Morgan Miles, Executive Director and Prenatal Coordinator
Morgan grew up in north Dallas and studied Social Work at the University of Texas. She has lived in Austin since 2010 and loves the mix of the busy city life with calm outdoor space. She currently works for another nonprofit serving young parents and is a private birth doula. In her free time, Morgan likes to practice yoga, dance, play in the Greenbelt, and spend time with her boyfriend and her dog, Elephant.
Morgan took her first DONA workshop in 2012, where she was introduced to GALS by then-coordinator, Karli Hetherington. She attended her first GALS birth a year later with a Spanish-speaking mother. Morgan has witnessed firsthand how GALS volunteers can empower a woman– giving her confidence in herself, her ability to birth and her ability to mother. She hopes volunteers truly see the value in the support that we offer to mothers and families. Morgan was asked to become Volunteer Coordinator the following May and held that position until 2016. She now is the Executive Director and is able to use her passion about GALS to better serve the community and keep the organization moving forward.
Rasalin Cooper, Volunteer Co-Coordinator
Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, I came into my own as a mother in Texas with little to no support. For almost a decade, the far west border town of El Paso taught me the power and healing of mothering for all women. While completing my college education, I served pregnant women regardless of socioeconomic status, race, religion, citizenship and orientation. My niche rapidly became assisting marginalized mothers in having their desired birth, postpartum and breastfeeding outcomes. Upon relocation to Austin, Giving Austin Labor Support was shared with me by a friend and midwife, who believed I needed to put my skill set to working in the Travis County area. For the past year and a half, I served in various programs under the GALS umbrella and have been immensely grateful for every experience this awesome organization has provided. I prefer to give really big hugs instead of handshakes, laugh really loud, am an avid gardener and love to see a mother come into her own! My hope is that all of our volunteers feel supported, competent and compelled during their time with GALS.
Raichal Reed, Volunteer Co-Coordinator
I am a student midwife originally from Mississippi and now call Austin my home away from home. I have always wanted to be a part of labor and the birthing process but I never knew what direction that would take me. In my second year of college I felt the pull to become a midwife, and shortly after that came my introduction into GALS. In midwifery, knowing and understanding those who are involved in birth work and the different environments that birth can occur in is important and GALS gives me that opportunity. My second love is volunteering, so to be able to dedicate my time and heart to volunteering in my future career field is more fulfilling than I could ever imagine. Finding and being in this community has made my life complete. My hope is that all of Texas and beyond realizes that no one should birth alone, and it takes a community to make magic happen.
Bindu Thota, Prenatal Coordinator
Bindu is currently a 3rd year medical student at Texas A&M College of Medicine in Round Rock. She plans to pursue OB/GYN as a speciality and hopes to serve long-term as an OB/GYN in the Middle East. After working in an OB/GYN hospital in the Middle East for a summer and having to an act as a pseudo-doula for women who were not allowed to have their husbands in the room at the time of the delivery, she recognized the importance of all women having the opportunity to have access to support while giving birth.
Besides woman’s health, Bindu is always ready to talk about her faith, Middle Eastern politics, racial justice, and music.
Mia Mendoza, TCSO Coordinator
Mia knows how overwhelming navigating pregnancy, birth, and postpartum can be and believes that every mother deserves support as they access their own strength and intuition. Mia values the importance of information and strives for all mothers to have the tools they need to make informed decisions throughout their gestational year. As a mother of two, Mia has experience in prolonged labor, C-section, and VBAC. She is currently offering low-cost doula care as she completes certification.
Ri Wade, Statistics Coordinator
Ri was inspired to join GALS after the transformational birth of her daughter in 2016. She believes that all births are beautiful, and helps women claim their power as they transition into motherhood through physical, emotional, and informational support (www.austinbirth.com).
As statistics coordinator, Ri draws on a decade of experience in international development, post-secondary education, and birth demography, and holds a MA in Education and Anthropology from Columbia University. She is proud of the effectiveness of GALS volunteers, who work with families and community partners to carry on the doula tradition of improving labor and birth outcomes in the Austin area.
