Pregnancy and childbirth should be a time of joy and celebration, but far too often Black and brown communities in Philadelphia and across the nation face systemic barriers to achieving equitable pregnancy outcomes. The OVA, a multidisciplinary coalition focused on achieving birth justice in Philadelphia, has been working deliberately across sectors to reduce systemic barriers through community investment, infrastructure building, innovation investment and sustainability, healthcare quality improvement, and community and provider education.


The OVA is hosting a maternal health summit to spotlight various solutions to create an equitable future for birthing people of Philadelphia. Attendees will walk away from this event knowing what the issues are in Philadelphia, how stakeholders in Philadelphia have come together to address these issues, what is currently happening across the City, where investments still need to be made, and how they can be a part of the solution.


The Organized Voices for Action (The OVA), a coalition led by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health


Joia Crear Perry, President
National Birth Equity Collaborative


Amplifying Voices: Integrative Doula Support and Empowering Black Voices with the IRTH App
Join us for an enlightening session exploring the transformative impact of integrative doula support programs and the IRTH app. Learn how these resources uplift Black and brown parents by providing them with a supportive network and a powerful platform to share their experiences.
MaryNissi Lemon, Community Doula Support Program Manager, Philadelphia department of Health, Division of Maternal, Child, and Family Health (MCFH)
  • Paige Rowland, CNM, Centering Pregnancy Clinical Lead, Jefferson Einstein Hospital
  • Sheridan Blackwell, MHA, Head of Systems Change, Hospitals & Partnerships, Irth App | Narrative Nation Inc.
  • Amirah Grasty, Doula, Community Engagement Specialist, Philadelphia Community Doula Support Program
Building Bridges for Maternal Health: Strengthening Hospital-Community Partnerships in Philadelphia
This presentation aims to explore collaborations between hospitals and local communities in Philadelphia to promote quality improvement and enhance maternal health outcomes.
Natasha Kumar, MD, University of Pennsylvania
  • Jabina Coleman, LCSW, MSW, IBCLC, Director of Health Equity, Training & Quality Improvement, Temple University - Program for Maternal Health Equity
  • Lisa Levine, MD, MSCE,Director, Philadelphia Cardiology-Obstetrics Task Force, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
  • Azucena Ugarte, PhD, Director, Office of Domestic Violence Strategies, City of Philadelphia
Maternal Health at Your Fingertips: Unlocking the Potential of Technology for Better Care
This breakout session explores the transformative impact of technology in advancing  maternal health outcomes. With the proliferation of smartphones and the increasing accessibility of technology, mobile apps have emerged as powerful tools for empowering pregnant individuals and new mothers with essential resources, support, and personalized care.
Aasta Mehta, MD, MPP, Medical Officer of Women's Health, Philadelphia Department of Public Health
  • Adi Hirshberg, MD, Director of Obstetrical Services, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Medicine
  • Kirstin Leitner, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Pennsylvania
Spreading Joy: Philly Joy Bank      
In this presentation you will learn how The Philly Joy Bank has developed a guaranteed income pilot that will provide pregnant Philadelphians with no strings attached cash with the goal of improving birth outcomes.
Pamela Newman, Community Engagement Consultant, Philadelphia Department of Public Health
  • Nia Samuels, Philly Joy Bank Steering Committee Co-Chair & Lived Experience Expert, Community Action Network (CAN)
  • Nia Coaxum, MPH, CHES, Philly Joy Bank Program Manager, Philadelphia Department of Public Health
  • Stacey Kallem, MD, MSHP, Director, Maternal, Child, and Family Health, Philadelphia Department of Public Health
Birthing Together: Community-Based Birthing Centers and the Power of Local Investment    
This breakout session focuses on the transformative efforts of FPCN Birthing center, a community-based birthing center and of the OVA's Community Investment Implementation team. This session aims to explore the intersection of community engagement, investment, and the establishment of birthing centers that prioritize maternal health and holistic care.
Imani Davis, Community Specialist/Lived Experience Expert, Strategy Arts/CAN
  • LaQuesha Garland, Director of Development, Family Practice & Counseling Network
  • Porsche Holland-Otunba, MS, CLC, C-CBE, PHM-C, Black Maternal Health Thought Leader & Consultant, Reclaim Black Motherhood LLC


