Who We Are

Staff

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Anya Tanyavutti, M.A. Ed.

Executive Director 

Pronouns she/her/ella/they

Anya obtained her M.Ed. in Socio-Cultural Studies and Educational Thought and her B.A. in Elementary Education from Western Michigan University.  She traveled as Fulbright Scholar to Senegal, West Africa, as part of a curriculum development team in 2003, an experience that was foundational to her values in work and life. She has almost 25 years experience as a nonprofit-leader and an educator. In 2017 Tanyavutti was elected to the Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board and currently serves as Board Vice President. She provides consulting services in strategic planning and racial and social justice education.  Tanyavutti remains convinced that her most meaningful, complex, and joyful work is being a mother of three little ones.

[email protected]

 

Mai Heath Naturopathic Doctor, Birth Doula, HBCE, 

Program Director 

Pronouns she/her/hers

Mai is an artist, wife, mother to three daughters, medical advocate, childbirth educator, proud recipient of the 2013 Go Natural Inspiration Award, and the 2010 CytoMatrix Academic Scholarship. Her undergraduate studies earned her a BA (Hons) from Columbia College Chicago in 2005. In 2013, Mai received her Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, first-professional degree from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, Ontario. Mai enjoyed teaching Biochemistry at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Mississauga, Ontario in 2015. 

Having the nurturing care of a doula as part of her birth team was the motivation for obtaining her first doula training certification in 2012. Mai has special interest in harm reduction, violence prevention, and social justice. After years of attending births privately, Mai served as a community based doula, group facilitator, case manager, and home visitor. In 2019, Mai was among the first group of birthworkers to attend birthing people thru the Cook County Jail Pilot Program. 

Mai’s understanding of the mind-body-spirit connection shapes how she communicates in this world. Mai bridges art and science to eagerly share in others’ journeys as they access power and inspire their communities. 

[email protected]

 

 

Maggie Quinn Doula, CLC

Peer Doula Program Coordinator

Pronouns she/her/hers

Maggie Quinn (she/her/hers) has worked for over 20 years as a nonprofit professional and community leader, with a background in program management, community organizing, and fundraising. As a former client of Chicago Volunteer Doulas, Maggie was inspired to join the CVD Board of Directors in 2013 following the birth of her first baby, where she went on to serve as Chairperson from 2015-2019. Her Board work also led Maggie to become a Certified Lactation Counselor and more recently, trained as a Doula. Maggie is happily raising her three daughters with her husband in the community of Evanston, Illinois, where Maggie is active in organizing and anti-racism work-- specifically in closing opportunity gaps within the public education system, as well as building and supporting a mutual aid network that organizes the Evanston Community Fridges.  Maggie is particularly committed to addressing issues that disproportionately impact women and queer people. 

 

Maggie has served as Program Coordinator for CVD’s Peer Doula Program since its inception in 2019. Working in this role has allowed Maggie to join and grow an incredible community of mentors, peer doulas, and their clients — to which she is immensely dedicated to and grateful for.  In so many forms, Chicago Volunteer Doulas has shown up for Maggie and her family, making it a true honor and natural progression for her to step into the role of Interim Program Director as of December 2021.  

[email protected]

 

Katee Evans

Postpartum Program Volunteer Co-Coordinator 

Pronouns she/her/hers

Katee has a B.S. in Public Health and is a Master’s candidate in Public Health from Loyola University Chicago (May 2020).  After serving on a jury that involved a case with low birth weight babies, her interest for women, infants, and children's health elevated and eventually transitioned into developing an interest in health disparities all over the world.  She believes the interconnections of our own well-being and our communities well-being is not sufficiently included in conversations about individual success, community development and social change. True health equity cannot be sustainable if community level variables such as shared definitions of health or the strength of community networks in maintaining a sense of social support are not addressed.  The opportunity to work with CVD is a perfect catalyst to help develop a program that addresses health disparities that occur among vulnerable populations; especially black and brown people. Katee enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, and experiencing all types of cultures.  More specifically, she really enjoys helping others, as she believe that we all bring different strengths to life and are therefore supposed to share our knowledge and abilities to serve others.
[email protected]

 

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Nancy Cowans, CD(DONA), CLC

Postpartum Program Volunteer Co-Coordinator 

Pronouns she/her/hers

I was introduced to Chicago volunteer doulas in the fall of 2008 during a doula training. I was a labor doula for many years and I now have a mad passion for postpartum care. I love watching new families evolve into parents. Because of this I also work on a Mother/Baby unit overnight at a local hospital. I enjoy what I do with CVD because I get to engage with families and mentor many Doulas.

[email protected]

 

Our Doulas

Our doulas come from all different walks of life and that is what we are most proud of. Please read through the bios linked to get some information on how our doulas came into birth work and ended up here at Chicago Volunteer Doulas

 

 

 


Board of Directors

(in alphabetical order)

 

 

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Angelyn Anderson, PhD

She/her

I have been a trained doula since 2012 and am an educator by profession and vocation. Outside of my experience as an educator in the higher education arena, I am also an educator in the realm of social justice and community advocacy. My passion is to work with those who are marginalized and disengaged and helping them to get involved in addressing issues that matter to them. I also serve as administrator for Sun Kissed Doulas, an online resource designed to encourage and support African-American doulas. I have earned an undergraduate degree in Political Science and graduate degrees in Educational Administration as well as Social Justice and am currently working on my doctoral degree in Ethical Leadership. I am also a conflict coach and mediator. In my spare time, I have trained as a yoga and Zumba instructor as well as a Thai Bodywork practitioner. I currently reside in Chicago with my petdren, a Shih Tzu and Bichon and in my spare time I enjoy cooking, knitting and collecting miscellaneous facts.

