Anna has been passionate about childbirth since middle school, when her aunt told 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 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. While Norwegian is the only language she speaks proficiently, she has studied several other languages, including three years of Arabic.
Anna founded the Twin Cities Doula Project, a local nonprofit organization that provides free doula services to mothers 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 currently works as an L&D nurse, childbirth educator, and as a certified lactation counselor. Music is one of Anna’s main nonprofessional interests; she used to be a piano teacher and has been singing in choirs since childhood. She and her husband enjoy cooking together, running and world travel. They look forward to regular trips home to Norway, the Boundary Waters, and enjoy long weekends visiting relatives around the country.
Amanda Frykman, RN
Amanda is originally from North Branch, Minnesota. She graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing from St. Catherine University. Amanda has always felt passionate about women’s health and knew in high school that she wanted to support women during labor and delivery. She has been a nurse for 4 years and has 3 years of labor & delivery and antepartum experience at the University of Minnesota- Fairview. Amanda absolutely loves the high risk work she does at Fairview, but is excited to work in a low stress environment that faciliates physiological birth at the Minnesota Birth Center. Amanda lives with her two Chihuahuas- Brutus and Gus in Blaine, MN. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family, going to movies with friends, trying new food, baking, cooking, and boating in the summer.
amanda hedin, rn
Amanda has a long history in healthcare with nearly 15 years experience. Only recently, though, has she transitioned to nursing. Already with a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Hamline University, she has recently added RN to her title (Rasmussen College) and found her passion in caring for patients. When not attending MBC births, Amanda works for Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in the operating room as a circulating nurse. Amanda loves caring for families who have low risk pregnancies and can feel empowered by their birth experiences. Amanda lives in Blaine with her husband Scott and their miracle daughter, Reagan. Her family has two dogs and enjoys spending time outside, cooking, and being active.
Melanie grew up and Minnesota and chose the University of Minnesota for her undergraduate studies in International Relations and German. It was during college that she met her husband, Ali, who is originally from Iran. They moved to Boston while her husband finished his PhD, and it was there that their two children were born. At the time, Melanie had to spend hours on the phone to get midwifery care covered by their insurance, but she knew she wanted low-intervention births, and even chose hypnobirth for baby #2. After staying home with her children for a few years, Melanie trained as a doula and then attended nursing school at St Catherine University. When Melanie is not at MBC, she can be found attending her children’s activities, taking care of her cats and dogs, and working as a certified OB nurse at the University of Minnesota Birthplace. There she is on the “flex team” – working in labor and delivery, antepartum and postpartum. She is passionate about all aspects of women’s health and strives to provide care that is not only safe, but inclusive and welcoming. She knows how empowering the birth experience can be, and wants her patients to get the birth they desire, whatever that looks like!
savanha winkel, RN
Savanha is beyond grateful to be working at Minnesota Birth Center and so humbled to help care for families in some of their most intimate, life changing moments. Originally from Forest Lake, Savanha has a Masters of Science in Nursing from St. Catherine University and a Bachelor of Arts in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota. Savanha joined MBC as a student nurse intern after completing her clinical rotation at MBC in 2016. As nursing school often does, exposure to new areas of healthcare led Savanha to quickly develop a passion for maternity care in an out-of-hospital setting. While her original career goals focused on pediatric nursing, she has discovered that maternity care is truly the best of both worlds. Her scholarly work focused on helping bring awareness and education to healthcare professionals and the broader community on Paternal Postpartum Depression. She hopes to continue her passion for learning and providing family-centered care at MBC by finding new, improved ways to care for and support the partners of our moms. Savanha lives in St. Paul with her fiancé, Jordan Standish, and family of 4-legged friends; Dixie (dog), Noir (cat), Porter (cat), Simcoe (cat), and Mitch (bearded dragon). In her free time, she enjoys spending time in the outdoors, practicing yoga, traveling, and most of all, being with friends and family.
