Black Coalition For Safe Mother Hood


BCFSM is a 501c3 nonprofit organization established by a group of committed birth justice activists to promote healthcare advocacy education in the Black community. The idea for BCFSM arose out of the partnership between Drs. Leslie Farrington and Laurie Zephyrin, who are Black Obstetricians. Both believe that Black birthing people and their supporters can take ownership of maternal health experiences by vetting prenatal and birthing services, choosing providers who give respectful and person-centered care, amplifying their voices, and partnering with their medical team.

BCFSM is proud to promote the ACTT Curriculum, which was created by Black women for Black birthing people. Nurses, obstetricians, midwives, doulas, and community members have collaborated to offer a powerful healthcare advocacy toolkit, which anyone in the community can use to help improve the pregnancy, birth and post birth outcomes of Black families. 

BCFSM uses birthing people and Moms interchangeably, and it recognizes that people of all genders may have the capacity for pregnancy and birth.

A pregnant woman is holding her belly

BCFSM seeks to improve Black Maternal Health through promotion of healthcare advocacy and holistic community support of birthing people. BCFSM was established to promote the ACTT Curriculum in Black communities nationwide and beyond.


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Leslie Farrington,
MD, Executive Director

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Dr. Michelle Drew,

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Laurie Zephyrin,
M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.


A woman with dreadlocks smiling in front of a building.

Jenise Ogle,
MPA, Board President

A woman wearing glasses and a white shirt smiles in front of a body of water.

Kimberly Wade,
BS, Board Treasurer

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Nyia Martin,
BA, Board Secretary

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Nubia Earth Martin,
MS in Midwifery, Community Liaison and Outreach Ambassador

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Emmitt Henry,
Communications Director

Emmitt Henry, Communications Director

Emmitt Henry is a native son of South Jamaica, Queens, New York. Mr. Henry served honorably with the United States Marine Corps, where he served within an infantry Raider Battalion and ascended meritoriously to non-commissioned officer.

After his discharge, Mr. Henry studied Marketing and Journalism at York College. He then had a 20-year career in broadcast journalism, including CBS’s news magazine ’60 Minutes’, CBS Evening News, CBS national News Radio, Spectrum News NY1, and Bloomberg News. Mr. Henry now dedicates his time, skill, and experience to working within socially active community groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars where he is the Senior Vice-Commander at Post #1896. Mr. Henry is also serving proudly on the Board of Directors for the Black Coalition for Safe Motherhood (BCFSM) as Communications Director. He stands by the adage “Get Involved” and looks prayerfully towards the day when racial bias and inequality is eradicated from healthcare using tools such as BCFSM’s ACTT curriculum.

Nubia Earth Martin, MS in Midwifery, Community Liaison and Outreach Ambassador

Nubia Earth Martin is a co-contributor to the Black Coalition for Safe Motherhood’s (BCFSM’s) ACTT Curriculum and led the first ACTT Workshop in September 2019. Nubia holds a Master’s degree in Midwifery from SUNY Downstate. She has always been drawn to birth work and Midwifery. Since 2008, she has served as a Childbirth Educator, Postpartum and Birth Companion, and Lactation Consultant. In 2019, Nubia founded the nonprofit, Birth from The Earth, and began serving families for their Home Birth needs. In 2021, Nubia opened EarthGroundz, a space for community events and for holistic healing in Yonkers, NY.

Nubia leads community-based initiatives to improve perinatal care in the New York City metropolitan area by partnering with elected officials, collaborating with the Westchester County Department of Health, and serving on the Community Advisory Board of Northwell Health System’s Maternal Outcomes and Morbidity Collaborative (MOMS) initiative. Nubia serves as Community Liaison and Outreach Ambassador for BCFSM.

Nyia Martin, BA, Board Secretary

Nyia Martin is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She became a new mother in 2023. Nyia plans a career in midwifery having interned with Midwife Nubia Earth Martin, Founder and President of Birth from the Earth. Although she intended to become an OB/GYN, this experience helped her realize that midwifery was the work she was meant for.

Nyia contributed to the development of the Black Coalition for Safe Motherhood’s (BCFSM’s) ACTT Curriculum by acting in video dramatizations of healthcare scenarios for educational purposes, as well as creating other visual media content for the organization. As an ACTT Workshop Facilitator, she is committed to spreading the ACTT Curriculum in her community. Nyia Martin serves as BCFSM Board Secretary and social media content creator.

