Founder + Director, Kaeli Sutton
Open Circle Founder and Director Kaeli Sutton has worked with over 2000 mothers and families over the past 13 years, first at Motion Center and now at Open Circle. Trained in multiple pregnancy and postpartum health and support modalities, her most significant learning has come through her experience as a woman and mother, her close observation and celebration of the many mothers, infants and families she has had the honor to work with, and through her ongoing independent study of the culture of birth in America. Kaeli is committed to supporting women and families through the sometimes difficult, sometimes delightful and always life changing journey of childbearing and parenthood.
Kaeli regularly engages in professional continuing education and conferences to further her knowledge of how to respectfully and skillfully care for women, babies and families. She holds the following licenses and certifications:
- Rhode Island licensed Massage Therapist since 2001 (MT01979)
- Advanced certification in Prenatal, Labor and Postnatal Massage (2005, Carole Osborne-Sheets)
- Yoga Alliance Experienced Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher (teaching since 2006, e-RPYT since 2008)
- Trained Birth + Postpartum Doula (ToLabor (2009); International Center of Traditional Childbearing (2016)
- Childbirth Educator since 2006 (Teaching since 2007, certified in 2016 with Commonsense Childbirth)
- Certified Lactation Counselor (2016 – Healthy Children Project)
- Certified Happiest Baby on the Block Educator (2013)
- Infant Massage Instructor trained 2014, 2017 (International Association of Infant Massage; certification pending)
Kaeli believes in the importance of scientific research exploring the effects of wholistic health modalities in the childbearing years. She is experienced in working with research specialists in clinical settings and welcomes inquiries about future study collaboration. Kaeli’s research experience includes serving as head yoga-consultant in a National Institute of Health funded pilot and randomized trial study investigating effects of educational classes or prenatal yoga on women experiencing mood disorders in pregnancy (ongoing). Additionally, she is currently consulting with researchers seeking grant funding for studies on pregnancy smoking cessation.
Kaeli is an outspoken community advocate and activist committed to options in childbirth and humane, family centered care. She actively works to bring respectful, family-centered maternity care into all Rhode Island Hospitals with labor and delivery units. Most recently, Kaeli collaborated with local and national birth and family advocates while heading the Coalition to Save Memorial Birthing Center and sat on two Women and Infant’s Hospital working groups, focusing on improving the provision of family centered care at WIH, as ordered by the RI Department of Health.
Kaeli was an absolutely extraordinary guide through our intense journey of pregnancy, birth, and the early postpartum period. Kaeli worked with us as a doula, a prenatal yoga teacher, a childbirth educator, and a massage therapist. Her support was all encompassing—physical, emotional, and spiritual, really. I can’t imagine having navigated the wild and unpredictable waters of this transition without her and am deeply grateful for her tender presence, loving expertise, warm humor, and compassionate spirit. She is an absolute gem—one who I just can’t recommend highly enough to any woman or couple expecting their first, or fifth, baby.E.D. + D.U., Providence
“I cannot say that I have ever met an individual more dedicated to the experience of birth than Kaeli Sutton. She has spent her entire career ensuring that 1) women understand that they have choices in birth, and 2) that women have access to safe, supported, holistic birth. Ms. Sutton is extremely knowledgeable about gentle birth practices, with experience in teaching birth preparation, assisting with lactation issues, and in providing hands-on labor support. Her presence in Rhode Island has made an incredible difference for women here, as she continues to advocate for them, serve as a consultant on perinatal research studies, and advise women and medical providers.”
~Susanna Magee, MD, MPH
Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine at the Alpert Medical School at Brown University; Director of Maternal Child Health/Chief of Family Medicine
“I first met Kaeli when she took the reins as the lead voice of community activists working to save the Birthing Center at Memorial Hospital. Her leadership helped drive that mission. She was a critical organizer for the messaging and social media presence, keeping the core message clear and centered. She energized the movement tirelessly. Since then we have worked together to continue Memorial’s core tenets of care at Women and Infants. Despite the change in circumstances, she remained steadfast in her goals to promote family centered maternity care. She is focused, thoughtful, passionate and powerful.”
~ Katherine McCleary, MD
Medical Director, Care New England Medical Group
Clinical Assistant Professor, Family Medicine, Brown University Warren Alpert School of Medicine
Open Circle welcomes independent perinatal and family professionals to offer workshops, therapies and classes at the center. While these professionals are not employees of Open Circle, their services complement our offerings and enrich the community of support. You can read more about our Partner Professionals here. In addition, we refer to many professionals in the broader Rhode Island community. Our referral network can be found on the Resources Page (coming soon!).
I am so grateful for the mindful practitioners at Open Circle. So many women and families we have mutually cared for have benefited from the intentional care available here. In a time of “plug in” care, video streaming, computerized appointments, etc., Open Circle offers reconnection to your heart space and priorities.
Michelle Palmer, CNM
In her work with Open Circle, Lisa serves in development and graphic design, programming and as co-leader for the Open Circle Doulas.
Lisa Gendron has been a doula and perinatal support professional since 2007. In her work over the last decade, she has focused on accessibility of doula support for all families, community education about birth options and worked to increase community awareness of the impact of high quality holistic care for pregnant people and their families.
