Executive Director

Fran Schwartz, CEO

Fran has been developing and managing midwifery and OB / GYN practices in the New York City area since 1991. She was the Executive Administrator of a large private OB/GYN practice for 13 years, which she developed into five offices delivering over 2,500 babies at Maimonides Medical Center. Most importantly, she spearheaded its merger and acquisition of another practice to provide an extensive midwifery program for women in Brooklyn. She also founded a midwifery practice, WomEncare, in 1992 and served as Executive Administrator. Her goal is to use her expertise to showcase Brooklyn Birthing Center as the best place for a woman to naturally birth in a warm, nurturing, out-of-hospital setting. She plans on expanding BBC so that it can provide more services for clients and families.

Director of Midwifery

Linda Gaglioti, CNM

Linda Gaglioti received her BSN at Adelphi University in 1983, and received her MSN (Clinical Nurse Specialist, Perinatal Track) from Adelphi University in 1992. She went on to receive a Certificate in Nurse-Midwifery from Columbia University in 1994, and earned a Certificate in Teaching (focus on midwifery) from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997. Linda served as a labor & delivery nurse from 1983 to 1994, and began her career as a nurse-midwife at Maimonides Medical Center in 1994. She was the Assistant Director of Midwifery at Maimonides from 2009 to 2012, when she was hired as Midwifery Director at Brooklyn Birthing Center and Brooklyn Midwifery Group.  

Brooklyn Midwifery Group

Andrea Diamond, CNM, CLC, HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator

Andrea earned a BS in Psychology at Brooklyn College in 1992, completed a certificate program at the Swedish Institute for Massage Therapy in 1996 (she specializes in prenatal massage!), and obtained her yoga teaching certification from the Sivananda Vedanta Ashram in 2001. Andrea went on to earn her BSN in 2004 and her MSN in 2007, both from SUNY Downstate. She has been working as a nurse and as a midwife in New York since 2004, and she joined our team in 2008.  Andrea became a Certified Lactation Counselor in 2012 and became a HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator in 2013.

“I began my midwifery career working in a hospital where the majority of my time was spent charting notes as opposed to being with a woman during her labor. Office visits weren’t much better, as I had little time to spend truly addressing women’s needs. The hospital setting, where low risk women were routinely subject to unnecessary interventions and cookie-cutter treatments, truly went against the grain for me.

I’m thrilled to have been asked to join BBC, where I am free to practice midwifery the way I believe it should be done— as individualized as each woman and each labor is. At BBC, I have the opportunity to form relationships with our patients and their families; spend quality time addressing their concerns; and to ultimately share in their labor experience as more than just a provider, but as someone with a deep connection and caring for the women I have shared a nine month journey with.”

 Laurie Brucia, CNM

Laurie Brucia earned her BS in Nursing from Florida Atlantic University in 1988, and went on to earn a MS in Parent-Child Nursing, specializing in Midwifery, from The University of Miami in 1994. Since 1994, she has worked as a Nurse-Midwife in Iowa, Florida, Tennessee, and New York. In addition to her extensive clinical experience, Laurie initiated the first CNM service at Allen Memorial Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa; served as Secretary and Treasurer for the Iowa ACNM Chapter; served as a preceptor for nursing students, advanced practice nursing students, medical students and residents in OB/GYN; developed educational preceptorships for labor & delivery, pediatrics and NICU settings; and taught maternal-child health courses for aspiring LPNs. She joined the Brooklyn Midwifery Group in 2012.

“I believe that we are privileged to assist women in bringing life into the world, to educate and support all women with respect to their bodily functions, and enhance safe and satisfying health maintenance throughout the woman’s life cycle. Midwifery is not just a profession but a belief system…a belief that the woman’s body is designed to work in harmony with her mind and spirit. Our function as Midwives is to offer evidence-based health information and provision of care in partnership with women. This allows a woman the opportunity to make good health choices appropriate to her interdependent role within family and society, so as to cultivate a life direction unique to her which may include pregnancy and birth controlled by choice.”

 Lillian Priante, CNM

Lillian Priante earned a BA in Biology and Chemistry from Hofstra University in 1995, and went on to earn a BSN from NYU in 1999. After completing her nursing degree, Lillian worked as a professional RN at New York Presbyterian Hospital and as a home visit nurse with the Visiting Nurse Service of Brooklyn. She went on to earn an MS in Midwifery in 2002, and worked at Maimonides Medical Center, BBC’s affiliated hospital, from 2002 to 2006. After nearly 7 years working as a full-scope midwife in a private OB/GYN practice, Lillian joined the Brooklyn Midwifery Group in August of 2013.  

