Claudia Booker, CPM, M.Ed., JD
Claudia Booker, CPM, M.Ed. JD, is a home birth midwife serving the families of the Washington DC, Maryland and northern Virginia area; and adjunct faculty member at Mercy in Action and visiting presenter at American University and the University of Maryland, Montgomery County. Before beginning her life as a birth worker Claudia served two terms as a Judge with the DC Contract Appeals Board and several years as a DC Assistant Corporation Counsel and Chief Contracting Officer for several of the District’s largest agencies. In 2011 Claudia became a CPM and over the last five years she has participated in several key activities that have impacted midwifery education and licensing. In addition, she has written numerous articles and interviews published in national and international newspapers on the topics of access to care, disparities, health inequities and the benefits of the midwifery model of care. In 2005, she began her birth worker career at the DC Family Health and Birth Center (now The Community of Hope) where she developed one of the country’s first community-based doula and birth assistant programs. In 2009 and 2015 she spearheaded the “Heads Up: For Infant Mortality DC Project”, which collected over 2,000 hand made infant hats and delivered them to local District NICUS. For the last eight years she has been a participant on the District of Columbia Infant Mortality Review Committee. After taking her midwifery skills overseas to serve families in Senegal, Bali, and the birth camps in Dulag, Philippines following Typhoon Yolanda, She recently completed the NARM CPM Bridge program. In 2006 she won the AABC Community Service Award for this program, in 2010 the ICT.C National Leadership Award, and in 2015 the Birth Matters Virginia Advocate of the Year Award.
Denise Johnston, M.D.
Denise Johnston, M.D. is the founding director of Families & Criminal Justice and its predecessor agency, the Center for Children of Incarcerated Parents. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa, she graduated with highest honors from Mills College and received her doctorate from Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Johnston is a leading national authority on children of criminal offenders.
Under Dr. Johnston’s direction, the Center for Children of Incarcerated Parents served more than 25,000 families and conducted over 60 educational, family reunification and therapeutic projects using a developmental, relationship-based approach to practice. In 2002, she implemented the first Early Head Start program to be conducted in a jail. In collaboration with the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, she designed and directed the Mother-Child Reunification Program [MCRP] in California prisons. This comprehensive program of prison-based mother-child services included a leadership institute for imprisoned mothers.
The focus of Families & Criminal Justice [FCJ] is justice-involved women and their infants/young children. Dr. Johnston has developed and directs a continuum of FCJ projects that provide reproductive health, prenatal and postpartum health, infant development and early childhood development services; she is currently a practitioner in the MIRACLE Project, which serves pregnant prisoners in Los Angeles County jails and in the community after their release.
As principal investigator, Dr. Johnston has completed 17 major research projects. As lead trainer, Dr. Johnston has directed and delivered training to more than 14,000 professionals who work with children of criminal offenders, including judicial officers, social workers, law enforcement and correctional personnel, drug treatment providers, teachers and early childhood workers.
Dr. Johnston was the editor and primary contributor to the first American text on incarcerated parents and their children, published in 1995. She also edited “Parental Incarceration: Personal Accounts & Developmental Impact” (Taylor & Francis, 2016), the first book to describe the development of adults who experienced the incarceration of their parents in childhood. She most recently authored the forthcoming “Working with Children of Criminal Offenders & Their Families: A Handbook for Practitioners”.
HRIC Regional Legal Advocacy Coordinator (United States)
Indra has been a teacher, a performance artist, a doula, a wall-paper hanger, a non-profit manager, and a counselor at law (among other things). This interdisciplinary approach is part of what makes Indra a Social Midwife: a term coined by Civil Rights leader and longtime Denver, Colorado activist Vincent Harding to describe people who help give birth to a new way. This term captures the way Indra works, whether it is as a volunteer helping to give birth to a new organization, or as a doula supporting a family through labor: Indra listens deeply and assumes that the organism in question knows what it needs. Indra’s interdisciplinary toolbag includes a B.A. in Creative Writing, an M.A. in Theatre, and most recently a law degree. Indra is published in various places including the William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law, The Journal of Democracy and Education, Educational Insights, and Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology. As a genderqueer parent with a diverse family of people from all over the world, Indra is committed to building “a world in which all worlds fit.”
