April Fraser – Board President

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.


Melicent Miller Ph.D – Director

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 the lessons that she had learned only hours before in her own 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 received her 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 prior work at the Virginia Department of Health, Melicent worked 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. She is currently the Project Director for the Lupus Foundation of America, and a Public Health and Health Equity Strategist with Health Forward, LLC. 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.

Rachael Deane, J.D. – Director

Rachael Deane is the mother of two young children and a civil rights attorney with more than fifteen years of experience in nonprofit advocacy organizations. She earned her B.A. at the University of Mary Washington and her J.D. at the University of Richmond School of Law, where she volunteered extensively with local legal aid offices and completed the school’s Education Rights Clinic. After law school, Rachael embarked on a career in fair housing advocacy and was named a “Top 40 Under 40” housing advocate by the Virginia Housing Alliance in 2012. After the birth of her first child, Rachael felt a strong call to return to child and family advocacy while experiencing firsthand the lack of accessible, affordable, evidence-based, and compassionate health care and support services for childbearing families. In 2017, she became the director of the Youth Justice Program at the Legal Aid Justice Center, where she advocates for policies to ensure that all children and families in Virginia can thrive. Rachael was born and raised in the Richmond area.


Keya Strudwick – Director

As a young child, Keya knew she wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. Always eager to learn and to care about the wellbeing of others, it seemed like a natural fit when Keya decided to pursue a career in Healthcare Administration.
Being a transformative, empowering servant leader has led Keya to participate in several national and international mission trips, volunteering with numerous organizations that focus on uplifting, sustaining, and supporting women, children, and youth.
Aligning her passion and purpose, Keya earned her Bachelor degree in Business Administration from Greensboro College and a Master of Business Administration from Strayer University. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Health Administration from the Medical University of South Carolina.




Laurie Aronovici – Director


Laurie Aronovici served as a perinatal nurse for thirty-nine years, with thirty-five of them specifically in Labor and Delivery.  During that time she pursued academic progression, advancing from an Associate Degree to a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. Additionally, she was an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant from 1991 to 2011, Chair of the Virginia Breastfeeding Coalition for 11 years, a Certified Childbirth Instructor through the Richmond Childbirth Association for 27 years, a certified yoga instructor through the Nara School of Yoga for 48 years, a perinatal yoga instructor through Sylvia Klein-Olkin’s Positive Pregnancy Fitness for 25 years, a perinatal massage therapist through Kate Jordan’s Body Work for the Childbearing Year for 11 years, certified in Reflexology and Healing Touch Level 1, and certified in Electronic Fetal Monitoring through National Certification Corporation. She is currently a member of the Virginia Neonatal Perinatal Collaborative. Laurie has a strong commitment to ensuring safe perinatal care for all birthing people, and finding effective ways to decrease maternal morbidity and mortality.  She is also strongly committed to seeing breastfeeding/chest feeding become the cultural norm. Laurie has been married for 41 years and has three wonderful adult daughters and three joyous grandsons.


We’re growing our board and committees. If you are interested in improving the local pregnancy, birth, and early parenting ecosystem through board or committee service at Nurture, please inquire at or fill out this questionnaire.





Leslie Lytle, Founder & Executive Director

Leslie is a mother, wife, yoga teacher, and childbirth advocate who thrives on connecting people with resources and facilitating growth.
Leslie began working with pregnant people as a massage therapist in 1992. Inspired by the birth of her son, she became a doula in 1998, began teaching prenatal and postpartum yoga in 2000, and is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator. Over 3000 pregnant and postpartum people have participated in her programs.

Leslie holds an MS in Sociology where her focus was the sociology of health and illness with additional coursework in public health. She is fascinated by the intersection of biology and culture that is ever present in the childbirth and early parenting arenas. A member of the Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program Class of 2013, Leslie completed a Certificate in Non-Profit Management through Non-Profit Learning Point in 2014, is the 2016 recipient of the Pat Asch Fellowship for Social Justice, and is a member of Initiatives of Change’s Community Trustbuilding Fellowship cohort of 2018. She looks forward to the day when Richmond will be known far and wide as a parent/baby/family friendly city.


Shakeya Lewis, CLC – Lactation Support Provider

Shakeya Lewis is a mother of two from Chesapeake, VA. She began her path to breastfeeding advocacy through experience as a teen mother in 2012. A breastfeeding peer pilot program through #RVAbreastfeeds was the beginning of her education in the lactation field and her work with Nurture. Shakeya has a son, 3, and a daughter, 7, who she breastfed for a total of 4.5 years. In 2018, she obtained her certification as a Certified Lactation Counselor. Shakeya continues advocacy through lactation support, working as Nurture’s Resident CLC for the Nurture and RVAbreastfeeds social media pages.






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