Meet the Delegates
The Planning Team nominated delegates from 12 stakeholder perspectives: consumers, community health, service providers, consumer advocates, innovative models of care, national health systems, human rights/law, professional/regulatory associations, payment reform, health professional educators, health systems administration, and quality and safety improvement, as well as key partners to effect implementation: including funders, legislators, and researchers.
Confirmed delegates include leaders from the major maternity care organizations; community health leaders; innovative practice models from around the country; researchers, legislators, public health, hospital administration as well as consumers and educators – in short decision makers and service users across the “whole system.”
Dr. Abigail Aiyepola has Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine, a Certificate of Midwifery and is a doctoral candidate in Applied Medical Anthropology at Oregon State University. She is a rising star with extensive experience in clinical practice, higher education, national board service, leadership and advocacy. She is the President of The National Association to Advance Black Birth (NAABB), formerly ICTC, and the proud owner of Omolayo,™ a virtual platform dedicated to educating and empowering women about their bodies and health.
Eloho was born in Nigeria and grew up in Roxbury, MA. After graduating from MIT in 2014 with a B.S. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Eloho served as a Community HealthCorps member (AmeriCorps) at the Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center in Boston, an experience that sparked her interest in family planning for adolescents. She then went on to pursue her M.S. in Medical Sciences at Boston University School of Medicine & Boston Medical Center, where she gained experience using participatory-action research to improve prenatal care delivery for low-SES pregnant women and pregnant women with substance use disorder. Eloho is currently a rising 3rd year medical student at Brown University and plans on pursuing a career in obstetrics and family planning. Her passions include advocating for health equity, racial justice, and an appreciation of inter-sectionality through education, research, policy change, and practice.
Ihotu Jennifer Ali, MPH, LMT (she/her) is an Arvigo Maya Abdominal, Craniosacral, Prenatal and Infant Massage Therapist specializing in bodywork, exercise, nutrition, herbal steams and oils as integrative health care for the body’s “fifth vital sign”- a healthy menstrual cycle and reproductive system. She founded Red Tree Therapies & Consulting, LLC, which offers affordable holistic care, classes and retreats for issues ranging from pelvic/menstrual pain or a tilted uterus, to labor preparation as a Spinning Babies ® Aware Practitioner, to scar tissue release and newborn jaw tension and breastfeeding support. Red Tree treatments address both the physical and emotional body and integrate principles of Traditional Chinese, Maya and African Indigenous Medicine to calm the nervous system and support blood flow and immune function through birth and hormonal transitions, parenting or caregiving stress, and after violence, loss or trauma.
Over the last decade in women’s and femme health, Ihotu has worked alongside families as a doula and lactation counselor, health coach and yoga teacher, evidence-based advocate, rape crisis counselor and friend. Originally trained in public health at Columbia University, Ihotu worked in the U.S. Congress during health care reform debates and with the United Nations (UNFPA) in assessing maternal and child health indicators under the Millennium Development Goals. She transitioned into social entrepreneurship with a full spectrum reproductive health practice designed around economic, racial, and gender diversity and equity. As a woman of color and trauma survivor herself, Ihotu strives to create culturally welcoming, consent-based and gender fluid spaces for her patients and students, and consults with practitioners and small businesses on integrating these principles and sliding scale rates into their organizations. She is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and travels frequently to New York City. Visit www.ihotuali.com for more information.
Katie Shea Barrett is the founding Executive Director of March for Moms. Katie has worked to make the American health care system more equitable, safe and affordable across government and private sector roles for the past 15 years. She became even more passionate about improving the care systems for moms after experiencing complications with both of her own births, including hemorrhage, as well as experiencing the social isolation and family stress of needing to return to work without a paid parental leave when her son was only 12 weeks old.
Prior to taking on her role at March for Moms, Katie was the Policy Director for Care Delivery Transformation and Strategy at the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, an independent state agency where she was responsible for the agency’s work in supporting delivery system transformation through health care standard setting, payment reform and policy development. She has also held leadership roles at the Beth Israel Deaconess Care Organization, an accountable care organization associated with the hospital system, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services and Medicaid agency, and the Commonwealth Fund. Katie holds both a BA and an MPH from Columbia University and lives in Walpole, Massachusetts with her husband, Ben, a civil engineer and their two children, Ellie (7) and Will (4).
Debra Bingham DrPH RN has over 30 years of leadership experience in Maternal-Child Health where she has helped develop, implement, and evaluate hospital-based and public health quality improvement initiatives in both rural and urban settings. Debra has authored articles on leading change and quality improvement. Her primary expertise is translational research and effective implementation of quality improvement at the front-lines of health care.Debra is currently the Vice President of Research, Education, and Publications for the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric & Neonatal Nurses.
Previously, she was the Executive Director of the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC), which is a state-wide initiative with approximately 300 hospitals where 560,000 births a year occur (one out of eight US births). The mission of CMQCC is to eliminate preventable maternal morbidity and mortality for all women. During her tenure at CMQCC she worked with the CA Department of Health to start the California Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review (PAMR) Committee and review methodology. Debra served on CA-PAMR for 3 years.
Prior to 2006 she was the Director of Maternal Child Health Nursing for two hospitals in New York City. Debra is also past President-Elect of Lamaze International and past chair of the Lamaze Institute of Safe and Healthy Birth Committee.
Brenda Blasingame is Executive Director of Health ConnectOne. HealthConnect One is best known for their Community Based Doula Home Visiting Program Model that has been nationally replicated, their leadership in the development of a Peer to Peer Lactation/Breastfeeding approaches as well as supporting and training of Community Health Workers. She has served over 20 years in the public and non-profit sectors at the local, state, and national levels leading organizations and teams towards a common vision and through her work has demonstrated a deep commitment to issues of equity, diversity and inclusion.
Brenda served as the Senior Director of Programs and Partnerships for Save the Children U.S., overseeing the U.S. portfolio of education and psychosocial programs in approximately 16 states and serving as a member of the organization’s U.S. programs’ senior leadership team. During her tenure at Save the Children, she was responsible for leading the development of a community engagement approach to create a place-based community continuum for children and families pre-natal through 3rd grade focused on literacy, safety and resiliency.
Prior to joining Save the Children in 2012, Brenda was the Director of Programs at Thrive Washington, where she implemented two early learning demonstration communities, in partnership with the Gates Foundation and working with other national partners such as the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Ounce of Prevention Fund. Brenda also served as the Executive Director of First 5 Contra Costa (California) from 2000-2005, where she founded and led the development of a comprehensive set of early childhood development programs, services and activities for children 5 years of age and younger and their families living in marginalized communities.
Greeting, I Am Terie I reside in Atlanta Ga, I am a practicing home birth Midwife of 14ys. I am a Matrona Graduate where I studied Traditional Midwifery under the guide of Whapio Diane Bartlett. I finished my studies in 2004. I have since went on to do amazing things in the birth field as well in the medical field. I have over 17yrs as a healthcare worker. I am the owner Of ICreate Holistic Pregnancy Service. I am also co-owner of MamaToTo Childbirth Alliance Center with my Sister Partner Tolewa Oyewole. I am a Facilitator Director at The Matrona Foundation to teach and provide Doula training for WOC. I am also a Certified Labor and Postpartum Doula, Certified CBE. My latest accomplishment is now working with a group of fantastic Women for Citizens for Community Midwives Sarahn Henderson UmmSalaamah Abudullah, Nasrah Smith, Corrinna Edwards, Hanifah Bey, Safira Yasin and Adilah Muhammad here in Georgia we makeup a body of women that are Grand Elder Midwives. Experience Midwives, Doulas, Nurses, and other organizations such as SisterSong and some very concern Citizens, State Representatives and and others that see our vision for better outcomes and care for WOC and Babies in and across Georgia. Working with these Women has been a lifetime experience and dream come true.
Claudia Booker, M.Ed., JD, Master’s Certificate in Public Management, is a CPM (2011) and NARM preceptor licensed in Maryland (LDEM) and Virginia (LM), and practices as a home birth midwife in the Washington, Virginia, Maryland areas. She is the owner of Birthing Hands Midwifery and Birth Services.
For the last nine years she has served as a voting member of the DC Infant Mortality Review Committee, and also serves on the Legislative Committee of the Association of Independent Maryland Midwives as well as on the board of AME, The Elephant Circle, and the MAMA Campaign.
Prior to entering birth work, she worked as a lawyer for the Federal government on school desegregation and civil rights issues; and later joined the District Office of the Attorney General, with responsibility for acquiring services and goods for the District’s Human Services Department (infant and maternal, HIV, mentally ill, and elderly divisions), Department of Health and Public Housing Department.
In 2005 she spearheaded one of the first community-based doula programs in the country at the DC Family Health and Birth Center and won the AABC Community Service Award (2006). In 2009 Claudia founded Keepers of the Birth, for Black Birthworkers, a collaborative group that recently convened for an intensive training symposium for home birth doulas of Colors (2018).
Since March 2012 Claudia has represented Midwives of Colors at the CPM Symposium I and II, participated in the IOM Home Birth Assessment (2013), the Home Birth Consensus Summit II (2013) and III (2014). Simultaneously active with the Alliance of Independent Maryland Midwives, Virginia Commonwealth of Midwives, National Black Midwives Alliance, and the DC Breastfeeding Coalition while continuing to champion the cause of midwifery as a co-founder of The Grand Challenge project and as an adjunct faculty member at Mercy Midwifery College.
She has published numerous articles and continues to serve as a guest lecturer at local universities, community programs and midwifery conferences and events. Presently, she is entered in Mercy in Action Post Graduate Diploma program in International Maternal and Child Health program.
In November 2018 Claudia was honored at the Black Mammas Matter Alliance Conference as an Elder Midwife!
Aimée Brill is the co-founder and co-director of Village Birth International (VBI), a community-based organization committed to asserting universal health equity for all families by eliminating the impact of racism and systemic oppression on perinatal outcomes.
Aimée facilitates workshops and provides consulting services on the role of deconstructing allyship and whiteness for organizations and institutions committed to applying anti-racist and equitable models into their frameworks and partnerships. She has worked closely with Ugandan midwives for over a decade to create and implement a Ugandan-led mobile midwifery clinic which offers midwifery care and services to remote areas of northern Uganda. Since 2011, along with her partner, Asteir Bey, she developed VBI’s 9-month community-based doula program in Syracuse, New York — a program grounded in reproductive justice and extending as a collective community response to improving outcomes for families facing inequities in the childbearing year.
For the past 15 years, she has been practicing as a maternal health professional, providing local, national, and international advocacy, mentorship, doula trainings, program development, campaign strategy, and education to families, birth workers, and organizations. Recently, she collaborated with Ancient Song Doula Services and Every Mother Counts to co-author Advancing Birth Justice: Community-Based Doula Models of Care for Ending Racial Disparities, a white paper focusing on the vital role that community-based doula models must play to ensure successful and equitable Medicaid reimbursement rates in New York State. Aimée lives with her partner and three children in New Jersey.
Denicia Cadena is a queer Chicana born and raised in Mesilla, New Mexico. Denicia is the Policy Director of Young Women United (YWU), an organization that leads policy change, research, place-based community organizing, and culture shift by and for women and people of color in New Mexico. Denicia leads the design and implementation of YWU’s change making strategies. She works to make sure the voices and expertise of those most impacted by an issue are centered in decision-making spaces. Denicia has deep experience working on issues of reproductive justice, racial justice, and queer justice.
A proud sister, aunt, daughter, and friend–Denicia couldn’t imagine herself without all the strong women and folks that have shaped her. As a former welder and sculptor, Denicia knows that some ways of knowing and understanding can only be expressed through art. Denicia holds a BA in History with a concentration in Diaspora Studies from Amherst College.
Micaela Lara Cadena is a chicana New Mexican from a family/chosen family of resilient mujeres in the Mesilla Valley. Micaela is the Research Director at Young Women United (YWU), an organization that leads policy change, research, place-based organizing, and culture shift by and for women and people of color in New Mexico. For many years, Micaela has worked to improve access to pregnancy related care that New Mexicans may need over their lives, including perinatal care for pregnant people in cycles of substance use and addiction and midwifery care as a respectful model that can positively impact disparities in health outcomes within our communities.
Previously, Micaela worked at the New Mexico Corrections Department as the Bureau Chief of Recidivism Reduction. With the intention of better identifying and serving the risks and needs of women and people in NMCD custody, Micaela worked to build feasible strategies for making the New Mexico prison system gender-responsive, trauma-informed and evidenced-based. Micaela was also responsible for implementing a state law passed in 2015, Medicaid for Incarcerated Individuals, that mandated the Corrections Department to determine Medicaid eligibility of inmates prior to their release from prison. In 2018, Micaela was elected to serve as a State Representative (District 33) in the New Mexico House of Representatives.
