VBAC SUMMITMiami, Florida    |   Sept 28-29, 2013

2012 Speakers

Michelle Fonte, Founder

Michelle Fonte

Owner of Motherpath Doula Services, Michelle is a birth & postpartum doula, childbirth educator, yoga instructor, and a passionate breastfeeding and natural birth advocate. Michelle is the mother of six children and has given birth in a variety of settings: hospital, birth center and at home. Michelle's background is in women's studies, community building and organizing, and birth options advocacy. She has been attending births and supporting women through the childbearing year for over 17 years and is the founder and President of the Board of Project Motherpath, Inc. (formerly Birthgirlz,) a non-profit organization working to normalize and revalue all aspects of motherhood in our communities through education, outreach and activism.


Christy Diane Farr 

Christy Diane FarrChristy Diane Farr is an author, a teacher, an entrepreneur, and, both literally and figuratively, an avid gardener; her prize wildflowers are her clients.  At Seeds and Weeds Coaching, women learn to cultivate healing and personal evolution through in-depth self-discovery, self-acceptance, and integrity.  Christy strives to bring each client to a place of empowerment, freedom, and deep peace and contentment in her life.

Christy stumbled into the world of birth advocacy when she declined surgical resolution when her first pregnancy ended at 12 weeks, and instead experienced a "natural" miscarriage at home. That profoundly empowering experience was followed by a highly-intervened and life-threatening hospital birth, and then, finally, a respectful and empowered water birth in her midwife's home. These personal  experiences, plus her work as a doula, a La Leche League leader, and the executive director of Attachment Parenting International, prepared Christy to support Seeds & Weeds clients who are preparing for childbirth and/or recovering from traumatic birth experiences. 

Christy’s writing has been featured in numerous periodicals, including The Tennessean and Nashville Parent magazine, as well as in an anthology of writing projects by non-traditional students.  Her first book, Sick of Being Stuck: A Clutter Clearing Adventure For Wild Ones, will be published this year.  She is a highly sought-after speaker, delivering dynamic seminars and workshops to sold-out audiences across the country.

Christy has completed the requirements for the designation of Associate Certified Coach from the International Coach Federation.  An honors graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies.


Lisa Pratt

Lisa PrattLisa Pratt is an attorney in whose practice focuses on the unique legal needs women have during pregnancy and childbirth. She is an advocate for childbirth practices that respect women as autonomous decision makers, including an increased access for vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). Lisa is the mother of five children, and she has spent the last thirteen years advocating for the rights and health of pregnant women after the birth of her first child ended in an unplanned cesarean.

Lisa is an independent researcher on the intersection of law and maternal health. Her research primarily focuses on the civil rights violations of hospitals which prohibit VBAC and the need for a civil rights statute to codify and expand the legal rights of pregnant women. Lisa has presented these topics at regional and national conferences, including the America Public Health Association, the National Women’s Studies Association, the National Organization for Women, and Perinatal at George Mason University. She is currently writing a report on the lack of access to care for women seeking a VBAC.

In addition to her work with pregnant women, Lisa represents parents in the neglect and abuse system and defends individuals accused of crimes. Previously, she interned with the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law where she submitted reports to the United Nations on U.S. compliance with its human rights treaty obligations. She serves as a member of the Medicine and Law Committee for the American Bar Association’s Tort, Trial, Insurance, and Practice Section (TIPS). Lisa also sits on the board of a developing birth center.

As the president of her local NOW chapter, she works on building awareness of birth issues in the broader reproductive justice movement.

