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our staff

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.

The Gathering Place Miami Staff


Michelle Fonte

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 serves on the board of the Foundation for the Advancement of Midwifery, as the Southeast representative on the board of the Midwives Alliance of North America, is the current President of Florida Friends of Midwives and the owner of a consulting company Mind, Body & Baby, llc.

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Yomari Cruz-DeWeese, MS, RD, LD/N

Yomari is a nutrition consultant for several local Head Start Delegate Agencies. Yomari moved to Gainesville, Florida in 1997 to pursue her undergraduate degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Florida and she completed her Master’s Degree in Dietetics at Florida International University in 2005. Yomari has a passion for working with expectant mothers, young children, and families to help promote healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. After having a doula supported hospital VBAC in 2011, she has become greatly interested in helping mothers who are seeking empowering births.

Raised in San Juan Puerto Rico, Yomari lives in Miami Shores with her husband Andrew, her three-year-old daughter, Kate, and six-month-old son, Milo. They practice attachment parenting, babywearing, and cloth diapering. She has recently scaled down her consulting practice to spend more time with her children and to become more involved with this community of mothers at The Gathering Place.

Thalia Rodriquez

Thalia fell in love with sign language as a kid after watching The Miracle Worker. She picked up many of the signs they showed and watched that video so many times over she ruined the tape. Thalia yearned to know more but being so young and not knowing where to go or what resources were out there, she was never able to learn more than what she got from watching the movie. As Thalia grew, her passion for sign language took a backseat to the many other things that were going on in life. Finally, many years after The Miracle Worker, Thalia got married and had a baby girl. When her daughter was just 5 months old, Thalia signed up for a baby sign language class and her passion for ASL was reignited. Thalia (now old enough to locate to proper resources) is trying to further her own ASL knowledge and education.

Mia McDonald, MBA

Mia earned a B.A. in Advertising from Hampton University and MBA in Marketing from Ellis College of NYIT. Mia's love for cloth diapering began years before she ever thought of having children. Cloth diapering is a family tradition and is in-line with her passion for environmentally friendly living. After her daughter's birth in 2011, she knew a cloth diapering business would enable her to spend more time with her family while serving the community. Mother Earth Diaper Service became that outlet, which serves South Florida's Tri-county area with weekly pickup and delivery service. Mia’s role as a volunteer cloth diaper educator, certified by The Real Diaper Association, allows her to make sure parents know and understand cloth diapering as a viable and eco-friendly option for their family.

Amanda Bradley, JD

Amanda has been teaching babywearing and selling baby carriers in South Florida since 2006. She has three daughters, ages 6, 4 and 16 months. Amanda is happy to be a home-birthing, extended breastfeeding, cosleeping, Waldorf mom!

Jeanne Elser Smith, M.A. Edu.

Jeanne is the mother of two girls, ages 5 and 1, and a teacher to all ages. She leads the Learning Cooperative, Play and Literacy Workshops at The Gathering Place and is available for private education consults. Jeanne was first a professional ballet dancer with Pennsylvania Ballet, Kansas City Ballet and Hartford Ballet before moving on to get her degree and teach elementary school in Massachusetts. She founded a Cooperative play-school in Kendall and developed Miami City Ballet School’s Music and Movement Program. She currently volunteers as a local La Leche League of Miami Dade Leader, teaches ballet at MCBS, tutors, leads parent workshops, and is finishing her Montessori Teacher Certification for ages 3-6 at SMTTI in Davie, FL. Jeanne’s work focuses on teaching and parenting in developmentally appropriate ways that foster the child’s sense of individuality and self.

Ruth Lutchnick

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.

Emily Robinson

Emily Robinson is a professional photographer and graphic designer residing in Hollywood with her husband and two young girls. She is passionate about creating authentic images that document the special details of her own life and kids, as well as those of her clients. She specializes in maternity, birth, newborn, child and family portraiture. With a background in journalism, her interest in capturing the details and story of birth was a natural draw for her. In 2011 she began offering birth documentary photography to her clients and quickly fell in love with the raw emotion and powerful stories she could capture and give her clients. "It isn't just about beautiful images for me. I want my camera to tell a story that I want to remember. I want my clients to feel something when they view the images of themselves and their family. I want them to see and feel the love and connections - not just that they had nice clothes on and pretty smiles." This year, Emily embarked on a 365-project, taking at least one image of her life each day. In addition to her portrait work, Emily's fine art photography and design can be found displayed in hotels around the nation. She has had her images sold in major retail chains as wall decor and also has images available for sale through Getty Images. She is a member of the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers. Emily's portrait work can be found at She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or 305-807-2152.

Lina Sandaal, MA

Lina Acosta Sandaal, program director, 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 will bring this expertise to her work as Program Director to The Nest.

Alina Vega, M.S.,LMFT

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.

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lactation consultants

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.


Ericka Tercero, IBCLC, RLC

Offers knowledge of 8 years’ working with a multicultural community, counseling and supporting pre/postpartum care related to breastfeeding and infant nutrition in group classes and/or individual settings. Experienced baby wearing, natural birthing, and natural weaning; I feel as if, “Mommy hood is ones most rewarding careers that lasts forever.” Aspires to be an Occupational Therapist and bridge it within the needs of lactation.

