2023 Annual Report

I Be Black Girl (IBBG) is a reproductive justice organization that leads with boldness, innovation, and inspiration, actively creating a radical change-making culture that centers Black women, femmes, and girls.

Inspired by the work of bell hooks, Audre Lorde, and other Black feminists and womanists, our organization provides transformational change at the intersections of gender and race. ​ 

The term “I Be,” framed by author bell hooks in Be Boy Buzz, inspired IBBG’s founder to fill spaces with what it means to exist as a Black woman, femme, or girl – where we are free to define and own that narrative. 

Our Mission

I Be Black Girl serves as a collective for Black women, femmes and girls to actualize their full potential to authentically be, through autonomy, abundance and liberation.

Our Vision

We know that we are the energy and essence, and we envision a world where Black women, femmes and girls live wholly.

Our Values

Black Centric

Black ALL. THE. TIME. We always work on behalf of, for and with Black women, femmes and girls – recognizing that there are gradients in our experiences and stories.

Radical Imagination

We influence spaces that were thought to be untouchable and build spaces that are for us – by us, lead the conversation, shape narratives and serve where, when and how we decide.


We are thought leaders that amplify the power and choice we hold as Black women, femmes and girls. We operate from truth, transparency and authenticity.

Meet the Team and Leadership

Our executive leadership and full-time staff are 100% composed of Black women and femme leaders. Black women, femmes, and girls are not a monolith, and though we lead with our Blackness and womanhood as a central identity, we understand the importance of recognizing other intersecting identities, experiences, and narratives. Our team ranges in experiences around age, sexuality, gender and family experiences, all of which varied perspectives strengthen the impact we have across our community. 

Alecia Anderson
University of Nebraska at Omaha

Sarena Dacus
Immediate Past President
Education Development Center

Jay Warren-Teamer
Vice President
Blue Cross and Blue Shield Nebraska

Joy Kathurima, ESQ
ACLU Nebraska

Nell Jones
Government Employee

Nikki Brown
Board Member

Susie Owens
Board Member
Mentor Nebraska

Malena Rousseau 
Board Member 

Opeoluwa Oyewole 
Board Member 
University of Nebraska Medical Center 

Ada Wilson, ESQ 
Board Member 
Nebraska Medicine 

Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens 
Board Member 

Johnnah Bailey 
Board Member 
Student at University of Nebraska 

Racquel Henderson 
Board Member 
Metro Community College 

Aaliyah Samci
Communications Strategist

Aleyah Smith
Policy Fellow

Ashlei Spivey
Executive Director

Bryonna Ward
Catalyst Program Associate

Candy Zollicoffer
Executive Assistant

Celine Haynes
Social Media and Events Associate

Charmaine Box
Birth Justice Program Associate

JaLisa Sanford
Finance and Operations Manager

Jessica Ehule
Birth Justice Program Director

Kenidy Dunlap
Public Health Intern

Sydney Shead
Birth Justice Program Associate

Tambu Phiri
Birth Justice Program Manager

Taylor Givens-Dunn
Policy and Power Building Manager

In 2022, IBBG received our 501c3 designation when we moved away from our fiscal sponsorship and began establishing our own organizational processes. We entered 2023 with full-time staff for the first time, allowing us to scale our programming and impact on the community

Our key organizational goals for 2021-2023 included:  

  1. Building organizational infrastructure for long term sustainability;  
  2. Refining areas of work for maximum impact; and  
  3. Solidifying organizational identity in the sector. We made incredible progress on our goals and carried out our strategic plan through 2023 

Organizational impact

Community Trust

IBBG has been built by Black women, femmes, and girls, and remains deeply embedded within our community to have an intimate understanding and appropriate pulse on our community’s needs. We engage community members in a variety of ways, including research opportunities, feedback surveys, town halls, and summits and convenings. Conducting this type of research enables us to remain accountable to our community and to provide for the true needs our community identifies.

