Made for Black women, by
Each one. Reach one. Teach one.
About the Program
This enhanced Doula training program is approved and funded
by the C. Felix Harvey Award through
the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Our goal is to improve Black women’s maternal and birth outcomes by increasing their access to social, emotional, and educational support from professionally trained Black Doulas.
Black maternal mortality in the United States (U.S.) is in crisis.
Black women in the U.S. suffer life-threatening pregnancy complications up to four times more often than white women. According to the CDC, nationally, there are 56.8 pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 Black women, but only 19.8 for non-Hispanic White women, and 13.3 for Hispanic women. When controlling for education and socioeconomic status, the shocking health disparity still exists. Based on these numbers, research and community projects must be implemented to address this disparity. Perinatal Doula care could potentially be the key to addressing maternal mortality.
Black maternal morbidity in the United States (U.S) is also alarming. Severe maternal morbidity disproportionally affects Black women twice as much as it does White women. Many women suffer from sickness, pain, and anxiety as a result of pregnancy, childbirth, and/or postpartum-related issues that could have been avoided. Significant predictors of severe morbidity were age. Women younger than 20 years old or older than 30 years old were. more at risk. As were women that were self-pay, on Medicaid, those with lower socioeconomic status, and those with a chronic medical condition.
We are piloting this expanded perinatal doula training program for
Black women by Black women. The trainers represent a wide variety of expertise in perinatal, newborn, breastfeeding, and alternative therapies. This project will create a pipeline of Black doulas to attend the births of Black families within the UNC Healthcare System.
What is a Doula?
A professionally trained doula provides emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother and her family during the perinatal and postpartum periods. Doulas promote self-care, basic perinatal education, and facilitate communication between the provider and the patient. Doulas encourage and support parent/infant bonding. Doulas improve birth outcomes and maternal satisfaction in the birthing process. In 2017, The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology confirmed improved perinatal outcomes, including decreased medical interventions and cesarean deliveries when doulas are a part of the maternity care team. This project focuses on Black women in Orange and nearby counties within North Carolina with the highest maternal mortality rates. Given persistent racial and ethnic disparities in birth outcomes, workforce diversity is particularly urgent in the context of supportive care during pregnancy and childbirth. The Black Doulas trained in this program will provide much-needed perinatal and postpartum support and serve as the gatekeeper for the Black community. In addition to supporting Black women within the community, the doula will have a new career that will offer economic support for their own families. The ultimate result will be a stronger, healthier community.
The Uniqueness of this Program
This project is setting the stage for advancing birth equity in North Carolina. We want to change the narrative of Black women's birthing outcomes. This team wants to play a part in decreasing maternal mortality and morbidity rates in Black women by modeling how an interdisciplinary group of perinatal and health experts can join forces to recruit, support, and train Black women to become a labor support Doula. This project's strength is the team's experience and the stakeholders' diversity paired with a holistic approach to addressing the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of the Black mother AND the Black doula. We've enhanced the traditional DONA labor support curriculum not only on training from the Black perspective but training to the Black perspective. We are considering cultural needs, family dynamics, generational influence, the strong racial divide in maternal outcomes, institutional racism, and the lack of trust in
the healthcare system. We've also included advanced training sessions that support the body, mind, and spirit connections essential for
the birth work.
The Creative Curriculum
Covering Culturally Competent Maternal Issues:
I’m Not Your Superwoman | Black Women Do Breastfeed
Why We Do What We Do | Overcoming the Challenges
Alternative Medicine May Be the Answer | The Baby Is Out, Now What?
It’s Not Your Ma’s Lamaze Anymore | Wait, I Have The Right to What? The Baby Is Coming Out of Where? | It's Not My Fault
And Your Point Is? | Places and Spaces | I am a survivor
A Hand Up is Not a Hand Out | I'm Too Blessed to be Stressed
Out of Hospital Birth, is that a thing?
