DONA International’s leadership team has some new faces! Members have received an email about new members of the DONA International Board of Directors who have stepped up to fill vacant positions. We are thankful for the time and energy these women are giving to support our members and grow the organization. Here’s a chance to get to know seven women who have joined the Board in the last few months to guide the organization and carry out very important roles to serve the doula community. You can find a list of all of the members of the Board and their contact information as well as your State/Provincial/Area Representative (SPAR) on the DONA International website under About Us/Board & Leadership. Not sure who the best person is to help you? Check our our recent post “Help! I Need Somebody!”

Johanna D’Aleo, CD/PCD(DONA), HBCE, CLC, Certification Director

JohannaAs a member of the DONA International Certification Committee, Johanna served as a birth and postpartum doula certification and recertification packet reviewer for two years before joining the Board to lead our certification and recertification process. She became a doula six years ago after retiring from a career in university administration. Johanna teaches childbirth education classes in a local hospital, is a certified lactation counselor and HypnoBirthing instructor. She lives near a lake in the Catskill area of New York with her dog, an 80 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback and has two adult children and three grandchildren.


How she became interested in birth:

I became very interested in birth options and choices during my first pregnancy.  I shared my birth plan with my OB who told me that to have the birth I wanted, I needed to have my baby in a field!  I didn’t see him again!  This led to much reading and investigating of choices/options and eventually finding a supportive provider.

Tonya Daniel, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, IBCLC, Southeastern US Regional Director

TNDanielTonya is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she studied Sociology with concentration in the health of women and children. She began accompanying families through their birth journeys in 2000 and is passionate about providing labor support and lactation services to women in her North Carolina community, especially those in areas of limited resources or access. She currently works full-time in public health where she has had the honor of joining teams in Kenya and Kuwait to train healthcare staff and community workers as doulas, childbirth educators and breastfeeding educators with the hopes of improving pregnancies, births and maternal/child health in those countries. In her downtime (wherever she can find it), she enjoys spending family time with her husband of 23 years, four great kids, and extended family and friends.

Her thoughts on how she can connect to DONA International members and help members connect with one another:

DONA International has a variety of ways to connect; it can be overwhelming!  From numerous social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.) to “old school” phone calls and emails… I challenge members to explore those.  I challenge myself to be available on all of those, but there are times that I don’t get an opportunity to access all of them. I’m still working on the balance issue!  It would be nice to have some sort of conference/workshop/online meeting occasionally to connect regionally.  As a SPAR, I have heard that suggestion.  I think this will lend itself to more connection within the membership and builds more of a sense of cohesiveness as an organization.  In the words of Mr. Rogers, we need to know the “people in our neighborhoods!”

Yana Katzap-Nackman, CD(DONA), PCD(DONA),CLE, IBCLC, RLC, Western Pacific US Regional Director

yanaYana discovered her passion for birth after the birth of her first child and became a birth doula in May 2003. A year later as she was completing her certification, she decided to support doulas in her region by applying to become the State/Province/Area Representative (SPAR) for Southern California. It was at the DONA International Annual Conference in New Orleans that year where  she received the news that she was both a DONA International certified doula and the new SPAR for her region. Talk about a memorable conference experience!  She has since added the credentials of PCD(DONA) and IBCLC to her name and continues to learn and grow so that she can better support the greater Los Angeles birthing community.

Why she wanted to join the DONA International Board of Directors:

I took a leadership role because I love the mentorship aspect of the position. I remember what it was like to start on this path. At times, it was lonely and scary to be starting on a new career path without support. I felt that as a SPAR I was part of a team. I was part of a large community with shared passions and ideals, and that drove me to inspire and support others. Members who become involved with the organization have an impact on their local, state, and international community. They enrich the doula field with their support, skills and ideas. Members have a voice that can be projected through their work on committees, as SPAR, on the Board, contributing to the International Doula magazine, etc.

