2020 Conference Speakers       


Michael Aquino, PT, DPT, TPS

Dr. Aquino is an orthopedic and pelvic floor physical therapist. He attained his BA of Sociology degree at UC Santa Barbara, his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at Chapman University in Irvine, California and completed the Therapeutic Pain Specialist Certification program through the International Spine and Pain Institute.

Due to his own personal experience with chronic chest and pelvic pain and the lack of guidance and help he was given, Dr. Aquino pursued further specialized training in complex chronic orthopedic and pelvic pain conditions in order to provide others suffering from complex chronic pain conditions with optimal, evidence-based care.

He is the owner of Deconstruct Health Physical Therapy & Consulting PC, practicing in Los Angeles and Long Beach, CA and is in affiliation with Roots Chronic Pain Recovery in Long Beach, CA where he is the Functional Restoration Director of the Chronic Pain Program.









Jerrasimos Ballas, MD, MPH










Naomi Bar-Yam, PhD

Naomi Bar-Yam, PhD, ACSW, has been working in maternal and child health for 30 years as an educator, researcher, advocate, and writer.

She is the immediate past president of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) and the founding director of Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, which provides safe donor milk to hospitals and families throughout the northeastern US.

An expert on access to perinatal health care and policies that support breastfeeding, she has been a consultant to the Centers for Disease Control (on a panel that created “The CDC Guide to Breastfeeding Interventions”), to the United States Breastfeeding Committee (developing an issue paper addressed to CEOs and legislators on breastfeeding and the workplace), and to the March of Dimes (developing educational material for women and families who are medically and socially vulnerable to high-risk pregnancy).

She also developed a curriculum for hospital personnel about combining breastfeeding with their work.

She reviews articles submitted to the Journal of Human Lactation, Breastfeeding Medicine, and other publications related to breastfeeding, milk banking, and access to perinatal child care.

As Executive Director of Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, she is thoroughly versed in the technical, procedural, and ethical aspects of milk banking. She often speaks at professional conferences, hospital staff trainings, and grand rounds about milk banking and breastfeeding policies.








Ginger Breedlove, PhD, CNM, APRN, FACNM, FAAN

Dr. Breedlove is a past president of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. In 2017 she formed a consulting company, Grow Midwives LLC, to educate Physicians and Hospitals and support Midwives in the design and scaling of best practices in collaborative care models.

Prior to consulting she was on faculty 17 years as Professor of Nursing and Midwifery at Shenandoah University and University of Kansas School of Nursing.

She co-founded the first free-standing birthing center in Topeka, Kansas in 1979, the first Midwife service in Kansas City, Missouri in 1994, and established the University of Kansas Midwifery program in 1999.

In 2016 she co-founded March for Moms with Dr. Neel Shah and has served as President three years. March for Moms is a new non-profit organization working to align and coordinate the efforts of families, healthcare providers, policymakers and other partners acting to achieve the best possible health and well-being of all mothers. In 2019 over 40 stakeholders came together for the third national rally on the Washington DC Mall.

In 2018 Dr. Breedlove edited and launched a book for first-time parents navigating the first six weeks of pregnancy titled, Nobody Told Me About That!









Noelle Ciara, DSW, LCSW, ACM-SW

Noelle M. Ciara, DSW, LCSW, ACM-SW is a licensed clinical social worker at Penn Medicine and a part-time lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice. Dr. Ciara holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Towson University, Master of Social Work degree from Monmouth University, and Doctor of Clinical Social Work degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Ciara has dedicated the majority of her career to working in health care. She has worked with a variety of patient populations, but has specific clinical expertise in crisis intervention, perinatal mental health, substance use disorders, and trauma-informed practice. Dr. Ciara is also particularly passionate about program development that works toward examining and improving care for marginalized patient populations. Most recently, Dr. Ciara developed The PARTNER Model, a practice model for healthcare providers working with pregnant and postpartum women with opioid use disorders.

In addition to her commitment to healthcare social work, Dr. Ciara is incredibly enthusiastic about teaching, advising, and supervising social work students. She has served as a teaching assistant, academic advisor, and part-time lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania. Currently, Dr. Ciara teaches Social Work Practice and Trauma in the MSW program.










Jenene Woods Craig PhD, MBA, OTR/L, CNT

Dr. Jenene Craig lives in metro Atlanta, GA and is the Program Director for the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health and Development (IECDMHD) PhD program at Fielding Graduate University.

Beyond her work at Fielding, she is a certified neonatal occupational therapist, serves the National Association of Neonatal Therapists (NANT) in leadership, works PRN at a regional Level III NICU, and is currently on the Board of Directors for the National Perinatal Association.

