Program Committee

The following volunteer committee members reviewed and selected abstracts for inclusion in the 2014 Convention Program.


Debbie Allen, CPM, is a Midwife and Childbirth Educator in Los Angeles. Debbie has attended numerous births and is dedicated to educating families about their choices. She believes no matter where a woman births, it is ultimately her choice as to what feels right for her and her family. Debbie is committed to supporting women while providing respectful and supportive health care. She is passionate about decreasing the health disparities within the African American communities. Debbie is a mother of 3 sons, two of whom were born at home with midwives.


Shannon Anton's roots are in NE Iowa amid broad rivers, deep forests and rolling farmland. She moved to California with her life partner in 1989. By 1990 she was apprenticing in San Francisco. Her senior midwives were active with midwifery politics, and she benefitted from the well-established independent CA Association of Midwives certification. Shannon started her own homebirth practice in 1993 and always worked with an apprentice at her side. When NARM began the Task Force, she was sent to represent the CAM certification model. Later that same year she was asked to join the NARM Board. In 1995 Shannon and Elizabeth Davis co-founded a midwifery school as part of the MEAC pilot, and their program was pre-accredited in 1996. That same year she was one of three midwives who piloted the first CA Challenge for licensure and was awarded LM #5. She's been in Vermont with her life partner since 1998 where they built their house in the Green Mountains. The midwifery school moved with them and continues to maintain MEAC accreditation. Shannon continues to serve on the NARM Board as Director of Accountability and maintain both her CPM and CA LM. She loves to learn and yearn for an ever-expanding point of view.


Liz Baer is an home birth midwife, lifelong learner and homeschooling mom of five. She and her family grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and briefly lived in Syracuse, New York prior settling in Oregon's Mid-Valley. Before becoming a midwife, Liz worked as a literary journal editorial assistant, a WIC Breastfeeding Counselor and a birth doula. She was a Program Coordinator Co-Chair for the local convention committee of last year's MANA Convention in Portland, Oregon and is excited to be serving on this year's program committee.


Melissa Cheyney PhD CPM LDM is Associate Professor of Medical Anthropology at Oregon State University. She is also a Certified Professional Midwife in active practice, the Chair of the Governor-appointed Board of Direct-entry Midwifery for the State of Oregon, and the Chair of the Division of Research for the Midwives Alliance of North America where she directs the MANA Statistics Project. Dr. Cheyney is the author of the recent ethnography, Born at Home (2010, Wadsworth Press) along with several, peer-reviewed journal articles that examine the cultural beliefs and clinical outcomes associated with midwife-led birth at home.


Marinah Valenzuela Farrell, LM, CPM is MANA's president. Her favorite formative memories are political inquiry from a very young age and walks with her grandfather and mother looking for healing plants. Politics and traditional medicine is what led Marinah to midwifery, and she continues in her commitment to both political activism and birth work. Marinah has been the president of various non-profit boards, has worked in waterbirth centers and medical facilities doing international non-profit work, and has been the owner of long standing homebirth practices. In addition, she also works with various local grassroots organizations in Arizona such as the Phoenix Allies for Community Health, serving as a board member with Phoenix Allies for Community Health, a free clinic in downtown Phoenix, assists in collective endeavors with other grassroots groups on the issue of immigration, and is active as a medic during political protests. Marinah is focused on the issue of lack of access to midwives and the profession of midwifery in communities where health disparities are overwhelming. Marinah also continues to work with traditional midwives outside of the U.S and bridges traditional Mexican medicine/healing with western science.


Laura Perez, CPM  


Chanel L. Porchia - Albert is the mother of 4 children all ages 5 and under. Founder of Ancient Song Doula Services offering comprehensive healthcare services to women of color, low income families, undocumented & underinsured, and Full Spectrum Doula Trainings & Workshops. She is currently a Midwifery Student & Assistant, Certified Lactation Counselor, Certified Holistic Health Coach,and Vegan Chef.


Christy Tashjian, RN, CPM, LM has been helping families welcome babies in Austin, TX and the surrounding communities as a homebirth midwife since 1998. Christy recently graduated with a Master's Nurse Practitioner degree from the University of Cincinnati and is planning to expand her practice to include women's holistic health care and primary care for the LGBTQ community. She served as 2nd VP on the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) board from April 2008 to October 2013 and is currently on the Scientific Program Committee of the International Confederation of Midwives 30th Triennial Congress. Christy lives with her two children and partner on a farmette where wrangling animals and cooking fresh meals occur daily.


Krystel Viehmann, LM, CPM lives in Long Beach, CA with her partner and an exceptionally scruffy pup. She loves having a diverse urban community homebirth practice, Taproot Midwifery. Her strong commitment to reproductive and birth justice is a driving force in her life and practice. Krystel is passionate about serving populations traditionally underserved by homebirth midwifery including low income clients, clients of color, and clients who are queer and/or transgender. She also serves on the board of the California Association of Midwives as a Regional Representative for the greater Los Angeles area.


Lena Wood is currently pursuing her RN in the accelerated baccalaureate program at Oregon Health & Science University, where she will continue on to the graduate program in nurse-midwifery. She is a full-spectrum doula, activist, and educator fiercely committed to supporting the creation of a world where all families are supported, affirmed and treated with dignity. In addition to her experience as a doula and Montessori teacher, Lena has served as an advocate and trainer with Backline, a national talk line that offers a compassionate, non-judgmental space to talk about experiences of pregnancy, abortion, adoption, and parenting.


Clarice Winkler has recently retired from active midwifery practice. She attended about 2000 births at home, birth center and hospital during her career of 30+ years. She is a graduate of Western Michigan University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, midwifery program. She has served as Continuing Education Chairperson for MANA since 2008. In retirement she lives in Lansing, Michigan and enjoys knitting, gardening, her "grandchildren" and getting a full night's sleep.