Retreat Presenters

Adeola Adeseun, President of California Families for Access to Midwives (CFAM), is a California native who earned her bachelor’s degree from UCLA, and went on to attend law school at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law.  While in law school, Adeola had her first of two home births with the support of midwives, and has since been fiercely dedicated to preserving and expanding women’s rights to access out-of-hospital maternity care.  In 2013, she co-founded CFAM, a statewide not-for-profit coalition that is spearheading efforts to remove from law California’s famously ill-conceived requirement of physician supervision for licensed midwives.

Suzanne Arms started on her path as one of the grandmothers of birth activism & advocacy following the birth of her daughter Molly in 1970. Seven books (her 2nd, Immaculate Deception, having been read by more than a million people and named a Best Book of the Year by the New York times in 1975), several films, and hundreds of speaking keynotes and workshops later, her advocacy has broadened to include: the rights of childbearing women, the needs of the mother-baby, the value of midwifery, and everything that occurs during the Primal Period (pre-conception to the child’s 1st birthday) that shapes us humans to be based in trust and ease or fear and defense. She co-founded one the world’s 1st modern freestanding birth centers and 1st resource center for pregnancy, birth and early parenting (1978) and at the same time created and taught the 1st course on the evolution of childbirth practices. She continues to believe that we can be a peaceful, cooperative, creative and radiantly healthy, rather than aggressive, anxious, unhappy, and ill species. That requires shifting consciousness, helping women be empowered, and transforming birth and the entire Primal Period. She feels honored to be able to meet and share with this next generation of activists & advocates.

Karen Rachel Brody is a visionary, mother, and founder of the BOLD movement including The BOLD Method for birth, The Feminine Leap a 40-Day yoga nidra program, and her critically acclaimed globally produced play Birth. Karen has been a women’s empowerment coach for decades working globally with women’s groups. She is an emerging voice and activist on the importance of deep rest and sleep for women through her Feminine Leap program and the World Sleep Summit for Women’s Health and Power. Combining intuition and yogic principles, Karen is leading the way in supporting women to mindfully manage their adrenal fatigue and burnout with modern-day tools.

Gina Crosley-Corcoran author and advocate behind, is a certified childbirth educator, certified doula, and Master of Public Health candidate. Her birth activism work began in 2008 after a hard-fought hospital VBAC. When her birth story went viral, she found that more women wanted and needed the information she could bring to the masses through her blog and social media popularity. She currently teaches VBAC workshops for doulas. She lives in Chicagoland with her husband and three small children.

Rebecca Dekker PhD, RN, APRN is the secretary of and an Assistant Professor of Nursing at a research-intensive university in the U.S. She teaches pathophysiology and pharmacology to baccalaureate nursing students. Rebecca’s area of research is depression in patients with heart failure, and she recently won a $355,000 training grant to study the effects of cognitive behavioral therapy in hospitalized patients with HF. Her research has been recognized with many awards, including the Young Investigator Award from the Cleveland Clinic Institute for Heart-Brain Medicine and the Promising Young Investigator Award from the American Heart Association. Rebecca is a board-certified adult clinical nurse specialist. 

Kate Donahue is the director of social media for Human Rights in Childbirth ( She lives in Portland, Oregon with her two daughters and her husband, Mark. You will find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest (@KateDonahuePDX) and on Facebook (KateDonahue).

Michal Klau-Stevens is the President of BirthNetwork National. She is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator in West Hartford, CT and the Chapter Leader of BirthNetwork National of Greater Hartford.  Michal has been on the BirthNetwork National board since 2006, serving as a Regional Representative, Chapter Coordinator and President-Elect, as well as serving as representative to the Coalition to Improve Maternity Service’s (CIMS) Organizational Members Coalition

Kirsti Kreutzer is a founder of the Birth Activist Collective and Co-Director of Where’s My Midwife?, wife and mother, a filmmaker, and an ALACE trained doula. She spent 12 years working in the entertainment industry doing everything from a production assistant to a boom operator to a casting agent to an actress.  After the birth of her daughter, Katherine, in 2005 she decided she had to spread the word about midwives.  Kirsti is the co-chapter leader for Women in the Center, a BirthNetwork National Chapter in Wilmington, NC.  She continues to use her filmmaking skills to educate the public about midwives and the amazing care they provide, and to help spread the word about the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative in her community.  Kirsti also serves as a consumer representative on the Board of Directors for the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC), and serves as a member of the Leadership Committee for the Coalition to Improve Maternity Services (CIMS).

