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Premier Speakers and Sessions

Mindfulness, Genes, and the New Brain Science: Midwifing Mind, Body, and Spirit

by Joan Borysenko, PhD
Sunday, June 28, 2:00 - 3:45PM

The new brain science is an exciting window into the nature of consciousness, emotional balance, physical health, and the interconnection of informational systems that we call the mind. Interpersonal neurobiology describes how the mind is both embodied in our brain and nervous system, which extends throughout the body, and also embedded in our relationships with the world around and within us.

The quality of our relationships- whether they support a mindful harmony with life or alternatively create stress- affects the release of informational molecules by the brain. These "mind molecules" are key components of the growth medium that supports all the cells of the body, turning genes on and off and predisposing to health or disease.

Why not feed your body the molecules that protect your health, while simultaneously feeding your "wise mind," the part of you that is most creative, loving, and in touch with your larger purpose in the world? In this practical presentation participants will learn how to use evidence-based techniques to calm down the fear centers in the midbrain and activate the prefrontal cortex where happiness, resilience, and wise mind reside.

Joan Borysenko, PhD, is a world-renowned expert in the mind-body connection. Her work has been foundational in an international health-care revolution that recognizes the role of meaning, and the spiritual dimensions of life, as an integral part of health and healing. A licensed psychologist with a doctorate in cell biology from Harvard Medical School, she synthesizes cutting edge science with a deep humanity. She is founder and president of Mind-Body Health Sciences, LLC in Boulder, CO and a New York Times bestselling author of 16 books, as well as a series of audio programs for meditation and stress management. Her work has appeared in newspapers ranging from The Washington Post to the Wall Street Journal, as well as on public television, where she starred in a pledge special entitled Inner Peace for Busy People

Holly Powell Kennedy

The Future of Midwifery: Seizing the Moment

by Holly Powell Kennedy, CNM, PhD, FACNM, FAAN
Monday, June 29, 3:45 - 4:45PM

As we celebrate our 60th year of incorporation, we are facing a stunning opportunity for health system change brought about by increasing evidence that supports improved outcomes with midwifery care. This talk will synthesize findings from the 2014 NICE Intrapartum Guidelines that recommend out of hospital birth for low-risk women; the 2015 publication, Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing: Evidence and Implications for Women, Babies, and Maternity Care; and The Lancet 2014 Series on midwifery. The combined evidence in these publications establishes a mandate for changing US health care. How do we use it to forge the future of midwifery and to achieve the triple aim of a) improving the health of populations; b) improving the care experience (including quality and satisfaction); and c) reducing the per capita cost of health care? It is both an opportunity and challenge, but represents one of the most critical moments in the history of US midwifery!

Professor Holly Powell Kennedy, CNM, PhD, FACNM, FAAN, is the immediate Past President of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. She was educated as a midwife at the Frontier School of Midwifery & Family Nursing, received her masters and family nurse practitioner education at Georgia Regent's University, and her doctorate at the University of Rhode Island. She is currently the Helen Varney Professor of Midwifery and the Executive Deputy Dean at the Yale University School of Nursing. Dr. Kennedy has practiced in inner city clinics, HMOs, and academic institutions and she holds a strong commitment to teaching midwifery students within interprofessional education settings. She has focused her program of research to a gaining a greater understanding of the value and effectiveness of specific models of care during the childbearing year. She completed a Fulbright Fellowship at King's College London where she has an appointment as a visiting professor. She is also a retired Colonel from the US Army Reserve.

Bending the Arc Toward Justice: From Health Disparities to Health Equity

Vernellia Randall, BSN, MSN, JD; Sinsi Hernandez-Cancio, JD; and Jodi DeLibertis, Principal, Greater Good Consulting
Tuesday, June 30, 8:30-9:30AM

In the last 50 years, the United States has experienced seismic shifts in social relationships and increased opportunities for people of color, the LGBTQ community, and other historically excluded groups. While overt discrimination has diminished, the effort to attain economic, educational, and social equality has remained elusive for many groups. Health disparities are a marker of systemic inequality. In this armchair conversation, panelists Vernellia Randall, BSN, MSN, JD; Sinsi Hernandez-Cancio, JD; and Jodi DeLibertis, Principal, Greater Good Consulting will describe current issues relating to health disparities in maternal/child and women's health.The focus will be on legal, policy, organizational, and provider level solutions that will increase health equity for women and families.

