This multi-billion dollar market has tremendous potential for public health impact, but it has been built on flawed systems that perpetuate unjust outcomes for women of color, low-income women, and others directly affected by systemic inequities. Our work is to transform this market.
We know that transformation happens when partners with long experience in reproductive health and justice come together with market-facing actors to create deep, meaningful impact. By connecting activists, public health professionals, scientists, entrepreneurs, corporates, and investors, together we will build a more just marketplace.
Rhia is enabling this change through four complementary efforts:
We make direct investments in early- and growth-stage companies that are driving innovation, access, and equity in reproductive and maternal health, through our wholly owned venture fund, RH Capital Corporation.
We provide technical assistance and shared resources to these companies and others so that they can strengthen their work in health equity and spur change across the venture ecosystem.
We work through our Corporate Engagement and Blossom programs to change social norms, practices, and people that influence this market.
We produce a systems-change assessment of the market, identifying the key leverage points for addressing systemic racism and other inequities to inform Rhia’s programs and share with grant-makers, investors, and policy-makers seeking to “make this market work for justice,” to paraphrase Darren Walker of the Ford Foundation.
Our Vision for Success
Alongside our partners, our efforts will:
- Catalyze investment in innovation that improves equity, access, and outcomes in reproductive and maternal health care
- Transform systems in the reproductive and maternal health market, to redress systemic inequity and contributes to improving reproductive and maternal health outcomes for women of color, low-income women, and others directly affected by systemic inequities
- Amplify the perspectives and work of stakeholders of color
- Strengthen social norms, to support high-quality maternal and reproductive health care for all women and birthing people in the US
Our 501c3 and Fund focus on 3 complementary areas of work:
- Direct investment in early and growth-stage companies
- Market analysis, and support to our portfolio companies
- Field-building and corporate engagements
These pillars of our work across the c3 and the Fund enable us to:
- Encourage investment in the areas of the market that need it most
- Fund public goods and services that grow the market in equitable, profitable, and sustainable ways
- Engage and illuminate stakeholders of color
- Strengthen social norms to support quality maternal and reproductive health coverage and treatment of women in US workplaces
It takes vision, persistence, and courage partnered with skill, experience, and advocacy to do this work. Thankfully, we know some people who fit the job description. Get to know our team below.
Director of Corporate Engagement
Shelley brings over two decades’ experience leading and participating in shareholder advocacy campaigns on a wide range of environmental and social issues, which resulted in numerous negotiated agreements to advance more progressive corporate policies and practices. Prior to Rhia Ventures, she worked for the leading sustainability firms Clean Yield Asset Management, Trillium Asset Management, and Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit. Her work in advancing LGBT rights was recognized by several organizations including Fortune and The Advocate, and she received the SRI Service Award in 2005 for “outstanding contributions to the socially responsible investment community.” She was also the recipient of the first-ever Rachel Carson Award from the Silent Spring Institute, which researches environmental links to breast cancer. Shelley has always been amazed at the positive influence that actively engaged shareholders can have on companies. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.
Associate Director of Communications
Jessica Feeley is the Associate Director of Communications at Rhia Ventures. Her background is in advocacy, non-profit communications, development, and client services. She was on staff with the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation for 24 years, most recently as Director of Communications and Editor of the Dystonia Dialogue.
She serves on the board of directors of We Rock Chicago climbing club and on the executive committee of the NAACP Camden County Branch (Georgia). She is a founding team member of the Camden Black Business Project and past president of the Humane Society of Camden County, Inc.
Jessica obtained a bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College.
Vice President of Operations
Melissa Garcia is currently the vice president of operations at Rhia Ventures. Melissa has more than 20 years of experience working with organizational and community-based teams in the areas of financial management, people and culture, data and systems, and collaborative leadership. Prior to Rhia Ventures, Melissa served as the Senior Director of Operations and Finance at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice. She worked as the Director of the Catalyst Program, a community leadership and environmental justice-centered program administered by Partnerships for Parks/City Parks Foundation. Melissa worked in higher education while at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service with the Women of Color Policy Network, as a policy advocate, researcher, and program administrator. Melissa also worked in municipal administration, serving as the Chief of Administrative Services for New York City’s Department of Parks and Recreation, managing the personnel, budget, and workforce development teams for Manhattan.
