Co-Sponsored by George Mason University’s School of Art, the Sociology and Anthropology Department, and the Women and Gender Studies Program
We're mother-friendly! Breastfeeding is welcome in the event and in GMU's special lactation rooms. Children are welcome to attend.
Since 1970, Alice Bailes has been a birth activist, speaker, teacher, author, and mostly, midwife. More than 1400 babies have come into her hands in the intimate undisturbed environments of women’s homes, or at Alexandria, Virginia’s BirthCare & Women’s Health Birth Center where she is Co-Founder, Co-Owner, and Co-Director. Ms Bailes’s education includes a BFA in Dance and Theatre in 1970 from NYU, BSN from George Mason in 1979, and an MS in Midwifery in1981 from Georgetown.
Amy Polk is Communications Director of Birth Options Alliance, a birth consumer advocacy group serving the Washington, DC area. She is also a "Developing Birth Center" member of American Association of Birth Centers (AABC) and is working to start a birth center on the Takoma Park campus of Washington Adventist Hospital.
Aravinda Pillalamarri works with the Association for India's Development. In Srikakulam District, Andhra Pradesh, she works with rural families on integrated development including health rights and access to information and public services.
Barbara Stratton is the leader of the national VBACtivism movement. Her work has helped to reverse two VBAC bans in the state of Maryland. Working with activist Katie Prown, she convinced NOW to issue a nationwide resolution in opposition to VBAC bans. This has been seen by many as the first step in bridging the distance between the feminist/reproductive rights movement and the birth movement. Stratton also leads the ICAN chapter in Baltimore.
Clare continues a line of traditional Sicilian midwives. She is a grassroots worker and midwife of 34 years. Clare homebirthed three children with her life partner. She attends births, and she teaches both localky and internationally to bring back safe birth and keep babies intact. Clare also teaches at the Hawaiian Immersion School. Ocean, gardens, moon and family keeps her connected to Mother Earth.
D’Anne Graham, the mother of 5, has been a birth activist for almost 25 years. She was awarded a 2009 Virginia Commonwealth University research fellowship to historicize Virginia midwives. After her 2010 graduation she hopes to complete a double masters at Sarah Lawrence College in Health Advocacy and Women’s History.
Debra Pascali-Bonaro is a mother of five, Director of the documentary “Orgasmic Birth: The Best-Kept Secret,” and is currently co-authoring Orgasmic Birth: Your Guide to a Safe, Satisfying and Pleasurable Birth.
Debra is Co-chair of the International MotherBaby Childbirth Initiative, IMBCI where she works international organizations, Minister’s of Health and grassroots community organizations to create optimal models of maternity care. She is an inspirational international speaker and has been interviewed by media around the world.
Debra has spoken about doula care at the White House and has served on national and local maternal/child health boards. She is a Lamaze International certified childbirth educator and teacher trainer with a Passion for Birth. Debra serves on the Childbirth Connection Board of Directors. She served on the first Board of Directors for DONA International and is a DONA approved Doula Trainer.
Debra has been instrumental in the development of several hospitals and community based doula programs and has provided consultation to H.O.M.E. a project of the European Community and has worked with Brazil’s Ministry of Health to implement doula programs in Brazil.
Her other publications include: "Nurturing Beginnings: MotherLove's Guide to Postpartum Home Care for Doulas and Outreach Workers", as well as many articles about continuous support during childbirth and the early postpartum period.
Elizabeth Roca is staff editor for Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers. Her essays have appeared in Brain, Child, The Washington Post, Utne, the anthology How to Fit a Car Seat on a Camel, and other publications. She holds an M.A. from Johns Hopkins University.
Erika Rosenberg is a 2009 graduate of the University of Chicago where she received an M.A. in the social sciences, emphasis in feminist anthropology. Her M.A. thesis "Embodiment and Taboo: Negotiation the Nature of Maternal Sexuality" examines responses to Debra Pascali-Bonaro's film, "Orgasmic Birth." As part of her larger critique of the social constructions and constrictions of female bodies and identities, Erika understands orgasmic birth as "a point of convergence for the two aspects of femininity which have been perceived as most threatening; the nature of our sexual response, and the mystique of our sexual reproduction."
