The People Who Planned the Summit: The Vision Team
Senior members from the following maternity care and health organizations have been working together since 2009 as a Vision Team to plan and organize the Home Birth Consensus Summits: AABC, AAFP, AAP, ACNM, ACOG, AWHONN, Childbirth Connection, ICTC, Lamaze, MANA, NACPM, Our Bodies Ourselves. The following individuals, in alphabetical order, currently form a Steering Council for the Summits.
Convener and Chair
Saraswathi Vedam is Associate Professor at the Division of Midwifery in the Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, and founder of the UBC Midwifery Faculty Practice, Birth & Beyond. Over the last 30 years, she has cared for families in the USA, the Netherlands, India, and Canada in a variety of private and public health care settings. She serves as Senior Advisor to the MANA Division of Research, and is on the Interim Executive Board, Canadian Association of Midwifery Educators, and Founding Chair of the historic multi-disciplinary Home Birth Consensus Summits. Professor Vedam has also enjoyed teaching midwifery, medical, and nursing students in universities across North America.
Professor Vedam has been active in setting national and international policy on home birth, and midwifery education and regulation, providing expert consultations in Mexico, Hungary, Chile, China, Canada, the US, and India. She has given expert testimony for State legislative hearings on nurse-midwifery practice, compensation, and regulation and education in New York, California, Indiana and Connecticut. While Director of the UBC Division of Midwifery from 2007-2012, she was responsible for achieving support from the BC Ministries of Health and Advanced Education to support the expansion and revision of midwifery education.
Professor Vedam’s scholarly work includes critical appraisal of the literature on planned home birth, evaluations of innovative models for fetal assessment, and development of the first US registry of home birth perinatal data. In 2010, she chaired the highly acclaimed 5th International Normal Labour and Birth Research conference in Vancouver, and she is currently on the Steering Council for sessions in China and Brazil. She has authored several national clinical practice guidelines and articles on evidence-based midwifery practice in low resource settings, and was a member of the Midwifery Task Force that led a Delphi process to draft the 2012 Joint Statement on Physiologic Labour and Birth. Supported by funding from the Canadian Institute for Health Research, Professor Vedam conducted a national, mix-methods study on factors leading to divergent attitudes among maternity care providers’ regarding planned home birth. She is currently principal investigator on a provincial community based participatory study on women’s preferences for model of care and decision-making during pregnancy.
Melissa Cheyney is Associate Professor of Clinical Medical Anthropology and Reproductive Biology at Oregon State University (OSU) with additional appointments in Public Health and Women’s Studies. She received her doctorate in Biocultural Anthropology from the University of Oregon in 2005, where her research examined the U.S. Home Birth Movement. Dr. Cheyney is also a Certified Professional Midwife in active practice, the Chair of the Governor-appointed Board of Direct-entry Midwifery for the State of Oregon, and the Chair of the Division of Research for the Midwives Alliance of North America where she directs the MANA Statistics Project — the only existing data repository for planned homebirth in the United States. She is the author of the recent ethnography, Born at Home (2010, Wadsworth Press) along with several, peer-reviewed journal articles that examine the cultural beliefs and clinical outcomes associated with midwife-led birth at home and in birth centers. Her most recent publication explores the contested space of intrapartum home-to-hospital transfers.
Dr. Cheyney currently directs the International Reproductive Health Laboratory at Oregon State University where she has developed an academic learning community comprised of five undergraduate research assistants, 12 graduate students and one postdoctoral fellow whose research agendas are focused on identifying culturally appropriate ways to improve access to high quality midwifery care as a means of reducing health inequalities for mothers and babies in the U.S and abroad. She currently serves as the PI on 21 maternal and infant health-related research projects in Uganda, Haiti, Ethiopia, Puerto Rico, India, the Dominican Republic, Ireland, Sierra Leone and in the United States. She is an award-winning teacher and was recently nominated for Oregon State University’s prestigious Outstanding Student Mentorship Award for her work in the International Reproductive Health Laboratory. She is the mother of a daughter born at home on International Day of the Midwife in 2009.