Christy “Birthkeeper” Fiscer

Christy FischerChristy “Birthkeeper” Fiscer is a Traditional Home Birth Midwife, and has an interesting history behind her. During her third pregnancy, after experiencing a traumatic and very unnecessary cesarean in 2004 for “suspected macrosomia” and “CPD”, she joined the ICAN email support list and started asking questions. She was challenged to do more research, as most of her beliefs about pregnancy and birth were not evidence based. She left the list after calling everybody crazy and irresponsible for suggesting that she consider options outside of the Obstetric world. She was determined to prove everyone wrong, and in the meantime found herself facing truths she never expected. She rejoined the list, needing support since not one person in her circle of family or friends supported her goal to have a healthy VBAC. Not even her husband. She went on to hire a Home Birth Midwife, and birthed her 10lb 10oz posterior baby girl onto her bed at 41 weeks 4 days. As her experience and ongoing research pulled at her, she began to study the physiology of pregnancy, labor, and birth. One year after her HBAC, she began apprenticing with the Midwife who attended her, and for a short time worked in a birth center in Southern California. She has had the opportunity to serve a wide variety of women – VBAC (and VBAMC) Mamas, Breech Mamas, Twin Mamas, and has gained much experience with Waterbirth. She spent some time in the Philippines at a maternity center in order to gain more experience with complications that we rarely see here in America. She now has a home birth practice in Southern Utah, and stays at home with her four children. She speaks regularly at a local college to bring awareness to students about options in birth, and hosts Waterbirth Information Events in her community.

Shannon Mitchell

Shannon MitchellShannon Mitchell has a loving husband, Brian, and three daughters and one son who will one day bring home a girl she doesn’t know!

Shannon likes to reflect on her births as a continuum. She first experienced birth as a teenager with a cesarean for breech, then followed with a medicated hospital birth, a second hospital VBAC that was unmedicated and an out of hospital birth. Her births shaped her life and in her progression from mother to advocate, she became a doula, childbirth educator and lactation counselor. Shannon served for over five years as the Information Services Director for the International Cesarean Awareness Network, for two years as Vice President for Florida Friends of Midwifery, and has volunteered for numerous birth and pregnancy information groups while continuing to teach outreach childbirth education classes at various local pregnancy centers. She also has a dedicated love of history and teaches at a homeschool co-op once a week for a bit of change of pace. When asked why she chooses to continue fighting to educate women about all of their choices in birth, she simply states, “I have three daughters, which one would you like for me to pick to have a cesarean?” In recent years, her decision to help create BirthAction was a reaction to the lack of women responding to the care they are receiving. Her strongest desire is to create a place where women can point other women in order to find tools to change the care they receive from the simplest desire to eat while in labor to a refusal for major surgery without threat of legal action.

Tamara Taitt, M.S.

Tamara TaittTrained as a midwife and marriage and family therapist Tamara has a varied background in women’s reproductive health activism and has been working in maternal, infant and child health for the last seven years. Tamara has a deep interest in the sustainability of the midwifery profession and politics as it relates to birth. Currently pursuing a Phd in Family Therapy, her research interests focus on exploring mental health issues that are pervasive during the childbearing year particularly the experience of postpartum depression, post traumatic stress associated with birth and perinatal bereavement. Tamara serves as the Southeast representative on the board of the Midwives Alliance of North America, is the current president of Florida Friends of Midwives, founder of The Monarch Collective and the owner of The Gathering Place in Miami, Florida.

Elizabeth Kooy, L.C.S.W.
Elizabeth Kooy

Elizabeth Kooy, LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Consultant in Juvenile Justice. She has been a lobbyist and policy advocate at the state level for 10 years in Illinois - advocating for better laws for juveniles at the state and federal level. Liz's work is nationally recognized in the struggle for justice for children. Liz is also passionate about birth and a former co-leader of ICAN of Chicago. She is a Cesarean, VBAC and HBAC mom to three boys. She recently relocated to Dallas, Texas with her family.

Jennifer Kamel

Jen KamelFrom childhood, Jennifer Kamel has held a special interest in childbirth and even considered becoming an obstetrician.  However, plans changed when she fell in love with computers and spreadsheets.  After a challenging career in commercial real estate performing demographic research and analysis, she retired in 2004 upon her daughter’s birth.  It was at this time that she turned her attention back to her original passion but with a new twist: birth after cesarean.

