liz Nutter

Army Major, CNM, DNP

Major Elizabeth Nutter, is the 2016 recipient of the Kitty Ernst Award. Elizabeth is the first active duty midwife to receive her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. Her DNP project reviewed the evidence on waterbirth which has resulted in her becoming a subject matter expert for the Army and ACNM. She has four publications
and multiple presentations on waterbirth and is regularly sought out by professional colleagues for her expertise. Elizabeth has partnered with the Women's Health Service Line at the Office of the Surgeon General for the Army consultants to maintain momentum on the MEDCOM hydrotherapy in labor policy. As the Director of the United States Army’s OB/GYN Nursing Course, Elizabeth spearheaded the complete overhaul of the entire nursing course to provide the latest evidence in every aspect of the course requirements. As a result, the course is aligned with the standards for successful completion of the Registered Nurse certification in obstetrics or maternal child health. Award winners are exceptional CNMs or CMs who are members of ACNM, have been certified for at least 10 years, and have not previously received the Hattie Hemschemeyer Award. The Lang Award is aptly named for Dorothea M. Lang, CNM, MPH, FACNM – past-president of ACNM and the A.C.N.M. Foundation, whose visionary leadership has advanced the profession of midwifery in countless ways.
With their most prestigious honor – the Dorothea M. Lang Pioneer Award – the A.C.N.M. Foundation, Inc. honors midwifery’s “unsung heroes” who have demonstrated pioneering vision and innovative leadership.

Gerri Ryan


Gerri is the Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer and a member of the faculty. She is a California Licensed Midwife and Certified Professional Midwife with an active midwifery practice in San Diego. Gerri started attending births with family and friends in 1976 and in 1995 took on the role of professional Doula. Gerri began her process of midwifery in the late nineties. She successfully completed the Seattle Midwifery School Challenge Process and is licensed as a midwife by the Medical Board of California. She began practicing midwifery in 2003 independently. She is a Lactation Educator, Lamaze certified childbirth educator and is the founder of San Diego Birth Network as well as a nationally recognized DONA approved Doula trainer. Gerri is Birth Emergency Skills Training for Out-of-Hospital Providers (B.E.S.T.) certified and assists in developing continuing education opportunities for practicing Doulas, Midwives and health professionals. She believes that the ability to birth is deep in every woman. “When women have confidence in their own abilities, the encouragement and freedom to tap into their innate wisdom, and have the loving support of family, friends and professionals who believe this too, they will truly have a satisfying birth.” She has extensive business expertise and is recognized for her contributions to the Midwifery and Doula communities in San Diego.

Penny simkin


Penny Simkin, PT, is a physical therapist who has specialized in childbirth education and labor support since 1968. She estimates she has prepared over 14,000 women, couples, and siblings for childbirth. She has assisted hundreds of women and couples through childbirth as a doula. She is author of several books for both parents and professionals. She has developed teaching materials for birth classes and produced several videos for educators, doulas, and families , the latest of which is for siblings-to-be, “There’s a Baby.” She is co-founder of DONA International and PATTCh (Prevention and Treatment of Traumatic Childbirth).

Currently, she serves on the editorial board of the journal, Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care, and serves on the senior faculty of the Simkin Center for Allied Birth Vocations at Bastyr University, which was named in her honor.

Today, her practice consists of childbirth education and birth counseling, combined with a busy schedule of conferences and workshops.

Penny and her husband, Peter, have four grown children and eight grandchildren from pre-teen to late twenties, two grandchildren-in-law, and a pug, Lola.


