BOARD OF DIRECTORS
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.
Malikah Karim, CHC, E-RYT200 – Director
Malikah is a wife of 13+ yrs, and mother of two young boys ages 3 yrs and 7 yrs 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, VA 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 NY.
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 under served communities. In 2012 she started PURE Wellness & Coaching where her passion for woman’s health and wellness took permanent residency in her life’s purpose. She has been advocating for woman’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 – 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, Melicentearned 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 – Director
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.
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 info@NurtureRVA.org or click this link.
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. A twenty year career as a massage therapist informs her work as a childbirth educator and maternal health advocate. 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 mother/baby/family friendly city.
Caitlin Minnick – Development & Administrative Assistant
Cait served on Nurture’s Board from 2016 – 2019, during which time she welcomed her second and third daughters into her family. She helped develop the Birth & Baby Fair for five years as well as other programs. After completing her term on the board she transitioned into a supportive role to continue her work. Cait’s focus is nourishing new and deeper connections with Nurture’s partners and community members to further Nurture’s mission and carry out the strategic plan put in place by the current board.
Shakeya Lewis, CLC – Lactation Support Provider & Social Media Manager
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 and social media manager for the Nurture and RVAbreastfeeds social media pages.