Ashley Musil is a midwife, co-owner, and clinical director at Wellspring Midwifery Care & Birth Center. She is also the president of the Greater Houston Midwives’ Alliance. After completing her midwifery training in 2013, Ashley became a Texas state licensed midwife and a Certified Professional Midwife in early 2014. That same year, she opened a homebirth practice in Spring, Texas, and began working part-time at a local birth center. Her mother, Karla Mercieca, joined her to open Wellspring Midwifery Care & Birth Center in Kingwood, Texas, in January 2016, where they offered both birth center and home births. They moved the practice to Cleveland, Texas, in July 2020, and continue to maintain a prenatal office in Kingwood near the previous birth center location.
Ashley also holds a BA in Visual Communication and Design from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. She has six children, and her husband is a Sheriff’s Deputy and Accident Investigator for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. Her passion in life is to see women empowered by their choices, inspired by their dreams, and aspiring to meet their goals.
Debbie Hull has been serving expectant Houston families as a doula and childbirth educator for over 20 years. She is proud and thrilled to serve on CAPPA faculty as both a Labor Doula Trainer and Childbirth Educator Trainer, preparing the next generation of professional birth workers. She is also a frequent guest host on Whole Mother, portrayed Jillian in each of the Houston productions of Karen Brody’s play, Birth. Debbie was sewing Brownie badges on a vest at the meeting when Bringing Information & Resources To Houston was named and is very proud and honored to have spoken and had a table in the vendor hall at each of BIRTH’s 19 BIRTH Fairs. Her most important work is being mother to her fabulous, formerly breastfed and homeschooled son and daughter.
Jackie Griggs, RN, CNM, has been a Nurse Midwife in the Houston area for the past 30 years. She is a graduate of UTMB Health at Galveston. She is a mom of five sons, three born at home with the help of midwives. She owns two birth centers, one in the Houston Heights and one in Beaumont. She helps with babies at home and birth center. She is also on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Birth Centers.
Jaelin Stickels, CNM, MSN, WHNP-BC, is a certified nurse midwife and women’s health nurse practitioner at Holistic Heritage Homebirth who is honored to work with women and their families as they experience pregnancy, labor, birth, and the postpartum period. Jaelin followed her passion into midwifery and has been practicing with women and babies since 2010. She has spent the last 36 blissful years married to her high school sweetheart. She has three children and one grandchild. In addition to her passion for women’s health, she loves quilting and spends her spare time enamored with her granddaughter. She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree.
Jackie Griggs, CNM, has been a Nurse Midwife in the Houston area for the past 30 years. She is a mom of five sons, three born at home with the help of midwives. She owns two birth centers, one in the Houston Heights and one in Beaumont. She helps with babies at home and birth center. She is also on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Birth Centers.
Dr. Richelle Whittaker is an educational psychologist board certified in perinatal mental health, a parenting coach, trainer, and author. She is devoted to educating, equipping, and empowering women struggling with emotional challenges through pregnancy, postpartum, and parenthood. She is an engaging and interactive speaker combining both her knowledge and personal experience. Her primary goal is to help moms become strong advocates for themselves and their children when it comes to making decisions about their mental health and education.
Afua Hassaine moved to Houston to pursue a career in midwifery. She graduated from the Houston School of Midwifery in 1984. Afua is the founder, owner and licensed midwife of The Birthing Place. The Birthing Place is the only free standing birth center that is owned by and operated by a Black midwife in the city of Houston. Her business is located in the historically African American community of Third Ward. The best services are the homegrown mom and pop businesses and she is proud of it. She believes the mother is the captain, the partner is the co-captain and Afua is the advisor. Being a midwife with over 30 years of experience, she has seen a lot and that is why the client will always choose their path/journey when you are a client of The Birthing Place.
Catrice Harris: Doula, Childbirth Educator, Midwifery Student
African American Midwifery History in recognition of Black History Month
Catrice Harris is a mother and grandmother, who has been supporting families with childbirth education, labor and birth, and lactation support since 1992. Her initial lactation training was through The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and City of Houston WIC programs. Childbirth education came next as she began teaching Lamaze classes to expectant families, birth moms, and adopting parents. In 2012, she began working as a birth and postpartum doula, becoming certified through DONA and ICEA. As a recipient of the BIRTH midwifery scholarship for a woman of color she is now enrolled in the National College of Midwifery, with the goal of sitting for the Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) licensing exam this spring. She teaches parenting education classes at the Woman’s Hospital of Texas and is apprenticing with Stephanie Palacio at Bay Area Community Birth Center. Having supported over 300 women with the birth of their babies, and countless more with breastfeeding, she is truly grateful that this work found her!
Andrea Freeman, author of Skimmed: Breastfeeding, Race and Injustice, is Professor at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law. Freeman writes and researches at the intersection of critical race theory and issues of food policy, health, and consumer credit. She is the pioneer of the theory of “food oppression,” which examines how partnerships between the government and corporations lead to racial and gender health disparities. Her work has been featured on NPR, Huffington Post, the Washington Post, The Conversation, Pacific Standard, and more.
Marya Axner has spent the past 30 years as an activist working against oppression of all kinds. Recently she has been working to address the climate emergency and ending societal divisions that hamper solving this challenge. She also works as a parent educator. She speaks and leads workshops on the topic of anti-Semitism and racism on college campuses, at social justices organizations, and at worker organizations. Fifteen years ago she was the director of a parents program in the Somerville Public Schools, supporting parents to be involved in their children’s education. She has worked as a multicultural consultant for a collaborative of schools near Boston. Marya worked in the education department of the Jewish Women’s Archive where she wrote curricula about Jewish women’s history. She has also worked for the nonprofit Everyday Democracy, which encourages people to have small group discussions that lead to lasting change. More recently, she was the director of the New England Jewish Labor Committee, where she organized the Jewish Community to stand up with workers for their rights.
Marya Axner has taught listening skills through the Sustaining All Life/United to End Racism projects, of Re-Evaluation Counseling. Sustaining all Life is an international grassroots organization working to end the climate emergency within the context of ending all divisions among people. United to End Racism is group of people of all backgrounds in many countries who are dedicated to eliminating racism in the world.