Meredith “Chavah” Benzion, LM, CPM – Executive Director
Chavah has been involved in the birth world since 1996 when, at the tender age of 20, she was inspired to become a doula after attending a few of her friends’ births. A short time later, she set out to become a midwife and went on complete her midwifery training in San Diego, California, earning her state midwifery license (LM) in early 2003. After 4 years in private practice she moved to Israel and spent the next 13 years serving her small, mountain-village community as a homebirth midwife and hospital-based birth doula. After creating “Ask A Midwife”, a midwifery outreach project, she gave many advanced courses and lectures for midwives and doulas throughout the country. She returned to California in late 2019 to work in one of Los Angeles County’s most successful birth centers, SCV Birth Center. She is extremely dedicated to the families she serves, and she strives to find that delicate balance between showing up for her clients and showing up for her family. Chavah is a devoted mother to her 4 children and in her free time she loves to hike, camp, and garden. Chavah is an inspiring and enthusiastic leader, and she is very much looking forward to serving in her new role as Executive Director at Nizhoni.
“I value clear communication, honesty, integrity, compassion, and good, solid boundaries. I work hard to create relationships which are healthy and balanced. I am beyond thrilled to be part of the Nizhoni Family, and I look forward to helping inspire, motivate, and facilitate the building of mutual trust between students, students and instructors, students and their preceptors, and amongst faculty. My goal is to help us all work together in a cohesive and positive learning environment, support one another, and enjoy the many benefits of our positive and sustainable school-community.”
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, Grossmont 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.
Gerri Ryan L.M., C.P.M., C.D.T.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In accordance with applicable law, Nizhoni prohibits all forms of discrimination, sexual harassment, and other harassment based upon sex, gender identity, race, color, marital status, ethnic origin, ancestry, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, or any other basis protected by federal, state or local law. All such discrimination or harassment is unlawful and will not be tolerated. Employees are recruited, hired, retained, and promoted based upon this policy.
Contact us to learn more about our faculty positions