Jennie Joseph, Licensed Midwife, Founder & Executive Director of Commonsense Childbirth Inc.; Creator of The JJ Way®
Jennie Joseph is a British-trained midwife who fights to ensure every woman has their healthiest possible pregnancy, birth and postpartum experience with dignity and support.
Jennie created The JJ Way® which is an evidence-based maternal child health (MCH) model delivering readily-accessible, patient-centered, culturally-congruent care to women in areas that she terms 'materno-toxic zones'.
She is the Executive Director of her own non-profit corporation Commonsense Childbirth Inc. which operates a midwifery school & perinatal professional training institute, health clinics and a birthing center in Orlando, Florida, where she has lived since 1989. Jennie is also the founder of the National Perinatal Task Force, a grassroots organization whose mission is the elimination of racial disparities in maternal child health in the USA.
Augustine Colebrook, CPM, Founder & Principal of Wise Women Education
Augustine is a nationally recognized midwifery educator, experienced business executive, and veteran midwife with a heart focused on the underserved. She respects a woman’s need for the empowering feeling of being undisturbed during labor. She balances this attention to the sacred with 20 years experience attending births in hospitals, birth centers, and homes in rural, urban and suburban environments in the US and abroad. Augustine’s focus is finely attuned to the process of letting go and opening to the unknown in labor and in life.
Her life's mission is to mainstream midwifery and deconstruct the culture of fear and misinformation that surrounds the maternity world. To that end, Augustine 'midwife's the midwife' through her many education programs, consulting services, product development, podcast and private coaching services for midwives, students, maternity practice owners, and birth center administrators. It is her profound honor to illuminate the sacred path to joyful and sustainable midwifery practice.
She has been teaching midwives and students for more than a decade and delights in seeing the 'lightbulb' when a new skill or concept is mastered. Augustine caught her first client’s baby on Mother’s Day 1999 in South Carolina. Over the last 20 years she has been blessed to work with over a 1000 families and hundreds of students. She is a certified professional midwife and a member of the Midwives Alliance of North America, a preceptor with 8 different MEAC accredited schools nationwide, a certified preceptor with the North American Registry of Midwives and a member of the Association of Midwifery Educators. Her newest creation is the Worldwide Midwifery Podcast, uniting the midwives of the world through sharing information, education, support and story.
Augustine has been interviewed for Mothering, Parents, and Parenting Magazine, is featured in a chapter of "The Business of Baby" by Jennifer Margulis and appears in the documentary, "The Vaccine Wars" on Frontline NBC. Additionally, Augustine has a master’s degree from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA where she majored in Maternal/Child Health Systems. In her spare time, Augustine leads adventure retreats for women hesitant about the unknown. She loves to travel and is passionate about real food, sustainable communities and clean energy, tiny houses and safe birth that feels sacred.
MARY COOPER, PROFESSIONAL MIDWIFE
Mary helped at her first birth September 28, 1978. She had 2 of her 3 children at home, unassisted, because the midwife never made it. She has had the privilege of helping with 4000+ births, which have included 40 sets of twins, 55+ breech babies, 70+ VBAC births and Healing Births. She gives all Glory to God who put the Midwife Call on her life & to the Women & Babies who have shared their Wisdom with her. She is a Community Midwife, meaning she lives in the same community she practices in. She hopes to help 3 generations, before she even thinks of retiring. Her hobbies are stained glass, speaking, writing articles and volunteering. She also loves renovating & worship.
MELAN J. SMITH-FRANCIS, DNP, MSN, CNM, FNP-C
Dr. Melan is a Certified Nurse-Midwife and delivers babies at Nashville General Hospital as well as the home setting. She is a graduate of Florida A&M University (Biology), Austin Peay State University (Nursing), Vanderbilt University (Midwifery) and Tennessee State University (Post Master’s Certificate- Family Nurse Practitioner) and the University of Tennessee (Doctorate of Nursing). She started her nursing career 15 years ago at the Vanderbilt Emergency Department. From that time, she has spent her career building upon her objectives toward her mission. As a Professor of Nursing, she prepared baccalaureate of science nurses to be true nursing advocates for mothers and children. She has served as a family and women’s health preceptor to advanced practice nursing students. She has served as the Certified Nurse-Midwife representative for the Tennessee Department of Health. She is also a member of the nursing honor society, Sigma Theta Tau as well as the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, American College of Nurse-Midwives and the Tennessee Nurses Association. She has traveled to China to present her article on “Ultrasound Technology”, an article published to enhance nurses’ communication with clients in regard to ultrasound studies. Her doctoral project was centered around Group Prenatal Care in an effort to improve adverse outcomes. One of her missions is to decrease the cesarean rate as well as the preterm birth rate by empowering women and families to take hold of their health and nutrition.
