Board of Trustees

A board of directors is a body of elected or appointed members who jointly oversee and govern the activities of a company or organization. What does that mean for the Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery? The board of directors members are responsible and accountable for the best interests of the school—its faculty, preceptors, alumni, and students—and ultimately, the families served by the preceptors and students. Board members serve on committees, solicit resources and gifts from their circles of influence, seek partnership opportunities for the organization, keep an eye out for adding new assets to the faculty or board, assist with implementing strategic plans, perform reviews, oversee the budget, and much more. By leadership and example, they’re also advocates for Nizhoni. They’re the public face of the school and are current on—and excited about—its vision and message. The board promotes the school’s commitment to create and foster a strong commitment to excellence in midwifery care and practice.

Board of Trustees Pledge

The Board will support the work of Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery and provide mission-based leadership and strategic governance. While day-to-day operations are led by the Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery Chief Operations Officer (COO), the Board-COO relationship is a partnership, and the appropriate involvement of the Board is both critical and expected. The Chair Person of each department is responsible to promote and support the principles of Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery by leadership and example. Each Board Member must observe the highest standard in order to retain the trust of the donating public and the confidence of those they seek to help. The Board provides the public face of the organization, and its behavior, and that of individual board members must be exemplary. Board members should make decisions in terms of the public interest and make choices based only on merit. Board members are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.

We want to Hear from You

Our primary goal is to effectively educate future midwives.  Per our school’s policies and procedures, if an issue cannot be solved with your student representative and the administrative staff using our formal complaint process, the board of trustees can be reached via email at

Brent Keime LAc, MSTOM – CEO & President

Brent-KeimeBrent 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.

Learn More Chief Executive Officer & President – Duties and Responsibilities

Secretary – Vacant

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Treasurer – Maral Shabak LM, CPM

Maral began her Midwifery career in 2014 when she was accepted into Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery. Leading up to finding her path, she earned B.A. degrees in Anthropology and Women’s Studies. Her experience at the University of California, Irvine taught her that we must use our specific skills to bring forth positive change.

Maral was born in Iran and moved to the U.S. at the age of 6. Going though such a large transition from one culture to another taught her that we must be open and flexible in order to move forward; we cannot hold tightly onto traditions simply because we haven’t been exposed to another way. Maral’s goal is to bridge the gap between M.D.s and Midwives so that we may blend our cultures and select practices that are truly optimal. She firmly believes that if we can provide choice, confidence, and peace at the moment of birth for families, we can ensure a future full of those same qualities. That begins with educating well- trained and confident midwives.

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Marla Hicks – Chair of Faculty & Student Services

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Dr. Stephanie Libs – Chair of Quality Assurance

Dr. Stephanie Libs, DC (or Dr. Steph as her patients call her) owns and operates Cafe of Life Chiropractic in Pacific Beach, San Diego. She specializes in pediatrics, pregnancy and family care and is passionate about helping women through the transition to motherhood. With a strong emphasis in natural birth and natural health care she has created a community of families who are connected through workshops, support groups and play dates. In October 2016, with the help of a local midwife, her and her husband Dean welcomed their first baby girl into this world. She’s very excited to serve on the board to support midwifery students in the “beauty way” of Nizhoni.

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Gerri Ryan L.M., C.P.M., C.D.T. – Chair of Business Development and Advisement

Gerri is the Chair of Business Development & Advisement and serves on the Board of Trustees. 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 education 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 and currently practices at San Diego County Midwives. Gerri is a co-founder of Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery and was the Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer/Chief Academic Officer through August 2017. She remains a member of the faculty. 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. She is committed to advanced midwifery practice, completing her Bridge Certificate in 2016. 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 pregnant person. “When birthing people 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.

Learn More Chair of Business Development and Advisement – Duties and Responsibilities

Care Messer – Member-At-Large Community Development

Nizhoni-Institute-of-Midwifery---Board-Member-Care-MesserCare is a certified doula with Doulas of North America. Care is the founder of The Birth Education Center of San Diego. Care discovered HypnoBirthing® with the birth of her daughter in 2008. It changed her life’s path. “My own experience in discovering HypnoBirthing®, and having a Doula attend my child’s birth, inspired me to become a Doula myself and get certified to teach HypnoBirthing®. Sharing my own experience and love for this process has made me a better teacher and gentler human being.”

Care became a doula under the instruction of Gerri Ryan through DONA and went on to become certified in HypnoBirthing. Care created her company San Diego HypnoBirthing and has taught HypnoBirthing® since 2009. She has experience in planning and organizing childbirth-related conferences. Care is also a Certified Placenta Encapsulationist. She has trained with ICEA to become certified as an international educator and trained with Cappa to be a Postpartum Doula. Care serves as the Director of Cap Wellness Center in Encinitas and teaches at both locations. Care offers Natural Birth Training to student nurses at SDSU who are interested in learning about physiologic childbirth and local nurse trainings in hospitals. She recently served as Vice President of the San Diego Birth Network.

“My vision is to help women get back to the knowledge that their bodies know how to give birth to their babies. The use of HypnoBirthing® is a transforming experience for all involved. HypnoBirthing® left me feeling empowered, stronger and made me a better mother. I learned for myself and will be forever grateful that finally, there is a better way to give birth!”

Learn More Chair of Community Liaison – Duties and Responsibilities

Chair of Online Marketing & IT Services – Vacant

Chair of Gifts & Donations – Vacant

Learn More Chair of Gifts and Donations – Duties and Responsibilities


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Contact Us

Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery are always seeking Board Members that are excited about our Vision and Mission, are willing to promote the school’s commitment to create and foster a strong commitment to excellence in midwifery care. We would love to hear from you!

Board of Trustee’s Application

PLEASE NOTE: Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery will be closing at the end of the 2022 school year, and will no longer be accepting applications. Aspiring Midwifery Students are encouraged to visit the MEAC website and view the list of currently accredited programs in the United States.

Its been a pleasure teaching all of our wonderful students over the years, and we wish you all the best on your midwifery journeys.
~ The Nizhoni Team