Casey Cattell is a former biotech scientist turned patient advocate after surviving two near-death events related to her first pregnancy in 2015. Her personal tragedy was heavily affected by denial and delay, which led to her engaging in the movement to end maternal mortality and morbidity in the United States, while shining a light on the need for better resources for childbearing families. Her passions are in educating expecting families about the warning signs of complications, supporting survivors, encouraging healthcare providers to endorse the STOP-LOOK-LISTEN campaign and connecting the dots between new mothers and the enormous need for blood donations. She is an Ambassador with Heroes For Moms, a national organization focused on saving the lives of mothers through survivor-led blood drives and advocacy. She also serves as a Postpartum Support International Specialized Coordinator and helps women as a leader in two growing online communities, Maternal Near-Miss Survivors and Postpartum Hemorrhage Survivors.
As a writer and speaker, Casey shares her patient story to raise awareness of the maternal health crisis and illuminate the long-lasting effects severe perinatal complications have on survivors and their families. She speaks to groups of parents, students, medical professionals, state officials and the general public at events like New Jersey Maternal Health Awareness Day. Casey has written for the National Blood Clot Alliance and co-authored Nobody Told Me About That, a book aimed at helping new families navigate the first six weeks of postpartum. She also blogs about her near-misses and the aftermath at www.theheartofhome.net.
Melissa Cheyney PhD CPM LDM is Associate Professor of Clinical Medical Anthropology at Oregon State University (OSU) with appointments in Public Health and Women Gender and Sexuality Studies. She is also a Licensed Midwife in active, community practice, and the Chair of the Division of Research for the Midwives Alliance of North America. She is the author of an ethnography entitled Born at Home (2010, Wadsworth Press), co-author and editor of the cross-cultural ethnography Birth in Eight Cultures (Waveland, 2019), and the author of more than 50 peer-reviewed articles that examine the cultural beliefs and clinical outcomes associated with midwife-led birth at home and in birth centers in the United States. In 2014, Dr. Cheyney was selected for Oregon State University’s prestigious Scholarship Impact Award for the prolific and highly relevant research outputs of her International Reproductive Health Laboratory and with the MANA Statistics Project. Her research projects span topics from reproductive biology to cultural anthropology, epidemiology and clinical outcomes associated with patient experience, health equity, interprofessional relationships, and place of birth. She is currently the PI on more than a dozen research projects, including an NIH-funded study examining the outcomes of care for culturally and socially matched doulas serving Medicaid priority populations in Oregon. Because of her broad expertise in both quantitative and qualitative methodology, reputation for rigor, and understanding of complex, intersectional analyses, Dr. Cheyney has been invited to serve as an expert with numerous interdisciplinary research institutes including the ACOG ReVitalize Task Force, the Home Birth Summit Research and Data Task Force, the Oregon Health Evidence Review Commission, the International Quality Maternal and Newborn Care Research Alliance, and the National Academies of Medicine Committee on Birth Setting. She is also the Vice-Chair of Oregon State University’s (OSU) Human Subjects Research Institutional Review Board and the Graduate Program Director for OSU’s Applied Anthropology Program. Dr. Cheyney’s innovative policy on children in the classroom as a method for improving student parent degree completion rates was recently highlighted on NBC nightly news. She is a beloved and award-winning teacher, a highly sought mentor and doctoral advisor, and is known for her intentional approach to creating a culturally safe environment for her research team and mentees. Dr. Cheyney is the mother of a daughter born at home on International Day of the Midwife in 2009, and a tireless advocate for all pregnant people’s rights to choose where and with whom they give birth.
Erin A. S. Clark, MD, is an Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City, UT. She is board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Maternal-Fetal Medicine. Dr. Clark serves as Chief of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and as Associate Director of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Research Network, the research infrastructure for the University of Utah Obstetrics and Gynecology Department. She is Associate Director for the Maternal Fetal Medicine Fellowship. She was responsible for developing and implementing the Pregnancy Care Project ECHO and Virtual Prenatal Care programs at the University of Utah. She serves as Chair of the Out-of-Hospital Birth Committee, a multidisciplinary team of stakeholders assembled through the Utah Women and Newborn Quality Collaborative, which seeks to optimize maternal and neonatal outcomes and to create statewide action items and associated tools.
I am a mother and an advocate. I believe every woman has a right to have an empowered pregnancy and birth experience. After many years working in the arts I moved to Canada where my third child was born. After three years we recently moved back to the US. I am attending this Summit to begin the work it is time to do.
Bonnie Connors Jellen, MHSA is Director Maternal and Child Health and Field Engagement at the American Hospital Association (AHA). She has worked exclusively in the women's and children's health including positions at the AHA, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and on Capitol Hill. Bonnie has an undergraduate degree in Child Development from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a graduate degree in Health Services Administration from The George Washington University, Washington, DC.
Andria Cornell, MSPH, is the associate director for women's and infant health at AMCHP. The efforts of the women's and infant health team include an extensive portfolio of grant-funded efforts bridging public health and clinical care in women’s health, improving birth outcomes, care and support for the mother-baby dyad, and transition to early childhood systems. The guiding light for her team is health equity, and they prioritize family and community engagement as vital to achieving it. Ms. Cornell has administered programs that build state and community capacity for translating findings from state-based maternal mortality review programs into population health interventions, including the AMCHP Every Mother Initiative and AMCHP's partnership in the Building U.S. Capacity to Review and Prevent Maternal Deaths program. She represents AMCHP on the Executive Team of the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM) and serves on its Community Workgroup. She served on the initiative’s bundle workgroup, Reducing Peripartum Racial Disparities, and currently leads implementation of a demonstration project of the bundle. She co-chairs the National Action Team on Aligning Local, State, and National Efforts of the NAPPSS-IIN led by NICHQ. Ms. Cornell has worked in the academic, federal and nonprofit sectors advancing maternal and child health in the fields of public health, research, and health care. She has a Master of Science in Public Health in reproductive, perinatal and women's health and a certificate in public health informatics from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Ida Darragh LM CPM is the Executive Director of the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) and has been involved in childbirth and midwifery since the birth of her first child in 1974. Early in her career Ida became involved in the politics of midwifery. After a midwife was served with a cease and desist order for opening a birth center in the poor, rural delta of Arkansas in 1982, Ida and a group of midwives lobbied successfully for a law to license midwives. Ida received the first license to practice midwifery in Arkansas in 1985. She served for many years on the Midwives Advisory Board of the Arkansas Department of Health, and was the founder of the Arkansas Childbirth Institute. Ida serves on the Accreditation Services Council for the Institute for Credentialing Excellence. She also serves on the Board of the Council on Licensure, Enforcement, and Regulation (CLEAR). She currently works with the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) as Executive Director and in test development. She also acts as a consultant with states that are interesting in licensing midwives through the CPM process, traveling to many states to speak about the CPM credential to midwifery groups and legislators.
Rosanna Davis, LM, CPM, is a practicing midwife and a midwifery advocate currently serving as the president of the California Association of Licensed Midwives (CALM) and the treasurer of Californians for the Advancement of Midwifery.
In her role as a legislative advocate, Rosanna spear-headed grassroots efforts to defeat legislation that would deny Californians access to care from Licensed Midwives in multiple settings. Most recently, she worked with the California legislature to include LMs in the list of providers with protected peer review and to advance midwifery integration through a comprehensive quality improvement initiative.
Rosanna believes deeply in the role that midwives play in reducing the impact of race on birth outcomes. With the goal of centering solutions developed both by and for the community, she has helped foster relationships at CALM that have led to a board comprised by a majority of people of color.
Rosanna’s background in engineering informs her ability to meet challenges with a solution-based approach founded on an objective, dispassionate, and strategic analysis of the situation at hand. She has two adult children, one born at home with the care of a midwife.
Jemea Dorsey currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer for the Center for Black Women’s Wellness, a community-based, nonprofit organization in Atlanta committed to improving the health and wellbeing of underserved Black women and their families. She also serves as the Project Director for Atlanta Healthy Start, a federally funded infant mortality reduction initiative that provides perinatal case management services for pregnant and postpartum women. Prior to joining the Center, Jemea’s previous career was in evaluation and educational consulting,
Ms. Dorsey received her Master of Science in Urban Policy from the New School for Social Research in New York; and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Jemea currently serves on the Georgia Perinatal Quality Collaborative Health Equity Committee; the Roadmap to Health Equity Steering Committee; and the Georgia Charitable Care Network Advisory Board. She and her husband are the proud parents of a 5-year-old son.
My name is Blair Dudley, and I lead the Transform Maternity Care program at the Pacific Business Group on Health. PBGH is a coalition of employers and public agencies that collaborate to improve health outcomes. PBGH’s maternity work is focused on increasing access to Certified Nurse-Midwives, something that we know is really important to moms, especially Medicaid moms. We developed (based on bright spots visits) an operational and financial toolkit, which helps make the clinical and financial case for collaborative practice between midwives and obstetricians to promote physiologic birth. We now have grant funding to help evangelize the work, getting the word out about how important midwives are for outcomes, patient experience, and clinician satisfaction.
With nearly ten years of experience in the healthcare industry focusing on quality improvement, population health, and value-based care, and I am thrilled to now be focusing on this important maternity work. Prior to PBGH, I was the analytics and ambulatory quality manager of population health at UCSF, where I focused on key strategic initiatives such as the PRIME Medi-Cal 2020 Waiver, Medicare Shared Savings Program, commercial ACO contracts, and the Clinically Integrated Network. Prior to UCSF, I worked on the Quality Improvement team at Blue Shield of California and at Kaiser Permanente’s in-house consulting group, Quality and Operations Support. I began my healthcare journey in front line care delivery and clinical operations management at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, an experience which taught me the importance of patient and provider satisfaction. I have an MPH in Health Policy and Management from Columbia University, a BA in Politics and Bioethics from the University of Virginia, and I have received my Lean Healthcare Certification from the California Quality Collaborative and UCLA Executive Education in Health Policy and Management. In my free time I enjoy running, hiking, cooking, travelling, and playing with my dog.
Jocelyn Dugan is a California-based consumer advocate working to improve birth equity by centering communities of color. She is the president of Californians for the Advancement of Midwifery (CAM).
After a hospital birth that left her feeling unheard, unsafe and disrespected, Jocelyn sought the expertise of licensed midwives for a home-birth-after-cesarean (HBAC). The respectful, informed care she received inspired her to volunteer with CAM (previously known as California Association of Midwives Foundation), serving as Treasurer/CFO from 2011-2018. Jocelyn is extremely passionate about improving birth equity and the impact midwifery care has on birth outcomes, especially among the most vulnerable and marginalized populations. She believes that patient autonomy and informed consent/refusal are the gold standard of care.
Since 2016, CAM leadership has met with midwives and student midwives of color, listened to community, and built relationships that have transformed leadership from an almost all white Board of Directors to a Board that represents the people CAM hopes to serve.
In shared leadership with Tanya Smith-Johnson, Jocelyn co-created the CAM Birth Disparities and Equity Team to center communities of color, creating innovative programs to improve birth outcomes. The first program, the NARM Prep JumpStart: Insiders' Guide for Student Midwives of Color is founded on the principles of racial justice. Created by people of color for people of color, this program aims to improve access to culturally matched care for childbearing families of color by increasing the number of student midwives of color who pass the NARM written examination, become Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs), and register as accredited LMs in the State of California.
Roberta (Ogala Lakota/ Yomba Shashone}, enrolled member with the Lower Brule Tribe in South Dakota. Mother of 6, Full Circle Doula, LE, CHW, resides in Portland, Oregon. founded Oregon Inter-Tribal Breastfeeding Coalition, September 2013. Realized the need for NA/AN families need equal access to reproductive health services. By modeling the art of childbearing family support, she had to take a chance with vigilant community engagement.
Mark Eakes, MD/MPH is a Family Physician performing full scope of Family Practice in a town of 3000 (Granite Falls, MN) including OB with CSections. He has been there for almost 5 years and is currently the Chief of Staff and OB Medical Director. He graduated from Eastern Virginia Medical School with his MD and Masters in Public Health. He is also a graduate of the Medicos Para La Familia Surgical Obstetrics Fellowship in Memphis, TN. Prior to medical training, he completed a 20 year Naval Officer career learning much about leadership. He is focused on integrating birth experiences from home birth (his wife is in the final stages of training to be a CPM) through hospital transitions from low risk to higher risk. He backs up several home birth midwives in Southwest MN. He and his wife founded a non-profit organization, El Nido Birth and Family Ministries, focusing on providing free Doula services and training, lactation support, prenatal, birth and postpartum support. They are in the planning stages to develop a birth center and possibly developing a CPM degree granting program at a local junior college.
