Cordelia S. Hanna, MPH, CHES, ICCE, CLE, CBA


Founder/Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director


I have 30+ years of experience in maternity care as a health educator, midwife, doula, birth activist, and maternal-child health advocate. I believe in natural living and the mind-body-spirit connection.. Read about my professional career on my Linkedin Profile.


My dedication to caring for mothers and babies and commitment to empower pregnant women to have safe, respectful, and joyful birth experiences is my life’s work. Focusing on eliminating perinatal health disparities and inequities in communities of color while working to improve maternal care quality through systemic change is my vital mission. My 30+ years of dedication to this cause highlight my deep commitment and passion for addressing this human rights issue of vital importance.


Teaching and mentoring aspiring maternal-child health professionals is my way to pass on my knowledge and values, ensuring that the work I’ve started will continue to make a positive impact with future generations.


This work is essential, and I remain committed to making a difference in maternal and child health and to advocate for the human rights of all pregnant women and their babies.


Since 1991, I have attended hundreds of births in homes, hospitals and birth centers and supported families from multicultural backgrounds, in community, domiciliary, clinic, public health and hospital settings as a midwife, doula and health educator, and I will soon be adding Health Psychologist to my resume as I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Health Psychology  from Walden University. My areas of research and interest are refugee/immigrant health, maternal and infant mental health, cross-cultural birthing and parenting practices, maternal-infant attachment, health disparities and trauma and resilience. My research perspective reflects my transformative worldview which holds that research inquiry needs to be intertwined with politics and a political change agenda to confront social oppression at whatever levels it occurs. 


My Certifications and Training


I am a  Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES)  whose skills include Responsibilities such as Assessment, Planning, Evaluation, Administration, Communication, Advocacy, and more. I am a Certified Childbirth Educator with International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA), a  Certified Birth Assistant accredited by The Association for Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators (ALACE), a Certified Lactation Educator, accredited by  Childbirth and Postpartum Provider Association (CAPPA), and  a Family Planning/Reproductive Health & Sexuality Educator through California Family Health Council. 


In addition, I am a direct-entry midwife, who trained through apprenticeship with Licensed Midwives/Certified Professional Midwives in Los Angeles County, CA and worked in birth centers and in private homes.  


My Education


I have a BA in Theatre, Dance and Vocal Music from Indiana University, Bloomington. I have performed as an actress, singer and dancer.

Cordelia Hanna-Cheruiyot, The Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health,, Doula Support and Childbirth Education in Los Angeles CA

Cordelia and Diagne Family, 2015


I earned a Master’s in Public Health  (MPH) in Health Education and Promotion/ Maternal-Child Health from Loma Linda University. I love working in public health because it seeks to address social inequalities and the social determinants of health through a holistic, multidisciplinary approach.


As a Certified Health Education Specialist and Perinatal Health Educator. I have strived to make a significant positive impact on perinatal health in my community and beyond, particularly among BIPOC individuals who often face health disparities. By training and certifying health and human service professionals, empowering them with the knowledge and tools to make a difference in maternal and child health outcomes.


Many of my graduates, who have gone on to become midwives, nurses, lactation consultants, doulas, and family support providers, play essential roles in improving the overall well-being of families during the perinatal period. Their work can help bridge the gap in health disparities and provide culturally sensitive care to individuals and communities that may have unique needs and challenges. Graduates of my courses have contributed to increased awareness, access, and support for perinatal health services, which is crucial for promoting healthy pregnancies and better outcomes for both mothers and infants.


Geraldine “Mama Gerri” Perry-Williams, PHN, MSN (and Cordelia Hanna) receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Birthing Justice Forum, 2017, Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Ani Tsourian).

I pray that I have had a significant and impactful career in the field of perinatal health, focusing on addressing disparities and inequities within the African-American/Black community. For ten years, I worked for The Black Infant Health Program in Pasadena and established the first Community-Based Doula Program in Los Angeles County an achievement I am very proud of. My collaboration with Geraldine “Mama Gerri” Perry-Williams, MSN, PHN, former Maternal Child and Adolescent Health Director for the City of Pasadena Health Department, who had a long and dedicated career in maternal and child health, is a testament to the importance of mentorship and building a network of professionals in this field. Sadly, Mama Gerri passed away in 2018. My role in training Community Health Outreach Workers (CHOWs) and developing a childbirth education curriculum shows my commitment to improving maternal and infant health outcomes in underserved communities, filling a crucial need for evidence-based, culturally relevant support in childbirth preparation for Medi-Cal recipients. Hopefully, this program made a positive impact on the lives of many families and contributes to the ongoing efforts to address health disparities in perinatal care.


