Cordelia S. Hanna, MPH, CHES, ICCE, CLE, CBA
Founder/Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director
I am “Mama Cordelia”, a third generation political activist working for human rights, peace and social justice, I have worked in the field of maternity care for 30+ years as a reproductive & perinatal health educator, midwife, doula, public health practitioner, birth activist and maternal-child health advocate. Since 1991, I have worked with hundreds of families from multicultural backgrounds, in community, domiciliary, clinic, public health and hospital settings as a midwife, doula and health educator. I also worked as Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Coordinator for Marion County Department of Public Health in Salem, Oregon.
My passion is caring for mothers and babies, and teaching and mentoring new maternal-child health professionals.
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, California.
I received a BA from Indiana University (Bloomington), where I majored in Theatre, Dance and Vocal Music. I grew up in Bloomington, Indiana. My parents were professional musicians and community activists for peace and social justice, so community organizing and “fighting the good fight” is in my blood. During the Viet Nam war era, I attended the March on Washington pushed in a stroller pushed by my mother, to end the war, end racism, and eradicate poverty.
I received a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) in Health Education and Promotion/ Maternal-Child Health from Loma Linda University, I am also a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) accredited by NCHEC. 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, health disparities and trauma and resilience.
I have been working on the issue of African-American/Black perinatal health disparities and inequities since 2002. As a Health Educator for the Pasadena Public Health Department Black Infant Health Program from 2002-2012, I received mentorship and enjoyed my collaboration with the late Geraldine “Mama Gerri” Perry-Williams, PHN, MSN, a public health nurse who worked as the Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Director and Black Infant Health Program Coordinator for the City of Pasadena Public Health Department for 30 years. In 2002, Geraldine and I established the very first Community-Based Doula Program in Los Angeles County for Medi-Cal families at The Black Infant Health Program in Pasadena (Sadly, “Mama Gerri” passed away in 2018).
During a decade as a Health Educator at Pasadena Public Health Department, I trained Community Health Outreach Workers (CHOWs) from Black Infant Health (BIH) Programs throughout California in Doula and Breastfeeding Support. Additionally, I developed a childbirth education curriculum and taught classes for the Pasadena Public Health Department, filling an unmet need for evidence-based, birthing-justice-informed, culturally-relevant childbirth preparation classes for Pasadena’s Medi-Cal recipients.
From 2015 to 2019, conducted Perinatal Support Specialist/Community-Based Doula Training for Latinx and African-American Community Health Promoters/Promatores de Salud from Esperanza Community Housing Corporation in South Los Angeles, California, giving them the tools to promote perinatal health in their community of South Los Angeles, California.
In 2010, I founded the Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health in response to a critical shortage of skilled birth workers from communities of color. Under my leadership, in 2016 and 2017, the Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health co-sponsored the Human Rights in Childbirth US Summit and Birthing Justice Forum which brought together grassroots maternal health advocates from around the country to advocate for justice in maternity care. In 2020, AWMNH changed its name to Happy Mama Healthy Baby Alliance to reflect our expanding recognition of the impact of trauma in all its forms on infant and maternal mental health.
300+ persons have graduated from our training and certification programs and are now working in various settings to improve maternal and child health throughout the country. Many are now practicing midwives, lactation consultants, doulas, and family support providers.
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. This helped to increase access to midwifery care for childbearing families and increase birthing options.
I am currently a member of a committee working to pass a law that would include Certified Doulas as Medi-Cal providers, making Doula support accessible for all families.
Finally, and most importantly, I am 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. I am also proud to be “Nana” to a grandson born in August 2020. I enjoy international travel, singing, dancing, swimming and yoga, and taking nature hikes with my beloved “fur-baby” Koa, an Australian Cattle Dog.