Melissa volunteers on NPO boards for Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls and La Colmena in NYC. Melissa also continually focuses on her leadership growth and journey via participation is programs such as the Coro NY Immigrant Civic Leadership Program (2014), Rockwood Leadership Institute’s Heart of Black Leadership Pilot Program (2021) and Art of Leadership (2016), and the Center for Creative Leadership’s Looking Glass Leadership Program (2021). Melissa received an MBA from Rutgers University in 2014, an MPA from New York University in 2003, and her BA from Columbia University in 1995.
Sarah has 5 years of experience supporting executives in a non-profit setting and is the Executive Assistant to the CEO Erika Seth Davies. In this role, she provides administrative, operational, and logistical support. Prior to joining Rhia Ventures, Sarah was the Giving Strategies Assistant at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, where she supported the Executive Vice President, the Senior Director of Racial Equity Initiatives, and the Giving Strategies Team to best assist clients and bring their philanthropic wishes to life. Sarah received her B.A. in Art History and Arts Administration from Goucher College.
Shareholder Advocacy Legal Fellow
Brittany Blanchard Goad joined Rhia as a shareholder advocacy legal fellow in 2022. Brittany utilizes her background in social work and the law to zealously advocate for social justice issues. In undergrad and law school, Brittany interned with the local domestic violence shelter, Project Safe, and the UGA Child Endangerment and Sexual Exploitation (“CEASE”) Clinic. She also volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (“CASA”) in juvenile court. Before joining Rhia, she worked as a business litigation attorney. Brittany graduated cum laude from the University of Georgia School of law in 2021. She received her Bachelor’s of Social Work summa cum laude from UGA in 2018.
Senior Program Associate
Victoria is the Senior Program Associate helping to shape our story and the Executive Producer of Blossom, our new podcast series focused on empowering all women, especially Black, Indigenous, Women of Color to advocate for their healthcare, their way. She grew up in Europe as a child, traveling to several countries throughout the years. Her passion for women’s health and empowerment stems from her experiences abroad. She started her career in the media and entertainment space, crafting stories and managing productions through multiple networks including ABC Television Network but moved into the health and wellness space after seeing how affected women were in the entertainment industry. Her work there led her to a non-profit public relations organization called Women Who Create. She managed the mentorship program, serving a community that quickly grew from 30 to over 400 members in her time as the Program Manager. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Integrated Marketing Communications and a Master’s degree from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications from Syracuse University.
Vice President of Development & Communications
Keisha joined Rhia Ventures as Vice President of Development & Communications in March 2022. She has more than 15 years of fundraising experience in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. Keisha most recently served as Campaign Director at Spelman, where she was responsible for the day-to-day operations of a $250 million comprehensive campaign that raised more than $305 million in five years.
Previously, Keisha served as the Director of Development and Donor Services at the Baltimore Community Foundation (BCF) where she oversaw the Foundation’s annual fundraising goals and its work with private foundations, corporations, individual donors, and families. Before that, Keisha was BCF’s Campaign Director. In that role, she was responsible for the overall organization and management of the Foundation’s successful $100 million endowment campaign.
Keisha was an Executive Director at CCS Fundraising, where she served as a consultant for clients on fundraising and directed campaigns in various sectors, including associations, the arts, education, healthcare, and human services. She also served as a Major Gifts Officer at the NAACP. Keisha was a member of the ABFE (Association for Black Foundation Executives) Connecting Leaders Fellowship Program, CF Leads Equity Network, and the Knight Foundation Community Information Lab.
Senior Development Associate
Sheila is the Senior Development Associate. In this role, she supports Rhia Venture’s fundraising efforts to ensure our continued sustainable growth. She brings over 10 years of experience working with nonprofits in various roles including programming, operations, and development. Prior to joining Rhia Ventures, Sheila worked as the Campaign Officer for Spelman College where she supported the operations of the college’s $250 million comprehensive campaign. Sheila received her BA in History and Political Science from the University of Montevallo and her M.A. in History from the University of West Georgia.
