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Introduction

Doula Deshaya Williams supports local moms through birth and postpartum care. Doulas have been a focal point in the region's Birth Justice movement as a way to improve birth outcomes, particularly among women of color.

HEADLINE | Birth Justice Live Event

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Join WMHT and members of the Birth Justice Coalition for a one-hour, livestreamed panel discussion on Birth Justice.Panelist and doula, Deshaya Williams, shared how she supports local mothers through birth and postpartum care in this video produced as part of WMHT's HEADLINE series. Doulas have been a focal point in the region's Birth Justice movement as a way to improve birth outcomes, particularly among women of color.

Panelists:
Nakia Tillman, Early Childhood Specialist with Trinity Alliance, Board Member, BirthNet
Esther Patterson, Community Maternity Services and Baby Institute, newly trained Doula, Board Member, BirthNet
Betsy Mercogliano, Certified Nurse Midwife, LM, Certified Professional Midwife, educator, Doula, owner Family Life Center, Albany, Board Member, BirthNet
Deshaya Williams, Certified Doula

The panel discussion will be moderated by Times Union reporter, Bethany Bump, who covers all things health-related including health care, public health, substance abuse, and mental health.

About the Panelists

Nakia Tillman, Early Childhood Specialist with Trinity Alliance, Board Member, BirthNet
Nakia Tillman graduated from the College of St. Rose with a B.A in education and is currently pursuing her master's in early childhood education.  She currently works at Trinity Alliance as a Family Support Specialist working with children ages 0-5.  She is a board member for the Birthnet and recently became an author of a children's book titled The Adventures of Lil Margie.  Every day, she strives to make an impact on a child's life.
 
Esther Patterson, Community Maternity Services and Baby Institute, newly trained Doula, Board Member, BirthNet
Esther Patterson has been a community organizer and educator in the city of Albany for several decades, working with organizations such as Planned Parenthood, The Baby Institute, and Community Maternity Services. 
 
Betsy Mercogliano, Certified Nurse Midwife, LM, Certified Professional Midwife, educator, Doula, owner Family Life Center, Albany, Board Member, BirthNet
Betsy Mercogliano is the mother of two grown daughters, a wife, a midwife, a grandmother, a childbirth educator, a birth activist, a doula and founder of the Family Life Center in Albany, NY.  She has lived in the South End of Albany for 46 years.  She is one of the founders of BirthNet, a local non-profit organization whose mission is to participate in the elimination of inequities in birth outcomes for all childbearing people and to ensure that all birthing families receive respectful and supportive maternity and infant care. Betsy has trained many doulas and mentored numerous midwives.  Betsy received her Registered Nurse license in New York in 1980.  Betsy earned her Certified Professional Midwife credential from the North American Registry of Midwives in 1998.  In September 2010, Betsy completed her Bachelors of Science in Midwifery Degree from the National College of Midwifery and received her NY State license to practice as a primary care provider and midwife in 2011. Betsy has been supporting families during their childbearing year since 1976, including supporting water births for over 20 years. She has been blessed to be present at hundreds of births.
 
Deshaya Williams, Certified Doula
Deshaya Williams has many years of experience working with people in all facets of life development. Deshaya started her education at Penn State University where she obtained a Bachelors in Human Development and Family Studies where she focused on Children Youth and Families. While in pursuit of chasing her Olympic dreams she continued her education at Penn State to obtain a Masters degree in Higher Education with a strong focus in student affairs. After completing her run as an Olympic hopeful Deshaya moved to South Carolina to pursue ministry endeavors where she served as a youth pastor while obtaining her Masters in Divinity from Due West, SC. Deshaya is a fully trained doula through DONA international. She is able to support women and families as both a birth and postpartum doula. 

The joy of Deshaya’s life is serving and supporting others in varying capacities and varying stages of their lives. Partnering with others to help them find solutions for their most pressing life transitions is all part of the connection process as you work with Deshaya. She also brings her training as a certified yoga instructor into her work of supporting families in birth and postpartum. 

About the Moderator

Bethany Bump covers all things health for the Times Union, including health care, public health, substance abuse and mental health. She previously covered education.

She joined the Times Union in 2015 after four years at The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, where she reported on business, health and municipal issues. She earned a bachelor's degree from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, where she studied journalism and political science.



Support provided by St. Peters Health Partners

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