Erline Achille has more than 10 years of experience in public health, racial justice, program development, and strategic planning. As a consultant she provides training, lectures, and strategic planning focusing on racial justice practice. She served as Project Manager for the Center for Health Equity and Social Justice at the Boston Public Health Commission to support its priority to address racial health inequities. She supported the Commission to build internal capacity to approach complex race issues by shifting public health practice toward racial equity through staff and program development, evaluation, and practice. Her role in this work was built on the understanding that community is central to the process, addressing institutional and structural racism is key, collaborations is necessary, and it is crucial to go beyond social service towards systemic social and policy change. A mother of 3, Erline advocated for 2VBACs!
Nashira Baril (project lead)
Nashira Baril, a Black cis woman, is the daughter and great-granddaughter of midwives. Nashira birthed both of her children at home and experienced firsthand the transformative experience and liberation of midwifery supported pregnancy and birth. She has a Master’s degree in Maternal and Child Health from Boston University School of Public Health and nearly 20 years experience designing and implementing public health strategies to advance racial equity. Nashira works at Human Impact Partners doing capacity-building for health equity and racial justice and has a small consulting practice focused on training and organizational development for equity. In addition to working full time and raising a family, she has been leading this birth center project in a volunteer capacity since 2015. She was born and raised in Connecticut and resides in Mattapan with her husband and two kids who were both born at home with midwives.
ScD, MPH, Clinical Assistant Professor, Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, Candice is a maternal and child health epidemiologist with a particular focus on the impact of interpersonal and structural racism on outcomes like breastfeeding, preterm birth and childbirth experiences.
CNM, Connie has been a practicing midwife for over 30 years. After a short training time at Boston Medical Center, she was one of the founding midwives of the Cambridge Birth Center. She believes empowered and informed birth translates into empowered parents and families, and feels this is the essence of being a midwife.
PhD, Boston University School of Public Health - Gene is a professor serving on the faculties of the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Boston University Medical School. He has been the principal investigator for the Listening to Mothers series of national surveys on maternity care.
Elmer R. Freeman
MSW, Director, Office of Urban Health Programs and Policy, Executive Director, Center for Community Health Education Research and Service, Inc. — Mr. Freeman has 35 years experience in Boston’s communities of color as a community organizer, health care clinician, administrator, public health practitioner, and more recently as community researcher. Mr. Freeman is a recognized expert in the application of community-based participatory research principles in partnerships with academic researchers to address disparities and inequities in health and health care of underserved communities. His research areas of interest are in the social, economic and political determinants of health status of minority populations; the impact of the internalization of racism on the manifestation of health risk behaviors among oppressed groups; and “practice based evidence” in the management of chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes and hypertension in health center patient populations.He is a member of the External Advisory Board of the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research; and co-founder of the Community Health and Academic Medicine Partnership with Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He just completed a four year term on the Council of Public Representatives, an advisory committee to the Director of the National Institutes of Health. In 2011 he was selected for the prestigious Barr Foundation Fellowship.
MPH, Spinning Babies® Approved Trainer, DONA Birth Doula Trainer — Lorenza entered the birth world as a homebirth VBAC mother and later became a childbirth educator and doula. Lorenza provided years of leadership to Cambridge Doula Program at the Cambridge Health Alliance, the Birth Sisters Program at Boston Medical Center, and the Boston Association for Childbirth Education and Nursing Mothers' Council. Her current work as a Spinning Babies approved trainer connects her to birth professionals around the world who, like her and her Spinning Babies colleagues, are committed to improving birth outcomes, reducing unnecessary medical interventions intrapartum, and reducing birth trauma. Spinning Babies (SpB) is an innovative approach created by midwife Gail Tully, which empowers and mobilizes pregnant women during the prenatal period and during labor through techniques of stretching and relaxing soft tissues that can then allow the baby to naturally enter, descend and rotate through the levels of the pelvis with greater ease for a successful vaginal birth. She is also working with a team of doulas in forming a community doula program and organizing around policy to expand MassHealth coverage to doulas. She is the winner of the 2010 Womens’ Health Hero by Our Bodies Our Selves’ Collective in Boston. Lorenza has supported many women through pregnancy and childbirth, and was recently by her daughter’s side when she became a grandmother. Originally from Mexico, Lorenza lives in Newton, MA where she raised her now-adult children.