In 2010, I formed the Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health (AWMNH) and lead its subsequent transformation into the Happy Mama Healthy Baby Alliance (HMHBA), an organization who is committed to addressing critical issues related to maternal health and infant well-being.


AWMNH’s co-sponsorship of the Human Rights in Childbirth US Summit and Birthing Justice Forum in 2016 and 2017 showed our organization’s dedication to promoting justice in maternity care and creating a platform for grassroots maternal health advocates to come together and advocate for positive change.


The change in name to the Happy Mama Healthy Baby Alliance in 2020, along with the corresponding slogan “Happy Mamas Growing Healthy Babies,” indicates an evolving focus on not just physical health but also the mental and emotional well-being of both mothers and infants, recognizing the profound impact that trauma can have in various forms on maternal and infant health.


From 2013-2017, I developed and conducted a Perinatal Support Specialist Course for Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, providing Community Health Promoters (“Promatores de Salud”) with information and skills in childbirth education, lactation support, doula support and postpartum care, enabling them to work with pregnant women in South Los Angeles, a neighborhood with some of the worst perinatal disparities in Los Angeles County.


Dr. Chinyere Oparah, Founder of Black Women Birthing Justice receiving the Visionary of the Year award at Birthing Justice Forum and MCH Champion Awards Ceremony, Los Angeles, 2017. L to R: Cordelia Hanna, MPH, Dr. Chinyere Oparah, Dr. Sayida Peprah, and Dr. Ndinda Ngewa (Photo by Ani Tsourian).

In the 1990s, I worked with the California Association of Midwives (CAM) to ratify the law that established the licensure pathway for direct-entry midwives in California, The Licensed Midwifery Practice Act of 1994. This helped to increase access to midwifery care for childbearing families and increased birthing options for all Californians.


My Upbringing and Family


The focus of my life’s work on social equity has their roots in my upbringing and early life exposures, and the examples of my progressive, politically active family who shaped my worldview and personal philosophy. My work on health justice is a reflection of my Judeo-Christian faith and commitment to the Jewish principle of Tikkun Olam, the healing and repair of the world.    


My maternal great-grandparents were refugees from The Pogroms in Riga, Latvia at the end of the 19th Century. Under Russian imperialist armies, their village was destroyed and Jewish men were forcibly conscripted to fight in the Czar’s army, which my great-grandfather, who considered himself a Proletariat, refused to do, fleeing to America with his wife who would have ten children, including my grandfather. My grandfather got to hear Socialist/Anarchist Emma Goldman speak at a meeting when he was a boy. He grew up to be a labor union organizer in the 1930s, and met my grandmother, an illegal immigrant from Finland, at a Socialist Party meeting in Seattle in 1935. My mother was born in 1941 in San Francisco and came of age during the Beatnik scene in North Beach, at UC Berkeley in the late 1950s and New York’s Greenwich Village where she and my father lived in the early 1960s and were folk musicians.


My young, idealistic parents were folk musicians and anti-Vietnam war and civil rights activists. As founders and leaders of Students  for a Democratic Society (SDS) at Indiana University in

Cordelia, Age 3, at an Anti-Viet Nam War Rally, Indiana University, Circa 1964.

the 1960s, they were principal representations of the New Left. I attended the anti-Vietnam war protest in 1968 in Washington, DC, pushed in a stroller by my mother, a musician, community organizer and progressive political activist. The demonstration was organized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Committee and The Poor People’s Campaign, who sought to end the war by peaceful resistance and to eliminate racism and poverty. When I was a young child, my father, who had a strong social conscience and empathized with the suffering caused by man’s inhumanity to man, taught me about the struggles of oppressed peoples. He specifically educated me about the historical injustices that black and indigenous people in America have faced. With this as my formative environment, my work on health justice reflects my philosophical worldview which focuses on the needs of groups and individuals in our society that may be marginalized or disenfranchised.


Mr. and Mrs. Kattah, Cape Coast Ghana, West Africa

Most importantly, however, I am a mother of a daughter and son who were home-born, family-bedded, exclusively breastfed and attachment-parented, who are now bright and capable young adults. In addition, I am a proud “nana” to three beautiful grandchildren: two girls and one boy.


I have familial connections to both West Africa, specifically Ghana and Senegal, and East Africa, particularly Kenya. My partner, who was born and raised in Keta in the Volta Region of Ghana, and I lead an international lifestyle that spans across two continents, Africa and North America.


I enjoy traveling, swimming and yoga, and taking nature hikes with my beloved “fur-baby” Koa, an Australian Cattle Dog mix. When not doing my birth work, I enjoy singing and making music, a family favorite pastime.