Rachel Parris, CD(DONA), Western Canada Regional Director

RachelRachel lives, works and plays in Calgary, AB, Canada with her husband and three beautiful children. She began her doula journey in 2008 when she experienced firsthand the profound difference doula support can make during the pregnancy and birth of her twin daughters. Prior to starting a family, Rachel worked as a stage manager in professional theatre. She has found that stage management and birth support require very similar skills – in both instances, one holds space to allow others to be able to do their work. She is actively involved in the birth world in Calgary and loves co-creating community with other doulas and birth enthusiasts. Having served on the Executive Committee of The Calgary Doula Association for two years and as DONA’s SPAR for Alberta since October 2014, she is excited to move into serving the greater doula community of Western Canada.

On members being involved in DONA International:

I think it is important that members become involved with their organization because it makes them a part of the process; it gives them a voice. I also think it’s important to involve as many different perspectives in leadership as possible – robust discussion amongst leadership is important to better meet the needs of the members and the organization as a whole. I believe the doula profession is currently going through an incredible period of growth and change, and I am passionate about being a leader in shaping that process. I am excited about where we are going!

Ann Pollack, CD/BDT(DONA), CLC, CCE, Treasurer

Ann2Ann attended her first birth at the age of 16 and has been in awe of the miracle of birth ever since.  She was thrilled to learn she could turn this passion into a career!  Ann became a DONA International certified birth doula in 2001 and a DONA- Approved Birth Doula Trainer in 2012. She began serving on the Certification Committee in the fall of that same year and in December 2014 became DONA International’s Treasurer, filling an important vacancy on the Board of Directors. In her local area, she and a partner host a very successful monthly Doula Support Circle that offers continued support, education and networking opportunities for all doulas in the community.  She lives and plays in Littleton, CO with her husband of 37 years, Keith, along with their furry child, Lilly. They have five grown children and four (and counting!) amazing grandchildren.

Her invitation to DONA International Members:

If you like what you see, come join us! Get involved in the activity that goes on behind the scenes and be a part of the great outcomes. If you would like to see a change in the organization, get involved! Share your time and talents and be a part of the positive forward movement that is taking place. Don’t feel you are not qualified. If you are hardworking, eager to learn and are able to work with others, then this is the place for you. We need you!

Sherri Wilkerson, CD(DONA), LCCE, Director of Publications

Sherri2Sherri came from the classroom as a high school English teacher to begin her career as a birth doula in 2011.  Since that time, she has moved her business from Savannah, GA back to her hometown of Atlanta and has attended close to 100 births. Sherri is also a Lamaze certified childbirth educator, and this allows her to expand her support of birth families. She lives with her husband, Rob, and their four children- Harrison, Eli, Sophia and Kirk.


How she sees her role on the DONA International Board of Directors::

As Director of Publications, I’m working with the eDoula manager, the blog manager and the managing editor of the International Doula to help involve other DONA International doulas in these publications.  And that’s essentially what the Board of Directors does.  We try to identify those DONA International doulas who can contribute to the organization either through leadership, writing or other roles, and we put forward the ask. I applied for a leadership role in DONA International because someone asked me to do so!  

Danielle Winner Koontz, MAA, CBE, BDT(DONA), Northeastern Regional US Director

Danielle2Danielle began her career in reproductive health by leading the childbirth education program at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD in 2006. She has taught childbirth education for over a decade and has attended births as a doula since 2007.  For the last five years she has served as the Maryland SPAR for DONA International, leaving that position earlier this year to join the Board of Directors.  In addition to her doula and education business and role with DONA International, Danielle serves as program coordinator for the Department of Pediatric Infectious Disease at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Her thoughts on her role as a Regional Director:

After six years as the MD SPAR I was excited for the opportunity to expand my role. The Northeast is the most populous region of the US, and there are a lot of doulas out here in this corner of our world.  I want them to know they have a direct link to the DONA International Leadership.  I am their doula.  If there is a way I can help them, I will. My work with the state SPARs will be to bolster communication and to build a strong and active membership.  As a membership organization, DONA International is only as great as its members, and we have a lot of great members! By doing my part I hope to inspire more of the doulas I meet to get involved and continue to grow DONA International into the world’s premier doula certifying organization.

— Adrianne Gordon, CD(DONA), MBA