Esther Patterson is the Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of BirthNet, a birth justice organization whose primary mission is to eliminate the inequities in birth outcomes for all birthing people. Esther is a birth doula who has helped Black and Brown women navigate the often-confusing medical system and improve birth outcomes for over 25 years. She is a native of Brooklyn, New York who now calls the Capital District home. She is the former Director of Mediation Services for Albany and Rensselaer Counties, the former S.T.A.R.S. Program Coordinator at Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood, a mother, a mentor, a parent educator, a mediator, and a staunch advocate for children, who are her passion. She is a community activist who has worked tirelessly with and for those whose voices need to be amplified and included in the decisions that affect their lives. She is a Program Director with the Alliance for Positive Health and oversees 3 community programs. She was educated at Rutgers and Columbia Universities and she lives by the belief, “With God all things are possible” (Mathew 19:26).
Born and raised in Columbia County, NY where I fostered my passion for children & community. My education and life experiences brought me to pursue Early Childhood Education and received an Associate Degree (HVCC) as well as a Bachelors in Sociology (SUNY Albany) .
I returned to Community Work as Case Manager for Northern Rivers, and I currently work full-time as a CSP Supervisor. My training with Mama Glow has allowed me to continue to bring new souls into this world and provide safety to birthing people as a Birth/Family educator and Doula.
Currently residing in Troy, NY, I’m a mother of 3 and enjoy reading, live music and traveling with my family/ partner when not involved with BirthNet, and social activism work within my community.
Geneiva earned her master’s degree from SUNY Albany in the discipline of Africana Studies. As a result, she has had the opportunity of working in various professional and community settings enabling her to provide a unique perspective often absent in traditional environments. Geneiva’s interest in maternal health care and lactation support developed during her pregnancy and after giving birth to her daughter in March of 2022. Her birthing experience solidified her belief in the importance of pregnant women and families having access to the necessary services and supports to ensure safe and equitable maternal care. Her academic background has enabled her to be keenly aware of the historical and contemporary experiences of medical apartheid that many Black women and families have to navigate when pregnant and birthing their children.
Currently, Geneiva is working towards becoming a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC). Her goal is to educate Black lactating mothers and families on the benefits of breastfeeding, minimize taboos associated with the act of breastfeeding and create a safe space for families to develop their breastfeeding relationship
Ashley Tate, MPH is a doula and is training to be a Certified Lactation Counselor. Ms. Tate works in public health where she has over 10 years of experience working in research focused on social determinants of health. She is passionate about working on projects that eliminate health disparities and aims to increase health equity.
Tisha Graham is one of the cofounders of BirthNet and is proud to serve on its Board. She has earned and maintains four credentials related to her birth work: Certified Professional Midwife, Certified Doula, Certified Childbirth Educator and Certified Lactation Counselor.
She is an advocate for pregnant people and a passionate activist for equity through civil, racial, disability and birthing rights. She has conceived, carried, birthed, breastfed and raised five children.
Sherisa holds two master degrees. One from Purdue University in Nurse Leadership and one from Union Institute and University in Health and Wellness with a concentration in Human Lactation.She is a registered nurse of 13 years, who has a background in caring for High Risk Maternity and preterm families as a NICU RN. She is the owner of A Little Bit of Milk LLC and trained under Mama Glow as a Doula. Mental health is important to her and she teaches this with postpartum families. She is a Reiki Level II practitioner and the first BIPOC to serve The Capital District as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).
Through her personal experience with infant loss, Sherisa turned to birth advocacy to help improve birthing outcomes for BIPOC families in the Capital District and beyond.
Betsy Mercogliano is a wife, a midwife, a grandmother, a childbirth educator, an activist, a doula and founder of the Family Life Center in Albany, NY.
She has lived in the South End of Albany for 48 years and believes that community activism and caring are the core ingredients for changes needed to improve our world. She is one of the founders of BirthNet, serving as the Co-treasurer on the Board.
Jill Ensminger has been a nurse for the past twenty years serving in a variety of settings with a special focus on maternal child health and community health. She graduated in 2003 from Daemen College where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in nursing. She continued her education at D’Youville College where she obtained her Master of Science in Nursing with a focus in Community Health with a concentration in nursing education. She continued her professional career as a faculty member at the Belanger School of Nursing as well as Russell Sage College. She has served in many areas of leadership in the academic setting including the Institutional Review Board, Faculty Development Committee and Thrive Committee. Jill participates in serving the community through many different organizations including The Good Neighbors Team, Cheryl’s Lodge, and serving on a variety of boards that focus on maternal child health. She serves on the Governance Committee on the Capital District Nursing Research Alliance. Most recently Jill graduated from Walden University with her PhD in Public Health.
Sade Lubin is a Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies graduate student at the University of Albany. She has a bachelor's degree in Chemistry from Iona College. Sade hopes to attend medical school in Fall 2024 and aspires to become an obstetrician-gynecologist. Her objective to primarily cater to Black, LGBTQ+, and socioeconomically disadvantaged patients.
Destiny Bender is a current Social Welfare Doctoral Student with specialization in the areas of maternal and child health, family health, and community health. With over 5 years experience, Destiny has focused on breastfeeding, maternal health policy, health disparities and racial disparities. Destiny has a background in public health and biomedical sciences. Destiny hopes to continue her work in the social sciences and health field in relation to maternal and child health.