Cordelia

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

Officer

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.

 

Cordelia Hanna-Cheruiyot, The Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health, http://wholisticmaternalnewbornhealth.org, Doula Support and Childbirth Education in Los Angeles CA

Cordelia and Diagne Family, 2015.

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.

Geraldine Perry-Williams receiving Lifetime Achievement Award at Birthing Justice Forum and MCH Champion Award Ceremony, Los Angeles, 2016 . L to R: Geraldine Perry-Williams, Cordelia Hanna (Photo by Ani Tsourian).

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.

 

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 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.

 

Cordelia and Koa Puppy Girl

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.