The Dream Team
Venus Standard, MSN, CNM, APRN, FACNM, LCCE
Assistant Clinical Professor
Certified Nurse Midwife
Director - DEI of Education and Community Engagement
UNC School of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine
Venus is passionate about educating women and their families and dedicated to promoting healthy natural childbirth and encouraging breastfeeding. As a DONA-trained Doula and a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE), Venus has owned and managed a perinatal education practice, 4Moms2Be, for the last 20 years.
Venus received a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing from Duke University's School of Nursing and earned a Master of Science Degree in Nursing and a Certification in Nurse-Midwifery from East Carolina University.
As a certified nurse-midwife of more than 10 years, a childbirth educator of 20 years, and a DONA trained doula, Venus has supported more than 1000 women and their families through their pregnancy, labor, and birthing process. As a primary provider for women at UNC's Family Medicine, Venus has her own panel of patients. Still, most of her time is spent with Family Medicine residents during their obstetrical rotation on labor and delivery. She promotes a culturally sensitive, non-medical patient-centered-hands-off approach to managing normal labor.
Venus was recently appointed the UNC Family Medicine's Director of DEI of Education and Community Engagement. She precepts UNC's Internship in Science and Health Training and Research (ISHTaR) annual program: a program designed to get high school students of color exposure in the medical field through the eyes of a provider of color. She also precepts and supports the Proyecto Puente de Salus (PPS) program; this program sponsors eight first-year medical students to rural areas of San Miquel, Mexico, to serve the under privilege with necessary medical assessments.
From 2012 - 2016, Venus sat on the board of directors of Lamaze International. As a board member of Lamaze International, she lobbied on Capitol Hill on the current state of prenatal care, bringing attention to maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. She is the immediate past chair of the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC) Diversity and Inclusion committee. Venus currently sits on the board of directors of the NC Perinatal Association (NCPA), American Association of Birth Centers (AABC), Women's Birth and Wellness Center (WBWC), and A Women's Way .
Venus is the co-chair of the Family Medicine Interest Group (FMIG), on the Patient Advisory Council (PAC), the co-chair of UNC's Advanced Practice Provider Education committee. She serves on the Maternal Health Learning and Innovations Center (MHLIC) advisory committee, The 4th Trimester Project, the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) Maternal and Infant Health summit planning committee, Family Medicine's Community Health Collaborative (CHC), and AABC nominating committee.
Dr. Jacquelyn McMillian-Bohler, Ph.D., MSN, CNM
Jacqui is an Assistant Clinical Professor at Duke University School of Nursing. She teaches Health Promotion and Perinatal Nursing in the pre-professional and Master’s Degree programs. Passionate about teaching and helping others achieve excellence in teaching. She has presented nationally, regionally, and locally on the subject of faculty development, and has and published on the subjects of inclusive teaching strategies, student engagement, and addressing racism.
As a Certified Nurse-Midwife for more than 22 years, Jacqui provided full-scope women’s health care in Charleston South Carolina, Nashville, Tennessee, and Louisville, Kentucky. Jacqui is also interested in global women’s health issues. She has precepted nursing students in China, South America, and the Philippines.
Dr. McMillian Bohler’s notable recognitions include the Alumni Award for Clinical Achievement from Vanderbilt University for her work with migrant workers and pregnant teens in rural South Carolina, the American College of Nurse-Midwives Vanderbilt Nurse-Midwifery Faculty of the Year, and the Kentucky African American Nurses Association Educator of the Year Award. She was also honored with a research Award from the Alpha Nu Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau at Villanova University and an excellence in Teaching Award at Duke University School of Nursing. Jacqui has been in perinatal education
for more than 17 years.
