©Lisa Gendron | Agroterra Birth

Founder + Director, Kaeli Sutton

Kaeli SuttonOpen Circle Founder and Director Kaeli Sutton has worked with over 2500 mothers and families over the past 15 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 and is involved in the following trainings:

  • 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)

    Certifications in Process:

  • Infant Massage Instructor trained 2014, 2017 (International Association of Infant Massage; certification in process)
  • Innate Postpartum Care trained 2019 (Innate Traditions with Rachelle Garcia Seliga; certification in process)
  • Student of Body Mind Centering Infant Development Movement Educator program, 2019-2021 

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 lead yoga-consultant in a National Institute of Health funded pilot and randomized trial study currently investigating effects of educational classes or prenatal yoga on women experiencing mood disorders in pregnancy. She has additionally offered consulting services to researchers seeking funding for studies on pregnancy smoking cessation.


Kaeli is an outspoken community advocate and activist committed to options in childbirth, family centered care and addressing racial and reproductive inequalities. She works both within and without hospital systems to encourage system-wide changes that foster greater respect and partnership with birthing families. Collaborating with local and national birth and family advocates, Kaeli was the spokesperson and strategist for the Coalition to Save Memorial Birthing Center in 2017 and 2018. She has participated in multiple Women and Infant’s Hospital working groups, focusing on improving the provision of family centered care at WIH, and currently collaborates on workshop development and training for Labor and Delivery and Mom and Baby nurses at Women and Infant’s Hospital.

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

Partner Professionals

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

Lisa Gendron

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.

Sarah Bowman, MPH
LGBTQ+ Peer Group Facilitator

Sarah BowmanSarah 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)

Anna Cable, LICSW
Perinatal Mental Health Therapist

Anna Cable is a licensed independent clinical social worker practicing in Providence, Rhode Island, specializing since 2011 in perinatal mental health and early parenting.  Anna provides group, individual and family/couples treatment to folks at any stage of their reproductive or parenting journey.  As a therapist with expertise in attachment theory, Anna believes in the power of human connection to help us heal from trauma, engage in personal growth and tell our stories.  New parents are encouraged to bring their babies to session, especially when struggling with issues related to feeding, sleeping or fussiness. Anna seeks to make her sessions an empowering, nonjudgmental environment where no topics are off limits.

Michelle Chirby
Dancing for Birth™ Instructor

Michelle Chirby is a certified dance fitness, barre, and Dancing for Birth™ instructor. She has lead choreography for a modern dance company and has instructed dancers of all ages at camps, dance studios and fitness centers. Her love for dancing and learning new styles has followed her around the world – to perform with a Contemporary K-Pop team in Australia, embrace West African dance while in the Peace Corps, ShimmyPop™ with the Hipline community in California, and pursue her Modern Barre™ and Dancing for Birth™ certifications in New England.

She believes in the power of movement for mental, emotional, and spiritual health and loves to help women tap into this body-soul connection on the dance floor. Michelle’s deep respect for the body and its amazing capabilities is furthered through her work as a graduate student in Maternal and Child Nutrition, with a focus on clinical lactation, and as a DONA certified birth doula.

Jess Cronin, LICSW
LGBTQ+ Peer Group Facilitator

Jess MarkowitzJess Cronin 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.

Avi David
New Fathers Group Facilitator

Avi David is a Providence-based performing artist, educator, organizer and new father of Talia Rose, born in March of 2019. He received a B.A. from Colby College in Music with a focus on jazz guitar and improvisation and has studied and performed in Latin America, Europe and India. Avi has taught music for the past 11 years in urban and special ed. classrooms (K-12) in RI. He is currently an Artist-In-Residence at Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts in downtown Providence. Additionally, he is a member of the PRONK! Organizing Committee, What Cheer Art Company and is a co-founder of the Extraordinary Youth Ensemble, an after school music program for Providence youth. Outside of music + education, he loves to cook, travel and spend time with wife Cassie and baby Talia.

Mary Hammerstein

Prenatal Yoga Instructor

Mary HammersteinMary’s deep study of yoga began after a near fatal car accident left her bed-ridden for a year and recovering for three more. Techniques she learned on the mat during that time inspired through other times of great personal challenge. After ending her engagement two weeks prior to the wedding, yoga taught her to reconnect. While navigating the financial strains of an unexpected single-income household, yoga taught her to breath. As her mother fought, and ultimately lost, a four year battle with cancer during which Mary was her primary caregiver, yoga provided the means to feel and to grieve. Such powerful experiences have led her to devote her life to teaching and studying yoga in the US, Thailand, Nepal and India where she returns regularly to assist her teacher Yogrishi Vishvketu with 100 and 200 hour Akhanda Yoga Teacher Training programs. His serious, but lighthearted, approach continues to inspire her.