Dr. Kattwinkel attended the Summit at the request of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), where over the past 25 years he has been very active in the development and distribution of the Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP).
She has practiced in numerous settings including rural health, community and tertiary hospitals, and in academic practices and has educated midwives since 1993. Her research includes numerous qualitative studies exploring the work of midwives and its relationship to health outcomes. One focus of her work is on “optimality” in perinatal care and the appropriate use of interventions in low risk women during childbirth. She has also completed a clinical trial of Centering Pregnancy, a group model of prenatal care, in two military settings. She speaks internationally on strategies to normalize birth care and her numerous research studies.
She is a graduate of the Frontier School of Midwifery & Family Nursing, her master’s degree from the Medical College of Georgia as a family nurse practitioner, and her doctoral degree from the University of Rhode Island. Her awards include Fellowship in the American College of Nurse-Midwives and the American Academy of Nursing, the Lamaze International Research Award to the ACNM Optimality Working Group, the Margretta Madden Styles Award for Excellence in Nursing, the Rhode Island State Nurses Association President’s Award for Service to Nursing, a Governor’s Citation for Service to the State of Rhode Island, and the Irving Harris Visiting Professorship at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
A founding board member, Mary served as President of the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (NACPM) from 2003 until 2012, and currently is the Executive Director of NACPM. She serves as Policy Analyst to the Midwives and Mothers in Action (MAMA) Campaign, a national coalition of six midwifery-related organizations advocating in the U.S. Congress for increased access for women across the country to Certified Professional Midwife services and high-quality, high-value maternity care.
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 two articles addressing the safety of the birth center model and low cesarean rate achieved. He continues to work with Native American communities in New Mexico through providing clinical care and consultation services at the Cuba PMS clinic in Northwestern New Mexico and at the First Nations Urban Indian clinic in Albuquerque. He is the Managing Editor of the Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics course. He teaches ALSO each year on the Navajo reservation and helped with the introduction of ALSO into Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and China He received his medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco and an MPH in epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley. He completed his residency in Family Medicine at the University of New Mexico and fellowship in Family Medicine Obstetrics at the University of Rochester. His research interests include maternal and neonatal outcomes of childbirth, rural maternity care, and family planning.
She currently chairs 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 and writes a regular column for the JPE. Her advocacy work includes national leadership positions in Lamaze International and national work with Childbirth Connection, the American College of Nurse Midwives, and the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services.
Co-author of The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence and a blog about normal birth at birthwithconfidence.blogs.lamaze.org. Research interests are breastfeeding and childbirth and she is currently completing a qualitative research study of the experience of home birth for women and their midwives.
Dr. Lowe’s research is focused on maximizing health and well-being of childbearing women, their newborns, and their families. To maximize positive outcomes and minimize unnecessary costly medical intervention, pregnancy/birth/parenting must be viewed within a holistic, health-promotion framework, a framework that is best constructed by nurse-midwives. Dr. Lowe’s primary research foci are (a) biobehavioral aspects of the childbearing experience and its processes, (b) care during labor, and (c) postpartum outcomes of healthy, nulliparous women.
Shafia M. Monroe, LM became a homebirth midwife in 1978, after learning of the high infant mortality rate in her hometown, Boston, MA. Since then she has worked to eliminate the high infant mortality rate for babies of color, through advocacy and policy. In 1991, she founded the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC), the first international non-profit to address the needs of black midwives, and increase the number of midwives, doulas and healers of color, to empower families to reduce infant and maternal mortality.
