Birth Assistants & Clinical Staff

Birth Assistants - Midwifery Model of Care

Anna Hepsø, RN, Birth AssistantAnna Hepsø, RN, IBCLC
director of nursing

Anna has been passionate about childbirth since middle school, when her aunt would tell her stories about her experiences as a doula and L&D nurse. She became fascinated by the woman’s empowerment, transformation, and innate strength during labor and birth and felt called to support mothers and families during this life-changing and vulnerable time. She left her hometown of Waverly, Iowa, to pursue her passion for language and travel, moving to Norway where she met her future husband. She has since earned a B.A. in linguistics from Williams College in Massachusetts, teacher licensure from the University in Trondheim, and a Master of Nursing from the U of M.

Anna enjoys teaching and working with children and has held jobs as a BWCA canoe guide for youth, an academic/writing tutor for children and peers, a piano teacher, and a childbirth educator. As a nurse, her passion remains helping childbearing families through pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and breastfeeding. While in nursing school, Anna founded the Twin Cities Doula Project, a local nonprofit organization that provides free doula services to families in need. As both a nurse and a doula, Anna has had the opportunity to attend births in the home, birth center, and hospital setting. She continues to work casually on the hospital labor & delivery unit where she started her nursing career. At home, she and her husband Audun are working hard to be better parents to their two young boys Henrik and Nils.

Clinic Nurse

Abbie began her journey in labor and delivery on a hobby farm in Watertown, MN where she was a part of the delivery process for her family’s goats. She also attended the births of two of her younger siblings and began to be fascinated with the natural process of the woman’s body and childbirth. She began working at the Minnesota Birth Center in 2012 as a housekeeper and worked toward her certification as a doula at the same time. She decided to pursue nursing school and came back to the MBC in 2017 as a birth assistant and clinic nurse. Abbie also has experience working with special needs adults and children in home and community settings. Outside of the MBC, her time is spent with her husband and friends at favorite coffee shops, running, gardening, and doing anything outdoors.

Ali Cluka, RN, CLEC
Clinic Nurse

Ali grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She obtained a BS in Biology and Animal Science from the University of Minnesota, after which she worked in biomedical research for six years. During this time, Ali and her husband experienced the loss of their first baby, and the subsequent births of their two sons. While preparing for her births, she became passionate about birth, breastfeeding, and healthcare.  Increasingly interested in maternity care practices and women’s health, she decided to pursue a career in nursing. Ali believes that the power of a birth plan isn’t in having a plan, but in the process of making one. She sees pregnancy as a unique opportunity where women can thoughtfully question standardized medical practices, seek evidenced-based care, and make informed and enlightened decisions that are right for their family. Ali is thrilled to be a part of the MBC team, where she can help support women and families during such an empowering and special time of their lives! When not working, Ali enjoys hiking and going to the movies with her young family.

Abbie ElliotT, RN
Clinic Nurse

Abbie grew up in the north suburbs of the Twin Cities area. From a young age she was surrounded by medical influences and had a dream of becoming a pediatric nurse. From that dream stemmed years of filling her days with children of all ages. She had countless nanny jobs, from twins and multiple siblings to preemie infants and special needs. Through college Abbie worked full-time as a personal care attendant (PCA) for a boy with autism and realized she had a heart for long-term care relationships. While attending Bethel University for her Bachelors degree in nursing, she fell in love with her OB and public health rotations. She was sure she would have to choose between the two eventually. After graduating and a short stint in pediatric home care, she found a miraculous connection to MBC – Dr. Cindy Calvin, one of the founders, had been a professor at her high school, Minnehaha Academy! The rest was history. Abbie still can’t believe she now works her dream job, combining her love for OB as a birth assistant with her passion for public health as a clinic nurse. Abbie continually finds herself inspired by the staff and clients, who never cease to uphold the values and mission of MBC. She is incredibly honored to work at a center that so proudly claims birth as an empowering experience and deserving of an encouraging and uniquely nurturing atmosphere. In her spare time Abbie can be found fishing, cooking, volunteering with her church’s youth group, loving on her friends and family, or cuddling her shih tzu, Isabella. While she has no children of her own yet, Abbie is thrilled to continue learning and treasuring her experiences while at MBC.

Emma Seifert, RN
CLinic Nurse

Emma was born and raised in rural Wisconsin on a small hobby farm, where she grew up helping on the farm and caring for baby lambs. Here began her love for the birthing process and all babies. She attended college at North Dakota State University, served a diverse population of families in the infant room of a local daycare, and gained experience in obstetrics through her clinicals and practicum experiences. As she cared for a wide range of women, Emma found her passion growing for low-intervention birth. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and moved to the Twin Cities in search of an opportunity in out-of-hospital birth. She was delighted to find her dream job at the Minnesota Birth Center. Emma now calls St. Paul her home, where she loves spending time outdoors gardening and going to the local farmers market.

