Click/tap on any of our illustrious speakers to learn more about them and their wonderful work!
JOEL AUSTIN is the Founder, President & Chief Executive Officer for Daddy University Inc. and the Executive Director of The School of Parent Education is a 501©3. He is also, a Certified Postpartum Doula. In this role he serves as a strong, undeniable force in propelling males and positive parenting to the forefront of the family and community agenda.
Fueled by his role as a father of four, Mr. Austin is personally and professionally committed to educating and re-educating people about the importance of fatherhood. Through his leadership, Daddy University Inc. has grown into a recognized authority on fatherhood information, support, and training. As a national speaker and skilled facilitator, Mr. Austin presents to thousands across the nation; infusing his passion through audiences and empowering individuals and groups to positively impact the lives of others.
Among his many accomplishments, Mr. Austin is the founder of the Annual Daddy Daughter Dance, in its eleventh year; it has become a tradition that changes the lives of young women everywhere. Mr. Austin is also the program developer for the Fathers Club; a free weekly fatherhood training group now at four different locations in the city of Phila; he services fathers from all backgrounds, ages, and stages. His latest venture is the Doulas 4 Dads program, providing training and certification, to over 10 male Doula’s providing maternal and paternal care to new mothers and fathers. Always the visionary, Mr. Austin in 2020 established the Delta Alpha Delta (DAD) Fraternity Inc. so, all fathers or all ages and stages can come together and support each other in brotherhood.
Kelli Brien, CD(DONA) LLCE, CLS, SpBCPE CPE
Kelli Brien, CD(DONA) LCCE, CLS, SpBCPE CPE, is a certified doula, childbirth educator and lactation specialist. She created the Speak Life Doula program and co-authored the Safety PIN grant submission that garnered multiple awards from the Indiana State Department of Health. Kelli founded In Full Bloom Maternity Service LLC and Mahogany Maternity, a 501(c)(3), has served in hospitals, home births and birth centers, for over 16 years, and established the 32nd Milk Bank Depot in Indiana.
She serves on The Saint Joseph County Fetal Infant Mortality Review team, the Indiana State Department of Health Maternal Mortality Review team, the board of Mental Health Awareness of Michiana, and chairs the Birth Equity Subcommittee for DONA International and serves as the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. She co-founded Birth Equity and Justice SJC, and has testified at the Indiana Statehouse in House and Senate chambers in support of Senate Bill 416, which passed, to be signed by Governor Eric Holcomb.
Community Research and Evaluation Specialist
G. Wesley Bugg, ROBE Director is a 2016 graduate of the University of Miami’s School of Law (JD, LLM), and 2013 graduate of Emory University (BA). He is currently the director of Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere, a program of ROSE that is focused on Fatherhood and increasing breastfeeding initiation and duration in communities of color and decreasing Black infant mortality.
He is deputy director of Court Vision International Inc., a nonprofit that promotes youth advocacy and conflict resolution. His current interests include legal compliance and business development, especially for startups and small nonprofits where these tasks are often expensive and difficult. In this spirit, he serves ROSE as the Legal Compliance Officer and financial assistant, aggregated into his role as Financial and Legal Operation Coordinator.
Zipporah Freeman-Baa’ith is the Executive Director of Healthy Hearts Plus II and Healthy Heart Plus LLC. She holds bachelors’ degrees in African American studies and Gender sexuality and Women’s studies from Virginia Commonwealth University; is a state certified community doula, ACT-I certified colon hydro-therapist, certified nutritionist, certified iridologist, certified herbalist, and certified Endocannabinoid specialist.
Vanessa Hall Harper
Kimberly Harper, MSN, RN, MHA
Kimberly D. Harper, MSN, RN, MHA, is a registered nurse with 18 years of experience in Maternal and Child Health. Her breadth of experience ranges from leadership and nursing roles in labor and delivery units, postpartum care, public health home visiting programs, and hospital administration. She holds several roles at the UNC Center for Maternal and Infant Health where she provides training and technical assistance to state and national maternal health initiatives.
Kenn Harris currently is Executive Project Director and Engagement Lead at the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ) in Boston, MA, and his immediate past job was as Vice President for Community Engagement and Director and Principal Investigator of the New Haven Healthy Start program at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven in New Haven, CT. His professional career in MCH and public health spans over 30 years.
Before starting his job in CT, Kenn worked with the Boston Healthy Start Initiative in Boston, MA, one of the original Healthy Start projects. There he established and maintained the Community Consortium and helped create the Father-Friendly Initiative. During his time in Boston, he also served on the “For Fathering Advisory Council” of the Medical Foundation, working with fragile families supporting responsible fathers.