Kimberly Wade, BS, Board Treasurer

Kimberly Wade is a wife, mother of three, and grandmother of one grandchild and a grand dog. Kimberly has experience in the banking and mortgage industries. She graduated from the American Intercontinental University with a BS degree with honors in Criminal Justice.

Kimberly has devoted much of her time to giving back. While raising her family, she has been a teacher, parent volunteer and mentor. While mentoring, she served as a confidant for teen mothers who shared their day-to-day challenges with school and motherhood. Reflecting on her time spent with teens, Kimberly found that the Black Coalition for Safe Motherhood’s ACTT advocacy toolkit would be an invaluable educational resource to support Black women in healthcare settings, especially during the birthing process. Kimberly’s dedication to improving the lives of her community members led her to commit to building and strengthening the organizational infrastructure of BCFSM since its founding in 2020. Kimberly has served as the Board Secretary for BCFSM from July 2020 to July 2023 and is currently Board Treasurer.

Jenise Ogle, MPA, Board President

Jenise Ogle is a social impact professional who designs and implements campaigns around award-winning media projects. She currently serves as Head of Diversity and Inclusion & Impact and Data Strategist at Odyssey Impact where she works closely with documentary filmmakers, policymakers, and community organizations to raise awareness of pressing social issues and drive social change. Prior to joining Odyssey Impact, Jenise co-developed Save Our Moms, a campaign that encouraged 6 million people to take greater responsibility for maternal health, for the MTV and VH1 networks. She also worked as a Project Assistant at Sanctuary for Families, the leading service provider for gender-based violence victims in NYC, where she co-led a successful campaign to change the minimum age of marriage in New York from 14 to 17. Jenise holds a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and an A.B. in Social Studies and Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality from Harvard College. Jenise is currently serving as President of BCFSM.

Laurie Zephyrin, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.

Dr. Laurie Zephyrin is a practicing Obstetrician/Gynecologist, who joined the Commonwealth Fund in 2019 as Vice President for Health Care Delivery System Reform, where she leads the Vulnerable Populations portfolio. Dr. Zephyrin has extensive experience leading the vision, design, and delivery of innovative health care models across national health systems.

Dr. Zephyrin participated in one of Dr. Leslie Farrington’s community health care advocacy workshops in late 2017. She observed how fellow attendees were engaged in responding to challenging scenarios in medical settings and learning from each other’s responses. The group was gaining confidence in asking questions and speaking up on behalf of themselves and loved ones. Dr. Zephyrin called Leslie and suggested modifying the community group learning experience to improve Black maternal health outcomes. That phone call began the multi-year journey leading to the ACTT for Safe Motherhood Curriculum, and the founding of the Black Coalition for Safe Motherhood (BCFSM) in 2020. Laurie now serves as an advisor to BCFSM.

Dr. Michelle Drew, DNP, MPH, CNM, FNP-C

Dr. Michelle Drew, or Mama Michelle to her clients and community, is a board-certified nurse midwife and family nurse practitioner. Dr. Drew has 23 years of experience with normal and high-risk pregnancy and birth and has shown a lifelong commitment to bringing health equity to her community. She is Executive and Clinical Director of Ubuntu Black Family Wellness Collective.

Dr. Drew learned about the ACTT Curriculum in the spring of 2020. Her enthusiasm for the concept of practicing advocacy skills in community led her to collaborate with Dr. Leslie Farrington in the establishment of the Black Coalition for Safe Motherhood (BCFSM). This 501c3 nonprofit organization is dedicated to improving Black maternal health through health care advocacy and holistic support of birthing families. Mama Michelle is not just a health care provider, she’s a healer, an activist, a fighter for the rights of Black birthing people and she served as BCFSM’s first Board President.

Leslie Farrington, MD, Executive Director

Dr. Leslie Farrington is a retired Obstetrician/Gynecologist from New York City, with her MD from Howard University College of Medicine. Leslie attributes her unique perspective on racism in medicine to her upbringing in an interracial household during the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement.

As an African American physician, Leslie knows that mortality statistics are the tip of the iceberg of preventable harm experienced by the Black community due to racism in medicine and society. After retirement she developed the ACTT Curriculum, which provides birthing people and their supporters with techniques they can use to partner with medical professionals and obtain person-centered care with dignity. In July 2020, Leslie established the Black Coalition for Safe Motherhood (BCFSM), in collaboration with Birth Justice activists and community members, to promote healthcare advocacy and holistic support of birthing families across the African Diaspora using the ACTT Curriculum. As of September 2023, Leslie serves as Executive Director of BCFSM.