Dean Waite speaks from a podium in a room full of people
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Nurse-Midwives from Yesterday and Today Celebrate 50th Anniversary at Georgetown

Top Image: Georgetown University School of Nursing Dean Roberta Waite, EdD, RN, PMHCNS, ANEF, FAAN, welcomed guests at the evening dinner.

(October 13, 2023) — A recognition of the 50th anniversary of midwifery education at Georgetown University culminated with a celebratory symposium and dinner that brought together alumni, faculty, staff, clinical preceptors and students. They gathered Oct. 8 at the Healey Family Student Center on the university’s campus.

Georgetown School of Nursing Dean Roberta Waite, EdD, RN, PMHCNS, ANEF, FAAN, welcomed a packed room of excited guests at the evening dinner and talked about the school’s mission, the midwifery program and fruits of their labor.

“Striving for health equity and social justice through the pursuit of excellence, innovation, critical consciousness and leadership in education, practice, research, scholarship and service is central to Georgetown University’s School of Nursing’s vision,” said Waite. “Faculty in the nurse-midwifery/women’s health nurse practitioner [NM/WHNP] and WHNP programs work toward this vision in their curriculum delivery and service to the school and their students.

Melicia Escobar speaks at a podium

Melicia Escobar, DNP, CNM, WHNP-BC, FACNM

“Graduates of the program, many of whom are here tonight, are the vision realized,” Waite added.

Event co-organizer Melicia Escobar, DNP, CNM, WHNP-BC, FACNM, program director for the NM/WHNP and WHNP programs, paid tribute to her nursing school colleagues in her remarks. “Our faculty are leaders in clinical excellence, health equity, advocacy, scholarship, global health, just to name a few areas,” she said. “And in partnership with our faculty, our staff provide high-touch extracurricular support.”

Justice and Joy

Keynote speaker Ebony Marcelle, DNP, CNM, FACNM, director of midwifery at Community of Hope, used her well-tuned humor to captivate the audience while delivering her message of the importance of pursuing justice and joy.

Ebony Marcelle speaks from a podium

Ebony Marcelle, DNP, CNM, FACNM

“For centuries, midwifery has existed — supporting marginalized communities, whether it be under-resourced communities, whether it be advocating for better regulations to practice in order to serve, whether it be fighting for all humans, or having reproductive health rights, midwifery has had a presence,” Marcelle said. “So to me, justice is synonymous with midwifery.

“But joy. Joy is so, so important to how we are going to survive this work,” she added. “It’s a solution… I want to challenge you to become more intentional about embracing joy, choosing joy, and even using joy to align with whatever your justice is.

“I want everybody to leave here knowing one thing: Midwifery is justice, and commit to aligning all things justice with joy.”

Yesterday and Today

Nurse-midwifery education at Georgetown began in 1973 as a certificate program. It was the first of its kind in the D.C. area and one of just 10 similar programs in the country designed to prepare students to pass the certification requirements set by the American College of Nurse-Midwives. The first group of six nurse-midwifery students completed their studies in October 1974.

Three individuals converse

Barbara Vaughey, CNM, (G’74) pictured far right, was an early graduate of the program.

Barbara Vaughey, CNM, (G’74) was among the students in the first cohorts and returned to Georgetown for the celebration. Now retired and living in Delaware, Vaughey was 31 when she completed the program. “It was such a wonderful part of my life,” she said. “I miss it tremendously. I miss those babies and I just wanted to be a part of [the celebration].”

Veniese Lawrence, MS, CNM (G’17), who practices clinically as a nurse-midwife in Maryland at Lumines Health, came to connect with other alumni to hear what they’ve been involved in and how she can engage with their ongoing work.

Veniese Lawrence stands in a room full of midwifery program alumni

Veniese Lawrence, MS, CNM (G’17)

“There are so many strides that need to be made in midwifery as far as education, so many strides that need to be made in public health, that I believe it’s important for alumni to come out together and celebrate the movement that we’re doing and the movement yet to come.”

Informing Military Policy

U.S. Navy Capt. Kim P. Shaughnessy-Granger, DNP, MS, CNM, (G’04) credits the policy focus of her Georgetown nurse-midwifery education, along with her 20 years of experience since, for informing her health policy work in the Navy.

