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Division of Research Coordinating Council

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The members of the DOR Coordinating Council are active members of the midwifery and research communities. They are largely volunteering their time because of their passion for ensuring that women, infants, families, and communities achieve optimal health.

Chair of the Midwives Alliance Division of Research

Melissa Cheyney, PhD, CPM, LDM, is the Chair of the Midwives Alliance Division of Research, and an Associate Professor of Medical Anthropology and Reproductive Biology in the Department of Anthropology at Oregon State University (OSU). She received her doctorate from the University of Oregon in 2005, where her research examined the U.S. Homebirth Movement and Midwifery Models of Care. Dr. Cheyney is a Certified Professional Midwife, Director of the Reproductive Health Laboratory at OSU, and Chair of the Board of Direct-entry Midwifery for the State of Oregon. She is also the author of the recently published ethnography, Born at Home by Wadsworth Press. Her research specializations are in midwifery care, interprofessional collaboration, reproductive biology, maternal-child health, homebirth, and medical anthropology.

Director of Data Collection

Bruce Ackerman is the Data Collection Director of the Midwives Alliance Division of Research, where he continues with design and improvement of the web data collection system, supports users of this system, and participates in DOR coordination. His interest in birth comes through his marriage to a midwife, and long-time involvement with the Midwives Alliance, but also through a lifelong interest in the ways that our future and our relationship with technology are envisioned. Bruce also works in the energy and conservation field as well as in embedded software within medical instruments and other applications, and instrumentation design for laboratory research and industrial applications, and is active in his town planning process.

Director of Data Quality

Marit Bovbjerg, PhD, MS is a reproductive and health services epidemiologist who studies maternity care in the U.S. She is a Research Associate in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University. Her research focuses on maternity care in the U.S. — determining effective and cost-effective models of care; translating evidence-based, sustainable, and cost-effective models into practice; and decreasing adverse maternal outcomes resulting from over-medicalized births.  She also studies physical activity during pregnancy.

Director of Research Education

Courtney Everson, BA, MA, PhDc, is the Director of Research Education for the Midwives Alliance Division of Research and a Doctoral Candidate in Biocultural Medical Anthropology at Oregon State University (OSU). She is also the Graduate Coordinator of the Reproductive Health Laboratory at OSU, faculty at the Midwives College of Utah (MCU), and Chair of the MCU Ethical Review Board. Courtney is also an apprentice homebirth midwife and a practicing DONA International birth doula. Her research specializations are in maternal-child health, midwifery and doula care, social support and psychosocial stress in childbearing, adolescent pregnancy/ parenting, collaborative care models, mixed methodologies, research ethics, medical anthropology, health inequities and underserved populations.

Director of Social Media

Wendy Gordon, CPM, LM, MPH is a practicing midwife in Seattle, Washington. She comes from a background in chemical engineering and received her midwifery training at the renowned Seattle Midwifery School. She has been a member of the Midwives Alliance Division of Research since 2004 and is currently serving as the Director of Social Media. Wendy is an Assistant Professor in the graduate program of the Department of Midwifery at Bastyr University and a board member for the Association of Midwifery Educators. Her research interests include health disparities, the effectiveness of cultural competency and anti-racism education, and mentoring students in conducting research.

Director of Database Development

Ellen Harris-Braun, CPM, is the Director of Database Development for the Midwives Alliance Division of Research, and is half of Harris-Braun Enterprises, an experienced Web-development team that wrote the software for the MANA Statistics web site. Ellen is also a midwife, certified doula, and childbirth teacher involved with birth since 1999 and with MANA since 2002.

Senior Advisor for the MANA Division of Research

Saraswathi Vedam, RM, FACNM, MSN, Sci D (h.c.) is Associate Professor of Midwifery at University of British Columbia. She serves as Senior Advisor to the MANA Division of Research, ACNM representative the MANA-ACNM Liaison Council, and Interim Executive Board Member, Canadian Association of Midwifery Educators. Her scholarly work includes critical appraisal of the literature on planned home birth, research on predictors of provider attitudes, the development and validation of a novel composite tool for fetal assessment, and a community-based participatory action research project to explore shared decision making in maternity care. She has authored several national clinical practice guidelines and articles on evidence-based midwifery practice, and was a member of the Midwifery Task Force that led a Delphi process to craft the 2012 Joint Statement on Physiologic Labor and Birth. 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, and the United States. As Chair of the Home Birth Consensus Summit Steering Council, she twice convened 68 multi-disciplinary leaders to develop and address a common ground agenda to improve access to high, quality maternity care across birth settings in the US.

Midwives Alliance Board Liaison to the DOR Coordinating Committee

Marinah Valenzuela Farrell, LM, CPM