In 2002, she witnessed the shortage of doulas of color, and developed a culturally specific doula training program built on the midwifery model of care and has trained over 1,500 doulas, with one-third continuing on to become midwives. Shafia created the International Black Midwives and Healers Conference, to meet the distinctive needs of midwives of color, to improve birth outcomes, support home birth, and build the profession. Her advocacy work includes the OR HB2666 committee for postpartum depression service, and the national Coalition for Quality Maternity Care. In 2011, she originated the legislative concept for OR HB3311, to investigate the use of doulas for vulnerable populations, resulting in Oregon being the first state for doula Medicaid reimbursement. A champion for public health, Shafia received her Master of Public Health in 2012, from Walden University. She has self-published and co-authored numerous papers and articles including, HB3311 (2011) Doula Report, presentation to the Health Committee of the Oregon Legislature, Reclaiming Childbirth, Sojourners Magazine and Into These Hands, Wisdom of Midwives.
In 2014, she opened Shafia Monroe Consulting, a business to provide cultural competency training for health care providers and doulas who work with diverse populations in maternal and child health to improve pregnancy outcomes. Shafia’s work is recognized internationally, with the recent Life Time Achievement Award, Service in Community Health, 2014, Unsung Hero Award, Keeping the Dream Alive, 2013 and the Midwife Heroes Award, Midwives of Color/ACNM, 2012. Shafia is a wife, a mother of seven and a nana of ten; and she mentors hundreds of individual’s aspiring to midwifery and public health. Shafia loves to garden, write, ride horses and cook for family and friends.
Suzy Myers has been a midwife for more than 30 years, is one of the co-founders of Seattle Midwifery School and is currently the chair for the Department of Midwifery at Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington. Active in the midwifery profession since the mid-70’s Suzy has helped train more than 200 midwives; and, with her midwifery partner, she has assisted nearly 2,000 families in their home and birth center practice – Seattle Home Maternity Service.
In the early 1980’s she was active in legislative reform of Washington’s Midwifery Act and served on the first Midwifery Advisory Committee, writing rules and developing the licensing examination. In 1983 she helped to launch the Midwives Association of Washington State and served as its first president from 1983-1985. In 1988 she earned a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Washington’s Maternal and Child Health Program. She co-authored the first study of outcomes of licensed midwife-attended births in Washington, published in Birth in 1994.
Suzy has continued to be involved on many fronts in support of the development of professional midwifery, locally and nationally. From 1994-2008 she served on the Board of Directors of a Joint Underwriting Association created by the Washington State legislature to provide medical malpractice insurance to midwives providing out-of-hospital birth services. She is now actively involved in national midwifery advocacy, serving on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (NACPM) as well as chairing the new Department of Midwifery at Bastyr University, the first regionally accredited, articulated (may earn BS and MS) direct entry program in the U.S. to grant a Masters Degree in Midwifery.
Since 1971, Ms. Norsigian has been part of the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, now doing business as Our Bodies Ourselves (OBOS). She is the Executive Director and the primary spokesperson for this nonprofit women’s health education, advocacy, and consulting organization. Ms Norsigian also serves as a board member of Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research and on numerous other advisory and editorial boards. Her personal recognitions include: the Public Service Award from the Massachusetts Public Health Association; Radcliffe College Alumnae Association Annual Recognition Award; Boston YWCA’s Academy of Women Achievers; the Massachusetts Health Council Award; and an honorary doctorate degree from Boston University. She was selected by Women’s eNews as one of the “21 Leaders for the 21st Century.”
Catherine Ruhl is Director of Women’s Health Programs at the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) in Washington, DC. Catherine has 30 years of experience in maternal health as a clinician, manager and educator. She coordinates professional nursing education programming at AWHONN and represents AWHONN to a variety of national organizations including the National Maternal Health Initiative, the Center for Disease Control’s Select Panel on Preconception Care, and the HHS Maternal Immunization Working Group. Catherine’s portfolio at AWHONN includes work on diabetes in pregnancy, perinatal nurse staffing, obstetric triage, vaccination issues, and consumer education through AWHONN’s Healthy Mom & Baby consumer media. 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 25 years and currently practices at Providence Hospital in Washington, DC. She is clinical adjunct faculty for the Georgetown University nurse-midwifery program.