Community Research

We have conducted two major areas of research that inform our work, the Essence of Us report and, more recently, the Ain’t I A Woman research, A Person-Centered Approach to Reproductive Care for Black Women. The Essence of Us report, released in 2021, guides IBBG in our understanding of what Omaha Black women, femmes and girls need to access and reach our full potential. We held focus groups specifically for girls, femmes, and young people to share their experiences and uplift their points of view to help shape the Omaha environment, including funders and service providers, on how we can better uplift and center their leadership.

We recently conducted the Ain’t I A Woman research to help better inform our Birth Justice Initiatives – The learnings from this research will not only inform IBBG’s work but will also inform the work and forward movement from our coalition partners and statewide health systems to positively impact Black Maternal Health. Conducting this research also enables us to remain accountable to our community and to provide for the true needs our community identifies.

Collective Power Building Approach

In taking a collective power-building approach to our work, we build multifaceted strategies that allow us to create bolder, stronger initiatives that result in real, meaningful change for our community. We are an intermediary working to create systems change, which we do through conducting data and research, convening coalitions and summits, redistributing resources, innovation projects, and policy and advocacy efforts. The through-line through all of this is our community power building efforts which invest in Black-led ecosystems.

Our Executive Director, Ashlei Spivey, was selected as a 2024 JMK Innovation Prize Awardee

She was one of 10 folks selected across the country, out of nearly 3,500 applicants, to build our innovative work around community birth workers and healing justice. The JM Kaplan Fund Innovation Prize is a prestigious innovation award elevating the most promising early-stage projects in environment, heritage conservation, and social justice.

IBBG’s innovative project will create community ecosystems of Black birth workers who support Black pregnant people throughout their pregnancy and birthing journeys. Healing justice will be crucial in this project, as we know that embedding a healing program will allow Black birth workers to heal from their own traumatic medical experiences.

In early 2023, we embarked on a capital campaign to renovate space in the heart of North Omaha.

This physical home will enable us to have a consistent presence in the community to advance our mission. We successfully raised the $1M needed for this project and are planning the ribbon cutting for May 2024.

Reproductive Justice Summit

Each October, I Be Black Girl proudly powers Black Maternal Health Month, an initiative aimed at fostering meaningful discussions and actionable solutions to reshape the landscape of reproductive justice in Nebraska.

Save the Date for our next summit: August 2025

In October 2023, I Be Black Girl hosted our 3rd annual and first in-person Reproductive Justice Summit: Coming Into Our Bodies. The empowering event allowed for conversations into crucial issues surrounding reproductive justice and featured renowned activist, author, and professor Dr. Angela Davis as our keynote luncheon speaker; award-winning artist, activist, TEDx speaker Dominique Morgan, health advocate, and certified professional midwife with over 40 years of experience Jennie Joseph, and writer, filmmaker, and community organizer Charlene Carruthers.

Close to 300 attendees had the opportunity to be in community and learn with other advocates. Folks engaged with not only our mainstage speakers, but experts across sectors on topics like education equity, housing justice, food access, birth justice, policy and power building during breakout sessions. As well as learning from leaders in the movement, folks at last year’s summit also had the chance to support local businesses and non-profits in the I Be Community space.

Beloved Community

I Be Black Girl works towards liberation through Beloved Community. We model Beloved Community to be in the right relationship with each other and the work. bell hooks discussed the immense struggles in store for those dedicated to fighting injustice, but that our relationships with one another are what sustain us in the fight.
Approaching our work through Beloved Community allows us to center our love for each other and for community in a way that is bold and authentic and rooted in our love of and dreams for Black women, femmes, and girls.

Healing Justice

Black women, femmes, and girls deserve to live wholly, which is why IBBG is creating space for Black women and femmes to dream in abundance. What does it mean for us to be centered in joy and healing versus reactionary to harm?  