Chama Woydak, LCCE, CD(DONA),BDT(DONA), Certified Rebozo Trainer & Owner, Homegrown Babies and Homegrown Families Health and Education Center
Chama is a fun-loving mother of two who has been attending births as a birth doula in Asheville NC since 1999 and teaching childbirth education classes since 2002. Chama is a Lamaze Childbirth Educator, a trainer for the NC Perinatal Association Lamaze Childbirth Educator Program, a certified DONA Birth Doula, a full spectrum doula, a DONA International Birth Doula Trainer. A Holding Space for Pregnancy Loss Instructor, and an advanced Rebozo Instructor and the strategic doula advisor for Sistas Caring for Sistas, an Afircan American Community Based Doula Program. She is the owner of Homegrown Babies, and also the owner of Homegrown Families Health and Education Center, an integrative health center in Asheville, NC. Chama lives on a 20 acre farm where she enjoys raising dairy goats, making cheese and growing mixed vegetables.
Chauntel Norris CBE, CLC
Chauntel Norris is a Certified Lactation Counselor, a DONA trained doula, and a Lamaze trained Childbirth Educator. She is a Mother's Milk Initiative Coordinator, Doula & Group Facilitator with the Alabama Prison Birth Project. Chauntel serves on the board of the Alabama Breastfeeding Committee and is an active member of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance and a Community Transformer for Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE). She received both her B.A. and B.S. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Chauntel is also the mom of Amaiya & OJ.
She’s an advocate for breastfeeding in vulnerable communities and strongly believes in the right of all women to be able to breastfeed their babies.
HEATHER MUÑOZ CPM-TN, RN, NRP INSTRUCTOR, TMA PRESIDENT
Heather developed a love for maternal and newborn health in 2002 as she witnessed firsthand the suffering and lack of nutrition of women and children in East Africa. She became a Registered Nurse in 2004 and has had experience in Medical/Surgical, Postpartum and Nursery units. Heather has had the opportunity to serve low-income and refugee/immigrant population with the Vanderbilt Midwives in Nashville. In 2006, she began her training to become a Certified Professional Midwife and now serves families in Middle Tennessee as a licensed CPM-TN, is the President of the Tennessee Midwives Association, and has been an NRP Instructor for 7 years. Heather has been married for 13 years and has 5 children - 2 daughters, 3 sons, including twin boys! Her children are her inspiration to assist women into a healthy season of motherhood.
Heather’s Neonatal Resuscitation Program (TM) (NRP) classes fill up fast--- so register soon!
Brianna Barker, ICAN President & Justen Alexander, ICAN VP
Brianna is a mother, wife, and volunteer at home mom. She is the leader and founder of the Huntsville chapter of the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) whose mission is to improve maternal-child health by reducing preventable cesareans through education, supporting cesarean recovery, and advocating for vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). An important message Brianna shares is reminding cesarean mothers that they are scared, not broken, and facilitating a safe place/support group for mothers to share their personal experiences. Brianna has contributed to the North Alabama birth community by being the forerunner and developer with her ICAN leadership team of a pilot program, the “Doula Grant for Expectant Mothers”, which is awarded once a quarter, and helps assist with the cost of a doula for mothers in need. She is passionate about supporting mothers and advocating for a system that provides integrated, evidence-based, respectful care options in all settings, with particular concern for fully informed consent, and respect for patient’s rights surrounding both cesarean and labor after cesarean.
Justen has been involved with ICAN since 2013, and has been the Vice President of the ICAN Board of Directors since 2017. During her time as an ICAN leader, her main focus has been advocacy work, including obtaining the VBA2C (Vaginal Birth After 2 Cesareans); racial exclusion clarifications from ACOG; attending and speaking at hospital board meetings and maternal health conferences; meeting individually with physicians and midwives to discuss the needs of the community; and working to increase VBAC and Family Centered Cesarean access. She is passionate about communicating with birth professionals to find ways to work together in the path to improving maternal-child health. Outside of ICAN, Justen volunteers with a Green cemetery to help families navigate the process of Home Funerals and Green burials.
Rene Sprague MSN, RN
Rene Sprague MSN, RN is the founder and coordinator of the USA Health Children’s and Women’s Hospital’s Bridge Program. This program follows fetal anomaly pregnancies and provides families with appropriate education throughout the pregnancy to prepare them for delivery and arm them with the information needed to advocate and care for their infant. This program was initially started to meet the crisis needs of families experiencing a lethal anomaly pregnancy. It quickly grew into much more and now encompasses all neonatal and medically complex pediatric-aged patients, with plans to serve the adult patients in the partnering trauma center in the future. Rene has a Bachelor of Science in Cardiorespiratory Sciences, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing (with an emphasis in Maternal-Child) and is currently enrolled in a Family Practice Nursing Doctoral program. She has almost 20 years’ experience in Neonatal and Pediatric care. Her biggest accomplishments are her three wonderfully smart, incredibly different, beautiful babies. She lives in Mobile, AL with her kiddos and her very tolerant husband.