Meet the MANA Board!
Restructuring of the MANA Board was ratified by the membership at the Annual Meeting in Albuquerque, NM in October 2015 by approval of by-law amendments. Here is your new MANA Board after the 2016 elections.
MANA Board of Directors Biographies
Marinah Valenzuela Farrell, LM, CPM
Politics and traditional medicine are what led Marinah to midwifery, and she has a firm commitment to both political activism and birth work. Marinah has worked in waterbirth centers and medical facilities for international NGOs, in freestanding birth centers in the U.S., and is the owner of a long standing homebirth practice in Phoenix, Arizona. In addition, Marinah is known for her grassroots activism at the community level. Marinah is currently a founding board member and the Director of Maternal Health for Phoenix Allies for Community Health (PACH) a community, not federally, funded free clinic in downtown Phoenix, and the President of the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA). Marinah is focused on the issue of lack of access to midwives and the profession of midwifery in communities where health disparities are overwhelming, trainings in cultural safety and is active in numerous grassroots political collaboratives. Marinah continues to work with traditional midwives outside of the U.S and bridges professional midwifery with community traditions.
Sarita Bennett, DO, CPM
Sarita has listened to women’s stories all her life – stories about love and birth and healing and death. She grew up in a rural mountain culture that valued self-reliance and in which home birth was the norm. The birth of her first child brought an awareness of a calling to midwifery which she pursued through self-study and attending women in their homes. The births of her own four children taught her to listen to the power of her body and what it means to give birth in ecstasy. In the early 1980’s, she joined with other young midwives in her state to support one another and find sisterhood as they developed standards of care, risk factor guidelines and a well-honed peer review process. In 1994, Sarita found herself answering another calling and began her Osteopathic education at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. After graduating with honors, she completed a family medicine residency with a strong maternity care program and “old-time” family practice approach to birth. In 2001, she returned to her rural home town, providing home birth and general family practice until 2013, when she relocated to begin a new adventure. Along with her passion for midwifery, she discovered her gift for mentoring and is actively involved in educating future midwives through The Academy of Experiential Midwifery Education. Sarita served as secretary for the MANA Board of Directors from October 2011 until being elected as vice president in 2014. From this perspective, she sees the interconnectedness of midwives and the need to work cooperatively if we are going to ensure that women and their families – not big business – are the ones who profit from our birth experiences.
Judith Levinrad Norman, CPM, LM
I returned from the Alburquerque MANA conference deeply inspired by our community and the important work being done, particularly on a national level. Raised on a foundation of activism and social consciousness, I found myself yearning to contribute to furthering midwifery and building an ever-stronger community of midwives. I am a New Jersey licensed midwife living in New York and Montréal. Prior to becoming a midwife in 2010, I have served families as a prenatal massage therapist (since 1997), a practitioner of Maya abdominal massage (since 2002) and a doula (since 2006). My role as chair of the clinical studies department at the Swedish Institute in NYC (2001-2006) helped hone some of the particular skills that will be needed as Secretary – excellent professional communication skills, an ability to work effectively and collaboratively with a diverse group of passionate people, and an appreciation for administrative detail. I am excited to bring my interpersonal and administrative skills, as well as my passion and commitment to midwifery, to the position of MANA Secretary.
Vicki Hedley, CPM, CM
Vicki is the mother to five children and one grandchild, born into her hands in October of 2012. She has been attending births since 1996, first as a doula, doula trainer, and childbirth educator and since 2008 as a CPM when she graduated from the National College of Midwifery. In 2010 she also became a CM. Her learning occurred through the apprenticeship model in many different settings with beautiful and wise midwives who taught the art of midwifery through their example. She continues the tradition of mentoring others through study groups and apprenticeship. Before becoming a midwife, Vicki had a private accounting practice for sixteen years, midwifing her clients through the stresses of finances and taxes.
Director of Organizational Development
Claudia Breglia CPM LM
When Claudia began her apprentice training in 1989, a common slogan was: "Midwives, changing the world one baby at a time." She was much too impatient for that. Her long history of midwifery activism began almost simultaneously with her first practice on the Tennessee Kentucky border in 1993. She joined the Tennessee Midwives Alliance, becoming the newsletter editor and membership coordinator at her second meeting, and eventually serving two terms as president before leaving the state. Her involvement in midwifery politics continued in California, first as a regional representative, then with two terms as president of the California Association of Midwives. With her election to the MANA Board, she is proud to count herself among the midwives and midwifery activists working in the United States and all over the world to affect healthcare policy, address healthcare disparities, increase access to midwifery care for all women, and to protect self-determination and physiologic birth. Claudia is mother to Gabriel, who was born at home in Tennessee 21 years ago, attends births in southern California, and remains determined to change the world.
Director of Health Advocacy and Policy
Colleen Donovan-Batson, CNM, MS
Colleen is a certified nurse midwife/women’s health nurse practitioner and midwifery activist with 25 years of maternal-child healthcare experience in home, hospital, and birth center settings, both nationally and internationally. As an empty nester, Colleen lives with her husband in far northeast WA, where she has a small rural home birth practice and is also involved in advocacy for women veterans. Early in her career, Colleen developed an educational track for nurses to train as midwives in order to decrease the high pre-term birth and teen pregnancy rates in Kern county, CA. She has served on the faculty of both direct entry and nurse midwifery programs, and as a preceptor for nurse midwifery distance learning midwifery programs. Colleen is active in state and national midwifery organizations, promoting unity in the midwifery profession. She is a member of the Midwifery Advisory Committee for WA State Department of Health, the US MERA workgroup, and currently serves as the director of the Midwives Alliance Division of Health Policy and Advocacy.
Director of Professional Development
Amy’s path to midwifery began as a young girl and was influenced by many amazing mentors and life experiences. Originally from Maine, Amy has had a heart for community organizing and human rights activism since a very young age and was greatly influenced by her parents volunteerism and dedication to service. A passion for women’s rights and access to respectful healthcare blossomed during her time attending Russell Sage College, a small women’s college in New York State. Earning a BS in biochemistry, Amy began working in the fields of biochemical genetics, analytical biochemistry, protein-based therapeutic research and bioengineering. However, it was the transformative power of the birth of her first child, in 2005, that finally gave Amy the courage to begin her midwifery journey. In 2006 Amy began attending births as a doula before beginning formal midwifery education and apprenticeship in 2010. Amy is a graduate of the Midwives College of Utah and a certified professional midwife (CPM). Amy is a firm believer in the power of empowering healthcare, particularly midwifery, to reach beyond all types of borders bringing peace, inspiration and healing to the individuals and communities it serves. Amy lives with her amazing and fearless husband and 3 beautiful and busy boys in the heart of Phoenix, Arizona.
Director of Public Affairs
Position vacant at this time. If you are interested in learning more about the role of the Director of Public Affairs, please contact Sarita Bennett.
Director of Events
Nicole White, CPM
Nicole Marie White is a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) and activist. For more than a decade, Nicole has caught babies in a variety of settings, in various cities, and in several languages around the world. Nicole believes that spreading the midwifery model of care is the best way to address the high maternal and infant mortality rates locally and globally. Nicole’s passion is to train more midwives. Nicole has worked in Haiti and in Uganda working with Traditional Midwives. In 2012 she received a fellowship in the city of Detroit to work on public policy surrounding the inequitable rate of African American infant mortality, reflective of many of of the USA’s urban landscapes. Nicole currently practices in Michigan and is a member of Michigan Midwives Association board of directors and on the Coalition to license Certified Professional Midwives in Michigan.