Atena Danner (Board Co- chair)

She/Her/Hers

Atena O. Danner is a Black, queer creative: parent, educator, organizer. She has an art school B.F.A. an M.S. in Child Development, she coaches teachers in literacy strategies and writes poems. Her core values are Creativity, Authenticity, Justice. Atena lives north of Chicago with her partner, offspring, cat and dog.

 

Justin Kreindler

He/Him/His

Justin Kreindler is a nonprofit professional with years of experience in employment equity and political organizing.  In addition to his work as Director of Programs and Partnership for Public Allies Chicago, Justin worked as an organizer for AFL-CIO Lawyers Committee and the New Voters Project.  He has also worked on several political campaigns. In addition to his work with CVD, Justin is a founding board member of Exaquest Carbon; a research organization focused on solving the climate emergency.
In 2019 Justin ran for Alderman of the 46th ward with a focus on convincing people to stay in Chicago by investing in schools, ensuring more affordability in the housing market, and meaningful police reform. Justin is married with two young children.  He is also an accomplished photographer, a news junky, and the resident chef at home.

 

Tayo Mbande (Board Secretary)

She/Her/Hers

Tayo was born in Long Beach, Ca and raised partially in Chicago on the south side. She graduated from Howard University with a degree in Psychology in 2015. That same year she gave birth to her first child with her mother by her side and knew then that motherhood was her favorite hood. In 2016, she became a WIC trained Breastfeeding Peer Counselor and in 2017 trained as an SMC Full Circle Doula Birth Companion. She is the co-founder and CEO of Chicago Birthworks Collective, founder and President of The Love Package Project, NFP and a full time birth justice advocate.

 

Heather McCullough CPM, CAPPA Faculty CLD, CPD, CLE HCHI 

Pronouns she/her

Heather is a passionate, experienced, and innovative birth provider for over 25 years, Heather began this work when she was 19. Initially going to pre-med to become an OB-Gyn, Heather was re-directed to Midwifery and became a Certified Professional Midwife. She practiced in Portland, Oregon at the wonderful Andaluz Waterbirth Center. After moving back to the Midwest, she settled in Chicago. As co-owner of 312Doulas, she supports 16-23 clients per month in Chicagoland, while teaching classes and in-services for families, doulas, and educators.

 

Tracy Olasimbo (Board Chair)

She/her

Tracy Olasimbo is an advocate for equity in education, a skilled facilitator, and a content creator.  As the former Partner Engagement Specialist at Ingenuity, Tracy developed and implemented professional development for educators and community partners, supported under-resourced schools, and built vital relationships in the community. After participating in The National SEED Project (aimed at self-reflection as a means by which communities and workplaces can build the capacity to create equitable spaces), she became impassioned with helping others foster cultural awareness to build equitable and inclusive environments. 

Through the lens of education, Tracy developed and launched Ingenuity's seven-part professional development series in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which provides community stakeholders with a cognizance of the diverse CPS student experience in order to inspire culturally-relevant, equitable programs. Currently, Tracy leads workshops and professional development for parents and District employees on the layered topics of race and education in Evanston. Tracy currently holds the role as a Board Chair for Free Lunch Academy, Board Member for Chicago Volunteer Doulas, PTA Co-President at Washington Elementary, and is a member of the African-American, Black, and Caribbean (ABC) Family Support Group's Planning Committee. She holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

 

Dannie Ransom (Board Treasurer)

They/Them/Theirs

My name is Dannie Ransom (they/them) and I am a non-binary Black queer feminist organizer, birth justice advocate, and learning abolitionist based in Chicago, IL. For many years of my life, I've held many roles in service to movement and been in these streets fighting for improved material conditions of my community and those suffering violence at the hands of the state. I graduated from an HBCU where I became grounded in and radicalized by freedom fighters and movement elders that helped me understand the urgency for collective liberation of all BIPOC folks within the prison and medical industrial complex. Since graduating, I've devoted my personal time and paid work to advocating and organizing oppressed people until we free us.

During my time in Chicago, I organized alongside birth justice advocates and workers to form the Black Birth Justice Forum (BBJF). BBJF is a team of birth workers that challenges, informs, and (if needed) co-authors legislation to expand equitable access to doulas in Illinois. Currently, I serve on the communications team at Black Youth Project 100, where I lead communications and digital organizing strategy and support the members of the organization. Signs: Gemini sun, Scorpio moon, Leo rising.

 

Zuri Thompson

She/her

Zuri Thompson is a Community Doula, helping businesses, organizations and individuals feed the communities they care about in ways they love. She has over 15 years of experience directing, managing, and developing programs in neighborhoods throughout Chicago to address critical needs in the areas of senior citizen care, affordable housing, veteran services, economic development and food security. After becoming a mom, Zuri trained to become a Postpartum Doula so she could help other families with the transition of welcoming a new baby home. She has combined her community organizing expertise with her Postpartum Doula experience to expand how she serves our world.

Zuri is deeply passionate about food and works everyday to ensure people in need of nourishment get it. Food is her tool to express love, gratitude and support and she believes it heals some of the world’s deepest wounds. She serves from the heart with empathy, empowerment, and a sense of equality in order to build community so together we can truly fix our broken social systems.

Zuri is a lifelong Chicagoan and currently lives in Bronzeville with her partner and two daughters, surrounded by a network of support from friends, family and neighbors.