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Leseliey Welch, MPH, MBA

Leseliey Welch is a public health strategist, social entrepreneur, and professional dreamer who  holds love as a guiding value, a way of being, an action and a politic. As the co-founder of Birth Detroit and Birth Center Equity, her work is grounded in making communities stronger, healthier and more free. Leseliey leads a talented team of birth workers, birth advocates and community leaders who focus on providing more birth care choices to Black people in Detroit. Birth Detroit is planning its first freestanding community birth center, which is slated to open in 2024. She is proud of the launch of Birth Center Equity to grow and sustain birth centers led by Black, Indigenous and people of color across the country. Birth Center Equity invests in Black, Indigenous, people of color-led birth centers to make birth center birth a real option in all communities. She has nearly two decades of leadership experience in city, state and national health organizations. She served as interim executive director of Birthing Project USA, Deputy Director of Public Health for the City of Detroit, and consulted in the development of Michigan’s first comprehensive LGBTQ health center. 

Leseliey taught at the university level for over fifteen years, and contributed to the development of Wayne State University’s Bachelor’s in Public Health Program where she created undergraduate and master’s level public health courses on numerous health equity topics. She also lectured in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at the University of Michigan, where she developed practicum courses on women's leadership, nonprofit, management, community engagement and feminist practice. 

She earned her undergraduate degree in Women’s Studies, Masters in Public Health with a certificate in Women’s and Reproductive Health, and Masters in Business Administration from the University of Michigan. Leseliey is also an Aspen Institute Ascend Fellow. She resides in Ypsilanti, Michigan with her wife and two children.



Birth Detroit


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The mission of Birth Detroit is to midwife safe, quality, loving care through pregnancy, birth and beyond. Birth Detroit opened its first community midwifery clinic in fall 2020 and continues to fundraise for the birth center to open in 2023.  

Birth Center Equity


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Birth Center Equity is a catalyst, accelerating innovative strategies to grow abundant community birth infrastructure for generations to come.





"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


Past Courses


  • Leading Feminism

  • Nonprofit Management, Community Engagement & Feminist Practice 

  • Social Determinants of Population Health


  • Introduction to Public Health

  • LGBTQ Health 

  • Population Health Leadership 

  • Principals and Practice of Population Health

  • Urban Public Health Leadership

  • Social and Behavioral Aspects of Public Health 


Speaking Engagment

Speaking Engagements
& Facilitation

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. Join Leseliey Welch at the opening session. 


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. 

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.

Black Women's Health Imperative, Birth Detroit, and Birth Center Equity host a roundtable discussion to share the origin stories of our organizations and our visions for Black systems of care and Black leadership in the liberation of Black birthing people. Our esteemed panelists will add to this rich conversation from policy, midwifery, and reproductive justice perspectives. April 2022.

How can we work to establish a more equitable future? In this May 3, 2021, Prioritizing Equity panel, health leaders discuss why advancing health equity must require sharing power through effective alliances with those who have experienced marginalization and injustice across generations.

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