Kimberly D’Anna-Hernandez, PhD


Kimberly D’Anna-Hernandez headshotDr. D’Anna-Hernandez directs the Cultural Perinatal Mental Health Laboratory in the Psychology Department at Marquette University. Dr. D’Anna is trained as a behavioral neuroendocrinologist. Her research interests include the role of stress-related hormones on maternal behavior, and the role of acculturation and discrimination and other psychosocial measures on the biological response to stress in pregnant women, particularly Mexican and Mexican-American women. The long-term research objective is to use both behavioral and psychological measures to assess the impact of the prenatal environment (stress, discrimination, mood, neuroendocrine regulation, access to health care) on subsequent developmental trajectories of offspring related to the vulnerability of depression in the mother/child dyad. She also is the Director the URISE program, an NIH T34 that aims to broaden participation in biomedical research by supporting undergraduate students from marginalized and underrepresented backgrounds.

Lisa M. Edwards, PhD


Dr. Edwards direEdwards headshotcts the Culture and Well-Being Research Lab in the Department of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology at Marquette University. Her research focuses on Latinx psychology and perinatal mental health. Together with her lab she launched Proyecto Mamá, a resource and needs assessment of perinatal mental health among Latinas in the Milwaukee area. The overall goal of this work is to better understand how to support Latina mothers and families during pregnancy and postpartum, and how to address barriers to mental health care and well-being during these critical life periods. Dr. Edwards is a licensed psychologist who directs the counseling psychology doctoral program in her department.

Kavitha Venkateswaran, PhD


Kavitha Venkateswaran headshotDr. Venkateswaran is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Clinical Training Coordinator at Marquette University in the Department of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology. She has extensive experience providing clinical services within women's health integrated care at a VA medical center and currently sees clients within a private practice setting. Her clinical and research interests include health psychology, perinatal and reproductive health, race-based stress and trauma, and vocational psychology. Dr. Venkateswaran currently serves as the Chair-Elect for Division 17’s Health Psychology Section and serves on the Board of Directors for the Wisconsin Psychological Association.


Dalvery Blackwell

blackwell headshotMrs. Dalvery Blackwell has served as a Co-Founder and Executive Director of the African American Breastfeeding Network (AABN). Her career is dedicated to improving maternal-child health outcomes, championing breastfeeding equity by advocating for system/policy changes, and partnering with community-based, family-centered, culturally tailored health education and support services.

Under Director Blackwell’s direction, AABN has worked to enhance and improve maternal and infant health by providing education, support, and services, especially for families at risk for prematurity and adverse birth outcomes. The many accomplishments of AABN as a reproductive justice community-based organization has propelled the organization into a leader in addressing maternal and infant inequities.

 Through Director Blackwell’s leadership and vision, AABN has built eminent goodwill in the community. The organization has been recognized and highlighted in local, state, and national media, including Essence Magazine's “Top Ten Things People Are Talking About,” and the CDC Breastfeeding Report Card.” In 2024, AABN received the Healthy Living Award  from the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee.  She is a recipient of the Wisconsin Public Health Association’s Award for Excellence in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health’s Women of Commitment Award, the Milwaukee Community Journal’s Year of the Child: A Game Changer Honoree.

Lauryn Beecher, PT, DPT, PRPC

bleecher headshotDr. Lauryn Beecher, PT, DPT, PRPC is dedicated to empowering individuals to reclaim their pelvic health. She specializes in addressing a range of pelvic health concerns such as pain, incontinence, prolapse, constipation, and various pregnancy and postpartum concerns. Her journey began during her doctoral studies, where she developed an interest in holistic practices and treating pelvic floor dysfunction, fueled by witnessing the struggles of mothers postpartum.

With a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Sport Science and Spanish Language from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Mount Saint Mary’s University - Los Angeles, she combines her academic background with a 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training certification and Pelvic Rehabilitation Practitioner Certification (PRPC) to provide expert care.

Proudly extending her expertise to individuals of all ages and genders, her approach involves personalized, hands-on care integrating visceral manipulation, craniosacral therapy, dry needling, and exercise instruction.

Kayla Deanna Lewis, M.Ed.

Deanna Lewis headshotKayla Deanna Lewis (she/her) is a 3rd-year doctoral student in Counseling Psychology at Marquette University. She received her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Psychology and her M.Ed from the University of WisconsinMilwaukee in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. In the Culture and Well-Being research lab, Kayla examines intimate partner violence, ethnic discrimination, traumatic stress, and perinatal mental health among Latinas. Her research interests include gender euphoria, health and wellbeing among trans women of color, and coping mechanisms for gender minority stress among transgender and gender nonconforming adults.

