Black Mamas ATX Leadership & Staff
Kelenne Blake is a health advocate, creative and Blackacademic from Trinidad and Tobago, based in Austin TX. She has been involved with Black Mamas Community Collective, a.k.a Black Mamas ATX in various roles since 2018 and now serves as the Executive Director.
As a creative, Kelenne does visual and performance art as well as writing, including poetry and screenwriting. She also considers herself a Blackademic. Kelenne is a former professor at Huston-Tillotson University and a current doctoral student of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, concentrating in Health Equity and Social Justice.
Living in the intersections as a Black immigrant woman, everything she does involves working creatively with vulnerable communities, disrupting false hierarchies and creating spaces for those communities to assert their unique voices, perspectives and power — and, in so doing, creating a better world.
When she is not working with mamas , she is busy attending any number of extra-curricular activities in support of her daughters. Aphrica shares that “If and when have any spare time I like to spend it sleeping, reading or catching up on any missed TV shows.” When speaking of the work she does with BMATX she says, “I am so blessed and proud to be a part of an organization that impacts the lives of mothers and babies in such a meaningful way!”
Klarque is a Doula (DONA), a childbirth educator, and Certified Lactation Counselor. She is also currently a midwifery student and extremely passionate about her work and advocacy for Black women in the healthcare system. Klarque has previously worked with young mothers and coordinated a doula program for a non-profit in Iowa. She has also provided care in Austin to a myriad of mothers from different backgrounds and cultures. Klarque is hoping to positively impact mothers and their birthing experiences, as well as to be a catalyst for change against racial disparities in the healthcare system.
In her free time, Klarque loves to do yoga, experiment in the kitchen with vegan foods, read, spend time with her daughter, experience the joys of traveling, and make divine candles. She is always excited to attend a birth and grow in her knowledge surrounding maternal care, as well as postpartum.
Ebony is a mother, an author, trained childbirth Doula (DONA), and community herbalist, who specializes in placenta encapsulation and holistic wellness. She is currently undergoing certification to become a Certified Breastfeeding Specialist (CBS).
Born and raised in Long Beach California, Ebony recently relocated to the Austin area to continue her support and advocacy for black maternal health in Texas. Ebony is passionate about the health and equity of Black & African descendants across all intersects. She approaches birth work with ancestral reverence, at forefront. Her work is deeply rooted in the divine wisdom, legacy, and practices, laid by our foremothers. She believes that ancestral/culturally congruent care is critical to countering systemic racism in birth settings. Ebony hopes to be a part of the change in revitalizing birth support and breaking down barriers that negatively impact the birth and care of black birthing persons and their families.
Outside of birth work, Ebony finds fulfillment spending time with her partner, son and two dogs. She also practices herbalism and loves educating and creating herbal wellness preparations for her community. She enjoys foraging plants, gardening, yoga, trying new foods and other forms of healing modalities.
Denise L. Washington is a doula, mother, student midwife and Founder of Delivering Unto You. She is originally from Kansas City, KS and has been in the Austin area for 12 years. Denise began her journey in 2001 as a doula and childbirth educator for a local pregnancy shelter for young women in Kansas City, KS. In 2010 she decided to become a midwife but took time off to adjust to her new city of Austin, TX. In 2015 she started providing doula services in Austin as a volunteer doula with GALS (Giving Austin Labor Support) until she became a program coordinator for Mama Sana Vibrant Woman in 2017.
In 2019 she decided to focus on providing support to families of color on her own terms and founded Delivering Unto You. Her mission is to change the way the black community views and receives maternal care and support. Denise currently works as a Sister Doula with Black Mamas ATX while completing her midwifery certification. In the Fall of 2023 Denise will become the third black midwife in Austin, TX. She is also on path to opening the first black led and operated birth center that will provide low to no cost care to families of color.
Erin Backus, MPH