She spent the next couple years wading through the research on vaginal birth after cesarean and frustration ensued. While she found a plethora of information available on the internet, it wasn’t what she was looking for. She wanted recent studies and analysis. She wanted statistics that were properly cited so she could easily read the original medical studies. She wanted to know the specific rates of complications.  She wanted to know how many moms and babies died.  She wanted to know how many VBACs were successful and for those that weren’t, what were the outcomes?   She wanted to understand the risks of repeat cesareans.  She had heard talk about VBAC being illegal in some states or counties. Or that some women opted to have home VBACs.  What did that entail?

But there was no one place where she could get all this information. How was she to make this huge medical decision when all the information she wanted was scattered across the internet or deep within medical studies which she had no idea how to access? On top of all that, while her OB said VBAC was a possibility, whenever she mentioned it to anyone, the overall tone was that VBAC was too risky and dangerous and why not just have another cesarean? After all, as she heard time and time again, they are so easy and convenient.

Over the years, she slowly and meticulously collected information. And after her son’s victorious birth in 2007, a home VBAC, she created VBACFACTS.com in order to make the studies she had compiled, and the analyses she performed, easily accessible to others.

Christ-Ann Magloire, M.D.

Crist-Ann Magliore, MD

Christ-Ann Magloire, MD FACOG is an Obstetrician/Gynecologist based in Miami, Florida. She is the firstfemale Board-Certified Haitian-American to practice in North Miami. She received her Bachelor of Science in Community Health Education from Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. While attending Temple, she became involved with maternal and infant health in designing and implementing a prenatal/parenting program to help decrease infant mortality for her thesis. Following graduation, she returned to New York and worked with Cornell University promoting a HIV reduction program for adolescents. She continued her education earning a medical degree from Howard University School of Medicine where she was awarded a NIH intramural research award to explore the breastfeeding rates among African-American women.

She completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Boston Medical Center - Boston University. In residency, she received the Young Scholars Award from Wyeth Pharmaceuticals 2 years in a row and published an article due to her research work in Family Planning.
Following graduation, she migrated to Miami to complete her service commitment as a National Health Services scholarship recipient.

Dr. Magloire is extremely active in the reproductive health issues of women. She speaks nationally in regards to health care disparities in women's health and the need for reproductive justice. Dr. Magloire has spoken every year since the inception of the VBAC summit. She has sat on the Board of Directors of Medical Students for Choice for two terms and was the keynote speaker at their recent meeting.

She received their prestigious Alumni Award in 2010. As well, she is the only obstetrician member of the Fetal and Infant Mortality Review project for Miami Dade County.
She has worked with the local midwifery community since 2004 and is sought after from clients throughout the state of Florida. She has been instrumental in encouraging VBAC in local hospitals including reshaping their policies.

She puts her words to practice with a confirmed 5-10% C-Section rate.

She is the Vice-President of the Miami-Dade chapter of the National Medical Association and Physician Champion for Breastfeeding promotion at Jackson North Medical Center. She is a member of The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the National Medical Association, Association of Haitian Physicians Abroad and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She is the proud mother of two, first one by cesarean and second a home VBAC.

Teresa Stire, M.A.

Teresa Stire Teresa Stire is a psychologist and a midwifery student, with a passion for birth and birthing women, VBAC women in particular.  She has been involved in birth work for 14 years in various capacities: as a doula, childbirth educator, counselor, and most recently, she has begun apprenticing as a midwife, with plans to become a Certified Professional Midwife.   She is a doctoral candidate in counseling psychology, doing dissertation work in the field of birth trauma and its effects on maternal self-efficacy and mothers’ appraisal of infant temperament and she also works two days a week as a therapist in a university counseling center.  Teresa is active in her state’s Birth Policy Coalition, with plans to introduce legislation in the coming year to recognize Certified Professional Midwives.   She is the mother of four children, the first three of whom were Cesarean deliveries, and the youngest, an amazing homebirth after three Cesareans (HBA3C).

Sarita Bennett, D.O., C.P.M.

