Members of the Faculty

When a student begins their higher education, there’s an overwhelming sensation that perhaps they won’t be up to the challenges of study, memorization, lab skills and practicum. The Nizhoni Faculty teach for the love of the profession, and sharing their many years of pursuing knowledge and experience with the new generations following. They dream that you’ll pay it forward to the future, as well. Nizhoni Faculty members have earned an impressive variety of certifications, licenses from national professional boards, and advanced degrees from other universities. Their wealth of knowledge and skill will be your wealth, for a lifetime.

Gerri Ryan L.M., C.P.M., C.D.T.

Gerri is the Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer and a member of the faculty. She is a California Licensed Midwife and Certified Professional Midwife with an active midwifery practice in San Diego. Gerri started attending births with family and friends in 1976 and in 1995 took on the role of professional Doula. Gerri began her process of midwifery in the late nineties. She successfully completed the Seattle Midwifery School Challenge Process and is licensed as a midwife by the Medical Board of California. She began practicing midwifery in 2003 independently. She is a Lactation Educator, Lamaze certified childbirth educator and is the founder of San Diego Birth Network as well as a nationally recognized DONA approved Doula trainer. Gerri is Birth Emergency Skills Training for Out-of-Hospital Providers (B.E.S.T.) certified and assists in developing continuing education opportunities for practicing Doulas, Midwives and health professionals. She believes that the ability to birth is deep in every woman. “When women have confidence in their own abilities, the encouragement and freedom to tap into their innate wisdom, and have the loving support of family, friends and professionals who believe this too, they will truly have a satisfying birth.” She has extensive business expertise and is recognized for her contributions to the Midwifery and Doula communities in San Diego.

Marla Hicks R.N.-B.C., C.P.M., L.M.

Marla is the Executive Director/Program Manager and a member of the faculty. She has been practicing midwifery for thirty-five years and is licensed as a midwife by the Medical Board of California. Marla is board certified in perinatal nursing by the American Nurses Credentialing Center and serves on the Board of Directors of the Association of Midwifery Educators, an organization that serves midwifery educators across the United States.

Tracey Abston – Dean of Students

Tracey Abston has been an Early Childhood Educator for more than 20 years. Six years into the field she formed the first nationally accredited family child care home in San Diego, with the mission to provide high quality early care and education (ECE) to children with special needs, typical children, and support to their families. Today Tracey continues to advocate for children, families, and early childhood professionals throughout California. In her work with The San Diego County Office of Education, Grossmount and Southwestern Community Colleges, and National University, she has remained steadfast in her quest for continued delivery of high quality ECE for all children. Tracey formed a solid coaching reputation as a result of her work with First 5 San Diego, delivering trainings and technical support to ECE professionals. She has a special interest in infant/toddler development, children with special needs, diversity in ECE, human resource administration, and any organizations offering superb family support. She continues to present local, statewide and national workshops and conferences; she is a California Early Childhood Mentor, and holds a Child Development Program Director Permit, from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Her current community activities include: The City of Chula Vista School Readiness Task Force, and Southwestern College Advisory board. She also serves as a Professional Growth Advisor, and is a Program for Infant/Toddler Caregiver (PITC) trainer. Tracey holds a BA in Business and a MA in Human Behavior.

Brent Keime LAc, MSTOM

Brent is the Clinical Co-Ordinator & Accreditation Advisor as well as a member of the faculty. Brent is a San Diego acupuncturist and is certified as a Diplomate of Oriental Medicine (Dipl. O.M.) by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Brent earned a Master of Science degree in Traditional Oriental Medicine from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego, California. While still in school, Brent interned at the UCSD downtown free clinic serving San Diego’s homeless population, and he spent two years assisting Alex Tiberi, one of the countries top pediatric acupuncturists. Brent also interned at Rady Children’s Hospital in their chronic pain clinic as well as with the hematology/oncology program. Much of Brent’s practice centers on the care of women during pregnancy. Brent currently sits on the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine massage advisory board. Brent works closely with many San Diego area midwives to provide safe, drug-free, natural healthcare for expecting mothers.