Dr. Stephanie Devane-Johnson, Ph.D., MSN, CNM, FACNM
Stephanie is an Associate Professor in the Midwifery Department at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. She received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from the University of North Carolina - Charlotte, a Master of Science Degree in Nursing and Certification in Nurse-Midwifery from Vanderbilt University, and a Ph.D. in Nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Devane-Johnson has been a Certified Nurse-Midwife for 23+ years and has worked in private practice settings as well as academic institutions, providing care for women from all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. In her 22 years, she has caught over 2,000 babies.
Dr. DeVane Johnson’s research is focused on breastfeeding and health disparities in African Americans. She has written and published on the impact that cultural and socio-historical influences have on African Americans. These publications document the emerging problem of cultural and historical factors that impact infant feeding decision-making among African American mothers.
Dr. DeVane-Johnson is also on the Board of Directors for the IBCLC “Pathway 2 Breastfeeding” program at A&T University in Greensboro NC. A community initiative that aims to combat health disparities in the African-American community by increasing the number of Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) of color who can provide breastfeeding education and support.
Tonya Daniel, BS, LCCE, FACCE, IBCLC, CD/BDT(DONA)
Tonya is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she studied and earned a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology, with a concentration in the health of women and children. Having a diverse career background, from being a middle and high school English teacher to working the past 10+ years in the field of public health, Tonya has pulled from those various experiences to influence the lives of people she encounters. Tonya is a DONA Certified Birth Doula, Birth Doula Trainer, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Lamaze Program Trainer, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and Fellow of the American College of Childbirth Educators. She's been working with expectant and parenting families for more than 20 years and she's passionate about providing labor support, childbirth education, and lactation services to women in her North Carolina community, especially those in areas of limited resources or access. She has had the honor of joining other birth workers to train healthcare staff and community workers in the United States, Kenya, and Kuwait with the hopes of improving pregnancies, births, and maternal/child health globally. She continues to partner with like-minded individuals and local health departments, hospitals, and private institutions to increase the number of doulas and breastfeeding advocates in areas at risk for high maternal and infant mortality.
Tara Owens Shuler, M.Ed, LCCE, FACCE, CD (DONA)
Tara Owens Shuler, M.Ed., LCCE, FACCE, CD(DONA), has 28 years of public health work experience, ranging from maternal and child health programming to health professions workforce development programs. Tara has held positions in a variety of work settings, including the public school system, nonprofit agency, local and state public health agencies, hospital, and the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) statewide program.
Tara is an NC native from Granville County. She received her undergraduate degree in Health Education and Health Behavior from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1992 and her
graduate degree in Community Health from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 1997.
Tara is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) and a DONA certified Birth Doula. She has been teaching childbirth education classes at UNC Rex Healthcare since 1998. In 2005, Tara became the Program Director for the NC-based Lamaze Childbirth Educator Program. Under her leadership, she convened a diverse team of childbirth educator trainers to train and mentor Lamaze trainees. One of Tara’s greatest achievements as the NC-based Lamaze Childbirth Educator Program is having the opportunity to train midwives, community workers, and NGO staff in Nairobi, Kenya, and Kuwait, Kuwait to become childbirth educators.
As an LCCE, Tara has been a very active member of Lamaze International. In 2009, Tara was elected to serve on the Lamaze Board of Directors. During her tenure on the Board, Tara was elected in 2012 as the first African American Board President to lead the Lamaze International Board of Directors and organization.
Tara serves on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Perinatal Association (NCPA), which is a statewide maternal and child health education and advocacy organization comprised of North Carolina perinatal and neonatal professionals.
In addition to her love of doing public health work in North Carolina, Tara has traveled to Ethiopia numerous times to assist a Raleigh-based non-profit, Addis Jemari, create sustainable solutions to end the orphan crisis in Ethiopia by encouraging, educating, and empowering orphaned and vulnerable children and their families through education, discipleship, financial literacy, life skills, and community involvement. Tara currently serves as the Board President for Addis Jemari, Inc.
Tara is an active member of the Durham Alumnae Chapter, Delta
Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc, and currently works with the NC AHEC Program as the Director of Operations and Diversity.