Eve Espey, MD MPH is Professor and Chair of the Department of Ob/Gyn and Family Planning Fellowship Director at the University of New Mexico. She is immediate past President of the Society of Family Planning. Dr. Espey is the President of the New Mexico Perinatal Collaborative and is assisting in leading a team to roll out AIM safety bundles throughout New Mexico birthing hospitals via Project ECHO. This initiative begins April 1, 2019. Dr. Espey chairs the American College of OB-GYN Work Group on Long Acting Reversible Contraception and has participated in international family planning consulting. She won the Margaret Sanger Award, 50th anniversary of Planned Parenthood of Rocky Mountains 2014 and the Rashbaum Award for Excellence in Family Planning from Physicians for Reproductive Health 2013. As President of the New Mexico Perinatal Collaborative and Chair of the Department of OB-GYN, Dr. Espey is dedicated to improving access to women’s healthcare in New Mexico. She has led projects in reducing maternal mortality from obstetric hemorrhage and implementing immediate postpartum LARC in hospitals throughout the state. She works with medical students, residents, fellows, midwives, nurse practitioners and pharmacists as a colleague and as an educator. She has numerous publications in contraception, abortion and medical education and has presented locally, regionally and nationally on these topics.
Timothy J. Fisher MD MS is an Obstetrician/Gynecologist and the Ob/Gyn Residency Program Director at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH, the Medical Director of the Northern New England Perinatal Quality Improvement Network (NNEPQIN), and Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. He is a graduate of The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, completed his residency training at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, California and received a Master’s Degree in Health Care Delivery Science from Dartmouth College.
Dr. Fisher’s academic interests include access to high quality maternity care in rural settings, collaborative practice models between midwives and physicians, and support of physiologic birth as a means of improving maternal and perinatal outcomes. He is currently participating in a project sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program to study rural labor and delivery unit closures in New Hampshire.
Dr. Fisher has served as a delegate to each of the three prior Home Birth Summit meetings.
Jessica Frechette-Gutfreund LM, CPM, MSM, IBCLC is a white, gender non-conforming midwife born and raised in Cincinnati OH. She has over 20 years of experience working around issues of social and reproductive justice as an anti-oppression organizer, health researcher, Spanish language interpreter, educator, and midwife. She has been involved with midwifery in New Mexico since her entrance into the profession through apprenticeship in 2009. She has received training from both modern and traditional midwives and continues to integrate both practices into the services she provides. She is midwife and director of Breath of My Heart Birthplace where she works with an amazing team of providers and clients to provides low-cost and free midwifery services to women and families in the setting where they feel most comfortable. She is an IBCLC and has Master’s in Midwifery from the National College of Midwifery. Jessica continues to weave her experience in anti-oppression organizing into every role that she finds herself in.
Jonathan Fuchs, MD, MPH, is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF and Director of the Center for Learning & Innovation (CLI) at the San Francisco Department of Public Health- a center of excellence in training and workforce development. His past research efforts have focused on the design and conduct of early and late stage HIV vaccine trials and use of novel technologies to promote adherence to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). He is also the Principal Investigator of a CDC-funded Capacity Building Assistance (CBA) program which provides technical assistance to the HIV prevention workforce at health departments nationwide. For the California Preterm Birth Initiative (PTBi), Dr. Fuchs is the Director for Collective Impact- an implementation science effort that aims to mobilize cross-sector partners to achieve population-level reductions in preterm birth in Fresno, San Francisco, Oakland. He is also dedicated to training and mentoring the next generation of applied public health investigators through his leadership of the PTBi Transdisciplinary Post-doctoral Fellowship, the UCSF Center for AIDS Research Mentoring Program, and an NIH R25-funded mentored research program for undergraduates from underrepresented minority backgrounds. Dr. Fuchs completed his MD at Rutgers University, his MPH at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, and internal medicine residency at UCSF.
Jonathan Fuchs, MD, MPH, is Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF and Co-Director of the Andy Choi Mentoring Program of the UCSF Center for AIDS Research (CFAR).
He is also the Director of the Center for Learning and Innovation at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Director of Collective Impact for the UCSF California PTBi and Associate Director of the PTBi post-doctoral fellowship. PTBi provides leadership to the New Minds, New Ideas initiative, which seeks to attract and retain academia- and community-based researchers who are dedicated to reducing the global burden of prematurity-related morbidity and mortality.
Over the past 15 years, Dr. Fuchs’s research interests have focused on biomedical and behavioral HIV prevention and the development of novel mentored research programs to engage early-career investigators in clinical translational research, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds in science.
Dr. Patrisia Gonzales (Kickapoo/Comanche and Macehual) is the author of Red Medicine: Traditional Indigenous Rites of Birthing and Healing (University of Arizona Press) and Traditional Indian Medicine (Kendall Hunt). She is a mother maker, baby catcher, and herbalist and has collaborated with Macehual knowledge keepers since 1991. She has offered traditional services for survivors of violence and Indigenous peoples.
She descends from three generations of bonesetters, herbalists, midwives, and traditional doctors. She teaches courses on Indigenous medicine at the University of Arizona and is executive director of the Indigenous Alliance Without Borders, the oldest Native rights organization in Southern Arizona. She is part of a core group of Native midwives who are establishing an Indigenous midwifery organization dedicated to bringing birth back to Indian Country.
Michele Bratcher Goodwin is a Chancellor’s Professor at the University of California, Irvine and founding director of the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy. She is also faculty in the Stem Cell Research Center; Gender and Sexuality Studies Department; Program in Public Health; and the Department of Criminology, Law, & Society.
She is an elected member of the American Law Institute as well as an elected Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the Hastings Center. A nationally recognized advocate for civil liberties and civil rights, Professor Goodwin serves on the executive committee and national board of the American Civil Liberties Union. She has advised policymakers and chaired several sections of the Association of American Law Schools, served as a trustee of the United States Law and Society Association, and was elected secretary general of the International Academy of Law & Mental Health as the first woman. Gov. Paul Patton of Kentucky commissioned her as a colonel, the state’s highest title of honor.
In 2018 she was bestowed the Sandra Day O’Connor Legacy Award by the Women’s Journey Foundation. Professor Goodwin’s scholarship is hailed as “exceptional” in the New England Journal of Medicine. A prolific author, her publications include five books and over 80 articles, essays and book chapters.
Wendy Gordon LM, CPM, MPH, DMid(c) has a prior degree and career in chemical engineering before coming to midwifery. She graduated from Seattle Midwifery School in 2005 with the Jo Anne Myers-Ciecko Award for Outstanding Scholarship and Leadership.
Wendy helped to grow a busy home birth practice in Portland, OR for 8 years and earned her MPH from Oregon Health & Science University before moving to Seattle, where she currently attends births in a freestanding birth center.
She is an Associate Professor and Chair of Department of Midwifery program at Bastyr University. Wendy is an active member of the Midwives Association of Washington State, as well as President of the Association of Midwifery Educators.
She is a member of the first cohort of midwives working to complete a Doctorate in Midwifery from Jefferson University.
Dr. Nikia Grayson, is a public health advocate, anthropologist, and nurse-midwife who has devoted her life to serving and empowering people in underserved and marginalized communities.
Nikia graduated from Howard University with a bachelors and masters degree in communications and public health respectively, from the University of Memphis with a masters in medical anthropology and from the University of Tennessee with a masters in nursing and a doctorate in nurse practice. She completed her post-masters certificate in midwifery at Frontier Nursing University.
Nikia is a 2018-2019 Duke University Johnson and Johnson Nurse Leader Fellow and has more than 10 years experience working in public health, with her more recent work focusing on reproductive rights, birth justice, and midwifery. She is passionate about ensuring all persons have the rights and means to make decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive health.
She presently works as a family nurse-midwife in Memphis at CHOICES Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, where they are working to open the first birth center in the city.
Dr. Kimberly Gregory is Vice Chair of Women’s Healthcare Quality and Performance Improvement, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Director of the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Board certified in Ob/Gyn and Maternal-Fetal Medicine, she is a Professor at Cedars with a joint appointment at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.
She has received federal and foundation funding to support her research interests, which include developing maternal quality indicators, patient safety, obstetrical healthcare utilization, variation and appropriateness of cesarean delivery, and complications of childbirth. She has developed algorithms for determining indications for cesarean delivery, cesarean after labor, and elective (no labor) cesarean delivery using hospital administrative data, demonstrating wide variation in cesarean rate by hospital. Additionally, she developed framework and proposed indicators for monitoring quality of care during pregnancy and childbirth. She is currently working on patient reported outcomes and measures of patient reported satisfaction with childbirth services.
Dr. Gregory has served in various leadership positions including the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the Institute of Medicine Committee on Preventive Services for Women, the Board of Directors for the Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine, regional Section Chair for American College Obstetrics & Gynecology (ACOG), and numerous health and public policy committees at both the state and national levels.
Susan Gullo, RN MS brings thirty-eight years of health care and improvement experience to her role at Ariadne Labs as the Platform Director of Implementation. Prior roles focused on leading and directing organizations across multiple improvement and clinical work streams. Working at the country level with Senior Leaders in NGO's and Hospital Systems, she has been the Sr. Director in the field to execute projects, provide translational leadership, and coach and support frontline teams and consumers of healthcare. Ms. Gullo co-designed and led the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s (IHI) Perinatal Community since its inception in 2004 and was the co-lead for the Maternal and Child Health priority group. She was elected to the 2014 AWHONN Board of Directors and is currently a member of multiple national Maternal-Child Health Advisory Committees. Previously, Ms. Gullo was the Director of Women’s Services at Elliot Hospital in Manchester, NH.
Lynsey Hamilton leads strategic dissemination and implementation activities for the Birth Place Lab. She facilitates multidisciplinary research and knowledge translation projects in Canada and the United States, generated by the Home Birth Summits, and supports grant writing and reporting. Lynsey gained her Master’s in Public Health Research at the University of Edinburgh and has worked in health care research since moving to Canada shortly after. She has an extensive background in qualitative research and knowledge translation strategies and experience working with a variety of different populations. Lynsey has a strong interest in participatory action research and autonomy within the health care system.
Dr. Rachel R. Hardeman is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Policy & Management, University of Minnesota, School of Public Health. She is a health equity researcher whose research uses the the frameworks of critical race theory (a theory that frames racism as engrained in the fabric and system of the American society) and reproductive justice (the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities) to inform her equity-centered work in health services research and population health. She seeks to improve outcomes for Black moms and babies. Dr. Hardeman’s research includes a partnership with Roots Community Birth Center, in North Minneapolis, one of five Black-owned freestanding birth centers in the United States. Her work also examines the potential mental health impacts for Black mothers when living in a community that has experienced the killing of an unarmed Black man by police. Published in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and the American Journal of Public Health, Dr. Hardeman’s research has elicited important conversations on the topics of culturally-focused care, police brutality and structural racism as a fundamental cause of health inequities. Her overarching goal is to contribute to a body of knowledge that links structural racism to health in a tangible way, identifies opportunities for intervention, and dismantles the systems, structures, and institutions that allow inequities to persist.
Dr. Hardeman is active locally and nationally with organizations that seek to achieve health equity. She was appointed by the Minnesota Commissioner of Health to serve on the Health Equity Advisory and Leadership (HEAL) Council which aims to provide guidance to the Commissioner of Health regarding strengthening and improving the health and wellness of communities most impacted by health inequities across the state. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Planned Parenthood of the North Central States.
Pandora has gained 20 plus years of midwifery experience working in a wide variety of healthcare settings in the USA, Caribbean, South East Asia, the Middle East and Africa. She functions as a Midwifery Capacity Building Consultant for European and US governmental agencies Specializing in low resources and conflict/fragile settings.
She obtained a BSN and induction into Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society of Nursing from John Hopkins University, a MSc in Nursing from the University of California Los Angeles, and a Doctorate of Nursing Practice from University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is a Fellow of the American College of Nurse Midwives and serves as the national governmental affairs committee liaison for southern states with additional active function on the ACNM GA legislative/state government affairs committee and the Georgia Perinatal Quality Collaborative.
While in the US, she serves in socioeconomically diverse practices in the Atlanta Metro area. A recipient of the ACNM 2018 Distinguished Service Award, she has been recognized by the reproductive justice movement as a “Warrior Woman “and is known for encouraging midwives to “push for change past the perineum”. In her spare time, you will most often find Pandora with a book in her hand, and soca on the speakers.
Diane Holzer LM CPM PA-C has been a home birth midwife for close to 30 years and has worked as a physician assistant for 20 years in a rural healthcare family practice clinic that has a large farm worker population. She has been actively involved with the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) for more than 20 years and is a Past President.
She has been on the faculty at Maternidad La Luz, a midwifery training program, for over 10 years. She served on the board of the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) as the regional representative for the Americas and was appointed ICM representative to the United Nations for a three-year term. She participated on the Board of Midwifery Education Accreditation Council for 13 years and was an active participant in the formation of the CPM credential.