Senior Program Associate
Lizamarie is the Senior Program Associate for Rhia Ventures helping to advance our Corporate Engagement program to influence the business community to support sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice. She brings over a decade of policy and advocacy experience in sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice. Prior to Rhia Ventures, Lizamarie was the State Issues Manager at the Guttmacher Institute where she analyzed sexual and reproductive health-related legislative, regulatory and judicial actions, tracked state policy developments, and monitored state trends across the US. Her work there led her to develop the maternal health portfolio which included issues related to maternal mortality and access to sexual and reproductive health for those incarcerated. Lizamarie is passionate about social justice issues, is committed to advancing access to quality, comprehensive care for those historically marginalized and underserved, and brings a racial equity lens to her work. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Skidmore College in Gender Studies and Government and a Juris Doctor from Seattle University School of Law.
Senior Program Associate
Caitlin O’Connor is the Senior Program Associate for Reproductive and Maternal Health, helping organizations to expand their capacity to ensure better maternal and reproductive health outcomes for all. Before joining Rhia, Caitlin previously served as the Title X Program Manager for UCLA OB/GYN, organizing all clinical health education and outreach efforts for patients and community partners. Providing direct service delivery in a busy family planning clinic cemented Caitlin’s values in providing care that is patient-centered, equitable, and centered in tenets of Reproductive Justice.
During her time as Title X Program Manager, Caitlin developed best practices trainings for Family Planning care, including PrEP administration in an OB/GYN Setting, Patient-Centered Contraception Counseling, and Operationalizing Reproductive Justice: Medical Racism in American Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Caitlin received her Master’s in Public Health at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, where she served as both Co-President and Social Media Chairperson of the UCLA Reproductive Health Interest Group. Before that, Caitlin served in the US Peace Corps as a Community Health Volunteer in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), a small, rural Sub-Saharan nation in Southern Africa.
Senior Program Associate
Tejal Patel is the Senior Program Associate for Impact Assessment, helping to evaluate Rhia Ventures’ impact in the reproductive and maternal health ecosystem. As a mom, Tejal is passionate about centering lived experiences while promoting intersectoral collaboration at all levels of research, practice, and policy to create actionable change in reproductive and maternal health.
Prior to joining Rhia, Tejal served as the Director of Programs and Impact at the What to Expect Project, where she led a nationally recognized prenatal health education program. Tejal began her career evaluating parenting behaviors, parent-child relationships, and children’s mental and behavioral health. She then worked with the Louisiana Department of Health, Louisiana Public Health Institute, and Tulane University helping to address the health and well-being of Louisiana residents through various
projects including evaluating healthcare engagement and retention among people living with HIV, safe sleep practices and infant mortality, telehealth utilization during COVID-19, juvenile delinquency and mentorship programming, school-based nutrition practices, environmental civic engagement and advocacy among students; identifying oral healthcare professional shortage areas; integrating primary care and behavioral healthcare; advocating for comprehensive sex education; and utilizing equity-centered design thinking in community engagement to inform research prioritization.
Tejal completed her Master’s in Applied Developmental Psychology at the University of New Orleans and a Bachelor’s in Psychology at Virginia Tech. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in Public Health at Tulane University.
Shareholder Advocacy Legal Fellow
Antonio Pontón-Núñez is a Shareholder Advocacy Legal Fellow at Rhia Ventures, focusing on digital economy risk management issues such as surveillance, privacy, misinformation and hate speech. Antonio is a graduate of the City University of New York School of Law, where he was the executive articles editor of the CUNY Law Review. As a student-attorney in the CUNY Law Human Rights & Gender Justice Clinic, he worked with MADRE and Proceso de Comunidades Negras to defend Afro-Colombian women’s human rights.
Prior to joining Rhia Ventures, Antonio served as a law clerk for the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division. His legal experiences also include internships with the New York State Court of Appeals, the National Employment Law Project, Legal Services NYC and LatinoJustice PRLDEF. He recently co-authored Automating Judicial Discretion: How Algorithmic Risk Assessments in Pretrial Adjudications Violate Equal Protection Rights on the Basis of Race in the Minnesota Journal of Law & Inequality. Antonio holds a Master’s degree in Arts and Culture Management from Pratt Institute and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from the Universidad de Puerto Rico.
