Cessilye R. Smith is the founder and CEO of Abide Women’s Health Services, which exists to improve birth outcomes in communities with the lowest quality of care by offering healthcare and complimentary services that are easily accessible, holistic, evidence-based, and free from judgment.
As CEO of a start-up nonprofit, Cessilye has had to wear many hats such as, managing development including major gifts and a 2.5 million capital campaign, operations and expansion of an easy access clinic, and program implementation and evaluation. Cessilye has twenty years of leadership experience and almost a decade of experience as a maternal and racial justice activist all while going through many challenges conceiving and walking through difficult pregnancies. Not only is she committed to advocating for justice and dismantling systems of oppression, but she is also building a new liberating reality where Rest, Resist, and Restore are the actions that guide her.
Cessilye’s passion for Black women and for her community is what compelled her to found Abide Women’s Health Services in 2017 in the heart of South Dallas. This organization went on to become a federally recognized 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization in 2018. Through her leadership, Abide is on the map as a breakthrough maternal justice organization, a recognized Perinatal Safe Spot, Accredited Easy Access Clinic through Commonsense Childbirth Inc., and future birth center. She is an advocate for honoring the legacy and wisdom of Black midwives, creating more community access to the profession, and in 2022 awarded 5 scholarships through Abide Women to student midwives of color.
Cessilye was a recipient of the 2021 Rising Leader Fellowship, a program of Sojourners funded by the Open Society Foundations, an honorable mention for the Juanita Craft Humanitarian Visionary Award 2020. Cessilye has been featured speaking on ABC News Nightline, with the Center for Public Justice, and on the following podcasts: Black History for White People, Truth’s Table, Upside Down, Birth Stories in Color, Non-Threatening Black Girl, Help Her Be Brave, Diamonds for Our Children and featured in the Dallas Morning News, Black Enterprise, KevinMD, and many more digital outlets. Through her leadership, Abide was recognized by D CEO Magazine with the 2020 Non-Profit of the Year Award (micro). In 2022 Cessilye was a Public Voices Fellow of The OpEd Project and sat on the grant-making panel for Resist. Cessilye recently joined Commonsense Childbirth as an Easy Access Clinic™ Training and Accreditation Consultant.
Founder, CEO, and liberator are just a few of her roles. But the most challenging and rewarding role is as mother to her four children and wife to her husband Ramon.