#MANA16 Sage Femme & Sapling Award Winners

Each year MANA presents the Sage Femme award to honor a Grand Midwife, past or present, who has practiced the art of midwifery over many years and whose wisdom, perseverance and dedication serves as an inspiration to all midwives now and into the future. The Sapling award is presented each year to a new midwife who has shown exceptional passion and leadership as she continues her journey of learning and service to families and birth.


Carol Nelson is our MANA 2016 Sage Femme award recipient. She was chosen by the MANA Board of Directors and the Advisory Council of Elders in recognition of the work she has done over the last four decades for mothers, babies and midwives and her tireless efforts to bring midwifery into the light, to teach and to quietly lead a movement to illuminate the dignity and power of birth.

Carol currently lives on the Farm in Summertown, Tennessee and has attended approximately 2000 births. She was an LPN when she joined The Farm Community in the early 1970’s and began attending births at the Farm Midwifery Center. She was licensed as a midwife by the State of Florida Department of Health in 1982 and became the co-founder of, and director, instructor and preceptor for the South Florida School of Midwifery. She achieved the credential of Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) in 1995. She has served on the Board and as Director of Applications and Treasurer of the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) and is a NARM delegate to US MERA. She wrote and lobbied for the CPM law in Tennessee, which passed in 2000.

For many years Carol has been the Chair of the Midwifery Education and Advocacy Committee for the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) and has represented the profession of midwifery on the Governing Council of the American Public Health Association, holding the space for normal births. In addition to births at The Farm Community and Farm Midwifery Center, Carol has also served mothers in Wisconsin, New York, Florida, Michigan, Canada, and as a midwife for the Amish community near her home.

Carol is passionate about direct assessment education for midwives. Her most recent ground-breaking accomplishment is co-founding and opening the College of Traditional Midwifery in 2016. Carol is widely regarded with respect and admiration by all who have had the honor of working with her, professionals, leaders and colleagues alike – when she speaks everyone listens as they know that she speaks with truth, humility and wisdom. Beloved by midwives, her students, and her birthing families, Carol embodies what it means to be a Sage Femme.

Jamarah Amani, Sapling 2016

Jamarah Amani is our MANA 2016 Sapling honoree. Jamarah was born in Wisconsin and raised in the Bay Area of California and is a continuous student of life. She has studied Africana Studies, Women’s Studies and Midwifery at centers of learning such as University of Pennsylvania, Clark Atlanta University and most recently International School of Midwifery. Jamarah’s life path merges many facets of maternity care and social justice (specifically reproductive justice) and has led her to midwifery. Jamarah offers midwifery care, breastfeeding consultations and childbirth education to families across the state of Florida. Her midwifery service “Open Hands” is named after Georgia midwife Biddy Mason, who said “If you hold your hands closed nothing good can come in. The Open Hand is blessed for it gives in abundance as it receives.”

Jamarah Amani is a community midwife (licensed in the state of Florida) who believes in the power of birth and that every baby has a human right to be breastfed/chestfed. Her mission is to do her part to build a movement for Birth Justice locally, nationally and globally. Jamarah has said “Birth Justice is a parent’s right to ensure the well being of herself and her baby; it intersects with all aspects of our lives – social, political, economic, spiritual and emotional. When parents are empowered, a community is transformed. If we bring our babies into the world with justice, in the natural way, without anyone telling us how to do it, then it nurtures our innate power as mothers to create a free world for our children to play and learn and grow. Birth Justice includes access to holistic, humanistic and culturally centered prenatal, birth and postpartum care (the midwifery model of care), the right to choose when, where, how and with whom to birth as well as the right to breastfeeding support. The complete range of pregnancy, labor and birth options should be available to everyone as an integral part of reproductive justice. These are our rights as parents.”

Jamarah has been a community organizer since age sixteen and has worked with several organizations across the United States, the Caribbean and in Africa on various public health issues, including HIV prevention, infant mortality risk reduction, access to emergency contraception and access to midwifery care. She is director of Southern Birth Justice Network, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working to end shackling of incarcerated women who labor and birth in chains and who are not able to hold and breastfeed their babies because their bodies are locked down. Her organization also offers childbirth education and doula services to high school students in her community. This is the role she creates as a community midwife. In addition to her career in activism and as a community midwife, she is raising four lively children!

Congratulations Jamarah!

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