She has been in practice for 38 years, specialized in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) since 1984 and was privileged to receive her NIDCAP training for NICU caregiving under the tutelage of Dr. Heidelise Als in Boston.

She serves as a national and international speaker for the care of premature infants and families embattled in the stressful environment of the NICU and is well-published in the field. Jenene’s personal passion is to support neuroprotective work in the NICU with a focus on parent-infant outcomes. Her first passion is as wife and mother of six children.










Allison Dempsey, PhD

Dr. Allison Dempsey is a licensed psychologist and an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at University of Colorado School of Medicine.

She is the Program Director for the Connections Program for High Risk Infants and Families in the Department of Psychiatry.

She serves as the Co-Chair of the National Network of NICU Psychologists, along with Dr. Saxton.

Dr. Dempsey has over 10 years of experience of clinical practice in NICU, neonatal follow-up, and fetal care settings.

Her research focuses on individual, family, and systems level factors that affect an infant’s neurodevelopment, health, and family wellness.











Brigitte C. Desport, DPS, ATP, OTR/L









C. Neill Epperson, MD

C. Neill Epperson, MD, is the Robert Freedman Endowed Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine-Anschutz Medical Campus (CU-AMC).

Before being recruited to CU-AMC, Dr. Epperson served as the founder and director of both the Penn Center for Women’s Behavioral Wellness and Penn PROMOTES, Research on Sex and Gender in Health at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia where she was a tenured Professor of Psychiatry, with a secondary appointment in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr. Epperson received her medical degree at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed her postdoctoral and research training in psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, where she rose to the level of associate professor before her recruitment to the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Epperson is internationally known for her unique lifespan approach to women’s reproductive and behavioral health in both her clinical and research approaches. Her work related to early life stress and its impact on risk for affective disorders during periods of hormonal change, as well as projects relating to cognitive decline during menopause and sex differences among smokers have been funded by the National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Mental Health, the Office of Research on Women’s Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Her body of work has led to a greater appreciation of the impact of childhood adversity on physiologic responses during times of hormonal fluctuation as well as gonadal steroid effects on brain and behavior. Dr. Epperson’s research has been consistently funded by the National Institutes of Health for more than 2 decades. She is a productive mentor and independent investigator with more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and presentations.









Rebecca Feldman, CNM, PMHNP

Rebecca Feldman is Certified Nurse Midwife, and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner who practices in a dual role in the field of reproductive psychiatry.

She currently provides psychiatric care, and individual and group psychotherapy to parents, and those planning pregnancy, in a collaborative practice with midwives and obstetricians in Brooklyn, NY.

She is a graduate of Frontier Nursing University in midwifery, and New York University with a Post Master’s in Psychiatric Nursing. She has practiced Perinatal Psychiatry at the Motherhood Center of New York, and Zucker Hillside Hospital.

As a midwife, she created a mental health program housed within the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Woodhull Medical Center, a large public hospital in Brooklyn.

She is currently an adjunct professor at New York University, providing guest lectures to the Midwifery, Psychiatric Nursing, and Family Nurse Practitioner programs.


Rebecca Feldman, CNM, PMHNP

Rebecca Feldman is Certified Nurse Midwife, and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner who practices in a dual ro








Emily Hamburg-Shields, MD

Dr. Hamburg-Shields is a native Ohioan who attended the University of Cincinnati for my undergraduate degree in materials engineering. They went to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, for combined MD/PhD training which included a PhD in developmental biology.

They're now in their fourth and final year of OB/Gyn residency at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Next year, they'll be a first-year maternal-fetal medicine fellow at MetroHealth Medical Center/University Hospitals in Cleveland.










Sunah Hwang, MD, PhD, MPH/MSPH









Andrea Werner Insoft, LICSW, ACSW

Andie Insoft graduated Wellesley College with a degree in psychology. She went on to earn her Master’s in Social Work from Boston University.


For most of Andie’s career, she has focused on helping women as they transition to motherhood. She volunteered for many years leading new mom’s group through the Visiting Moms program of Jewish Family and Children’s Service. Eventually she was hired to facilitate many of their various support groups as well as supervising other clinicians.


Currently in private practice near Boston, Andie’s work focuses on providing individual, couple’s and group support for people struggling to start a family. From infertility, pregnancy loss to postpartum mood disorders, she is committed to helping her clients navigate the often painful road to parenthood.


Andie has consulted to area hospitals to help them start support programs for families who are dealing with having a fragile baby as well as training hospital volunteers for parent-to-parent programs.


She has facilitated many support groups including New Mother Groups, Pregnancy Loss Groups and various parenting groups. Andie’s biggest accomplishments, however, are her 2 children: Rachel, and Adin. She and her husband, Rob, are active in their community and share their home with their corgi, Charlie. She loves dogs, yoga, chocolate, and the color blue.











