The Gathering Place is staffed by a diverse group of experienced professionals who share a passion for the field of childbirth and all that it encompasses. All of our staff members are licensed/certified in their individual fields as well as cross-trained in other specialties. Our staff routinely attends continuing education workshops and seminars in order to remain current on new trends, procedures and modalities. The Gathering Place offers a variety of talent and personalities to insure that moms can select a qualified individual that will meet her needs. Provided below is a complete list of our professionals categorized by specialty.
Owner of Motherpath Doula Services, Michelle is a birth & postpartum doula, childbirth educator and yoga instructor, and a passionate breastfeeding and natural birth advocate. Michelle is the mother of six children and has given birth in a variety of settings: hospital, birth center and at home. Her background is in women's studies, community building and organizing, and birth options advocacy. Michelle has been attending births and supporting women through the childbearing year for over 17 years and is the co-founder Project Motherpath (formerly Birthgirlz), a non-profit organization working to normalize and revalue all aspects of motherhood in our communities through education, outreach and activism.
Tamara Taitt, MS
Trained as a midwife and marriage and family therapist Tamara has a varied background in women’s reproductive health activism and has been working in maternal, infant and child health for the last seven years. Tamara has a deep interest in the sustainability of the midwifery profession and politics as it relates to birth. Currently pursuing a Phd in Family Therapy, her clinical and research interests focus on exploring mental health issues that are pervasive during the childbearing year particularly the experience of postpartum depression, post traumatic stress related to birth and perinatal bereavement. Tamara currently serves on the board of the Foundation for the Advancement of Midwifery and was the Southeast representative on the board of the Midwives Alliance of North America for seven years. She is the owner of a consulting company Mind, Body & Baby, LLC .
Eden Navarrez, CLC, CBE
Eden is a certified Breastfeeding educator(CBE) and certified lactation couselor(CLC). She is also pursuing a Masters degree in the field of Maternal Health and Lactation, and supporting Breastfeeding mothers in preparation to sit for the IBCLC exam in 2015.
Renee Rosen, JD
Anabella Pavan, M.Ed.
Annabella Pavan was born in Caracas, Venezuela. From a young age, she knew her future would somehow relate to education.In 1999, she earned her Bachelor´s in Education at Universidad Metropolitana, with a major in Early Childhood Education and Educational Management. While completing her studies, she started working as an English teacher at Centro de Enriquecimiento Infantil. Annabella then worked at Colegio Integral El Avilaas a lead preschool teacher. Meanwhile, she co-founded and served as Director at Summerplay, a summer camp for children between 1 and 6 years of age.In 2001, Annabella won The Fulbright Scholarship and began her studies at George Mason University, where she earner her Master´s Degree in Special Education with a major in Learning Disabilities and Behavioral and Emotional Disorders.Upon completing her studies, Annabella returned to Venezuela and took a position as the Preschool Director at Colegio Integral El Avila. During those years, she decided to do a specialization in School Administration and conducted several cases in special education as part of the inclusion program atColegio Integral El Avila. It was then that her passion for working closely with families and teachers ignited and it has driven her career focus ever since.In 2009 Annabella had her first child and decided to focus entirely on educational consultating; she conducted several parent workshops related to the education and development of young children as well as several teacher´s workshops related to teaching, early childhood and special education. She dedicated her time to research and read about early childhood, school administration, curriculum and programs.Annabella moved to Miami, FL, decided to continue her career as a consultant and co-found ProEdu Consulting. She is passionate about education and everything that comes with it. She is an active member of the High Scope Organization, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and the Council of Exceptional Children.
Valentina Leon is an early childhood education specialist who has over 15 years of experience working with children of all ages inside and outside the classroom.She co-founded an elite summer camp in Venezuela, where she was responsible for the design, implementation, and execution of all group activities. Working as a director at Las Aves Summer Camp she realized her passion for educating children and the overall learning experience.After graduating with honors and a Bachelor’s Degree in Education with a major in Early Childhood, she worked as the lead teacher in Colegio Integral el Avila, where she provided award winning bilingual education to a class of 20 six-year-old students. She evaluated each student individually and promoted growth in language, cognitive, motor, and social development, while collaborating with psychologists and therapists to develop strategies with the families, targeting individual student’s areas in need of improvement.In 2009 she founded EduConsult LLC, a tutoring agency in Miami, and provided education consulting services for 20 students. She promoted strong study habits and maintained student’s skills alongside current school curriculum. Parallel to that, she became the Spanish teacher of The Mandelstam School in 2011, where she created the Spanish language program from Pre K-4 to 5 and book fairs to promote language and reading skills.Valentina is also a certified IAIM Infant Massage instructor. She teaches parents to massage their newborns to promote bonding and communication between the baby, mom, and dad. She is an active member of the High Scope Organization, the National Association of Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Her passionate about education and everything related to the learning process drove her to co-found ProEdu Consulting to continue working closely with schools and families in order to enhance their educational experience.