Meeting People Where They Are: Harnessing the Power of Mobile Health and Street Teams  
This panel discussion explores the innovative strategies of the Jefferson Mobile Health Unit and Street Medicine Teams in providing comprehensive maternal health care in populations using substances. This session will shed light on the transformative impact of collaborative approaches in addressing the complex needs of pregnant individuals and new mothers facing substance use challenges.
Chelsea Sormilich, CRS, Program Director, Unity Recovery
  • Liza Liveright, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of OB/GYN, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
  • Hilary Miller, MSN, BSN, RN, Project HOME Street Medicine
Empowering Awareness: Early Warning Signs Education to Enhance Maternal Outcomes      
Join this educational training session that focuses on the critical importance of identifying early warning signs of pregnancy complications to empower timely interventions and improve maternal outcomes. Lived experience and clinical experts will equip attendees with essential knowledge and skills to make a positive impact to reduce severe maternal morbidity.
Nia Coaxum, MPH, CHES, Philly Joy Bank Program Manager, Philadelphia Department of Public Health
  • Mari-Carmen Farmer, CNM, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
  • Roxanne Green, Lifeline Coordinator, CORA Services, Inc.
Knocking on Doors, Changing Lives: Maternal Home Visitation Programs for Empowered Families    
This breakout session focuses on the transformative impact of maternal home visitation programs in empowering families and improving maternal and child health outcomes. This session will explore the effectiveness, best practices, and innovations in maternal home visitation initiatives with Maternity Care Coalition and Nurse Family Partnership.
Lakeshia Montgomery, BSN, RNC-MNN, Maternal Health Nurse Manager, Philadelphia Department of Public Health
  • Shukkriyah Mitchell, BSN, RN, Sr. Director of Outreach and Advocacy, National Nurse-Led Care Consortium
  • Samia Bristow, MHS, Vice President of Programs, Maternity Care Coalition
Postpartum Power: Exploring Innovations in Support and Empowerment      
Join us for an informative breakout session dedicated to exploring cutting-edge approaches to postpartum support and empowerment. In the early weeks and months after childbirth, parents undergo significant physical, emotional, and lifestyle changes. This session aims to shed light on strategies and technologies designed to enhance the postpartum journey and foster a healthy post-birth experience.
Aasta Mehta, MD, MPP, Medical Officer of Women's Health, Philadelphia Department of Public Health
  • Mario DeMarco, MD, MPH, Director of Family Medicine Obstetrics, University of Pennsylvania
  • Heather Burris, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Breaking Barriers: LGBTQ+ Considerations in Perinatal Care            
Join us for an enlightening breakout session dedicated to exploring the essential topic of trans care and LGBTQ+ considerations within perinatal care. Recognizing that the journey to parenthood is diverse and unique for every individual, this session seeks to promote understanding, inclusivity, and compassionate care for all members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Aasta Mehta, MD, MPP, Medical Officer of Women's Health, Philadelphia Department of Public Health
  • Peter J. Vasquez, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Pennsylvania
  • Ray Rachlin, LM, CPM, Midwife, Refuge Midwifery

Policy Panel Discussion

Leveraging Public Policy to Promote Sustainability in Maternal Health
Recent policy wins, such as the opportunity to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 day to 12 months and the introduction of the Federal Black Maternal Health Momnibus, have raised the visibility of the intersection of public policy and maternal health, so what’s next?  How can we leverage public policy to ensure the sustainability of efforts to improve maternal health outcomes and meaningfully address the ongoing maternal health crisis? Hear from a panel of experts about the political landscape, possible state and federal policy solutions, and the challenges related to reshaping the systems that influence maternal health outcomes.
Aasta Mehta, MD, MPP, Medical Officer of Women's Health, Philadelphia Department of Public Health


Platinum Level Sponsors

Gold Level Sponsors

Silver Level Sponsors

Bronze Level Sponsors

March of Dimes

National Nurse-Led Care Consortium (NNCC)

The Obstetrical Society of Philadelphia

Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates

Temple Health

UPMC Health Plan

Women's Law Project

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Disclaimer
 Funding for this conference was made possible (in part) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.