Cristen Pascucci is the Vice President of Before the birth of her son in 2011 she worked in the high-pressure, 24/7 field of politics, media, and public relations on some of the highest profile development, transportation, and energy projects in the state. Her experiences navigating the American maternity care system made her passionate about bettering our culture of birth for other moms and babies.  During her pregnancy, she was puzzled by the way she was treated—sometimes, as if she was not competent or capable of making decisions about her body and her baby—and since then, she’s come to understand that women all over the country are treated this way.  Worse, they’re too often submitted to unnecessarily invasive and inferior care, and their safety and their babies’ safety is compromised because of outdated practices and violations of their basic rights to informed consent and autonomy.  She is here to see all that change for all mothers, for their babies, and for the daughters of today who will give birth tomorrow.

Dave Paxon is a Retired Clinical Social Worker and Epidemiologist. In recent years he has been a student of Birth Psychology and Primal Period Anthropology. He is also a CranialSacral Therapist and Past Resident of the CranialSacral  Therapists Association BCTA/NA .

Sherry L. Payne  has a bachelors of nursing and a masters in nursing education. She is pursing midwifery education and works part time as a seminar presenter and nurse educator. She is a lactation consultant and a certified nurse educator. Upon completion of her midwifery studies, she plans to open an urban prenatal clinic and birth center. Ms. Payne founded Uzazi Village, a nonprofit dedicated to decreasing health disparities in the urban core. She owns Perinatal ReSource an education, training and consulting firm. She is an editor for Clinical Lactation Journal, and sits on the board of CIMS, Coalition to Improve Maternity Services. She also sits on her local FIMR Board (fetal infant mortality review). She presents nationally on perinatal and nursing education issues. Her career goals include increasing the number of midwives of color and improving lactation rates in the African American community through published investigative research and application of evidence based clinical practice and innovation in healthcare delivery models.

Barbara Rivera is the creator of Empowered Birth Awareness Week (EBAW) and the founder of http://www.Birthpower.Us, a company dedicated to branding and promoting empowered birth awareness. Her excitement lies in using the power collective networks, social media, art, jewelry to, “expand our paradigm of empowered birth.

Dawn Thompson is the founder and President of She has been in the birth industry since 2003, supporting hundreds of families as a Labor & Postpartum Doula. Because of her own personal struggle through three unnecessary c-sections and finally a triumphant vaginal birth, her passion and desire to empower people through education has become her mission. Dawn was on the Board of Directors for San Diego Birth Network as Vice President for five years and spent the past three years as an officer/adviser of marketing and website management. She has also spent six years researching, informing, and educating birth workers and parents about Cervical Scar Tissue and its effects on laboring women. She is considered a pioneer on this subject, as it had received very little discussion until she brought it to the forefront in the birth community. There is still much work to be done in this area and she is passionate to continue that education through Before becoming a doula, Dawn worked in marketing and public relations.

Anna Van Wagoner is a founder of the Birth Activist Collective and Co-Director of Where’s My Midwife? After her first child was born unintentionally, unassisted at home she became passionate about helping other women have empowering births. In 2005 she became a doula. Her first project in birth activism was re-creating the local professional organization for doulas, Cape Fear Area Doulas. She then went on the promote midwives, working with North Carolina Friends of Midwives as the local chapter leader. She currently is a Co-Leader for the Salt Lake BirthNetwork and serves on the board of BirthNetwork National. Anna loves using creativity to explore birth issues and has been known to give birth on street corners, use pregnant bellies to make bowls, and crochet a lemon shaped vulva that could birth a grapefruit.