Ruth has a Bachelors degree in Business but always had an interest in teaching kids. Back in her home country of Venezuela she taught English classes in an Elementary school. In 1994 when she moved to California, she got involved as a teacher in an Outreach program with inner city kids. In Florida she has been involved with teaching cooking classes in schools in South Miami. Three years ago Ruth heard about Baby Signs® Programs and decided to enroll herself in an American Sign Language class at Broward College. Last year, Ruth participated in the training to become a certified Baby Signs® instructor and since then she has enjoyed sharing this great program with moms and babies in Miami Dade County. Ruth lives with her husband and three children in Aventura.
Lina Sandaal, MA
Lina Acosta Sandaal, program director of The Nest, has a Masters of Clinical Psychology. She began her practice at the prestigious Vista del Mar agency in Los Angeles, CA. Through her work with the agency's Home Safe division, she developed expertise in early child development and infant mental health, while strengthening her resolve to support families in crisis. Lina broadened her scope through her work with Family Service of Santa Monica, where she was trained in and applied, cognitive-based models. Those models included Trauma Focus-CBT, to assist and treat those who suffer from PTSD and physical/sexual abuse, as well as Child Parent Psychotherapy, a parent/child intervention for children 0 to 5 and their caregivers. She has trained and participated in research studies with Yale University’s Minding the Baby, National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and Child Trauma Research Program at UC San Francisco. Lina has been tapped to foster a new era of attention to infant mental health and brings this expertise to her work at The Nest.
Alina Vega, M.S.,LMFT
Alina is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has spent the last 12 years working on issues of trauma, acculturation, and domestic violence with immigrant families of diverse cultures and needs. She began her career at Miami Children’s Hospital where she worked with children experiencing severe mental health challenges. She then moved on to communities in Chicago and Los Angeles always working with the area’s most highly respected non-profits and mental health facilities. These experiences afforded her the opportunity to work with some of the most respected experts in trauma, child/adolescent treatment, and child development. Prior to her move home to Miami, she worked at the prestigious Vista del Mar agency where she was the supervisor of a ready for school program highly recognized in the Los Angeles area for its positive outcomes in integrating a segregated community and successfully transitioning their children into kindergarten programs in the LA unified school district. Running that program afforded her the opportunity to learn about best practices in early education and gain experience in early intervention. She now supervises the team of family support specialist at the United Way Center for Early Education, a demonstration school for best practices in early education. Alina has dedicated her career to working with children ages 0-5 and is passionate about guiding families through the sometimes difficult to navigate transitions of early childhood. Alina is the Clinical Director of The Nest.
Mirine Dye, MPH, CHES, IBCLC
Mirine is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, a former Chair of the Breastfeeding Committee with the American Public Health Association, and a nationally certified health education specialist. She has a background in doula work, home birth, birth center management and community education. Mirine has worked with mothers and babies in Miami and Florida hospitals, clinics and health departments since 1997.
Alanna Dixon, MA, IBCLC, CLC
I obtained my BS in Health Care Administration in 2006. In 2007 I had my first son and my passion for breastfeeding was born also born. I decided to earn my Master’s while working on my goal as an IBCLC. I completed that goal in 2011 and also became an IBCLC that year. I have 3 beautiful children and support all breastfeeding relationships. In the past I have worked with clients privately and at WIC. I live in the Upper Keys and provide services in the area.
Sarah Munoz, BA, IBCLC
Sarah brings over ten years breastfeeding experience including working with culturally diverse populations, teaching breastfeeding classes to groups and individuals, running a pump loan program and the setting-up and planning of media events. She has worked in hospitals, clinics and does home visits. Sarah was a founding member of ProMOM, a breastfeeding advocacy internet site for women. She is also a founding member and Board member of the Foundation for a Breastfeeding Culture, a non-profit that works with hospitals to move them toward Baby Friendly Certification among other projects.
