The team at SQUAT is thrilled to announce our brand new Board of Advisors! This Board of Advisors was hand-picked from the birth community and from the dozens of inspiring applications we’ve received in recent months. We are excited to welcome these accomplished and innovative women into the SQUAT family, and look forward to seeing how SQUAT can grow with their support. And without further ado, we hereby introduce the 2014 SQUAT Board of Advisors!
Racha Tahani Lawler
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 & 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.
Danielle Atkinson is the founding director of Mothering Justice, a statewide organization working to improve the lives of families in Michigan by equipping the next generation of mother activists. She received her Bachelor Degrees in Political Science and Sociology from Pfeiffer University where she helped organizer students for peace in the early days for Iraq War. After leaving college Ms. Atkinson worked as a field director for the campaign to increase the minimum wage in Florida. She and her team were successful in winning a raise for one half a million Floridians. In 2005 Danielle relocated to Lansing, Michigan to become the executive director of GLADE a multi congregational coalition. From 2006-2012 Danielle worked throughout Michigan forming coalitions that included representation form labor unions, youth, women’ and civil rights organization to increase voter participation among underrepresented voters with both America Votes and Michigan Voice. In 2008 Ms. Atkinson help lead a Race and the Movement work group with the goal of increasing the diversity of the progressive nonprofit sector in Michigan. In 2012 combined or experience as an organizer with her new role as a mother to create Mothering Justice. To date the organizations has trained over 200 women, reached over 12,000 likely mothers in a direct contact voter engagement plan,led several mama conversations around Michigan and formed the Mamas’ agenda, a policy priority plan addressing financial stability issues of mothers in Michigan. Ms. Atkinson’s work on organizing mothers won her the 2013 Michigan organization of the year award. Danielle has a passion for decreasing infant and maternal morality rate in the black community and increasing access for all women to more birth choices. Danielle lives in Royal Oak Michigan with her husbend Frank and three children Eva age 5, Liv age 4 and Josiah Houston who is 14 months.
I am a birth attendant born near the Atlantic in eastern Canada, and am currently spending much of my time in the Kootenays in western Canada. My roots and wings however have always spread wide and far and connect me to many special places and people.
I am a graduate of The Matrona Midwifery School and have been following an apprenticeship model of learning for several years with midwives, pregnant people, my own body and with birth.
My work in my own life and my community is centred around developing understanding and access to self-directed, full spectrum reproductive and sexual health-wisdom.
I love the power of story.
Simone is a mother, doula, massage therapist, and wannabe homesteader. She studied anthropology and women’s studies at NYU and is currently studying women’s herbal medicine and is hoping to start her midwifery education very soon. She has spent time volunteering for organizations like Postpartum Support International, Yayasan Bumi Sehat, and the New Mexico Midwifery Advisory Board. She also works part-time as a Dating Abuse Prevention Educator for a local domestic violence agency.
Tanya-Smith Johnson is a homebirthing and homeschooling mother of 4, Navy veteran and military spouse, who always dreamed of helping women and babies have the best birth outcomes and experiences possible. Tanya has a B.S. Biology and M.S. Medical Science. Tanya is on the board of California Families for Access to Midwives. She is a currently a first year midwifery student at Midwives College of Utah, and is a student midwife apprentice at The Community Birth Center in Los Angeles, California.
When I learned that I had a womb, I became a feminist. When I learned that there were people actively trying to control and colonize my womb, I became a reproductive freedom and rights activist. And when I learned what a midwife was, I decided to become one. I suppose I need to be mindful about what I learn about since these things tend to shape my life.
Some of the things I’ve done include being a member of the Women of Color Organizing Project with CARAL, being a co-founder of Exhale, a national multilingual after abortion counseling talk line, and currently being a regional rep for CAM, the California Association of Midwives.
I’ve taught over well over a hundred medical students how to do women-centered and comprehensive breast and pelvic exams as a Gynecological Teaching Associate, using my own aforementioned womb and breasts as teaching tools. I’ve done volunteer and paid doula work on and off for the last 13 years. And I’m an apprentice trained CPM, a newly licensed LM, starting my own practice, and one of only two midwives of color based in San Francisco.
I’m proud to identify as a working class immigrant of Native and Latin American heritage. My partner and I are also parents to a second grader who owns our hearts.
Laurel Ripple Carpenter
Laurel is a doula, mother, writer, and organizer who enjoys community-building, avocados, and empowered birth. She studied Anthropology of Reproduction at Hampshire College and now owns Two Rivers Birth Services, supporting birthing families in Western Colorado. She and her partner are raising their two kids on their historic family homestead, with a pasture full of sheep and an orchard full of peaches. She has contributed articles to SQUAT since 2010 and is thrilled to be engaged in this community in a new way.
Kelly Gray is a mother, full spectrum doula, and a childbirth educator. She spent almost a decade as a community and union organizer, working for the Green Party and organizing public sector healthcare workers in urban hospitals in the Bay Area. After having her daughter, Kelly committed herself to reproductive justice, first as a birth doula, then as one of the founders of the abortion-doula group Bay Area Doula Project and the reproductive-story-sharing-site Stories From The Womb, and then as an educator for new families seeking to explore birth through the lens of advocacy and intimacy. Much of her own education about the courage of women to face authority while vulnerable and birthing has come from the most marginalized women she’s worked with, including teen mothers, homeless families and incarcerated women. Currently, Kelly is exploring home funeral midwifery while continuing birth work, and finds the two worlds not that much different; a moment of transformation that has been co-opted by industries looking for profit and power. She lives in the backwoods of Northern California with her fiery daughter and dog, and although fiercely enraged about the current state of labor and birth in the U.S., feels honored and hopeful about her work to reclaim it and her daughter’s place in the world.
Erin Wilkins grew up in Kansas City, MO and currently resides in Minneapolis by way of Boston and Portland, OR. She is a queer single mama of a feisty 3 year old and likes to write about reproductive justice and parenting in her spare time. Erin has been involved in birth work for over ten years as a doula and student midwife, and now as an advocate for comprehensive pregnancy, birth, and parenting options for all. Erin works at a community sexual health clinic called Family Tree Clinic where she is lucky enough to work with people who believe that healthy sexuality is a human right and that all people deserve health care and education that is sex-positive, affirming and accessible. Right now Erin is especially engaged in working with queer and trans people in building families, as well as improving access to health care for LGBTQ communities.