Amal is Director of Policy & Advocacy and Interim co-Executive Director of Women’s Law Project. She provides legal representation and engages in public policy advocacy in a variety of areas, including pregnancy/caretaking discrimination and accommodation, Title IX athletic equity and sexual harassment, reproductive rights, and employment rights. She was chair of the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health, among Billy Penn’s “Who’s Next: Law,” a former co-chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Women’s Rights Committee and honored as one of the women leading the 175th legislative district in Pennsylvania. Amal earned her BA from Yale College and her JD from Harvard Law School.
Sheridan Blackwell is the Head of Systems Change, Hospital and Partnerships for the Irth App. A seasoned healthcare professional with over 10 years of experience, she leads strategy development and manages each hospital pilot and partnership process. Sheridan began her career within hospital systems, starting as an administrative fellow and quickly rose to managerial positions holding various roles of increasing responsibility across program management, ambulatory operations, and women’s health service line leadership. Ms.  Blackwell holds a master’s degree in Health Administration from Seton Hall University and a bachelor’s degree in Health Administration from St. John’s University. She is passionate about improving maternal health outcomes with a strong emphasis on population health and improving health equity, eliminating bias in perinatal care, and patient education and advocacy.
Samia Bristow is the Vice President of Programs at Maternity Care Coalition in Philadelphia, PA. She is a dynamic leader who is passionate about affecting change in marginalized communities. She was born and raised in Philadelphia where she has dedicated her career to advocating and supporting pregnant women, children, and families. She holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in human services and non-profit leadership from Lincoln University. In her current role, Samia oversees a number of direct service programs including staff training. Samia is passionate about the health and well-being of birthing people, women, and children and is committed to advancing health and social equity.
Dr. Heather Burris is an attending neonatologist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. She studies social and environmental factors that contribute to perinatal health inequity. She is PI of a pilot RCT (PeliCaN) of maternal postpartum care in the NICU for high-risk patients. Dr. Burris also performs analyses of pregnancy cohorts and is PI of a large Penn Medicine birth cohort study, GeoBirth, in which preterm births are rigorously phenotyped and linked to area-level exposures. She has an NIH R01 with Dr. Eugenia South, to study greenspace effects on pregnancy outcomes. She is multiple PI of the NIH-funded Penn-CHOP ECHO site. Dr. Burris received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and her MD from Temple University. She completed pediatric residency at CHOP and neonatology fellowship at Harvard. She obtained her MPH at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health through the Harvard Pediatric Health Services Research Fellowship. She mentors students and trainees across the Penn-CHOP community and beyond. She’s an avid soccer and swim mom to three girls.
Maggie Clark serves as the managing director of policy and partnerships for The Reilly Group, where she specializes in maternal mental health policy at the state and federal level. She also manages the Mind The Gap Coalition, a partnership of more than 40 cross-sector organizations working to ensure that perinatal mental health is a national priority. Previously, she was the program director for maternal health at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy’s Center for Children and Families (CCF). Maggie began her career as a journalist in Washington, D.C. and Florida. She earned a BA in International Affairs from Florida State University and a Master of Journalism from the University of Maryland.
Nia Coaxum, MPH, CHES is the Philly Joy Bank Program Manager for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Maternal, Child and Family Health Division. She received both her bachelor's and master's degrees in public health, with a concentration in Community Health, from West Chester University. Nia is also a Certified Health Education Specialist, Birth and Postpartum Doula, and is in the process of becoming a Certified Lactation Counselor. She is committed to improving birth experiences and eliminating racial health inequities among Black women and birthing people through education and advocacy; as well as centering their voices and right to bodily autonomy.
Jabina Coleman, also known as the Lactation Therapist, is a US Breastfeeding Committee Cultural Change Maker awardee, dynamic regional speaker, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant. She supports new and expectant parents on their journey into parenthood providing psychotherapy and lactation consultation services through her private practice, Life House Lactation & Perinatal Services. She is the creator of “Everyone wants to hold the baby, who will hold the mother?” which is a call to action highlighting Black maternal health inequities focusing on awareness, access, accountability, and action. Jabina holds a bachelors in Biobehavioral Health from Penn State University and a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice. Currently, Jabina is Director, Perinatal Health Equity, Training & Quality Improvement Program for Maternal Health Equity at the Center for Urban Bioethics, Temple University. Here, she leads the design and implementation of training programs focused on DEI, shaping the policies and practices of Perinatal Health Equity for patients and stakeholders.
Joia Crear Perry, MD, FACOG – a thought leader around racism as a root cause of health inequities, Speaker, Trainer, Advocate, Policy Expert, and fighter for justice – is the Founder and President of the National Birth Equity Collaborative. Previously, she served as the Executive Director of the Birthing Project, Director of Women’s and Children’s Services at Jefferson Community Healthcare Center and as the Director of Clinical Services for the City of New Orleans Health Department. Dr. Crear Perry has been celebrated for her work to improve the availability and utilization of affordable health care for New Orleans’ citizens post the Hurricane Katrina disaster of 2005. Currently, her focus has expanded nationally and internationally as it relates to Maternal and Child Health.Dr. Crear Perry, a proud recipient of the Congressional Black Caucus Healthcare Hero’s Award and the Maternal Health Task Force at Harvard University Global Visionary Award for Commitment to Advancing Women’s Health, is most known for her work to remove Race as a risk factor for illness like premature birth and replacing it with Racism. Dr. Crear Perry currently serves as a Principal at Health Equity Cypher and on the Board of Trustees for Black Mamas Matter Alliance, Community Catalyst, National Clinical Training Center for Family Planning, and the UCSF Preterm Birth Initiative.After receiving her bachelor’s trainings at Princeton University and Xavier University, Dr. Crear Perry completed her medical degree at Louisiana State University and her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Tulane University’s School of Medicine. She was also recognized as a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is married to Dr. Andre Perry and has three children: Jade, Carlos, and Robeson.
Imani Davis is a Community Specialist with Strategy Arts, Lived Experience Expert with the Community Action Network (CAN) and mother of three children. She is also a co-facilitator of Early Warning Signs Trainings. Her dedication to educating others about the disparities in Black Maternal Health stem from her own personal experience after the birth of her oldest daughter and becoming aware of the high rates of Black maternal mortality.
