Who We Are

Mom Starts Here is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization serving Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady Counties in New York. We assist women in unplanned pregnancies, young mothers, and parents in need.

Maureen Nicholson

 Maureen is a Member Service Leader for SEFCU.  She lives in the city of Albany with her son Quentin, and daughter, Rhiannon.  Maureen has always felt the power of community.  When we gather to share ideas and support each other we are stronger.  The proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” has always resonated deeply with her.  As a single mother, she would not be where she is today without the support of family, friends, and even strangers who may never realize the impact their kindness and generosity played in her life and the lives of her children.  Maureen was inspired by Kyla’s vision to build a community that empowered parents and built stronger families and is humbled to serve on the Mom Starts Here Board. 

 

Kyla Schmidt

Kyla is the Founder and Executive Director of Mom Starts Here. She founded the nonprofit organization after her lived experience as a young, under-resourced mom in an unplanned pregnancy. At 19, Kyla found herself navigating community resources in an effort to support herself and her newborn son. Four years later Kyla founded Mom Starts Here with the hope to support other mothers and parents in their time of need. In the years since its foundation, Mom Starts Here has grown to expand its programs and services to provide more wrap-around support for parents. Kyla's vision is for Mom Starts Here to have an intergenerational impact on the lives of families because she believes that parents and children thrive when they are invested in. She is passionate about empowering parents.  Kyla works with incredible families that teach and inspire her daily. Kyla lives in the Capital District with her husband Brandon, son London, daughter Sydney, their Great Dane, Saint Bernard, and their cat. She is proud to lead Mom Starts Here and looks forward to continuing to broaden the organization's reach and deepen its impact. 

 

Tahnya Brown

Tahnya has been a Mom Starts Here board member since 2017. She started with MSH because she truly believes in the mission and vision of MSH and wished that she had access to an organization like this when she was a single mother struggling to make ends meet. Tahnya was able to navigate her life's journey successfully and has a strong desire to help others that are facing some of the same challenges she faced in hopes of helping them to live the lives they envision for themselves. As the founder and CEO of Phoenix & Maven Consulting, Tahnya has a passion for empowering people to overcome obstacles to a rewarding, successful life & career. Tahnya has over 25 years of experience supporting and advising on business performance, business analysis, strategic planning, employee success, corporate engagement, and stakeholder collaboration. She holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration & Organizational Psychology, and she is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coaching Federation (ICF). She became a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner (ELI-MP) through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC).  Tahnya has helped countless individuals improve their lives and advance their careers through her perfected methods of one-on-one coaching, small group, and team coaching. Her desire is to tell her story and lift others along the way. 

 

Kate Otis

Kate Otis is a philanthropic strategist, bringing people, ideas, and resources together to improve the region.  She is the community development officer for the Arrow family of companies which includes Saratoga National Bank, Glens Falls National Bank, and Upstate Agency Insurance.  In this role, Kate is responsible for the strategy and coordination of community involvement and investment in the region.  Kate lives in Albany with her husband and two children along with three dogs and one cat.  Recently having two more children within two years, one during a pandemic, Kate is passionate about supporting and empowering families to be healthy and happy and to reach their financial goals.

 

Linden Horvath

Linden joined the Mom Starts Here team while Kyla, the Executive Director, was her downstairs neighbor…  And she can’t think of any better summary than that for what brings her to the Board: Community. A native of Appalachian Ohio, Linden grew up seeing the lasting scars resource extraction inflicts, but also the amazing ways that capital-thefted communities come together in joy, celebration, and support of one another.  She has taken this lesson with her to many different homes—Istanbul, Berlin, Boston, Minneapolis, Troy—and learned new truths from all of them. Linden currently works as the Director of Development at Parks & Trails New York, and in her free time organizes with communities around housing justice.  She holds a Masters in Sustainable International Development from The Heller School at Brandeis University.  While not a parent herself, Linden is lucky to be called “Aunt” by many a little one.  She is proud to be included in the Mom Starts Here team, and is committed to supporting families in the Capital Region.

 

Joni Richter

Joni has loved working with families to provide support and resources, encouraging them to live their best lives for over 30 years. Her current role is Manager of Cancer Control and Strategic Partnerships with the American Cancer Society. She believes in trying and learning new things every day. Joni challenges herself to seek out new things, as it causes her to broaden her perspective and to think differently. Joni has loved being a Mom Starts Here Board member. She has had the opportunity to help support women and families to dream big- whatever that looks like for them.  She is passionate about Mom Starts Here's work to help nurture families by sharing information, resources, and supporting moms, along with advocating with internal and external partners. We are building a community of collaboration with a shared vision of a world of strong empowered moms and families. To some people our mission may just be words on a piece of paper– to Joni, it defines what she does and how she does it. Joni is grateful to be a part of this organization, and her favorite quote is "Dream it - Believe it - Achieve it - Dream again.”

