Kelli Brien

I am a passionate maternal health advocate and outreach coordinator, focused on eliminating health disparities and the disproportionate African American and Latina infant and maternal mortality rates.

I created the Speak Life Doula program and co-authored the Safety PIN grant that garnered multiple million dollar awards from the Indiana State Department of Health.

I am a Certified Lactation Specialist, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Birth and Postpartum Doula of over 12 years.

I am a member of: DONA International, Breastfeeding USA, International Childbirth Education Association, the United States Lactation Association, The Saint Joseph County Fetal Infant Mortality Review team, the Indiana State Department of Health Maternal Mortality Review Team and chair of the Health Disparities Subcommittee for DONA International.

I established the 32nd Milk Bank Depot in Indiana, which collected over 1,650 ounces of donated milk for Indiana’s NICUs.

I testified at the Indiana Statehouse in House and Senate chambers in support of Senate Bill 416, for Medicaid reimbursement of doulas which passed, and was signed by Governor Eric Holcomb.

Substitute Teacher: Brenda Parrish

Christopher Stroud, M.D.

After attending Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, my medical career began with Medical School at the University of Florida, in Gainesville., Florida. I went on to complete a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was there I met my wife, Marianne, and we were married during my third year of residency. After completing residency training, we moved to Beloit, Wisconsin in 1995 to work for the Beloit Clinic, a large multi-specialty group practice. We chose Beloit because of its proximity to the University of Illinois, Chicago, where my wife would attend graduate school and earn a Masters Degree in Nurse-Midwifery.

News of our first pregnancy and a desire to live closer to our families led us back to the South and the small town of Albany, Georgia, where Marianne and I practiced together from 1997 until 2006. During those busy years Marianne and I had three beautiful children, Ian, Colin, and Mackenzie.

While in Albany I became very involved in the administrative aspects of medical practice and returned to graduate school at Auburn University, to earn a Masters Degree in Business Administration. As a result, when an opportunity arose to work in a purely administrative position with Parkview Health System in Fort Wayne, Indiana we decided to take it. I began working for Parkview as the Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer in 2006 and, while I missed caring directly for patients, I enjoyed the new challenges and responsibilities of administrative medicine. Thinking that my career would follow an administrative path, I accepted a position in 2008 with the Aurora Medical Group, a division of the Aurora Healthcare System, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

During the time I was away from full-time clinical practice I remained active in medicine working with resident OB/GYN physicians in Milwaukee, as well as participating in several medical mission trips to the Dominican Republic. It didn’t take very long for me to realize that I was called to care for patients; that I needed to be at the bedside and not at a desk. Fortunately, Marianne agreed and January 1, 2011 we returned to full-time medical practice and to many great friends here in Fort Wayne as part of the Parkview Physicians Group, OB/GYN. It was my intention to return to clinical practice and simply practice Obstetrics and Gynecology as part of that large group.

But God had another plan in mind…Unknowingly, I was offering a different style and approach to obstetrical care in the area. I was practicing the way I had always practiced, but it was different for this area and caught the attention of many. I prefer to deliver my own patients, if at all possible, and not just when I’m on-call. And I think it best to avoid inducing labor unless there is a clear medical indication to do so. I most certainly believe it is wrong to subject a mother and baby to the risks of labor induction simply because of my work schedule or what is convenient for me. To me that just made sense, but apparently, it was somewhat different thinking in January   of 2011 and as a result, my practice began to grow. The remainder of 2011 and 2012 brought continued growth, but it was in the fall of 2012 that things dramatically changed for me.

After years of struggling as a Catholic physician with the ethical, theological, moral, and biological issues at hand, I came to the point that I felt I could no longer prescribe artificial forms of contraception, perform sterilization procedures, or refer patients for artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilization. As such, I became a certified medical consultant in a technique known as Creighton Model Fertility/NaProTechnology so that I would have something I felt was superior to offer my patients. I was certain it would mean the end of my practice.

But God had another plan in mind…It was only then that my practice began to grow and grow in ways that I never thought possible. I began to see patients from three states away seeking care for fertility problems; patients seeking a physician trained in Creighton Model Fertility/NaProTechnology. For every patient that left my practice because of my decision on contraception, three more came to me wanting help with fertility challenges. It was a truly amazing transformation that happened almost overnight.