Emeritus Vernellia Randall, BSN, MSN, JD, received her AA degree from Amarillo College, her BSN from the University of Texas School of Nursing, her MSN from the University of Washington, and her JD from Northwestern School of Law, Lewis and Clark College. She has completed postgraduate work in public health. Professor Randall served as maternal-child health nurse coordinator for the state of Alaska. She has been a professor of nursing and community health as well as a law professor. During her 24 years of teaching, she taught a wide variety of courses including American Health Care Law and Race and Racism in American Law. Highly sought after as a public speaker on matters of health and race, Professor Randall is also widely published. Her website, has been in existence since 1995. Her latest book is entitled, Dying While Black.

Sinsi Hernandez-Cancio is the director of health equity at Families USA, where she leads the organization's efforts to advance health equity and reduce health care disparities across all of its issue areas. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and a JD from New York University School of Law, where she was a Hays Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Fellow and earned a Vanderbilt medal. She started her professional career as a women's human and civil rights lawyer with a Georgetown Women's Law and Public Policy Fellowship at the Women's Rights Project of Human Rights Watch. She first became deeply engaged in health care justice and the elimination of health disparities when she served as Health and Human Services advisor for 2 Puerto Rico Governors at their District of Columbia offices. She later worked on health policy for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), where she continued to focus on health care issues in Puerto Rico, in addition to long-term care, health equity, and health reform. During the effort to pass the Affordable Care Act, she was the national campaign coordinator for SEIU's Healthcare Equality Project, where she worked with many coalition partners to ensure that health equity was part of the national debate. She regularly appears on Univision, CNN Espanol, and Telemundo, and she has been widely quoted in both print and radio. She is a member of the Addressing Disparities Advisory Panel for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

Jodi DeLibertis, JD, is principal of Greater Good Consulting and assistant dean at Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences. She has been working with the ACNM Diversification and Inclusion Task Force since 2013. DeLibertis has 2 decades of professional experience in the nonprofit sector. As a principal at Greater Good Consulting and as program director at Jericho Road Project, Jodi has helped scores of nonprofits strive toward greater mission fulfillment while enjoying their work more fully. In her consulting practice, she provides critical guidance on strategic planning, board development, resource allocation, conflict management, and other organization development needs. Jodi is a frequent speaker and trainer on topics including: diversity and inclusion, cultivating the next generation of leaders, and inclusive strategy development. She is a talented facilitator, trained in a number of diversity and group dynamic interventions including Bystander Awareness and Problematic Moments Approach. Jodi graduated summa cum laude from Boston College with a BA in English and a minor in Irish Studies and is currently pursuing an MBA at Simmons School of management with a focus on organizational leadership.

Mrs. Toyin Saraki

The Midwife as a Game Changer

by Mrs. Toyin Saraki, Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives
Wednesday, July 1, 1:00 - 2:00PM

The role of midwives is invaluable in forging and securing the future of mothers and children - and we must act now for improved access to midwives and better working conditions as an important means for improving maternal and newborn health globally. The Lancet Series on Midwifery estimated that a 25% increase in midwife coverage could reduce maternal mortality by 50%. Without urgent action to include midwives in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals on maternal, newborn, and children's health, the world will miss an opportunity to save millions of lives each year.

Her Excellency Mrs. Toyin Saraki is the inaugural Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives. As Founder-President of The Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA), Mrs. Saraki is a Nigerian philanthropist with 2 decades of advocacy covering maternal, newborn, and child health; ending gender-based discrimination and violence; and improving education, socio-economic empowerment, and community livelihoods in Africa. Through WBFA, working with high-level partners that include the UN and the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs. Saraki has demonstrated leadership on the UN Secretary General's Every Woman, Every Child initiative and continues a focused advocacy on the post-2015 agenda. Mrs. Saraki is the Newborn Champion for Save the Children Nigeria and the Global Ambassador for the White Ribbon Alliance. She is a champion for increasing access to midwives across the globe, and particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where maternal and newborn mortality rates are persistently high.