Black Fertility Matters: Stories, Myths, and Resources from Provider and Community Champions

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Black families are almost never depicted on billboards or in informational brochures on infertility. Yet Black women are 1.5-2 times more likely to experience infertility than all other women. The myth of Black women’s hyperfertility, a product of Black enslavement, continues to be perpetuated in our society while, at the same time, being the root cause of many of these factors for infertility. Factors, such as fibroids, make getting pregnant and having a successful pregnancy more difficult — Black women experience these complicating conditions 3 times more than other populations.

It’s time to break the silence about fertility in our Black communities. Together with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (Delta Zeta Omega Chapter),  this Collaboratory will increase awareness about Black fertility concerns. Reverend Stacey Edwards-Dunn will begin by sharing her personal experience with infertility, and how it led her to create the organization Fertility for Colored Girls (FFCG). FFCG provides education, awareness, support, and encouragement for African American women and couples experiencing infertility and seeking to build the families of their dreams. After, a panel of speakers will tell their stories, debunk myths, share resources, and discuss much-needed policy changes. To conclude, the audience will be invited to “Asking Your Reproductive Questions” any questions that a Black woman or couple might have throughout their fertility journey. Join us and be informed, get your questions answered, and learn how to support Black fertility. Because Black fertility matters.

Speakers


Rev. Dr. Stacey L. Edwards-Dunn | Church Administrator and Executive Minister of Community Engagement/ Transformation, Trinity United Church of Christ

A proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Rev. Dr. Stacey Edwards-Dunn is the Founder of Fertility for Colored Girls, NFP, (FFCG) a national organization with thirteen locations in the US, that provides a variety of resources for African American women/couples who struggle with fertility challenges. Dr. Edwards-Dunn is a sought out lecturer, preacher and teacher as she has ministered at various churches and institutions throughout the U.S. She has done in-depth work in community engagement, assisted churches in developing mission focused organizational structures as well as established herself as an expert in the field of fertility education and advocacy. As a result of her work, she has been blessed to publish a book, "Hold On To Hope: Stories of Black Women’s Fertility, Faith, and Fight to Become Mothers" as well as publish articles in books such as Blow the Trumpet in Zion and more. A native of Muncie, IN, Dr. Edwards-Dunn is married to Earl D. Dunn, Sr. and they are the proud parents of Shiloh, Saige, and Selah’ Dunn.

Selena Young | Chapter President, Delta Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Selena Young is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. the oldest Greek-letter organization established by African-American college women. She currently serves as the chapter president of Delta Zeta Omega Chapter in San Francisco, CA. She leads a dynamic group of professional women who enthusiastically give their time, talents, and resources as they provide service to all mankind. Under her leadership, the chapter has garnered tremendous accolades both regionally and internationally. Selena is a mentor to several undergraduates and also serves on an international committee within the organization. Professionally, Selena has 20+ years of banking experience and has been very instrumental in developing several corporate-wide processes in the fields of Marketing, Human Resources, Learning & Development, and Organizational Management.

Esker-D Ligon | Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Esker-D Ligon began her nursing career in 1998. She currently works as a psychiatric nurse practitioner for a large healthcare maintenance organization, and has experience working in various treatment settings in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her areas of expertise include adult primary care, psychiatry, and addiction medicine. Although she doesn't freely disclose her history of reproductive health and infertility issues to clients, her experiences provide a unique frame of reference for her work with clients presenting with similar concerns. Ligon is a volunteer clinical professor at the UCSF School of Nursing. She possesses a passion for mentoring aspiring nurses and sharing information about ways to improve and maintain health for individuals and communities. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with family and friends and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Ligon is the author of the book "Dirty Sidewalks & Beautiful People. A Collection of Quotes & Reflections From My Work in San Francisco’s Tenderloin."

Dr. Michael A. Thomas | Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

Dr. Michael A. Thomas is the Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Dr. Thomas has been named one of the “Best Doctors in America” and one of Cincinnati Magazine’s “Best Doctors” for 21 consecutive years. He is nationally recognized as a leader in the field of assisted reproduction, has authored more than 120 scientific publications and book chapters, and currently serves or has served on a number of national committees, including the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (SREI), Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (Board Chair), American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) (Vice President), and many more. In addition, Dr. Thomas is Director of Reproductive Medicine Research, a clinical research unit at the University of Cincinnati that is funded by federal and private institutions. His research interests include contraception, infertility, and the effects of environmental toxins on reproductive function. He has extensive experience in treating multifaceted infertility issues and endocrine disorders ranging from infertility, abnormal puberty, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and menopause, as well as disorders of the thyroid and adrenal gland.

Tamaika M. Parish, MSW, ACSW | Social Worker, San Mateo County Medical Center

Tamaika M. Parish, MSW, ACSW, is currently a Social Worker III for San Mateo County Medical Center where she works in the Emergency Department and Psychiatric Emergency Services. Parish is a native of San Francisco where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and English Literature at St. Mary’s College. She went on to pursue a Master's in Social Work. Parish is registered as an Associate Clinical Social Work as she is preparing for her national Social Work license.

Ms. Parish is honored to moderate this webinar and be a part of educating the African American community. This is a topic that does not have much discussion or exposure among family, friends, medical professions etc. To know and understand, we have to teach, discuss, and educate.

Alexis Cobbins, MSW | Executive Director, PTBi

Alexis Cobbins is the Executive Director of the California Preterm Birth Initiative at UCSF. She has worked as a Social Worker with over 10 years of experience providing culturally relevant and responsive services through a trauma-informed approach. With a Masters of Social Work from California State University, East Bay, Cobbins is deeply experienced in this field, providing culturally relevant and responsive services, trauma-informed care/systems, grief and loss therapy related to community violence, reflective practice, and anti-racism work. She has also served as a postpartum doula. After experiencing a preterm birth with her second child, her interest in building a career around reducing the burden of prematurity was ignited. All of Cobbins’ personal and professional experiences drive her passion to improve birth outcomes for Black women and other women of color.