Dr Stanhope is a full time OB/Gyn hospitalist and medical director of Women and Children’s services at North Memorial Health Hospital. His clinical interests include hypertension, complex deliveries, and postoperative opioid prescribing. Prior to his current position, he provided contracted OB coverage at a number of facilities, high and low volume, in several states and completed two missions to South Sudan with Doctors Without Borders from which he gained invaluable experience learning the myriad needs and challenges different facilities and systems face.
Dr. Rauk leads quality for Fairview System in OB for 10 years and serves at MHA as the lead of their Perinatal Committee. He is the Vice-Chair of the Quality and Safety Department and an OB-GYN at the University of Minnesota.
OB/GYN at HealthPartners
MNPQC MOSTaRE Initiative Co-Chair
Alina Kraynak, (she/her), is the Women’s Health Consultant at the Minnesota Department of Health. Dr. Kraynak provides education and guidance on various maternal health topics, serves as a collaborator and connector of statewide health interventions to health systems and community organizations. In her current role at MDH, she supports and coordinates the work of the Minnesota Maternal Mortality Review Committee. Dr. Kraynak is passionate about improving coordination throughout sectors, using population health principles to address health outcomes birthing people in Minnesota.
Dr. Kraynak worked for eight years as a critical care nurse in various nursing environments with diverse populations throughout the Midwest. She taught as adjunct faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has a Doctor of Nursing Practice in Advanced Population Health, to which her DNP focus was addressing barriers in care coordination for patients with substance use disorders, with a Medicaid provider in Chicago, IL.
Dr. Downey is an attending neonatologist. She relocated to the Twin Cities in 2019 from Chicago, IL where she was in practice for over 5 years. She did her pediatrics residency at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and her neonatal-perinatal fellowship at University of Colorado and Children’s Hospital of Colorado. Outside of patient care, her main interest is the intersection of clinical excellence with quality outcomes. She has a masters degree in Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety from Northwestern University. She is married and has 3 children.
Anna has worked as an RN since 2001 in a variety of areas including postpartum/newborn care, labor & delivery, lactation consulting, maternal fetal medicine (obstetrical testing), childbirth education. She has been the Clinical Director for Family Health at MVNA since 2015. MVNA operates five evidence based and evidence informed home visiting programs that provide services to families living in Minneapolis and suburban Hennepin County.
Anne Walaszek, MPH (Anishinaabe) is the Maternal and Child Health Quality Improvement Specialist in the Women and Infant Health Unit at the Minnesota Department of Health. In her role, she leads two quality improvement grants, the Perinatal Quality Collaborative and the Communities Collaborating to Prevent Girls Opioid Abuse.
Ms. Walaszek has experience working at a national non-profit addressing cancer inequities within American Indian and Alaska Native communities. In this role, she provided leadership for a clinic and community health approach to develop and implement culturally tailored evidence-based interventions to effectively build capacity in health systems across Indian Country. Her public health experience reflects grant writing, program development, research and data management throughout her experiences at the Minnesota Department of Health Diabetes Program, Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota, and SAMHSA for their Child, Adolescent and Family Branch. Ms. Walaszek is a 2017 recipient of the Lou Fuller Award for Distinguished Service in Eliminating Health Disparities.”
Ann has been practicing full-scope midwifery since 2001. She is representing ACNM and is currently on the national ACNM Board of Directors. As a Nurse-Midwife Director at MHealth, Fairview, she serves as a steering committee member of the perinatal quality and safety committee. Ann is involved with teaching the next generation of nurse-midwives as an adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor with the U of MN School of Nursing.
Ari is an experienced labor and delivery nurse and newly Certified Nurse Midwife. She was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and grew up in Hermantown, Minnesota. She graduated from The College of Saint Scholastica (BSN) in 2016, and most recently, The University of Minnesota (DNP) in 2020. She was involved in the Improvement of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Outcomes project and her interests include health disparities among minority women; adolescent health; and, perinatal mood disorders.
Dr. Sabol received her Obstetrics & Gynecology training at Oregon Health & Science University and completed her Maternal-Fetal Medicine training at Washington University in St. Louis. She is now full-time faculty at the University of Minnesota/MHealth Fairview. Her career focus is centered on hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and quality improvement and implementation science in obstetrics. She is currently receiving her master’s in Patient Safety and Healthcare Quality from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her experience with quality improvement started as a resident working on a multidisciplinary effort to improve communication and patient outcomes in the setting of unplanned cesarean deliveries. During her fellowship, to combat high postpartum readmission rates and to improve maternal outcomes, she implemented a postpartum home blood pressure monitoring system for all hypertensive patients delivered at that institution. She is eager and excited to work towards improving access, quality, and healthcare equity for birthing people in our state.