Chief Health Officer
Crystal Pirtle Tyler PhD, MPH brings over 15 years of experience advancing reproductive and maternal health equity. As the Chief Health Officer at Rhia Ventures, she oversees the organizational strategy and translates the needs of the women and birthing people most affected by systemic inequity into programming that fosters equitable reproductive health products and services.
Prior to her work at Rhia Ventures, Crystal served as the Executive Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Innovation in Sexual and Reproductive Health (Ci3 at the University of Chicago), the Director of the Center for Child and Family Health at the Michigan Public Health Institute, and as an Epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2022 she received the Emerging Leader Award for promoting social justice and challenging inequities in health and healthcare. Crystal serves on the Board of Directors for the Society of Family Planning, the Black Women’s Health Imperative, and Orchid Capital Collaborative.
She has published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Journal of Adolescent Health, Contraception, the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, among others. Crystal completed both her PhD and MPH in Epidemiology at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, respectively, and her Bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies at Spelman College.
RH Capital Funds
RH Capital is an impact venture capital fund investing in women’s reproductive and maternal health innovations that promise to significantly improve access, quality, choice, and affordability of care for all women in the US.
Elizabeth Bailey has over 15 years of experience in venture capital and supporting early-stage technology companies. She was a Partner at one of the first impact investment funds (Commons Capital LP), where she managed healthcare and education portfolios, which included: Claros Diagnostics (acquired by OPKO), CodeRyte (acquired by 3M), Combinent Biomedical Systems, HistoRx (acquired by Genoptix), Medical Metrx Solutions (acquired by AIG), TelaDoc Medical Services (IPO: TDOC), Valeo Medical, and Apex Learning (acquired by Education Growth Partners). Most recently, Elizabeth served as the Founding Director of the Consortium for Affordable Medical Technologies (CAMTech) at Massachusetts General Hospital, where she built a global program to accelerate medtech innovation and catalyze new health startups. Throughout her career, Elizabeth has been a passionate advocate of the power of business – from startups to multinationals – to drive social change. Elizabeth earned a Master in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a BA from Brown University.
Before joining, Stasia served in 2018 as the first Fellow of the Tara Health Foundation. She has more than twenty-five years of experience providing financial and strategic planning consulting to organizations in the U.S. and Asia. She has joined management teams as the interim Chief Financial Officer on a short term and extended-term basis to provide finance, accounting, and strategic planning expertise to startups, fast-growing companies, and non-profit organizations. Current and past clients include 18Birdies, Posit Science, Circlepoint, West Shore Technologies and We Care Solar. She has lived for over 8 years in Bangkok, Thailand, and Hong Kong, China. She began her consulting career as a management consultant with Bain & Company. Previously, she worked in investment banking for Morgan Stanley & Co. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in finance from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business. In addition to her consulting work, she has extensive experience as a member of several nonprofit boards where she has held a number of leadership positions.
Alice has been a women’s health enthusiast throughout her career spanning global health, clinical medicine, and the private sector. Alice was previously a women’s health practice leader and management consultant at McKinsey & Company, where she served biopharma, diagnostics, global public health and private equity clients across R&D and commercial strategy topics.
Earlier in her career, Alice’s passion to improve lives for the underserved led her to work in East Africa and Asia in reproductive health and family planning with EngenderHealth, Marie Stopes International and other nonprofits. As a clinician, she focused on women’s health globally and published articles examining healthcare in low-income countries.
Alice holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and MD and MPH from the University of Michigan, where she was a Dean’s Merit Scholar. Alice is a frequent speaker on FemTech and women’s health innovation and is a steering committee member for multiple women’s health innovation forums.
Cassidy Petit is a VC and operator who served on the founding team of The Fund at Hula, a Vermont-based VC fund and coworking campus focused on economic development, job creation, tech incubation. Cassidy has spent the past 3.5 years building out the Hula campus, managing their fund, and investing in Vermont-based preseed, seed, and early-stage technology startups. Cassidy graduated from the University of Vermont, where she studied Psychology & Neuroscience. Cassidy serves on several boards including Working Fields – a mission-driven, staffing agency that helps place those in recovery and transitioning out of incarceration.