Sarita BennettSarita Bennett is a midwife, physician, educator, and advocate for normal birth. Sarita trained and studied midwifery nearly thirty years ago via apprenticeship and self-study, and just this year, Sarita took the test to become a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM).   Sarita took a brief hiatus from midwifery, while she completed medical school and residency.   She has experienced birth in many settings and inherently trusts both birth and the abilities of women’s bodies. Sarita currently practices as a Family Practice Physician in her own clinic and provides midwifery care there as well as serving women in homebirth.   She is the current secretary for the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) and also of her state organization, Midwives Alliance of WV (MAWV).  Sarita is an instructor for the Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics (ALSO) course,  is a co-founder and educator at Sacred Mountain Midwifery School in West Virginia, and is also a faculty member at the WV School of Osteopathic Medicine.  Sarita is a mother of four and a grandmother.

Hilary Gerber, D.O.

Hilary GerberHilary Gerber is an intern at Palmetto General Hospital in South Florida. After completing a traditional internship, she hopes to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology. Her fellowship research focused on evidence based labor and delivery interventions. Before medical school, Hilary gave birth twice with the help of midwives, once in a hospital, and once at a free standing birth center. She would love to have a home birth if it didn't involve having another baby. She trained as a direct entry midwife and worked as a doula. Her article "Social Media, Power, and the Future of VBAC" was published in the Journal of Perinatal Education. Her sometimes dormant blog "Mom's Tinfoil Hat" is not peer reviewed, however. She also has a studio art degree, has delivered pizzas,worked the graveyard shift at Denny's, wrote a parenting blog for MTV, and was in a band that is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Ana Paula Markel, ICCE,CD(DONA), BDT(DONA)

Ana Paula MarkelAna Paula was born and raised in Brazil and entered motherhood early, at age 21. Her first daughter was born by cesarean section. In 1999, she moved to Los Angeles and that same year she had her second daughter and her second cesarean. Two years later, she gave birth vaginally to her third daughter who ironically was much bigger than her previous two babies. She was fortunate to have had an enthusiastic doula, a patient obstetrician and a loving husband by her side. One year later she had her second successful VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). Her son weighed a solid 9 pounds at birth and yet her perineum was intact!

Ana Paula's first cesarean (with an epidural) was calm and the doctor was kind and compassionate. Her second cesarean was rushed, cold, and scary. With her fourth child she finally experienced the natural birth that she had dreamed of. Each of these unique, rich and vastly different experiences taught her a great deal about the options available to women and birthing families.

With a wealth of childbirth experiences behind her, Ana Paula was hooked. She became a childbirth educator and birth doula in 2002. She is now a certified doula with DONA (a leading Doula organization), a DONA approved birth doula trainer, and a certified childbirth educator through ICEA (International Childbirth Education Association). She is also the Director of Public Relations for DASC (Doulas Association of Southern California). She is a proud member of DONA, CAPPA, CIMS (Center for Improvement of Maternity Services), ICEA, APPPAH (Association of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Heath), CBI (Childbirth International) and Independent Childbirth Educators.

An ardent VBACtivist Ana Paula lives in Los Angeles with her husband and four healthy, happy, and vibrant kids.

Gena Kirby

Gena KirbyGena Kirby is on a mission. Gena wants moms to know what they are not being told and that they are not alone. On any given day she is either sharing information about gentle birth and parents right to informed consent on her radio program, or sharing tips on babywearing on her tv show. She might be at a new moms house helping with nursing, or showing her the easiest way to pump. She may be blogging about the newest information on vbacs or writting about non-violent parenting for a local magazine or syndicated blog. Gena is a tireless advocate for mothers, babies, parents and the people that love them.

Gena is a Doula, a childbirth educator, a La Leche League International Breastfeeding Peer Counselor, and a mother of three children under 9 years old. She served on the Board of Directors of Attachment Parenting International for 5 years and is the ex President of Texans for Midwifery, and is a member of the Central Texas Doula Association. She is also the founder of Austin Birth Advocates & is a member of numerous local advocacy groups. Currently she is the coordinator of the Rally for Change in Austin Texas that will take place in September. Her passion is teaching the ancient techniques of the rebozo around the World.