Cessilye R. Smith
Founder & CEO
Cessilye 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 of an easy access clinic, and program implementation and evaluation. Cessilye began her twenty years of leadership experience and almost decade of experience as a maternal and racial justice activist after going through the challenges of her own birth story. Now she is not only committed to advocating for justice and dismantling systems of oppression, 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 2018 in the heart of South Dallas. 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 is 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: the Black History for White People, Truth’s Table, Upside Down, Birth Stories in Color, Non Threatening Black Girl, Help Her Be Brave, and Diamonds for Our Children and featured in the Dallas Morning News, Dallas Metro 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). Currently Cessilye is a Public Voices Fellow of The OpEd Project and sits on the grant-making panel for Resist.
Founder, CEO, anti-racist, maternal justice activist, speaker, and educator 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.