Kenn is a past president of the National Healthy Start Association and helped establish the Association’s Dads Matter Initiative: Where Dads Matter, Washington, DC. He is co-creator of the Core Adaptive Model for Fatherhood (CAM©), an evidenced-informed model for fatherhood/male involvement programs. He is currently working on creating an evidenced-based home-visiting program for men and fathers that builds on the lessons learned from the CAM model for Fatherhood.
Kenn is a national expert in the field of maternal and child health, public health, fatherhood/ male involvement, and community engagement. He worked on “My Brother’s Keeper”, President Obama’s initiative to address the health of boys and men of color. He also has the expertise and interest in topics of the impact of racism on health outcomes, equity and addressing men’s health in the age of mass incarceration.
Kenn co-authored and published the article “The Health of Young African American Men” in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA, 2015). He continues researching Black men’s health and focuses on the integration of health services into programs for men and fathers.
Kenn remains passionate about women’s health, children, fathers and families as well as the health and well-being of the communities in which they live, learn, play and pray.
Dr. Zenobia Harris is a native of Arkansas. She has been providing care and support to families in the community for over 35 years as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Public Health Nurse, Community Advisor, Program Administrator, and Regional Director. She has been actively involved with Birthing Project USA since 1999 and was a Sister Friend and bunch Manager of the first Birthing Project group established in Little Rock, Arkansas. Over the years, Zenobia has worked to establish new Birthing Projects in various locations across Arkansas as well as serve on the national Board of Directors of Birthing Project, USA. She is currently serving as Diversity Representative on the Board of the Association of Public Health Nurses and is founding Director of the Arkansas Birthing Project which trains local community volunteers to provide support to women and girls during pregnancy and for the first year of life of their babies. This program has been recognized by the Center for Disease Control Foundation, the Arkansas Black Philanthropy Collaborative, and the Arkansas Community Foundation. She is committed to anti-racism advocacy and implementing programs that promote health and social equity in communities of color.
Juan Irby LD, PD, NPE
Juan Irby is a passionate birth and postpartum doula and new parent educator, who has dedicated his life to helping families through the exciting, yet challenging experience of welcoming a new life into the world. Juan is a married father of two children, and he has experienced firsthand the joys and struggles of becoming a new parent.
Juan has honed his skills as a compassionate and knowledgeable guide, helping families navigate the complexities of pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. He is also the proud owner and founder of Dad toDoula, a company that provides education and support to new parents, particularly fathers who are often overlooked in the childbirth process.
Juan’s approach to doula work is rooted in empathy, inclusivity, and deep respect for the unique needs and desires of each family. He believes that every person deserves to have a positive and empowering birth experience, and he works tirelessly to ensure that his clients feel supported, informed, and in control throughout their pregnancy journey.
In addition to his work as a doula, Juan is also a passionate advocate for fathers and partners in the childbirth process. He believes that dads and partners have an essential role to play in the birth of their children, and he strives to empower them with the knowledge and skills they need to be active participants in the birthing process.
Renada Lewis, MA
Renada Lewis is the Outreach Director at Healthy Hearts Plus II. She holds a B.A. in Health & Human Services and Health & Wellness.
She has also earned a M.A. Health Care Administration Doctor of Public Health – Epidemiology – Leadership & Advocacy – completing in Spring 2020. Renada Lewis is also a Certified Epidemiologist.
Montrece McNeill Ransom, JD, MPH, ACC, BCC
Montrece McNeill Ransom, JD, MPH, ACC, BCC serves as the Director of the National Coordinating Center for Public Health Training. She is also an ICF-certified executive leadership Coach and a DEI-certified belonging strategist on a mission to unleash the power of human potential through belonging.
Ms. Ransom was appointed as a Presidential Management Fellow and worked at CDC for almost 20 years. For the last 10 years of her service, Ms. Ransom led CDC’s public health law related training and workforce development efforts. She received her law degree from the University of Alabama, her MPH from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, and her Executive Leadership Coaching Certification from Georgetown University. In addition, she has received a certificate in training and facilitation from the Association of Talent Development and a DEI in the Workplace certification from the University of South Florida.
An award-winning coach, speaker, and public health practitioner, Ms. Ransom was selected as one of the top 5 most influential coaches of 2021 by Entrepreneur Mogul, was the ABA Health Law Section’s 2019 Champion of Diversity and Inclusion Awardee, and she was the 2017 recipient of the American Public Health Association Jennifer Robbins Award for the Practice of Public Health Law. She is currently the President of the American Society for Law, Medicine, and Ethics and serves on the Advisory Committee for the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power and Potential.
She is a global public speaker, peer-reviewed published author, and the Co-Editor of the textbook, Public Health Law: Concepts and Case Studies.
