Who we are
Bay State Birth Coalition is a consumer-led organization. We work closely with midwives and other stakeholders in the community.
The Board of Bay State Birth Coalition:
Emily Anesta, Sarah Whedon, Judy Norsigian, Jo-Anna Rorie, Eugene Declercq,
Diana Snyder (Outside Counsel)
Emily is an engineer and a consumer advocate for increased access to midwifery. She is a Board member of the Foundation for the Advancement of Midwifery (FAM) and a consumer representative on the Board of the Massachusetts Midwives Alliance. She is an Executive Director of the 2016 film Why Not Home?, which explores maternity care in the US through the stories of doctors and nurses who attend births in hospitals but choose to have their own babies at home. Emily had her two children at home attended by midwives and was herself born at home with a midwife. Emily has a Master and Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering. For over a decade, she led technology research and development projects at MIT.
Sarah Whedon, Ph.D
Sarah is founder of the Full-Spectrum Doula Circle and serves on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy. She has taught women's and gender studies, religious studies, and ethics courses at Simmons College, Tufts University, Newbury College, UC Santa Barbara, and Cherry Hill Seminary. Sarah was founding director of the Boston Doula Project, managing editor of the Pagan Families blog at Patheos.com, and author of Birth on the Labyrinth Path: Sacred Embodiment in the Childbearing Year. She and her children were all born at home attended by midwives.
Judy is a co-author of the classic book, Our Bodies, Ourselves, and was executive director of Our Bodies Ourselves from 2001 to 2015 (she still volunteers with this global nonprofit that advances the health and human rights of women and girls globally). Judy has appeared on hundreds of television and radio programs, served on the boards of the National Women’s Health Network (14 years) and Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (24 years), and currently is a board member of Community Works, the Boston-area social justice coalition that raises funds through payroll-deduction charitable giving programs. Personal recognitions include the Public Service Award from the Massachusetts Public Health Association; the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association Annual Recognition Award; and the Massachusetts Health Council Award. She was also named one of “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” by Women’s eNews and holds honorary doctorates from Boston University and Simmons College.
Jo-Anna Rorie, cnm, msn, mph, facm, phd
Jo-Anna is a practicing Certified Nurse Midwife and Associate Professor of Maternal and Child Health. She is also the Director of the Training and Education Core of the Partners and In Health and Housing, Prevention Research Center at Boston University School of Public Health. She has been widely recognized for her leadership in addressing Boston’s infant mortality problem and shaping the delivery of health services to women at many health and medical centers. Her research interest as a health policy analyst focuses on the intersection of social and health determinants that may impact perinatal outcomes among African American women. Currently she is working as nurse leader for Healthcare without Walls-Bridges to Moms program and co-directing a working group task force to bring a freestanding birth center to the Roxbury and Dorchester communities which are most impacted by the Black infant mortality disparity. She is a graduate of Harvard University School of Public Health, Yale University Nurse-Midwifery Program, the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandies University, and Simmons College.
Eugene Declercq, PhD
Gene is a Professor of Community Health Sciences and Assistant Dean for DrPH Education at the Boston University School of Public Health and professor on the faculty of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Boston University School of Medicine. He has served as lead author of national reports on women’s experiences in childbirth entitled Listening to Mothers I, II & III and New Mothers Speak Out and is the founder of the website www.birthbythenumbers.org. He is a recipient of the Martha May Eliot Award from the American Public Health Association for service to maternal and child health in the U.S.
diana snyder, JD
Diana is an attorney working to improve maternity care in all settings. She has consulted extensively with ImprovingBirth.org and Human Rights in Childbirth regarding the legal rights of pregnant women delivering in the hospital. In 2015, she orchestrated the California informed consent lawsuit, Turbin v. Abbassi, against an obstetrician caught on video cutting a non-consented episiotomy. Most recently, she helped re-write and lobby for proposed legislation for CPM licensure in Massachusetts. Diana received her JD from Boston University School of Law in 2011. She is admitted in California and Massachusetts and practices corporate and healthcare law at Foley Hoag LLP. She planned a home birth with a CPM in 2017, and is proud to advocate for licensure side by side with her midwife.
A 2017 Yale graduate with a BA in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Eliza is passionate about making the world a safer, more empowering place for women (and people of all genders!) and their bodies. Eliza is a volunteer Medical Advocate at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and high school tutor. Eliza plans to pursue a degree in either social policy or law.