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As 2019 begins to unfold, we are thrilled to welcome five new board members to our Nurture table. Devon Copeland, April Fraser, Malikah Karim, Melicent Miller, and Cheyenne Varner will join us this month to help move forward our mission of improving the health and wellbeing of childbearing families through fitness, education, social support, and community engagement.

Last spring, Board President Portia Chan and Executive Director Leslie Lytle sat down and conducted a thorough review of our board recruitment processes and needs in light of our strategic plan’s third goal of “strengthening internal operations to ensure continuation as an effective and impactful nonprofit.” We then updated board member and committee descriptions, created new recruitment materials, and conducted a thorough review of current and past board constituencies.

Guided by our organization’s goal of living into our commitment to diversity and equity in all aspects of our organization, we then conducted a very deliberate outreach into various sectors of our community. This resulted in our meeting with nine different people to share our vision for Nurture and invite them serve on our board. This board recruitment took place slowly, over a period of six months, in order to allow time for prospective board members to ask questions and discern within themselves as to whether this was the right fit.

Out of these nine, five people accepted the invitation to serve on Nurture’s Board of Directors. We are delighted to introduce you to the 2019 cohort of the Nurture Board of Directors!

Devon Copeland

Devon considers herself to be an educator, but not in the conventional sense with a classroom and textbooks.  While she shares a teacher or professor’s passion for learning and helping individuals achieve their potential, as a writer with an extensive background in public relations and marketing she focuses on raising awareness and highlighting the tales of ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary things. She grew up in Hampton, Virginia, and attended Virginia Commonwealth University where she studied Mass Communications. She’s a proud graduate of West Virginia University’s Regent of Bachelor’s degree program. Over the past fourteen years, Devon has been firmly ensconced in the stories, research and advocacy related to social, societal, racial, class and other challenges families face through her career as a writer and editor. A married mother of two, she considers herself blessed to see life through the eyes of her young children.


April Fraser

April Fraser is the proud mother of four, happily married to her best friend. She is a passionate birth doula and natural childbirth educator of nine years, serving many Richmond families over the course of that time. April was a member of the 2011 Mayor’s Breastfeeding Commission, which served as a catalyst in launching programs now serving Richmond area moms. April completed her Doula Training with toLabor. Shortly thereafter she felt a strong call to leave her job in the corporate world. She returned to college to further serve her community and complete her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing at Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing. That call has led her to serve families in various capacities. Her clinical experience and professional knowledge of disease processes have been a great addition to her love of all things related to birth and women’s health. April currently works at McGuire Veteran’s Hospital as a Surgical ICU nurse serving Veterans and their families. Her job as an ICU nurse allows her to work and practice her first love as a volunteer birth doula and childbirth educator.


Malikah Karim

Malikah is a wife of more than thirteen years, and mother of two young boys, ages three years and seven years old. She loves, gardening, family wellness, nature exploration, and a strong cup of good tea. She has been working with women-centered organizations since she was a young teen, volunteering with local religious organizations to help refugee women, and children resettle in the Richmond, Virginia area. Professionally she was trained in IV medications preparation, and worked in an in-patient hospital pharmacy for years while completing her undergraduate studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. She earned a B.S. in Biology, A.S. In Applied Science, and Certification of Integrative Health Coaching from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York.

During her first pregnancy, she studied yoga and earned her RYT-200 certification with the intention to share something that was valuable to her with other women in underserved communities. In 2012 she started PURE Wellness & Coaching where her passion for women’s health and wellness took permanent residency in her life’s purpose. She has been advocating for women’s health, and well-being ever since. Malikah is absolutely ecstatic and honored to join Nurture’s Board in providing services, building awareness around woman’s health issues, and creating safe spaces for support, and care for mothers, and moms-to-be in the Richmond, Virginia area and beyond.


Melicent Miller

Pretending to be a restorative doctor or an encouraging teacher were some of Melicent’s favorite games a child. She often pretended to treat her wounded dolls through a full recovery, or stood enthusiastically teaching lessons that she had learned only hours before in her elementary school classroom to a class composed of her friends, filling in the empty spaces with stuffed animals. Through her young eyes, her dream was to become a world changer by creating a society full of individuals who were empowered and afforded the same opportunities to be healthy. Fueling that passion into educational pursuits, Melicent earned her BS in Biology from North Carolina A&T State University and Master of Science in Public Health at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Public Health from Georgia Southern University.

Melicent’s personal, academic, and professional paths have afforded her opportunities to work collaboratively across multiple sectors to prevent disease and promote health and wellbeing. In her current work at the Virginia Department of Health, Melicent works with partners to reduce chronic disease burden across the lifespan throughout the Commonwealth by providing support across all sectors to ensure that every child, including her two daughters, have the opportunity to learn and grow to become healthy, thriving, and resilient adults. Melicent is honored to serve on Nurture’s board and stand alongside others who share the same passion and vision of supporting families in the Richmond area.


Cheyenne Varner

Cheyenne Varner is a doula, designer, photographer, and writer in Richmond, Virginia.

Born in California, raised in New Jersey, and transplanted to coastal Virginia in the midst of high school, Cheyenne didn’t hit the Richmond scene until 2009, to attend the University of Richmond. There, she created the interdisciplinary major Educational Activism in the Arts — a mix of courses in Sociology, Rhetoric and Communications, Education, and Theater — and minored in Creative Writing.

Today, Cheyenne is a freelancer and a professional birth doula, trained by toLabor, Ancient Song, and Doula Trainings International. She runs The Educated Birth, an online shop of birth educational materials, including Everyday Birth Magazine. Her passion for all things creative leads her to pursue projects of the design, photography, and writing variety.

Whether solo, or collaboratively, Cheyenne seeks to pursue all of her work with excellence, authenticity, and grace.

Welcome Devon, April, Malikah, Melicent, and Cheyenne. We are honored and humbled to have you join our endeavor!

Interested in improving the local environment for pregnancy, birth, and early parenting by serving on Nurture’s board or committees? Send us an email at info@nurtureRVA.org!


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