After spending a year in Kenya in 1979, Kate felt for certain she wanted to someday return. However, after serving as a labor coach for a colleague in Wisconsin she became enthralled with the world of labor, delivery, and babies – a fascination that has lasted almost 33 years. Kate began her nursing career in high risk labor and delivery but quickly moved to community hospitals where the care was more personalized. The bulk of her experience was at a community hospital in Milwaukee that eventually became the second Baby Friendly Hospital in Wisconsin in 2005. Kate began to concentrate her educational credits on lactation and skin-to-skin research. and in particular how bodywork post-birth can help an infant improve her suck and overall sense of well-being. Kate became IBCLC-certified in June 2017 and will begin craniosacral therapy work in 2018. Kate says, “In our move to Minnesota the change to working at a birth center was like putting on the ‘glass slipper’. Our family has seen two sons graduate from Macalester so we were very familiar with the Twin Cities. The healthcare culture here is rich with midwifery care and it is a pleasure to be a part of this community. The Minnesota Birth Center feels like home.”
Rachel grew up in Wisconsin and moved to the Twin Cities for nursing school. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Bethel University over eight years ago. Since then she has gathered a wide variety of nursing experience, ranging from pediatric behavioral health to managing a primary medical clinic in Haiti. She was fortunate to manage Seton Prenatal Clinic in St Paul before its closing, which served a diverse group of pregnant women with high social needs. Through that work she fell in love with working alongside women during pregnancy and promoting healthy babies and families. She entered into the labor world recently by volunteering at an amazing maternity center in Haiti called Heartline Ministries. There she was able to assist with labor and birth as well as other tasks. Rachel is excited to serve the families who come to the MN Birth Center and for the honor of welcoming the new littles into the world.
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.
Abbie ElliotT, RN
Medical Supplies Coordinator
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.
Toni is originally from Kansas City, Missouri but has lived in Minnesota for over half her life so it is very much like home to her. She graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Nursing from Presentation College. She has been a nurse for just over ten years, with most of her experience being at the VA hospital where she has proudly served veterans on a busy medical/surgical unit. Toni has always enjoyed women’s health and been fascinated by pregnancy, and therefore decided that while she enjoyed her work at the VA Hospital, it was time for her to connect with the desires of her heart and seek a position in women’s health. She ventured out to pursue positions in labor and delivery and was so fortunate to land at the MBC. What excites her most about her role at the birth center is the ability to empower and support women and families during such a miraculous time in their lives. She lives in St. Paul with her husband and two daughters. In her free time she enjoys yoga, museums, family time and walks around the lake.
Brittany Geisen, RN
Brittany was born and raised in the suburbs of the Twin Cities. She has traveled to many states and countries but cannot see herself living anywhere else. Brittany is now proud to call Saint Paul her home, where she lives with her husband Nicholas, son Winston, and black lab Indie. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in nursing at Winona State University. She then worked for two years in the Neonatal ICU, where she gained critical care skills and attended high-risk deliveries. While her heart will always have a soft spot for caring for tiny humans, she believes she has found her new calling here at the Minnesota Birth Center. Her own pregnancy and birth experience with her son inspired a newfound love and passion for holistic, midwifery-led care. When Brittany is not at the birth center, you can find her exploring nature, spending time with family and friends, or capturing life’s precious moments with a camera. What started as volunteer photography for the March of Dimes has now blossomed into a small business that feeds her creative side. Whether she’s working as a nurse or photographer, her goal is to make others feel empowered, valued, and loved.
ABBIE Liesmaki, RN
Abbie began her journey in labor and delivery on a hobby farm in Watertown, MN where she helped deliver baby goats (kids) with her family. 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 with the intention of working in labor and delivery. She graduated in 2016 as an RN and came back to the MBC in 2017 as a birth assistant and clinic nurse. Abbie also has experience in working with special needs adults and children in their homes and community environment. Outside of the MBC, her time is spent with friends at her favorite coffee shops, listening to good music, growing in life with her church community, studying for classes she is taking toward her BSN degree, running, caring for her sunroom full of green growing plants and doing anything outdoors.
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!
Ali Cluka, RN
Medical Supplies Coordinator
Photo and bio coming soon!