We are committed to developing a healing justice and joy framework across our organization and programming so that the Black women and femmes who work at IBBG and are served through our initiatives can receive the specific space, knowledge, and support to live wholly. 

“Beloved Community is formed not by the eradication of difference by by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shape who we are and how we live in the world”

bell hooks 

Birth justice

Using a Collective Action Framework, I Be Black Girl is catalyzing a movement to disrupt the systems that perpetuate incidences of maternal morbidity, mortality and traumatic care experiences using strategies that center the voices, experiences and leadership of Black women and Black birthing people. We deserve to not just live through our birthing experiences but thrive in them. 

State Innovation Award 

I Be Black Girl is the first (and so far, only) community-based organization to receive funding from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) State Maternal Health Innovations Program, to create innovative solutions to the Black maternal health crisis in Nebraska.  

This initiative, funded by HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau, includes the establishment of the Nebraska Maternal Health Task Force, which is working to strengthen the state’s maternal health ecosystem, dismantle silos within this ecosystem, and allow for meaningful transfer of knowledge and data between partners as we align around our collective goal to positively impact maternal health in our state. This project also includes a Medicaid Redetermination Campaign, a collaborative effort to increase awareness and provide community support during the National Medicaid Unwinding process. 

The 5-year investment will allow us to: 

(1) Establish and convene a Nebraska Maternal Health Task Force,  

(2) Support the state’s data infrastructure regarding maternal and child health, and  

(3) Strengthen and scale our Doula Passage Program, allowing us to lay the foundation for additional innovative programming in Black maternal healthcare. 

Doula Passage Program

The Doula Passage Program (DPP) is an intentional learning environment designed to provide education and support to Black community-based doulas in Nebraska. The training model includes 14 weeks of structural and technical skills building along with personal frameworks development that will equip them to support Black pregnant and birthing folks in Nebraska; and creates a unique blueprint for the standard of care and expectations of the relationship between doulas and birthing people.

2023 Highlights

Received over 100 applications for the inaugural class 

Accepted 40 and 37 Black women and femmes completed the program 

  • Over 95% of participants felt equipped or very equipped to provide necessary support to Black pregnant and birthing people 
  • Over 90% of participants agreed that they have access to a peer support network 
  • Over 95% of participants agreed that the DPP models a structure that can be used to serve other birthing populations of color 

Doula care is as old as Black folks and is native to how we care for people, including through our birth experiences.

We know that access to Doula support during birth journeys:  

Creates stronger power and choice

Ensures pregnant folks receive the care they need to safely manage pregnancy and birth

Ensures proper advocacy for the pregnant person’s needs and preferences; and   

Links families to resources that help address their comprehensive needs 

From Program Participants

“The hands-on experiences, role plays, and simulations during the training were invaluable in building my confidence and honing my skills. Your constructive feedback, patience, and willingness to address our questions and concerns ensured that we had a comprehensive understanding of the doula role and responsibilities… serving as a solid foundation for my future practice as a doula.”


“DPP has [given] me a bit more of a reason to do what I already love to do and to be able to go into different spaces because I’m important as a [birthworker], and a Black women birth worker at that is what makes me feel like I’ve gotten some great takeaways from this cohort. I’d love to continue and further my knowledge and education so I can always be of help to those around me and in my community. ”

Program Participant

“I feel my participation could possibly impact the health and well-being of my client because…the [care my clients will benefit from is based on the] training we received [from] our trainers. I feel they provided us with the tools needed to overcome barriers.”

Program Participant

Economic Justice

America has spent decades depriving Black people access and opportunity to economic security, and abundance and dignity; leading to a scarcity mindset rooted in injustice. We understand that we live in a capitalist society, and our priority is to abolish economic equity gaps to give Black women, femmes and girls the ability to live whole, abundant lives. 