Jennie Joseph, a British-trained midwife and women’s health advocate, moved to the United States in 1989 and began a journey which has culminated in the formation of an innovative maternal child healthcare system, The JJ Way®. Jennie has worked extensively in European hospitals, American birth centers, clinics and homebirth environments. Jennie has been instrumental in the regulation of Florida midwives since the 1990’s and has been involved in midwifery education since 1995. She is the chair of Florida’s State Council of Licensed Midwives. Currently she owns a Florida licensed midwifery school attached to her nationally renowned birth center and public health clinic in Winter Garden, Florida. She also developed and administers perinatal professional training and certification programs to address the health care provider shortage, diversify the maternal child health (MCH) workforce and address persistent racial and class disparities in birth outcomes. Due to the high prematurity rates experienced by low income and uninsured women she established an outreach clinic for pregnant women who are at risk of not receiving prenatal care. Her ‘Easy Access’ Prenatal Care Clinics offer quality maternity care for all, regardless of their choice of delivery site or ability to pay and has successfully reduced both maternal and infant morbidity and mortality in Central Florida. There are both quantitative and qualitative studies underway regarding Jennie’s work as well as continuous reviews of the impact of her clinical and educational programs. Jennie’s model of health care, The JJ Way®, provides an evidence-based system to deliver MCH services which improve health, reduce costs and produce better outcomes all round.
As the founder and Executive Director of her own non-profit corporation Commonsense Childbirth Inc. Jennie firmly believes that “Every woman wants a healthy baby and every woman deserves one”.
Julia Chinyere Oparah
Julia Chinyere Oparah is an activist scholar, social justice educator and experienced community organizer, who is dedicated to producing critical scholarship in the service of progressive social movements. Oparah is an African diaspora specialist, whose interests span a number of different social concerns, including activism by women of color, violence against women, women and the prison-industrial complex, restorative justice, queer and transgender liberation, race and adoption, research justice and birth activism. Her work is informed by personal experiences of crossing racial, gendered and national boundaries as a biracial, transracial/ transnational adoptee, survivor of intimate violence and queer parent with ties to Britain, Nigeria and the U.S.
Oparah is professor and department chair of Ethnic Studies at Mills College. She played a leading role in the establishment of Mills’ Queer Studies Program and sits on the Advisory Committee for that program. She recently led the College’s Gender Expression and Identity initiative, leading to the production of an important report on improving the experiences of transgender and gender-fluid students at Mills.
Oparah was awarded the Rockefeller Fellowship in Sex, Race and Globalization in 2002, and held the prestigious Canada Research Chair in Social Justice and Diversity at the University of Toronto from 2004-6. Educated at Cambridge University and Warwick University, she has graduate degrees in Sociology and Ethnic Studies. In addition, Oparah trained in community development. Prior to entering academia, she coordinated a black women’s center in the UK, and was executive director of a national development agency for non-profits serving communities of color.
Oparah is author of Other Kinds of Dreams: Black Women’s Organizations and the Politics of Organization, the only comprehensive history of the black women’s movement on Britain. She is editor of Global Lockdown: Race, Gender and the Prison-Industrial Complex, a seminal work that mapped the connections between globalization, gender and mass incarceration. She is also co-editor of 3 books: Activist Scholarship: Antiracism, Feminism and Social Change, Color of Violence: the Incite! Anthology and Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption.
She is currently working with the grassroots community organization Black Women Birthing Justice on a participatory action research project about black women’s experiences of pregnancy and childbirth, and editing an anthology on black women in the birth justice movement. In her spare time she practices mindfulness meditation and vinyasa yoga, sings along to gospel music, hangs out with toddlers and is learning horse-riding. Oparah has Nigerian (Igbo) and British origins, and immigrated to the US in 1995. She lives in East Oakland with her partner and daughter.
Kellee Coleman has over 18 years of equity and social justice community organizing experience integrating media, and popular education as strategies for social change. In 2008 she co-founded Vibrant Woman/Mama Sana prenatal clinic, a project of Mamas of Color Rising, where she currently works as coordinator for their Black Women’s initiative. The project works to provide holistic and culturally specific prenatal care, birth companions, midwifery services, prenatal fitness and nutrition services to lower income Black and Latina folks in the Austin area. In 2013 she facilitated the Austin Travis County Health Department’s community health workers training focused on health equity issues impacting Black women in Austin, Texas. She has conducted original research on the social determinants of health as they impact Black women locally. She is a member of the national leadership collective of Incite! Women and Trans*people of Color against Violence. She has consulted with numerous national and local organizations including US MERA, MANA, UT LBJ School of Public Policy, and Women’s Community Center on equity and reproductive justice issues.
Kimberly Turbin I’m Kimberly Turbin, and I’m one of the many women living in America who has experienced Obstetric Violence. Luckily I am able to speak about my trauma with others and share what happened to me, so that other women can learn from my experience and know their rights. I gave birth to my son Rio in 2013. While I was giving birth, the OB cut my vagina with scissors, completely 100% against my will, twelve times. I put my birth video on YouTube, just to see if it has happened to anyone else or if anyone thought it was normal. That’s when I realized that disrespect and abuse during childbirth happens to so many other women. I knew that I had the right to say “no” to that doctor, and that what he did to me was not only wrong, it was illegal, and I decided to stand up. In the three years since the incident, I have filed a police report that’s being investigated at the moment, filed a complaint to medical board of California, & filed a lawsuit by myself before any lawyer would take my case. None of this was easy, but there are things we can do to stand up to bullies.