Mario DeMarco, MD, MPH is an Associate Professor of Clinical Family Medicine and the Director of Family Medicine Obstetrics in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. He has helped to develop and expand a successful community-based prenatal program to support maternity care services in marginalized neighborhoods adjacent to Penn. Since 2017, he has held a leadership role in the IMPLICIT Network – a large regional practice-based collaborative that develops and implements preconception and postpartum care models in primary care settings. He currently leads a Pennsylvania Department of Health grant to expand interconception care and leads a grant from the Health Resources Services Administration to train primary care physicians in high-risk maternity care to improve maternal health outcomes. He has used his perspective in primary care to serve on the Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee and to help shape research and policy implementation within Penn Medicine.
A first-generation Afro-Latinx midwife and educator, Mari-Carmen has been engaged in social justice work and maternal wellness for over 20 years. The inclusive approach and implicit trust in the birthing process provided by the midwives attending her own birth helped clarify her calling to midwifery. Prior to midwifery, Mari-Carmen completed a degree in sociology & anthropology and became engaged in social justice and community organizing in Philadelphia. She is an Americorps alum, a seasoned doula and childbirth educator, and an experienced facilitator with a strong background in designing and leading trainings, retreats, workshops, and healing circles. Since completing her midwifery education in 2016, Mari-Carmen has been providing full-scope care for families from a wide range of cultures in Philadelphia. Mari-Carmen is committed to centering the narratives of the people she serves, as she believes that stories create connections that can catalyze powerful social change.
LaQuesha C. Garland is a public health professional and maternal health advocate serving the Philadelphia area during her progressive 20-year tenure in the healthcare industry. She is the Director of Development & Social Innovation for the Family Practice and Counseling Network (FPCN). In anticipation of its opening in fall 2024, she is leading the community engagement strategy and marketing efforts while overseeing the design of physical space and operations of the family health and birth center project. LaQuesha concurrently manages the operational oversight of FPCN Anti-racist Justice Equity Diversity & Inclusion (AJEDI)/Health Equity initiatives, program development, fundraising and community engagement efforts. These efforts are critical in leading the inter-disciplinary family heath and birthing center project, a community solution in response to the maternal health crisis in Philadelphia. As a key leader in the FPCN system, with 8 years of service, LaQuesha acts as a liaison between the network and community organizations, representing FPCN while promoting its services, partnership opportunities and its guiding principle that: “quality healthcare is a right and not a privilege.”
Amirah Grasty is a Philadelphia native whose goal in life is to enjoy the sunshine that is Black Maternal Health. Amirah’s introduction to maternal health began with her own journey into motherhood. While her pregnancy was a time of peace, postpartum became a huge challenge. It was then she discovered what birth work was and decided to begin this new chapter of life alongside being a mother to a sweet baby boy who is now 5 years old! Since learning of birth work, Amirah Grasty became a certified Full Spectrum Community Doula. Her current role is the Community Engagement Specialist for the city’s Community Doula Support Program. Amirah also serves on the advisory board for the Pennsylvania Doula Commission. In her spare time, Amirah enjoy watching anime, playing her switch, and throwing on some jazz music while she bakes.
Roxanne Green is a mother to an amazing teenage daughter. Shehas served on the OVA since its inception in 2019 as a Lived Experience Expertand currently serves on the Early Warning Signs (of Maternal Death)Committee.  She has a Master's Degree in Public Health, is a certifiedPostpartum Doula, and has worked with pregnant and parenting youth for over 20years. Roxanne is a Program Coordinator at CORA Services, where she worksin drug and teen pregnancy prevention.  In her free time, she likes tolisten to audiobooks, travel, and eat good food.
Adi Hirshberg is an Associate Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. She serves as the Director of Obstetrical Services at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and physician lead of the Obstetrics Quality Improvement committee at Penn.  Her areas of expertise include hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, quality improvement, severe maternal morbidity, and labor and delivery.  She also co-developed Heart Safe Motherhood, an evidence-based remote blood pressure monitoring program for postpartum hypertension used throughout Penn Medicine.
Porsche M. Holland-Otunba, M.S. CLC, C-CBE, PMH-C. is a Philly native (born at Booth Maternity Center in ‘86), wife, girl mom, and HBCU alumna of Tuskegee University. Porsche is a third-generation preeclampsia survivor and has experienced birth trauma among other challenging outcomes. Her first birth in 2017 led her to answer the call to address the outrageous Black maternal health crisis in the US, starting in her own city. Porsche has supported families as a Birth and Postpartum Doula, Childbirth Educator, and Lactation Counselor. She is now the Founder and Lead Consultant of Reclaim Black Motherhood LLC, dedicated to investing in birth workers and contributing to program development, curriculum building, and research efforts in the Black maternal health and lactation space.
Sara is the Director of Policy & Advocacy at Maternity Care Coalition. In this role Sara advocates for maternal child health, early care and education, and economic security policies that are equitable and responsive to parents’ and babies’ lived experiences. Sara leads the Thriving PA’s Perinatal Health Advocacy Campaign. Thriving PA is a non-partisan, statewide campaign that seeks to improve the quality of and increase equitable access to a coordinated system of health supports. Sara also represents Maternity Care Coalition on the Childhood Begins at Home Campaign and the Family Care Act Campaign. Prior to joining MCC, Sara earned her master’s degree in Political Science & International Relations from the University of Delaware where her research focused on gender, citizenship, and economic development in the Global South. Sara also has a background in public benefits access and is passionate about the intersection of maternal-child health and economic security.
Stacey Kallem, MD, MSHP is the Director of the Division of Maternal, Child, and Family Health at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and a primary care pediatrician. Dr. Kallem leads a multi-disciplinary team that aims to improve the health and well-being of Philadelphia’s mothers, infants, and children with a focus on reducing racial health disparities. Under her leadership, the division has launched innovative new initiatives including a centralized intake system for maternal and infant home visiting programs as well as a citywide telelactation program. Dr. Kallem is also a volunteer physician at the St. Chris Center for the Urban Child. Dr. Kallem is a graduate of Stanford University and received her medical degree from the Yale School of Medicine. She completed her residency in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and completed the National Clinician Scholars Program, a health services research training fellowship, at the University of Pennsylvania where she also earned her Master's in Health Policy Research.