 

Christin Guilder, LICSW

Christin is a psychotherapist with a private practice in Brattleboro, VT. She specializes in trauma psychotherapy for individuals who present with post-traumatic stress and complex PTSD. Christin is passionate about the process of building rapport and creating a safe space for her clients to heal from these traumatic experiences and regain control in their own lives. Christin’s passion for working with Mom Starts Here stems from her work with trauma survivors who are navigating parenting while simultaneously addressing and healing from their own past trauma. She is dedicated to guiding and supporting clients through their trauma healing and into the best version of themselves that they envision for their life and their children.  In addition to individual psychotherapy, Christin has experience in crisis intervention, case management, patient advocacy, support groups, supervision and consultation, speaking engagements, and teaching at the collegiate level. In her free time, Christin enjoys live music, running, crafting, hiking, gardening, traveling, and visiting friends and family. Christin lives in Vermont with her partner, dogs (Winston and Remy), cat (Mannie), and chickens.

Marissa’s Story

Some people said my life ended when I had a baby but really my life had just begun. "You didn't take away from my future, you gave me a new one". marrisaI had just graduated high school a few short months ago and had already started my path to becoming an RN. I was 17 years old on that May morning where I woke up feeling "different" in my heart and in my gut. What happened next was something that we could've never expected. A test reading "pregnant". Could that be right? At 17 and 18 years old we were faced with the biggest decision of our lives but in our hearts we knew instantly what to do. There is no "perfect time" to have a baby. Support varied- we had people who were as passionate and committed to this baby as we were and others who wanted nothing to do with us or our decision but at the end of the day that was exactly what it was. Our decision.
2016-04-01T17:41:02+00:00
Some people said my life ended when I had a baby but really my life had just begun. "You didn't take away from my future, you gave me a new one". I had just graduated high school a few short months ago and had already started my path to becoming an RN. I was 17 years old on that May morning where I woke up feeling "different" in my heart and in my gut. What happened next was something that we could've never expected. A test reading "pregnant". Could that be right? At 17 and 18 years old we were faced with the biggest decision of our lives but in our hearts we knew instantly what to do. There is no "perfect time" to have a baby. Support varied- we had people who were as passionate and committed to this baby as we were and others who wanted nothing to do with us or our decision but at the end of the day that was exactly what it was. Our decision.

MARISSA’S STORY continued

Even on our worst day and our longest night I don't wish for a second we had chosen differently. marrisaSomething happens to you when you become a mother. A bond and sense of selflessness are created and nothing else truly matters. We have since bought a house, found careers, welcomed another baby, and are getting married in a few short months. Getting pregnant at any age is a journey, and yours is just beginning. Mom Starts Here is an organization for young mothers who need empowerment and support in their choices, but the choice is always yours.

-Marissa
2016-04-01T17:44:48+00:00
Even on our worst day and our longest night I don't wish for a second we had chosen differently. Something happens to you when you become a mother. A bond and sense of selflessness are created and nothing else truly matters. We have since bought a house, found careers, welcomed another baby, and are getting married in a few short months. Getting pregnant at any age is a journey, and yours is just beginning. Mom Starts Here is an organization for young mothers who need empowerment and support in their choices, but the choice is always yours. -Marissa

NIKKI’s Story

I will never forget the day I found out I was pregnant. I was living in a one bedroom apartment living paycheck to paycheck. How could I support another human being? How could I be responsible for providing the best life possible for my baby? Needless to say I was absolutely terrified. Looking back on that day while holding my happy amazing 3 month old reminds me that I wouldn't have traded that for anything!

nikkiMom Starts Here provides hope to those who think their life is over because of an unplanned pregnancy. Unplanned pregnancy was the best thing to ever happen to me. I've accomplished more goals now then I ever did before. I'm not just doing things for me anymore, but for my son as well and that is the most amazing feeling.

-Nikki
2016-05-03T04:36:40+00:00
I will never forget the day I found out I was pregnant. I was living in a one bedroom apartment living paycheck to paycheck. How could I support another human being? How could I be responsible for providing the best life possible for my baby? Needless to say I was absolutely terrified. Looking back on that day while holding my happy amazing 3 month old reminds me that I wouldn't have traded that for anything! Mom Starts Here provides hope to those who think their life is over because of an unplanned pregnancy. Unplanned pregnancy was the best thing to ever happen to me. I've accomplished more goals now then I ever did before. I'm not just doing things for me anymore, but for my son as well and that is the most amazing feeling. -Nikki