community with the availability to rent out the Uzazi VIllage space for events.  

Chad Onianwa serves as Uzazi Village’s Community Outreach & Communications Director. They are a writer and graphic designer interested in using their craft to aid in community-based grassroots efforts.

Izula was born in Kansas City, Missouri (aka Occupied Missouria-Otoe Territory). As a lover of the soil and soul of her people, she seeks to bring equity to black maternal and infant health outcomes. She works to bridge birth and reproductive justice and prevent pregnancy and post-partum related complications in the following ways: food sovereignty, empowering people to connect with the spirit of the land, the power of the plants and the ability of families to grow fresh food for themselves, and holistic nutrition. Izula began her service to the sacred 20 years ago as a raw vegan chef and organic gardener. She is a perpetual student of Indigenous herbalism and Urban Permaculture and she deepened her journey in sacred birthwork by becoming a community-based doula. She trained to become a doula at Uzazi Village in 2019 after she encountered racially-biased medical treatment during pregnancy that could have cost her her life. She finds it to be an honor to be the Community Gardener for Uzazi Village’s midwifery herbal garden, placenta garden, and grieving garden, which provides a space of growth, beauty, and meditation for the healing and liberation of her people.

My name is Ruth McCleery I am a doula and love experiencing life to the fullest. I have a passion to help women empowering them to be the best versions of themselves.