Kayla Waldecker, RN

Kayla became fascinated with birth after having the privilege of seeing her little brother enter the world when she was 12 years old. As she grew in her passion for maternal health, she was particularly interested in the sociopolitical forces that impact women’s autonomy in healthcare and inspired by the idea that there were true choices in childbirth. Kayla earned a B.A. in Gender and Women Studies and Theatre and Drama from the University of Wisconsin- Madison, a Master of Public Health degree from Benedictine University, and a Master of Nursing degree from the University of Minnesota. Prior to nursing school, Kayla was a birth doula in the Twin Cities for several years and founded the Karma Doula Collaborative, a program dedicated to making doula support sustainable and accessible to all families, regardless of income. She continues to strive to do the work to make birth better in Minnesota and beyond.

The things that bring Kayla joy in life are good music, intensely competitive team trivia, comic relief and her fab four, which include her husband Daniel and three tiny humans Genevieve, Lillebelle, and Maverick.

Aleta Wild, RN, CLC

Aleta was born and raised in Northfield, Minnesota but now calls Minneapolis home, where she lives with her partner, daughter, and two mischievous kitties. Aleta earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from St. Olaf College, which she used to work in sustainable agriculture and environmental education. She then decided to go back to school to pursue a Master of Nursing at the University of Minnesota. She has worked in a variety of healthcare capacities, from performing research in a level 1 trauma center emergency department to working in public health in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After recently giving birth at the Minnesota Birth Center, Aleta is excited to use her teaching and coaching skills to help other families achieve their birth goals. Aleta continues to work as an ICU nurse and loves being a part of the team at the Minnesota Birth Center! Outside of MBC she enjoys going on outdoor adventures, eating all the amazing food her husband cooks, swimming, reading, and trying to convince her cats to be friends with her baby.

Kara Gebhard, RN

Kara was born and raised in Minnesota and after extensive traveling, decided she couldn’t find a better place to call home. Saint Olaf College provided her nursing education and she has been working with birthing families since 2007: as a nurse in labor and delivery, in childbirth education, and also visiting new families in their home. Kara believes strongly in the power of autonomy of families during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum transition. She believes that a “good birth” is one where families receive safe, evidenced-based care in a setting where they are respected and able to communicate their family choices freely. Her home consists of two kids, two dogs, one husband, and a wonderful network of family and friends. Cross country skiing, singing, reading, walking in sunshine, and graduate school fill her time otherwise. She is excited to be a part of the incredible community of birth workers that the Twin Cities offers.


Madelaine Weissend, RN

Madelaine was raised in Kansas City and graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Nebraska. As she discerned a future career in healthcare, she found a job that allowed her to travel around North America and Europe training healthcare professionals to effectively use electronic health record software. Despite a long standing interest in reproductive health, it was through this work that Madelaine learned about and was inspired by the midwifery model of care. Madelaine decided to pursue her interest in supporting and empowering growing families first by training as a doula, and then by pursuing a career in nursing. She graduated from the Master of Nursing program at the University of Minnesota in 2020. In her free time, Madelaine enjoys working on her knitting projects, yoga, exploring the Twin Cities, and keeping her cat, Frankie, out of trouble.

Elyssa Mendez, RN

Elyssa grew up in Ohio where she earned a B.A. in psychology and Spanish from Ohio Wesleyan University. She was inspired by the resilient women in her life to dedicate herself to a career empowering women. While completing her undergraduate degree, Elyssa became aware of the broken health system in our country that contributes to disparities and lack of bodily autonomy in healthcare, particularly within the birth world. Elyssa decided that pursuing a career in nursing would provide her the platform and skills needed to advocate and care for women and birthers to promote positive change. She moved to Minnesota with her partner and their cat, where she graduated from the University of Minnesota’s Master of Nursing program in 2020. As a biracial Latina, Elyssa is passionate about fighting for health equity while remaining culturally humble, and is working toward becoming a nurse-midwife. In her free time, Elyssa likes to read, hike, pretend she’s a movie critic, and start craft projects that she’ll never finish.

Mandy hoffmanN, RN

Born and raised in Michigan, Mandy received her Bachelor of Science degree in Integrative Health Studies and Psychology at Michigan State University. During that time she spent three years as a reproductive health peer educator at the campus clinic. After graduation, Mandy moved to Colorado, making it her home for the next five years. With her continued interest in health education, she took on a role through an Americorps program at a community health center. She spent her days teaching reproductive health education to middle and high school students and working at a teen clinic. Though she knew that she was destined to pursue a career that would allow her to create partnerships with women and their families providing essential reproductive health services, the path wasn’t always so clear. Through a little bit of trial and error, lots of travel, odd jobs, and soul searching, Mandy decided to go back to school to pursue nursing, which ultimately landed her in the Twin Cities. She recently graduated with her Master of Nursing degree from the University of Minnesota and will be continuing her education this fall in the their Nurse Midwifery program. She misses the mountains, but has loved being back in the midwest exploring all that Minnesota has to offer, especially the biking, cross country skiing, and vibrant birth community! Mandy is an outdoor enthusiast and seeks solace in nature. She loves to hike, camp, run, practice yoga and spend time with her adventure/life partner Ryan and their cat Leo. She also works as a Float Pool nurse at a hospital and enjoys learning from and caring for patients with a wide range of healthcare needs. Mandy is beyond honored to work with the MBC team and grateful to be an active participant and advocate in your story. She wholeheartedly believes that women are the world’s expert on their own bodies and lives and is continually motivated and inspired by their strength!