Diane lives in Marin County and loves to watch whales and is a member of a stilt dancing troupe!
Rose Horton MSM, RNC Executive Director of Women & Infant Services at Emory Decatur Hospital in Decatur, a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.
All of Rose’s clinical experience has been in the OB/GYN field with an emphasis in labor and delivery. She started as a staff nurse in L&D and had the opportunity to function in some amazing roles some of which are L&D Charge Nurse, high risk OB flight nurse, Nurse Recruiter, and Perinatal Nurse Specialist. She is a passionate about the care of women (and their families) during pregnancy, labor, birth and beyond.
The increasing maternal morbidity and mortality rate is a worrisome issue to Rose. It has always been a concern and now that she lives in Georgia, one of the states with the worse maternal outcomes, she has felt the need to do more. To that end she started a campaign at her hospital centered around the hash tag #notonmywatch. In this campaign she is helping her staff learn about implicit and explicit bias and racism, one of the causes of maternal mortality. The hospital had joined the Georgia Perinatal Collaborative and are committed to providing evidence based care. In partnership with Emory University she has recently implemented a student doula program which will begin on March 25, 2019. She is facilitating community conversations about the 4th Trimester and how the hospitals and community partners can collaborate to create a safety net for new moms and families.
Rose is an active member of AWHONN and served at the 2012 President.
Elisabeth Howard, PhD, CNM, FACNM is director of midwifery at Women and Infants Hospital RI and an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Brown University's Alpert Medical School. She leads a midwifery faculty practice in an interprofessional practice model with obstetric residents. The ob-gyn residents receive mentoring throughout their training by a midwife. In addition, she is a contributing editor for the Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing clinical expert column, and leads her hospital in the American College of Nurse-Midwives project "Reducing Primary Cesareans".
Asma Inge-Hanif was the first in her family to attend college, graduated from Howard University College of Nursing and in 1987 established Alnisaa Health and Social Services Center in order to provide health services for the underserved and uninsured women and children.
Asma Hanif cares for the homeless, refugees, trafficking victims and women victims of domestic violence for over 30 years. Believing that every man, woman and child has a right to receive quality care in a dignified manner, and to be assisted in the achievement of optimal health and well-being, regardless of race, creed, or socio-economic level, her organization was originally as a response to her grandmother whom worked as a domestic for a wealthy white physician, lacking health care died from a preventable condition. It was through her health center she discovered/uncovered a large number of women experiencing homelessness and violence in their lives. Women coming to her, accompanied by her abuser, would then want to come into the examination room with her. Hanif would insist that she needed to see her alone. Then, for the first time in her life, the woman found herself able to be alone with someone she could trust, who she knew wouldn’t share her secret and risk her life.
Asma Hanif receives emails and calls every day from International Rescue and Human Rights organizations nationwide and occasionally around the world seeking their clients escape from domestic violence or homelessness. Hanif relates, “They contact me not because I have better resources. They call me because I answer the phone." Witnessing the associated stigma’s, in order to fulfill an unmet need, in 2007 she opened her home to provide a culturally competent shelter/sanctuary to counteract the discriminatory and “me too” victims struggling to achieve their self-esteem, their self-worth and their self-sufficiency.
Cecilia Jevitt is the Midwifery Director for the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. From 2013 to 2018, Jevitt directed and taught in the Yale School of Nursing Midwifery and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner master’s degree programs. She provided a weekly women’s health clinic at the University of New Haven Student Health Services and practiced with the Yale Midwifery Faculty Practice at the Vidone Birthing Center, St. Raphael’s Hospital, New Haven, Connecticut. She has done international capacity-building teaching and midwifery curriculum consultations in Switzerland, Laos, China and Ghana. Jevitt taught midwifery for Frontier Nursing University, SUNY Stony Brook, and the University of Florida between 1989 and 2012. She taught women’s health, health policy and economics, evidence-based practice, and qualitative research from 1999 to 2011 with the University Of South Florida College Of Nursing while jointly appointed to the Colleges of Medicine and Public Health. In 2012, she organized an academic division of midwifery within the USF Morsani College of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
She completed Emory University’s midwifery program in 1982. Her 1993 doctorate in applied medical anthropology is from the University of South Florida. She practiced full scope nurse-midwifery in the Tampa Bay Florida area, then Connecticut for 35 years. She is registered for midwifery practice in British Columbia.
Jevitt was a former American College of Nurse-Midwives Florida Chapter Chair. She directed the Professional Liability and Archives Committees for the ACNM and was the Region III Representative to the ACNM Board of Directors from 2007-2010. She was elected a Fellow of the ACNM and served as the FACNM Region 1 Governor from 2013-2018. She is the FACNM Board of Directors Member at Large.
Jevitt was a Florida Nurses Association Great 100 Nurse in 2009, the 2010 Reviewer of the Year for the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, the University of South Florida Department of Anthropology’s Distinguished Alumni in 2012, and a 2014 Connecticut Nightingale Excellence in Nursing Award winner.
Jevitt’s scholarship focuses on perinatal weight gain optimization and integrating obesity prevention and management into women’s health especially the perinatal and lactation periods.
Amy Johnson-Grass ND LN LM CPM owns and is the Executive Director of Health Foundations Family Health + Birth Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her clinic provides a full range of birth services, well women care and various complementary + alternative modalities.
She graduated from Bastyr University with a Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine, a Masters of Science in Nutrition and Midwifery Certificate. After graduation, she was offered a three-year National Institute of Health Post-doctoral Fellowship with the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundations and the University of Minnesota in Complementary & Alternative Medical Research. During the fellowship, she worked towards a Masters in Science in Clinical Research focusing on women's health and pediatrics. Along with the fellowship, she started her private practice and also worked as a clinician at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis in their Integrative Medicine Department.
Amy is active in her community as the vice-president of the MN State NACPM Chapter, active in MN state legislation to license birth centers and has sat on the Midwifery and Naturopathic Advisory Boards of the MN Board of Medical Practice. Amy is committed to being a part of training future midwives. She sits on Bethel University’s Midwifery Program advisory council and her and her team are preceptors for both CNM and CPM students.
Nationally she is serving her second term as President of the American Association of Birth Centers. She is also a faculty member of the How to Start a Birth Center workshop and has been a site visitor for Commission for the Accreditation of Birth Center.
Jennie Joseph is a British-trained midwife who fights to ensure every woman has their healthiest possible pregnancy, birth and postpartum experience with dignity and support.
Jennie created The JJ Way® which is an evidence-based maternity medical home model delivering readily-accessible, patient-centered, culturally-congruent care to women in areas that she terms 'materno-toxic zones'.
She is the Executive Director of her own non-profit corporation Commonsense Childbirth Inc. which operates a training institute, health clinics and a birthing center in Orlando, Florida, and is also the founder of the National Perinatal Task Force, a grassroots organization whose mission is the elimination of racial disparities in maternal child health in the USA.
Deborah Kaplan has served as Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau of Maternal, Infant and Reproductive Health at the New York City Health Department since 2003. The Bureau is dedicated to improving and reducing inequities in maternal, infant and reproductive health outcomes through program, policy and research initiatives. The Bureau applies a sexual and reproductive justice and racial justice framework to our work, and strives to fully engage community partners to move this work forward. Over the past 15 years, Bureau accomplishments include: (1) Convening the Sexual and Reproductive Justice (SRJ) Community Engagement Group, comprised of community members, advocates, and nonprofits working in partnership with the NYC Health Department to create respectful, culturally grounded SRJ campaigns that are an authentic means of promoting sexual and reproductive health and justice (https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/health/health-topics/sexual-reproductive-justice-nyc.page); (2) Establishment of the NYC Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review and Steering Committees; (3) Implementation of the first severe maternal morbidity surveillance system by a local US jurisdiction; (4) Launch of a multi-prong maternity hospital initiative to reduce racial inequities in maternal outcomes; (5) Leading hospital learning collaboratives, with 18 NYC hospitals achieving Baby Friendly Hospital status, and increased access to all contraceptive options in post-abortion, post-partum and primary care settings; and (6) Provision of home visiting services for thousands of women, children and families through the Nurse-Family Partnership and the Newborn Home Visiting Program.
Dr. Kaplan has over thirty years public health experience in clinical care, health education, program and policy development, and program leadership. She serves on the Board of Directors of CityMatCH, the National Organization of Urban MCH Leaders. She received her training as a Physician Assistant at Johns Hopkins University, holds a Masters in Public Health from Hunter College, and a Doctor in Public Health from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.
Tanya Khemet Taiwo lives in Sacramento, CA where she has practiced in community clinic settings for 20 years. She currently works in a Federally Qualified Health Center, caring for low-income families in a multi-disciplinary setting, where women’s health services are enhanced with health education, nutrition and social services.
She comes from a family tradition of midwives, was trained at Seattle Midwifery School, and apprenticed with midwives in Seattle, Senegal and Jamaica. An assistant professor in the Department of Midwifery at Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, Tanya is also an epidemiologist whose research interests have focused on the role of prenatal maternal stress and socioeconomic status on infant neurodevelopment, and the interactions between these stressors and environmental exposures.
She serves as co-President of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives, and counts herself blessed as the mother of three beautiful girls who were all born at home into the hands of midwives.
Dr. Klein-Patel earned her medical degree and doctoral degree in immunology from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark. She completed her residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Magee-Womens Hospital.
Dr. Klein-Patel an adjunct clinical assistant professor at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, Vice-Chair of Allegheny Health Network Women and Children's Institute, and the West Penn Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency Program Director.
Dr. Klein-Patel is an accomplished researcher and received funding from the National Institutes of Health. She has been published in numerous medical journals.
She is a member of the North American Menopause Society, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the American Medical Association.
Cheryl Larry-Osman, RN, MS, CNM is a Perinatal Clinical Nurse Specialist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. She has over 23 years of experience in obstetrics with focus in the clinical areas of Labor and Delivery, Postpartum, High Risk Antepartum, Normal Newborn, and Women’s Health.
Cheryl trained as a certified nurse midwife and is regularly invited to present on a host of clinical topics related to the care of women and newborns. She is an active member of Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) in the state of Michigan, as well as nationally, and is currently an elected member of the National Board of Directors.
As a complement to clinical practice, Cheryl is trained as a Healthcare Equity Ambassador through the Henry Ford Health System, serving as an authority in the areas of cultural competence and healthcare equity in the hospital system. As a researcher, she has been Co-Primary Investigator for a cultural competence study, & is currently Primary Investigator for a “virtual nurse” digital education platform for postpartum moms.
Cheryl is a passionate advocate for the optimal and equitable care of women and children. She actively promotes healthcare equity and the awareness of disparities with her involvement in policy and clinical strategies at the national, state, & local levels addressing preterm birth, infant mortality, and the reduction of maternal morbidity/mortality.
Mary Lawlor CPM, LM, MA is the Executive Director of the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (NACPM). She has been a home birth midwife since 1981 and the owner of the Monadnock Birth Center in New Hampshire since 2008. A founder of NACPM, she is a passionate advocate for midwives, for childbearing people’s access to the care of midwives, for improving maternity care for all birthing people, and for eliminating racial inequities in midwifery and maternity care and unconscionable racial disparities in birth outcomes. Mary has led in shaping the public policy agenda for NACPM on both the state and national level in support of these goals for the last decade. Previously she has been active in successful legislative efforts to license midwives in both Vermont and New Hampshire and has served as a Midwife Advisor to the Vermont Office of Professional Regulation since 2001.
Larry Leeman, MD, MPH is Professor of Family and Community Medicine, and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. He is the director of UNM Family Medicine Maternal Child Health program, co-medical director of University Hospital Mother Baby Unit and Level Two Nursery, and Medical Director for the Milagro Perinatal Substance Abuse program. He is the vice Chair of Research in the UNM Ob/Gyn Department. He is the chief collaborating physician consultant medical consultant for the Dar a Luz Birth Center in Albuquerque.
As a faculty member at UNM he has worked for nineteen years as a consultant for home birth and birth center midwives and helped care for their clients who have required hospital transport. He was the physician member of the New Mexico State Licensed midwifery advisory board from 1993-1998. He represented at AAFP at the Home Birth Summits in 2011, 2013 and 2014. He has presented on home birth and improved collaboration during transfer from community to hospital birth at ACOG, AAFP, ACNM and MANA conferences. He was in rural practice with the Zuni Indian Ramah Indian Health Service from 1992-1998 where he was the Director of Maternity Care at a facility using a birth center model. He authored articles addressing the safety of the birth center model and low cesarean rate achieved. He has been the Managing Editor of the AAFP’s Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics course for management of obstetrical emergencies from 2009-2018.