Heather LeMaster L.M., C.P.M.,CD(DONA), Monitrice

Heather is the Clinical Education Leader and coordinates clinical education classes and seminars for Nizhoni. She has experience working in both home and birth center settings. Heather truly believes that birth is natural and one of the most special times in a woman’s life. It was her own positive and empowering birth experience that motivated her to be a Midwife. Heather has been a Doula since 2003. She began her Midwifery education in a hands-on apprenticeship in 2006, joined Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery in San Diego in 2007, and is a 2010 Graduate. She is licensed as a Midwife by the Medical Board of California. She is also a Certified Professional Midwife with the North American Registry of Midwives and a Birth Emergency Skills Training for Out-of-Hospital Providers (B.E.S.T.) certified. She a graduate of Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery. She has experience working in both home and birth center settings.

Sherry Evans L.M., C.P.M.,CD(DONA)

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Sherry is the Account Specialist for Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery. Sherry Evans journey to midwifery began after attending the midwife assisted births of both her niece and granddaughter. Sherry’s long-held belief in the body’s wisdom and ability to do what it was designed to do was affirmed by those amazing births, and it became clear that helping women and babies to have the most natural, empowering, birth experience possible was her calling. She is a graduate of Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery and a practicing Midwife at San Diego County Midwives. She is a DONA trained Doula, a Certified Massage Technician, as well as a Placenta Encapsulator. Sherry is Birth Emergency Skills Training for Out-of-Hospital Providers (B.E.S.T.) certified.

Kayti Buehler L.M., C.P.M.

Kayti Buehler is a Licensed Midwife from San Diego. She has been serving birthing families since 2007 and has been attending homebirths since 2009. In October 2012, Kayti graduated from the the Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery in San Diego, and also hold certificates in both Neonatal Resuscitation and in Basic Life Support for Healthcare Professionals. She loves training and mentoring the next generation of midwives, having been trained by loving midwives from San Diego and Japan. After graduating with a Honors BA in History from UC Berkeley, Kayti went on to be a teacher in the Bay Area and in Japan for several years. Currently, she serves as the Regional Representative for the California Association of Midwives and is the LM Liason to the Midwives Coalition of Greater San Diego.

Nicole Morales L.M., C.P.M.

Nicole is a licensed midwife in San Diego County, California and a graduate of the first class of Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery. She is a respected facilitator for the Birthing from Within program and serves the larger community by assisting women across the lifespan to claim the power of the menstrual cycle and reproduction. Empowered by her own very different births of her three children at home, Nicole is drawn to assisting families in birthing and parenting in awareness and to appreciating the sacred relationships throughout the childbearing years and beyond. She has worked as a doula for many years and has benefited from the apprenticeship model of midwifery.

Nicole has a BA from UCSD and a degree in Holistic Midwifery. She is a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) with the North American Registry of Midwives and a Licensed Midwife (LM) through the Medical Board of California. Nicole is a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a midwife, a doula, a friend, and a mentor. Most of her time is spent surrounding birth and her own family.

Lisa Simpkins IBCLC, C.C.E.

Lisa-Simpkins

Lisa is a faculty member, teaching the Lactation Initiation and Regional Perinatal System Modules. She has two Bachelor’s degrees from UCSD in both the Biology and Psychology field, but it wasn’t until she completed the Perinatal Educator, Lactation Educator and Lactation Consultant Programs through UCSD Extension, that she discovered her love of combining education and clinical skills. Lisa manages a free local Breastfeeding Support Group at both Mary Birch and the San Diego County Midwives offices, which assists her in reaching out to all breastfeeding mothers and partners regardless of their budget constraints. Thru teaching the Maternal and Neonatal Nursing Lactation course to RN’s,Lisa is able to bring her expertise to the next level of education – teaching the professional.

