When Jade Kearney (MA ’20) enrolled in NYU Steinhardt’s Learning Technology and Experience Design program (formerly Digital Media Design for Learning), she didn’t realize the extent to which her life was about to change.
“I was working in education, first as a teacher and then as an academic director in an elementary and middle school. I had a master’s degree in diversity and inclusion management. I had just enrolled in NYU Steinhardt when I became pregnant with my daughter in 2017, and quickly things changed in terms of what I wanted out of my degree,” Kearney shared.
Kearney’s postpartum experience was a difficult one, as she battled anxiety and depression while also struggling to navigate a complex and often unsupportive healthcare system. As a result, she was determined to find a way to make Black maternal health a priority for other women facing similar challenges. Her solution was She Matters.
“I was already doing She Matters from an event perspective – organizing brunches and events to raise awareness about Black maternal health. Then I took a class where we had to create a social media app, and I had the idea to run with the concept as part of my thesis. The class forced me to elevate my thinking about what She Matters could be, and I was thankful that I was in a space to apply technology to my entrepreneurial venture,” Kearney said.
She Matters soon expanded from an events-based program to a digital health platform, designed to support Black mothers who experience postpartum comorbidities by providing access to community, culturally competent healthcare providers, and culturally relevant resources. She Matters also trains healthcare providers on culturally appropriate healthcare via their culturally competent certification.
Design and diversity are my biggest inspirations, and they tie together around moving the culture forward in tech and in health — and you can’t have one without the other right now. You need tech and health to go hand in hand.
For Kearney, the structure of her master’s program was a perfect complement to her professional goals: “It happened very naturally. I had no idea that I would do the app, or that it would turn into my thesis, or that it would resonate with so many people. But the classes I took allowed me to understand the features and affordances that the platform needed to have in order to be engaging for users.”
Kearney cites design and diversity as the major pillars that drive her work.
“Design and diversity are my biggest inspirations, and they tie together around moving the culture forward in tech and in health — and you can’t have one without the other right now. You need tech and health to go hand in hand.”
In addition to her work around tech and health, Kearney strives to support other professionals of color in the worlds of tech and entrepreneurship. She is the author of Lean: A Guide to Black Entrepreneurship, as well as the creator of Black Girls Tech Day, which was born as a way to engage with other female entrepreneurs of color, specifically Black women, and to explain what the terrain of tech entrepreneurship is like. Kearney regularly partners with NYU’s Leslie eLab and the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute, where she was a Female Founders Fellow.
Three years after Kearney’s graduation, She Matters continues to lead the conversation around Black maternal health. In February, they hosted a Black Maternal Health Fair at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, a day-long seminar that served as a forum for discussion around the state of the future of the field. They’ve also found partners on the national stage.
“We are now partnering with the Biden administration to help further their efforts around Black maternal health. In November 2022 they allocated 3 trillion dollars for this cause, and they are using us as a community liaison and as an educator at the federal level, which is really exciting.”
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This research-practice partnership will collaborate with Richmond Public Schools in VA.