Supporting Families Through Perinatal Loss

A half or full day training designed to prepare and support perinatal professionals working with families who may experience the loss of a pregnancy, still birth, or newborn death.

Open to Doulas, Physicians, Therapists, Community Health Workers, and other individuals working with families…

8:30–8:40amWorkshop Opening: Remembering Infant Loss Disparities and the Human and Cultural Experiences of families of Color, Immigrant and Refugee communities
Ms. Melissa Nelson, CNM,MSN
8:40-9:05amA Vision for the Vital First Year: Working Together in Community
Ms. Nneka Hall, Community Advocate, Educator and Mother
9:15-12:15pmSupporting the Bereaved Family in the Birthplace: Compassionate Caregiving and Creating Context
Ms. Carol McMurrich, Director Empty Arms Bereavement Support and Mother
12:15-12:30pmCaring for the Caregiver: Remaining Steady When Caring for the Grieving
Ms. Elisabeth Schneider, LMFT and Mother
1:15-2:45pmThe Heart of the Matter: Stories from Families Family + Presenter and Family Roundtable Discussion
Moderated by Ms. Gina Rodrigues and Ms. Carol McMurrich
3-4:30pmThe Other Side of Fear: a Mother, a Midwife and the Baby They Lost
Ms. Stephanie Avila, CNM, FNP and Mother + Ms. Sarah Waldo, BFA and Mother
4:30-4:45pm Caring for the Caregiver: Holding Space for Self, Holding Space for Other
Ms. Ada Johnson, Community Midwife, Doula and Mother
4:45-5pmClosing and Thank You
Ms. Kaeli Sutton and Ms. Lisa Gendron, Open Circle Sister Doula Program Directors and Perinatal Professionals

Saturday, October 20th

Lifespan Community Health Institute*
335R Prairie Avenue
Providence, RI 02905

$155/full day*
$80/half day
*Income-based scholarships available; please inquire for more info
*Nursing CEU’s available when attending full day


*We thank the Lifespan Community Health Institute for allowing us to host this event in their beautiful space.

Melissa Nelson
Certified Nurse Midwife, MSN

Melissa Nelson  attended UPenn School of Nursing accelerated BSN and MSN program, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing in 2012, and a Master’s of Science in Nursing in 2015. She worked as a labor and delivery nurse in an urban Philadelphia hospital for three years prior to becoming a midwife, and is currently a midwife at Lifespan Physician Group INC – OB/GYN

Nneka Hall
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Professional, Teacher, Advocate and Mother

Nneka Hall is a Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness advocate with a primary focus on infant and maternal mortality within the African American Community. Mom, Doula, International Bereavement Specialist, Uterine Health Coach, Nominated Changemaker and (coming in 2018) Author, Nneka is the founder of the Quietly United in Loss Together Campaign, a Pregnancy And Infant Loss Awareness campaign designed to raise awareness of all types of loss from conception through a child’s first two years of life; teach healthy fertility through womb health education; provide support to families who suffer these losses; and provide support for memory programs so they won’t close due to inability to afford supplies.

Nneka is the mother of four: two Sunshines (Jelani age 17 and Symone age 12), 1 Angel (Annaya Marie,  stillborn at 39 weeks gestational age on August 27, 2010), and 1 rainbow (Bradleigh, age 3). Following the stillbirth of her daughter, Nneka sought out ways to aid others in having a positive birth outcome. She stumbled across the doula profession and needed to learn more. She is a full spectrum doula, holding certifications as a birth, bereavement and postpartum doula. She is a certified International Bereavement Specialist, a Certified Community Centered Herbalist, Womb Health Specialist, Crystal Healer and Childbirth educator.

In June 2016 Nneka had the pleasure of being selected to participate in the US of Women’s Summit as a Nominated Change Maker which was hosted by former First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey.

Elisabeth Tullis Schneider
LMFT and Mother

Elisabeth Tullis Schneider is the mother of four children, one of whom was stillborn at 26w5d.  She works with The Tiny Miracles Foundation as an advocate and supporter of families who have premature infants and/or who have lost a baby thru stillbirth or premature birth.  Elisabeth is also a practicing Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a focus on perinatal mental health, including infertility, perinatal loss and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

Elisabeth loves working with families in this difficult and trying stage in their lives, as she knows both from personal and professional experience that effective psychosocial support can make all the difference in how a family manages.  Her work includes running educational groups, providing direct mentoring, training a team of peer to peer mentors (both in partner hospitals and through virtual support) and collaborating with medical staff at partner hospitals.  She also speaks on a variety of topics, most often related to bereavement, perinatal mood disorders and psychosocial support of NICU families and the TTMF model of peer to peer mentoring and program development.

Stephanie Avila
Nurse Midwife and Mother

Stephanie Avila is a Certified Nurse Midwife and Family Nurse Practitioner. Born in Providence, she graduated from George Washington University where she majored in Psychology. She then worked at the National Council of La Raza, the nation’s largest Hispanic nonprofit organization, where she was Director of Maternal and Child Health Programs and where she met her husband of 18 years. She completed her BSN and MSN at Columbia University in New York. She began her career as a midwife at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, and subsequently worked with Amish women as a homebirth midwife in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She then moved back to Rhode Island where she worked with Women’s Care, attending births at Women and Infants’ Hospital, and then as the practice director at St. Joe’s Health Center in South Providence. She completed training at the University of Rhode Island as a Family Nurse Practitioner and currently works a midwife at Providence Community Health Center, a federally-qualified health center in Providence, RI. Stephanie is the mother of two children, 8 and 14 years old.

Carol McMurrich
Empty Arms Bereavement Director and Mother

Carol McMurrich has been passionate in the field of perinatal loss for 15 years. Her interest was sparked by the death, at birth, of her own daughter in 2003. Already an educator, McMurrich soon learned that there were substantial gaps in loss training and education for those in the perinatal field. She began a community based support group in 2007, added a bedside, hospital-based program in 2011, and has learned a staggering amount in years since from the over 400 families she has served. These personal encounters inform McMurrich’s educational presentations, which focus on the psychosocial experience of loss and encourage learners to think from the perspective of the bereaved parent as they contemplate decision making and delivery of compassionate care in loss situations.

Ada Johnson
Community Midwife, Doula and Mother

Ada has been on a long and winding road to becoming a midwife for the past 20 years. She has attended over 100 births as a doula, a midwife assistant and apprentice midwife. Ada has apprenticed under several licensed midwives and will soon sit for her Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) licensure. Her midwifery journey is connected to her life education and experience as a community health educator, abortion assistant, hospital advocate, activist and feminist. She is the mother of two children, one living, one who was stillborn. Ada’s passion for birth work is deeply connected to her belief in reproductive justice, harm reduction, and the conviction that we should have full choice what does and does not happen to our bodies.

Ada is a bereavement doula and provides peer support for other bereaved parents through accompaniment, ritual, and holding space in whatever way is needed. She is currently studying Somatic Experiencing, a body-centered trauma healing modality. Ada’s midwifery is trauma informed. She has a strong belief in the transformative and healing power of birth and due to her own experience feels drawn to work with families who have experienced a prior loss or otherwise traumatic birth.

Sarah Waldo
BFA and Mother

Bio coming soon.

Gina Rodrigues
(Moderator), Community Advocate, Doula and Mother

Bio coming soon.