Natasha Kumar, MD, is a third year Maternal Fetal Medicine fellow at University of Pennsylvania interested in centering community leadership in efforts by healthcare institutions and researchers to improve care delivery for pregnant people.

Kirstin Leitner, MD has been in practice as a general OB/GYN in Philadelphia since graduating from her residency at Pennsylvania Hospital in 2015. Dr. Leitner did her undergraduate training at Bowdoin College in Maine and medical training at the University of Pennsylvania. Her passion for postpartum care developed during her first few years as an attending where she saw the disparity between the attention paid to patients during prenatal care with the lack of attention provided during the fourth trimester. Inspired by the engagement with technology that she saw emerging in her patients, she became the obstetrical lead of the Healing at Home program which received funding from the Penn Center for Healthcare Innovation to redesign the postpartum experience. They created a 24/7 postpartum chatbot which provides support for patients during the first six weeks after birth. This text-based support program provides personalized anticipatory guidance, feeding support and information on infant care as well as screening for hypertensive disorder of pregnancy and postpartum depression. Over 1,700 patients have used this program to date. Access to this program has recently extended to NICU parents with plans to expand to all patients at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania by mid-2024. Clinically, Dr. Leitner continues to provide full spectrum obstetric and gynecologic care at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

MaryNissi Lemon, Founder of LemonLife Birthing Services, is a Childbirth Educator, Birth Coach, and Certified Lactation Consultant. She has been supporting families on their birthing journey for over 7 years, equipping families to prepare for pregnancy, birth, and after, using hands-on education. MaryNissi was born and raised in Malawi, Africa. It is her own personal birthing story that brings her to this work. She is currently the Program Manager of the Community Doula Support Program through the Philadelphia Department of Health. She is also the co-creator of doula training with Birthing Advocacy (BADT) around harm reduction and birth workers. She is married to her husband, Andrew, going on 14 years and has two kids, Kairos and Kyria, who melt her whole heart but also drive her crazy.
Dr. Lisa Levine, MD, MSCE is the Michael T. Mennuti Associate Professor in Reproductive Health at University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. She is a full-time faculty and physician scientist in the Maternal Fetal Medicine division and a trained perinatal epidemiologist. One of her overarching academic goals is to improve maternal morbidity during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the postpartum period through innovative and novel research as well as through providing outstanding clinical care, all while teaching and growing the next generation of clinicians. Dr. Levine’s two areas of clinical research are optimizing labor management to reduce morbidity and focusing on morbidity and disparities among patients with pregnancy hypertension or cardiac disease. She recently completed a study evaluating cardiovascular health 10 years after a pregnancy complicated by pregnancy hypertension. Dr. Levine founded and directs the Pregnancy and Heart Disease Program at Penn which focuses on preconception and pregnancy related counseling and interdisciplinary care for women with acquired or congenital heart disease. Dr. Levine serves on the Philadelphia maternal mortality review committee and directs the Philadelphia cardio-obstetrics task force.
Dr. Liza Liveright is a clinical assistant professor at Jefferson University in Center City. She is a generalist OB/GYN and the medical director of Labor & Delivery. She runs the Jefferson Latina Clinic, which provides perinatal care for the Latinx migrant community in and around Philadelphia. Her other professional areas of interest include CenteringPregnancy, improving access to lactation services, community-based care, and advanced family planning.
Libby Mathewson (they/them) is the Youth Coalition and Advocacy Manager at Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s Maternal, Child, and Family Health Division. In their current role, they support youth-led advocacy efforts to improve the mental, sexual, and reproductive health and wellness of youth in Philadelphia. Mx. Mathewson has 10 years of experience working with youth and families, with a particular focus on working with queer and trans youth. They received a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in Social and Cultural Analysis from New York University. As a queer transmasculine birthing person, Mx. Mathewson is particularly interested in supporting affirming and inclusive care for queer and trans birthing people.
Elected to serve communities in Philadelphia and Delaware County in 2015, Joanna McClinton was the first woman elected Democratic Caucus Chair, the first woman elected Democratic Leader and is Pennsylvania’s first woman House Speaker.  A lifelong resident of southwest Philadelphia, she graduated from Grace Temple Christian Academy, LaSalle University, and Villanova University School of Law, and was a public defender and chief counsel to Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams before being elected. McClinton has earned several distinctions including City and State PA's 40 Under 40, the Barristers' Association of Philadelphia's Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year, and Politico Recast’s Power List.
Dr. Aasta Mehta serves as the Medical Officer of Women's Health for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH), Division of Maternal, Child, and Family Health, where she develops and implements effective policies aimed at improving the health of women in Philadelphia. In addition to her role at PDPH, Dr. Mehta is a clinical faculty member in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Penn Medicine and Affiliate Faculty at Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health.  At Drexel, she has designed and teaches a course that emphasizes the application of public health practices to address factors contributing to maternal mortality. She directs the Philadelphia County Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Program and serves as Co-chair of the Pennsylvania State Maternal Mortality Review Committee and Pennsylvania Perinatal Quality Care Collaborative Advisory Group. She is also Mayor-appointed as Vice-Chair of the Philadelphia Commission for Women, Immediate Past President for the Obstetrical Society of Philadelphia, and Secretary of the PA Section of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
Hillary Miller is a Registered Nurse with Project HOME Health Services. Hillary currently works as the Street Medicine nurse on the first street-based primary care team in Philadelphia, PA which is also Nurse-Led and Nurse-Run. Hillary has been working with individuals experiencing homelessness for almost ten years. Hillary has worked to create the Street Medicine Pregnancy Care program for Project HOME Street Medicine to increase access to healthcare and care coordination services for individuals who are pregnant and using substances. Hillary is also a Family Nurse Practitioner student, and her passions include advocating for quality and adequate healthcare for individuals who use and/or inject drugs. In Hillary’s free time, she enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and water skiing.
Shukriyyah Mitchell Hinton, BSN, RN is the Senior Director of Outreach and Advocacy with the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium (NNCC). In her role, Shukriyyah oversees community and client engagement, supports NNCC’s client advocacy efforts, and supervises a team of Nurse-Family Partnership Nurse Home Visitors. She also works on NNCC’s Family Advocacy and Integrated Resources (FAIR) Project, an integrated model of care that provides civil legal aid services and direct financial grants for home-visiting clients throughout Philadelphia. With more than 13 years of experience as a public health nurse, Shukriyyah is a dedicated advocate for public health nursing and is strongly committed to addressing maternal mortality and morbidity. She serves on the Maternal Wellness Village and Philadelphia’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee. Shukriyyah holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Philadelphia University as well as a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania. Shukriyyah’s most important role is as a mother to her three beautiful and brilliant children, Russell, Isaiah, and Eden.
