Board of Directors
Deb Lawrence, President
Before she had kids Deb taught high-school home economics, earned a master's degree in Family Studies, and coordinated the education department at a small liberal arts college.
Deb began teaching in January 1996. By 1999 students were asking her to be their doula; she began supporting births, and got further training and DONA certification. She is honored to have supported around 350 births so far. She was a founding member and treasurer for a Chicago-area doula networking organization.
Pam Cowles (2015)
A country girl turned small town girl, Pam lived on a 560 acre farm (row crops, beef, and dairy, plus a couple other small farm businesses) for 20 years, and home schooled her five children for 15 years.
Pam had two unmedicated hospital births in the 1980’s, simply because she had heard it was best for the baby. Wanting to have more control over how she chose to birth, she then had three home births in the 1990’s. When her babies began having babies, she became aware of the state of childbirth in the U.S., where a woman now has to fight for the right to have a natural birth. She is working toward certification with Informed Beginnings. She is also in the certification process as a doula, and is anxious to teach expectant parents, and help them have joyful births and healthy babies.
She also enjoys gardening, sewing, racquetball, walking, and talking, but being grandma to her five grandkids (with another on the way!) tops all!
Cindy Earley-Steinke (2015)
Cindy began her teaching career in 1995, after having experienced a
wonderful, natural childbirth with her first daughter the year before. She
liked it so much, she went on to have five more children - another 4 girls
and 1 boy. Over the years she has taught more than 500 couples, and
assisted at births as a doula. She is a midwifery student, co-leader and
treasurer for her local Birth Network, and a dedicated soccer mom.
Her teaching career has spanned from Virginia to Alaska, and has involved
both traveling to underserved Alaskan locations, as well as web conferencing
to help mentor other educators. She is looking forward to helping Informed
Beginnings grow, and working with an organization that values the voices of
its educators. If she were younger and wealthier, she'd probably have 20
Susan Mooney (2014)
Susan has been teaching childbirth classes for twenty years and has been a certified labor support professional since 1993. She has supported many different families in a variety of settings and situations since she was sixteen, when they were making dirt, but there just was no title or certification for doula work back then. She is passionate about her work and approaches birth with calmness, compassion, and awe.
Susan is also a La Leche League Leader and has been providing breastfeeding education and support for eighteen years. She is a certified Braille transcriber and specializes in textbooks and technical materials. She is the head of Mentoring at Informed Beginnings as well as a Board member, and is looking forward to doing educational webinars and helping with curriculum and trainings.
Susan is the mother of two adult children and lives in Fairview, North Carolina. If you’re looking for Susan, just follow the sound of Taj Mahal, Bonnie Rait, Buddy Guy, or Frank Zappa; she’ll be pretty close by. Yeah, she’s eclectic.
Tara Rice (2015)
Tara’s interest in childbirth began during her first pregnancy in 2001. At first she learned about it because it affected her personally, then she became fascinated with the topic of natural childbirth and options in birth, and finally, she had to reach out and let others know and decided it was time to teach (actually at her husband’s suggestion). For her, birth was a challenging but very empowering experience, and though she first sought out natural birth for the good of her baby, she was surprised to discover that natural birth was very good for mothers too. Those she knew who had given birth without pain medication had not spoken positively of the experience, and she thought that was sad, and that she wanted to help mothers have a birth that was good for the baby and for them! She has been teaching natural childbirth since 2005 as well as attending births as a doula. She is honored to be invited into this very special time of her students’ and clients’ lives and thoroughly enjoys her work helping mothers and partners learn to trust birth and trust themselves. Her goal with each family she works with is to help them birth without fear.
Tara is proud to be a founding member of Informed Beginnings and is very passionate about the good that this organization can do by training teachers to provide evidence-based, contemporary, compassionate, and comprehensive childbirth education. She serves on the curriculum committee and is enjoying producing materials for educators and for students.
When she’s not doing birth work, doing InfoBe work, or chasing after her three lovely children, you might find her working at a CSA, running, knitting, sewing, or once in a while even sitting down to chat with her husband of 20 years.
Jenn Riedy (2013)
After the birth of her first child in 1998, Jenn became hooked on the subject of childbirth. Her labor was over thirty hours long, but the preparation she and her husband had for it made it a challenge that they were able to tackle together. Her passion to learn more about the topic of childbirth and learn how to help other women/couples has only increased in the past few years and with the births of her next four children — three of which were home births.
Jenn has been honored to be part of the development of Informed Beginnings. Jenn's philosophy on childbirth is influenced by her faith in God, and trust in His design. She believes that humans are fallen creatures and thus sometimes problems will arise, but that the female body is designed to birth without interference in the majority of cases.
Jenn is a graduate of Lafayette College. She did laboratory research for five years, and for another six years was an Environmental, Health, and Safety Specialist. She now enjoys being a stay-at-home mom, and resides with her family in Allentown, PA.
Ellen Seebacher (2014)
Ellen has been teaching natural childbirth in Massachusetts since 2001, following a career in teaching and writing about technical subjects. She's had two very different births with nurse-midwives, the first in a hospital, the second at a birth center. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago (in behavioral sciences / psychology) and several birth-related certifications. She's also been through training as a homebirth midwife, and though she hasn't apprenticed yet, she still hopes to when her kids are older!
In addition to being a childbirth educator and doula, Ellen is a secular homeschooler, an active resident of a cohousing ecovillage, and a self-employed writer and editor. In her spare (ha!) time, she researches family history, sings, studies languages, and cooks massive gourmet meals for her neighbors.
Now, for Informed Beginnings, she's using her professional skills in editing, research, and curriculum development to produce accurate, contemporary, and user-friendly materials, and to help train educators who can reach a new generation of expectant parents.
Dorene Vaughn (2014)
Dorene has been married to her high school sweetheart since 1981. Together they have six children, five born naturally and one by Cesarean after a natural labor. All six were breastfed. In 1988 she became a childbirth educator and is now a certified Informed Beginnings educator.
Dorene has volunteered for over twenty years at her children’s schools. She enjoys baking and has won many awards for it over the years, so (much to their enjoyment) she bakes for her students each week. One can say she makes things well, whether they're children or baked treats....
Kelly Williams (2013)
Kelly has been teaching natural childbirth classes since 2006. She has a BA in philosophy from Wheaton College, IL, and has worked in the non-profit, corporate, and in government sectors. Kelly has past experience with workbook content writing, editing, and layout. She is using her background in project management, Web design, and graphic design to help find the aesthetic identity of Informed Beginnings.
Kelly is thrilled to be involved with this brand-new idea in childbirth education, the educator-owned cooperative; she is inspired by the REI cooperative and their values of "authenticity, quality, service, respect, integrity, and balance." She wants to change the culture of birth in the US and the world by providing access to credible information, empowering women to have the best births possible.