2021 EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator™

Changemakers creating solutions to overcome barriers to health.

Woman working in an urban garden
The EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator ™ works with diverse social entrepreneurs and organizations improving social determinants of health in their community, which are health risk factors, especially for underserved populations.

Social determinants include, but are not limited to, race bias, income, education, stress, pollution, housing availability, transportation and access to healthy foods.

Shireen Abdullah, Yumlish, Dallas, Tx.

After spending most of her career as a project manager and management consultant, Shireen Abdullah decided to pursue her passion and became a nutri-preneur. While managing her own illness, she realized the importance of pairing cultural nutrition education with an empowering, patient-centered care model to close gaps in health equity for minorities. Her startup is called Yumlish, an AI-powered, culturally relevant nutrition therapy platform for people of color with diabetes that addresses socioeconomic barriers to dietary adherence.

Yumlish is creating an AI-powered cultural nutritional therapy solution for people of color with diabetes and is addressing socioeconomic barriers to dietary adherence. Through the Yumlish program, patients lose weight and lower A1C levels, leading to reduced health care costs. Current revenue comes from reimbursable encounters with opportunities to grow into population health and managed care. The Yumlish team is looking to build partnerships in cardiovascular care.

The EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator ™ works with diverse social entrepreneurs and organizations improving social determinants of health in their community, which are health risk factors, especially for underserved populations. Social determinants include, but are not limited to, race bias, income, education, stress, pollution, housing availability, transportation and access to healthy foods.

Dr. Bahby Banks, Pillar Consulting Durham, NC. 

A scholar-activist committed to equity and inclusion, Dr. Bahby Banks engages leaders in strategic thought around health communication, equity/inclusion and community engagement. Banks’ career has spanned the Americas, Africa, Europe and Australia, including contributions to the World Health Organization, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Instituto Promundo and academic institutions across the U.S. In 2020 she launched “Not A Host,” a multimedia grassroots campaign with broad community, foundation and governmental support, to advance health literacy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Banks is an adjunct assistant professor in the Public Health Leadership Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and invests in the next generation of public leaders through mentorship, training and practical experiences in their communities. Banks recently received the Boston University School of Public Health Distinguished Alumni Award and was the inaugural keynote speaker for the MPH@UNC Immersion Program. She received her bachelor of science degree in biology from Florida A&M University, master of public health in epidemiology and biostatistics from Boston University and doctorate of philosophy from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Pillar Consulting offers research and evaluation services to nonprofit, academic and philanthropic organizations, and evidence-based strategy for leaders to create, cultivate and sustain equitable and inclusive work environments. Drawing on the expertise of top researchers, practitioners and professionals, we mobilize stakeholders in setting evaluation priorities and establishing clear programmatic goals. Our clients have included rural and urban organizations, mostly recently with initiatives addressing health disparities experienced among historically marginalized communities: Nurture Jew Jersey (maternal and infant mortality), Susan G. Komen African American Health Equity Initiative (breast cancer) and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (child literacy).

Under Banks’ leadership, Pillar Consulting has spearheaded efforts funded by the National Science Foundation, duPont Foundation, de Beaumont Foundation, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration. The EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator ™ works with diverse social entrepreneurs and organizations improving social determinants of health in their community, which are health risk factors, especially for underserved populations. Social determinants include, but are not limited to, race bias, income, education, stress, pollution, housing availability, transportation and access to healthy foods.

Victoria Beaty

Victoria Beaty is an accomplished marketing and public relations professional with more than 10 years' experience delivering strategic thinking, public relations leadership and innovative experiential marketing ideas. Born and raised in the Midwest, Beaty holds a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University. After years of working for world-class brands like McDonald’s and learning how the food system works, she resigned from a corporate leadership position, enrolled in an urban farming program at Purdue University and completed a seven-week urban farming training at Growing Places Indy. There she found her passion for educating her community on the importance of the farm-to-table movement, which led to her love for connecting people to nature — eradicating food deserts that plague people of color. After wearing many hats at Growing Places Indy, in January 2020 she became executive director and is the organization’s first Black leader.

Growing Places Indy is a nonprofit that has empowered individuals since 2009 to cultivate personal, family and community wellness through urban agriculture. The organization operates four urban farms across Indianapolis, equaling nearly two acres and two greenhouses in year-round production. The organization has a four-pronged approach, focusing on urban agriculture, access to fresh local foods, mind-body education and entrepreneurship. Growing Places Indy also continues to improve access to fresh local food and mind-body education in Indianapolis through programs like Plant it Forward, Grow Getters, Young Grow Getters and Community Supported Agriculture and by hosting the Indy Winter Farmers Market.

The EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator ™ works with diverse social entrepreneurs and organizations improving social determinants of health in their community, which are health risk factors, especially for underserved populations. Social determinants include, but are not limited to, race bias, income, education, stress, pollution, housing availability, transportation and access to healthy foods.

Fan Favorite Kimberly Brown

Kimberly Brown is the founder of Get Up and Get Moving, a health and wellness program she formed in light of her struggle with her weight and her journey to better health. Brown says she knows how it feels to know what to do, and yet not do it. When she created the program, she says she thought not only of herself, but of the many people who need to improve their health. This is for those who need to put themselves first on the list of priorities, are on medication or end up in the emergency room.

Brown realized the need in communities of color and people in churches for a simple, accessible option that encourages them to live longer, healthier lives. She wrote the theme song for her program while on her treadmill, and then followed it up with a 30-day nutrition and physical activity challenge. Brown is a singer/songwriter influenced by the Grammy Award-winning group, The Sounds of Blackness. She has toured around the world and performed with legendary artists such as Quincy Jones, Luther Vandross, Prince and Kenny G. The grueling regimen of late-night recording sessions and touring attributed to her poor health habits. When she hit rock bottom with a cholesterol reading of 314, she knew it was time to take charge of her health.

The EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator ™ works with diverse social entrepreneurs and organizations improving social determinants of health in their community, which are health risk factors, especially for underserved populations. Social determinants include, but are not limited to, race bias, income, education, stress, pollution, housing availability, transportation and access to healthy foods.

Maya Page

Maya Page is a leader of the startup Carry, a movement and meditation app for all pregnant people and new parents. Minted in design thinking at Stanford and IDEO, she's an expert in innovation, human-centered design and user experience (UX).

She’s worked at adidas in the innovation team, on the adidas miCoach global fitness app, and at Target, helping lead Target App and Target.com UX. She’s collaborated with startups, agencies and companies big and small.

Currently, Maya is applying her expertise, optimism and passions to Carry, as well as parenting three little fascinating, hilarious and energetic humans. Carry is an early-stage startup offering movement and meditation for all pregnant people and new parents via an app. Led by experts, our movement and meditation sessions are fun and short, and tailored to trimester, body ache or mood. Simply put, Carry believes in the transformative power of these simple tools to better prepare the body and mind for some of life’s biggest stages: birth and parenthood.

The EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator ™ works with diverse social entrepreneurs and organizations improving social determinants of health in their community, which are health risk factors, especially for underserved populations. Social determinants include, but are not limited to, race bias, income, education, stress, pollution, housing availability, transportation and access to healthy foods.

Sharon Samjitsingh

Sharon Samjitsingh co-founded Health Care Originals to address a need for change in respiratory monitoring with the goal of ensuring health equity along the continuum of care for respiratory disease. She is one of fewer than 1,900 professionals worldwide with the triple certification of PMP®, PMI-SP® and PMI-RMP®. Samjitsingh was named TechRochester’s Technology Woman of the Year in 2020, and in 2019 was listed among the Top 100 in Fem Tech and Health Tech by Women of Wearables. In 2019 she was included in the Names Dress, (www.namesdress.com) a 3D-printed conceptual art piece that incorporated over 300 names of current and historic women in science, technology, engineering, art and math; the dress was on museum display in Florence, Italy. Samjitsingh has over 27 years’ experience in engineering, project, corporate management and technical entrepreneurship. She earned her master's degree at the University of Rochester. Previously, she led group projects for an international conglomerate, overseeing a project portfolio exceeding $100 million. She heads governance, marketing and business development at HCO.

Health Care Originals provides innovative solutions for respiratory care along the care continuum, helping patients achieve better health and researchers obtain real-world evidence. At the core of HCO's technology suites is a proprietary wearable, ADAMM, that collects and analyzes lung data. HCO has been revolutionizing the respiratory clinical trials space in areas such as asthma, COPD, radiation pneumonitis, chronic cough and interstitial lung disease by enabling the collection of real-world evidence among diverse groups of patients. HCO's Nightingale programs allow people with asthma and COPD to be healthier by accessing on-demand, meaningful feedback through daily ADAMM monitoring, text tips and guidance from respiratory therapists and life coaches.

The EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator ™ works with diverse social entrepreneurs and organizations improving social determinants of health in their community, which are health risk factors, especially for underserved populations. Social determinants include, but are not limited to, race bias, income, education, stress, pollution, housing availability, transportation and access to healthy foods.

Pastor Cynthia M Wallace

Cynthia M. Wallace is executive pastor of Bible Center Church in Pittsburgh and executive director of The Oasis Project, the church’s community and economic development division. The Oasis Project has several after-school and summer youth programs, a transportation company, a property maintenance and management business and three food-related venues: Everyday Café, Oasis Farm and Fishery, and Oasis Community Kitchen.

Before moving to Pittsburgh in 2004, Wallace was a principal in Ann Arbor, Michigan, public schools and the co-founder and principal of Genesis Christian Academy. From 2007 to 2013, she was principal of Pittsburgh Montessori, a prekindergarten to eighth-grade school. In 2013, she retired from public schools to pursue additional education and urban ministry work. She earned a bachelor’s degree in behavioral sciences from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Michigan. She also has a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling from Geneva College in Pennsylvania and a doctorate in school leadership from the University of Pittsburgh.

Wallace has also been an adjunct professor in the teacher education departments at Concordia University in Ann Arbor and at Carlow University in Pittsburgh. She’s a National Certified Counselor (NCC) and worked from 2016 to 2020 as a part-time therapist with children and families in Homewood, Pennsylvania. Wallace has recently joined the national faculty for Made to Flourish, where she trains pastors in helping their congregations understand God’s perspective on economics and the connection between faith and work.

She’s also the co-city director of the organization’s Pittsburgh network of pastors. Wallace has been married for over 30 years and has four adult children.

The EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator ™ works with diverse social entrepreneurs and organizations improving social determinants of health in their community, which are health risk factors, especially for underserved populations. Social determinants include, but are not limited to, race bias, income, education, stress, pollution, housing availability, transportation and access to healthy foods.

Cornelia Williams

Cornelia Williams is a senior at Georgetown University studying human science. She co-founded EMTomorrow in June 2020 with two colleagues at Georgetown, both of whom share her passion for health equity. Outside of EMTomorrow, Williams is an EMT and director of organizational equity for Georgetown EMS.

EMTomorrow is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit creating an accessible emergency medical service pathway for underserved young adults by providing free EMT training. The program addresses the financial, social and geographical inaccessibility in EMT training and supports a career in medicine by ensuring immediate job placement into a paid position.

The EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator ™ works with diverse social entrepreneurs and organizations improving social determinants of health in their community, which are health risk factors, especially for underserved populations. Social determinants include, but are not limited to, race bias, income, education, stress, pollution, housing availability, transportation and access to healthy foods.