“I have had a passion for working with women for the last 20 years, and have found working in the Perinatal Health field as an Educator and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant immensely fulfilling. I have been fortunate enough to wear many hats in my roles over the years, from the opportunity to work with pregnant women and their partners in an educator role, as well as, care for them as a professional labor support person. I have worked in many different locations – most of the San Diego hospitals, Best Start and UCSD birth centers, as well as, home births. I have assisted women at birth and breastfeeding after many varied types of birth and understand the challenges that face birthing and breastfeeding women today.”

Abigiail Aiyepola N.D.

‘Dr. Aiyepola began studies at Bastyr University in Seattle and completed 5 years of rigorous training, providing her a solid foundation as a naturopathic physician and midwife. She graduated in 2011, and completed her 1st year of residency at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, the teaching clinic of Bastyr University. There, she supervised medical students in their final years of medical school and also saw patients in her private practice. For her second year of residency, Dr. Aiyepola moved from primary care, focusing on her chosen specialty in women’s health. Her distinct training as a Naturopathic Midwife provides a unique insight and sensitivity to the areas of women’s health she specializes: women’s sexuality, fertility, preconception and prenatal care. Other areas of interest include: adolescent medicine, intrapartum/postpartum care, pediatrics, and contraceptive care.

Dr. Aiyepola exhibits great rapport, empathy and authenticity with her patients because her philosophy of care is deeply rooted in the foundations of naturopathic principles of health. She is committed to working as a team to optimize your health and stands happily as a witness on your journey, offering guidance and support.

Christina Covington MSN, NP-C

Geneva Alexander R.N.,B.S.N,CEN

Erina Angelucci MSN, C.N.M.

Erina was born and raised in La Jolla and always knew it was where she would want to settle. A few years back, she was researching her ancestors and found that she has midwives on both sides. As Erina began looking into midwifery, she found her calling and decided to go to Emory to pursue a career in midwifery. While there, she had experience with natural and water births. “Birth is a life changing and memorable time and I am honored every time I am invited to be a part of it.” Erina is a Midwife at Best Start Birth Center and is also enrolled in a program to become a Certified Herbalist in Women’s Health.

Anne Salazar Herbalist(AHG)

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Anne is a Registered Professional Herbalist with the American Herbalist Guild with training and experience in both Western and Eastern modalities. A second generation native San Diegan, she has nurtured an intuitive relationship with healing plants since she was a child. Following this instinct, Anne started self-study of herbal healing in her teens and continued this education formally and informally throughout her 23 years of marriage and the raising of three children.

In her search for the right path, Anne studied for a year at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and devoted two years to pre-med education. Feeling that she needed to focus more on plant medicine, she turned to the San Diego Self Heal School of Herbal Medicine, and graduated with clinical training in 2004. She also studied with Apache Medicine Women for several years, focusing on energy medicine, shamanism and plant spirit communication.

Anne currently maintains a private practice specializing in women and children, with a strong nutritional focus. “My greatest joy is helping to empower parents regarding their health and the health of their children,” Anne says. “I really enjoy teaching! It’s a great way to learn.”

Paula Tipton-Healy, L.M., CHom & Nutritional Consultant

Paula is licensed by the Medical Board of California, has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutrition, and holds a Certificate in Homeopathy. She has been a homeopathic and nutritional consultant for over 28 years. Paula is mother to four daughters, all born at home! Her absolute pride and joy is her grandson Ronin, who was also born at home! Paula practices Homeopathy as well as homebirth and birth center midwifery practice serving families in San Diego. Paula has trained many apprentices and midwives over the last 30 years. She loves to teach and continues to speak on subjects that are near and dear to her, like pregnancy, birth and health.

Nancy Baird L.M, C.P.M., R.M.

Cristi Lewis L.M., C.P.M., CHom

Cristi is a Licensed Midwife, Certified Homeopath, and energy worker who has been professionally practicing homeopathy, herbs, and other holistic therapies for more than 14 years. She is the owner of High Road Homeopathy, providing homeopathic consultations, herbs, and custom homeopathic formulations for families and birth communities all over the United States. She also owns and operates Milagros Midwifery in Fallbrook, California, providing bilingual home birth and birth center birth options for families in Northern San Diego and Southern Riverside Counties and the backcountry areas including Ramona and Julian.