Ruth Shaber M.D. is the founder and president of the Tara Health Foundation, which promotes health, well-being, and opportunity for women and girls through innovative evidence-informed programs. She is also the co-founder and board chair of Rhia Ventures, a group of foundations and investors that collaborate to bring new types of capital and enterprise to the field of reproductive health in the United States. Ruth had a robust career as an Obstetrician and Gynecologist at Kaiser Permanente from 1990- 2012. In addition to her clinical responsibilities, she held many leadership positions including Director of Women’s Health, founder of the Women’s Health Research Institute, and the Medical Director at the Kaiser Permanente Care Management Institute. In addition to Tara Health Foundation and Rhia Ventures, Ruth serves on the board of directors for the Women of the World Endowment, Toniic, and MobileODT.
Rodney Foxworth is CEO of Common Future, a nonprofit social enterprise with a bold vision: Building a future where all people—no matter their race and class—have power, choice, and ownership over the economy. Under his leadership, Common Future has developed a new brand identity, grown its net assets from $1.5M to $20M, quadrupled its staff and annual budget, acquired two organizations, and launched a community-driven impact investment vehicle.
Previously, Rodney was founder and CEO of Invested Impact, a consultancy and intermediary that facilitated millions of dollars in philanthropic and impact investment capital into community economic development projects and social entrepreneurs of color.
His writing has appeared in periodicals such as Boston Review, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Impact Alpha, Nonprofit Quarterly, and Stanford Social Innovation Review. An inaugural Ford Global Fellow and a Skoll Awardee for Social Innovation, Rodney has been quoted in media such as Forbes, Inc., MarketWatch, The New York Times, Vox, and Christian Science Monitor. He’s spoken at Aspen Ideas Festival, Clinton Global Initiative, Skoll World Forum, National Association of Black Journalists, Global Philanthropy Forum, and other stages, addressing topics such as monopoly power, economic racism and wealth inequality, and institutionalized discrimination in investing and philanthropy.
Rodney serves on the board of directors of Nonprofit Finance Fund (Vice Chair), Race Forward (Treasurer), and SOCAP Global, PBC. In addition, he serves as an Advisory Board member of the Access To Markets initiative at American Economic Liberties Project and Expert Advisor to the Corporate Racial Equity Alliance, a partnership between PolicyLink, JUST Capital, and FSG.
Debbie Santos is the Vice President, Finance at the Skoll Foundation. The Skoll Foundation catalyzes transformational social change by investing in, connecting, and championing social entrepreneurs and other social innovators who together advance bold and equitable solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. As VP of Finance, Debbie has primary responsibility for the Foundation’s financial matters and oversees the grants management, legal, accounting and finance functions. Debbie has spent most of her career helping organizations optimize across finance and operations to advance their mission.
Prashant Yadav is a globally recognized scholar in the area of healthcare operations and supply chains. He is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development, Affiliate Professor of Technology and Operations Management at INSEAD, and Lecturer at Harvard Medical School. He is the author of over 50 peer-reviewed scientific publications and his work has also been featured in prominent print and broadcast media. In addition to his roles in academia and think tank, Prashant serves on the boards of social enterprises and nonprofits working on healthcare supply chains. His previous roles have included: Strategy-Leader Supply Chain at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Vice-President for Healthcare Research at William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan; and Professor of Supply Chain Management at the MIT-Zaragoza International Logistics Program. Prashant is a Chemical Engineer and obtained his Ph.D. in Management Science & Operations Research.
Janet Yearwood is an asset management and financial services professional. Her most recent role was as a full-time consultant to the Office of the CEO of New York Life Investment Management. Prior to that, she was the interim chief of staff to the CEO of MacKay Shields. Her past experience includes five years as a client portfolio manager at J.P. Morgan Asset Management in U.S. Equities. Before joining JPMAM, she was interim Associate Vice Chancellor at NYU Shanghai. Ms. Yearwood spent two years at Pzena Investment Management as a director of client service and seven years prior to that as an equity analyst and sector portfolio manager at TIAA-CREF. She began her career at Salomon Brothers in municipal finance and spent five years at Merrill Lynch in the fixed income securities department.
Janet holds a B.A. in literature from Harvard College and an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business. She is a CFA charter holder.