Tag: MOMCares

Social Innovation Lab (SIL)

Meet the Entrepreneur: Ana Rodney Draws on Her Own…

Meet the Entrepreneur: Ana Rodney Draws on Her Own Experience to Support NICU Moms

April 19, 2019

Ana Rodney has been a doula for 11 years, and describes witnessing her first childbirth as a magical and life-changing experience. But it was the premature birth of her own son, Aiden, almost five years ago that led to another life-changing experience.

Rodney felt helpless at times as a new mom in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), too tired and preoccupied to communicate what she needed. It was only after Aiden came home six months later that she began to realize exactly how much support she needed, both emotional and physical caring for a newborn with special medical needs..

Ana Rodney

Rodney began a healing circle for mothers in 2016, which delivered Mother’s Day gift bags to 40 women at various NICUs around Baltimore one year later. She then used a Baltimore Corps Elevation Award to develop programming for mothers in the NICU, and ultimately founded MOMCares, a postpartum doula program designed to support mothers of color in the NICU. The organization provides packaged meals, transportation, bedside support and childcare for older siblings.

Rodney has used her time in the 2018–19 Social Innovation Lab cohort to intensively research and test the effectiveness of MOMCares’ initiatives, with the aim to improve the organization’s service to the community.

Describe, in a few words, what does your organization do?

Provide postpartum care to NICU moms.

What would you consider success for MOMCares, and how would the world be different if MOMCares is successful?

MOMCares will be successful when we have an impact on fetal and maternal health outcomes for black mothers and babies. I would consider MOMCares successful when we are training medical professionals and community workers in compassionate and culturally sensitive care.

When MOMCares is a national and international voice for the health and positive outcomes of black birthing families, then we are successful. Once MOMCares has done its job so thoroughly that there is no need for MOMCares to continue programming the way we are now, then we are successful.

What advice do you have for would-be social entrepreneurs or other students thinking about starting a venture?

Be prepared for the level of work that it will take to make your ideas manifest, and then prepare yourself to commit deeper and work harder than that. Stay consistent and patient, and take time to iron out the little things as you move toward the big things. Stay as organized as possible. Accept help as much as possible, and keep a list of things that others can help you with. Don’t keep the vision all in your head; you have to be able to share it with others in order for it to grow.

If you could give your past self a piece of advice for creating a startup, what would it be?

I would tell myself not to be caught up with how quickly others are throwing businesses and projects together. Rapid rises usually mean rapid falls.

What book are you currently reading?

Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others, by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky

What innovator do you look up to? Why?

I look up to my mother and the moms I work for. Who is a better innovator than the one who can make you feel like magic with just a hug and a treat? Black mothers, in particular, have always had to rely on innovation in order to survive and thrive in a country that has rarely been kind to us. Making things work despite the circumstances is what mothers do. I was raised by innovators. They surround me still.

What opportunities make Baltimore a good place for growing a business or organization?

Baltimore is a diverse city that has plenty of problems to solve and an array of consumers with infinite needs and desires.

In terms of startups and innovation, what’s one (positive) thing that separates Baltimore from other innovation hotbeds?

Baltimore’s location on the East Coast makes it a hub for different people to meet and mingle with different ideas. Baltimore seems to attract people from all over, which leads to an ever-refreshing market of people to test ideas and products on.

It’s after a long day of work, and you don’t feel like cooking. What is your go-to Baltimore restaurant?

It depends. If there is no way I am going back outside, my son and I will be munching on pizza from Michaelangelo’s in Mt. Vernon. If I can muster up the energy to get outside, we would probably end up at R. House in Remington.

What is your favorite thing to do in Baltimore that is not work-related?

Walking to the Falls Road farmers market on Sunday mornings, getting food for the week and trucking it back home to start cooking. (So we don’t end up eating pizza all week!)

Follow MOMCares on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WordPress. The organization, along with the other members of the 2018–19 Social Innovation Lab cohort, will present its work at the Impact + Innovation Forum 2019 on April 30. Click here for more information and to RSVP.

Social Innovation Lab (SIL)

Meet the 2018-19 Social Innovation Lab cohort

Meet the 2018-19 Social Innovation Lab cohort

With an enthusiastic crowd of supporters on hand, 10 promising social ventures were announced as the Social Innovation Lab’s 2018-19 cohort as part of a launch and reception event Oct. 24 at the new FastForward U Student Innovation Hub.

