who we are...
S Sarah Paksima (she/her), owner & senior doula, has been supporting families for 19 years in the United States, Kuwait, Oman, India, and Jordan as a doula, childbirth educator, and prenatal yoga instructor. She loves working with families from diverse backgrounds. Sarah and her husband work hard to keep their five children alive. She maintains her sanity by raising her children in a town with no stoplights, eating copious amounts of dark chocolate, and stocking her pantry with food her kids will eat. When she's not attending births, she enjoys watching Marvel and Jane Austen movies with her kids while folding endless piles of laundry and letting her kids bury her in the sand at the beach.
C Casey Runck (she/her), senior doula, was drawn to doula work because she knows there are just as many ways to be a good mother as there are to have a great birth. This belief is what inspires her to support women and families during such a special and momentous time in their lives. In addition to being a doula Casey is a registered yoga and prenatal yoga instructor, and reiki practitioner. She balances her love of Eastern Philosophy by watching countless hours of Real Housewives and playing competitive pinball.
J Jen Finnegan (she/her), senior doula, has been lucky enough to be on a life journey that has led her to truly appreciate and understand the essential role that support of women and community provide for one’s life. Jen and her husband are raising their four children in Alexandria and are enjoying retirement from the military life, which has enabled them to put down roots in a way that was an impossibility when packing up and moving every four years. She lives her life based on the belief that a kind word and a gentle touch are needed, by even the strongest and bravest among us. These core beliefs and her strong desire to serve women in times of need have brought her to the doula life. Learning new things, being outside, kayaking, and camping are some of her favorite things in life!
R Rena Geibel (she/her), senior doula, is a science teacher, a facilitator, and an international public health specialist with over 12 years’ experience in Africa working on reproductive health and HIV-related issues for vulnerable children and women. While working in East, Central, and Southern Africa Region with Save the Children-UK, Rena started her own family. Rena’s birth of two girls in Kenya in 2004 and 2005 influenced her to shift her professional focus towards improving maternity care through offering doula services, lactation advice, and teaching Lamaze childbirth education classes. She loves cooking and the outdoors!
S Stacey Smith (she/her), senior doula, pursued doula work and childbirth education (Lamaze) after an interest in birth sparked by her own experiences that just wouldn't go away. Stacey also has a BS in Biology Composite Teaching and enjoyed her work as a middle school science teacher before transitioning into birth work. Stacey and her partner have been together for over 20 years. Working with the State Department, they have lived overseas with their 5 children for 17 of those years in posts to Africa, the Caribbean, Europe and the Middle East. Stacey loves traveling, meeting new people and trying new foods. Now that she is living at “home” in the United States, she enjoys walking on sidewalks, visiting with extended family, and taking her kids to the library.
E Elizabeth Parish (she/her), senior doula, felt the first tugs in the direction of childbirth when she was in college and spent time with a midwife and doula in Morocco. She returned to the states and was distracted by school, job, marriage, and kids. Elizabeth loved her own births, and the idea of helping other women during life changing moments kept tugging at her. Several years ago - 15 years after she first felt a pull towards birth - with her youngest going to kindergarten, she decided it was time to listen. Elizabeth believes the ability to walk through this challenging, vulnerable, and life changing time with a couple is truly an honor. She and her family live in the urban woods of Virginia and enjoy hiking to the Potomac. Elizabeth was recently bit by a copperhead so she is the one wearing knee high boots and moving very slowly and carefully...
A Amanda Coles (she/her), junior doula, is a mother of 2 young boys whose pregnancies and births helped her learn first hand the importance of having a doula. After their births she decided she wanted to provide the same level of support to expecting mothers and partners that she received. With a background in customer service, she enjoys doing her best to help each family's birthing experience be the best it can be. When she's not working with expecting families, Amanda loves taking her family out to explore events and culinary adventures in D.C
K Katie Baxter (she/her), junior doula, Katie has been serving families in the DC area for over 10 years in the DC area, since 2017 as a birth doula. Katie is a yoga teacher, and avid traveler who enjoys connecting with people and diving into local culture and traditions. During a course in Thai yoga massage, she was introduced to the world of birth, and the role of a doula, and knew that this was something she wanted to pursue. Katie feels that her work as a doula really weaves together her experience working with families as a nanny, and her healing, spiritual work. Katie has a passion for cooking healthy, plant based food, and enjoys time by the beach the most, especially if that beach is in Greece or Thailand. Katie brings her meditative, compassionate presence to birth, and beyond, and is ready, and honored to assist you and your family during this special rite of passage.
A Amy Battjer (she/her), junior doula, made the transition to birth work after her own experiences becoming a mother to her two sons. After 14 years working as a communications consultant focusing on education and issues affecting low-income communities, she felt an unrelenting draw to support birthing families during pregnancy and childbirth. Amy brings both a supportive and encouraging approach to her doula work and an ability to carry a calm and flexible presence during the inevitable twists and turns of pregnancy and childbirth. While not attending births, Amy plays logistical coordinator for her family and tries to squeeze in as much yoga and cooking to balance the nonstop energy of her toddler and preschooler.
A Amber Wright Kenney (she/her), junior doula, is a mother of 2 young daughters who felt drawn to become a doula after the birth of her children; the first without a doula and the second with a doula. It was her second experience that helped her to realize how important a doula is to the laboring person and their support team in coaching them to be as supportive as possible. Amber has a BS in Accounting and spent almost 20 years working as an accountant and consultant to the Federal Government in Washington, DC. She felt drawn to birth work so strongly that she eventually quit her job in order to pursue work as a doula and a Master’s in Nursing to become a Certified Nurse Midwife. In her spare time, which is rare, she loves to go salsa dancing, research her family’s genealogy, and entertain family and friends at her home.
K Kelsey Johnson Ogenia (She/Her), junior doula, has always felt called to birth work and reproductive health issues. While studying at the University of South Florida, she planned to be a sexual/reproductive health educator and therapist. To complete her minor in public health she took a class in Maternal and Child health that focused on labor and delivery and was hooked on birth. In 2017, She completed her master’s in Public Health from Boston University focusing on Perinatal, Sexual, Women’s and Reproductive health. One of the final projects she worked on in school was focused on the role of doulas and midwives to improve health outcomes for laboring people in the United states. This of course led Kelsey to pursue doula training and become a doula herself! In her spare time, Kelsey loves to read, cook, sing and spend time with her husband.
L Lauren McGrath (she/her) is the daughter and niece of maternal/infant health nurses, but never considered birth work for herself until she met a doula for the first time. She's spent the past six years in DC wearing many hats in education and hospitality, while quietly manifesting a dream to become a birth doula. Seeing a deep need for empathy in the world, and having experienced the power of vulnerability herself, she joined DCBD to learn from and work alongside some of the region's best. Her other passions include working in a local music venue, early childhood education, DC sports, (C-A-P-S) and floral arranging. She is a lifelong 4H member and perpetual summer camp counselor.