Sandra Lobaina CBE, IBCLC
Sandra Lobaina is a Midwifery assistant/Labor Coach, Child Birth Educator and an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She attended midwifery school at The International School of Midwifery which she completed in January 2010. Sandra has been teaching childbirth classes for over three years and has attended over 200 births in which she has either observed, coached, assisted or managed the deliveries. Her passion for birth has empowered her to push through any obstacle in order to achieve her dream of becoming a midwife. Sandra has taught breastfeeding classes for the Miami Dade County WIC & Nutrition program, where she also gave one on one support to mommies and their new babies. She teaches childbirth education for Hialeah Hospital and works when needed as the back up Lactation Consultant for the mother baby unit of the hospital. She is passionate in the education for mothers and in the well supporting families.
Owner of Motherpath Doula Services, Michelle is a birth & postpartum doula, childbirth educator and yoga instructor, and a passionate breastfeeding and natural birth advocate. Michelle is the mother of six children and has given birth in a variety of settings: hospital, birth center and at home. Her background is in women's studies, community building and organizing, and birth options advocacy. Michelle has been attending births and supporting women through the childbearing year for over 17 years and is the co-founder Project Motherpath (formerly Birthgirlz), a non-profit organization working to normalize and revalue all aspects of motherhood in our communities through education, outreach and activism. Michelle is a Level 4 doula.
Natasha Gottlieb, BS
Natasha is a DONA trained Doula and is also in the process of completing her requirements to become a childbirth educator in The Bradley Method. She attributes her interest and love for childbirth to her grandmother who was a midwife for over 30 years in The Bahamas and taught her to view pregnancy and labor as natural processes. Natasha believes that the support and love a doula can give a mother greatly increases the chance of her having a natural birth and exclusively supports families planning home and birth center births.
She was also very inspired by the book Spiritual Midwifery and wants to complete a midwife assistant program at The Farm. Natasha has a Bachelors of Science degree in Biology from the University of Miami and worked for several years conducting research in animal behavior and ecology and co-authored several research papers. Before the birth of her first son she stopped working and embarked on a journey that included natural childbirth, extended breastfeeding, attachment parenting, and home schooling. Natasha is also a hula dancer and performs and teaches Hawaiian culture and dance throughout South Florida with the group Ohana Arts. She is on the board of the Florida Ukulele Network. Natasha is a Level 1-2 doula.
Star Keisha Riles
Star, a mother of four royal children, is a passionate birth doula & breastfeeding counselor. She has served families in South Florida before,during, and after the labor & delivery period since February 2013. She is D.O.N.A trained and has attended worshops such as: When Survivors Give Birth and Master Class in Labor Support, both taught by Penny Simkin. With her background in massage therapy, nutrition, and natural skin care combined with spiritual awareness, clients needs are approached in a wholistic manner. Her goal as a doula is to improve birth by empowering pregnant women to trust in the wisdom of their body and to have the courage to self advocate. Star is a Level 1 doula.
Carolina is a massage therapist, a birth and postpartum Doula, reflexologist, breastfeeding advocate, and Certified Nurturing Parenting Facilitator. Her passion for working with pregnant moms started when she was studying to be a massage therapist and was introduced with the concept of a Doula. Carolina's own pregnancy showed her that moms need deep caring and pampering to help them through the process of creating a new life and becoming a mother. Carolina believes that doula care doesn't have to be a luxury. After having her son, Carolina started focusing her abilities on helping moms have the most optimal pregnancy and birth experiences.
Trained by DONA Trainer Rae Davies, and a graduate of Educating hands School of Massage and the Laura Norman School of Reflexology, Carolina combines her knowledge as a doula, massage therapist and reflexologist, to provide her clients with services that are tailored to their needs, ensuring that the parents are the focal point of the whole experience. Carolina is a is a Level 2 doula.
Na'imah is a Certified Labor Doula, Childbirth Educator and Breastfeeding Counselor. She is a peaceful yet spirited wife and a mother to 3 magical children. As an experienced Labor Doula, Na'imah has provided care to women and their families for over ten years. Her passion is serving women and their families throughout this momentous time. Na'imah accompanies women as they prepare for childbirth, and continue to support them in birth and beyond. Na'imah shares her wisdom and understanding of birth, breastfeeding and holistic parenting to advise and support women in their decision making process. She sees her work as one of nurturing women as they explore their birth visions and walking with them as they uncover their own practices and rituals that will birth these visions into being. Na'imah understands the dynamic nature of pregnancy, labor and birth and incorporates these various aspects when consulting with clients. Na'imah is a Level 3 doula.