Cassie is a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist with Minnesota Perinatal Physicians, part of Allina Health. she has research experience in preterm birth prevention, preeclampsia, and labor management, with multiple publications. Cassie has a longstanding interest in teaching, global health, and access to care for underserved communities. She has experience creating a clinic for uninsured women in NYC and multiple medical/surgical trips to Central America to provide care in conjunction with local physicians.
Ellen is the Manager of Maternal & Infant Health Initiatives in Minnesota for March of Dimes. She attended Smith College and graduated with a degree in History and Latin American Studies. Subsequently, she spent time working in International Development in Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Brazil. While in Latin America, Ellen was able to focus on community engagement and public health, executing many communities and volunteer-led projects. She now lives in St Paul with her husband Diego, daughter Minori and 3 fur babies.
Dr Plummer specializes in neonatal critical care at Children’s Minnesota. She is originally from Ohio and attended medical school at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine in Dayton, OH. She completed her residency and fellowship at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. Her clinical interests include nutrition, growth, and neurodevelopmental outcomes in premature and critically ill infants. She is passionate about caring for infants hospitalized in the NICU and building relationships with their families. Dr Plummer is involved in the education of neonatal fellows, pediatrics residents, family practice residents and medical students. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two children.
Jamie Galbreath is a Quality Improvement Associate Director at a nonprofit health plan, UCare in serving more than 400,000 members. She has received her doctorate in Public Health with a specialization in Community Health Promotion and Education. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist and completed a certificate program for a mini MBA in health care management from St. Thomas University. She has over 10 years of experience in the health care industry and currently leads clinical and public health performance improvement projects designed to improve member health outcomes.
Preferred pronouns: she/her/hers
Jeanne Friebe, Outpatient Lactation Consultant, CentraCare Plaza, Women’s Health Outreach, has been working with breastfeeding families for the past 37 years as an RN in the Family Birthing Center at St. Cloud Hospital in Labor and Delivery, postpartum, the NICU, and through Childbirth Education instructing. In working with the NICU level 2 and 3 premature newborns and their families, Jeanne found that her passion for breastfeeding flourished as she worked with mothers struggling to breastfeed, produce milk, and pump. In 1997, she was hired to start an in-patient Lactation Program at the St. Cloud Hospital and had the opportunity to focus most on the breastfeeding population. Currently, she serves as a member at large on the MN breastfeeding coalition. In 2019, she opened a Milk Depot in Central MN, through the MN Milk Bank for Babies, and currently serves on that Board of directors as well. Jeanne is currently leading a workgroup as we are pursuing the 10 Steps Mother Baby-Friendly designation through the MN Department of Health.
Dr. Jessica L. Nyholm is an obstetrician-gynecologist in Minneapolis and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including M Health Fairview, University of Minnesota Medical Center, and Maple Grove Hospital. She began as a specialist in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of Minnesota. Jessica is passionate about Quality Improvement in Obstetrics, with involvement in both the OB Clinical Practice Council through North Memorial Health and Zero Birth Injury (ZBI) through M Health. Additionally, she has an interest in perinatal infections, with a focus on cytomegalovirus infection in pregnancy.
Katie has worked in maternal and child health for more than 35 years, in a variety of policy, program, and systems activities related to improving MCH outcomes. As a Medicaid Policy Specialist, she developed, implemented and evaluated eligibility and benefit coverage policy for at risk populations in topic areas such as reproductive health (improving pregnancy outcomes), EPSDT, disability services, program eligibility, and physician services. Other areas of experience include NICU, public health nursing, managed care organizations, health education, and serving on non-profit governance boards.
Karen P. Fogg is the Maternal and Child Health Section Manager in the Child and Family Health Division at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Karen joined MDH at the end of 2019, and she is responsible for a tapestry of state-wide programs including the federally-funded Title V’s MCH program, MCH technical experts, and grant portfolios with the goal of improving, promoting and protecting the health of women, children, adolescents and families. Prior to joining MDH, Karen spent 15 years working in global reproductive, maternal and child health programs, including 10 years with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) a senior maternal health advisor. Karen holds a Master of Public Health degree from Emory University.
Dr. Kirsten Coverstone is an audiologist and coordinator of the statewide Early Hearing Detection & Intervention program. She has led a number of quality improvement projects involving hospitals, clinics, & specialists in an effort to improve outcomes and decrease disparities in timely follow-up and diagnosis of hearing loss.