Kimberly Harper, MSN, RN, MHA
Kim is a UNC Center for Maternal and Infant Health, Perinatal Neonatal Outreach Coordinator, a nurse consultant from the UNC Collaborative for Maternal and Infant Health, and a nursing school instructor for maternity and postpartum care.
Cheryl L. Woods Giscombé, Ph.D., RN, PMHNP-BC
Cheryl is currently a Distinguished Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Woods-Giscombé is also a Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation Faculty Scholar. She graduated with honors from Stony Brook University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She is also a summa cum laude graduate of North Carolina Central University with a degree in Psychology. Dr. Woods-Giscombé earned Master's and Doctorate degrees in Social and Health Psychology at Stony Brook University and certification in Holistic Health from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in Manhattan, New York. Dr. Woods-Giscombé completed an NIH T32 postdoctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as a research affiliate of the UNC Program on Integrative Medicine (UNC School of Medicine). In 2009, Dr. Woods-Giscombe received her post-master’s certificate in nursing and received board certification as a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The objective of Dr. Woods-Giscombé’s program of research is to incorporate a sociohistorical lens to investigate how stress and coping strategies contribute to the psychological and physical health status of African American women and to develop culturally-relevant strategies to prevent stress-related mental health outcomes, including depression, disordered eating, and substance abuse and related adverse physical health conditions. Something she called The Superwoman Schema.
Dr. Woods-Giscombé has a particular interest in the potential of integrative approaches to reducing mental health-related disparities among African Americans.
Dr. Woods-Giscombé was awarded the 2007 Carolyn Payton Early
Career Award (American Psychological Association, Division 35,
Section 1) for Research in recognition of her 2005 publication: Explaining Disproportionately High Rates of Adverse Birth Outcomes Among African Americans: The Impact of Stress, Racism, and Related Factors in Pregnancy.
Tara Bianca Redo, MAcOm, L.Ac
Tara received a Bachelor's at UC Berkeley in Medical Anthropology and a Master's in Oriental Medicine at the Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College in Berkeley. She studied community herbalism since the 1990s and worked as a massage therapist for 20 years before transitioning to acupuncture and herbal medicine full time.
Tara is committed to reproductive justice and currently has a program for free acupuncture in her office. Black pregnant women can enroll in the Black women's safe labor and birth project. Tara is dedicated to transforming Black maternal mortality and preterm labor for the better.
Rhea Williams, MSN, CNM
Rhea is a Certified Nurse Midwife, a Ph.D. candidate, Director of Professional Education and Development at Spinning Babies, and the only Black Spinning Babies Trainer in the country.
She earned a degree in Nutrition and began providing nutritional services to pregnant women throughout Washington D.C. However, she still wanted intimate involvement with birth and subsequently attended midwifery school, earning a Master of Science in Nursing and passing boards to become a Certified Nurse Midwife. As a midwife her passion for providing safe care for women with a foundation in nutritional intervention became paramount. She now combines midwifery and nutrition intervention in her care process with her patients throughout the lifespan. She believes every woman has the potential to have a healthy enjoyable pregnancy if empowered and educated.
During her care of women in the intrapartum setting, she began noticing commonalities with the women experiencing difficult labor. In her search to find a reliable solution to help these women and ultimately prevent their issues from occurring, she found Spinning Babies®. Through integrating the Spinning Babies® methodology with her foundation in midwifery and nutrition, she noticed a positive change in the women who embraced applying the trifecta of nutrition, midwifery philosophy, and Spinning Babies®. During this point in time, she felt a calling to midwifery and undergraduate education and left full-time midwifery practice. Concurrently, she felt it was important to share Spinning Babies®' methodology with birth workers.