“I believe that pregnancy is a normal process and that the woman should direct her own birth. My role as a midwife is to be ‘with the woman.’ I am there to provide labor support and to provide a safe environment for the woman to have her baby. It is always an honor and privilege to be a part of one of the most intimate moments of a woman’s life. I am so happy to provide care for the women at Brooklyn Birthing Center. After many years as a hospital midwife, I felt I needed to get back to the natural birth process.” 

 Christiane McCloskey, CM

Christiane McCloskey discovered her passion for birth work after the birth of her first child in the late 1980s. She joined the Board of Directors of the Childbirth Education Association of Metropolitan New York in 1990, and went on to establish a doula service, teach prenatal and postpartum exercise classes, and assist new mothers with breastfeeding. After giving birth to her second child at home, Christiane decided to pursue a career in midwifery. She earned an MS in Midwifery from SUNY Downstate in 2002, and spent the next several years practicing as a full-scope midwife in New York City hospitals, including Woodhull, Metropolitan, Roosevelt, and Long Island College Hospital. Christiane opened her private practice, City Midwifery, in 2008, and joined Brooklyn Midwifery Group as a part-time full-scope midwife in 2013.   

 Denine Polen, CNM, FNP

Denine Polen earned her BSN from New York University in 2003, and went on to earn an MSN from the Family Nurse Practitioner Program at Pace University in 2006 while working as Nurse Manager at Care for the Homeless. After completing her masters degree, Denine was hired as a Family Nurse Practitioner for Care for the Homeless, where she continues to serve as the primary provider at a 400-bed family shelter. In 2009, Denine also opened her private practice, Polen Healthcare, and began offering a range of women’s health services with an emphasis on holistic wellness. She earned an MSN in midwifery from Stony Brook University in 2012, and subsequently expanded her private practice, renamed 8th Street Midwifery and Women’s Health, to include midwifery care. She joined the Brooklyn Midwifery Group in 2014.

Aki Shishido, CNM

AkiAki Shishido earned her BSN at the Japanese Red Cross College of Nursing in 1998. Immediately after completing her nursing and midwifery degree, Aki began working as a midwife with the Japanese Red Cross Medical Center in Tokyo, where she delivered over 300 babies between 1998 and 2004. In addition to providing intrapartum care, Aki provided inpatient prenatal and postpartum care and patient education (including childbirth preparation, newborn care, and lactation support). After relocating to New York and working as a nurse in a variety of settings, Aki was accepted to the MSN-Midwifery program at New York University. She completed her MSN in 2011, and joined our team in 2013. Aki is fluent in Japanese.

Consulting Obstetricians and Owners

James Ducey, MD, FACOG

James Ducey, MD is a board certified OB/GYN and Perinatologist (high risk specialist). He is Director of both the Division of Maternal / Fetal Medicine and the Center for Women’s Health at Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH) North Shore LIJ. He will not permit any attending OB physician at SIUH to perform a primary elective cesarean section. He is convinced of what is already becoming apparent— that the maternal mortality rate in the US (while low) is on the rise because of the dramatic increase in unnecessary cesarean sections.

Dr. Ducey is available 24/7 for consultation on any question regarding our clients. He reviews all new OB charts, and reviews all client charts at 36 weeks to ensure that clients are eligible to birth at BBC in compliance with our Policies and Procedures. When appropriate, Dr. Ducey co-manages higher risk pregnancies with our midwives. 

Norma Veridiano, MD, JD, MBA

As co-founder of Brooklyn Birthing Center, Norma Veridiano, MD, has been an invaluable source of support and guidance in the development of our practice. She is a board certified OB / GYN with a large private practice in Brooklyn. Although she has retired from the practice of obstetrics, she remains a terrific referral for clients in need of gynecological follow-up not within the purview of midwives. 

 Sol Neuhoff, MD

As co-founder of Brooklyn Birthing Center, Sol Neuhoff, MD realized his long-held dream of opening the first freestanding birth center in Brooklyn. His persistence and dedication to the vision of providing a birthing center option for NYC-area families enabled BBC to finally open its doors after nine years of planning.

Dr. Neuhoff is a board certified OB / GYN. Over the course of his long and distinguished career, he has worked in academic, hospital, and private practice settings. As a traditionally-trained obstetrician, he is skilled in techniques that facilitate, rather than interfere with, the natural birthing process. Dr. Neuhoff is semi-retired, but remains deeply engaged with our practice.