At the same time, patients wanting a natural approach to hospital birth continued coming to see me in even larger numbers. On top of this, the numbers of patients desiring a provider that would partner with them in an effort to achieve a vaginal birth after a cesarean section or “VBAC” grew dramatically. Over the course of three short years my practice had grown into much more than I could have ever imagined—probably because I had little to do with it. It grew so quickly and by such magnitude that Parkview Physicians Group found it impossible to keep pace with its growth, and in May of 2013 I made the decision that my unique set of patients would be best served if I were in independent practice.

So, after months of prayerful consideration, on September 2, 2014 Marianne and I opened the Fertility and Midwifery Care Center, LLC. We love living in Fort Wayne and see our family here for many generations to come. Our eldest son attends Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio studying philosophy and business management. Our next eldest son is studying Theology at Ave Maria University near Naples, Florida. Our eldest daughter is currently a junior at Bishop Dwenger High School.

After a painful three-year journey marked with frustration and elation, in the summer of 2016 our two adopted children joined our family.  Alima (9) and Masalay (9) currently attend Cedar Canyon Elementary where they are learning English and thriving.

Our mothers, Carolyn and Mary, live with us and have for several years, allowing them to play active parts in our lives and those of our children. We are a busy family, like most families, dividing our time between work, school, and play. We are members of St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church and Marianne and I participate in several lay ministries there. We are doing our best to live and raise our children in a world that too often seems against all things family. As anyone engaged in this battle knows, it is almost impossible, and would be without God’s help.

The Fertility and Midwifery Care Center represents my attempt to practice obstetrics and gynecology as purely and simply as possible; unencumbered by ownership or employment relationships with hospitals or health systems, nothing other than a pure relationship between provider and patient. It is not my goal to see everyone, but to see anyone who needs the care I offer.

I have Certified Nurse-Midwives as practice partners because I believe Obstetricians and Nurse-Midwives working together as part of a fully integrated team offer women and their families the absolute best care possible. Together, we can offer much more to patients and their families than either of us can offer alone. That’s an integrated care model and that’s powerful for women and their families.  I hope by reading this you feel as though you know something about me, my family, and what has brought us to this place in time. I am honored that you would consider me as your partner in your healthcare journey and I look forward to working with you to accomplish your goals, whatever they may be.

Kelly J. Townsend, MAS-IFP, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA)

Kelly Townsend was originally trained as a doula trainer in 1997 with DONA International and has been a doula since 1992.  She was the Director of the Ashland Community Hospital doula program in the 90’s, and helped create the South Phoenix Healthy Start Doula Program, which serves inner city families in Phoenix, AZ.

She earned her Master’s Degree at Arizona State University in Infant Family Practice, a program that focuses on prevention and intervention programs serving families with infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children.  Her interests extend to the transmission of multi-generational trauma, and she is currently studying epigenetics and its impact on breaking the cycle of abuse.  Kelly specializes in natural childbirth, abuse survivors, and overcoming the fear of childbirth.

Her book, “Christ Centered Childbirth” is published in three different languages, and is an international speaker on childbirth issues.

She is also a four term Legislator in the Arizona House of Representatives.

Noel Leithart

Noel Leithart began her journey as a midwife in 2001in rural Idaho. In 2013, she moved back to Alabama, where she had lived previously. In 2017, she worked hard with a few other fervent women to get the laws changed in Alabama and legalize midwifery. Noel is on the board of Alabama Birth Coalition and the Alabama State Board of Midwifery.

Noel began her interest in nutrition while a teenager, reading every book she could get her hands on. She partnered with her mother in a direct sales vitamin company, educating individuals on various nutritional needs. Over the years, Noel has offered nutritional advice for her friends and has supervised food buying cooperatives. When she returned to Alabama and could no longer legally practice as a midwife, she pursued a higher degree in nutrition. In 2017, Noel earned her masters in holistic nutrition through Hawthorn University and is a Certified Nutrition Professional through the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

Noel and her husband, Peter, have 10 children, 8 born under the care of midwives. She has experienced care under DEMs, CNMs, CPMs and British midwives. Noel and Peter have 11 grandchildren, 6 of whom were born with midwives.

Terrie Lemley, CNM

Terrie became a nurse in 1983, more specifically in obstetrics in 1986. She also gave birth to her first child in 1986, having three additional children over the next 6 years. Having a positive experience breastfeeding her own children, led her to help other women accomplish their breastfeeding goals.

While working as a labor and delivery nurse, it became apparent that women had few options for birthing. “There certainly must be a better way to help women birth than being in the bed and having IV fluids infused”. This began her quest to become a nurse midwife.

