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Leseliey Welch, MPH, MBA

Leseliey Welch is a public health strategist, social entrepreneur, and professional dreamer whose guiding value is Love. As a founder of Birth Detroit and Birth Center Equity, her work is grounded in making communities stronger, healthier, and more free – starting with ensuring all people have access to all safe birth options. Birth Detroit will open its first freestanding community birth center in spring 2024, and Birth Center Equity is a national effort to invest in Black, Indigenous, people of color-led birth centers at scale to make birth centers a real option in all communities. She has two decades of leadership experience in city, state, and national health organizations, including having served as Deputy Director of Public Health for the City of Detroit. Leseliey earned her degree in Women’s Studies, Masters in Public Health and Masters in Business Administration from the University of Michigan, and is an Aspen Institute Ascend Fellow.


Birth Detroit

Co-founder & Board President

More Than a Birth Center: The Birth Detroit Care Campus 


“Imagine birthing in a community birth center designed in response to the hopes, dreams, and needs of the community it calls home. Imagine safe, quality, loving care for yourself and for your growing family. Imagine Birth Detroit.”

Birth Detroit is a Black-led nonprofit organization with a mission to midwife safe, quality, loving care through pregnancy birth and beyond. Birth Detroit is a justice response to poor birth outcomes and inequitable care options in our communities. Our vision is a world where birth is safe, sacred, loving and celebrated for everyone. 

Birth Detroit has been working since 2018 to make midwives and birth centers a real option for Black birthing people in our communities – and it is finally happening. We are opening the city’s first freestanding community birth center and the first of its kind Black-led birth center in Michigan. Phase one of our brand new state-of-the-art birth center will soon be complete and our midwives will be caring for families and catching babies at Birth Detroit Birth Center by fall 2024. 

By 2030, our multi-acre site will be home to the Birth Detroit Care Campus, growing from building one housing phase I of the birth center to additional buildings doubling the birth center in size, providing space for values-aligned care providers and partners, and developing a midwifery education and training center.


Birth Detroit

Birth Center Equity

Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer

Birth Center Equity (BCE) is on a mission to make birth centers a real option in every community by investing in community care infrastructure. BCE invests in community birth centers to grow and sustain community birth infrastructure for generations. Community birth centers provide safe, culturally-reverent midwifery care for all. In a community birth center, care is provided by midwives representative of the community it calls home. To date, BCE has invested more than $2M in our network of 40 established and developing community birth centers. Through the Birth Center Equity network, community birth centers are growing deep relationships and shared vision, strategy, and opportunity. 


Through this collective power, community birth centers:

  • Create beloved economies by infusing new resources and energy into communities that have been systematically denied adequate and equitable resources;

  • Generate solutions to disparities and inequities in birth that create unsafe conditions for all birthing people; and

  • Lead in creating a midwifery-led, people-centered health care system that works for everyone.



Birth Center Equity




Aspen Ignites: Conversations to Build a Better World is an original series from the Aspen Institute, bringing together influential voices and diverse perspectives with Institute directors and partners. This season of Aspen Ignites was recorded at the 2023 Bloomberg CityLab.

To expand on their inspiring vision and the barriers they overcame like many other leaders of color on the same path, Welch sits down with the Managing Director of Ascend at the Aspen Institute Marjorie Sims for the inaugural episode of Aspen Ignites Season 2.

VisionXChange centers the Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows in provocative and inspirational conversations about transforming our nation’s hearts, minds, policies, and practices to ensure all children and families thrive. At the opening session Leseliey Welch shares about birth and beloved economy. 


Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want Lecture & Community Conversation with Author, Dr. Ruha Benjamin. Facilitated by Mrs. Leseliey Welch.

Dr. Ruha Benjamin discusses her newest book, Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want. In this talk, Dr.


Benjamin draws on the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic and introduces a micro-vision of change—a way of looking at the everyday ways people are working to combat unjust systems and build alternatives to the oppressive status quo. Welch shares about the everyday ways Birth Detroit and Birth Center Equity are caring for families and creating community-led care systems. 

Sponsored by: University of Michigan School of Public Health, School of Information, and the Ross School of Business.


The University of Michigan, Ford School Towsley Policymaker in Residence Dr. Abdul El-Sayed discusses reproductive and birth justice with the Co-founder of Birth Detroit and Birth Center Equity, and former Deputy Director of the Detroit Health Department, Leseliey Welch. October 2022.



"We dream of a world where birth is safe, sacred, loving and celebrated for everyone."

“We have all of the evidence and data to say

the midwifery model of care works.” 


The University of Michigan, Detroit Online, APRIL 25, 2022

Birth Detroit co-founder says opening during the pandemic accelerated her “heart’s work”

Bridge Detroit, March 17, 2022

Birth Detroit helps Black moms take control of their birthing experience


Every Child Thrives, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, December 13, 2021 

With women: Supporting community-based midwives

IFF, November 16, 2021

Birth Detroit Reimagines Maternal and Infant Care with Plan for Community-Based, Black-led Birth Centers

TODAY.comDecember 10, 2020

What would you pay to feel safe during childbirth?

Good Birth For AllMay 31, 2020

Interview with Leseliey Welch & Nashira Baril

CISION PR Newswire, Nov 25, 2020

Birth Detroit Slated to Open City's First Freestanding Community Birth Center in 2021

Rewire News, April 15, 2020

Birth Centers are Crucial for Communities of Color, Especially in a Pandemic

Obstetrics Initiative, April 16, 2020

Improving Black Maternal Health in Michigan: Birth Detroit


FOX 2 Detroit, August 30, 2019

4 Detroit women-owned businesses awarded grants

America Dissected w/ Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, October 28, 2019

Episode 8, Cradle and All, Podcast Interview

Detroit Today,  August 13, 2019

We Need to Rethink How Women of Color Receive Healthcare

NPR Stateside, 2019, May 2, 2019

How Michigan’s urban, rural communities are trying to reduce infant mortality disparities

The University Record, 2019, April 29, 2019

Lecturer aims to combat healthcare disparities in local communities

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