Office Staff

Marissa Harvey

Marissa Harvey began her career in health care administration in 2000, when she was hired as a Medical Secretary in the East Meadow, NY office of Robert P. Griggs, MD. In 2007, she went on to work as an Assistant Practice Manager for the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Columbia University. While at Columbia, Marissa coordinated a 15-person team and was responsible for human resources, workflow optimization, medical records management, and patient satisfaction. In addition to her medical office and OB/GYN experience, Marissa has an extensive retail management background, served as a volunteer educator with the Caribbean Women’s Health Association, and is pursuing a BS in Health Services at Long Island University. Marissa joined our team as Practice Administrator in 2013. 

“Still after 10 plus years in this field, pregnancy and delivery continue to amaze and impress me every day. The female body and spirit are capable of such incredible acts of strength and this is proven during the process of childbirth. I’m impressed by the sense of empowerment here at BBC. Being able to trust in your own body and getting that faith instilled in you by a midwife, the ultimate goal is achieved; a healthy baby & a healthy mommy.” 

 Maggie Torrance, CD

Maggie Torrance began her career in human services in 2005, when she started working as a counselor for at-risk adolescents at Ramapo for Children in Rhinebeck, NY. During her tenure at Ramapo for Children, Maggie taught independent living skills, developed a GED curriculum, and conducted outreach. She was eventually promoted to Program Manager. In 2006, Maggie worked with pregnant and parenting adolescents (including young women in labor) at the Triple L Youth Ranch. In 2011, she completed a DONA Birth Doula Training and started her freelance doula practice. Maggie was hired as an on-call birthing assistant at BBC in 2011, and joined our full-time staff as Medical Assistant in 2012 and promoted to Clinical Manager in 2013. She holds a BA in Family Science from Anderson University.

“I began working with pregnant and parenting clients and attending births in 2006. I immediately fell in love with birth work, and I have since attended over 75 births.  I enjoy working with women and their families, and I feel honored to be present during their special, life-changing events.” 

 Catarina Baraona

CatarinaCatarina Baraona earned a BSN from the Federal University of Espírito Santo in Brazil. During her nursing education, she interned at the University Hospital Cassiano Antônio Moraes, conducted home visits for the Maruípe Public Clinic, and conducted environmental health research studies. After completing her nursing degree, Catarina worked as a teaching assistant for LPNs and volunteered in the maternity ward at the University Hospital Cassiano Antônio Moraes. Her duties included newborn care, postpartum teaching, and helping new mothers to initiate breastfeeding. Catarina began training as a BBC Birth Assistant in the spring of 2013, and was immediately recognized as a capable and compassionate provider. She was hired as a part-time Medical Assistant a few months later. Catarina hopes to obtain her RN license in the US and pursue graduate studies in nurse-midwifery. 

 Geanine Hunte

Geanine Hunte has held multi-faceted administrative roles in busy office environments since 1995. Her prior experience in a variety of legal, business, and non-profit settings included phone triage, database management, document preparation, accounting assistance, liaising with partner organizations, and working with Brooklyn teens. When she applied to join our team, her stellar organizational skills were immediately recognized. As Brooklyn Midwifery Group’s Patient Coordinator, Geanine is well-known for her sharp memory and attention to individual patient needs. She holds a Business Diploma from Franklin D. Roosevelt High School and has completed accounting coursework at Baruch College.

“When I first began working at BBC, I was impressed by the sense of community among staff members and patients. I enjoy working in an environment where women receive empowering, compassionate, and family-centered care.”

 Jeané Findley-Barnes

Jeané Findley-Barnes completed her certificate in Medical Billing and Coding in 2009. She promptly began her career at Pediatric Associates in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, where she worked as a patient accounts representative. The following year, she moved to Massachusetts and secured a position as Senior Medical Billing Coordinator at Wayside Youth and Family Support Network. Jeané was hired as Insurance Coordinator at Brooklyn Birthing Center and Brooklyn Midwifery Group in 2013.

 Rachel Anne M. Libon

Rachel Anne M. Libon has worked in a variety of social service and public health settings since 1999. Her experience includes assisting with community sanitation projects in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, working as a residential aid in a homeless shelter in Ireland, and spearheading cooperative development initiatives in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Portland, Oregon. She was hired at Brooklyn Birthing Center in 2012, where she maintains financial records and practice data, manages BBC’s web presence, and coordinates special programs- including BBC’s educational series, the Strong Start Initiative, and the Baby-Friendly program. She also began training as a birth assistant shortly after her son was born in the spring of 2013! Rachel Anne holds a BA in Cultural Studies from Macalester College and is working toward a second degree in nursing. 

“I believe everyone deserves compassionate, empowering, and individualized care. The knowledge I gained while working at BBC was invaluable during my own pregnancy and birth experience, and I aspire to make information and health care options accessible to all families.”