Fact #1

Black women experience steeper economic obstacles when compared to other adults in the United States

Fact #2

71% of Black women feel like they live paycheck to paycheck

Fact #3

40% of Black women have household incomes of less than $50,000 (compared to 24% of U.S. adults)

Source: https://www.goldmansachs.com/our-commitments/sustainability/one-million-black-women/amplifying-voices-of-black-women/index.html

Business Catalyst Program

Our Catalyst Program serves as a culturally relevant business accelerator that supports Black women and femme business owners and entrepreneurs to impact local economic growth and community sustainability. The 10-week program design provides custom content and learning that is culturally relevant and appropriate to address the needs of Black women + femme founders while supporting their advancement towards economic freedom. 

The program design includes: 

  • Business coaching 
  • Technical skill capacity building 
  • Pipeline building to access capital resources 

We explicitly address the inequities of resources, influence, power and access based on race at the intersection of gender, aligning with racial equity frameworks.  

To date we have served 60 Black women founders through the program. 

Black led investments

Black women and femmes are at the helm of every social movement in our history, yet receive the least amount of resources and funding needed to do this integral work.  

The practice of Black women not being allowed to bring their whole selves into spaces of philanthropy while funding in the name of liberation has had lasting impacts. Throughout history, Black generosity and philanthropy have created their own tables of progress, especially to support Black futures, and I Be Black Girl is no different (Feminist Strategy). 

Blac Fund Initiative

IBBG was awarded a three-year investment from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) Building Local Alignment Initiative to develop participatory grantmaking frameworks that redistribute resources to the reproductive wellbeing of Black women, femmes, and girls and the community organizations that are leading this crucial work.  

We will convene a participatory grantmaking committee of Black women and femme leaders across our state who will engage in leadership development around philanthropy and thus create our grantmaking framework, which will redistribute funding to community-based organizations mobilizing towards reproductive well-being of Black women, femmes, and girls. This funding to Black-led community-based reproductive wellbeing organizations will be multi-year investments and allocated for general operation, as we understand that these types of investments are the most needed since Black women-led organizations receive some of the least investment and support from philanthropy. 


I Be Black Girl Gives (IBBGives) is the flagship program that launched I Be Black Girl. IBBGives is a giving circle that enables resource redistribution for programs led by and for Black women, femmes, and girls, changing the landscape of philanthropy in the Omaha metro area and inviting Black women, femmes, and girls to give in a way that is meaningful to us.

While there were other giving circles in the Omaha metro prior to IBBGives, none were specifically dedicated to investing in the lives of Black women, femmes, and girls. IBBGives is changing the landscape of philanthropy in the Omaha metro - to date we have invested $151,562 in community initiatives. We were excited to award 2022-2023 grants to the following community organizations:

The Keys Foundation

The Keys Foundation utilizes the platform of women’s basketball to cultivate awareness toward the movement of empowered women. They are committed to educating and empowering today’s youth girls on the importance of sportsmanship, teamwork, commitment, and integrity.   

The Relationship Corner

The Relationship Corner specializes in marriage and family therapy, trauma, and ending the cycle of unhealthy relationships. The Relationship Corner is a therapeutic experience guaranteed to make you feel right at home!  

UNO Black Excellence

Black Excellence serves as a resource, advocate group, and student-run community for self-identified African American students at University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO). Through a dedicated focus on higher education, self-awareness, culture, and experience, Black Excellence’s primary focus is that of increasing, maintaining, and promoting the success of African American students at UNO.   

Youth for Greater Good

Youth for Greater Good seeks to shape the future of South Sudanese youth through academic support, mentoring, and cultural identity. Through their free strategic culturally driven yearly programs, they seek to uplift and empower future young leaders within the African diaspora. 


I Be Black Girl believes policy is a driver for change within our approach to reproductive justice. Policy has historically been weaponized against Black communities. As a result, we are committed to building Black political power to address the harm and chart a new experience of legislation that centers Black women, femmes and girls. 