Cheryl A. Milford, EdS


Cheryl has been a practicing educational psychologist for 40 years. Cheryl has spent 34 years of her career providing psychological, neurodevelopmental and infant mental health services in neonatal intensive care units and developmental follow-up clinics. After leaving clinical practice.


in early 2017, Cheryl became the Director of Development and Outreach for the National Perinatal Association. In her role with NPA, she works closely with other non-profit organizations to optimize perinatal care in the United States. Cheryl is a mentor for the NPA National Network of NICU Psychologists, she also provides education on staff support and self care.


Cheryl’s passion is advocacy for programs supporting families and staff to give optimal care to infants and young children. This care provides the infant or child with the foundation they need to live full, rich and healthy lives.

 








Jennifer J. Paul, PhD

Jennifer J. Paul, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Training Director of the Harris Program in Child Development and Infant Mental Health at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Dr. Paul is a licensed clinical psychologist and Clinical Director of the Healthy Expectations Perinatal Mental Health Program at Children's Hospital Colorado, providing psychiatric evaluation and group therapeutic support for mothers experiencing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and their babies.

Dr. Paul also has functioned as the Director of Infant Mental Health Services at the Baby Haven and Haven Mother’s House supporting mothers in recovery from substance addiction along with their very young children, and is currently an integrated perinatal mental health clinician in the WIC Warm Connections program.









Viveka Prakash Zawisza, MD, MS, MBA

Viveka Prakash-Zawisza, MD, MS, MBA is a physician leader with a passion for exploring how policy and systems impact healthcare delivery. Dr. Prakash-Zawisza completed her undergraduate degree at Brandeis University then attended UMass Medical School for her medical education. She completed her residency training in Obstetrics & Gynecology at Stony Brook University Medical Center on Long Island.

Dr. Prakash-Zawisza practiced full-scope Obstetrics & Gynecology for many years before returning to graduate school at Brandeis University to obtain dual MBA/MS in Global Health Policy and Management. She currently serves as a Medical Director at MassHealth (Massachusetts Medicaid) on the Payment and Care Delivery Innovation team where she develops and implements new policy solutions to the many challenges faced by the Medicaid population in Massachusetts.

Dr. Zawisza has served on the board of the National Perinatal Association for many years, a unique organization that brings together advocates and providers from all sides of the perinatal landscape to collaborate on leading-edge initiatives to improve the perinatal experience for all families. She is passionate about actively addressing systemic inequities and disparities and creating a healthcare system that promotes optimal well-being for everyone.










Diana Rodin, MPH

Diana Rodin is a senior consultant with Health Management Associates. She has a decade of experience conducting policy analysis and program evaluation related to access to health care and insurance coverage, with a focus on maternal and child health and reproductive health. She conducts qualitative case study research as part of program evaluation efforts for government and foundation clients, covering topics including maternal and child health, access to services for children with special healthcare needs in Medicaid, and health care cost transparency efforts.

She has supported a variety of healthcare, housing, and social services clients with program development. Diana has extensive experience conducting qualitative case study research as part of program evaluation efforts for government and foundation clients, including as a member of the evaluation team for the five-year evaluation of the federally funded Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns Initiative, which examined the impact of enhanced prenatal care on maternal and infant health outcomes in Medicaid and CHIP across 199 provider sites in 30 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The evaluation helped the program’s funders understand how enhanced prenatal care models were implemented across a wide variety of settings, what factors influenced their operation, how stakeholders view the approaches, how they were successful, what challenges they faced, and what improvements could be made.

She has developed policy analyses examining models of perinatal care for women in Medicaid, the implications of national policy changes for state-funded public coverage programs, lead testing in Medicaid, and other issues related to access to health care services. Diana previously worked for a state Medicaid Director’s office. She received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and a master’s degree in health policy and management from the University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health.










Marilyn Sanders, MD

Dr Marilyn Sanders is a board-certified pediatrician and neonatologist who cares for critically ill babies , infants, and their families at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Newborn Intensive Care Unit in Hartford, Connecticut.

She is Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. She also provides neurodevelopmental follow-up and transitional medical care for babies, infants and children up to 3 years old. In addition, Dr Sanders provides palliative care services and sits on the Connecticut Children’s Ethics Committee.

Her scholarly interest is providing trauma-informed care to hospitalized newborns, infants, young children, and their families. Her focus is the Polyvagal Theory describing the relationship between the autonomic nervous system’s sense of safety, danger, or life threat and emotions/behavior. She lectures throughout the United States and Europe.

She has authored papers and book chapters on trauma-informed care for young infants, children and their families in the hospital setting. She is currently under book contract with WW Norton and Company. Her book, to be published in 2020, discusses implications of the Polyvagal Theory, for the well-being and development of infants, children, and adolescents.