Sarah Millam, RN

Sarah is originally from Minneapolis & after traveling the world for several years, she returned to her roots & is proud to call Minneapolis her home once again. It was through her travels, doing volunteer medical work, particularly in Haiti & India, that Sarah developed a passion for women’s health. She was struck by the contrast between the lack of skilled professionals & medical services available to pregnant women in underdeveloped countries compared to the over-abundance and medicalization of birth in the US. She ultimately felt called to serve low-risk mothers seeking undisturbed & low-intervention births. She returned to the US & earned her bachelors degree in nursing in Minneapolis while working as a phlebotomist at a local emergency room & becoming a doula through DONA International. After graduating, she moved to North Dakota where she gained experience, primarily as a postpartum & lactation nurse, with occasional shifts in the NICU, pediatrics, and gynecology. She then returned to Minneapolis in the summer of 2016 to join our team & also works at two nearby hospitals in Labor and Delivery where she gets the opportunity to serve women dealing with perinatal complications. Sarah is a self-described “research nerd” & likes to stay constantly updated with the latest evidence-based research surrounding women & newborn health. She was thrilled to become part of the MBC team, as she finds that our care model most closely aligns with her own values of using evidence-based medicine to promote physiological birth while respecting the autonomy of women and their families. In her free time she enjoys spending time outside with her pitbull-mix, playing with her nephew, listening to podcasts, exploring a plant-based diet, traveling abroad, reading medical journals & taking courses online to further her knowledge of evidence-based birth.

EliZabeth Summers, RN

Elizabeth obtained her Bachelor Science in Nursing from the University of New Mexico. She also has a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree from Macalester College. She has worked in a variety of settings as a Registered Nurse including inpatient oncology, renal dialysis, and women’s health. She completed the Minnesota Birth Center Doula Internship program in 2016 and had the opportunity to support women birthing naturally and giving birth by C-section. She is married and has two children. Both of her babies were birthed with the support of midwives in hospital. When she is not assisting with a birth at the MBC, you can find Elizabeth at various networking events in the Twin Cities. She is a proud member of Business Network International and enjoys growing her network marketing and virtual doula business during the week. In her free time, you’ll find Elizabeth practicing yoga at home or at Blooma. She also loves to take long walks with her German Shepherd dog and her Australian Cattle Dog at the Minnehaha Dog Park.

KathrYn Radtke, RN

Kathryn received a second-degree BSN at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, where she trained as a doula and was captivated by both the science and mystery of birth. After years of high and low-risk experience at teaching hospitals along the East Coast, Kathryn has discovered that out-of-hospital birth is where she is meant to be. One of her favorite truths is “peace on earth begins with birth. She believes that the safe, collaborative, evidence-based nature of care at the Minnesota Birth Center only empowers those giving birth, heals generations, and is a major solution to building strong, healthy communities. When not with clients, Kathryn serves as an Adjunct Professor at St. Kate’s, leading nursing students through their maternity clinical rotations and staying up-to-date on current practices in the field. Creativity, a love of teaching, and whole-person care are just a few of her favorite nursing superpowers, and she is honored to carry with her the wisdom of families, nurses, doulas, and providers with whom she has worked. Here in Minnesota, Kathryn has been growing in her holistic practice and learning from those in the Twin Cities championing healthy Black, Brown, and LGBTQIA+ birth. Her family, including MBC-born Sebastian, loves to explore the Twin Cities area, and lately she’s been trying to remember how Sebastian ever had such tiny newborn hands! She looks forward to supporting the birth you desire.

Tara SchwanTz, RN

Tara was born and raised in southeastern Minnesota.  She currently lives in New Richmond, Wisconsin with her husband, rescue cocker spaniel, and cat. Tara had a love for all things babies and knew she wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse at the age of 13. She spent the rest of her teenage years and college days babysitting for babies (the newer the better) and children of all ages. Tara earned a Bachelor of Arts in Nursing from Luther College and for the last 25 years has advocated for informed choice and consent in birth, providing care for birthing families in hospitals as well as traveling  as a nurse in Tanzania and California. Tara became very interested in learning about out-of-hospital birth after she attended the home birth of one of her friends, and she signed on with the Minnesota Birth Center in 2015. Tara finds supporting physiologic labor to be the most gratifying aspect of her job and NEVER tires of witnessing birth. She loves to travel, work in the garden, and create meals with the produce grown in her own yard.  She practices yoga regularly and gets outside to hike, ski, walk, bike or swim whenever she has a chance.

Charmaine sweeney, Clinic assistant & Medical Supply Coordinator

Photo coming soon!
Charmaine has a 4 year degree in zoology and has her very own zoo at home consisting of three dogs, a cat, a bearded dragon and a ball python. Her passion for caring for animals transformed to caring for people and in 2015 she joined the National Guard as an EMT. She also learned phlebotomy in the Army and most recently worked for CSL Plasma as a senior phlebotomist and management trainee. Charmaine is interested in exploring a career in nursing and is excited to be working with nurses and midwives at the Minnesota Birth Center.