about us

DCBD owners Amy Ard and Sarah Paksima

who we are...

Amy Ard HeadshotA Amy Ard (owner, not currently attending births) has been supporting families for 10 years as a doula and childbirth educator. Amy also has a masters degree in theology from Vanderbilt University, so if you decide to get married at the hospital, Amy can help you tie the knot. Amy and her husband enjoy  camping and playing outside with their three kids, singing and making music with friends, and spending time with their family down "south." Amy is a loyal friend, an avid coffee lover, and an adventurous soul. Amy is no longer supporting clients as a doula as she recently moved to Atlanta, Georgia, but she continues to work administratively with DCBD.

Sarah Paksima HeadshotS Sarah Paksima (owner & senior doula) has been supporting families for 17 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 (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 (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 (senior doula beginning February 2018) 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!

J Jennifer Gagnon (junior doula) is an empty nester having had the honor and privilege of raising 3 beautiful children. She resides on on her eighth generation family farm in Northern Virginia surrounded by 100 acres of forest, pasture and flower gardens. For the past 30 years she has dedicated her life to nurturing children. Having grown up with 5 generations under one roof, she received endless quantities of love, strength and support which has fueled her desire to take care of others. She is overjoyed to be able to share her life experiences with mothers and fathers during the magical moment of childbirth. Jennifer has a passion for travel, is a reading enthusiast and has the dream of living on the island of Corsica. 

M Maddison Conforti (junior doula) began her doula career at eight years old when her twin brother and sister were born. Though she took a circuitous path, first working in cancer healthcare and then as a college writing instructor, it was the beautiful and empowering water birth of her son two years ago—with a D.C. Birth Doula by her side—that convinced Maddison it was time to formally pursue birth work. She holds her MFA in nonfiction from Columbia College Chicago and a BA in English and Latin from Depauw University, where she was also a National All-American swimmer. These days, Maddison and her family enjoy plunking rocks into Rock Creek, riding the carousel at the zoo, and sipping coffee by day (and wine by evening) on their D.C. balcony. Maddison is an expert napper, a lover of good lists, and a thoughtful friend.

S Stacey Smith (junior 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 (junior 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 (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.


C Christina Tindale (junior doula beginning April 2018) After having a frustrating experience with the birth of her first baby, Christina hired a doula (DCBD's Sarah) the second time around, and learned first-hand the transformational impact that a doula can have on a birthing person, a partner, the baby and their family. This inspired her to find her calling and become a doula herself. As a doula, Christina calls on her lifelong gift of intuitively helping people feel supported, combined with her years of experience as a prenatal yoga instructor. She is passionate about helping women use yoga to prepare their body, mind and spirit for birth and parenthood. Christina's hobbies include cooking, singing karaoke and having spontaneous dance parties. She lives in Washington DC with her husband and two children; Apollo the dog; and Lucy the cat.

J Joan Schaefer (junior doula beginning April 2018) has been serving women and their families in the D.C. area as a doula for three years. Joan is a native Washingtonian, attended Georgetown University for her BA and got her Master’s in Art History and Archeology while living abroad in Spain, Chile and Turkey. She is passionate about women’s mental, emotional and physical health. She and her partner have two boys and two dogs. She is an avid athlete, and if she’s not training for a marathon, she’s probably getting antsy to do something physically challenging that also removes her from toddlers for a few hours. In her downtime, she relishes being with her extended family in Vermont, practicing yoga, playing boardgames, making tasty vegetarian food and almost anything that help her avoid doing mountains of laundry.