Erika is currently working toward certification as a birth doula. In the future she plans to obtain a doctoral degree in clinical psychology in order to work with women facing psychic difficulties related to reproduction.
Henci Goer, award-winning medical writer and internationally known speaker, is the author of The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth. Her previous book, Obstetric Myths Versus Research Realities, is a highly-acclaimed resource for childbirth professionals. An independent scholar, she is an acknowledged expert on evidence-based maternity care. Goer has written consumer education pamphlets and numerous articles for magazines as diverse as Reader's Digest and the Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing. She served as project director and participated as an Expert Work Group member on the document, “Evidence Basis for the Ten Steps of Mother-Friendly Care.” Currently, she is a resident expert on Lamaze International’s website. Now concentrating on writing and speaking, Goer was a doula (labor support professional) for over 20 years and a Lamaze educator for ten.
Jessica Clements is a feminist, a mother of two, and a painter. She holds a BA in English from Grinnell College; and she is currently completing her MFA at George Mason University, where she also teaches drawing, painting, and aesthetics. Her work, with an interview by Imogen Tyler, will be published in the upcoming Birth issue of Feminist Review.
Jessica Powers is the editor of the anthology Labor Pains and Birth Stories: Essays on Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Becoming a Parent and the editor of The Fertile Source, an online literary magazine that publishes nonfiction, fiction, poems, and artwork related to all aspects of fertility, infertility, and adoption.
Julianna van Olphen Fehr
Dr. van Olphen Fehr is the creator and coordinator of the first nurse-midwifery education program in Virginia at Shenandoah University. To increase access to nurse-midwifery education in the rural areas, she developed collaborative agreements with Old Dominion, Radford, Marshall,and Johns Hopkins Universities so that graduate nursing students can obtain their nurse-midwifery education through Shenandoah University while attending these universities.
In 2004 she was appointed by Virginia’s Governor Warner to a Rural Obstetrical Services Committee where she co-created legislation (HB2656) to establish pilot midwifery clinics in medically underserved areas. As Chair of the stakeholders group for HB2656, she presented a plan to the Virginia State Board of Health in 2006 for pilot project birth centers for Emporia and the Northern Neck.
Between 2004 and 2007 she was a subcontractor for Old Dominion University on Title VIII HRSA grant titled “Educating the Culturally Competent Midwife.” Presently she is the Principle Director on a Title VIII HRSA grant titled “Improving Access to Health Care in Rural and Medically Underserved Areas of Virginia with Advanced Practice Nurses.” Dr. van Olphen Fehr received a BS in Special Education from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1974, a BSN from University of Virginia in 1981, a MSN with a specialty in Nurse-Midwifery from Georgetown University in 1983 and a PhD in Nursing and Health Sciences from George Mason University in 1999. She is a certified nurse-midwife and a Fellow with the American College of Nurse-Midwives.
Karen Brody is a writer, activist and mother. Her critically-acclaimed play about childbirth in America, Birth, and BOLD Red Tent storytelling circles are brought to thousands of people worldwide every year as part of BOLD, an arts-based global movement raising awareness and money for mother-friendly maternity care. Brody is the founder and Artistic Director of BOLD. Karen's new one act play on motherhood - Michelle Obama:Taskmaster - is being read at the Kennedy Center in September 2009.
Laura Citrin is a Visiting and Adjunct faculty member at The Evergreen State College where she teaches a class entitled, “Reproduction, Birth, and Power.” She earned her PhD in Social Psychology and Women’s Studies in 2004 from the University of Michigan. Her areas of expertise include gender, emotions, and body ideologies.