Anita M.S. Moton, MD, MS, FAAP
Anita M.S. Moton is the current chief resident for the Morehouse School of Medicine Pediatrics Residency Program. She is a native of Hartsville, South Carolina. She obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree from the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina. She is also a graduate of Hampton University, where she received a Master of Science Degree in Medical Science. Dr. Moton obtained her medical degree from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC followed by pediatric residency at Morehouse School of Medicine.
Dr. Moton is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She works at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in the inpatient and ambulatory settings. Along with her current faculty role as Chief resident, she serves as a lecturer for the medical student pediatrics clerkship and residency program and as resident faculty advisor. She is a member of the AAP Section on Breastfeeding and has a special interest in mitigating barriers to breastfeeding in African American women.
Dr. Moton is married to M. Denzell Moton, Esq. and mother of two-year-old twin boys, Kendall and Kyler. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, cooking, dining at new restaurants, and traveling. She is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
Following her chief resident year, Dr. Moton will remain on faculty at Morehouse School of Medicine as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics. She looks forward to continued involvement in resident and medical student education and serving the underserved.
Community Transformer and Wisdom Council Member
Carl L. Route, Jr.
Carl L. Route, Jr. Community Transformer and Wisdom Council member at Reaching Our Brothers Everywhere (ROBE) since 2019. Scholarship Recipient with MSM Satcher Leadership Institute’s Community Health Leadership Program 2020. Community Activist, Criminal Justice Reformer, Responsible Fatherhood Advocate/Ally/Author (1991 – present), & Advisory Council member with Community Council of Metropolitan Atlanta, Inc. (2017 – 2019). Member of former President Barack Obama’s initiative, My Brother’s Keeper Task Force. An Ambassador with the Russell Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (2015 – present).
Founder of Young Fathers of Metro Atlanta, Inc. (2016). A Certified Responsible Fatherhood & Family Life Coach with the National Partnership for Community Leadership (2010 – present). Featured on Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN)with host Lisa Ling, on “Our America” segment titled “Incarceration Generation” (2011). Lead Facilitator of an Access and Visitationpilot program for fathers on Child Supporting Georgia’s largest transition center, a potential model for programs to be facilitated at all 13 of the state’s transitional centers (2009 – 2011).
Andrea Serano, CLC, IBCLC, work in breastfeeding advocacy stems from her passion for addressing maternal and infant health issues, especially among communities of color. Breastfeeding is a preventative strategy for combating infant mortality and the health disparities that disproportionately affect African American families. Ms. Serano is originally from North Hollywood CA. She attended Mount St. Mary’s College with a major in Healthcare Policy and minor in Business Administration. In 2012, Andrea assisted in the coordination of Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE) first breastfeeding summit titled, “Reclaiming an African American Tradition.”
Following the summit, she relocated to Atlanta, Georgia and currently serves as ROSE Program Director. In her role, Andrea serves on the coordinating team for ROSE events, trainings, and program related activities. In addition, Ms. Serano is a Co-Founder and Treasurer for National Association of Professional and Peer Lactation Supporters of Color (NAPPLSC), board member for the Georgia Breastfeeding Coalition, Stakeholder Advisory Board Member of the Emory Center for Children’s Health, the Environment, the Microbiome and Metabolomics, member of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta Young Professionals, and a member representative for the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC). Andrea also serves as a member of the Center for Social Inclusion (CSI) National 2016 First Food Racial Equity cohort, where she co-facilitates trainings for communities and organizations.
Kevin was released from prison after spending 30 years incarcerated. He was born and raised in New Orleans uptown. At an early age he got into street crime, which led him to being shot then incarcerated at the age of 15. While incarcerated he began to educate himself and became a spokesperson for young men entering the prison system. Once Kevin was released, he continued his work with the youth by ensuring every young man and woman has the opportunity to avoid the pit-falls of the so-called street life. Kevin has an exceptional background as a youth and adult mentor, as well as a fatherhood and substance abuse peer facilitator. In 2015 Kevin led the Unity Project in Baton Rouge as the Youth Program Director. There he taught adult basic life skills and empowerment courses, parenting classes, mentored 250 youths and assisted them in obtaining a GED and facilitated instructional and valuable trips to Angola Prison. Kevin now facilitates the Male Fatherhood Program for Healthy Start New Orleans and NOLA for Life. He also is a Community Outreach Worker for Healthy Start.
Dr. Sarah Verbiest
Dr. Sarah Verbiest is a public health social worker who has spent the last 20 years working to improve the health of women and babies in North Carolina and the southeast. She has taken on this challenge from many angles – as a program leader, strategic planner, educator, lobbyist, fundraiser, connector, systems-thinker, manager, researcher and partner.
Dr. Verbiest is a clinical associate professor in the UNC School of Social Work, co-founder and director of the Every Woman Southeast Coalition and senior advisor to the National Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative. She has served as director of the Center for Maternal and Infant Health for 11 years. She has her DrPH, MPH and MSW – all earned at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.