Cordelia S. Hanna, MPH, CHES, ICCE, CLE, CBA
Founder/Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director
A third generation political activist working for human rights and social justice, Cordelia S. Hanna (AKA Cordelia Hanna-Cheruiyot) has 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, she has worked with hundreds of families from multicultural backgrounds, in community, domiciliary, clinic, public health and hospital settings as a midwife, doula and health educator. She also worked as Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Coordinator for Marion County Department of Public Health in Salem, Oregon. Her passion is caring for mothers and babies, and teaching and mentoring new maternal-child health professionals.
Cordelia is 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, she is a direct-entry midwife, who was trained through an apprenticeship with Licensed Midwives/Certified Professional Midwives in Los Angeles California.
Cordelia Hanna received a BA from Indiana University (Bloomington), where she majored in Theatre, Dance and Vocal Music. Cordelia grew up in Bloomington, Indiana. Her parents were professional musicians and community activists for peace and social justice, so community organizing and “fighting the good fight” is in her blood. During the Viet Nam war era, Cordelia attended the March on Washington in a stroller pushed by her mother, to end the war, end racism and eradicate poverty,
Receiving a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) in Health Education and Promotion/ Maternal-Child Health from Loma Linda University, Cordelia is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) accredited by NCHEC. Cordelia is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Health Psychology from Walden University
Cordelia has 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, Cordelia received mentorship and enjoyed her 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 Cordelia 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. Just two days before her untimely death, she had co-taught a training with Cordelia).
During a decade as a Health Educator at Pasadena Public Health Department, Cordelia trained Community Health Outreach Workers (CHOWs) from Black Infant Health (BIH) Programs throughout California in Doula and Breastfeeding Support. Additionally, Cordelia 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, Cordelia 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, Cordelia founded the Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health in response to a critical shortage of skilled birth workers from communities of color. Under Cordelia’s leadership, in 2016 and 2017, the Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health 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.
Under Cordelia’s leadership, 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, Cordelia 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.
Cordelia is 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.
Cordelia is 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. She is proud to be “Nana” to two young girls, and a grandson born in August 2020. Cordelia enjoys international travel, singing, dancing, swimming and yoga, and taking nature hikes with her beloved “fur-baby” Koa, an Australian Cattle Dog.