Geradine is a former President and currently the Executive Director of Midwives Alliance of North America, a professional organization that promotes excellence in midwifery and is dedicated to unifying and strengthening the profession, thereby increasing access to quality healthcare and improving outcomes for women, babies and their families. As a leader in the U.S. midwifery movement Geradine works passionately to sustain the midwifery profession, advocate for healthcare reform, mentor the next generation of midwives, and collaborate with key partners and stakeholders. She is the editor of the recently published book entitledInto These Hands: Wisdom from Midwives, an anthology of the life stories of 25 remarkable women who have dedicated their lives and careers to the path of midwifery and social change.
He is also president of the Associates for Women’s Medicine and clinical associate professor of ob-gyn at Upstate Medical Center, the State University of New York. An ACOG Fellow since 1981, Dr. Waldman has been involved in a number of ACOG activities. He has served as a member of the ACOG Executive Board and chaired the Council of District Chairs. He has been a member of the committees on Finance, Nominations, and Patient Safety and Quality Improvement and on the task forces on Safety in Residency Training, and District and Section Donation Policy. Dr. Waldman has also been a member of the Collaborative Practice Advisory Group and was team leader for the Voluntary Review of Quality of Care program. He has served as the Junior Fellow College Advisory Council advisor and the ACOG representative to Practicing Physicians Advisory Council National Committee for Quality Assurance.
Dr. Waldman has held a variety of regional leadership positions, including chair and vice chair of ACOG District II and the Syracuse-Utica Section. He has served as District II Scientific Program and Nominating Committee chairs and the Quality Assurance Committee co-chair. He was a member of the District II Primary Care Committee and Practice Management Committee and is a recipient of ACOG’s Outstanding District Service Award and Outstanding Section Service Award. Dr. Waldman is a past president of the Central New York Obstetrics and Gynecology Society and a former consultant to the International Childbirth Education Association.
He has been active in advocating for improvements in women’s health for many years and established the first hospital-based midwifery practice in Central New York. Dr Waldman has served on several New York State task forces working with the Commissioner of Health and the Superintendent of Insurance. Dr. Waldman received his medical degree from the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry and completed his residency at Upstate Medical University, the State University of New York.
- Angela Moore MBA, Project Manager
- Melissa Nightingale, Project Assistant
- Jade Bowman, Project Assistant
- Jeanette McCulloch, BirthSwell
- Laura Schummers, PhD Candidate, Harvard School of Public Health
- Karen Gelb, Research Manager, University of British Columbia
Sheila Capestany holds a Master of Public Health and a Master of Social Work from the University of Washington. She has almost 25 years of experience in providing consultation and training to address issues of equity, oppression, multiculturalism and cross-cultural communication.Sheila has extensive experience in facilitating and leading groups and processes on important social and health issues. She has worked with interprofessional groups in health care and is very familiar with the maternity care landscape. Sheila has a proven track record of successfully helping groups to achieve lasting and transformative change.
Sheila is the Executive Director of Open Arms Perinatal Services, a community-based organization that provides support to low income pregnant women and families. In addition to providing services, Open Arms is a well-known advocate for equity and a multicultural approach in maternity and health care. As a consultant, she has worked with a diversity of organizations and institutions, including numerous nonprofit organizations, the University of Washington, the City of Bellevue, Washington, and Swedish Medical Center in Seattle.
Prior to her current position at Open Arms, she served as Strategic Adviser in Policy, Planning and Evaluation for the City of Seattle Human Services Department. Within this role she led and facilitated the Race and Social Justice Initiative for the department and helped develop tools and an equity policy lens that city employees could use in their work. In addition, as a Legislative Aide for the Seattle City Council, she facilitated and led several task forces that were made up of stakeholders with explicit and implicit power differentials, and very different views and strong opinions about social, policy and legislative issues. These meetings were always passionate and often contentious, and Sheila was responsible for creating a space where all opinions could be heard and bringing those opinions together to form new legislation.
- Cari Caldwell, Future Considerations (2011)
- Shirley McAlpine, Manzira Consulting (2011)
- Tomasina Oliver, CPM (2013)