Investor Interviews: Nneka Hall
Partnership. Creativity. This quarter for our Spring 2022 Investor Update, we sat down with a group of five esteemed Ujima Fund Investors.
Nneka Hall is a proud mother of four based in Boston. As a maternal and fetal health advocate and full-spectrum doula, she is committed to the health and wellbeing of birthing individuals and their newborns. In 2014, she founded Quietly United in Loss Together (QUILT) and was later appointed to the Ellen Story Postpartum Depression Commission, a state effort to investigate policy initiatives for perinatal mental health and promote mental health during pregnancy and the postpartum period. In 2020, Nneka was Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley’s guest at the State of the Union and went on to found Mother IS Supreme Inc. postpartum care centers.
Nneka, tell us about yourself.
Well, I am the mom of four children, three of which I took home with me. I am a maternal health advocate in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, so I sit on the Racial Inequities in Maternal Health Commission the Ellen Story Postpartum Depression Commission, and the board of Postpartum Support International, Massachusetts. I’m also a full-spectrum doula, community-centered herbalist, and childbirth educator.
Last year, I launched a new organization called Mother IS Supreme Inc, which I hope will focus on providing in-person and virtual support through postpartum care centers. People can have their babies in whatever setting they choose, then come and stay with us for two to four weeks. With this approach, we can hopefully help to lessen the postpartum mental and physical health issues that can follow birthing people after they have their babies. If we can stop people from feeling like they need to be superheroes, and actually allow them to recover from pregnancy, then we will see a change in the life trajectory of birthing folk.
What do you love most about being a UCB member?
I love the support, the diversity, and the ability to share my opinion on what I would like to see happen in the organization — and actually see it come to fruition.
I love being able to bring things that I’m working on in the maternal health or reproductive health field to UCB and potentially change someone else’s life. I love having access to a space that I can use for whatever reason, so I love the community factor. I’ve presented at UCB on preconception health, pregnancy, infant loss, and maternal mortality.
Through a project with the Boston Community Action Network and the Boston Public Health Commission, I was even able to bring in 75 people for focus groups in the UCB space. I’ve also hosted coat drives, food drives, sneaker and school supply giveaways through UCB. Being able to give back to the UCB community, and Boston as a whole, is so crucial.
I started off doing presentations on different topics at UCB. One day, someone asked me if I was a member. I said, no, but asked how I could become one. I signed up right away! I’ve been a member for about five years now, and it’s been very rewarding.
“Choosing to invest allows me to build on my children’s future. If my children see that I’m investing, they’ll do it.”
Why did you decide to use your UCB rewards to invest in the Ujima Fund?
When the opportunity to invest with Ujima came up, I was sold. Investment for me, means futurity. Choosing to invest instead of receiving my rewards in cash allows me to build on my children’s future. If my children see that I’m investing, they’ll do it.
My son has already started his own investment fund. So I think it really does create a safety net for later on. My grandmother, when she was alive, invested in what was once Gillette and is now Procter & Gamble. Because she was an employee there, she had that option. She cashed her investment out and was able to buy things that she needed whether it was a roof on the house or other things. Later on, she was able to really honor her retirement in a beautiful way, by buying something that she had always wanted: a full-length mink coat. So, this investment is really a reward for future prosperity
What is your personal vision for a more connected and engaged Boston?
First, we need to get back to centering community. I grew up knowing my neighbors in Hyde Park. It seems like it takes years for the new folks coming in to warm up to us. I used to know my neighbors even three streets away.
My very first job was as a community engagement person in Dorchester through a program called Boston Freedom Summer. Our final project for that summer was to hold a block party so that people would come out and get to know their neighbors. People came from all over Boston, and they didn’t know each other — that was a problem. So being able to knock on someone’s door and just say hi makes a huge difference here in the Northeast.
My family is originally from North Carolina, where everyone knows everybody else, and they know who’s not from there. I hope to have the same thing here. There are more people migrating to the Northeast now, and there may be a language barrier, but a friendly wave is universal.
How do you define wealth building?
If you look at families like the Kennedys or the Obamas, they have generational wealth. They are building a legacy for their children that will touch future generations of their families. That’s major, and it’s what I’m trying to do for my children through the organizations I’ve founded. ■