Terrie graduated from Frontier Nursing University obtaining midwifery certification in 1998 and Master of Science in Nursing from Case Western Reserve University in 1999. She has worked in hospital-based practices in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Recent limitations of area hospital practices led her to start Gentle Harbor Midwifery.

“A family’s birth experience can impact their relationships forever. The power of birth, properly supported, can impact an entire generation; from how a mother views her own strength to how she supports others in family building” Giving this process back to the family can greatly build the next generation.

Married to Jim for 30 years, they enjoy parenting still with their adult children. The family is active in their church and enjoy serving others. In spare time, Terrie also enjoys cross- stitching, reading, and football!

Kathy Nesper, CCE, CBD

Kathy’s passion to help couples encounter God in childbirth led to her role as co-founder and president of Apple Tree Ministries. She is a certified childbirth educator and certified birth doula who has trained and supported new parents since 1977, soon after the birth of her first child. Kathy is co-author or editor of ATFM’s publications and has written for others, including Childbirth Instructor magazine, Spero News, and Mutuality.

She has spoken to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, National Family Ministries Conference, California Association of Midwives, Christian Midwives International, Trust Birth Conference, La Leche League, and others.

Kathy and her husband, D.W., have been married since 1972 and are parents and parents-in-law to three sons and their wives: Zac and Ellen, Preston and Angie, and Tyler and Samantha. Kathy and D.W. live in Southern California, and they delight in their children and grandchildren.

(from the Apple Tree Ministries Website)

Kathy will present: “Faith is…Visionaries of the Natural Childbirth Movement” and “Eve, Mary and Beyond: What the Bible doesn’t say about Childbirth and Why it still Matters”.

Brenda Parrish, CPM

My goal as a traditional but certified professional midwife is to provide information and consultation during the prenatal months that will help you to have a natural, healthy pregnancy and birth. I can assist you in learning more about the role of nutrition, abstaining from harmful prenatal influences, maternal and fetal health and development, and alternative remedies. I maintain a lending library for clients and encourage you to become a learner and a more informed consumer of maternity care and practices. Midwifery care assists low-risk mothers by approaching pregnancy and birth as a normal event.

My role is to educate expectant parents and to assist them in their goal of a safe natural home-birth and a successful breastfeeding experience.

I have been serving women as their midwife since 1995.  Most of those years were in South Georgia but a job change for my husband necessitated a move to the Atlanta area.  While I miss all the families and friends there, I have really enjoyed getting to meet the new families here and being allowed the honor of assisting them during this special season of their lives.
(Taken from the Traditional Birth Services Website)

Brenda’s presentations will be: “Emotional release with Essential Oils”
“Essential Oils and the Childbearing Season”

Reverend Joseph D. Signore III

Reverend Signore earned his Master of Divinity from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO in 2013. He graduated, Magna cum laude and Concordia Scholar, with a Bachelor of the Arts from Concordia University Chicago, River Forest, IL. 2008. He majored in Theology and Theological Languages. His Senior Honors Project: “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Contraception: Birth Control and the Christian Conscience”.

He has been the sole pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Pomona, CA. since 2013.

He has been a speaker at Best Practices for Ministry, Christ Church Lutheran, Phoenix, AZ. Among the presentations given are as follows:

• 2016 “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Birth Control: Contraception and the Christian Conscience”
• 2017 “Contraception and the Christian Conscience”
• 2018 “Contraception and the Christian Conscience: The Bible on Birth Control”

Has preached hundreds of engaging sermons. He Teaches two Bible classes a week. Asks thought-provoking questions that elicit a great deal of participation and fosters an atmosphere of non-judgmental dialogue where participants feel comfortable voicing their opinions and experiences.

Reverend Signore has researched and written on the ethics of birth control for the past ten years and aspires to obtain a Ph.D. in Christian Ethics.

Reverend Signore will be presenting: “Birth Control and Christian Ethics”

Ireena Keeslar

Ireena has been a midwife for 20 years, former childbirth educator for the county she now helps serves several Amish churches in both Michigan and Indiana. Serving in out of hospital births only she helps families at both their home and a frees standing birth center. Mother to 5 children herself, grandmother to 5 -her and her husband Scott enjoy spending as much time with family as they can.

Pre-conference Speakers

September 17, 2019

Suturing Workshop

Rebekah Knapp, CPM

 Jill Whitfield, CNM

More information to come.