Specialists and Educators

Adina Lerer, RN-BSN, LCCE, IBCLC

Adina Lerer earned a BS in Biomedical Sciences from Brooklyn College in 2009, and immediately continued to the Accelerated Nursing Program at SUNY Downstate where she earned her BSN. In November of 2011, Adina began working as a Maternal-Child Nurse at SUNY Downstate University Hospital. During her time at SUNY Downstate, Adina worked to promote evidence-based birth practices and breastfeeding, becoming a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She was hired as Director of Lactation Services at Brooklyn Birthing Center in 2014.  Adina will be directing a complete Lactation Program that enables all BBC families to receive adequate breastfeeding education and support. 

Malka Korbman, RN-BSN, CD, CBE, LMSW

Malka earned her AS in nursing from Beth Israel, and went on to earn a BSN from Kean University. She began her career working as a psychiatric nurse in a variety of in-patient and out-patient settings. Later, as Clinical Coordinator for Nachas Healthnet in Brooklyn, she provided advocacy and education for childbearing women, helped postpartum clients adjust to motherhood, and offered breastfeeding support. During her nursing career, Malka also taught obstetric nursing to student LPNs and supported women and families undertaking life transitions as a labor doula, childbirth educator, and premarital counselor. She completed an MSW in 2012, and shortly thereafter began working for Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services as a Consulting Maternal and Child Health Social Worker. Malka now counsels pregnant women at a number of Brooklyn-area obstetric practices. She is available to meet with Brooklyn Birthing Center clients by appointment. BBC clients who wish to meet with a counselor free-of-charge may ask one our midwives for a referral. 

Jennifer Leopold, IBCLC, LMSW

Jennifer Leopold

Jennifer graduated from Binghamton University in 1996 with a BA in Psychology and earned her Masters of Social Work at Columbia University in 1998. She has extensive experience working with children and families, helping them to overcome trauma and develop tools for their future. Volunteering as a La Leche League International Leader has been the cornerstone of her knowledge and passion for educating families about breastfeeding. As an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and a Licensed Social Worker, Jennifer provides wrap-around services that includes breastfeeding management and counseling for individuals, groups, and families. She is also the proud mother of three boys.

Tova Ovits, CLC

Tova OvitsTova Ovits graduated Pace University with a BA in English. While breastfeeding her youngest child, she read The Womanly Art of Breastfeedingand discovered how much she didn’t know while nursing her older kids. Tova has been dedicated to helping mothers and babies breastfeed ever since. She became a La Leche League Leader and Certified Lactation Counselor to help even more families enjoy a healthy, happy beginning.

Emily Cohen-Moreira, CD, CLC

Emily Cohen-Moreira is a Childbirth Educator, doula, and Certified Lactation Counselor and the Founder of Lucy the Laborer Birth and Lactation Education and Services. Her work in the field of women’s health started out in advocacy and women’s rights as a bilingual patient advocate at the Philadelphia Women’s Center. As a result of this work, she views birth choices and postpartum support for mom and baby as an issue of the rights of women and babies.

After a year teaching English in Taiwan, she worked as the Manager of Education at Realbirth. She was then the Founding Director of Tribeca Parenting, a pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding education program based in Manhattan. Emily provides prenatal support and education and teaches private and group childbirth, infant care, and breastfeeding classes. She also attends births as a labor support doula and does postpartum in-home lactation support visits. Emily teaches our Birthing Preparation class.

Shalawn Facey, CD, CLC

Shalawn Facey is a New York native, born and raised in Brooklyn. She had her first child in 2003 and became deeply committed to motherhood. As a new mother, she quickly realized the importance of support for breastfeeding moms. She trained as a postpartum doula, labor doula, and certified lactation consultant in order to provide this crucial support for other new and expecting parents. In addition to working as a private doula, Shalawn teaches our Newborn Care for Expecting Parents class and serves as our Lead Birthing Assistant at BBC.

Birthing Assistants

Shalawn Facey, CD, CLC

Shalawn Facey is a New York native, born and raised in Brooklyn. She had her first child in 2003 and became deeply committed to motherhood. As a new mother, she quickly realized the importance of support for breastfeeding moms. She trained as a postpartum doula, labor doula, and certified lactation consultant in order to provide this crucial support for other new and expecting parents. In addition to working as a private doula, Shalawn teaches our Newborn Care for Expecting Parents class and serves as our Lead Birthing Assistant at BBC.