Lisa Pratt is a law student at the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law. She is an advocate for child birth practices that respect women as autonomous decision makers, including an increased access for vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). She is the founder and president of a chapter of Law Student for Reproductive Justice. She serves as a student board member of the Medicine and Law Committee for the American Bar Association’s Trial, Insurance, and Practice Section (TIPS). Lisa is the mother to five children, the youngest of which was born at home.
Lynn M. Griesemer is author of Unassisted Homebirth: An Act of Love (1998) and Your Body, Your Birth: Secrets for a Satisfying and Successful Birth (2007). She is the mother of six children: four were born in the hospital and two at home, unassisted. www.unassistedhomebirth.com.
Marjorie Brahms Signer
Marjorie Brahms Signer is the president of the Virginia chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and a member of the national NOW Board. A resident of Arlington, she is communications director of a national reproductive rights organization, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and a passionate advocate for reproductive choice and reproductive justice. She is the mother of four grown children and supports midwifery, home births, and above all trusting women to know what is best for themselves. Her middle children are 33-year-old twins (thus disqualifying her for a midwife-assisted birth) and were delivered by the late Dr. James Brew of the Yater Clinic without any medication more a tribute to him than anything else.
Rachel Epp Buller
Rachel Epp Buller is a feminist-art historian-printmaker-curator-scholar-teacher-mother. She earned a Ph.D. in art history in 2004 and has spent the last five years negotiating this balancing act. She speaks and publishes regularly on topics of contemporary art, mothering, and the maternal body. She is the editor of and contributor to a forthcoming collection of essays, Reconciling Art and Motherhood.
Robbie Davis-Floyd PhD, Senior Research Fellow, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Texas Austin, is a medical anthropologist specializing in the anthropology of reproduction and alternative health care. An international speaker and researcher, she is author of over 80 articles and of Birth as an American Rite of Passage (1992, 2004), and co-author or editor of nine books, most of which have to do with childbirth, midwives, reproduction, and holistic healing.
Sara B. Moore is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at George Mason University. Her areas of interest include social theory, identity, and the sociology of reproduction. She is currently studying the relationship between women’s birthing decisions and their identities as women and mothers.
Shafia M. Monroe a midwife veteran of thirty-years was certified by the Massachusetts Midwives Alliance. She is a a Childbirth Educator, a Doula Trainer, a health activist, organizer, and international speaker. She holds a BA in sociology, with a concentration in medical sociology, from the University of Massachusetts. Monroe is also the founder and President of the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC); the nation’s first Black midwifery training, breastfeeding promotion and capacity building non-profit organization, headquartered in Portland, Oregon. Monroe promotes midwifery as solution to better birth outcomes, social justice, and sustainability.
She is the visionary behind the prominent International Black Midwives and Healers Conference that brings midwives, doulas and healers together to implement strategies for reducing infant and maternal mortality and strengthen families. In 2007 Monroe, self-published the Black Midwives and Prenatal Providers Directory-Essential Recipes and Words of Wisdom for Expecting and New Parents to give women choices in birth.
As early as seven years of age Shafia realized she had been called to be a healer. At eighteen years old she became involved with the midwifery and home birth movement and witnessed the under-representation of African American women as midwives and doulas. This was the beginning of her organized outreach efforts, not only to recruit and train Black midwives as a method of reducing infant mortality, but to give Black women a voice to safe guard their reproductive health and to consider home birth for empowerment.
As a president and founder she travels internationally organizing midwives of color to reclaim their power, stand for inclusion, outreach and build bridges. more...
Shel Lyons, J.D., is the founder and president of the Mothers' Rights Network (MRN). She also serves on the Grassroots Advocates Committee for the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS), where she is the Chair of the Legal Committee for The Birth Survey and the CIMS Representative on the National Quality Forum (NQF). Since earning her degree from Harvard Law School, she clerked for the Honorable Sharon Prost on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and worked at the U.S. Department of Justice. She currently focuses on the intersection of gender and health law, including birth and breastfeeding rights, and is a guest author on Change.org's women's rights blog.