Lakeshia Montgomery, BSN, RNC-MNN, is a dedicated and compassionate professional nurse with over 14 years of diverse experience in maternal, child & community health, leadership, and acute care. A proud alumna of Rutgers University-Camden, Lakeshia’s journey has been fueled by a desire to improve health outcomes and advocate for birth justice in her community. Her current role is Maternal Health Nurse Manager at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, where she coordinates the Philadelphia Maternal Mortality Review Committee and manages a five-year project aimed at improving current screening practices for intimate partner violence in OB triage areas across the city’s delivery hospitals. Lakeshia's commitment to empowering birthing people is evident from previous roles as Nurse Coordinator and Nurse Home Visitor for the Nurse Family Partnership in Camden, NJ.  Her commitment to maternal health is also deeply personal as a mom of two preteen sons, having experienced the challenges that many black birthing people face. As she continues her journey, she is on her way to becoming a doula and obtaining a certification in Perinatal Mental Health.
Pam Newman is an organizer, solo momma, trainer, and student of astrology who has chosen to use her superpowers for good. She has a rich background in the public health work of Black liberation, focused in areas like mental health, housing, and perinatal health. Pam has built expertise in sharing controversial truths, implementing life shifting trainings, and developing radical programming. Pam was an organizational doula to Play Cousins Collective, a Black led non-profit partnering with homeschooling and other families to deliver unique programming and community-based childcare. Pam is presently raising her kind, loving, and curious son, James, supporting the development of the Philly Joy Bank, a perinatal guaranteed income program, and leading a monthly astrology club. Pam is manifesting owning a home with a window over the kitchen sink that faces a garden, being paid deliciously to facilitate fun workshops, talking about astrology for fun and profit, and figuring out where James is going to kindergarten.
Ray Rachlin (she/they) LM, CPM is a midwife, author, and founder of Refuge Midwifery. Since 2017, Ray has been providing fertility care, home-birth, and community education throughout the greater Philadelphia area and South Jersey. Ray is also the co-author of the book: Babymaking For Everybody: A Guide to Fertility and Family Building for LBGTQ+ and Solo Parents. In addition to their midwifery practice, Ray has been immersed in promoting affirming reproductive care for transgender patients and has taught midwives, doctors, nurses, and birth professionals throughout the country on trans-inclusive fertility, birth, and postpartum care. Ray earned their Bachelor of Science in midwifery at Birthingway College of Midwifery in Portland, Oregon, in 2016. Ray and her family live in West Philadelphia.
Paige Rowland is a certified nurse-midwife at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. She graduated from Gwynedd Mercy College in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. During her nursing career, she has worked in the emergency department, as a nurse case manager, and in labor and delivery. She also spent time as a travel nurse in emergency medicine. To further her career, she attended Frontier Nursing University and completed her Master’s degree in Midwifery in 2016 and her Doctoral degree in 2021. At Einstein Medical Center, Paige has co-led a team to reduce primary cesarean sections and assisted in developing their doula program. Paige is currently the clinical lead of the CenteringPregnancy program and Midwifery Division Director at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. Outside of work Paige enjoys spending time with her husband and son, rock climbing, yoga, and music.
Nia Samuels (they/them) is a Black and Pacific Islander non-binary parent to two young children. Nia was born in Philly, like both their mother and grandmother before them, and also gave birth to their youngest child in Philly. Nia’s experience with postpartum anxiety after the birth of their oldest child, sparked their interest in and passion for connecting pregnant and postpartum parents with the resources and community needed for individuals, families and communities to thrive. Nia is trained as a birth doula, postpartum doula, and peer lactation support person. They are a peer support specialist with Newborns and Neighbors. They serve as a co-chair for the CAN Holistic Mental Health work group that created the Philly Joy Bank, and now also as co-chair for the Philly Joy Bank steering committee.
Chelsea Sormilich (she/her) is a person in long-term recovery from Substance Use Disorder, mental health, and trauma. Chelsea has experienced many losses as a direct result of untreated mental health and substance use disorder: her brother, her partner and child's father, and her best friend. Chelsea's grief and her own lived experiences motivate her to continue advocating for change and supporting others. Chelsea has been a Certified Recovery Specialist since 2017 after having been a recipient of Peer services herself. Chelsea works at a local non-profit Peer led Recovery Community Organization. She is now a Peer Supervisor and the Program Director of Unity Recovery's Pregnant and Parenting Recovery Program which focuses on supporting parents in recovery. The PPR program is a team made up of moms with lived experience also in recovery. Chelsea is a member of the OVA Maternal Mortality Review Committee and she has participated in The Health Federation's Supervisor Advisory Board, in addition has been a part of Penn's Whole Health Steering Committee.
Dr. Srinivas is a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vice-Chair for Quality and Safety, and Associate Chief Medical Officer for quality and safety for the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She has developed a successful research program including both clinical/epidemiologic and health services and care delivery research.  Her current areas of research include: 1) evaluating innovative health care delivery strategies to improve maternal outcomes and eliminate inequities, and 2) studying and developing obstetric quality measures as well as understanding the impact of practice changes (individual level and system level) on maternal and neonatal outcomes. Her clinical interests are in the areas of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, cardiovascular disease in pregnancy, and pregnancy care and counseling at the threshold of viability. As an Obstetrician/Gynecologist and Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist, Dr. Srinivas is deeply committed to improving health outcomes of women and children and eliminating inequities through her leadership, research, advocacy, and clinical work.  She serves on the Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review committee.  She is actively involved in Philadelphia-wide initiatives to eliminate maternal morbidity and mortality. Nationally, she is an active member of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) and is currently on the SMFM Board of Directors and Executive Committee.
Azucena Ugarte is the Director of The Office of Domestic Violence Strategies for the City of Philadelphia. As the leader of the Office of Domestic Violence Strategies, Azucena works to support the City’s health and human services (HHS) agencies to strengthen their capacity to identify and appropriately respond to domestic violence or Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) by developing policies and practices that safely support families affected by violence, ensuring access to inclusive services, and creating an IPV-competent workforce. Azucena has over 15 years of experience working to implement education programs, creating system change and advocating for policies that will improve survivors’ lives. She is a passionate advocate of trauma-informed practices and is recognized in Philadelphia as an expert in domestic violence.  Azucena holds a Master of Arts in Anthropology and Education and a PhD in Human Sexuality.
Dr. Peter Vasquez is an Associate Professor of Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. He completed medical school at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. His clinical practice includes the full scope of general obstetrics and gynecology, with a focus and interest in reproductive care for the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, he is the associate program director for the obstetrics & gynecology residency program, and the faculty director for the undergraduate medical education gender & sexuality curriculum.




