Get to know Leslie Lytle, Executive Director with Nurture — an emerging nonprofit whose mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of childbearing families through fitness, education, social support, and community engagement.
“Giving birth was such an empowering, transcendent experience… that I felt compelled to facilitate that kind of experience for other women.”
Tell us about yourself
It became apparent to me, after working with childbearing families for over twenty years in a variety of capacities, that the environment which surrounds the pregnancy, birth, and the early parenting period has a profound impact on the health and wellbeing of women, babies, and families ? and that access to accurate, affordable, evidence-based information and social support is critically important.
My husband likes to say that the birth of our son launched a new career. Giving birth was such an empowering, transcendent experience ? in large part because I’d already been working in the pregancy field for a couple of years beforehand and was grounded in evidence-based information ? that I felt compelled to facilitate that kind of experience for other women.
What is the focus of your work and the need you are addressing?
Childbirth is one of life’s most important transitions. Getting babies off to the best possible start dramatically improves their life trajectory. In spite of spending more than any other country on maternal and newborn health care, the US lags behind most other industrialized countries in maternal and infant health outcomes, and we have significant racial and ethnic health disparities. The focus of our work is changing the local environment so that the health of the next generation is protected.
We built our mission on four pillars: Move, Learn, Connect, and Inspire. Move is our fitness pillar ? we know that mothers who exercise during pregancy have a reduced risk of gestational diabetes, better birth outcomes, faster recovery from childbirth, and a lower incidence of postpartum mood disorders. Learn stands for programs in evidence based childbirth preparation, informed decision-making, breastfeeding, etc. Connect refers to social support and linking individuals to community resources. Finally, Inspire is our community engagement pillar. We want to inspire both the professional and lay community to support practices that enhance the health and wellbeing of mothers and babies.
What do you find most rewarding about your work and tell us about your biggest accomplishment in this position.
There are so many rewards! Watching mothers and fathers fall in love with their babies. Witnessing the vulnerability, strength, empowerment, and growth that occur when women and families are well supported in their pregnancy and early parenting journey. Feeling like I’ve made a positive difference in people’s lives.
The biggest accomplishment was and is probably just getting this nonprofit up and running! We just received our 501(c)3 last September, and launched our first programs in October. We are still building the organization infrastructure to achieve our goal of establishing a dedicated maternity resource center.
How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?
I love seeing what other nonprofits are doing and participating in the educational programs that ConnectVA offers. It is so fantastic to have a resource like this in the community ? a hub so to speak for those of us in this field.
What’s coming next for your organization that really excites you?
We are currently working on our strategic plan for the next couple of years, and finalizing the details of our upcoming professional development program, which will take place on October 17 and is focused on trauma in childbirth and its impact on patients and professionals.