Grethel Croft Gilbert
A homeschooling mother of 2 boys with a God given desire to pursue midwifery like her grandmother and travel as a midwife missionary Grethel has found that her heart lies in nurturing mothers and families. She is a DONA trained birth doula, a trained birth assistant and a Certified Baby Wearing Educator (CBWS). She mentors women and families in birth, parenting and was more recently called to mentor survivors of sex trafficking.
Tangie's path as a labor/postpartum support provider began many years ago, even prior to giving birth to her own children. After attending a couple births and not even knowing what a "doula" was, she became eager to share her experiences and help other women and families feel more in control of their births. Her dream became a reality in February 2012, when she completed my DONA approved training at The Gathering Place. Tangie has an educational background in Child Development (M.Ed.), and is also a Certified Breastfeeding Educator.
Gloria has been serving families as a Birth and Postpartum Doula for thirteen years and has attended more than 500 births. She is committed to nurturing parents through the childbearing year, in the belief that peaceful births create healthy, connected families. Her experiences as a student midwife, parent educator and human rights advocate inform her passion for supporting families in informed decision-making for an empowering birth experience. Gloria is also a community educator and teaches on a variety of topics including breastfeeding, infant care and development, holistic reproductive wellness, and LGBTQ competency for healthcare providers. Gloria received her doula training from DONA International and holds a degree in Women’s Studies. She is currently studying midwifery. She attends births at home, hospitals and birth centers. She is fluent in English, Spanish and American Sign Language. Glorida is a Level 3-4 doula.
A mother of two young boys. 6 years of experience assisting mothers in their postpartum transition, 5 years as a registered nurse, two years as a breastfeeding educator, and years more of experience to be had.
yoga and fitness instructors
Susan Duprey, H.H.C.
Susan is the founder of sattvatarian.com, wife of Will Duprey, mom to Mela Narayana and forever student of Yoga, Mantra, Ayurveda, Juicing and Raw Foods, who believes strongly in the philosophy of bio-individuality, no one thing works for everyone or there are many paths that lead to a state of yoga. Susan's work is rooted in the ancient Vedic texts that say "mother must be very happy and feel harmony with nature during pregnancy." Both food and sound have a way of evoking emotional response and Susan uses each of these during this incredibly open time as a point of entry to bring about release and growth in order to maintain elevated physical and mental states. The use of these learned practices yields a tool; the take away is the ability to create your own happiness within your own nature. She received her undergraduate degree from Northeastern University in Boston MA and her Holistic Health Counseling Certification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York City. She currently studies Sanskrit Mantra and chanting with Dr. M.A. Jayashree of Mysore, India. Susan offers her work in gratitude for all the ancestral mothers who have come before, for the mother in all of us and for all the children; our real teachers.
Carole Steinhauser, M.S.,M.B.A., RYT
Carole Steinhauser is an experienced fitness professional who loves what she does and is super fun to work with. A great motivator, she gets up every day and lives health and fitness. Carole fell in love with yoga and pilates as a young professional tennis player and has since made a name for herself as one of South Florida’s finest group fitness instructors. As ever-evolving human being and teacher, Carole is devoted to share her passion for movement and help others elevate their body, mind and spirit. Carole is a mom to a toddler boy and never felt more motivated to get everyone to love and enjoy fitness as a lifestyle.
Courtney Just, M.A., E-RYT
In her ten years of practice, Courtney has become a dedicated yoga practitioner and teacher, studying with the most well respected movement teachers in the South Florida community and leading vinyasa yoga classes that combine classic asana postures and strength building poses with a focus on both the dynamics of alignment and subtleties of posture to create a practice that leads to greater ease and fluidity of movement. Courtney is also a certified kids yoga instructor, teaching at several Montessori and private schools in Miami, as well leading the Chimps Program and the Kids Yoga Teacher Trainings at Green Monkey. In addition to yoga, Courtney practices various somatic movement modalities which she incorporates into her practice and classes, including Feldenkrais Methood and The Alexander Technique–the later in which she is currently studying in a comprehensive teacher training. She is also a graduate of the Effiji Breath Institute and is certified to lead people through transformational breathing sessions.
