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Conference Faculty


Featured Speakers


Rebecca Dekker

Rebecca Dekker, PhD, RN, APRN is the founder of Evidence Based Birth. From 2010-2016, Dr. Dekker served as an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Kentucky, where she taught pathophysiology and pharmacology and conducted clinical research on maternal health. In 2012, Dr. Dekker founded to promote evidence-based practice during childbirth by providing research evidence directly to women and families. Currently, Dr. Dekker works full time conducting patient advocacy work and research for Evidence Based Birth. Dr. Dekker has also collaborated with the American Association of Birth Centers to write an article for the public describing the results of the National Birth Center Study II. She also served as a consultant to a large health care consulting firm, and as part of her consulting role, she interviewed experts on birth centers across the U.S., and has since used that information to create a continuing education class about birth centers. Rebecca Dekker will be presenting the Keynote Address - American Birth Centers: The Ultimate Bridge between Evidence and Practice."

Kimberly Seals Allers, MS is an award-winning journalist and a leading commentator, speaker and consultant on breastfeeding issues, with an expertise in African American women and racial disparities in breastfeeding. As the founder of Shift Strategies, a health communication consulting firm, Kimberly has designed and developed strategic messaging campaigns and exploratory community-based projects examining the role of “community” in breastfeeding success and pioneered the concept of “first food deserts” and “First Food Friendly” communities. She currently serves as Director of the First Food Friendly Community Initiative (3FCI), a pilot project in Detroit and Philadelphia, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, to create a national accreditation to develop more breastfeeding-supportive community environments. In 2012, Kimberly signed a deal with St. Martin’s Press to write her fifth book, a groundbreaking analysis of the social and cultural influences on the American breastfeeding culture, to be released in July 2016. Kimberly will be presenting the Closing Address: "Bridges to the Future."


Jen KamelJen Kamel, BA is a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) strategist who founded VBAC Facts® in November 2007. With her professional history as a commercial real estate research manager, Jen was accustomed to gathering information, analyzing it, and presenting findings in everyday terms. After her VBAC, she looked at the information she had acquired in light of all the misinformation and confusion that dominated many exchanges on the internet, and VBAC Facts was born. Since then, Jen has traveled the country as a California Board of Registered Nursing Continuing Education Provider presenting her program "The Truth About VBAC." She has been invited to speak at various regional and national conferences, including Human Rights in Childbirth, DONA International, and the Indiana Midwives Association. Jen Kamel has testified multiple times in front of the California Medical Board on the importance of VBAC access. Jen will be presenting the General Session: "The Ethics & Realities of Forced Cesarean Surgery."

Jill AllimanJill Alliman, DNP, CNM is the Project Director of the AABC Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns Program and also serves as Course Faculty for Frontier Nursing University. She began her career as a Staff Nurse-Midwife at the Women's Wellness and Maternity Center in Madisonville, TN and advanced to lead as the Center Director for 10 years. Jill has previously served on the Board of Directors, as Vice-President, and as President of AABC, and she currently holds the position of Chair of the Government Affairs Committee. Jill has published a number of papers and given more than 25 presentations on the topic of birth centers, maternal health, and rural women. She is also a member at the national and state levels of the American College of Nurse-Midwives and the American Nurses Association. Jill Alliman will be presenting the General Session: "Strong Start - What's Next?"



More Dynamic Faculty

Janice Anderson, MD, FAAFP - Medical Director, The Midwife Center for Birth & Women’s Health

Lizzie Anderson, CD (DONA), MSW, LSW - Consultant, Just Collaboration 

Marlene Boas, PhD, LPCC, BCC - Executive Service Corps, Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management

Debra Bogen, MD - Magee - Associate Professor Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Ginger Breedlove, PhD, CNM, APRN, FACNM - Senior Vice President of Clinical Operations at Baby+Co.

Julie Cristol, MSN, CNM – Clinical Director, Lifecycle WomanCare & the Birth Center

Linda Davis, BSN – Principal, Davis Consulting

Aya de Chellis, RN, BSN, CD(DONA), SNM – Sr Professional Staff Nurse, Magee-Women’s Hosp. of UPMC WomanCare Birth Center

Daniel Edelstone, MD – Professor and Interim Chair of OBGYN, Mercy Hospital of UPMC

Cynthia Flynn, CNM, PhD, FACNM – Principal, FlynnCNM Birth Center Consulting

Rosanne Gephart, MSN, CNM, IBCLC – President, California Birth Center Association

Marieke Hermus, MS - PhD Candidate, The Dutch Birth Center study, Leiden University Medical Center

Cecilia Jevitt, CNM, PhD FACNM - Midwifery & Women’s Health NP Specialties Coord., Yale School of Nursing

Amy Johnson-Grass, ND, LN, LM, CPM – Owner/Executive Director, Health Foundations Family Health & Birth Ctr

Megan King, RN, BSN – Nurse Manager, Lifecycle WomanCare & the Birth Center

Gazelle Lange, CNM, RN – Nurse-Midwife, Lifecycle WomanCare & the Birth Center

Amber McCann, BA, IBCLC – Marketing Team, International Lactation Consultant Association

Ann McCarthy, MSN, CNM – Clinical Director, The Midwife Center for Birth & Women’s Health

Jeanette McCulloch, BA, IBCLC – Principal, BirthSwell

Dia Michels, BA – President and Founder, Platypus Media LLC and Science, Naturally! LLC

Harold Miller - President and CEO, Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform

Denise O'Connor, BS, IBCLC – Executive Director, Three Rivers Mother's Milk Bank

Kim Pekin, BA, CPM – Midwife and Owner, Premier Birth Center

Melissa Riley, MD, FAAP – Associate Medical Director of NICU, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh UPMC

Marie Rivera Johnson, JD – Partner, Cohen & Grigsby Law  

Olga Ryan, MS-NL, RN – Health Center Mgr, El Rio Birth & Women's Health Ctr; Administrative Vice Chair, CABC

Fran Schwartz, JD – Principal, Integral Healthcare for Women, LLC; Chair, AABC Industry Relations Committee

Suzanne Shores, MSN, CNM, FNP – Director, Division of Midwifery, UPMC Magee Women’s Hospital

Joan Slager, DNP, CNM, CPC, FACNM – Director of Nurse-Midwifery, Bronson Women's Services

Rayden Sorock, BA – Community Garden Program Manager, Grow Pittsburgh 

Susan Stapleton, CNM, DNP, FACNM – Strong Start Project Data Coord., AABC: Chair, AABC Research Committee

Heather Thompson, PhD, CPD, CLE – Leadership Team, Elephant Circle; Research Director, Mountain Midwifery Ctr

Ngozi Doreen Tibbs, MPH, LCCE, IBCLC – Co-Founder, Pittsburgh Black Breastfeeding Circle

Raman Venkataramanan, PhD, FCP, FAAPS – Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Pittsburgh



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