Meet our Founders

Favorite Quotes: 

The very essence of playfulness is an openness to anything that may happen, the feeling that whatever happens, it’s okay… you’re either free to play, or you’re not.”

– John Cleese

Meet Founder & Director Rachel Lee!

Rachel Lee Davis is both director and co-founder of the Umi Wellness Center. She brings a bounty of experience from nonprofit leadership, higher educational administration, and entrepreneurship. She is also hEDS patient, caregiver, and advocate.

Rachel will continue to see clients as a patient advocate for the most complicated disorders while training a team of advocates to dedicatedly serve the Umi community. She is also becomming a certified movement intelligence instructor with      Bones for Life(R), and will soon be a PhD student in Developmental Psychology. Rachel’s pet program is the Umi Moves offerings at the center, she hopes you’ll join her!, and dance classes in a variety of foci through the center and sharing constantly about the incredible gifts and passions of her fellow providers.

Her Story:

Rachel holds a master’s degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (GCTS) and two undergraduate degrees including Elementary Education, and a master certificate in One-Room School Education. She did her masters research overseas as a guest-researcher of the American University in Cairo with mentors from Emory University as well as AUC and GCTS for her groundbreaking work in somatic communication theory and embodied cognition. Prior to this she studied dance, choreography and dance education at a community college while completing her elementary education practicums through classroom teaching, international youth groups, and running a dance education program at the local YMCA.

In 2019, Rachel’s research was abruptly cut short by A severe flare in symptoms that had been slowly progressing for some time. Doctors advised her to return to the U.S. urgently, where she spent a year discovering and fighting for an hEDS diagnosis. Her many rare co-conditions that make her a part of the Zebra community provided ample opportunity to learn about the blessings of good medical care, and also its trials. She began applying her work in non-verbal communication to better understand how to vet her physicians and navigate the system responsible, not only for her own well-being, but also for both children who are also on the hypermobility spectrum.

Rachel’s tenacity for this work and for making medical jargon, treatments, diagnostic requirements and policies understandable and accessible to other patients in this community led to founding Rachel Lee Patient Advocacy Consulting, LLC in 2021. At RLPAC Rachel serves clients as a patient advocacy consultant and volunteers for community EDS advocacy on a daily basis among the teachers, doctors and parents she encounters and through social media groups online. But ultimately this is not enough.

Rachel believes passionately that patients need and deserve to fully understand their medical condition and co-conditions, and the options available to them, not just the preferences of a any one physician. she believes that the truly excellent doctors, nurses, therapists and other clinicians also need the support of advocates in order to make a dent in the unreasonably challenging world that is multisystemic disorders. She, and close friends from both sides of this world, have come together to found a different kind of community to fill this gap. A community that can truly embody what it means to heal together.

Rachel loves to kayak, ice skate, teach her children, and play with their adorable poodle Ellie. She is a proud Autistic woman, abuse survivor, and loving wife and mother. She hopes to foster and intensely protect the habitat of Umi Wellness Center as a safe and inspiring community for other survivors and neurodivergent individuals, as well as those who need a place to abide, rest and recovery from medical trauma and complex conditions. She is also the first person who will remind you to have fun.

Favorite Quotes: 

Rebellion is when you look society in the face and say, I understand who you want me to be. but I am going to show you who I am.” 

– Anthony Anaxagorou

Catherine RuffinCat has taken a medical leave to care for urgent personal issues and those of her children. We are grateful for her contributions and continued advocacy for our center within the EDS and MCAS community.  

Catherine is raising a new generation with her partner while working on her first novel and holds a degree in Psychology from Appalachian State University. She has also obtained training and certifications in various fields such as nursing, computer software, and family-centered community support.

With Umi she hopes to focus on patient advocacy and care coordination as it relates to people with chronic and complex illnesses in the absence of acute status. Cat’s years of trying to connect the dots has illuminated her own needs just as brightly as those of all the individuals in her community experiencing a lack within current systems.

Facilitating connection and innovation spurs her in this new direction with U/mi Wellness Center and she cannot wait to share that with you!