Welcome BMVA 2016/17 Coordinating Board

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Nope. Not these guys. That is definitely not the board who was voted in to office at a beautiful annual meeting in Williamsburg, VA on Saturday, April 30, 2016.  Instead, there were many familiar faces, and some new, gathered as we shared the year in review, talked about our direction going forward, and voted in our 2016/17 Coordinating Board.

Its my pleasure to announce this amazing group of very talented women (thankfully, not those guys) to you :

2016/17 Birth Matters Chapter Directors:

Augusta: Sarah Frances Roberson –  Sarah Roberson grew up in Swoope, Virginia and studied Spanish at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. She and her husband met in Japan and lived there together for three years. They had a great birth and postpartum experience in Japan and then moved to Harrisonburg where their second and third child were born. They now live in Staunton.  Sarah has been going to the Augusta County Birth Circle meetings for about three years, and has led the circle since January 2015.

Charlottesville: April Wang – An educator by trade with a master’s degree in Health Education, Health Promotion, I currently serve my family as a full-time stay-at-home mother, and serve my community as an independent childbirth educator and part-time in-home childcare provider.  Although I’ve lived abroad and in a number of different states, I have very happily settled in Charlottesville, VA for the past 4 years alongside my husband, Billie, my 4-year-old son, Ming, and my 2-year-old daughter, Maggie. I have served as the Co-Director of the Charlottesville Chapter for over 1 year and Chapter Volunteer Coordinator for 2 years.


Peninsula: Jihan Minson – I am the wife to Craig the mother of two children (4 year old girl and 2 year old boy) and two dogs (Shetland Sheepdog and a Pug). Before kids I worked as a Marine Biologist and ran a swim team and swim lessons program. After several years of trying to have children we got pregnant with our daughter and I decided to become a stay at home mom. I enjoy being home with my children but I also keep myself very busy working with the local Pug rescue, running my neighborhood landscaping and facilities group and running my own catering business.
Giving back to Birth Matters VA is also very important to me because my local chapter helped me heal from a very difficult pregnancy and delivery. Birth Matters empowered me as a mother. Each month I learn something new and which has helped me own my birth story!

  Richmond: Ke’andre Baugh- KeAndre is a student midwife with a passion for social and birth justice. She wants to use her position within BMVA to not only teach women about their rights, but to also make the circles a place where they can feel safe.

 Tidewater: Chelsea Shira – Chelsea is currently a student midwife, DONA certified birth doula, and a proud stay at home mother of a beautiful 3 year old son. For the last year she has also enjoyed volunteering for Birth Matters Virginia as the Tidewater Chapter Director. Growing up, Chelsea was surrounded by an admirably talented matriarchal family, many of whom supported mothers during childbirth. However, it wasn’t until after the birth of her son that Chelsea realized just how much she wanted to help empower women through their own birth experiences. Before She became a birth worker, Chelsea was a mother and student studying Business Finance at Virginia Commonwealth University. During these most precious times, Chelsea loves that she is able to provide her family with an environment that she creates, while at the same time being able to work in a profession she feels so passionately for. As Chelsea continues her work and education in childbirth, she is thrilled to be able to provide women with the same nurturing love and care that she was given during one of the most beautiful life-changing moments a woman can have!”

Williamsburg: Jennifer Inman – A NASA physicist, and mother of three children born at DePaul Midwifery Center, Jennifer has a passion for increasing the birthing options available for women and families in Williamsburg.

2016/17 Birth Matters Executive Board:

Treasurer: Jamie Diaz – I am an Assistant Professor of Accounting at the College of William and Mary, as well as a CPA with expertise in auditing both for-profit and non-profit organizations. I hold a PhD in Accounting from New York University, and I am also a mother of an energetic two year old. During my pregnancy, I attended birth circles at both the Williamsburg and Peninsula chapters of Birth Matters VA, and was amazed by the stories told by the women in attendance who were empowered by their experiences giving birth to their children. The meetings were not only useful and informative to me, as I was expecting my first child, but truly sparked my passion for this wonderful cause. I would be honored to have the opportunity to continue to utilize my professional knowledge and experience to benefit a group that was so integral to one of my most profound personal experiences – the birth of my son. As Birth Matters matures as an organization, I will endeavor to leverage my professional skills to support that growth, and to empower women to make informed choices about their births.

Secretary: Kathy Hubbard- I am an RN living and working in Virginia Beach with my husband and 3 children. I have served as a volunteer of Birth Matters since 2007 when I started the Tidewater Chapter. In various roles within the organization, from Membership Coordinator to Executive Director, it continues to be a pleasure to support the women and families in Virginia through my work with Birth Matters.

Executive Director: Peggy Caister– I’ve always been a community organizer. My mom recounts the story of when I was 9 and thought more girls should play soccer. I worked hard to convince all my friends to sign up. They did, and the league put all of them on my team! So…we lost every. single. game. I don’t think those girls played again, but I never stopped. I’ve been organizing my whole life, and when I found birth matters, I fell in love with the organization and looked for a way to help. I attended my first birth circle in Charlottesville in 2008 and have been been involved as a volunteer since I started my doula training in 2010.  I live in Staunton, Va and work as Birth Matters Development Coordinator, as well as a birth doula, childbirth educator in training, mother, and wife.  I look to grow the organization, to help it reach its potential, and be a force to support evidence based maternity care for all pregnant women.

 2016/17 Birth Matters At-Large Members:

At-Large: Cat Sears – I am a mom to two exuberant boys (born 2012 and 2014), a ToLabor trained doula, a Birthing From Within® mentor (childbirth educator), and a birth assistant with Selah Midwifery Services.  I have also attended a CAPPA postpartum doula training in April, 2016. I hold a Master’s in Teaching from VCU and a Master’s in Fine Arts (Fiction Writing) from Emerson College.

At-Large: Reagan Greenfield – When I was seventeen I checked out a copy of Ina May’s “Spiritual Midwifery” from the public library. I was fascinated and knew that I would continue the path of birth work in some capacity. I am an activist passionate about issues affecting women and birthing people. In the past several years I have served as a chair and co chair to many organizations. I grew up in the Charlottesville area and at 18 my adventurous spirit took me traveling the USA. 49 of the 51 states to be exact. I came back to VA and started a family. I am the mother to two delightful, rambunctious and ambitious 3 years olds. Hazel and Oliver’s birth inspired me to become a birth doula with a specific focus on mothers of multiples and high risk pregnancies. I have been attending monthly Birth Matters birth circles and volunteering for birth matters for over 3 years.

At-Large: Stephanie Hochhalter – Hi! I’m Stephanie Hochhalter. My husband and I moved to VA from NY almost 8 years ago. I spend my days caring for my two energetic, spunky, and loving young children in Yorktown, VA. I feel fortunate to have a part-time job as a research assistant with VCU’s Department of Health Behavior and Policy that allows me to work from home (and exercise my brain!). I assist with compiling information on various state policies, with a focus on Medicaid, creating data sets, and doing some basic data analysis to help identify what behavioral and policy factors influence health. One project that’s been particularly interesting for me has been looking at the differences in how states have provided (or denied) prenatal care coverage for pregnant immigrant women since welfare reform.

Since having kids of my own, I’ve struggled with finding something that’s just for me and I’m excited at the opportunity to volunteer with Birth Matters. I’d love to put some of my skills and knowledge to use towards helping to improve the experiences of pregnant women in VA.

I spend the free minutes of my day in the kitchen, where I love making new varieties of mayonnaise, roasting trays of vegetables, and getting my feet wet with fermentation.