BMC Team


Star August AliExecutive Director

Ofter known as “Sister Star”, Star August Ali, a midwife and mother of 4 has been involved in birth work and advocacy for over 15 years. She is the Executive Director of Black Midwifery Collective, a Black-led non-profit organization based on the south side of Chicago, as well as the director of Holistic Birth Collective, an affiliated organization which addresses maternity policy and related legislation. Her mission is to improve health outcomes for Black birthing individuals by actively addressing disparities in maternal and infant health that have disproportionately affected our community. Her goal is to revolutionize midwifery models of care by increasing the racial diversity of community midwives, in order to combat obstetric racism, grow the pool of culturally-congruent providers, and dismantle institutionalized birth practices.
Star, a descendant of a Grand Midwife who practiced in the early 1940’s, believes midwives, when empowered to work in community-based settings, are a viable solution to addressing the harrowing reality of disproportionate maternal and infant outcomes. When it became clear that current power structures in Illinois were not able to ensure equitable care for black families, she became a legislative advocate through Holistic Birth Collective passing several legislative bills in the IL House and Senate to address maternal policy and related legislation on a structural level.
Making history, Star became the first Black President of the Illinois Council of Certified Professional Midwives (ICCPM) and having passed the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) exam to achieve credentialing as a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM), Star became the first Black CPM in the State of Illinois in 2022 eligible for licensure. Today, Star is 1 out of 5 CPM’s of color in the state of IL offering community based birthing options. Furthermore, she stands to continue making history by installing what will be the 1rst Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC) Direct-Entry Midwifery program in IL, making it the 10th in the United States.


Hilary Schlinger Senior Advisor for Midwifery Programs

Hilary Schlinger has spent over four decades advocating for midwifery and community birth. She became a Licensed Midwife in New Mexico in 1982, and subsequently attended approximately 1000 home and birth center births. After becoming a CNM, she went on to provide full service reproductive healthcare for hundreds of people, both in private practice and via three Planned Parenthood agencies. Her birth activism includes a four year tenure on the Board of Directors of the Midwives Alliance of North America, participation in numerous state and national midwifery organizations, and serving as guest lecturer and workshop presenter in settings from medical schools to midwifery conferences. She is the author of Circle of Midwives: Organized Midwifery in North America (1992; 2012), and editor of four midwifery texts. Hilary was previously the Direct Entry Midwife program director Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, and is currently the Midwifery Program Director at the International Institute for Health Care Professionals, a private Black-owned healthcare college in South Florida. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University, an Associate of Science in Nursing from Regents College, an Associate in Midwifery from the National College of Midwifery, and a Masters in Midwifery from Philadelphia University.


Dr. Chanel Haley

Dr. Chanell Haley earned her Ph.D. from Middle Tennessee State University Department of Health and Human Performance. Her dissertation focused on the barriers and facilitators which influence breastfeeding behaviors of Black birthing people in Tennessee. She also holds a Master of Science in Biology from Alabama A&M University. Her research interests include Black breastfeeding, doula/midwifery care and maternal and child health inequities. Currently, she is a postdoctoral fellow at Tulane University’s Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health. Dr. Haley intends to build a career as an applied researcher using her work and platform to increase health equity for underserved populations and to address systemic/social determinants contributing to maternal and child health racial inequities.


Kiarri KershawResearcher

Kiarri Kershaw is a social epidemiologist whose research focuses on understanding and addressing structural and social drivers of health and health inequities. She has extensive experience in the application of advanced geospatial and statistical methodologies using several large maternal and cardiovascular health cohort studies. Dr. Kershaw also has multiple federally-funded studies that involve primary data collection using ecological momentary assessments to examine associations of the places people go, who they spend time with, and everyday stressful experiences with various health behaviors and outcomes.


Brittani Collins Summer Intern

Brittani Collins is our Holistic Birth Collective intern for the summer of 2024! She is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Public Health from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Public Health. Her degree focus is in community health sciences specializing in Maternal and Child Health. Brittani is a Chicagoland area native, and has a passion for combating the disenfranchisement of Black and Brown people in the healthcare system. She is an alumna of The Ohio State University where she earned both a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Bachelor of Arts in African American and African Studies coupling her love for science with her love for social justice. Her commitment to improving the lives of Black birthing folks and quality of Black maternal healthcare is shown through her previous experiences in maternal and child health spaces and her specific interests in policy advocacy, community wellness, and women's health. Brittani has had experience as a Medical Assistant for the Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic at Heart of Ohio Family Health Center, and as a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Fertility and Reproductive Medicine department at Northwestern University. Brittani’s goal as an aspiring public health practitioner is to dismantle practices that have kept minority communities from achieving health equity.


Nora Kopp Midwife

Nora Kropp is a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) and a maternal health researcher with a Master’s in
Public Health and a Bachelor’s Degree in Global Studies. Ms. Kropp has worked in the fields of women’s
reproductive health and global health for 30 years. Nora has worked as an apprentice midwife in Nepal
and as a CPM in a home birth practice in the US. Nora got her midwifery training at Maternidad La Luz in
El Paso, Texas and worked in family planning and abortion services at Planned Parenthood in Chicago, IL.
She has experience with all aspects of research and program implementation in maternal health. Her
areas of expertise are: ethics in public health research, evidence based practice, abortion, quality of care,
respectful care and the Midwifery Model of Care. Nora has lived in and worked on maternal health
research in the US, Mexico, Nepal and India. As a maternal health consultant for RTI International, Nora
worked with the Global Network for Women and Children’s Health Research on projects in India, Tibet,
Argentina and Uruguay. Nora lived in India for ten years during which time she co-founded the Bangalore
Birth Network where she and her colleagues incubated a freestanding birth center. From 2009 – 2015
Nora served as a member of the Ethics Committee at the Indian Institute of Management, Centre for
Public Policy in Bangalore. Nora has worked with the Holistic Birth Collective in Chicago, IL focusing on
reproductive and birth justice. Nora currently lives in Wilmette, IL where she enjoys life with her partner
and two teenage daughters.


Nicollette Moore Researcher

Nicollette Moore has a master's degree of public health with a concentration in maternal and child health and program evaluation. She has over six years of experience leading and supporting maternal and reproductive health equity projects in the private, public, and academic sectors. Nicollette currently works at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine leading the day-to-day tasks of a community-centered maternal health research project overseen by Dr. Kiarri Kershaw.

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