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About us

In many cultures around the world, the lotus is a symbol of rebirth and overcoming one's surroundings. The flower's most significant characteristic is its ability to overcome its less than ideal environment - murky, muddy waters - to become something beautiful. The concept of renewal and success despite barriers and obstacles is central to the mission of the Lotus Family Development Center.


Lotus Family Development Center is a Black Millennial-founded and Black Millennial-led 501c3 nonprofit that is focused on supporting and empowering Black families in Birmingham's under-resourced communities, with an emphasis on the North Birmingham community and neighborhoods throughout east Birmingham. Our work is guided by the vision of our co-founders, supported by our board of directors, and carried out with the help of community leaders who serve as Community Cultivators and serve on the Lotus Community Advisory Committee.


Lotus FDC aims to support Black families living in the Greater Birmingham area in improving their quality of life by offering culturally relevant, evidence-based programming that promotes good nutrition, physical activity, and family and community cohesion. The Lotus FDC concept blossomed from a desire to establish a nurturing, community-integrated source of support for the Black families and residents of Birmingham's under-resourced neighborhoods - support focusing on three distinct but interconnected factors that greatly impact the overall welfare of these communities - Access to Healthy Food & Good Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Social Support.

our founders:
Deanna Fowler, MPH

Director, Health & Wellness

Deanna has a deep passion for empowering members of underserved communities to improve their quality of life through good health and healthy relationships. Her background in the biological sciences and community-centered public health practice has equipped her with the skills needed to further the impact of her dedication to these communities through the development of effective community health programs designed specifically for underserved, at-risk individuals and families.

The entirety of her professional career has been spent within the nonprofit sector, at both locally-focused and national nonprofit organizations. She has nearly a decade of experience in nonprofit program management and community health education, having worked primarily with underserved, urban communities.

Background: MPH in Public Health with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health and B.S. in Biology, both from the University of Alabama-Birmingham in Birmingham, AL.

LaShunda Matthews, MS

Director, Family Support Services

LaShunda is passionate about helping others realize their full potential, despite any barriers and challenges they may face in life. She believes knowledge of self, educational success, and holistic self-care are important factors to achieve one's potential. Her background in psychology has afforded her the skills, compassion, and competencies needed to assist others in effectively navigating life's challenges.

Her professional career has centered on providing direct services, case management, and guidance to clients. She has spent a decade serving youth in both direct service and supervisory mental health and case management roles. In addition, she also has experience assisting with the needs of those who suffer from mental illness and intellectual disability.

Background: M.S. in Clinical Psychology and B.S. in Psychology, both from Auburn University-Montgomery in Montgomery, AL.

2020-22 board of directors:
Kingsley Chuku

Chair, Community Growth

Kingsley entered into real estate to share his experience as a realtor and help people accomplish their goals of homeownership. He understands the importance of educating communities regarding owning real estate, and how it can be a sound investment or tool to build generational wealth. His background in both sales and human resources developed his skills in rapport building, strategic prospecting, and communication so that his clients are confident when making a life decision such as owning a home.


His professional career encompasses over 15 years of sales experience that has given him the opportunity to provide training for companies and also improve employee relations models by building proactive performance plans. Now as the small business owner of Kingsley Realty, he is able to focus on helping families find places to live and grow.

Background: Alabama Realtor License #116282
B.S. in Health Science with a concentration in Human Resources from the University of
Alabama-Birmingham in Birmingham, AL.

Mia Watkins, MS

Secretary | Chair, Community Connections

Mia's love for Birmingham goes back to early childhood when she moved to the city with her mother. She cares about sharing the stories of underserved communities and making sure they, her neighbors, have access to programs that improve their quality of life.


Mia is a storyteller by trade, spending nearly a decade working full time for area news outlets and nonprofits. At her core, she loves to get to know people and share their point of view, especially through reporting the lesser-known issues facing those in her community. She hopes to do the same with her time served on the Lotus board.

Background: M.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Market Communications. B.A. in Mass Communication from the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

Shawntavia Powe, FNP-BC

Chair, Community Wellness

Throughout her career in multiple areas of the healthcare field, Shawn has seen the discrimination and struggles marginalized communities are faced with daily. This experience has led her to be passionate about providing better opportunities to underserved and uninsured individuals.


Growing up in a disadvantaged community gave Shawn the ambition to purse higher education. She earned her first Bachelors degree at UAB, then began working as a Registered Respiratory Therapist at UAB hospital. After earning a Bachelors and Masters in Nursing, Shawn is now a Family Nurse Practitioner working in the emergency room at UAB and the founder of eCure, LLC, a telemedicine and house-call urgent care company.

Background: B.S., BSN, MSN, R.R.T., CRNP, FNP-BC from the University of Alabama-Birmingham in Birmingham, AL.

Timothy Woods, Jr.

Treasurer | Chair, Community Partnerships

Timothy was born and raised in underserved communities throughout Birmingham, an experience that led him to become dedicated to improving these communities through service. He has served in a number of roles, including as a drug rehab counselor with another nonprofit and coaching youth and high school football.


He completed his undergraduate study in criminal justice at Miles College and then began a career of professional public service. He served our country as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army before serving our city as a firefighter/EMT at the Birmingham Fire Rescue in the city's western neighborhoods.

Background: B.S. in Criminal Justice from Miles College in Birmingham, AL.

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