Lizbeth Gonzalez, MD, IBCLC, RLC

Working for over 15 years in the medical field as a pediatrician, has approached me directly to know the interrelation mother and child during the first years of life, and the importance of breastfeeding in the children’s develop physical and emotional. I am a mother of 4 children and have nursed them made me better mother, women and professional. Because of this, along with my studies in the medical field, I’m very motivated to teach many mothers to follow the beautiful path of raising their children under the shelter of their skin and the honey of their breasts.

Jocelyn Milanes, IBCLC, RLC

I am thankful to be the mother of a beautiful 9 year old daughter, whom I breastfed for over 4 years. I am also a singer/ songwriter/ guitarist, who loves sharing music with kids of all ages.

I've been working as a lactation specialist with the Miami Dade County Health Department, WIC Breastfeeding Program for almost 8 years. I have gained much experience, and served over 10,000  culturally diverse prenatal, and postpartum mothers and their babies with breastfeeding education, support, and encouragement. In 2010 I became an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). I believe every mother, should have the right to the best breastfeeding and childbirth support system and education, to enable her in making the soundest decisions on how she chooses to birth and feed her baby. I am blessed to be a part of her journey into and through motherhood in this, gathering place.

Sandra Lobaina CBE, IBCLC

Sandra Lobaina is a Midwifery assistant/Labor Coach, Child Birth Educator and an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She attended school at The International School of Midwifery in which she completed January 2010. She 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 there new babies. She teaches child birth 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 being of there families.

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Michelle Fonte

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 Dominquez

Michelle moved to South Florida from Orlando in July 2011.  She currently resides in Miramar with er amazing, supportive husband and two beautiful children, Leilani age 9 and Kingston age 2.  Having experienced first a hospital setting and then a birth center, her perspective on birth and what it was supposed to be changed.  It was during the pregnancy and birth of her second child when she gained a surge of self-confidence about her body.  Michelle now completely understands that pregnancy and birth are normal processes and not scary life events as most movies and TV shows depict.  She wholeheartedly believes birth is a key life experience that a mother will remember all her life.  As a result of this philosophy, Michelle holds the most regard and respect for her clients and their families throughout the beautiful journey of pregnancy and birth!

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 increase the chances of her having a natural birth.

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.

Whittney Nicholson-(Hester)

Whitney is a Doula (birth/postpartum), Breastfeeding Educator, and the mother of two beautiful children.  She has a strong passion for assisting families with maternal care, labor, and postpartum.

Whitney breast fed her children for three years and is an advocate of breast feeding. Whitney trained with D.O.N.A. inter nation and has been working with families in Miami for the last year.

She enjoys cooking, studying nutrition, and being apart of the greatest miracles of all - pregnancy and birth.

Ariella Prol, CD

Ariella is a labor doula, trained by Doulas of North America and certified by Right2Birth.  A graduate of homeschooling with a lifetime background in alternative medicine, Ariella was a massage therapist and yoga teacher before finding the work of her heart – providing a service of love to women and their families by supporting, educating and assisting them in having empowered birth experiences.  

Ariella loves to work closely with her clients, helping them to develop plans that are safe, satisfying, and realistically possible given the context of the birth.  Whatever the place (home, birth center, hospital), a doula trained to listen and assist can make all the difference.

In addition, Ariella is a birth, newborn, child, and family photographer, and you can avail yourself of those skills, too, if you so choose.

Ariella lives in Miami with her husband Jeff (acupuncturist) and two children, Kai, age 7 (born at the Hollywood Birth Center) and Lotus, age 4 (born at home).

Amanda Fischler, CD LMT CYT

The transformational journey into motherhood has the potential to let us experience the fullness of who we are. The blessing of becoming a mother inspired me to help families honor their own paths as they enter into the compassionate realm of parenting. I'm so honored to be a doula, one who helps uphold our sacred rite of passage to connect with ourselves and our children through birth . Empowering women to discover their magnitude and strength, creating the strongest foundation for the life of the family. It is a joy to share my knowledge, to mentor, support and advocate for mother and child each step of their way. I draw from my experience as a mother and a doula and utilize my training as a massage therapist and yoga teacher to offer a full spectrum of preparation, support and care. Together we can create a birthing experience that will inspire and empower, effecting positive changes for our families and communities for now and for generations to come.

Grethel Croft Gilbert

Jennifer Bercaro

Gloria Bauta

Gloria has been serving families as a Birth and Postpartum Doula for thirteen years and has attended more than 500 births. She is also a Parent Educator and teaches on a variety of topics including childbirth, breastfeeding and mindful parenting. Gloria is committed to empowering and nurturing parents through the childbearing year, in the belief that peaceful births create healthy, connected families.

Gloria received her training from DONA International and served as an on-staff doula at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston. In 2005, she returned to South Florida to serve families as a doula, educator and infant care specialist. Gloria has a degree in Women’s Studies and is currently studying midwifery at Ancient Arts Midwifery Institute. She attends births at home, hospitals and birth centers. She is fluent in English, Spanish and American Sign Language.

Nai'mah Delpeche

Lauren Shockley

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yoga and fitness instructors

Susan Duprey H.H.C.

Susan is brand new to Miami!  She is the founder of, 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.

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wellness practitioners

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.

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