ScM, CLC, Co-Founder, Perinatal Mental Health Alliance for Women of Color — Divya Kumar is a South Asian American woman who provides perinatal support at the individual, group, and community levels. Committing to addressing unmet needs in perinatal healthcare, she has helped created several innovative initiatives, including the Perinatal Mental Health Alliance for Women of Color, a program within Postpartum Support International. Divya is a Certified Lactation Counselor, holds a Masters in Public Health, and is currently completing her Masters in Social Work. A writer and a truth-teller, Divya brings a fresh voice, compassion, and humor to her work with new families.
Roxbury Community Champion, Vital Village — Marisa, long time community activist and Roxbury resident and mother of two, whose commitment to expanding options in maternal and child health was elevated after birthing and breastfeeding her son. She is an advocate for cultivating individual and community resiliency through activism, family wellness, community engagement, leadership, and self-love. She current works at Northeastern University as the Community Engagement & Collaborations Manager, is a massage therapist with her own practice, and is pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health.
MD, President and CEO emeritus Commonwealth Care Alliance — Bob Master lead Commonwealth Care Alliance, a nonprofit prepaid Medicare and Medicaid financed care system caring for thousands of Medicaid and dual eligible elders and younger individuals with disabilities through multidisciplinary primary care teams in 57 primary care sites in Massachusetts’ low-income communities. He is retired physician, board-certified in Internal Medicine, with over 30 years of experience in the clinical management of patients with advanced chronic illness and disability. In 2009, Dr. Master was recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) with a National Health Quality Award for his leadership in improving the quality of care for vulnerable populations. Prior to his role at Commonwealth Care Alliance, Bob served as the Medical Director of the Massachusetts Medicaid program, was the first physician and medical director at the Upham’s Corner Health Center, and founded the Urban Medical Group in Boston. He also started the Nurse Midwifery program at BU in 1991 after the School of Nursing closed.
DrPH, MPH, Boston University School of Public Health — Lois’ first experience in Maternal and Child Health was in rural Nepal where she lived with nurse-midwives from around the world and accompanying them to homebirths. After more work on global health and research on disparities in cesarean childbirth LA in the 1980’s, she now leads the MCH Center of Excellence at BU School of Public Health.
PhD, MS — Daughter of a social worker born in Dorchester, sister of a nurse midwife, and mother of two children caught by midwives and their dad, Marianne supports community and population health, well-being, and equity through the 100 Million Healthier Lives movement (convened by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement). She has worked at Our Bodies Ourselves, Ibis Reproductive Health, and the National Institute for Children's Health Quality and with an amazing circle of reproductive and social justice advocates.
Chris Avery Miller
MBA — Chris is an operations improvement consultant with more than 35 years of experience in leadership and change management in both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. Chris compassionately supports organizations to make real their desire for justice, equity and inclusion. Chris has experience as a healthcare executive at several Boston-area teaching and community hospitals. Chris' commitment to women's reproductive health began while working at Planned Parenthood in 1982, continued with the birth of his sons by midwives more than 25 years ago, and continues today in helping manifest Neighborhood Birth Center.
Birth, Death, and Ancestral Healing Arts Practitioner— Luana is a Boston based Afro-Boricua mother and medicine woman focused on sharing healing practices in organizing and activist spaces to support our resistance work in a healing justice framework. She is committed to supporting the parallel process of dismantling internal and external systems that don’t support our individual and collective liberation. She is Birth and Bereavement Doula, Death Midwife, Circle Keeper, Officiant, Reiki Master Teacher, and Yerbera devoted to reclaiming our birth, death, and afro-indigenous healing practices. She is also the founder of Seeds of Our Ancestors, a mobile healing squad that is multidisciplinary, intergenerational, and multi-lineage. We are committed to being of service, showing up in the name of love, remembering, and getting free together.
