The Discovery Center hosted an engaging discussion on how we can better care for families and communities during pregnancy and parenting. The event was connected to our exhibition Designing Motherhood: Things That Make and Break Our Births and highlighted issues such as family planning, prenatal care, support for BIPOC families, and what it means to practice self-care. The panel featured expertise from advisors to the exhibition, including Angela Garbes, author of Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change, Dila Perera, executive director of Open Arms Perinatal Services, and Mercedes Snyder, midwife and owner of Something Beautiful Midwifery. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation staff member Kaleigh MacDaniels, global health program officer, joined the panelists to speak about the foundation’s family planning work and innovations in the field.
Watch the event
Angela Garbes is the author of Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change, called “a landmark and a lightning storm” by The New Yorker. Essential Labor was named a Best Book of 2022 by both The New Yorker and NPR. Her first book, Like a Mother, was also an NPR Best Book of the Year as well as a finalist for the Washington State Book Award in nonfiction. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, and New York Magazine, and has been featured on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and Fresh Air with Terry Gross. A first-generation Filipina American, Garbes lives with her family on Beacon Hill.
Kaleigh MacDaniels is a program officer on the Family Planning team at the Gates Foundation. She works on the introduction of DMPA-SC, a novel contraceptive that can be self-injected. In addition, she leads the team’s strategy and portfolio of investments in Indonesia. Prior to joining the foundation in May 2016, Kaleigh worked as a marketing and brand Manager at Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands, an affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Kaleigh holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and a master’s degree in public administration from Seattle University.
Dila Perera is the executive director at Open Arms Perinatal Services. She earned both a Master of Public Health and a Master of Social Work at the University of Washington. She went on to spend 12 years helping to build and manage innovative and complex programs designed to improve the health of vulnerable populations, including mothers, children, families, and people living with or affected by HIV. She has been a program manager, a grantmaker, a board member, and a trainer. However, Dila considers working with pregnant people—before and during birth—and supporting new mothers and infants to be the most rewarding work she has ever done.
Mercedes Snyder is the owner of Something Beautiful Midwifery. The art of midwifery called to Mercedes at nine years old. Growing up, she was always interested in the medical field and became a medical assistant in 2009 and worked her way to labor and delivery. She finally took up her mission in 2014, starting midwifery studies at Midwives College of Utah. She has served families as a doula since 2014, student midwife since 2016, and birth assistant since 2020 all within the Greater Seattle area. She has been honored to already have supported 300+ families in this time…and growing!
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