Birth Center, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Women’s Health
Dr. Nezworski enjoys taking care of diverse populations of women during adolescence, pregnancy, menopause, and beyond. She thinks of her role as an obstetrician/gynecologist as a bridge to information about women’s health and works collaboratively with her patients to explore solutions that will work best for their own personal needs.
Leeann primarily works at Regions in St. Paul and is the Medical Director for the Family Birth Center but is active across the HP/Park Nicollet Org and its owned hospitals. She has been a part of developing and implementing processes such as Team Stepps, TJC/Core Measures compliance, and much clinical/quality work. Leeann enjoys doing this behind-the-scenes work as well as patient care and hopes to help us in MN be more connected throughout the State.
Leslie has her BSN, MS, and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and is a certified nurse-midwife, RN, and registered public health nurse. She is an associate professor of nursing at Metropolitan State University, focusing on undergraduate research and epidemiology courses, women’s health, and public health. She serves on the AWHONN-MN leadership team and practices as a CNM at a reproductive health clinic in the twin cities.
Lisa Johnson RN, BSN is currently the Director for Women’s and Children’s Services for Sanford Bemidji Medical Center. Lisa has her Masters in Healthcare Administration from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. She brings 15 years’ experience in caring for women and their families in a rural community setting. Lisa is passionate about ensuring all women in Minnesota have access to high-quality and safe patient care leading to improved birth outcomes. With a special interest in substance use disorders in pregnancy, she has led programming focusing on ensuring moms and babies are kept together as a family unit.
Megan is the benefits policy specialist for Minnesota Health Care Programs working at the Department of Human Services (DHS). Reproductive health is my policy area. Her background is in occupational therapy and worked in-home care for 6 years prior to coming to the DHS. Megan started as the Durable Medical Equipment policy specialist and transferred to reproductive health as health equity related to babies and mothers is a passion of mine.
Melissa has been working in obstetrical nursing for the past 22 years at a variety of facilities, from the small community hospital to a large urban obstetrical care unit, in the OR and as a charge nurse. Her current work as a Nurse Clinician began in August of 2013 at CentraCare, St. Cloud Hospital. Melissa was a finalist in 2016 for the March of Dimes “Nurse of the Year” and awarded the “Nurse of the Year in Women’s Health” in October of 2020.
Melissa is a part of the Molnlycke Speaker’s Bureau. She is a former Perinatal Expert Consultant with the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA), and serves on the MHA Perinatal Safety Committee. Melissa serves on the Minnesota Perinatal Quality Collaborative, Maternal Hypertension Subcommittee member and faculty, and the Maternal Mortality Review Committee through the Minnesota Department of Health. Melissa is a 2012 Graduate of Western Governors University with a Master’s in Nursing Education. She is a present member of ANA, AWHONN, MOLN, AORN, ASPAN and Sigma Theta Tau professional nursing organizations, and served as the AWHONN MN state chair in 2019-2020. She was featured in “The Call of Nursing” written by William Patrick.
Dr. Mira Grice Sheff joined the Minnesota Department of Health as the State Maternal and Child Health Epidemiologist in August 2015. She is also the Principal Investigator for the Minnesota Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (MN PRAMS), a joint project between the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that is designed to find out why some babies are born healthy and others are not. Prior to joining the health department, she was an assistant professor at State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, where she conducted research and taught graduate-level courses in the subjects of women’s health and injury and violence prevention. She received both her Masters and PhD from the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences.
Michelle Chiezah is the State’s Infant Health and Mortality Reduction Specialist at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). At MDH, Michelle provides statewide leadership around infant mortality reduction and manages the state’s Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative. The Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative provides resources, education, information, and technical assistance to local public health agencies, Tribal governments, and community-based organizations to improve birth outcomes. A major focus of Michelle’s work is to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in infant mortality by planning, coordinating, implementing, and evaluating interventions and activities using the most current data, best practices, and promising strategies. Michelle currently serves on several committees that aim to improve maternal and/or infant health outcomes, including the Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths Case Review Committee, the Minnesota Perinatal Quality Collaborative Health Equity Group, the St. Paul-Ramsey County Birth Equity Community Council, Minnesota Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) Advisory Committee, and the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs Healthy Beginnings Cohort, to name a few.