Christina Drain, BA, BD(DONA), BADT C-FSD, CLCE, CCCE

drain headshotChristina Drain has been a staple in the birth work community for 9 years. She is a certified full spectrum doula, childbirth educator, lactation counseling educator, and a birth doula trainer. Christina currently serves on the Board of the Moms Mental Health Initiative and the Wisconsin Perinatal Foundation. She’s also a member of the Wisconsin Maternal Mortality Review team and the Milwaukee Infant Mortality Review Team. Her goal is to ensure everyone involved in the perinatal journey are educated and supported. Christina prides herself on being a change agent in spaces where family health is not equitable.



Gabriela Diéguez Hurtado, MSW, LCSW 

gabriela headshotGabriela Diéguez Hurtado, MSW, LCSW earned her Masters in Social Work at UW-Milwaukee. She has worked as a bilingual therapist for eighteen years at Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers (SSCHC) providing services to an inner-city population in Milwaukee.  Gabriela is a generalist provider who enjoys being a witness to growth and change when working with children, adults, elderly, and families. Gabriela is the coordinator of students for the Behavioral Health Department at SSCHC. She has also collaborated in two research projects with Latinos, one with UW- Milwaukee on Behavioral Activation and the other with Marquette University on Attention Deficit Disorders.  Gabriela spends her free time as a volunteer with Common Ground doing community organizing in the Milwaukee’s Southside, as a board member at her church and enjoying the arts scene in the city.

Alexandra González-Van Wart, B.A.

Ale headshotAle is a clinical psychology doctoral student (1st year) in the Cultural Perinatal Health Lab. Before joining this lab, she was a research project coordinator for a neuroimaging study exploring neurobiological predictors of PTSD risk and resilience in adolescent trauma injury survivors. Her experience also includes work in military PTSD research and early elementary education. Ale is interested in understanding how stress (e.g., acculturative stress) affects development (infancy, pregnancy, etc.) at both a physiological and emotional level. Ale is native to El Salvador but currently lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and cat.

Colleen Heinkel, M.S. Ph.D

heinkel headshotDr. Heinkel is Co-Director of the Advanced Fellowship in Women’s Health, at Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Milwaukee, WI, and provides clinical care as Staff Psychologist on the PTSD and Women’s Health teams at the VAMC.   She is Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, at The Medical College of Wisconsin, and has served as the Site Director of the VAMC Women’s Health Practice-based Research Network, and as well as on the VAMC Health Promotion Disease Prevention Committee. Previously, she served as a research scientist with the Center for Health Enhancement System Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison focused on developing technology to support wellness, and processes to improve healthcare. 

Esmeralda Lezama-Ruiz, B.A.

Lezama-Ruiz picture Esmeralda Lezama-Ruiz is a first generation, bilingual, Mexican American woman who is currently a Clinical Psychology PhD student at Marquette University working with Dr. Kimberly D’Anna Hernandez and the Cultural Perinatal Mental Health Lab as the Lab Supervisor; The goal of the lab’s work is to understand the underlying behavioral and biological mechanisms of perinatal mental health disparities in the Latinx population. Esmeralda graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a Minor in Criminology in 2020. She worked for the Medical College of Wisconsin as a Clinical Research Assistant for a R01 funded study before coming to Marquette University for her graduate degree. Her hobbies include baking, reading, and spending time outdoors with her husband and her 3 dogs.


Ann Ledbetter, MSN, CNM

ledbetter headshotAnn Ledbetter is a certified nurse-midwife at Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers in Milwaukee with 17 years of experience providing care to diverse populations during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. She graduated from Marquette University with a master’s in nursing in 2007. Ann speaks Spanish and particularly loves working with new immigrant pregnant women from Mexico, Central America and South America.  Her interests include vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), expansion of midwifery/doula care to improve maternal outcomes, and promotion of respectful maternity care. Ann is a member of Wisconsin’s Maternal Mortality Review Team.

Desirée Luerene Israel LCSW-C, LICSW, LCSW

desiree headshotDesirée Luerene Israel is an Assistant Professor and Practicum Director at Alverno College's Abolitionist MSW program. She is a licensed clinical social worker in Maryland, DC and Virginia and reproductive psychotherapist where she holds space for the lived experiences of Black women, femmes and non-binary people and their reproductive health journeys. She holds certifications as a breastfeeding specialist, herbalist, and trained birth doula. In 2017, she co-founded the Perinatal Mental Health Alliance for People of Color, aimed at expanding access to culturally affirming care and education to providers and families of the global majority. Desirée is also a PhD candidate in social work at Widener University, with research interests focusing on reproductive mental health, the Black birthing experience, and the wellbeing of Black birth workers.

