The Birthworker Panellists

Yogini. Philanthropist. Photographer. Teacher. Gestational and Coach. Chef. Mom. Virtual Community Assembler.

Alleah Erica Clarke is an advanced trained yoga teacher proficient in teaching seniors, adults, children, and pregnant students with a speciality in gestational, partner and postpartum support. With a deep passion to help those around her to reconnect to their breath, Alleah Erica finds great joy in aiding students to connect to their inner selves by way of movement. Having experienced a loss of a precious loved one, Alleah has made it a life long commitment to help support and coach women and partners as a yoga teacher, childbirth educator, gestational and birth coach, to have healthier pregnancies, stronger bodies, and foster bonds between mommy, baby and partner, gestationally and in postpartum, while developing stronger communities and partnerships. Working with prenatal and postnatal students, she is enabled to combine her immense love of yoga, healthy living, and the beauty of Motherhood with her love for children, all while having fun. As an advocate of mental health care, all of her offerings, servicings, connections makes a great recipe for bettering the communities that she is deeply passionate about. 

She supports womb holders in restoring their connection with themselves. She is a teacher, author and speaker, here to support them in their personal inward journey. As a teacher, her objective is to guide others through the process of unfolding and existing in the truth of each moment as they are. She designs and facilitates courses and programs exploring self-study and self intimacy for womb holders all around the globe. She supports them in assessing, formulating and enhancing their living practice relative to their emotional, mental, physical and spiritual being.

Maya Jackson is the founder and Executive Director of  MAAME, Inc. (Mobilizing African American Mothers through Empowerment). A native of Durham, North Carolina, she graduated from North Carolina Central University where she received a Bachelor of Science in Sociology. She has over 10 years of working in nonprofit leadership in public health and the arts. As a mother of four Maya Jackson saw and felt firsthand the inequalities and inconsistent care that pregnant Black and Brown people face every day across this country. Based on her personal experiences due to the lack of consistent and accessible care, Maya desired to have more of a voice in her birthing journey. After the loss of her mother and limited resources for support, she learned how the impact of a doula could help her achieve positive birth outcomes and decided to birth at a birthing center versus a hospital. The support and empowering women in the room during the birth of her son forever changed her life, and was inspired to become a doula to give that same love and support to her community. In the fall of 2018 Maya became a DONA trained doula and founded MAAME, Inc. MAAME is a community-based volunteer doula collective of birth and postpartum support professionals committed to serving our mission to decrease the health disparities among pregnant people of color, creating access to economic advancements, and building sustainable communities. 

Yael B. Yisrael is the owner of Flatbush Doulas, serving Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, and Manhattan. Yael brings her vast knowledge of ancient African pampering traditions to her work as a birth doula, postpartum doula, Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC), childbirth educator, and coach.  Yael’s passion for educating and supporting families through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum comes from the rich healing practices of her Caribbean family and ancestors. 

Recipes for herbal womb steaming and postpartum healing meals have been passed down to Yael from elders and matriarchs who have transitioned from this world. This legacy is the root of Yael’s latest project: The House of Shiphrah and Puah, the training arm of Flatbush Doulas. House of Shiphrah and Puah feature online childbirth education courses for Black grannies, mamas, aunts, sisters, cousins, nurses, midwives, doulas, healers, and friends. 

Yael is an outspoken voice for the respect of cultural traditions, and the honouring of birthing & postpartum mothers. She is passionate about educating others on the rich contribution of Black women to the history of birth and infant care in America. 

Yael enjoys speaking about her work as a doula, during career day events held in local schools. When not working one-on-one with her doula clients in hospitals or their homes, attending meet-and-greets with other perinatal professionals, or writing poetry, Yael spends time writing the Flatbush Doulas blog, and creating videos for the Flatbush Doulas YouTube channel. As a former NYC junior high school teacher, and after school program director, Yael always remembers that proper education is the first step towards freedom. 

Yael is forever grateful for the sacrifices made by her mother who is a retired Labor & Delivery nurse, as well as our African ancestral matriarchs, who served their communities by practicing and sharing birth traditions, with wisdom and love.

Rachel Carbonneau, MA is a full-spectrum doula, birth assistant, Evidence Based Birth®  instructor, and certified coach. Rachel is the owner and director of Family Ways, a doula agency in the greater Washington, DC area, and leads a team of doulas providing full-spectrum doula support, lactation support, and other services. Rachel is committed to helping families access evidence-based information for informed decision-making, reducing barriers to access to representative care, and promoting a collaborative care model to improve health equity in the maternal healthcare landscape.

My name is DeShaun Desrosiers and I’m a birth and postpartum doula, vaginal steam practitioner, and student midwife. My calling to midwifery and birth work started when I experienced trauma first hand giving birth to my own children. My mission is to become a midwife that is accessible to my entire community, and to help put an end to racial disparities amongst black women giving birth.

Jada Wright Nichols is an occupational therapist, who developed an early interest in working with the special needs of women, infants, and children. This interest led her to serving families in the NICU, home environment, school system, hospital, and outpatient facilities. She is also a massage therapist, infant massage instructor, birth & postpartum doula, holistic health coach, yoga instructor, and international board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC). Jada is passionate about providing accessible, equitable, and compassionate care for every family that she touches. Jada is the owner of Blossom Health and Maternal Wellness, Bloom Early Intervention Services, BirthWright Consulting, and Yo Mama Collective.

Mel Smith-Tourville is a licensed midwife and CPM in Wisconsin and holds an MSW from UW-Madison. She retired her practice after 22 years, two years ago. She teaches full-time at Midwives College of Utah and part-time at Florida School of Traditional Midwifery. She contracts with birth centers and organizations to provide racial and queer equity trainings for white folks. 

Mel is blissfully married to Mandy for 17 years. They share 13 children and 6 absolutely perfect grandchildren. They are fierce advocates for maintaining close connections to the first families of their adopted children. Mel is an outspoken advocate for the dismantling of  white organizations within midwifery and the replacement of white leadership with BIPOC leadership. 

Mel’s position is that as white folks, we’ve failed. We need to sit down, quiet ourselves, listen, and be led. She maintains that ALL white designed and rooted systems should be dismantled, reimagined, and replaced by systems designed and led by BIPOC. 

Mel maintains that her role as a white person in social justice movements is to be led by BIPOC and to educate white folks about how we can manage ourselves and our biases, dig deep and make internal changes, challenge white systems, and lead out ONLY where we are needed to educate other white folks, and otherwise ONLY if invited by BIPOC.

Headshot Picture of Mel Smith-Tourville, Licensed Midwife and Ally. Panellists of the un·Packing Convos Series Workshop

Nichole earned both a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Science in Nursing from the Medical University of South Carolina, completing her studies in 2005. She is board-certified as a Certified Nurse Midwife by the American Midwifery Certification Board. Nichole is also a Fellow of the American College of Nurse Midwives. 

Nichole’s desire to listen to women motivated her to pursue midwifery, a speciality she has practiced since 2005. She has cared for patients in several locations along the East Coast, to include working with an FQHC and the military, in addition to serving as a clinical instructor. 

Seeing herself as a partner in her patients’ health care, Nichole loves working with women and their families to ensure safe and informed care. Her areas of expertise include STD education/prevention and teen pregnancy, with a special interest in Transgender care. 

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Nichole loves coastal living. She is the mother of two daughters and has one fur baby as well. In her free time, she enjoys travel, knitting and exploring different cultures.


Headshot Picture of Nichole Wardlaw FACNM, Certified Nurse Midwife. Panellists of the un·Packing Convos Series Workshop