Sheryl Rivett earned her B.I.S. Women's Studies in Communication from George Mason University and is currently a M.A. in Writing candidate at Johns Hopkins University. The mother of four and freelance writer, Sheryl became a birth activist after having her first daughter at home. For three years, she worked as a lay perinatal counselor and volunteer supervisor with at-risk women and teens in Loudoun County. Sheryl ran a support group for teen mothers, teaching the young women about self-esteem, advocating for themselves within the medical system and healthy parenting practices. Many times she served as teen mothers' birth coaches and supported the women postpartum. In 2000, Sheryl became a founding member of Midwifery Options for Mothers (MOM), a grassroots advocacy group promoting midwifery care. While working as the co-coordinator of MOM, Sheryl conceived of and facilitated Study Circles with legislators, physicians, CNMs, CPMs, and consumers. In addition, she took an active role lobbying for the legalization of CPMs in VA. After CPMs were legalized, Sheryl received a gubernatorial appointment to the Commonwealth of Virginia's Board of Medicine Advisory Board on Midwifery, serving for three years. Not long after CPMs were legalized, Sheryl organized a merger of smaller grassroots birth groups around the state into one cohesive statewide organization: Birth Matters Virginia. Currently, Sheryl serves on the leadership committee. Sheryl is the author of Mothers & Midwives: women's stories of childbirth, which has been donated to the Perinatal Birth Symposium. The research and concept work were done while a student at GMU. Sheryl continues to guest blog in the area of maternity care on women's health blogs and holds the belief that all women, regardless of birth setting, care provider or risk level, deserve mother-friendly, affirming maternity care.
Tabaré Depaep, J.D., Esq., is Co-Chair of the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services and a doula. She has served as staff attorney for the Alliance for Children's Rights and the Children's Law Center of Los Angeles.
Ta’Kindra Westbrook is currently enrolled in the Masters of Public Health program at Old Dominion University. She studied Health Sciences while at James Madison University, where she received a Bachelors of Science. She is passionate about women’s health and feasible ways to achieve optimum health.
Triple Goddess Tribal Belly Dance
Triple Goddess Tribal Belly Dance Troupe gets its name from a celebration of the three stages of a woman's life: innocent youth, fertile middle-age, and wise elder years. Maya Taahira is the troupe Founder and Artistic Director. Lusaka is the Communications Director of a local birth consumer advocacy group. Collectively, they have over two decades of experience studying, performing and teaching Middle Eastern dance. And, collectively, they have four children, all born assisted by midwives in natural childbirth. Triple Goddess Tribal is joined in a special guest appearance by DC area midwife Karen Klauss in her belly dancing debut.
Vicki Elson, MA, CCE has been teaching childbirth education classes for 25 years. She also trains childbirth educators for various organizations and lectures on childbirth anthropology. She is a co-founder of the Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators (ALACE), and she has served as its Director of Teacher Training. She works at Northampton Wellness Associates, an integrative-care medical clinic in Western Massachusetts. She has three children and two grandchildren, all born at home with excellent midwives!
Wendy Kline is associate professor of history at the University of Cincinnati, where she teaches courses on U.S. women’s history, the history of sexuality, women’s health, and social movements. She is the author of Building a Better Race: Gender, Sexuality, and Eugenics from the Turn of the Century to the Baby Boom (University of California Press, 2001). Her second book, Minding the Body: Sexuality, Reproduction, and Women’s Health in the Age of Feminism, will be published by the University of Chicago Press in 2010.
Whitney Pinger CNM
Whitney Pinger has been training to be a midwife since 1978 and practicing as a Certified Nurse-Midwife since 1986. She has established several private practices, run low-income clinics, and served as Faculty at Yale University, Georgetown University, and, currently, The Washington Hospital Center. Her strong advocacy for natural birth infuses her teaching on labor and delivery and her private practice, WISDOM Midwifery. She is an expert in Evidence-Based Maternity Care and has developed a Powerpoint entitled: Midwifery Pearls: Evidence for Clinical Practice to educate doctors, residents, medical student, administrators, and consumers about how to increase the incidence of normal birth in America.