Mary earned her 200 hour certificate during a month-long immersion program at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and connected so much with that style that she returned to live, study and work there as a volunteer for one year.  She completed her 300 hour certification at Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram in Rishikesh India in Akhand Yoga which is a holistic style of hatha yoga. Mary is also a Level 1 Kundalini yoga instructor, and has extensively studied and taught relaxation and restorative yoga, stretch and breath classes, yoga to teen athletes, and classes to other special populations such as the elderly, teachers, Nepali farm workers, and pregnant women. Mary is currently part of the teaching team for theWellness For 2 study observing the effects of education and prenatal yoga on women with prenatal anxiety and depression.


Nicole Heig, CNM
LGBTQ+ Peer Group Facilitator

Nicole HeigNicole 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.

Felicia Love
Birth Doula

Felicia trained as a birth doula with Birth Arts International, and is the incoming co-president of Doulas of Rhode Island, RI’s professional doula association. Felicia had her first child at seventeen, doing her best to navigate her pregnancy and birth, but often felt overwhelmed and unsupported. This experience, and the powerfully positive birth of her second child with the support of a doula, set her on a path to supporting birthing families. Felicia is committed to the spiritual and sacred nature of pregnancy and birth, and to supporting a birthing woman/person’s sense of her own inner power. She believes that evert birthing person deserves to determine their own birth preferences and approach, and offers nonjudgemental, respectful support.

Sheldon Malcolm
New Fathers Group Facilitator

Sheldon Malcolm is a board certified Family Medicine physician, yoga instructor (RYT- 500), and a new father to Noah David.  He received his Bachelor’s degree from Bates College and is a graduate of the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine.  He completed his family medicine residency at Memorial Hospital of Rhode island/Brown Family Medicine Residency.  Sheldon spends much of his time practicing medicine locally, caring for a diverse patient population.  Outside of the healing arts of medicine and yoga, Sheldon enjoys spending time with his family, gardening, reading, music, soccer (he’s a huge Arsenal fan), and traveling.

Isabel Mattia
Birth Doula

Isabel is a DONA certified birth doula, a Certified Lactation Counselor and an artist living on a small farm in rural Rhode Island. Isabel approaches birth support with a goal to keep calm energy and strength in the room. She practices a supportive, attentive, and nonjudgemental approach, focusing on the values and preferences of the birthing person. She has worked in childcare, education, and the arts. Isabel values supporting all families and has an LGBTQ+ inclusive practice. She believes doulas can be advocates for better access to care, and that our support continues beyond the birth room and into the political landscape.

Sianna Plavin
Birth Doula

Sianna Plavin (pronouns she/ her) is a DONA trained doula and midwifery student based in Providence, RI. She provides birthing people and families with thoughtful and compassionate doula care, honoring and holding space for each person, on their terms. Currently in her 4th semester of midwifery school, she brings her deepening clinical knowledge to her doula work, offering support rooted in the physiology and psychology of pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. Sianna is committed to expanding doula access with income-based fees, creative approaches to care, and informed advocacy. Sianna is also a musician and farmer with a background in international peace studies and community health.

Gina Rodriguez-Drix
Birth and Postpartum Doula

Gina Rodriguez-Drix is a birth and postpartum doula based in Providence’s Washington Park neighborhood. Trained by ToLabor (2010) and the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (2014) Gina has supported families in home and hospital births for the last eight years. Gina is the co-founder of the Rhode Island Doula Collective, RI’s first no-fee, bilingual social justice doula organization that primarily served pregnant and parenting teens through a partnership with the Nowel Academy (2014-16). Gina is also an artist, mother, and organizer rooted in values of love, solidarity, and reproductive justice. As such, Gina views her doula work as a practice of building sisterhood and by extension, a healthy resilient community. Gina supports families to make empowered and informed decisions during their pregnancies and birth through a practice of deep listening, respect, and intention. 

Aggie Stewart

Prenatal Yoga Instructor

Angie StewartAggie trained as a yoga teacher at the 500-hour level (2009) and as a yoga therapist (2011) at the American Viniyoga Institute (AVI). In the fall of 2016, she began studies with Richard Miller in his iRest Yoga Nidra program and expects to complete her certification as an iRest teacher in 2018. In 2017, Aggie became certified in pre- and post-natal yoga through the Amala School of Prenatal Yoga. She also became an accredited Buteyko Breathing Method provided in 2017. 

Aggie also teaches on the Yoga of writing and creativity and is a passionate gardener. She incorporates her love of art, creativity, and the natural world into all levels of her work with individuals and groups. She has published several articles and blog posts on the Yoga of writing and is writing a book on yoga as a self-care practice for healthcare practitioners.

Maria Vanson, D.Ac.

Maria VansonMaria 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.