Expansion of Postpartum Coverage 

Legislative win: Medicaid expansion of postpartum coverage from 60 days to 12 months  

Black women die from pregnancy-related causes more than three times the rate of white women, and experience Severe Maternal Morbidity at a rate two times the rate of white women. One contributing factor is the lack of a health care safety net for postpartum women who receive health insurance from Medicaid. In Nebraska, 75% of maternal deaths are reported preventable and many factors stem from a lack of insurance.

To achieve optimal Black maternal health outcomes in the state of Nebraska, it is essential to further expand meaningful access to affordable and consistent health care for Black birthing folks, wherever they live, throughout their lives –  and this legislative win around postpartum expansion under Medicaid has us prepared for greater legislative wins which will contribute positively to Black maternal health in our state.

Hair is Protected

We were crucial in passing LB630, a bill that protects natural hair and headdresses in schools. This effort was part of a national movement under the CROWN Act that hopes to protect Black Women, Girls, and Femmes at school and in the workplace. 24 states have enacted this law to combat racial discrimination based on appearance as we wait for the changes to occur at a Federal level. 

Historically, Black students have been more likely to experience discrimination based on appearance than their counterparts. Though they account for only about 15% of the student population in grades K-12, national data shows Black students account for 31% of school suspensions. Some of this stems from policies that have been put in place in schools that directly target Black students. These policies lead to higher numbers of Black students missing out on vital learning. Our natural kinks and coils should not be the cause of disruption to our youth’s education. 


Nebraska Correctional Center for Women in York

In our ongoing commitment to addressing reproductive well-being for incarcerated women, we have deepend our work in holding systems accountable at the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women in York. Over recent years, we've collaborated with Raquel Henderson, a formerly incarcerated community advocate and mother, to provide financial assistance to incarcerated women. Raquel's journey from incarceration to advocacy has led her to serve as a valued Board Member for I Be Black Girl, emphasizing the vital role of community support in fostering sustainability for Black mothers both inside and outside the prison walls. While we've made strides, there remains significant work ahead. To close out 2023, we organized a community letter-writing campaign to uplift Black women and femmes within the prison system. Looking ahead to 2024, we're committed to continuing the work to care for community rooted in an abolition approach. While we've made strides, there remains significant work ahead. To close out 2023, we organized a community letter-writing campaign to uplift Black women and femmes within the prison system. Looking ahead to 2024, we're committed to continuing the work to care for community rooted in an abolition approach.

Summit Impact

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Amazing Speakers

Black Girls Lead

Black Girls Lead is designed to empower Black girls and femmes ages 14-19 across the state to explore their leadership and build community-based movements. Originally created as a Youth Advisory Board, Black Girls Lead is now a one-day summit that hosts a series of interactive workshops, intentional networking opportunities and world class speakers. Participants leave understanding how they can utilize their identity to spearhead political engagement and identify the needs of their community.

Our inaugural summit was hosted in February of 2023.

Convening for Black Women Executive Directors

I Be Black Girl celebrates and uplifts the beauty and strength of Black women, femmes, and girls. Through our efforts, we aim to dismantle and reimagine systems that perpetuate harm and fail to center us, all while cultivating spaces of joy and abundance. In 2023, we launched a quarterly convening specifically for Black Women who hold Executive Director positions. This initiative provides a platform for networking, addressing challenges within our roles and organizations, and fostering an environment where we can authentically express ourselves.

Despite progress, Black Women continue to be vastly underrepresented, comprising only 4% of C-suite executives, a statistic that has remained stagnant for several years. Moreover, Black women encounter workplace discrimination and microaggressions, leading to heightened stress and burnout. Our group convenes several times annually and will host a rejuvenating retreat in 2024 to nurture and uplift the experiences of Black women in leadership positions.

As we reflect on the past year’s achievements, we recognize that our work is far from over. Together with our community, we continue to forge ahead, emboldened by the collective power of our movement and the promise of a more just and equitable future for Black women, femmes and girls.

We cannot continue to do this work without community support. 

Invest in I Be Black Girl today!