Audrey Levine practiced as a licensed midwife in Olympia, Washington for 14 years. She retired from clinical practice in 2015 to devote her energy full-time to midwifery policy and advocacy work. She was President of the Midwives’ Association of WA State (MAWS) from 2008 – 2012 and Chair of the MAWS Legislative and Health Policy Committee from 2002 - 2018. In 2012, she joined the Board of the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (NACPM) and is currently serving her third term as co-President. Since attending the first Home Birth Summit in 2011, Audrey has been actively involved as a member of the Collaboration Workgroup that developed the “Best Practice Guidelines: Transfer from Planned Home Birth to Hospital.” She is Chair of the Management Commitment for OB COAP (Clinical Outcomes Assessment Program) and co-Chair of the Smooth Transitions Workgroup, both at the Foundation for Health Care Quality. The Smooth Transitions Quality Improvement program has been focused on enhancing the safety of hospital transfers from planned community births in WA state and nationally since 2009.
Judith Lothian RN PhD LCCE FACCE, FAAN is an internationally respected childbirth educator and advocate for safe, healthy birth and breastfeeding. She is a professor in the College of Nursing at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey. She currently is a member of the Certification Council for Lamaze International that is responsible for developing the international certification examination for Lamaze certified childbirth educators. She is also the Associate Editor of the Journal of Perinatal Education. Her advocacy work includes national leadership positions in Lamaze International and national work with Childbirth Connection and the American College of Nurse Midwives.
Co-author of The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence and a contributor to the Science and Sensibility blog at scienceandsensibility.org. Research interests are breastfeeding, childbirth, and home birth. She is currently conducting a qualitative research study of midwives experience of home birth.
RaShaunda is the owner of The InTune Mother Society a holistic approach to perinatal health. She is a wife of 12 years, and mother of four male children. She began her studies in birth work in 2013. Her expertise is derived from a spiritual, non-medical background. A student of Bio Cultural Human Development, Neurolinguistics (NLP), and Sustainability, RaShaunda facilitates space for deeper understanding of language inclusion, which creates roadmaps to progressive ideas, leading with food sovereignty, reproductive health, and the environment. She holds multiple certifications in birth work i.e., doula, breastfeeding, postpartum care provider, and comfort measure specialist, to name a few. She is currently breastfeeding her fourth son as she recently gave birth at home in July of 2018. RaShaunda loves to facilitate trainings, classes, and workshops for aspiring birth workers and expectant families alike.
Indra Lusero, Esq., is a Staff Attorney at National Advocates for Pregnant Women, and the President and founder of the Birth Rights Bar Association and the director of Elephant Circle. Indra’s law review articles "Challenging Hospital VBAC Bans Through Tort Liability" and "Making the Midwife Impossible: How the Structure of Maternity Care Harms the Practice of Home Birth Midwifery" are published in the William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law and the Women’s Rights Law Reporter respectively.
Indra is honored to have been named "All Around Reproductive Justice Champion" in 2013 by the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights. She is the recipient of numerous reproductive justice awards including the Most Audacious Award, Honoring a childbirth professional who has shown remarkable courage and boldness to change childbirth or maternity care, from The Association for Wholistic Maternal & Newborn Health and Human Rights in Childbirth, May 2016.
Indra is a genderqueer Latinx parent with a diverse family of people from all over the world.
Ebony Marcelle is the Director of Midwifery at Community of Hope/Family Health and Birth Center. Formerly the Administrative Chief of Midwifery Service at Medstar Washington Hospital Center she completed her nursing education at Georgetown University and Midwifery at Philadelphia University.
She was recognized by Save the Child for their “Real Award Midwife Honoree” in 2014. In 2015 she was recognized by the American College of Nurse Midwives with the “Young Whippersnapper” award for midwives excelling professionally with less than 10 years’ experience. Last year she completed the Duke University and Johnson & Johnson Nursing Leadership Fellowship.
Mrs Marcelle is known for her passion in midwifery and midwifery’s role in social justice. She continues to build culturally aware midwifery with driven clinical models of care specifically for underserved African American women. She is currently serves on the following boards: March for Moms, National Association for the Advancement of Black Birth, and the Health Advisory team for Anti-Racism Research and Policy Center director by Dr Kendi. Most recently she was appointed to the District’s Inaugural Maternal Mortality Review Committee.
She resides here in Washington, DC, with her husband, Step-son, and two fur-children.
Heather L. Maurer, MA serves as the first Executive Director for the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME), since 2013. In 2018, she successfully led the agency to receive the highest award granted by the U.S. Department of Education obtaining five years of continued recognition for compliance with the Department’s standards and regulations. Current projects include conducting a full five-year review of the preaccreditation as well as the accreditation criteria for midwifery education which has incorporated in its development the application of a newly composed race and racial bias diversity lens and rubric to the review process.
Heather has been an advocate supporting the midwifery model of care for over 25 years and gave birth to her daughter in the free-standing birth center Birth Care with certified nurse-midwives Erin Fulham and Marsha Jackson. She is a founding board member of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Mother Health International (MHI) where she serves as the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors. The organization is dedicated to respond and provide relief to pregnant women and children in areas of disaster, war and extreme economic poverty. MHI is committed to reducing maternal, infant and child mortality rates by creating culturally competent and sustainable birth centers using the midwifery model of care. Current work includes a sustainable, solar powered birth house located in Atiak, Northern Uganda and a project formed in 2014 called The Sisters Keeper Collective. The Sisters Keeper Collective was established in response to the poor birth outcomes that is disproportionately affecting Black women in the U.S. and is training doulas to serve the women in their community.
Heather holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, from University of Lynchburg, a master’s in Public Communications from American University, and recently received a post graduate certificate in nonprofit management from John’s Hopkins University. She is married to her husband Noah Raskin and has three children, Daisy, Mariah and Boman, as well as three crazy poodles, living outside of Washington, DC.
Jeanette McCulloch, IBCLC, is the co-founder of BirthSwell, spreading birth (and breastfeeding and MCH) genius, changing policy, and building businesses and organizations using strategic digital communications.
With more than 20 years experience in communications and women’s health advocacy, she provides consultation to local, statewide, national, and international birth and breastfeeding organizations and small businesses.
She has published research and spoken at national and international conferences on strategic social media, effectively reaching and engaging consumers, and health equity for birth and breastfeeding professionals.
She is passionate about eliminating the impact of racism on birth and lactation outcomes and ensuring that all families have access to high-quality, culturally sensitive birth and lactation care. Jeanette unplugs with her partner, two children, and dog while splashing around in the gorges of her hometown, Ithaca, NY.
Deidre McDaniel, MSW, LCSW has over 20 years of experience in the maternal health field and has worked across a wide variety of settings: hospitals, private healthcare systems, government, nonprofit, and policy institutions. In her current role as Senior Program Manager with the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM), within the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), she provides guidance to state agencies, hospitals and public/private organizations on how to successfully implement and sustain quality improvement projects to reduce severe maternal morbidity and mortality. As the Lead staff on the AIM National Team’s initiatives on eliminating racial inequities among women of color, Ms. McDaniel employs a critical equity framework through which to understand all health care systems, policies, and practices. There is no doubt that Mrs. McDaniel is a leader in both her agency and in the maternal health field, demonstrating empathy, cultural competence, compassion, effective communication, an equity mindset, and sound content expertise. Ms. McDaniel is a licensed certified social worker who earned her bachelor’s degree in social work/health science policy from the University of Maryland (Baltimore County), and master’s degree in social work from the University of Maryland (Baltimore); and has dedicated her career to improving health outcomes for women and children.
Monica McLemore, RN, MPH, PhD, is on faculty at the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing. She is in high demand as an expert on inequities in health services, research, and as a policy advisor nationally. She has received numerous awards for her groundbreaking scholarship and excellence in service, including Person of the Year, Abortion Care Network, 2018, Agent - Provocateur of the Year Award, The Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health, 2017, Amazing Women in Reproductive Health, Association for Reproductive Health Professionals, 2017. Hellman Family Award for Early Career Faculty, 2015-2017, and she was Speaking Race to Power Fellow, CoreAlign, from 2015-2016.
Her research is focused on understanding the factors that influence the health, wellbeing and livelihood of low-income and women of color who she serves clinically at Zuckerberg San Francisco General. Using the intersectional human rights middle range theory called reproductive Justice (RJ), enables her to design rigorous studies that answer novel and complex research questions because RJ is simultaneously a theory, practice and a strategy that is grounded in four principles. Simply put, RJ posits that every person has the right to decide if and when to become pregnant and to determine the conditions under which they will birth. Next, every person has the right to decide they will not become pregnant or have a baby and options for preventing or ending pregnancy are accessible and available. Third, individuals have the right parent children they already have with dignity and has the necessary social supports in safe environments and health communities without fear of violence from individuals or the government. Finally, individuals have the right to disassociate sex from reproduction and that health sexuality and pleasure are essential components to whole and full human life.
I am a board-certified, practicing obstetrician-gynecologist committed to providing full spectrum, evidence-based and compassionate care to historically marginalized populations. I am Chief Clinical Innovation Officer at Louisiana Medicaid and the LSU Health Sciences Center for Healthcare Value and Equity, a state-academic partnership focused on innovation, equity, and evaluation of Medicaid-funded care during a time of rapid policy change. I focus on quality women's and reproductive health, and lead our state Perinatal Quality Collaborative and Maternal Mortality Review. I implement and evaluate care innovations that address the psychosocial determinants of reproductive health and reproductive health disparities through community engagement and the embedding of social support. My work is informed by principles of community-based participatory research and reproductive justice. I value mission-driven, collaborative, and creative work that is responsive to community-identified need and advances equity.
Dr. Mehta grew up in the United Kingdom, India, and New York, and received her undergraduate degree in History and Sociology from Columbia University. She obtained her medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine through the Humanities and Medicine Program, after completing a Doris Duke International Clinical Research Fellowship in Durban, South Africa. She completed her residency training at Boston University Medical Center. She was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Upon completion, Dr. Mehta returned to the Boston University School of Medicine as faculty in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She relocated to New Orleans in August 2017.
Dr. Mehta’s research has been supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics. She serves on the ACOG Committee for American Indian/Alaskan Native Women’s Health. She is an inductee of the Gold Humanism Honor Society and a recipient of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Research Fellowship for Contraceptive Access in Low-Resource Populations, the Boston University Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Award for Humanism in Medicine, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Warren H. Pearse Award for Women's Health Policy Research. Dr Mehta’s clinical interests include obstetric, family planning, reproductive infectious disease, and lesbian, bisexual, and transgender/gender-non-conforming care.
Tami Michele, DO, is a Board Certified OB/GYN in Grand Rapids, MI, and has been a delegate at all previous Home Birth Summits. She is a member of the Collaboration Task Force, and co-author of the Best Practice Transfer Guidelines.Dr. Michele holds a Governor-appointed position with the Michigan Board of Licensed Midwifery, and participates on the Michigan ACOG Advisory council. She also has worked with Michigan AIM to increase maternal safety related to hypertension and hemorrhage.She is currently an Advisory Committee member with the Obstetrics Initiative of the Michigan Value Collaborative to safely reduce the cesarean section rate in Michigan hospitals. Her professional focus also includes safe VBAC practices and access in rural areas, skin to skin during cesarean, doulas, supporting physiologic birth and the midwifery model of care.
Dr. Mittal is a Family Physician and Medical Director at HealthNet, the largest Medicaid insurance provider in California. She manages the PPO line of business and also directs strategic initiatives aimed at improving the care of the most vulnerable populations covered by the plan, with a focus on narrowing health disparities.
She has launched a Health improvement Project in Los Angeles County that will be providing doulas for 150 African American Women through a community-based partnership. This initiative is a pilot program with plans to expand in the future and to use the results for broad-based advocacy around doula coverage by health plans.
Dr. Mittal also works at the Clinicians Consultation Center at UCSF, a national HIV/AIDS warmline, where she is recognized as a national expert on Perinatal HIV care. In addition to her clinical work, she has published in the areas of well-child care, group visits, preconception care, and perinatal HIV. She is also currently a Fellow at the California Health Care Foundation.
Shafia Monroe is a veteran midwife, a doula trainer, a cultural competency trainer, an herbalist, and a motivational speaker. She holds an Independent Primary Midwife certification, a BA in sociology, and a Master of Public Health.
Shafia began her birth work in the early 70’s. In 2016 Madame Noir noted her “Queen Mother of a Midwifery Movement,” because of her pioneer midwifery work in her home town. She established the non-profit Boston Traditional Childbearing Group (TCBG) in 1978 to improve birth outcomes. This was the beginning of her organized outreach efforts, not only to recruit and train Black women as midwives as a method of reducing infant and maternal mortality, but to encourage women to consider home birth and midwifery services as an act of self-determination; Shafia spent 16 years serving as Boston’s home birth midwife, a community organizer, and the CEO.
