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.

Board of Directors

Latricia Clark  Ryan Tenney   Tricia Coggins    Gregory Wyatt

UZAZI VILLAGE EXECUTIVE TEAM

Hakima Tafunzi Payne

CEO

Netta Thompson

COO

Kellye McCrary

Program Coordinator

Ceciley Wong

Office Manager

Chad Onianwa

Community Outreach & Communications Director

Ameenah Johnson

Director of Education

UZAZI VILLAGE STAFF

Ruth McCleery

Doula & Kansas Office Administrator

Delia Pearl

Village Doula and Student Midwife

Arrin Blount

Village Doula Lead

Rochelle Evans

Administrative Doula

Atira Cole

Resource Doula

Daysha Lewis

PRN Doula

Christian King

PRN Doula

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.

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.

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!

My name is Arrin and I am the mother to two beautiful Goddesses Anastasia 5, Emberleigh 3. My passion in life is to break and prevent generational curses. To make purpose popular. So much so I created a platform for children. My mission is to provide children with the tools, needed to build positive self-imagery as they grow. After all today children, is tomorrow leaders. Social conditioning has stunned a lot of our children’s grow and potential in life! I needed to find a way to stop that. Boom that’s been figured out. Now how could I prevent things like this from happening? Even if it’s a small but very IMPACTFUL percentage? Where does a lot of the way we live or view the world begins at? It begins the moment we enter this 3D realm duhhh. A realm we call birth. If I can help change the way women and their families views birth, I’m all for it. I need them to know birth is very doulable. Me teaching other mommies tools to advocate for themselves during a very sacred moment in life, is vital. Those same tools can be used in everyday life situations. The same tools can be passed down to other generations. Preventing generational curses from occurring. Empowering women is my new found passion, we’re an essential part in the genesis of life.

Rochelle is owner and founder of Exalted Remedies Healing. Her mission is to connect all, especially People of Culture, to their divine potential and healing, so that they may live in their purpose and power, beyond all limitations. Her work is centered around her family, including her partner of 8 years, Morrell, their 4 year old son, Morrell II and their 3 fur babies, Riddick, Demo and Mekka.

Rochelle was called to birth work as a child, mothering her siblings and supporting friends through pregnancy, birth and loss.

When she became pregnant, she realized there was a name for this role. Through her own research during her pregnancy, she became even more aware of the disparities we face while trying to bring our children earth side safely. Rochelle discovered Uzazi’s Sister Doula program and was inspired. After four years, despite her 50 hour work week, she finally enrolled. During training, she was laid off and immediately recognized the divine timing and that she was right where she was meant to be.

Rochelle wants you to see yourself in your care. She is dedicated to empowering your family in attaining the birth and postpartum experience you deserve. She believes birth is sacred, and standing at the veil, the highest honor. Rochelle is also a certified Reiki Master.

My name is Atira and I am a Kansas City native who is passionate about everything birth, public health, and prevention! I came to Uzazi through an internship sponsored by UMKC, where I recently received my bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences! I’ve always been interested in caring for women during their pregnancies and began school as a pre-med major, with the plan to become an OB/GYN. At UMKC is where I became radicalized in a sense of the way that I approached and viewed birth. Birth is a beautiful, magical, and natural experience which is the way that it should be regardless of setting — but not every mother has been able to experience that, which really pains me. So, I believe in mom’s being informed of every single option and choice they have available, creating a game plan, and empowering them to be unwavering in their desires and goals for birth. Dominating through your birth plan helps you take back your autonomy, stand firm, and experience the birth you desire.

Certifications: Certifications: Trained Birth + Postpartum Doula, Trained sexual + reproductive health peer counselor, trained childbirth educator, trained breastfeeding peer counselor. BLS CPR/AED, Infant + Toddler CPR/First Aid/AED

Read Daysha's Bio

My name is Daysha Lewis! I’ve been married for ten years with four children — two boys ages 11 and 6 — and two girls ages 5 and 2. In addition to being a Village Doula with Uzazi Village, I am a Parent Educator with Start At Zero. My life’s mission is to educate, empower, and advocate.

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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.