Maggie Torrance, CD

Maggie Torrance began her career in human services in 2005, when she started working as a counselor for at-risk adolescents at Ramapo for Children in Rhinebeck, NY. During her tenure at Ramapo for Children, Maggie taught independent living skills, developed a GED curriculum, and conducted outreach. She was eventually promoted to Program Manager. In 2006, Maggie worked with pregnant and parenting adolescents (including young women in labor) at the Triple L Youth Ranch. In 2011, she completed a DONA Birth Doula Training and started her freelance doula practice. Maggie was hired as an on-call birthing assistant at BBC in 2011, and joined our full-time staff as Medical Assistant in 2012. She holds a BA in Family Science from Anderson University.

“I began working with pregnant and parenting clients and attending births in 2006. I immediately fell in love with birth work, and I have since attended over 75 births. I enjoy working with women and their families, and I feel honored to be present during their special, life-changing events.”

Kathryn Peck, CD

Kathryn PeckKathryn Peck was born in the Bronx and raised in the lovely suburban town of Pleasantville, NY. Throughout her life, Kathryn has worked as a supporter for those in need, often providing a voice for the voiceless. From her first job as a Special Olympics coach in high school and then as an advocate for citizens with mental illness in the criminal justice system while at Bennington College, she knew from an early age that she wanted to be in a position of assistance, using the qualities of compassion and grace in the service of others. Since receiving her certification as a Labor Support Doula, Kathryn has become an active participant in the NYC birth community, attending births frequently and empowering women throughout the city by giving them what they need most: an understanding ear, an informed and unbiased opinion and most importantly confidence in themselves.

Kathryn is a student in the accelerated BSN nursing program at SUNY Downstate, and she hopes to work towards a graduate degree in certified nurse-midwifery. She is looking forward to widening her knowledge and continuing to support women and their families in the beautiful and natural process of birth.

“I am so proud to be a part of what the BBC offers to families. I’ve witnessed first hand the difference that birthing with privacy, respect and kindness can make. For those women who choose to give birth in this setting I already feel so confident that the experience will be a source of personal growth and joy and I feel privileged and honored to share in that.”

Tatiana Escobar

TatianaTatiana Escobar became interested in health care as a student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where she completed three years as a pre-medical student. After moving to New York City in 2011, Tatiana began working as an assistant for a home birth midwife and was able to witness first hand how childbirth unfolds under the care of a knowledgeable and patient provider. She went on to found her doula practice, Births by Tatiana, and began attending both home and hospital deliveries. In 2012, she was hired as a birth assistant at Brooklyn Birthing Center. Between her doula practice and her work as a birth assistant, Tatiana has attended approximately 180 births. She plans to pursue a degree in nursing and eventually become a Certified Nurse Midwife. Tatiana is fluent in Spanish and proficient in Japanese.

Isha Bryce

Isha Bryce began volunteering at Brooklyn Birthing Center in January of 2012, and was accepted into our Birth Assistant training program that June. In addition to serving as a Birth Assistant at BBC, Isha assists a home birth midwife. She earned a BA in Anthropology from CUNY Hunter in May of 2012, and began an accelerated BSN program at NYU in the fall of 2013. After completing her nursing degree, Isha plans to pursue a masters in Nurse-Midwifery.

Martha Wall

Martha’s interest in midwifery was sparked while she was studying in Israel, where midwives are the primary care providers for most pregnant women. In order to learn more about the midwifery model of care, Martha began volunteering in the office at Brooklyn Birthing Center in June of 2012 and began training as a Birth Assistant in June of 2013. After five months of attending births as a trainee, Martha was hired as a Birth Assistant in November of 2013. She is currently finishing up her BA in Psychology at Touro College, and she plans to pursue further studies in nurse-midwifery.

“The miracle of life never ceases to amaze me. I am passionate about birth and love helping women discover their inner strength in making their birthing experience the special and enjoyable one they imagine. I can not think of a greater privilege than to be part of the warm, supportive BBC birthing team.” 

Rachel Anne M. Libon

Rachel Anne M. Libon has worked in a variety of social service and public health settings since 1999. Her experience includes assisting with community sanitation projects in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, working as a residential aid in a homeless shelter in Ireland, and spearheading cooperative development initiatives in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Portland, Oregon. She was hired at Brooklyn Birthing Center in 2012, where she maintains financial records and practice data, manages BBC’s web presence, and coordinates special programs- including BBC’s educational series, the Strong Start Initiative, and the Baby-Friendly program. She began training as a birth assistant shortly after her son was born in the spring of 2013! Rachel Anne holds a BA in Cultural Studies from Macalester College and is working toward a second degree in nursing. 

“I believe everyone deserves compassionate, empowering, and individualized care. The knowledge I gained while working at BBC was invaluable during my own pregnancy and birth experience, and I aspire to make information and health care options accessible to all families.”