Monroe is profiled in the book “Granny Midwives and Black Woman Authors" for her ground-breaking work in training Black midwives in Boston, Massachusetts, her hometown. Shafia moved to Portland, OR in 1991 and founded the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC) to create an international Black midwives, healers and doulas movement. ICTC was the first US non-profit to increase the number of Black midwives and doulas to reduce infant and maternal mortality and to empower parents. Through ICTC’s coalition work, Oregon became the first state in the nation to pass Medicaid reimbursement for doula services.
In 2014, she created Shafia Monroe Consulting/Birthing CHANGE to help health care providers and doulas, achieve cultural competency, increase clients and improve birth outcomes. She is president of SMC Full Circle Doula Birth Companion Training, LLC (aka ICTC Full Circle Doula Training) that is built on the legacy of the 20th Century African American midwife, leadership, and reclaiming Black birth practices to heal and empower families to improve maternity care. Shafia has been training full circle doulas since 2002. She is a member of Black Mamas Matter Alliance, Home Birth Summit Planning Committee, Oregon Doula Association, Oregon Health Authority-Office of Equity and Inclusion: Cultural Competency Continuing Education Advisory Committee, Oregon Islamic Chaplain Organization Advisory Committee, and Black Mothers ACTT for Safe Care Initiative.
Her work has been recognized with numerous awards and honors; including the Life Time Achievement Award for Human Rights in Childbirth; Life Time Achievement Service Award for Community Health; the Midwife Hero Award from American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) Midwives of Color Committee; and she featured in “Women Making History in Portland,” Mural. In 2018, she received the Unsung Shero Award, from SISTAS LLC.
Shafia is a wife, a mother of seven, and nana of nine. She mentors hundreds of women to claim their power as healers, midwives, doulas and birth activists. In her spare time, Shafia enjoys cooking for family and friends, walking, gardening, writing, fishing, and horseback riding.
Christine Morton is a medical sociologist at the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC) at Stanford University where she conducts research on maternal mortality and morbidity and helps translate the findings into maternal quality toolkits. Using qualitative and mixed methods, Dr Morton seeks to explore the social meanings of maternal health quality among all stakeholders. Her speaking and writing connects her to nursing, obstetric, midwifery, doula, public and social science audiences. Her book, Birth Ambassadors: Doulas & the Re-emergence of Woman-Supported Childbirth in America, documents the history and experience of the doula role in US maternity care and is on the required reading list for DONA International.
She is the founder of ReproNetwork.org, an international listserv with over 600 subscribers, mostly social scientists who study reproductive/maternal practices, policies and ideologies. She is married to an internet sociologist and they have a son and a daughter, ages 23 and 18, who were born safe and healthy to satisfied parents thanks to great teamwork between their midwives, doulas and OBs.
Dr. Annie Murray is a Clinical Neuropsychologist from San Diego, California. She is the mother to two sons, Tommy, age 5, and Jack, age 3. Following Jack's birth, she experienced severe complications including multiple (delayed) post-partum hemorrhages, requiring massive transfusion, resuscitation, and emergency hysterectomy. Since then, she has been a maternal health advocate, primarily focusing her efforts as an Ambassador for the non-profit organization Every Mother Counts.
Aza brings more than 15 years of experience in community organizing, reproductive health education, program management and development, and curriculum design. She is a Certified Professional Midwife, Family Counselor, and the Founding Executive Director of Mamatoto Village, a perinatal family support organization in Washington DC that utilizes a three-generation model that integrates a holistic approach to care delivery and extends support toward family stability. Under Aza’s leadership, Mamatoto Village was successful in securing Medicaid Managed Care reimbursement for comprehensive non-clinical perinatal support services. She subsequently designed an expansive curriculum for training Perinatal Health Workers through a two year workforce development program that builds upon a community health worker model, while meeting the triple aim of improving maternal, infant, and family health; creating a pathway to family sustaining income; and delivering high quality training with transferable skills.
Aza is fiercely dedicated woman who believes that by promoting health equity, the reduction of barriers in maternal and child health begin to dissipate; giving rise to healthy individuals, healthy families and healthy communities. Aza was recently honored by the Mayor of the District of Columbia with a “Washington Women of Excellence Award” in the Leader in Maternal Health category. She is currently participating in a Health Equity Learning Partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focused on ingenuity in maternal health.
Aza is pursing her Doctorate in Human Services with a concentration in Organizational Leadership and Management with an eye towards moving organizations from passion to sustainability and cultivating innovative models of perinatal care delivery in high needs communities.
Aza is a mother to three spirited and gentle children and partner to an amazing artist.
Mimi Niles, LM, CNM, MPH is a full spectrum midwife and a Ph.D. candidate at New York University. Her research explores the potential of integrated models of midwifery care in creating health equity in historically disenfranchised communities. This research is generously funded by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health – a division of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Her work as a midwife, in the largest urban public health care networks in the nation, perpetually confirms her commitment to improving the delivery and quality of care experienced by pregnant and parenting people. She is extensively trained in utilizing intersectional feminist theory and qualitative research methods as a means to harness community-based knowledge to promote transformative and justice-oriented healthcare policy and programming.
She serves as adjunct clinical faculty in both nursing and midwifery programs at New York University and Frontier Nursing University. As an active member of the midwifery community as an executive board member of the New York State Association of Licensed Midwives, she has been involved in the NYC Maternal Mortality Review Committee and the NYS Governor's Taskforce on Maternal Mortality and Disparate Racial Outcomes.
She has received many prestigious awards including the Johnson & Johnson Minority Faculty Award, Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholar Award, and ACNM’s 2018 Carrington-Nieves-Hsia Doctoral Student of Color award.
Her most meaningful contribution to date is the birth and cultivation of two humans – who she is blessed to mother. She is also the proud daughter of an Indian immigrant midwife and grew up in Queens, NY.
Judy Norsigian is a co-founder and current chair of Our Bodies Ourselves (also known as the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective), and a co-author of all the Simon & Schuster editions of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.” She also helped to edit “Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth.” Judy has spoken and written on a wide range of women’s health concerns, including reproductive health and justice, human biotechnologies, women and health care reform, and midwifery advocacy. She has appeared on numerous national television and radio programs, including Oprah, the Today show, Good Morning America, The Early Show and NBC Nightly News. Her personal recognitions include: the Public Service Award from the Massachusetts Public Health Association; Radcliffe College Alumnae Association Annual Recognition Award; the Massachusetts Health Council Award; and an honorary doctorate degree from Boston University.
Lauren Nunally received her nursing degree from the University of West London, England, UK in 1992 and shortly after pursued her desire to become a midwife and in 1994 successfully completed the postgraduate course at the University of Westminster. In the following years Lauren held various positions as a midwife, which included conducting births in hospitals, birthing centers and patients’ homes.
Lauren was instrumental in the development of Midwifery Group Practices within a large northern suburb of London that served over 1000 women. The service provided comprehensive midwifery care for low risk women by designated teams of midwives providing care from the first OB visit, through the antepartum period, 24 coverage for intrapartum care and up to 6 weeks postpartum.
Following arrival in the USA in 2006, Lauren transitioned to work as an OB nurse at a large facility in Atlanta, GA. She functioned in several roles in the busy L&D unit that included Charge RN, Clinical Educator and Operations Coordinator of the inpatient High-Risk Perinatal Unit, during which time she completed a Masters of Public Health degree with a focus on Health Policy and Management.
Lauren joined the Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society in February 2018 as the Perinatal Quality Coordinator with a priority to collaborate with the Society’s OB physician membership, federal, state and nonprofit organizations, L&D units and other stakeholders to work on improving the health outcomes for mothers and babies in the state of Georgia. Lauren is also an abstractor for the state Maternal Mortality Review Committee and the clinical specialist with the Georgia Perinatal Quality Collaborative.
Talita Oseguera is a second year student in the Nurse Midwifery and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner program at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). She is currently a field nurse with the SOLARS study, one of the first, large-scale studies, designed by women of color partnering with pregnant through postpartum Black and Brown women and individuals to understand the impact of stress, anxiety, and racism on preterm both in addition to resilience and coping as protective factors. Talita recently worked as a graduate student researcher on She is a former co-coordinator of the Family Planning and Reproductive Choices elective within the Obgyn Department at UCSF and a member of Nursing Students of Color. Talita co-authored, Battling Over Birth: Black Women and the Maternal Health Care Crisis, the second publication of Oakland-based Black Women Birthing Justice. Her interests include reproductive justice, community-based participatory research, honoring and amplifying the voices, experiences, and issues of Black women across the sexual and reproductive continuum, walking along side birthworkers of color who reflect the communities they serve, and improving care for and with Black women and individuals. Talita is married and a mother of one.
Michelle Palmer, MS, CNM, FACNM has been practicing full-scope midwifery since 1998. Passionate about physiologic birth, she has been an innovator in her state and globally throughout her career. She has served multiple terms on the Advisory Council for Midwifery at the Rhode Island Department of Health and as Affiliate President as well as Chapter Co-Chair early in her midwifery career. She is currently serving as a member of the RI Department of Health Birth Center Regulatory Advisory Committee and is current chair of the Home and Birth Center Practice Subdivision and a member of the Liability Practice Subdivision for the ACNM Division of Advancement of Midwifery. She was a contributing author for the ACNM Handbook for Home Birth Practice. Michelle is also currently a PhD student at the University of Rhode Island pursuing research on the role of the midwife in care of the newborn and physiologic care of the newborn. Michelle is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Rhode Island for the College of Nursing.
She also works as a midwife attending home and hospital birth with obstetric and newborn privileges at local community hospital. She is responsible for increasing awareness of seamless transfer and importance of integration of community midwifery services into regional health systems in Rhode Island.
Part of this work includes work towards the goal of growing more midwives as a preceptor for midwifery students providing opportunities in home, hospital and birth center setting both in the United States and globally for all midwives.
A former political and media consultant, Cristen is the founder of Birth Monopoly and former vice president of Improving Birth, spearheading multiple consumer and media campaigns to get the maternity care crisis and obstetric violence into national conversation. She is a speaker, writer, activist, and consultant primarily focusing on the rights of birthing people. She hosts Birth Allowed Radio and is producing a documentary film called Mother May I about obstetric violence in facility-based care.
Starting with birthing people's rights in childbirth as a foundation is how we transform maternity care. Cristen's online course "Know Your Rights: Legal and Human Rights in Childbirth for Birth Professionals and Advocates" is the only one on the topic. It was created for nurses, doulas, and other professionals to develop a deeper understanding of the rights of childbearing people and confidence in advocating for them.
Film is a potent medium for change, and Mother May I is the first feature-length documentary film produced in the U.S. on mistreatment on maternity wards: In 2016, Caroline Malatesta won a groundbreaking $16 million verdict in Alabama after nurses at the most exclusive hospital in town assaulted her as she was giving birth, leaving her with a permanent physical injury and PTSD. But Caroline’s astonishing story is just the tip of the iceberg. What her hospital tried to cover up is a dirty secret that reaches far outside their walls. Throughout the $100 billion U.S. childbirth industry, firsthand reports reveal an epidemic of institutional abuse in the name of safety – bullying, disrespect, and even force during childbirth. It’s an industry that produces the worst health outcomes in the developed world while clinging tightly to its market, ensuring families have nowhere else to go. Link: www.mothermayithemovie.com
Rebecca is the founding, owner and director of Roots Community Birth Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has a passion for creating a safe space for all birthing families. She is the community partner lead for a Robert Woods Johnson research project on understanding ways to reduce racial inequities in birth outcomes, co-led by Rachel Hardeman, Ph.D., M.P.H., and Katy Kozhimannil, Ph.D., M.P.A., researchers and professors with the School of Public Health.
Brynne is a midwife, national advocate, and thought leader within maternity care delivery and HIT solutions. By aligning US midwifery with the principles of disruptive innovation, Brynne focuses on the insights gained from the trenches of decentralized care delivered to women in homes and birth centers and looks for opportunities to scale high quality, value driven model of maternity care to hospitals and health systems.
In addition to practicing midwifery for over 15 years, she has served as a member of state and national regulatory boards to develop standards of practice for quality care delivery. She was a midwife delegate to numerous national and international maternal child health initiatives, including the International Confederation of Midwives Congress, the Home Birth Consensus Summit, the US Midwifery Education, Regulation and Association Coalition, the Institute of Medicine Workshop on Research Issues in the Assessment of Birth Settings, and the American College of Ob/Gyn and Women’s Health Registry Alliance convened ReVITALize project for developing standardized data definitions for maternity. She travels extensively in various capacities representing care model concepts for quality patient engagement and practice standards for maternity care.