“It’s what sparked my absolute passion for women’s health care,” Shaughnessy-Granger said. “The opportunity to go to the Hill and attend a health care-related hearing as part of my policy class, and to learn what evidence-based policy development looks like in our government and federal agencies, and then to take that and use it to influence policy change in the Navy and the Military Health System.”

Kim P. Shaughnessy-Granger

U.S. Navy Capt. Kim P. Shaughnessy-Granger, DNP, MS, CNM (G’04)

While assigned to the Office of Women’s Health at the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, she spearheaded development of the Navy Surgeon General’s first Female Force Readiness Strategy to ensure the readiness of women in the Navy and Marine Corps.

Today, Shaughnessy-Granger serves as commanding officer of the Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Annapolis and director of Naval Health Clinic Annapolis, located at the U.S. Naval Academy.

“Being a midwife, even though I’m not doing midwifery right now, it is part of who I am. I leverage that expertise to raise awareness for women’s health services at every opportunity.”

Cura Personalis From a Distance

Julie Reinhardt, MS, CNM, (G ‘17) says Georgetown’s emphasis on cura personalis, or care of the whole person, aligned with her beliefs and strengthened them, and is the basis of why she entered into the health care profession.

Three women converse at a table

Julie Reinhardt, MS, CNM, (G ‘17) pictured center, with fellow midwifery alumni

“For me personally, my education at Georgetown formed my future,” she said. Reinhardt works as a midwife in Mount Vernon, Illinois, a rural area where the closest health care for some residents can be a two-hour drive. She says the population is diverse, including Amish and Mennonite patients.

Reinhardt said if it had not been for Georgetown’s distance learning program, she wouldn’t have been able to pursue her midwifery degree. Today, she is seeking her online DNP through Georgetown and has a keen interest in health care policy.

“[The online program] has given me that opportunity to further my degree [and] be able to impact lives beyond just my patients,” Reinhardt said.

Heather Bradford

Heather Bradford, PhD, CNM, FACNM

“It was incredible to hear stories of how our midwifery alumni are making a difference with respect to clinical practice, research, education and policy in their communities and beyond, said Heather Bradford, PhD, CNM, FACNM, assistant program director, NM/WHNP and WHNP Programs and chair of the 50th Anniversary Planning Committee. “It was so inspiring and a true testament to the quality of education our alumni have received over the past five decades.”

The program concluded with a recognition of Georgetown alumni who were deemed by their colleagues as being change-makers who have had extraordinary influence on midwifery practice, research, education and/or policy.

These midwife graduates were honored for their extraordinary influence on midwifery practice, research, education and/or policy:

Alice Bailes

Erin Baird

Deborah Bash

Jenna Benyounes

Ellen Boundy

Carolyn Curtis

Helen Dajer

Joyce Daniel

Katie DePalma

Nora Elizalde

Julianna Fehr

Carolyn Gegor

Marsha Jackson

Nafisa Jiddawi

Tekoa L. King

Barbara Kirkland

Kelly Lemon

Janet Epstein Lobatz (d.)

Danielle Maness

Marion McCartney

Jeanne McDermott

Anthonia Obichere

David Paad

Christianne Rosemurgy

Kim Shaugnessey-Granger

Suzan Ulrich

Barbara Vaughey

Patricia Vavricka

Donna Vivio (d.)

Judith Wafe

Erin M. Wright

d. = deceased

Midwifing Midwifery

A woman stands behind a podium while another stands next to her holding a certificate

Melicia Escobar (right) holding the commendation presented by Kate McHugh, CNM, FACNM.

Before the dinner program concluded, the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) surprised the audience with the presentation of the “Midwifing Midwives for a Lifetime Commendation.”

“This award is only given to either a practice or an education program that has had a long and sustained commitment to midwifery excellence — so it’s not lightly given,” said Kate McHugh, CNM, FACNM, who presented the award on behalf of Heather Clarke, president of ACNM. “And I think we all agree that there is a long and significant commitment to midwifery excellence in this room.”

Related Content

An afternoon symposium capped a series of educational events tied to the nurse-midwifery program anniversary.

Read About the Symposium and Other Anniversary Events
NM/WHNP Program
nurse midwifery program