8:30 a.m.
Registration & Continental Breakfast
9:00 a.m.
General Session
The Organized Voices for Action (The OVA) Report
10:00 a.m.
Keynote Address
Joia Crear Perry, President, National Birth Equity Collaborative
11:15 a.m.
Breakout Session I
Amplifying Voices: Integrative Doula Support and Empowering Black voices with the IRTH App

Postpartum Power: Exploring Innovations in Support and Empowerment

Maternal Health at Your Fingertips: Unlocking the Potential of technology for Better Care

Spreading Joy: Philly Joy Bank

Birthing Together: Community-Based Birthing Centers and the Power of Local Investment
12:15 p.m.
1:15 p.m.
Breakout Session II
Meeting People Where They Are: Harnessing the Power of Mobile Health and Street Teams

Empowering Awareness: Early Warning Signs Education to Enhance Maternal Outcomes

Knocking on Doors, Changing Lives: Maternal Home Visitation Programs for Empowered Families

Building Bridges for Maternal Health: Strengthening Hospital-Community Partnerships in Philadelphia

Breaking Barriers: LGBTQ+ Considerations in Perinatal Care
2:15 p.m.
Self-Care Session
Shirleen Beard, Meditation Facilitator, Nuri Oasis
2:30 p.m.
Leveraging Public Policy to Promote Sustainability in Maternal Health
3:50 p.m.
Closing Remarks




Need a place to stay? Consider staying at our partner hotel. Below you will find the room rate and Summit registration link. Please reserve your room by Monday, September 25, 2023, to ensure discounted rates and availability.

DoubleTree by Hilton

DoubleTree by Hilton Philadelphia – Center City
237 S Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Room rate: $259.00


Q: Is there preferred accommodation I can book?

A: The preferred hotel for the for the Birth Justice Philly Summit is DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Philadelphia Center City located at 237 South Broad Street, Philadelphia.

Q: Can I register at the event?

A: Registrants must be pre-registered to attend. The event is sold out.

Q: Is there a dress code for the event?

A: The dress code for the event is business casual.

Q: Where can I find information about the event agenda and schedule?

A: Please find the Program Book here.

Q: Are there breakout sessions? Where can I find information about them?

A: Yes, there are breakout sessions. Please see the Program Book.

Q: What parking arrangements are available at the venue?

A: There will be discounted parking available at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Philadelphia Center City for $15.

Q: Where do I go to check in?

