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Advisory Council of Elders

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At the Spring 2014 Board of Directors meeting, a consensus decision was made, to establish the MANA Advisory Council of Elders. It was agreed that the Council would be composed of at least three but no more than seven MANA members and that those members would be individuals with strong ties to the organization including having historic knowledge. The Council of Elders are being asked to:

  • Meet annually or more as needed
  • Determine eligibility for voting status of non-licensed or non-credentialed midwives
  • Provide written recommendations annually to the BOD
  • Be available to the BOD in an advisory capacity
  • Review and advise regarding essential documents in collaboration with the Document Review committee as the board deems necessary
  • Create the MANA definition for the Traditional Midwife
  • Function as the committee to represent the MANA Traditional Midwife
  • Choose the annual Sage Femme awardee

MANA is honored to have four women stand with us as the first formal Council of Elders:

Yeshi NeumannYeshi Neumann, Certified Nurse-Midwife, MPH MA IBCLC has been working as a midwife since 1970. In 2000, she created Homestyle Midwifery, a unique model of care, blending home and hospital birth. In 2006 Homestyle Midwifery received a certificate of honor from Mayor Gavin Newsom, and in July 2007 was voted "Best Way to Have a Baby" by San Francisco magazine.

In addition to her work in the United States, Yeshi has taught and learned from nurses and midwives in Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Trinidad, Tibet, Morocco, India, and China. She is the team leader and principal educator of the maternal-child health project, Jungle Mamas, in the Amazonian rainforest in Ecuador.

Yeshi has facilitated hundreds of workshops about women's leadership, diversity, conflict resolution, organizational development, communication and healing family relationships. She brings her passion for women's empowerment and social justice to her work with mothers, grandmothers and community leaders. Yeshi also trains social change leaders from the non-profit, philanthropic, labor and socially responsible business sectors in the Art of Leadership at Rockwood Leadership Institute.

Yeshi has developed a relevant and inspiring curriculum for the grandmothers of our time, Conscious Grandmothering Workshops, and is the founder and director of the Conscious Grandmothering Council Network (Conscious Grandmothering Councils).

Yeshi is a dedicated student and practitioner of Mindfulness. She teaches Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting.

In addition to being a Certified Nurse-Midwife, Yeshi has a Masters degree in History and a Masters degree in Public Health. She is a regular speaker at national and international conferences.

Yeshi is the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of two granddaughters, both of whom were born into her own hands.

Linda McHaleLinda McHale LM, CPM, EMT has been a midwife for over 30 years. Her first catch in 1975 was truly unplanned. Her neighbor called her to help when her second child was coming very fast. Feeling called to midwifery, she joined a study and labor support group facilitated by two delivery room RNs who did home births “underground.” Linda apprenticed and then practiced in Texas. Moving home to New Jersey Linda went from being a licensed midwife in Texas to an illegal midwife in New Jersey. She trained and then volunteered as an Emergency Medical Technician and worked as a home health aid.

In 1995 she became a CPM through the Experienced Midwife route. Always interested in energy medicine, Linda became a Reiki practitioner and teacher. Linda served on the MANA Board as the Northeast Representative for 3 terms. During that time she helped to make licensure available in NJ to MEAC trained CPMs. She was also the MANA Fundraising Chair, was on the MANA/ACNM Liaison Committee and served on the FAM Board. She graduated from National College with a BSM in 2013 and got a license to practice in New Jersey.

Linda has had the opportunity to work with many midwifery partners and apprentices over the years, including doulas, nurses, Direct Entry Midwives, Certified Professional Midwives and Certified Nurse Midwives. She is grateful for all of them. She has been a speaker and coordinator at many conferences and workshops. Linda was recognized and honored as “Wise Woman” by her colleagues at MANA North Atlantic region conference in 2011.

Linda has three children, two of whom were born at home and two grandchildren, both of whom were born at home into her hands.