CPM, MA, Rebel Girl Research Communications — Nechama is a writer, a reproductive justice activist, a community-based researcher, an abortionist, an educator and a midwife. A white cis queer woman, Nechama is interested in reproductive and lifespan health care as human rights, but also as avenues for liberation, enacting racial justice, righting historical wrongs, and building better systems. Nechama works as a grant writer and science communicator, and spends a lot of time talking to her dog about systems and justice.
MD, MPH - Nancy is a native Bostonian who grew up in Roxbury and Dorchester. She is currently the Medical Director of Integration for the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership, a Beacon Health Options company that focuses on improving mental health and behavioral health services for residents with Medicaid. Prior to joining the Partnership, she was the Chief Medical Officer for the Boston Public Health Commission, the health department for the City of Boston. Nancy’s work has always focused on improving the health of those with the most challenges. Dr. Norman completed her internship and residency, including chief residency in internal medicine at Faulkner Hospital after receiving a BA in biology from Bowdoin College and a MD from Boston University School of Medicine. She later received a MPH from Harvard University School of Public Health and completed a clinical fellowship in Community Oriented Primary Care/Preventive Medicine at Carney Hospital. Nancy is on staff at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and recently accepted an invitation to join the Board of Trustees for the newly formed Beth Israel Lahey Health. Dr. Norman is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medicine at Boston University and is tremendously effective at building coalitions, sustaining relationships, and masterfully exerting influence to effect change.
MD, DrPH — Sanam is a board-certified family physician and a public health practitioner with expertise in the care of women, children and young families before during and after childbirth. She is especially interested in innovative approaches to improving the quality of healthcare, people’s participation in care, parenting and mixed-methods health systems research. She is currently living in Tanzania with her two curious kids and husband where she works on reducing maternal and newborn mortality and improving the quality of care.
CNM, FACNM, PhD, Boston Medical Center - Jo-Anna Rorie has served for 35 years as an educator, provider of midwifery and wellbeing care to a diverse group of women across the lifespan.
Doula, Owner, The Birth Co.
Linda Sprague- Martinez
PhD, Assistant Professor, Boston University School of Social Work — Linda’s work examines how assets can be recognized and leveraged by communities to improve living environments and health. She is specifically interested in examining asset-based strategies to promote health equity; as such community engaged research (CEnR) approaches like community based participatory research (CBPR) and youth led participatory action research (YPAR) are central to her work. Having formerly worked across municipal and state governmental divisions implementing disparities related policies and programs, and as an adolescent mental health provider, she brings practical expertise in community collaborations designed to engage diverse communities of color and low-income residents in community planning and intervention development. In 2017 she was a Boston Housing Authority, Center for Community Engagement and Civil Rights, Resident Empowerment Coalition, Resident Empowerment Honoree.
Carleen is a mother of 4 and Dorchester resident, who works as the Director of Operations for Baraka Community Wellness an organization that provides health solutions for individuals and communities. Carleen has over twenty years of managed health care and insurance industry experience.
CNM, MPH, The Midwives at Boston Medical Center, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Boston University School of Medicine — Catherine has been a women’s health activist for 40 years and has been a midwife for 25 of them. She was born and raised in Dorchester and lives in Uphams Corner, where she raised her two daughters. She delivered both of her babies with midwives and has dedicated her career to making the kind of wholistic and empowering care she received available to all families. She believes in the power of birth to heal our souls and our communities.
MPH — Meenakshi, mother of 3, spent the last decades consulting with organizations to develop a racial justice agenda. As a person who racializes as Asian and is ethnically Indian, her life’s work is rooted in building solidarity with other people of color in a collective movement toward liberation. She brings nonprofit development organizational development and fundraising skills to the birth center project.