Brynne is the founder and CEO of Maternity Neighborhood, a digital health platform designed to support patient-centered care. By creating patient facing features within the tools maternity care providers use that support decisions aligned with patient values and preferences, Maternity Neighborhood looks to deliver relationship-based care, the “secret sauce” of midwifery and doula care, across all providers and settings. Recognized by Health 2.0 and the Institute of Medicine as one of the top 50 health innovations of 2012 and the Charlottesville Business Innovation Council Innovator of the Year for 2015, MN continues to set the standard for maternity care and technology innovation. Maternity Neighborhood was also the subcontractor to the American Association of Birth Centers, facilitating data collection and patient education experience surveys for the Center for Medicaid Services Strong Start for Mothers project.
Kweli Rashied-Henry is Director of Health Equity for March of Dimes. In this role, she works to strengthen the organization’s equity agenda, in addition to supporting the work of the March of Dimes Prematurity Collaborative Health Equity Workgroup. Kweli joined March of Dimes in 2014 as State Coordinator for the North Carolina Preconception Health Campaign. She also served as the East Regional Director for Maternal and Child Health for the organization. Before moving to North Carolina in 2012, Kweli led two separate initiatives to address health disparities in minority and immigrant communities. She directed the statewide Black Infant Mortality Reduction Resource Center in New Jersey and served as policy analyst for the Brooklyn Health Disparities Center, a collaboration between SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health and the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office. Kweli previously served as Associate Director for the Center for Women’s Health at the Association of Black Cardiologists, and as Deputy Director for the Alzheimer’s and Family Caregiver Resource Center at the NYC Department for the Aging. Kweli has over 20 years of experience in community-based public health with a focus on policy and management. Kweli graduated with a Bachelor of the Arts from Bennett College and a Master of Public Health from Emory University. She is a candidate for the DrPH in Public Health Leadership program at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a proud mom of four beautiful sons.
Lynn Roberts has a BS in human development from Howard University (1984) and a PhD in Human Services Studies from Cornell University (1991). Between 1998-2016, Dr. Roberts was a faculty member in the Urban Public Health Program and affiliated faculty member in the Department of Women and Gender Studies at Hunter College of the City University of New York (CUNY). In 2016 she joined the faculty in the Community Health and Social Sciences Program of the recently established CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy where she is now the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Alumni Relations. In addition, Dr. Roberts is a consultant to the New York City Health Department’s Sexual and Reproductive Justice Community Engagement Group which developed the NYC Standards of Care for Respectful Care at Birth. Prior to CUNY, Dr. Roberts oversaw the development, implementation and evaluation of several programs for women and youth in NYC, including a comprehensive program for substance using mothers and their families in Harlem. She is an emeritus board member of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and co-edited with Loretta Ross, Erika Derkas, Pamela Bridgewater-Touré, and Whitney Peoples an anthology, Radical Reproductive Justice: Foundations, Theory, Practice, Critique (Feminist Press, November 2017).
Dr. Roberts’ current activism and scholarship examine the intersections of race, class and gender in adolescent dating relationships, juvenile justice and reproductive health policies; as well as the impact of models of collaborative inquiry and teaching on civic and political engagement. She is honored to be the mother of four amazing human beings and is in constant awe of her six grandchildren.
Paula X. Rojas is a community organizer, licensed midwife and social justice trainer. Born in Chile, then growing up in Houston, TX, she spent over a decade working as an organizer in Brooklyn, NY before returning to TX in 2008.
For over 25 years, she has worked on issues of gender violence, racial justice, women’s reproductive health, childcare access, health care access and community alternatives to policing. Rojas co-founded a number of community-based organizations working at the intersections of race, class and gender including Sista II Sista, Pachamama, Mamas of Color Rising, Mama Sana Vibrant Woman, Refugio: Center for Community Organizing and the New York Organizing Support Center. As a result of her own challenges experienced while pregnant on Medicaid, Paula became a doula and then a licensed midwife in 2014. In 2012 she co-founded Mama Sana Vibrant Woman and developed a model that integrates cultural congruence, midwifery and community organizing in order to put a more just and loving maternal health model into practice.
Paula is a contributor to the INCITE! collections: The Color of Violence and The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex. She co-authored the recent report by the National Perinatal Taskforce: Building a Movement to Birth a More Just and Loving World, that lays out local models and national recommendations to address the current crisis in maternal and infant mortality in communities of color in the U.S. She is the mother of two amazing kids, Xue-li and Camino, and loves to dance!
Amy Romano is Senior Vice President of Clinical Programs at Baby+Co., a multi-state network of maternity and wellness centers. In this role, she oversees design and implementation of the clinical care model, education and wellness programming, and quality management. Amy has been involved in maternity care system redesign for more than a decade, and is an author of several books, peer-reviewed articles, decision support tools, and clinical toolkits on this topic. Her areas of expertise include physiologic childbirth, patient activation and engagement, prenatal and preconception care models, implementing shared decision making, and integrating high-quality midwifery care and safe out-of-hospital birth options into the healthcare system.
Nick Rubashkin MD, MA, PhD(c) is an Associate Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of California San Francisco, where he is also a PhD candidate in Global Health Sciences. His research interests include non-evidence based obstetric procedures, quantitative measures of respectful care, and social science methods. He was a visiting scholar at the Institute of Behavioural Sciences at Semmelweis University in Budapest in 2014, where he and his team–under the mentorship of Saraswathi Vedam–completed a survey of women’s experiences with evidence-based, respectful care across place of birth. Dr. Rubashkin has also published on the persistent use of uterine fundal pressure in Spain. His ethnographic dissertation research will concern constructions of age, race, and obesity as they relate to VBAC in the United States. Dr. Rubashkin was born at home on an island twenty miles off the coast of Rockland, Maine.
Catherine Ruhl, MS, CNM is Director of Women’s Health Programs at the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). Catherine has 36 years of experience in maternal health as a clinician, manager and educator. Catherine represented AWHONN at the 2013 Homebirth Summit and has continued work with the Collaboration Task Force. She co-coordinated AWHONN's 2018 Leadership Summit on Racial and Ethnic Disparities which addressed disparities in women's health outcomes and in the nursing workforce. Catherine is project manager for AWHONN's sexual and reproductive health facility recognition program. She obtained her Bachelors in Nursing from the University of Kansas and her Masters in Nursing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Catherine has been a certified nurse-midwife for 31 years and currently practices at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, NM. She is clinical adjunct faculty for Frontier Nursing University’s nurse-midwifery program.
Carol Sakala, PhD, MSPH, leads maternal health and maternity care programming at the National Partnership for Women & Families, a not-for-profit organization in Washington DC. She joined the organization in 2013 as Childbirth Connection joined forces with the National Partnership to integrate maternity care policy and quality into the National Partnership’s program portfolio. She is a long-time maternity care advocate, educator, researcher, author and policy analyst, with a continuous focus on meeting the needs and interests of childbearing women and their families. Carol sits on advisory bodies and work groups and comments on proposed policies, focusing on payment reform, performance measurement and other ways to improve maternity care quality and transform the maternity care system. She has been an investigator on all national Listening to Mothers surveys (2002-) and was Principal Investigator of the most recent Listening to Mothers in California Survey. She helps create or commission foundational resources for the field on such topics as the cost of having a baby, maternity care and liability, evidence-based maternity care, effectiveness of labor support, hormonal physiology of childbearing and performance of the nation’s maternity care system. She led the National Partnership’s recent convening and collaboration of 17 national leaders resulting in the consensus report, Blueprint for Advancing High-Value Maternity Care Through Physiologic Childbearing (2018). Through her guidance, the National Partnership maintains www.childbirthconnection.org, which features results of systematic reviews to support childbearing women in informed maternity care decision making and helps them navigate the maternity care system. Before coming to the National Partnership, Carol worked to advance evidence-based maternity care for 14 years as director of programs at Childbirth Connection. She was a Pew Health Policy fellow at Boston University, where she received her doctorate in health policy through the University Professors Program, and has master's degrees from the University of Utah and the University of Chicago.
Anjali Sardeshmukh is a Licensed Midwife (LM) and Certified Professional Midwife (CPM). She completed her midwifery training at the International School of Midwifery, Miami, Florida, in 2009. After obtaining her license, Anjali primarily attended births in home settings in Miami, Florida. Anjali is passionate about Birth Justice and increasing access to midwifery care, having been part of the inception of reproductive justice organization, Mobile Midwife (now Southern Birth Justice Network) in 2009. She moved to Oakland, California in September 2017 and joined the San Francisco Birth Center as a staff midwife. Her work in equity has moved from participating with people on the front lines of the maternal healthcare crisis to now increasing conversations on the importance of creating access and equity in midwifery care at a birth center housed in San Francisco. Anjali is looking forward to celebrating her 10th year of practicing midwifery in 2019, and continuing to fight for Birth Justice.
Cherisse Scott has worked as an educator, advocate and activist in Reproductive Justice for over 10 years. In 2011, Scott relocated back to Memphis, TN from Chicago and later that year founded SisterReach, currently, the only Reproductive Justice organization in the state of Tennessee. Under Ms. Scott’s leadership, SisterReach released their 2015 report on the need for comprehensive sexuality education for southern youth of color, rolled out their ProWoman Billboard campaign in opposition to anti-abortion billboards erected in Memphis targeting Black men, rolled out their state and nationally based clergy cohort which trains faith leaders on social justice issues, and presented to the United Nations regarding the impact of the fetal assault law on TN women. SisterReach most recently released their research report on the impact of the Fetal Assault Law on Marginalized Women in TN.
SisterReach's work on the fetal assault law led to a victory of defeating HB 1660 which criminalized mothers struggling with drug addiction during the 2016 legislative session. Ms. Scott is the current chair of Memphis Teen Vision, was featured in NBCNews #31DaysofFeminism campaign and was a Rockwood Institute Fellow in 2016. Ms. Scott and the work of SisterReach is featured in the January 2018 edition of O Magazine, recognized by Essence Magazine as one of their 2018 Woke 100, and she is a sought out national speaker on reproductive justice and other human rights violations experienced by vulnerable Tennesseans.
Demetra is a Registered Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) and Certified Professional Medical Auditor (CPMA), operating a private practice in Colorado Springs, CO. Demetra apprenticed under the Portfolio Evaluation Process (PEP) and subsequently enrolled at Midwives College of Utah (MCU) graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Midwifery (BSM) in 2017. Demetra began attending births at 16 supporting teenage moms in her local community. Currently, Demetra is continuing her education in pursuit of becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). Passionate about reproductive health, infant & maternal mortality, and equitable perinatal care, Demetra is the founder of the only Perinatal Open Access Clinic in Colorado. Demetra serves as the president of the Colorado National Association of Certified Professionals Midwives chapter (CO-NACPM), serves as a board member for Infant & Maternal Mortality Task Force of Colorado. Demetra is also an instructor of Ethics and Law in Midwifery course at MCU.
Sheri A. Sesay-Tuffour, PhD, CAE
Chief Executive Officer
American College of Nurse-Midwives
Dr. Sesay-Tuffour is Chief Executive Officer of the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), the leading organization in the United States representing certified nurse-midwives and certified midwives who are primary care providers for women throughout their lifespan, with a special emphasis on pregnancy, childbirth, gynecologic and reproductive health. She is a chief advocate for the well-being of women and infants through the practice of midwifery, expanding access to care, removing barriers to practice, and advancing health equity for women and families.
Committing the past twenty years to serving mission-centric organizations; prior to ACNM, Dr. Sesay-Tuffour was vice president of business operations for the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) where she oversaw the organization’s financial and business operations, including ensuring the integrity of accounting processes, internal controls, budgeting, financial reporting, and forecasting. She implemented the organization’s first talent management and team-based project management strategy in alignment with comprehensive organizational strategies, policies, and procedures to reinforce business objectives. Before HRS, she was executive director for the International Board of Heart Rhythm Examiners overseeing board governance, business strategy, finance, and operations.
Dr. Sesay-Tuffour holds the certified association executive designation and a doctorate degree in organizational leadership from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP); is a lifetime inductee of Yale University’s Edward Bouchet Graduate Honor Society for outstanding scholarly achievement; and was awarded a certificate of distinction for successful completion of the 2015 TCSPP Preparing Future Faculty Program where she also serves as adjunct professor. She holds a master’s degree in science administration from Trinity University of Washington, DC and a bachelor’s degree in communications from West Virginia State University. She has professional affiliations with the American Society of Association Executives, Executive Leadership Council, Society for Human Resource Management, Project Management Institute and remains highly engaged in volunteer work and community affairs.
Executive Director of Sister Song, a queer, black, NC native, has organized extensively against human rights abuse, the prison industry, racism, and systemic violence against Southern black women and LBGTQ people. A proud graduate of the historically black Johnson C. Smith University, she earned a bachelor’s in Communications and organized for LGBTQ rights on and off campus. She then became the Operations Director and the first person of color at the Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Community Center. Next, she trained black youth in activism, philanthropy, and fundraising as the Ujamaa Coordinator for Grassroots Leadership. In 2010, she moved to GA to be our Development Coordinator; she was promoted to Deputy Coordinator in 2011, Interim Executive Director in 2012, and Executive Director in 2013.