Over the next six months, these changemakers will work closely together and benefit from business and financial support, including funding, mentorship, office space and a rigorous curriculum to develop sustainable social ventures that impact our communities.

Each fall, SIL conducts a competitive application process open to Baltimore-area residents and JHU students, faculty and staff seeking support for their social venture. More than 100 teams applied to join the 2018-2019 cohort, up 25 percent from last year and more than 50 percent from 2016-2017. Applications covered many categories, including education, health and well-being, arts and culture and products and services.

SIL received very strong applications from both Baltimore-area community members and Hopkins-affiliated applicants, according to Director Alex Riehm.

“These teams demonstrate the wide variety of voices and experiences that make Baltimore such a vibrant, entrepreneurial, and impact-focused city,” he said.

Janet Glover-Kerkvliet, who leads the Baltimore Job Hunters Support Group, said she was looking forward to joining the SIL community.

“Through interactions with my cohort fellows and expanded connections to the JHU community, I look forward to growing and developing my work with older long term unemployed workers and sharing my knowledge and experience,” she said. “In the socioeconomic framework of our country, long-term unemployment is oft-forgotten issue that connects to many other social issues.”

SIL has previously supported 72 ventures, including Portable Alternative Crib InitiativeUrban Pastoral, Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap, and ClearMask. The ventures combined have raised over $37 million in funding, hired 459 individuals in paid roles and made positive impacts in their communities.

“The Social Innovation Lab’s structure, mentorship, individualized office hours, and emphasis on collaboration and support from fellow cohort members helped us grow a project into a company,” said ClearMask president and co-founder Allysa Dittmar. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without SIL.”

Eighty percent of the teams chosen for the 2018-2019 cohort are led by women and entrepreneurs from minority groups. Sixty percent of the teams include a Johns Hopkins University student or alum or Hopkins employee. This year’s teams are:

Ars Medica

Description: Promotes dialogue among the arts and sciences to enhance the quality of medical education.

Core Team: Javier de la Maza, Marielle Bugayong, Taj Keshav and Jianyi Nie

Ask Rose

Description: Ask Rose simplifies the way patients seek and receive mental-health care.

Core Team: Kavi Misrilall

Baltimore Farm to Clinic Project

Description: Works with local farms to provide patients who struggle with chronic medical conditions and food insecurity with fresh vegetables in an effort to reduce food insecurity and improve health.

Core Team: Kate Rediger, Bailey Miles, Jon Shaw, Laura Harding-Fukushima, Joann Williams and Brian Adams

Baltimore Job Hunters Support Group

Description: Assists older long-term unemployed workers with the social, emotional, and psychological pain that come with mid-career job loss by providing counseling, coaching, information and referral service, outreach and advocacy.

 Core Team: Janet Glover-Kerkvliet

Fight Blight BMore

Description: Economic, environmental and social justice initiative addressing the issue of blight, led by the village and informed by the data.

Core Team: Nneka Nnamdi

Happy Teacher Revolution

Description: Baltimore-born, international movement with the mission to organize and conduct support groups for teachers in the field of mental health and wellness to increase teacher happiness, retention, and professional sustainability.

Core Team: Danna Thomas (Click here for more on Danna and the Happy Teacher Revolution)

Health 3D

Description: Student-run social enterprise that creates 3D printed equipment to fill treatment gaps in health care.

Core team: Jody Mou, Kirby Leo, Chris Shallal and Simon Liu



Description: Provides postpartum doula support to black mothers navigating a NICU experience with their child.

Core Team: Ana Rodney

Roots & Raíces

Description: Social enterprise geared toward creating a platform for immigrant artists and musicians to come together to support, highlight, and celebrate the importance of immigrants in Baltimore City.

Core Team: Valería Fuentes, Luz Orozco, Abbey Parrish, Torianne Schiff, Eunbi Kim, Eean Logan, Ariel Foster and Adrianna Fuentes

 The Be. Org

Description: Youth-built social-emotional learning technological platform, using a virtual reality device and other approaches, which provides an experiential learning platform for youth.

Core team: Tonee Lawson

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