©Lisa Gendron | Agroterra Birth

Founder + Director, Kaeli Sutton

Kaeli SuttonOpen Circle Founder and Director Kaeli Sutton has worked with over 3000 mothers and families over the past 19 years, first at Motion Center and now at Open Circle. Trained in multiple pregnancy, postpartum and infant 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 parents and infants and she has had the honor to work with, and through her ongoing independent study of pregnancy, birth, infant development and parenting. Kaeli is committed to supporting parents and families through the sometimes difficult, sometimes delightful and always life changing journey of childbearing and parenthood.



Kaeli regularly engages in professional education and conferences to further her knowledge of how to respectfully and skillfully care for parents and babies. Her more significant trainings are listed below.

     Licenses, Certifications + Registrations:

  • Rhode Island licensed Massage Therapist since 2001 (MT01979)
  • Prenatal, Labor + Postnatal Massage (2005, Carole Osborne-Sheets)
  • Senior Prenatal Yoga Teacher (teaching since 2006, e-RPYT since 2008)
  • Childbirth Educator (Teaching since 2007, Commonsense Childbirth Certification 2016)
  • Innate Postpartum Care Provider (certified 2020)

     Completed Trainings:

  • Birth + Postpartum Doula (ToLabor (2009); International Center of Traditional Childbearing (2016))
  • Happiest Baby on the Block Educator (2013)
  • Infant Massage Instructor (2014, 2017 International Association of Infant Massage)
  • Lactation Counselor (2016 – Healthy Children Project)
  • Infant Developmental Movement Educator (2023, Sonder Movement Project)



Kaeli believes in the importance of scientific research exploring effects of wholistic health modalities on pregnant people and families in the childbearing years. She is experienced in collaborating with research specialists in clinical settings and welcomes inquiries about study collaboration. Kaeli’s research experience includes lead yoga-consultant in a National Institute of Health funded pilot and randomized trial study which investigated impacts of prenatal yoga on women experiencing mood disorders in pregnancy. 


Kaeli is a community advocate and activist committed to options in childbirth, family centered care + racial and reproductive equity + justice. Kaeli has collaborated with local and national birth and family advocates and organization, and served as spokesperson and strategist for the Coalition to Save Memorial Birthing Center in 2017 and 2018. 

Kaeli works both within and without hospital systems to encourage system-wide changes which foster greater respect and partnership with birthing families. She has participated in multiple Women and Infant’s Hospital working groups, focusing on improving the provision of family centered care at WIH, and collaborated on workshop development and training for Labor + Delivery and Mom + Baby nurses at Women and Infant’s Hospital in Providence, RI, and at Montefiore hospital in the Bronx, NY.

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


Teaching Hiatus

Thank you for visiting Open Circle and your interest in our center. We are currently on an extended teaching hiatus.

While away from teaching, we are preparing a self-paced version of our unique, experiential-based childbirth and parenting education courses.

For parent + baby services in the community, we invite you to visit our local resources page to explore supports from local providers with a range of specialties. For prenatal yoga, please visit Full Radiance Yoga. Additional educational supports can be found on our YouTube page and Series Resources page.

Over the past 20 years, we have been nourished and had our work deepened through sharing time with each of you. It has been an honor to witness new birth and community between families grow.

As we enter our own process of gestation, transformation and eventual re-birth, we would love to continue to support thriving connection. Let us know about your family’s adventures, share reflections on your experiences at the center, and reach out for contact information of other families you met while at Open Circle.* Let’s connect!

*shared only with express permission


“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 collaborates with independent perinatal and family professionals to offer workshops, therapies and classes in partnership with Open Circle. 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 families to many professionals in other locations.

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, 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 maternity health consultant.

Lisa Gendron is a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) working with RI Home Birth. She 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, 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.

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.

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. https://machirby.wixsite.com/doula

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.

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.

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.

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.