Sage Saxton, PsyD

Sage Saxton, PsyD, PMH-C is the Co-Chair of the National Network of NICU Psychologists (NNNP). She is a licensed psychologist and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University.

She directs the NICU Follow Up Program and has worked with high risk infants and their families for the last 13 years. She is a Board Member of the National Perinatal Association and is actively involved in national programmatic development efforts to improve family and patient centered NICU care.









Sharon Silow-Carroll, MBA, MSW

Sharon Silow-Carroll, MBA, MSW, is a Managing Principal in Health Management Associates’ New York office, and has been with the firm since 2006. She has more than 25 years of experience conducting health policy analysis, specializing in qualitative research that includes interview protocol development, semi-structured interviews, focus groups, site visits, and case study and synthesis reports.

Much of her work has involved identifying barriers and assessing innovative initiatives to enhance quality, access, efficiency, and coverage in healthcare systems. Sharon has a particular interest in Medicaid and vulnerable populations, maternal and reproductive health, children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN), and care management and coordination. She was HMA’s lead in a five-year evaluation of the CMS-funded Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns program piloting three enhanced care coordination models for pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP intended to improve maternal and birth outcomes. She also led an HMA team in a study of access to reproductive health services in five communities across the U.S.

Sharon has authored numerous articles and reports on policies and practices affecting vulnerable populations, health care system performance improvement strategies, and state and local initiatives to improve access and coverage.

She has worked with Kaiser Family Foundation, The Commonwealth Fund, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health, and other foundations as well as public and private organizations.

Prior to joining HMA, Sharon was Senior Vice President at the Economic and Social Research Institute, where she directed and conducted research studies on a range of health care issues. She earned a Master of Social Work at the School of Social Work, University of Pennsylvania with concentrations in Aging and Long Term Care, and a Master of Business Administration at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.










Vincent C. Smith, MD, MPH

Dr. Vincent C. Smith, MD, MPH is Division Chief of Newborn Medicine at Boston Medical Center (BMC) and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University Medical School.

Dr. Smith is a graduate of Texas A&M University, Stanford University School of Medicine, and the Harvard School of Public Health. He trained in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center in the Boston Combined Pediatric Residency Program. He then completed a fellowship in neonatal-perinatal medicine through the Harvard wide program, a collaboration of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Boston Children’s Hospital. He also completed a fellowship in health services research at Children’s Hospital. Dr. Smith serves as the medical director for the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Program.

He is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Perinatal Association. He is also an active member of the Massachusetts Medical Society, Society for Pediatric Research, and Maternal Child Health Advisory Committee at the Harvard School of Public Health.

In addition to parental NICU discharge readiness, his professional interests also include families affected by substance use and medical care for LGBTQ-headed families.










Celeste St. John-Larkin, MD

Celeste St. John-Larkin, MD is The Anschutz Chair in Perinatal Mental Health, and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and OB/GYN at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She is the medical director of the Healthy Expectations Perinatal Mental Health Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado. This multidisciplinary program offers therapy groups for mothers, infants and families during pregnancy and the first year postpartum. She also provides outpatient services to children and adolescents in the Pediatric Mental Health Institute. She is a consultant and preceptor for pediatric residents through Project CLIMB in the Child Health Clinic. Previous work in integrated care includes the PROMISE Clinic at UCH, Colorado Adolescent Maternity Program, and Young Mother’s Clinic.

Dr. St. John-Larkin has served on the executive committee of the Colorado Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Society and is currently appointed to the Colorado Pregnancy Related Depression State Advisory Committee. She is a founding member of the Children’s Hospital Colorado Mental Health Family Advisory Council.

Dr. St. John-Larkin received a bachelor’s degree in history from Northwestern University, and her medical degree from Michigan State University, College of Human Medicine. She completed her internship and residency in adult psychiatry, and fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Colorado, School of Medicine.









Blythe Thomas

From empowering mothers in remote African villages to fighting for Kansans who cannot access basic health care, Blythe has been fortunate to work for organizations that change and enhance the lives of families everywhere. Blythe has served in progressive leadership roles at the American Red Cross, Nature Conservancy, Kansas Health Foundation, and the Partnership for a Healthier America.

Today she is the Chief Strategy Officer at 1,000 Days, a nonprofit that leads the fight to build a strong foundation for mothers, children and their nations to thrive. Blythe spends her days surrounded by parent stories and her evenings trying to keep up with her teenage boys, Colton and Wyatt, in Arlington, Virginia.


















CONTACT US: 

Kristy Love, Executive Director   klove@nationalperinatal.org

P.O. Box 392 Lonedell, MO 63060


© 2020 National Perinatal Association

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