Dr. Shaughanassee Vines, DNP, CNM
Shaughanassee is an assistant professor at Frontier Nursing University, a research clinician for the THRIVE Study at University of California San Diego, and a researcher and presenter on medical mistrust and racial health disparities among women of color. She is an alumnus of Old Dominion University where she earned her Bachelors and Masters of Science in Nursing. She was trained in midwifery at Shenandoah University and later earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice from Frontier Nursing University. She is also the founder of Coceaux (pronounced "Coco") Health, a telehealth platform providing women's health services to women of color by clinicians of color to improve trust, increase care access, and decrease health disparities. Aside from her career, she serves within several community organizations including the chair of the CA Nurse-Midwives Association's (CNMA) Professional Practice Committee, CNMA Reproductive Justice and Anti-Racism committee, the ACNM Program Committee, and
the Black Nurses Association.
Dr. Lakasha White, DNP, FNP-BC
Lakasha is an Adjunct Professor at Winston-Salem State University and North Carolina A&T University. Dr. White earned a Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Nursing from Winston-Salem State University. She completed her Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree at The University of North Carolina at Chapel-Hill, focusing on cultural influences and it impacts breastfeeding in Latina women.
As a Nurse Practitioner, Dr. White's passion led her to specialize in gynecological and obstetrical health for the last 13 years. She started her career as a Labor and Delivery Nurse and later working in public health. During her tenure at the health department, Dr. White concentrated
on obstetrics, family planning, gynecology wellness, sexually
transmitted infections, breastfeeding, breast, and cervical cancer screening programs.
Dr. White's many years of women's health experience gives her a strong understanding of normal pregnancy and pregnancy-related complications and post-pregnancy concerns such as birth control management and breastfeeding. Her approach to care is prevention and shared decision-making. Dr. White likes working with and helping women make safe and educated choices during pregnancy and beyond.
Dr. White teaches a Maternal-Child Health course at Winston-Salem State University and North Carolina A&T University. She serves the Winston-Salem and Burlington community in various ways, including obesity education and fitness, and volunteers with the RAMS Know How Mobile Clinic. She is a member of the Board of Directors for Mahogany Milk, a breastfeeding support group for moms and families of color. Dr. White also served as a member and secretary for
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
Dr. White will be attending East Carolina University in the fall to get her post-doctorate certificate in Midwifery.
Jazmin Monroe-Richards MPH, LCSWA
Jazmin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker Associate and a Population Health Specialist at UNC Family Medicine Center. She holds a Bachelor of Sociology degree from Pennsylvania State University and attained both a Masters of Social Work degree and a Masters of Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In her role, she offers treatment to address patient-identified behavior change goals, provides crisis intervention support to address high-risk patient populations presenting with behavioral health issues, and engages in medical case management to address gaps caused by social determinants of health. Previously Jazmin worked as Family Centered Treatment therapist with families managing mental health issues using a systems approach. Jazmin continues to gain knowledge and fine-tunes her skills in research and development so to create health programs with the goal of decreasing disparities leading to the promotion of policies and programs that specifically serve marginalized communities.
Ngozi D. Tibbs, MPH, LCCE, IBCLC, CHC, Doula (DONA)
Ngozi holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Benedictine University. She is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) and Trainer, and a Certified Health Coach (CHC). Ngozi passionately serves with other doulas and educators of color to reduce infant mortality and raise breastfeeding rates in the African American community.
Ngozi is a nationally recognized speaker and educator on maternal-child health, cultural humility, and health equity. She serves as founder of Sankofa Childbirth Education and Lactation Services, where she offers private classes for pregnant and postpartum families. Ngozi has also worked as a doula for over 20 years serving birthing and postpartum families. She is the founder of Journey Lighter Coaching, in which she provides health and fitness coaching for clients both virtually and in person. Ngozi co-founded The Pittsburgh Black Breastfeeding Circle. She and a team of Peer Champions provide breastfeeding education and support to Black families in the Pittsburgh area.
Ngozi is incredibly proud to be a co-teacher of The B.L.A.C.K.
