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 a midwifery professor in the Faculty of Medicine, and Lead Investigator of the Birth Place Lab, at University of British Columbia. She has been a clinician and a health professional educator for 30 years. Her scholarly work includes the national, CIHR-funded Canadian Birth Place Study examining attitudes to place of birth among maternity care providers; and Changing Childbirth in BC, a provincial, community-based participatory study of women’s preferences for maternity care. She has developed clinical screening and quality measures including, MAPi, the Movement and Pulse index for assessment of fetal well-being, the Mothers’s Autonomy in Decision Making (MADM) scale and the MOR (Mothers on Respect) index. Currently, she is leading multi-disciplinary teams in the US Birth Place Mapping Study to describe the status of licensure and integration of midwives in the United States; and the Giving Voice to Mothers Study to explore the unique experiences of families from communities of color, and families who plan home births, across the United States.
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 in Mexico, Hungary, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Canada, the US, and India. She was Convener and Chair of 3 national Home Birth Consensus 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. In 2010, she chaired the 5th International Normal Labour and Birth Research conference in Vancouver.
Ginger Breedlove is known and respected by many for her work in advancing women’s reproductive health and nurse-midwifery in both Kansas and Missouri. Some highlights of her career include: 1979, co-founding the Birth and Women’s Center in Topeka, the first freestanding birth center in Kansas; 1994, establishing the first hospital-based certified nurse-midwifery (CNM) service in the Greater Kansas City area at St. Luke’s Hospital; 1998, joining the University of Kansas School of Nursing in establishing the Kansas Collaborative Bi-state Nurse-Midwifery Education Program, to prepare the next generation of nurse midwives; and 2001, completing her PhD in nursing and publishing the book, co-authored with Rachel Abramson, The Community-Based Doula: Supporting Families Before, During, and After Childbirth. Ginger has served in numerous ACNM leadership roles, including 6 years as Secretary of the ACNM Board of Directors.
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.
Mary Lawlor has worked in maternity care since 1981, and is a clinician, birth center owner, policy advisor and organizational leader. She earned a BS from Georgetown University, her Associate in Midwifery in 1981 at The Maternity Center in El Paso, and an MA in Counseling from Lesley University in Boston in 1986. In addition to her homebirth practice of over 30 years, she is the owner and director of the Monadnock Birth Center in Swanzey, NH. She was 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 2003, helping to oversee the practice of midwifery in the state.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.
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 clinical service, 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 medical consultant for the Dar a Luz Birth Center in Albuquerque. As a faculty member at UNM he has worked for fifteen 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 has presented grand rounds for the UNM Ob/Gyn and Family Medicine Departments on Home Birth with a focus on facilitating improved collaboration from home to hospital.
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.
Judith Lothian is an internationally respected childbirth educator and advocate for safe, healthy birth and breastfeeding. She is an associate professor in the College of Nursing at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey.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.
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.
Judy Norsigian speaks and writes on a wide range of women’s health concerns, most recently emphasizing 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 with Tom Brokaw.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.
Tanya Khemet leads home birth advocacy for the International Center for Traditional Childbearing and is a member of the Home Birth Summit steering committee. She is co-founder of Birth and Family Health Center in Sacramento, California, an innovative multidisciplinary women’s health center. After receiving her midwifery training in Seattle, Washington at the Seattle School of Midwifery, she furthered her skills and life experience with apprenticeships in Senegal and Jamaica, where she learned another dimension of homebirth from an international lens. Prior to her work with Birth and Family Health Center, Tanya spent eight years coordinating obstetric, psychosocial and health education service delivery as a midwife and clinic administrator at the Birthing Project Clinic in Sacramento which serves low-income high risk women and teens. Tanya is the mother of three terrific daughters who were all born at home.
SUMMIT PLANNING COMMITTEE 2019
DELEGATE NOMINATION CONSULTANTS
- Jasmina Geldman, Research Coordinator
- Sandra Janoff PhD, Future Search (2011, 2013, 2019)
- Sarah Balthazar MPH, Future Search (2011, 2013)
- Michele Woods, Future Search (2019)
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)