Katsi CookSherrill Elizabeth Tekatsitsiakwa "Katsi" (pronounced Gudji) Cook is a member of the Wolf Clan of the Mohawk tribe. She was born on the St. Regis Reservation in northern New York State, the youngest of the four children of Evelyn Kawennaien Mountour and William John Cook. Her mother was educated by Catholic nuns, and died when Cook was eleven years old; her father was a captain in the U.S. Marines and a World War II fighter pilot. Cook was delivered by her paternal grandmother who was also a midwife. She was educated at Catholic boarding schools, attended Skidmore College from 1970 to 1972, and then transferred into the first class of women accepted at Dartmouth College. Soon after, stirrings of the American Indian Movement (AIM) sparked a "generational call to consciousness" and she left school. She married Jose Eugenio Barreiro, a Cuban-born academic and indigenous activist, and the first of their five children was born in 1975. She and Barreiro worked with the Kanienkehaka Longhouse Council of Chiefs from 1972 to 1977 and from 1979 to 1983, where she helped write and produce Akwesasne Notes and toured the U.S. and Canada with the White Roots of Peace, a "communications group" that Cook describes as a traveling university through which participants learned Native knowledge and imparted it to others.

Cook took up midwifery in 1977 following the Loon Lake Conference of the Six Nations, where control of reproduction was designated as a prerequisite to Native American sovereignty. In 1978 she undertook a midwifery apprenticeship at The Farm in Tennessee, followed by clinical training as a women's health specialist at the University of New Mexico. Cook lived briefly in South Dakota, where in 1978 she attended the founding meeting of Women of All Red Nations (WARN), and in Minnesota, where she founded the Women's Dance Health Project in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Cook returned to Akwesasne in 1980, where she practiced midwifery, helped develop the Akwesasne Freedom School, and founded and directed the Women's Dance Health Program (funded by a grant from the Ms. Foundation). When concerns arose among women on the reservation about the safety of breastfeeding, Cook started the Mother's Milk Monitoring Project in 1984, to monitor PCB levels in breast milk and to address the environmental impact of industrial development of the St. Lawrence Seaway Project, begun in the 1950s. The Mother's Milk Project is still extant and provides services and advocacy for residents of Akwesasne (one of the most severely polluted Native American communities), among them inclusion in the Superfund Basic Research Program.

Cook has participated in national and international women's health movements, including service on the board of the National Women's Health Network, involvement in the Nestle boycott, and work with Mayan midwifes in Guatemala. She monitors indigenous rights in the drafting of midwifery legislation and is the founding aboriginal midwife of the Six Nations Birthing Centre where she assists with student training, curriculum development, and community education. Cook is Director of the Iewirokwas Midwifery Program of Running Strong for American Indian Youth. Supported by a Ford Foundation grant, she is currently developing the First Environment Institute to restore indigenous puberty rites as means of advancing maternal and child health on the Akwesasne and Pine Ridge reservations. She is also conducting research with the Indian Health Service and writing Daughters of Sky Woman: A Cultural Ecology of Birth.

Maggie BennettMaggie Bennett is an artist as well as a midwife. She began her midwifery career in 1975, overlapping her study and practice of midwifery with her teaching career. She has a private homebirth practice in Monterey, CA, and is the longest continuously practicing homebirth midwife in Monterey County. As a senior, experienced midwife, she passes on her expertise and wisdom in the time honored tradition of apprenticeship. She is a well-known midwifery educator and maintains a teaching practice in which she has trained several practicing midwives.

Maggie has been active in midwifery politics on the local, state, and national levels for more than thirty years. She was the Chairwoman of California Association of Midwives when that state passed legislation to license midwives. She has served several terms on the Board of Directors of the Midwives Alliance of North America, and has been honored with the Sage Femme, the highest accolade MANA bestows for her participation, wisdom, and vision for midwifery.

Maggie continues to use her enthusiasm for the future of midwifery care in the U.S. in her work on the Board of the Foundation for the Advancement of Midwifery (FAM).