She received her homeopathy certification in 2003 from the Homeopathy School International in Boulder, Colorado, and holds a B.S. in Biology from Northern Arizona University. She attended two years at the Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery in San Diego and went on to graduate in 2014 from Maternidad La Luz, a bilingual birth center and midwifery school in El Paso, TX. She has a thriving home birth practice in addition to holding privileges at Babies in Bloom Birthing Center in Vista, California.

Her love of the natural world and a recognition of the Divine in all beings has shaped her philosophy in caring for people on all levels. She specializes in women’s and children’s holistic health care, and can provide services in both English and Spanish. She travels a few times a year to teach homeopathy to student midwives and birth workers at midwifery schools in the southwestern United States. Cristi currently splits her time between Fallbrook and Julian, California. She practices yoga and meditation, raises two beautiful home-birthed children, eats a lot of Italian food, and tries to make her chickens and garden very happy.

Sarah Davis C.P.M., L.M., IBCLC

Sarah’s path to becoming a midwife began in 2003 when she began attending births as a volunteer doula with the Hearts and Hands Doula Program at UCSD Medical Center. There she witnessed the power of women birthing actively, unmedicated and supported by midwives in the only in-hospital birth center in San Diego. At the time, Sarah was attending Pomona College studying Black Studies and focusing on feminism, women’s experiences of health and their bodies, and the ways that the medicalization of women’s bodies impact their self confidence and autonomy in health care decisions and in all aspects of their lives.

Sarah began training as a midwife at a birth center in El Paso, Texas. Upon her return to San Diego, she began a three and a half year apprenticeship with midwife Andrea Meyer, LM, CPM. During this time I attended prenatal appointments, births and postpartum visits, gradually acquiring more knowledge, responsibility and confidence. During her apprenticeship, she attended planned hospital births as a doula and mentored Birthing From Within childbirth preparation classes as well as introductory and advanced Birthing From Within training workshops. Sarah continues to mentor families on the journey of childbirth preparation and postpartum. Sarah completed the California Challenge Process documenting her education. Sarah is also a yoga teacher.

“I chose the apprenticeship path to midwifery because I support the time honored tradition of person to person hands on education. I believe that with direct-entry midwifery training that takes place outside of the university setting, we can create more midwives- midwives who are more comfortable with autonomous, out-of-hospital practice- in less time.”

Shari Stone-Ulrich C.N.M.

Shari has always been interested in wellness and prevention of disease, and knew she wanted to help women during labor and birth. The United States Air Force allowed her to start working in OB nursing as a new graduate and she commissioned back in 1986. Shari gave birth to 2 beautiful daughters, Caitlin born in 1988 and Kelsey in 1989, in northern California, in the days before epidurals! So she knew natural childbirth was very doable. Shari was awarded a scholarship through the USAF to attend Georgetown University and received her Master’s in Midwifery in 1994. Her son, Nathan was born in 1998 in Illinois into the loving hands of her Midwifery partner. Shari has practiced Midwifery until her retirement from the USAF in 2007, having caught more than 1000 babies in hospital.

“I always practiced physiologic, natural birth as much as possible, according to families’ wishes. I used to tell pilots that I had the best job in the military; of course they would disagree, but what a blessing to get paid for doing what I love! I have always supported all paths to midwifery and feel that families deserve all birthing options, whether they are rural or urban, rich or poor, low- or high-risk. All states should allow midwives to practice at their full scope at home, in birth centers, and in hospitals. The different paths to midwifery is more alike than different; we would have more power for change if we would all stand together, pulling in the same direction, for the benefit of families. It is my pleasure to help Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery, however needed, to grow all the midwives women need.”

Adjunct Faculty of Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery

The members are comprised of midwives, acupuncturists, physicians, nurse practitioners and scientists teach specialty classes in Emergency Midwifery Care, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Introductory Cellular Biology and Microbiology, Suturing Technique and other courses. A majority of these instructors hold a master’s or earned doctorate degree.

Learn more about becoming an Adjunct Faculty Member at Nizhoni

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