Lakesha Cole


A business woman, entrepreneur, mother and Marine Corps spouse, Lakesha was selected as the 2014 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year® for her entrepreneurial prowess, volunteer efforts, personal sacrifice and her efforts to support the military community. Lakesha represents the millions of past and present military spouses who continue to thrive in a wartime environment, dedicate their lives and families to service of a grateful nation and give back to a community in need.
As the Founder of Milspousepreneur, Lakesha is on a mission to help military spouses discover their why and live a purposeful life through entrepreneurship. Milspousepreneur serves to cultivate a learn-by-doing business experience for military spouse entrepreneurs living abroad by providing workable business solutions through leadership, live events, education, advocacy, and networking support.
To see Lakesha give tirelessly to a cause derived from her real life business struggles when she first moved to Okinawa grow into a much needed and highly utilized community resource for other military spouse entrepreneurs is inspiring. The Milspousepreneur organization network started with six military spouses and has grown to over 200 group members.
Lakesha is also the CEO and shop owner of She Swank | Too, a curated online boutique and subscription box for girls. Her dream to reality of owning a boutique started as an idea six years ago while sitting in her tiny apartment, unemployed with a 3-year-old, a deployed spouse and all of her family 2,000+ miles away. Today the She Swank | Too brand has traveled to customers in all 50 states and four countries leading to the opening of her first successful pop-up shop in Okinawa, Japan. Lakesha gives back to the community by providing retail opportunities for military spouse business owners. Lakesha created "The Milspouse Market”, a program designed to give military spouses the opportunity to bring their handmade products to retail and sell to a large customer base. She is also an active supporter of Lemonade Day, a national initiative that teaches youth how to start, own and operate his or her own business via a lemonade stand.
Selected into the Military Entrepreneur Program by Inc. magazine, Lakesha was also featured on The Today Show with Kathie Lee & Hoda and is published in Military Spouse magazine.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from North Carolina A&T State University and Associates of Applied Science in Retail Marketing from Parsons The New School for Design. Lakesha and her family are currently stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. They were recently featured by Ebony as "Americas 59 Coolest Black Family".



Dr. Ginger Breedlove joined Baby + Co. in June serving as Senior Vice President of Clinical Operations. She is the immediate past President of the American College of Nurse-Midwives leading the association from 2013-2016. Prior to joining Baby + Co., Dr. Breedlove was a Professor in graduate nurse-midwifery training and doctoral education for 17 years, including teaching at Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA, as well as the founding Program Director of the University of Kansas graduate nurse-midwifery specialty track. She co-founded the first free-standing birthing center in Kansas in 1979 working as a CNM 14 years, and also established the first full-scope Certified Nurse-Midwife practice in Greater Kansas City in 1994. Dr. Breedlove is a co-recipient of first Irving B Harris national book award titled, "The Community Based Doula: Supporting families before, during and after childbirth." As principal investigator, she has authored federal, state and philanthropic grants totaling over $5 million, is author to numerous articles published in peer-reviewed journals and texts, and has spoken widely at numerous maternal health-related conferences on the national and international level.



Ann Grauer, of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, has volunteered for DONA International for more than 20 years, most recently as Director of Education.  The original chair of DONA's postpartum doula task force, Ann worked with the committee to develop the current postpartum doula training and certification program.  She has taught workshops all across the US and in Japan, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Finland.
A Fellow in the American College of Childbirth Educators, Ann is certified as a childbirth educator with Lamaze International and has been teaching pregnancy, birth, and parenting classes since 1989.  She has also been a doula for that length of time and is certified both as a birth and postpartum doula through DONA International.  In addition to being a DONA-approved birth and postpartum trainer, Ann was President of DONA International from 2003-2005.
She is a board certified lactation consultant and coordinates the first hospital-based doula program in Wisconsin at The Birth Hospital and is a member of the Family Education and Support team there. She has created parent and breastfeeding support groups in two states and has been a consultant to other hospital-based doula programs. Ann was also the first doula certified to perform the Brazelton Neonatal Assessment Scale (NBAS).
She has experience as a doula working in solo practice, dual practice, founded a doula agency/service and as a hospital- based doula. Ann is the 2007 recipient of Lamaze International's prestigious Elisabeth Bing Award, which is presented to an LCCE educator who has demonstrated dedication to the principles of Lamaze International, made significant contributions in the field of childbirth education, and has achieved national/international recognition. In 2015 she was honored by DONA International as an inaugural recipient of the Advanced Doula Designation as both a birth doula and postpartum doula. She is the first doula to ever receive this designation in both areas.

Photography Contributor


Kristi James


Kristi is a talented photographer living in Okinawa with her Marine husband of 14 years and 4 wonderful kids. She loves all things photography and has been in business serving several families stateside and in Okinawa for the past 7 years. Kristi is self -taught and keeps up with the new trends by taking online workshops.