Marinah Farrell, 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 Arizona.
In addition, Marinah is a founding board member and the Director of Maternal Health for Phoenix Allies for Community Health (PACH), a community funded free clinic in downtown Phoenix that provides free care to those who have no other resources. Marinah is also the President of the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA). MANA is a professional association for allmidwives, honoring all pathways to midwifery, since 1982.
Marinah is known locally, nationally and internationally for her advocacy work, focusing on issues of lack of access to midwives and the profession of midwifery in vulnerable communities, and continues to support the work of traditional midwives and health workers, bridging professional midwifery with community traditions.
Monica Raye Simpson
Monica Raye Simpson is the Executive Director of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective. A native of rural North Carolina, Monica has organized extensively against human rights violations, reproductive oppression, the prison industrial complex, racism and intolerance and is deeply invested in southern movement building and the fight for Black liberation. She is also committed to birth justice as a certified Doula. Monica couples her activism with her artistry and released her first live album entitled Revolutionary Love where she blends her gospel roots and her passion for social justice with deep soul to create the sound known as Revolutionary Soul. Because of her “artivism” Monica was named as a New Civil Rights Leader by Essence Magazine and chosen as one of Advocate Magazine’s 40 under 40 leaders.
I am Navajo and my clan is Tl’aashchi’I, Red Bottom clan, born for Tachii’nii, Red Running into the Water clan. Hashk’aa hadzohi, Yucca fruit-strung-out-in-a line clan, and Naasht’ezhi dine’e, Zuni clan. Growing up on and off the Navajo reservation near Farmington, New Mexico our traditional healing practices have always been apart of my life. I attribute my accomplishments to the many prayers and ceremonies done on my behalf as I was growing into the woman I am today. While obtaining my graduate education, it became apparent that our traditional healing practices and philosophies about “health” and “wellness” were vital to the care I provided as a Nurse Midwife. It is with this deep understanding and respect for our way of life as indigenous peoples that my worldviews are based on and are reflected the projects I participate in. My primary goal as a Nurse Midwife is to keep birth sacred and in native communities, by integrating and applying traditional knowledge. I received my Bachelors degree in Nursing and a Masters degree in Nurse Midwifery from the University of New Mexico. I have had the pleasure of being involved in several community projects since the completion of my education as well as being invited to serve on several health panels emphasizing cultural diversity in midwifery. In addition to my community service I have served as a mentor for emerging Native American midwifery students at the University of New Mexico and continue to support future midwives.
Paula X. Rojas, LM, CPM
Paula X. Rojas, LM, CPM is a Licensed Midwife and Certified Professional Midwife and a consultant/trainer for social justice organizations. She is the co-founder of Mamas of Color Rising, based in Austin, TX. She has 20 years of experience working in community organizing. Following in the footsteps of her family members in Chile, Paula has worked on grassroots social justice issues affecting her own local community since she was a teen. The bulk of her grassroots work has been focused on the issues of gender violence, healthcare access, police violence and worker’s rights. Paula’s own personal experiences during pregnancy have led to her work, since 2005, at the intersections of healthcare access, midwifery and community organizing. With other mothers of color, Mamas of Color Rising the group launched a sister project, Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman in 2012- a free holistic pre-natal health clinic with volunteer midwives, prenatal dance and yoga classes and support groups for low-income women of color in Austin.
Racha Tahani Lawler, CPM, LM
Racha is the granddaughter & great-granddaughter, great niece, and second cousin of midwives. After being in attendance of her cousin’s homebirth right out of her teens, she immediately answered her call to midwifery. While working as a nurse assistant at a local Hospital in the women’s wing, she was privileged & honored to train with a community midwife as an apprentice. Racha moved to El Paso Texas where she began a formal midwifery education at Maternidad La Luz. Upon graduation she sat for and passed her NARM in 2004 and became a Certified Professional Midwife (exp. 9/2014) & Texas Licensed Midwife. Racha returned home to California with her family in 2007, completed the California Challenge Process and earned her California Midwifery License in 2008. She has been blessed to sit at the feet of over 600 birthing women, and hundreds more as a physical & emotional support. With the help of family, friends and countless supporters she has recently opened The Community Birth Center. A freestanding birthing center in South Los Angeles that provides well woman, pre-conception, prenatal, labor/birth and postpartum care to families in the city of Los Angeles. She is committed to providing midwifery care to ALL who seek it regardless of race, socio-economic status or gender. Her passion is to aid in the great maternal child health disparities seen with women of color. Racha gave birth to all three of her children, post date, at home in water and they have attended upwards of 100 births in their own right. Her mission, is to “Grow our community, one baby at a time”, in reducing prematurity rates in women of color and infant deaths. She is currently guiding student midwives in their journey as they work towards licensure.