Sheng Lee Yang MSW, LCSW, PMHC

sheng headshotAs a first-generation Hmong refugee, Sheng has overcome many challenges and worked hard to create a positive impact in her community. Her journey from being resettled in Wisconsin as a young refugee to becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and perinatal mental health therapist.

Sheng's background as a former professor teaching social justice issues, mental health, and advocacy to social work students highlights her commitment to educating the next generation of social workers and mental health professionals about the importance of these critical topics. Her professional experiences in various sectors, include public, private, government, and nonprofit institutions. One of the most significant aspects of Sheng's work is her dedication to integrating social justice and cultural humility into behavioral health. This approach is crucial in ensuring that mental health services are accessible and sensitive to the diverse needs of the community, especially in her role as President and Executive Director of Us 2 Behavioral Health Care.

The opening of Us 2 Behavioral Health Care in 2019 reflects Sheng's vision of creating a space where everyone can work towards better mental health together. Her personal and professional journey is a testament to her commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of individuals and families in her community. Furthermore, her role as a proud mother of two young children adds an additional layer of perspective and empathy to her work, highlighting the importance of family and community in the context of mental health and well-being.

Sarah Ornst Bloomquist, PMH-C, CFLE

sarah headshotSome people call her the Fairy Godmother of perinatal mental health, but we just call her Sarah. Sarah Ornst Bloomquist has walked alongside hundreds of struggling moms on the path to feeling better. As Executive Director and Co-Founder, she’s the heart of the organization, which she helped build after struggling to find adequate help for postpartum depression and anxiety following her son’s birth. Sarah transformed her professional experience as a life coach, child advocacy program coordinator and family support specialist for perinatal couples into an organization dedicated to supporting moms navigating perinatal mental health conditions. Sarah is a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) and is perinatal mental health certified (PMH-C). As a leader, advocate and speaker, Sarah brings lived experience to her work breaking down barriers to effective treatment and helping moms find hope in the process. Born and raised in the greater Milwaukee area, Sarah is a cheesehead at heart, but spent many treasured years in Indiana. She's a proud mom to two, enjoys playing soccer, hanging out with friends and neighbors, and taking her rescue dogs for hikes.

Karen Robinson, Ph.D.

Robinson headshot Dr. Karen Robinson is the Interim Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs and Associate Professor in the College of Nursing.  Dr. Robinson's research focuses on racial disparities in breast-feeding rates. In particular, Dr. Robinson is studying how racism and implicit bias leading to discriminatory behaviors towards African American mothers impacts breastfeeding outcomes within this population. She also has studied the positive impacts of peer breastfeeding counselors and group prenatal care on breastfeeding outcomes. While Dr. Robinson’s research has been qualitative she has also conducted a systematic reviews, meta-analysis, and secondary analysis. Dr. Robinson’s goal is to develop and implement culturally appropriate interventions that will increase breastfeeding initiation, continuation, and exclusivity among African American mothers.

Elizandra Sandoval, M.S.

Sandoval headshot Elizandra Sandoval is a doctoral student in the Department of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology at Marquette University. Her clinical and research interests include Latino/a/x/e psychology, sense of belonging at predominantly White Midwest institutions, educational processes central to students’ navigational skills and abilities, and how students manifest their identities across academic spaces and places. In particular, Elizandra has explored how Latino/a/x/e students navigate and negotiate their social identities through person-environment processes. In her research and clinical practice, she seeks to name institutional challenges and center students’ cultural strengths and expertise, and their ancestral and generational capacities.

Jennifer Schumacher, RN, BSN, CLEC

Schumacher headshotJennifer Schumacher is the owner of Doula Nurse LLC. She has been working with birthing families as a labor and delivery nurse for the past 10 years. Jennifer is a certified doula and lactation education counselor. After years of hands-on experience working with birthing families, she has developed a curriculum of education to help prepare families for birth and parenthood to prevent trauma and improve mental health outcomes.  Jennifer currently works at Ascension in the perinatal assessment center working with high risk pregnancies in addition to supporting her doula clients in the Milwaukee area. 





Christina Wichman, DO

wichman headshotDr. Christina Wichman is a Professor of Psychiatry and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Medical College of Wisconsin. She completed residency in Adult Psychiatry and fellowship in Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry at Mayo Clinic. Clinically, she created and directs a co-located perinatal psychiatric service and is the Co-Director of Women’s Mental Health at the MCW. She is the Medical Director of The Periscope Project, a provider to perinatal psychiatrist teleconsultation service. Dr. Wichman has published and lectured extensively regionally and nationally in the area of women's mental health.