Monica is a nationally sought-after facilitator, speaker, and organizer, constantly called upon to travel the country for appearances. She is the only woman among the 4 founders of Charlotte, NC's Black Gay Pride Celebration, the first in the Bible Belt, which received awards from the National Black Justice Coalition and the Human Rights Coalition for its incredible launch with 7,000 participants. She has been featured in many publications for her activism, and has written many articles on LGBTQ issues, RJ, over-policing of black/brown communities, philanthropy, and Southern activism. In 2014 she was named a New Civil Rights Leader by Essence Magazine, and in 2015 was chosen as a panelist for the Women of the World Summit. Also a full circle doula certified through the International Center for Traditional Childbirth, she serves on the boards of the Fund for Southern Communities and the legendary Highlander Center.
Ravae is dedicated to helping families through her work as a birth doula, postpartum doula, lactation professional and childbirth educator. With more than 17 years of experience as a doula and three years as a Lamaze certified childbirth educator, Ravae has supported more than 560 families as they birth and nurture their babies.
Ravae currently serves as President on the board of DONA International which is an organization that educates and certifies birth and postpartum doulas. With nearly 5,000 members, DONA International is one of the largest and longstanding doula training organizations in the U.S.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, Ravae was one of Wisconsin’s earliest certified hospital-based birth doulas. Before becoming a doula, Ravae received a Political Science degree from University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI) and a law degree from Marquette University Law School (Milwaukee, WI). She spent 7 years of her early professional life as an attorney for the Public Defender's Office-Milwaukee Trial where she represented indigent clients in misdemeanor, felony and drug treatment court cases.
Ravae continues her advocacy and support of birthing people with a focus on Black, multi-ethnic and families most impacted by inequities in the U.S. healthcare system. That support comes in the form of childbirth education classes, doula education and doula services between the Washington D.C. area and Florida. When not traveling for doula work, Ravae lives outside of Miami, FL with her partner, Othello III.
Tanya Smith-Johnson is a mother, Navy veteran and former hospital corpsman, spouse to an active duty Civil Engineer Corp Officer and homeschooler. Tanya is the mother of 6 children, two in the hospital with a midwife/doctor team, one birth center and 3 home births.
She has a breadth of experiences and knowledge from all spectrums from military medicine to the civilian sector. She has worked and trained within the medical system as a Navy hospital Corpsman and former medical student at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
She has experienced both sides of birth as a consumer and birthing person of 3 children born with midwives as well as the care provider as a midwifery student and apprentice. She is passionate about reproductive justice , birth equity and the improvement of Birth outcomes for black and brown people.
She is the former president of California Families for Access to Midwives/CFAM and current Vice president of the California Association of Midwives and board member and Oahu representative to the Midwives Alliance of Hawaii. She has worked with California stakeholders and legislators to help the passage of key legislation to increase access to licensed midwives and define their scope. Tanya is also a Student Ambassador to the Foundation for the Advancement of Midwifery and co-chair of the Birth Disparities and Equity Team for the California Association of Midwives.
Tanya holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Masters of Science in Medical Science from Hampton University. She currently resides in Honolulu with her husband of 19 years and 6 children .
Char'ly is a Detroit native and proud alumna of the University of Michigan and Wayne State University. She joined the Henry Ford team in 2006 and has been spreading her wings ever since. After having served diligently as a bedside nurse, nurse educator and assistant nurse manager in the Cardiovascular ICU and Surgical ICU departments, she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). Currently, Char’ly serves as the Director of Midwifery Services for Henry Ford Health System. In partnership with the Women-Inspired Neighborhood Network (WINN), she aided in the implementation of the innovative Enhanced Group Prenatal Care Model at Henry Ford Hospital.
She is not only a full-time CNM at Henry Ford Health System, she is the founder Metro Detroit Midwives of Color (MDMOC). MDMOC is a non-profit professional organization, inclusive of all minority midwives that serve women in the Metro Detroit area. Ultimately all of their efforts will serve to reduce the prevalence of health disparities among ethnic minorities. MDMOC is an extension of her commitment to serve the women of Detroit. Char'ly's vision for this organization is to provide other providers the opportunity to develop a network, irrespective of their employers, that will directly serve the needs of the community through role modeling, community-based initiatives and seminars. MDMOC will also support the growth and diversification of the profession by serving as mentors for aspiring Midwifery students of color.
Char’ly is the 2018 recipient of the Kitty Ernst Award from the American College of Nurse-Midwives. This award is given to one midwife each year who has been certified for less than ten years, and has demonstrated innovative, creative endeavors in midwifery and/or women’s health clinical practice, education, administration, or research.
Jonathan M. Snowden, PhD, is an epidemiologist and health services researcher at the School of Public Health at Oregon Health & Science University and Portland State University. His interests include childbirth care, maternal health, the reproductive health of racial/ethnic minorities and sexual/gender minorities, and of populations at the intersection of these groups. Methodologically, his focus is on formulating questions and applying methods to improve causal inference from observational data. His research program is trans-disciplinary, situated at the interface of population health science, clinical practice, and health policy. He collaborates closely with clinician-scientists from the fields of pediatrics, obstetrics-gynecology, maternal-fetal medicine, nursing, and midwifery. His teaching focuses on epidemiology doctoral training in study design and advanced methods. His current work focuses on maternal health before, during, and after birth.
I am a doctor specializing in Maternal Fetal Medicine and in 2018 became Director of Labor and Delivery at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, MA. I was previously in Syracuse, NY at SUNY Upstate Medical Center where I was OB Director of the Regional Perinatal Program of Central New York. I have been involved with institutional and regional quality improvement efforts with an emphasis on fostering communication and collaborative care, learning and sharing the best practices in pregnancy and childbirth (and how they might be applied to women at higher risk for complications) and advocating for transparency and accountability for providers of maternity care. I have practiced obstetrics for many years and love my work deeply. I am an educator and a lifelong learner.
I am a wife and mother of 2 beautiful children, a daughter who is 3.5, and a son, who is 7 months. I was introduced to the Birth world 4 years ago when preparing for my daughter’s arrival. I hired a doula based on a recommendation from my prenatal yoga instructor. I had no idea what a doula was but I quickly learned how invaluable she would be in my birth experience. Not long after the birth of my daughter, I found myself drawn to learning more. I went through training at CCSM for my Doula, Lactation Educator and Childbirh Educator certifications. It was the best decision. Fast forward three years and 25+ doula babies later and I birthed my son in the tub at The Birth Place with Jennie Joseph. I look forward to moving forward with my birth work and making a diffeeenr in the lives of any woman who desires a safe Birth space.
Kathrin Stoll is a PhD-level researcher with over 15 years of experience. She holds federal (CIHR) and provincial (MSFHR) postdoctoral salary awards. Her program of research focuses on clinical, psychosocial, and health systems factors that are associated with optimal maternal and newborn outcomes. She has expertise in quantitative research methods and analyses, including survey and evaluation research, scale construction and psychometric testing, perinatal population data analysis, and regression modelling.
Because of her interdisciplinary education and work experience, spanning the disciplines of psychology, sociology, epidemiology, nursing, family practice, and midwifery, Kathrin has had the pleasure of working with clinicians, graduate students, and fellow researchers from different disciplines. She is experienced with grant development, has published over 30 papers, and volunteered for 5 years as co-editor of the Canadian Journal of Midwifery Research & Practice. Kathrin works closely with 2-4 midwifery undergraduate and graduate students every year and enjoys mentoring them through the process of developing the research skills necessary to complete their capstone/thesis projects.
Nan Strauss is the Director of Policy and Advocacy for Every Mother Counts, where she leads the organization’s efforts to advance policies that expand access to evidence-based, respectful maternity care practices. Previously, as the Director of Research and Policy at Choices in Childbirth, her work included research and advocacy to elevate midwifery and doula care as high value models of care and supporting the development and implementation of the Healthy Women, Healthy Futures community doula initiative serving all five boroughs of New York City.
Nan’s focus on maternal health began at Amnesty International USA where she co-authored the groundbreaking report, Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA in 2010. Her work framed maternal and reproductive health in the context of the global human right to health, and included campaigning, policy, advocacy, and media initiatives targeting maternal health improvements. Prior to joining Amnesty, Nan served as a staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights litigating cases in federal court, including taking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to court over the agency’s refusal to make emergency contraception available over the counter to women of all ages.
Heather Thompson, MS, PhD, is a molecular and cellular biologist, clinical researcher, birthworker and queer parent. She has worked on issues related to reproductive health for more than 25 years, advocating for equity, access and autonomy in childbirth. From 2010-2017 she was the Research Director at a freestanding birth center in Colorado, advocating for midwives and community birth through data generation, analysis and dissemination. Currently she is the Deputy Director of Elephant Circle, a birth justice organization allows her to combine her background in birth access and equity with science and community organizing. She is passionate about supporting the family unit and helping families navigate their own journey, particularly as it relates to maternity care, birth choices and legal cannabis. Born and raised in Colorado, Heather enjoys being outside around a campfire with her partner, two kids and larger community.
Dr. Vanderlaan is a certified nurse midwife who currently teaches nursing at Emory University. She conducts health services research on maternal health, focusing on safety and quality of maternal care. She uses a diverse set of research tools including spatial analysis and meta-analysis. Her work produces the evidence for setting policy, including hospital level policy. She is the 2019 Chair for the Lamaze Research Initiative and will join the faculty at University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Nursing in May 2019.
Saraswathi Vedam is Lead Investigator of the Birth Place Lab and Professor of Midwifery in the Faculty of Medicine at University of British Columbia. Over the past 34 years, she has served as clinician, educator, researcher, and mother to four remarkable women. Professor Vedam has coordinated several transdisciplinary and community-led research projects. In the US, she lead the Access and Integration Maternity care Mapping (AIMM) Study on the impact of integration of midwives on maternal-newborn outcomes, and the Giving Voice to Mothers Study that explored experiences of respect, discrimination, and inequities in access to quality care among communities of color in the US. Her research projects include the Canadian Birth Place Study examining attitudes to place of birth among maternity care providers; and Changing Childbirth in BC, a provincial, participatory study of women’s experiences of maternity care. She is currently PI of a national CIHR-funded national research project to evaluate respectful maternity care across Canada. Her scholarly work includes development of pragmatic tools that improve person-centered care, including patient-designed quality measures: Mothers’ Autonomy in Decision Making (MADM) scale and the Mothers on Respect (MORi) index, which received the 2017 National Quality Forum Innovation Prize. In 2017 she was also selected as one of the inaugural Michael Smith Health Research Institute Health Professional Investigators.
Professor Vedam has been active in setting national and international policy on place of birth, and midwifery education and regulation. She has provided expert consultations to policy makers, public health agencies, and legislators in Mexico, Hungary, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Canada, the US, and India. She was Convener and Chair of 3 national Home Birth Summits. At these historic summits a multi-stakeholder group of leaders (clinicians, consumers, policymakers, legislators, researchers, ethicists, and administrators) crafted a common agenda to address equitable access to high quality care across birth settings in the United States.
Allison Walsh IBCLC LCCE FACCE is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and doula in private practice in New York City. She also serves as the Outreach Coordinator for the New York Milk Bank and trains childbirth educators with the NYC Lamaze Childbirth Educator Program. She is a past president of Lamaze International and currently serves on Lamaze’s Certification Council, and as a delegate to the United States Breastfeeding Committee where she is Chair of the Nominating Committee. Allison is a member of the New York City Breastfeeding Leadership Council and an active La Leche League Leader. Recently, she co-chaired the Save the Birthing Center Committee which was a group of professionals, advocates and consumers who fought valiantly but unsuccessfully to stop the closure of the Mount Sinai West (formerly Roosevelt) Birthing Center in New York City. Prior to the birth of her first child, Allison was a political consultant and community organizer. Skills from that “past life” are useful in all aspects of her work in the birth world. She is a graduate of Syracuse University and mother of three children, two of whom were born at home.
Natalie Kost Watson, BA International Community Development, is a Traditional Midwife and NARM CPM Candidate. She and her Midwifery partner, Karen Crow, CPM are Steel City Midwives. They provide perinatal and homebirth services for Pittsburgh, PA and Southwestern PA.
Natalie is the President of the Pittsburgh Birth Project, which is awaiting its final 501(c)3 status. One of the goals of the PBP is to increase the availability of a host of perinatal care supports for individuals/families that desire them but have inadequate access. This includes IBPOC, LGBTQ+, Teen, Amish/Mennonite, and Immigrant communities of Western PA.
Natalie began her birthwork career as a doula, childbirth educator, and placenta encapsulator. She also spent a year as the Director of Public Relations for Birthworks International. While on the BWI Board, she spearheaded their “Instinctive Birth” Campaign and website modernization.