RaShaunda Lugrand, CHBD, NLP, IPBC
RaShaunda Lugrand CHBD | NLP | IPB is the Founder and director of The InTune Mother ProjectTM, an Independent Perinatal Birth Consultant, Breastfeeding Support Coach, Holistic Doula via The Matrona, Chairperson of Social Justice and Language Inclusion of The BirthKeeper Core Council, and member of Central Oklahoma Perinatal Coalition.
ith the support of her husband Melvin, RaShaunda started her work in this field in 2007, after the birth of their 1st son. She chose Marinah Farrell, midwife, activist, and now president of Midwives Alliance of North America to support her in a magical homebirth. This experience empowered RaShaunda to honor her sacred abilities and trust her intuition, with her husband in mind. After the birth of their third son, they were inspired to formally create the social welfare company The InTune Mother, LLC in 2013. Their work advocates for safe birth anywhere, for consciousness in birth, and parenting, particularly for home birth. She is a selfdirected student and stay at home mom of 3 children under the age of 10, which she homeschools, while assisting other homeschooling families via her experiential unschooling platform SOIL GrassRoots Academy. Her focus is conscious conception, self-directed homebirth, culturally centered perinatal care, breastfeeding education, healthy male to female relationships, and early childhood education. She is a published author of The Karma of The Butterfly, singer, songwriter, and poet. Homeschooling is her greatest commitment. RaShaunda is an activist rather than a reactionist. Spiritually she gravitates towards the mystical forms of all religions. “Love is the highest law and only true religion”.
Sayida Peprah, PysD
Sayida Peprah, has a Doctorate of Psychology in Clinical Psychology, with a Multicultural Clinical-Community Emphasis, from the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University. Dr. Peprah completed her undergraduate studies in Psychology and Religion at Spelman College. Dr. Peprah’s background, both academically and in the field, afford her unique competence in instructing courses, counseling and consulting, from a multicultural perspective. Dr. Peprah has a strong belief and background in cultural competence and, in effort to expand this, has participated in numerous international, cultural immersion studies. Previously, she has traveled to Ghana, Mexico, Egypt and India, studying mental health approaches, indigenous culture and local spiritual traditions. Professionally, Dr. Peprah is both a Clinician, Educator and Consultant. As a clinician, she has worked with a diverse client population and in a variety of clinical settings including psychiatric hospitals and community mental health agencies, in Los Angeles, CA. In 2013, she was recruited by the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons, where she has been providing a full spectrum of psychology services for incarcerated men and women. She was recently promoted from Clinical Psychologist at the largest federal detention center, in Brooklyn, NY to Deputy Chief Psychologist, at the federal complex prison in Victorville, CA.
Shafia M. Monroe is a visionary, a leader, a Master of Public Health, a veteran midwife, a Certified Childbirth Educator, a Doula Trainer, and a health activist. She mothers seven children and nine grandchildren. She gardens, writes, dances and cooks for family and friends. Shafia inspires all to embrace birth as the beginning of inner change, growth and world peace; she connects the human family in the universal experience of birth.
Shafia is a motivational speaker; her work transcends color, religion, sexual orientation or class status. She elevates health inequities as a Human Rights issue to motive action in leadership, cultural competency, birth work and women led birth. She is divinely guided; her words unite, motivate and empower the human spirit to embrace the best that one can offer and to act on it. Shafia is the founder of the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC) a renowned and respected international non-profit that increases the number of midwives and doulas of color to empower families to reduce infant and maternal mortality, and build capacity in communities of color. Shafia created the ICTC Full Circle Doula Training program validating a woman’s ability to serve using the traditional midwifery model of care. As a midwife activist, she leads neighborhoods, state and national initiatives to improve maternal, child and family health.
In 2009 she obtained federal funding to create the Oregon Coalition to Improve Birth outcomes, creating a legislative concept for OR HB3311; a bill investigating the use of doulas to improve birth outcomes in vulnerable populations. The bill led to the inclusion of doulas for Medicaid reimbursement as a national model in 2014. Shafia receives numerous awards for her ground breaking work and is featured in articles, documentaries and in a mural “Women Making History in Portland,” in Portland, OR.
Read more about Shafia Monroe.