A long time board member of Rhode Island Birth Network, member of Doulas of RI, Co-founder of the Rhode Island Home Birth Collective, community advocate for increased access to midwifery care with RI Department of Heath Midwifery Advisory Council, RI chapter of Citizens for Midwifery and Improving Birth, and Core leadership of the Coalition to Save Memorial Birthing Center- Lisa has committed to Rhode Island Families and improving outcomes for mothers and babies.
She is a midwifery student with the National College of Midwifery, and plans to serve RI families as a community midwife, increasing access to midwifery in out of hospital settings. A mother of three children herself, Lisa deeply understands the joys and challenges of parenthood, and uses her experience to promote compassionate self kindness and mindfulness for parents.
Babywearing Mentor and Instructor
Shaylene Costa is a wife, mother of two girls and works in her “survival job” as a medical assistant. She originally discovered baby wearing through researching her African roots. Initially learning through trial and error, and then mentored by other mothers (and occasionally fathers!), she has worn her daughters and various nieces and nephews for over three years. Shaylene continues to broaden her knowledge of different carriers, is a KangaMamas Co-leader and owns Carrier Connections RI.
Newborn and Infant Sleep Educator
Breastfeeding Support Group
As a mom of three, Jenn knows firsthand how exciting and overwhelming the birth of a child can be. She also know how extra support during this time helps mom and the rest of the family adjust. Trained to support families in a number of ways, every service Jenn offer’s is geared to help make the prenatal, delivery, and postpartum period easier on families.
Maria Vanson, D.Ac.
Maria Vanson is a Doctor of Acupuncture with a Master’s Degree in Oriental Medicine. She graduated from Maryland University of Integrative Health (formerly known as Tai Sophia Institute). She has been working as a licensed acupuncturist for seven years and has treated a variety of people presenting with a wide range of conditions.
Maria has experience treating mental and emotional disharmony, gastrointestinal conditions, Lyme and other infectious diseases, chronic pain, sports injuries, and women’s health with a special interest in postpartum care. In her practice, Maria treats patients with an understanding of the uniqueness of the individual in their embodiment of the natural world. She strives to offer each patient truly individualized care and support through the tools of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, aromatherapy, counseling, and dietary guidance.
LGBTQ+ Peer Group Co-Facilitator
Ancha is a psychotherapist who has over 20 years of experience working in the field. Her work experience includes psychotherapy with adolescents and families, emergency/crisis work, and prevention in the area of substance use. She graduated with a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Lesley University, and earned her BA in Psychology and Philosophy from Boston College. Ancha is a single parent to a teeange son. She was born in Cape Verde and is fluent in English, Portuguese, Spanish and Capeverdean Crioulo.
Jessica Rosene DeBrito
Licensed Massage Therapy (pregnancy + postpartum certified)
Instructor: Labor Massage for Birth Partners
Jesse is a licensed massage therapist with a background in alignment-based yoga, collegial athletics, and reproductive studies. She attended Bancroft School of Massage Therapy in Worcester and graduated from Boston University with a BS in Behavior & Health. She is trained as a birth and postpartum doula, as well as a childbirth and lactation educator. Her business, Interwoven Care, is now housed within Open Circle’s East Providence location.
Jess Markowitz, LICSW
LGBTQ+ Peer Group Facilitator
Jess Markowitz is a licensed independent clinical social worker practicing in Providence, RI and specializing in perinatal mental health. Jess works individually and in groups with pregnant and postpartum individuals, as well as those beginning the reproduction process. As a psychotherapist, Jess sees her role as helping people understand their stories and feel empowered to make positive changes in their lives. Jess understands that insight alone does not provide the support everyone seeks, so she also helps individuals apply their understanding of themselves into improved self-care, skill-building, and real-life change. As a member of the queer community, Jess is dedicated to providing support to LGBTQ+ individuals and families, particularly as they navigate the thrills and challenges of pregnancy and parenting.
Nicole Heig, CNM
LGBTQ+ Peer Group Facilitator
Nicole Heig is a Certified Nurse Midwife practicing in Rhode Island for 9 years. She is employed at Lifespan ObGyn Associates, attending births at Women and Infants Hospital and she is also a per diem practitioner at Planned Parenthood. Practicing in the hospital setting, she strives to bring midwifery and family centered-care to low and high-risk pregnant women and families. She is also passionate about providing contraceptive and well-woman gynecologic care that is body-positive, comfortable, and honors the patient’s values and bodily autonomy. Nicole and her spouse B live in Providence with their cats and dog and hope to start their own family someday soon. Nicole is queer-identified and hopes to help fill a gap in peer support for other LBGTQ+ folks who are growing and caring for their families in Rhode Island.
Sarah Bowman, MPH
LGBTQ+ Peer Group Facilitator
Sarah Bowman, MPH, is an experienced facilitator and educator with a background in public health, family child health and a knowledge of Rhode Island’s state run family support programs. Sarah also brings to the table the experience she and her partner have had navigating the world with two dynamic kids with a known donor. (pronouns she/her/hers but also happy to drop the pronouns all together)