About

Rhia Ventures

Rhia Ventures’ mission is to create a vibrant US market for sexual, reproductive, and maternal health that produces equitable outcomes for all.

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

Priorities

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

Our Team

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.

Shelley Alpern
Director of Corporate Engagement

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.

Erika Seth Davies
CEO

Melissa Garcia
Vice President of Operations

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 Glaudemans
Executive Assistant

Executive Assistant

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.

Victoria Griffin
Senior Program Associate

Senior Program Associate

Victoria is the Senior Program Manager 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.

Keisha A. Leverette
Vice President of Development & Communications

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.

Sheila Milton
Senior Development Associate

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.

Lizamarie Mohammed
Senior Program Associate

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.

Crystal Tyler
Chief Health Officer

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 translates the needs of the women and birthing people most affected by systemic inequity into programming that fosters equitable reproductive health products and services. Most recently, Crystal served as the Executive Director of Ci3 at the University of Chicago, a research center addressing the social and structural determinants of adolescent reproductive health and well-being through design, storytelling, play, and policy change.
Crystal began her career at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta first as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer then as an Epidemiologist within the Division of Reproductive Health. There, she served as a subject matter expert on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and translating research to public health and clinical practice. From CDC, Crystal became the Director of the Michigan Public Health Institute’s Center for Child and Family Health, where she implemented systems-level improvements to promote equity in the quality and availability of public health programs. She also served as a Senior Research Leader at IBM Watson Health, where she supported state implementation of Medicaid policy changes to advance maternal and child health outcomes.
Crystal is a trained facilitator and strategic planner who serves on the Board of Directors for both the Society of Family Planning and Peer Health Exchange. She has published in journals such as Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Journal of Adolescent Health, Contraception, the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, among others. Crystal completed both her Ph.D. 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.

Fund Team

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
Managing Director

Managing Director

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.

Stasia Obremskey
Managing Director

Managing Director

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.

Thomya Goode
Investment Associate

Investment Associate

Thomya is passionate about disrupting the way we design solutions for historically untapped markets at the intersections of tech innovation, health, and wellness.  Before joining Rhia, Thomya served as a student investor at the University of Michigan while completing her MBA, investing in early-stage tech companies and helping to identify and create processes that eliminate gender and racial investing bias. Thomya spent almost a decade leveraging her chemical engineering degree in medical device and diagnostics with Abbott Laboratories as an operations growth engineer helping to scale products through commercialization. Thomya is incredibly motivated to democratize access to better healthcare for all people. She believes the way we build solutions for healthcare must have women at the center of the design process. As an investor and builder, Thomya is excited to work with founders innovating strategies that will change the world and drive the economies of tomorrow.

Sandie Eltringham
Technical Advisor

Technical Advisor

Alice Zheng
Principal

Alice Zheng

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.

Board

Ruth Shaber, M.D.
Board Chair

Board Chair

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.

Janet Yearwood, CFA, MBA
Board Member

Board Member

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.

Lori Castillo Martinez
Board Member

Board Member

Lori Castillo Martinez is Vice President of Global Employee Relations and Equality at Salesforce where she has focuses on performance and employee relations management across the globe, as well as driving equality initiatives at the company. Her role was uniquely designed as a way to accelerate and integrate people and equality initiatives at Salesforce.

Previously, Lori spent nearly a decade at a Fortune 5 healthcare company where she created the first enterprise-wide strategy, processes, and systems for key legal, ethics, and regulatory risk areas. Before that, she spent 11 years at an industry-leading semiconductor company working in HR and compliance. Throughout her career, she has made a tangible difference in practice and culture in both the life sciences and tech sectors.

Prashant Yadav, MBA, Ph.D.
Board Member

Board Member

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.