Nicole McCharen, President of the Board
Nicole McCharen is originally from Austin and has her degree in Social Work from the University of Texas. After completing her degree, she worked in foster care and in a prenatal education program for parenting teens through Any Baby Can. She began to see many mothers birthing alone or with a lack of support and heard about a doula program like GALS that initially inspired her to become a birth doula.
Nicole began working and training as a birth doula in 2008 and joined GALS soon after volunteering for births and eventually coordinating the ABC/ GALS Prenatal Program. She stopped working closely with GALS in 2013 before the arrival of her third child. She has also worked as a doula both independently and in a collective since 2008. She is a trained life coach through the Coaches Training Institute and began training in September 2015 and was certified in June 2017. She is the owner of Mama Bloom, which specializes in postpartum groups and individual coaching for parents. Nicole truly believes in the power of safe spaces for every mama to find the support they need during birth and postpartum and knows that as mamas thrive so do their families. Nicole loves the Austin community and enjoys life alongside her husband and three kids.
Carla Denison-Bickett, Treasurer
Carla is the Interim Director of Consulting Services for Mission Capital where she brings her financial analysis, earned revenue and operations expertise to the nonprofit sector. She has developed strategic business plans, board processes and orientations, as well as financial models for nonprofits.
Prior to joining Mission Capital, Carla was the Chief Financial Officer of Cara, a workforce development nonprofit in Chicago. She previously served as the Vice President of Finance at Lehman Brothers Asset Management LLC. She has extensive management, reporting and budgeting experience. Additionally, Carla has managed financial reporting, accounting and government contracts. At Cara, Carla was also responsible for strategic planning for the organization and its social enterprises.
Carla graduated from DePaul University with a BS in Accounting and has a MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. She is also a CPA registered in Illinois and a Certified Nonprofit Accounting Professional.
Carla is passionate about being involved in the community and currently serves as the treasurer for both GenerationSERVE and Giving Austin Labor Support. She is also a member of Impact Austin.
Carla is married with one child and lives outside of Austin in Buda TX.
Laura Lambert, Secretary
Laura grew up in rural Maryland, and has lived in Maine, Southern India, Massachusetts, and California before recently landing in Texas. Laura is currently Senior Director of Development for the University of California, Santa Barbara. Before working in higher education, Laura held various fundraising and administrative roles in international development and health and human services in the Boston area.
Laura’s professional work is defined by building and sustaining meaningful relationships through philanthropy---helping people explore, identify, and invest in their philanthropic passions, as well as assisting recipients of philanthropy articulate their gratitude.
Laura trained as a labor assistant with ALACE, which is now toLabor. She has attended the births of friends, and was supported by a doula during the birth of her son.
Laura graduated from Bates College with a BA in Women & Gender Studies and English and has a MA in Education from the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz Graduate School of Education.
In her spare time, Laura explores Austin with her husband Paul and son Milo, spending many hours in the kids’ section at Bookpeople. Laura is an avid reader of fiction and memoir, and is inspired to knit hats for baby heads.
Elizabeth Schoenfeld, Board Member
Elizabeth is currently the Director of Research & Evaluations at locElizabeth earned her Ph.D. in Human Development & Family Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. She currently serves as the Director of Research & Evaluation at another nonprofit in Austin, where she oversees all evaluation initiatives for the agency’s 16 programs.
Dara Fields, Board Member
Dara is a Certified Nurse Midwife and owner of Midwifery of Austin. Dara trained at Columbia University in New York City. She has been a long time supporter of GALS during her time as a Nurse Midwife at Brackenridge Hospital.
Yazmin Costopoulos, Vice President of the Board
Yazmin is a birth doula, postpartum and newborn specialist, educator, and yoga instructor. She volunteered for GALS as a doula and a translator. We welcome Yazmin to the Board of Directors as Vice President in January 2018!