Dr. Nathan T. Chomilo is Medical Director for the State of Minnesota’s Medicaid & MinnesotaCare programs and practices as a General Pediatrician and an Internal Medicine Hospitalist with Park Nicollet Health Services/HealthPartners. He completed his combined residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota and was the Pediatric Chief Resident at the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital. His advocacy work has included the impact early childhood intervention and healthcare access have on the long-term prospects of our children and how physicians and health systems can address racial & health equity. He is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Early Childhood and Section on Minority Health, Equity & Inclusion, is one of the Early Childhood Champions for the MN chapter of the AAP, is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School, helped start the organization Minnesota Doctors for Health Equity (MDHEQ), was formerly appointed to the Minnesota Governor’s Early Learning Council and previously served as the Medical Director of Reach Out and Read Minnesota.
Director of Nursing-Birth Center at Regions Hospital
Perinatal and Informatics nurse leader known for excellence and exceptional commitment to collaboration, planning, communicating, coordinating, taking initiative, and problem-solving to ensure excellence in healthcare delivery. Has effectively led interdisciplinary teams to improve and standardize healthcare delivery in the United States and Qatar. Passionate about women’s healthcare, organizational structure, Health information systems and the advancement of nursing leadership and governance as a foundation to achieve the highest quality, evidence-based, best practice across healthcare systems.
Regina Marino is an Epidemiologist for the Newborn Screening Program at the Minnesota Department of Health working on early hearing loss and critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) surveillance and quality improvement projects. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in 2018. Before joining the Newborn Screening Program in February 2020, Regina was a CSTE (Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists) Applied Epidemiology Fellow at the Minnesota Department of Health focusing on severe maternal morbidity and gestational diabetes.
Dr. Samantha A. Sommerness DNP, APRN, CNM (Sam) began her nursing career in 1993 in the care of women and children in the US Army. Her professional nursing practice is diverse as she holds a certification as a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), spent 6 years in the United States Army as a labor and delivery nurse, and was deployed to Bosnia for 1 year during Operation Joint Endeavor. Sam is a passionate educator and health care consultant and has held a variety of positions, from 2007 to 2014, she spent 7 years developing obstetrical care models for health systems. She has been a faculty and facilitator for a national project for AHRQ’s Safety Program for Perinatal Care where over 50 hospitals enrolled to improve patient safety, team communication, and quality of care for mothers, and their newborns within labor and delivery units. Since 2015, Sam has been a full-time educator and serves as a Clinical Associate Professor for the University of Minnesota School of Nursing. a. Sam has held a variety of positions in AWHONN. She served on the 2018 AWHONN National Program Committee. She was President of the Minnesota section (2012-2014) and has been involved in the Minnesota Section Committee in both conference planning and education since 2008. She is currently in her third year of the Ph.D. program, speaks nationally on perinatal safety, and perinatal opioid disorder, and is a published author.
Sara has over 27 years of experience in the health care field. Her experience includes Med-Surg, OB/GYN, Home Health, Public Health, Pediatrics, Internal and Family Medicine. She is well versed in federal and state programs focusing on Medicare and Medicaid.
She is currently President and Acting Treasurer for the Minnesota Black Nurses Association where she’s supporting community advocacy and building partnerships to improve health disparities in all underserved populations. Sara obtained my Doctorate of Nursing Practice at Capella in 2019.
Siri is an OB/GYN with broad experience in both urban and rural settings, having trained in DC, provided backup and referral for her rural private practice partners in the Red River Valley for 25 years, and now she is a hospitalist for a perinatal group at Abbott NW these last 7 years. Her parallel passions for advocacy and global health prompted MPH work under Peter Pronovost (‘check list’ expert) at Johns Hopkins, focusing on patient safety, health equity, team engagement, communication, and accountability in order to improve processes and ultimately outcomes – and is the lens through which she works, or volunteer in Haiti or at the Capitol. Siri is currently serving as the MN Section ACOG Chair, having just completed 3 years as the Legislative Chair, and is delighted to learn from and engage in the vital work of the MNPQC for the women of Minnesota.
Susan has been a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Women’s Health for over 30 years. She has a long history with MPO as a volunteer, conference presenter, planning committee member, and has served on the Board of Directors. She is currently the MPO Executive Director and Co-Director of the Minnesota Perinatal Quality Collaborative (MNPQC).
Dr. Yamamura is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Women’s Health at the University of Minnesota. She completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and a fellowship in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of Minnesota. In addition to being an active clinical partner in the University MFM practice, she also serves as ACOG District VI Champion for FASD Prevention and is the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellowship Director at the University of Minnesota. Her primary interests are medical education and preterm birth prevention. Dr. Yamamura is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and has a subspecialty certification in Maternal-Fetal Medicine.