Course (Birth, Lactation, Accommodation, Culture, and Kinship).
The full scope lactation and breastfeeding education course made by and for Black People and folks supporting Black breastfeeding.
This course is designed to be a prep course for aspiring IBCLC’s and breastfeeding counselors.
She is a published poet, artist, and dancer and has an African
percussion band with her husband and children.
Trinisha Williams, MPH, CM, LM, LCCE, FACCE, LC
A native of New York City, Trinisha began her career in health care in 1996 after completing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a concentration on Women Studies at Hobart and Williams Smith Colleges. Trinisha started to search for where she could best work with women and alternative health. She graduated from Hunter College
with a Master's in Public Health with a Women's Health concentration. After completing an MPH, she served as the Coordinating Manager of Health Education in the OB/GYN department at Bellevue Hospital Center, the Community Outreach Manager at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and a Health Educator with the Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership.
Trinisha became a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator in 2002 and a Lamaze Fellow in 2017. In 2003 she completed a Master's of Science in Midwifery at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. She spent the next decade working as a midwife and an educator throughout New York City hospitals. Trinisha believes women deserve a choice regarding their healthcare, how and where they labor & birth their child, so she founded a home birth midwifery practice, "Midwife in the City," in 2014.
Trinisha has attended births in hospitals, homes, and birth centers.
Since 2014 she has served as an adjunct professor teaching midwifery students at SUNY Downstate. From June 2018 through June 2020, she was the Director of the Brooklyn Birthing Center (BBC) & the Brooklyn Midwifery Group. The BBC was the oldest free-standing birthing center in New York City. Not only did she maintain the structure of the birth center through the Coronavirus Pandemic in NYC, but she helped
open a second location, Jazz Birthing Center of Manhattan. This new location allowed the local hospitals to free up precious bed space to
care for COVID patients.
Trinisha serves on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Birth Centers since 2019.
Trinisha strived to expand her reach to women by imagining
a midwife-led organization. She created a nonprofit called the Midwifery Collective. As the founder and president, Trinisha formed
the Haven Midwifery Birthing Center.
She feels privileged to say she has attended thousands
of births throughout her career as a midwife.
She allows women to be the center of their birth experience.
Lindsey Burnette BSN, RN (left) and Jamaela Green BSN, RN (right)
Recent nursing graduates of UNC School of Nursing
Lindsey designed the website and Jamaela designed the documents.
Amaris Daniel, BA
Amaris is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she studied and earned a Bachelor’s degree in English.
She enjoys stimulating dialogue through imagery, which is what inspires her photography. Being able to capture the stories of the people she photographs is her passion.
It’s more than just a photograph, it's a memory!
Supporting Birth Champion
Penny Simkin, BA, PT, CD (DONA), CDT (DONA), CCE
Penny is a strong supporter, serves as a consultant and guest lecturer on this project. Penny is co-founder of DONA International the long-standing Doula training and certifying organization in the country. Penny is also the co-founder of PATTCh (Prevention and Treatment of Traumatic Childbirth). She is a physical therapist who has a passion for the pregnant woman and her family. She has specialized in childbirth education and labor support since 1968. She estimates she has prepared over 15,000 women, couples, and siblings as a childbirth educator. She has assisted hundreds of women and couples through childbirth as a doula. She is author or co-author of books for both parents and professionals, including “The Labor Progress Handbook;” “Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide;” “When Survivors Give Birth: Understanding and Healing the Effects of Early Sexual Abuse on Childbearing Women;” “The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions,” She has developed teaching materials for birth classes and produced several videos for educators, doulas, and families, the latest of which is for siblings-to-be, “There’s a Baby.” Currently, she serves on the editorial board of the journal, Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care, and serves on the senior faculty of the Simkin Center for Allied Birth Vocations at Bastyr University, which was named in her honor. Today, her practice consists of childbirth education, birth counseling, labor support, combined with a busy schedule of conferences and workshops.