Recently, Sunday Tortelli, President of the DONA International Board of Directors talked with The DONA Doula Chronicles about the organization’s plans for this year.
TDDC: The DONA Doula Chronicles,  ST: Sunday Tortelli

Sunday headshotTDDC: Thank you, Sunday, for making time to talk with me and provide a look into what’s coming for DONA International in 2015.

ST: I appreciate the invitation and enjoy the opportunity to connect with our membership!

TDDC: Let’s start with a quick summary of your role in DONA International. For our readers who aren’t familiar with either how non-profit boards of directors work or DONA’s own structure, could you give us a quick summary of your role as President of the Board of Directors?

ST: As the President of our board, I guess you could say that role is one of a “generalist” rather than a “specialist.” What I mean is that I have the privilege of working with everyone on pretty much everything. Each director on our board is a specialist overseeing the work of their committee.Our executive director and home office staff are also specialists focusing on very specific functions as they assist us with the management of such a large and active organization. It’s important that I have an overall working knowledge of the goals and challenges of our management and each committee, as we strive to uphold the mission and vision of DONA International in all that we do. For that reason, I am grateful to have spent many years as a “specialist” in my first role on the DONA International Board of Directors as Director of Publications. In that role, I was responsible for producing the International Doula and eDoula, and I also had the advantage of assisting in the production of all the documents, packets, brochures and published information from all the committees. That experience gave me a very deep understanding of all aspects of our organization and I draw from it every day in my current role.

TDDC: And you also serve as Interim Editor of the eDoula newsletters in your spare time!

ST: Yes, I am happy to fill in on a temporary basis, but that position is available if any of our readers are interested!

TDDC: I’ll be sure to include information so our readers can learn more if they are interested. With the start of a new year, I thought we might be able to talk about what’s in store for DONA International in 2015. If there were a theme for this year for DONA, what would it be?

ST: Hmmm…..I think it would have to be “connection” or “connecting” something along those lines. We are really looking to strengthen our connection to our members and their connection with the organization, better connect doulas to high quality, accessible, affordable and evidence-based continuing education and increase DONA’s connection to the larger community including families.

TDDC: DONA International has always been known for its commitment to education so let’s start there. What is happening in 2015 to connect DONA members to information and training to improve their knowledge and skill?

ST: Actually, we mean all doulas, not just DONA International members. We think that by offering quality educational offerings for doulas who are not yet members we will improve the knowledge and skills of all doulas. This also lets us highlight our strong commitment to continuing education, scope of practice and evidence-based resources to the larger birth community. We are now offering on-demand webinars so doulas can access DONA approved trainings anytime and from anywhere. Just like at our annual conference, we will address topics related to the doula’s role, research, business areas like marketing and where possible – doula practice skills. We are giving members one free webinar per calendar year.

TDDC: Since DONA is offering the webinars will they count toward recertification contact hours?

ST: Yes. Just like sessions attended via our virtual conference coming up in August, the webinars will count toward the continuing education requirement for recertification.

TDDC: Tell us about strengthening the connection between DONA International and its members.

ST: One of the things we recently reviewed is recertification. From time to time, it’s important for every organization to evaluate its processes to see how those processes can be improved to better serve our members. We know the recertification process can be stressful and confusing for members and it also takes considerable resources by DONA as well to answer questions, review packets, etc. We believe very strongly in recertification to maintain knowledge and skills, and also demonstrate legitimacy and credibility to care providers and the families doulas serve. Most professions have recertification requirements for the same reasons – accountants, lawyers, nurses, doctors, therapists, and childbirth educators to name a few. So, we’ve simplified the recertification process. Now there is only one designation and one fee. Rather than the previous “inactive” or “active” statuses, which were confusing to many members, a doula will simply become “recertified” upon earning and documenting the minimum number of contact hours, maintaining DONA International membership and paying the recertification application fee. There is no need to submit documentation of doula experiences. The recertified doula may then choose to be listed on the DONA website or not. This updated recertification information for birth and postpartum doulas is already available on the website. We are also making some minor modifications to the certification process, and the birth and postpartum certification packets are currently in revision.

TDDC: What other ways is DONA International looking to foster a stronger connection with members?

ST: We are continuously looking to improve our communication avenues with our members so that we are providing them with timely and pertinent information whether that’s through the eDoula e-newsletters that are specific to each member’s region, the International Doula magazine, the blog or our social media accounts. In order to be more responsive to news items or research and continuously share practice tips and resources, we’re expanding our blog and social media presence this year. Last fall, we sent out our first Annual Update to help provide a summary of DONA’s activities and achievements, and we will look to repeat that and improve it this year. On a more direct level, we’d really like to see more of our SPAR – State/Provincial/Area/Representative – positions filled. These members are important first points of contact to new members in particular. SPARs are a great local resource for members and can help connect members to the right person within DONA – whether that’s someone at the Home Office or a Board Member to address their need. SPARs often host area gatherings or virtual meet-ups of DONA members, which helps to connect members to one another for support and to share resources. This role is a great way for members to support DONA and other doulas.

TDDC: You also mentioned connection with the public and expectant families. What are the plans there?

ST: We revitalized our Advisory Council this year to serve as a resource for the organization. They will provide us with outside advice on our operations, marketing and member services. We announced their appointment in the most recent issue of the International Doula and will be introducing the members of the Advisory Council to DONA International members more fully in the spring issue of the magazine. We will then share more on the Advisory Council and its members with the larger community. It’s important that our members hear of developments like this first. It’s their organization after all and we wouldn’t exist without our members.

TDDC: I appreciate you giving us a peak into what’s coming this year for DONA International and taking the time to talk with me today.

ST: You are quite welcome. Thank you for sharing what’s happening with The DONA Doula Chronicles readers.


Note: For those interested in the role of eDoula editor, please contact Director of Publications Tracy Good at If you would like to be a State/Province/Area Representative please contact the Regional Director for your area. The full list of Regional Directors and open SPAR positions is available here.

— Adrianne Gordon, MBA, CD(DONA)