A: All registrants should check in onsite at the registration desks located on the 3rd floor outside of the Symphony Ballroom. Registration hours are 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on the day of the event.

Q: Do I need to bring a ticket to registration?

A: No, there is no ticket required. Registration will have all your check-in information onsite.

Q: Do sponsors have special seating?

A: Yes, all sponsor attendees must pre-register as a sponsor guest. Please reach out to your company for details. Upon arrival, sponsor attendees must confirm status with registration. Registration will give all sponsor guest a name badge marked with a symbol providing them access to reserved seating.

Q: Can I switch my breakout session during the conference?

A: Breakout sessions are first come, first served. Please see someone from the planning team to confirm open spots.

Q: Will there be continuing education credits offered for the conference?

A: Yes, continuing education credits will be provided for physician, nursing, and social work disciplines for attending the entire conference. If you would like to receive credits, please visit registration upon arrival.

Continuing Education Disclaimer
CME Program Code: 23254 

TARGET AUDIENCE: Clinical providers and community members who are involved in maternal health. 

1. Discuss recent OVA research and resulting data. 2. Describe how local communities are uniquely positioned to address their specific challenges effectively. 3. Promote the use of data collection and evaluation to guide progress and adaptation, and emphasize community ownership and collaboration among stakeholders to ensure lasting impact. 4. Explain community-based intervention options regarding maternal healthcare. 5. Describe how to positively impact maternal and postpartum health outcomes. 6. Identify methods to leverage public policy to promote sustainability in maternal health. 

CME ACCREDITATIONSTATEMENT:                                                                                                                                                                        
This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education(ACCME) through the joint providership of Drexel University College of Medicine and the MidAtlantic AIDS Education and Training Center of the Health Federation of Philadelphia.  The Drexel College of Medicine is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.  

AMA Credit Designation Statement: The Drexel University College of Medicine designates this live activity for a maximum of 5.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.                                

AOA: This program is eligible for 5.0 credits in Category 2A of the American Osteopathic Association

NURSING STATEMENT:  The association of nurses in AIDS care is providing 5.0 CNE for the successful completion of this event.  ANAC is an accredited provider of CNE by ANCC.

Disclosure to claim contact hours: 
Attendees may earn a maximum of 5.0 CNE contact hours.  To receive CNE credit(s) for training, attendees must: Be registered as a participant. Be seated in the room no later than 10 minutes after the training has started and until the scheduled ending time. Complete the entire post training evaluation. 

Deadline to claim contact hours: December 26th, 2023 (2 months after the program)
A link to an online survey will be emailed to you after the training. Complete and submit the online survey.  Do not skip any questions. The last step of the survey will allow you to download and print the CNE certificate.

Conflict of Interest:
A conflict of interest occurs when an individual has an opportunity to affect educational content about health care products or services of a commercial interest with which he or she has a financial, professional, or personal relationship.  The planners and presenters of this CNE activity have disclosed no relevant financial, professional, or personal relationship with any commercial interest pertaining to this activity.  Presenters with relevant conflicts of interest will be announced prior to their educational session.

SOCIAL WORK STATEMENT: This training is co-sponsored by the Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Research for maximum of 5.0 credit hours.  As a CSWE accredited program, the Graduate School of Social Work and Research at Bryn Mawr College is pre-provider of continuing education for social workers, professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists in Pennsylvania and many other states. 

FACULTY DISCLOSURE STATEMENT: It is the policy of Drexel University College of Medicine to ensure balance, independence, objectivity, and scientific rigor in all its sponsored educational programs. All individuals in a position to control content at continuing medical education activities are required to disclose to the audience any relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies (which is any entity whose primary business is producing, marketing, re-selling or distributing health care goods or services consumed by or used on patients).Any conflicts of interest must be mitigated prior to the presentation and announced to the audience. In addition, speakers are required to openly disclose any off-label, experimental, or investigational use of drugs or devices discussed in their presentation.

FACULTY DISCLOSURES: Aasta Mehta, Joia Crear Perry, MaryNissi Lemon, Paige Rowland, Sheridan Blackwell, Amirah Grasty, Natasha Kumar, Jabina Coleman, Lisa Levine, Azucena Ugarte, Pamela Newman, Nia Samuels, Nia Coaxum, Stacey Kallem, Mario DeMarco, Heather Burris, Imani Davis, LaQuesha Garland, Porsche Holland-Otunba, Chelsea Sormilich, Liza Liveright, Hilary Miller, Mari-Carmen Farmer, Roxanne Green, Lakeshia Montgomery, Shukkriyah Mitchell, Samia Bristow, Adi Hirshberg, Kristin Leitner, Libby Mathewson, Peter J. Vasquez, Ray Rachlin, Shirleen Beard, Sara Jann Heinz, Amal Bass, Joanna E. McClinton and Maggie Clark  have no commercial relationships to disclose.

PLANNINGCOMMITTEE DISCLOSURES: James Dean, MD, Yelena Galkin, MD, Jennifer Kolker, MPH, and Debra D’Alessandro, MPH have no commercial relationships to disclose.

Requirements to receive credits: Continuing education credits will be awarded to those who sign the discipline-specific sign-in sheet, attend the entire program and complete a program evaluation.  

FUNDING ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Supported by funding from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.