Emmanuelle Paulhiac, LMT
Emmanuelle is a Certified HypnoBirthing® practitioner and has been teaching private and group classes since 2005. After the birth of her fist child in 2004, she embraced a new career path and became passionate about raising consciousness in birth practices. As a a Certified BodyTalk practitioner Emmanuelle has contributed in promoting awareness about this incredible healing system throughout South Florida. Her work focuses on pre-conception years including fertility issues, all stages of pregnancy and fetal development, childbirth and parenting for small children. Emmanuelle is also a Licensed Massage Therapist who has received additional trainings in Mother Massage® and Infant Massage. She is currently focusing on adding obstetric and pediatric specialties to her CranioSacral Therapy Practice. Her approach to healing is very gentle and non invasive, and emphasizes utilizing numerous modalities to reach deep layers of healing.
Krista Triebel, A.P. Dipl. O.M.
A licensed Acupuncture Physician and Diplomate of Oriental Medicine, Krista now helps lead others into this community as a committed resource for individuals on how to keep themselves and their families healthy. Her areas of exceptional passion and expertise are women’s issues and fertility, pregnancy and post-partum care. Some of the benefits of her work include an increase in fertility and success rates with artificial reproductive technology, alleviation of morning sickness, decrease in back pain, correction of a malpositioned fetus, labor induction, a shorter and/or easier labor and delivery and the correction of postpartum hormonal imbalances. When it comes to birth, Krista’s focus is to improve the quality of the experience and facilitate a more peaceful and comfortable pregnancy, labor and delivery. She does this through a combination of holistic treatments, providing support to the families, and educating and empowering women to make conscious and healthy decisions for themselves and their babies.
Miguel Toro, D.C.
Dr. Miguel Toro is a pediatric and family Chiropractor and has served families of South Florida since 2006. Dr Miguel is owner of Toro Family Chiropractic, situated in Miami Beach. His passion and expertise has always been caring for pregnant mothers, newborns and children of all ages. Dr. Miguelʼs only focus in practice is to check for vertebral subluxations (misalignments of the spine) that can interfere with normal nerve system function and human physiology. Nerve interference due to these misalignments
Nancy Pedersen, LMHC, CST, COO
Nancy is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a Certified Sex Therapist. She specializes in helping individuals and families with concerns regarding their relationships, stress before and after childbirth, and coping with mental health. Are you experiencing difficulties in your life due to feelings of depression, constant worries, problems in your marriage or sex life? Do you get up in the morning already tired and stressed out? Or maybe you are trying to help a loved one who suffers from bipolar disorder or schizophrenia and you do not know how. If so, the first step you need to take is to allow yourself to know that it is normal sometimes to feel confused and without answers on how to manage daily struggles or a difficult stressor in your life. Since 2008, Nancy has been working with families and individuals assisting them in learning new ways to overcome their problems so they can improve their intimacy, reconnect with their loved ones, or bring more balance to their lives. Her clinical approach includes cognitive behavioral therapy, strength based, mindfulness and motivational interviewing techniques. If you are interested in learning more about how therapy can help you, please schedule an appointment with Familiar Healthcare.
Rudy is a Life and Business Coach. He specializes in helping working professionals and businesses reach their potential by increasing efficiency and quality of life. When you are working hard in a fast-paced environment, it's easy to lose sight of your goals and to feel like you've lost direction. Rudy likes to work with you to free you from the obstacles holding you back from reaching your goals and maximizing your potential. For the last five years he has been working with clients in an effort to help them overcome their problems and improve their overall life satisfaction. He specializes in life and business coaching. With life coaching you will learn the strategies necessary to put you on the fast track to achieving your goals. As a business coach he assists with conflict resolution, increasing employee efficiency, and improving job performance and satisfaction. Whether you are looking to get your business on track, begin a new project, or merely take control of your life, coaching may be the solution for you.
Kendra is a Life and Parenting Coach. She specializes in helping busy parents evaluate their priorities and develop an action plan on how to efficiently achieve their goals. Kendra hosts Mom's Coffee Break every Wednesday at 3pm to help give busy moms some peaceful moments and build community with each other. Ever feel like life is so hectic that you have forgotten why you're doing it in the first place? Kendra has been there many times. She knows that sometimes you need a few moments to step back, re-evaluate what is important, and figure out the most efficient way to move forward to achieve it. Kendra has several years of experience helping people one-on-one to help them identify their goals and priorities and setting an action plan on how to attain them. Additionally she has worked in and with over a dozen local mental healthcare facilities, and has managed a department with several employees under her supervision. Kendra has a range of experiences from case management to psychiatric services. She has done many of these things while simultaneously working on being a good mother to her toddler and making sure she gives her the time she deserves. Kendra believes that anything is possible with the motivation to achieve it and the wisdom to prioritize and organize your life efficiently.