The aTLC Board of Directors
aTLC Board of Directors & Friends - Boulder, August 2001
Links to personal biographic data below
- Suzanne Arms
- Meryn Callander President
- Pam Leo Secretary
- Marilyn Milos
- Kent W. Peterson Treasurer
- John Travis
- Dee Yoh
In 1970 the unchallenged patriarchal system of medically managed hospital childbirth was in for a surprise! In that year, anticipating the birth of my daughter, I entered the only hospital in Northern California that advertised "natural" childbirth. Instead of the natural childbirth experience I expected, I received the standard menu of unnecessary and risky interventions. Like millions of women I found the birth of my daughter a degrading and profoundly unsatisfying experience. It diminished the joy of becoming a mother and traumatized my daughter and me. The experience fueled for me a passion to understand the roots of modern attitudes and practices and to change the paradigm for birth. I became determined to change the way many children are treated and to break cycles of dysfunction that plague so many families.
I am the founder and president of Birthing the Future™. The mission of this organization is to foster the paradigm shift that will reconnect us to our body's and our baby's innate wisdom and make wise use of modern knowledge. I promote a blend of ancient feminine wisdom and leading edge research. I provide practical, sustainable models for the highest level of health and offer tools for addressing and healing trauma in babies and mothers. I show the way toward healing dysfunctional family patterns that have been prevalent, but unaddressed, in this society for generations.
I pioneered a national social movement at a time that was ripe for it. The American Way of Birth was just entering the electronic, high-tech age. But then, as now, this way of birth was producing unacceptably high rates of birth trauma, attachment disorders, breastfeeding failures, and infant mortality.
My passion is to help bring important information, vision, and positive models to women, men, and their health care providers. I view birth as the foundation for personal, family, and public health. I see midwifery as essential for creating high-level wellness for mothers, babies, and their families.
One of my seven published books, Immaculate Deception: A New Look at Women & Childbirth (published in 1975), sold more than 200,000 copies and was named a "Best Book of the Year" by the New York Times. It is required reading in many college and midwifery programs.
The sequel, Immaculate Deception II: Myth, Magic, and Birth, (1997) expands my focus to include more about babies and mothers, breastfeeding and bonding, as well as the personal, political, and public health ramifications of care from conception through the first year after birth.
My video, Giving Birth: Challenges & Choices, shows the difference between the medical and midwifery models of care. It includes dramatic live footage of a midwife-attended birth at home.
In 1978 I founded one of the country's first freestanding birth centers in Palo Alto, California. In the same year I was appointed by then-Governor Jerry Brown to the State Birth Practices Committee in California.
I continue to speak, teach, write, photograph, make films, and travel around the world sharing the vital information needed to raise the consciousness of birthing worldwide.
I joined the founding board of aTLC because I believed it would take an organization with this broad and this radical a scope to shift the prevailing paradigm for childhood to a healthier one. I love working with aTLC. It has broadened and deepened my own understanding of the issues, the problems, and the solutions. Being part of this visionary, yet practical, leading-edge organization gives me joy and enriches my life.
Meryn G. Callander, BSW, BE, Metung, Victoria, Australia
My work with aTLC is born of my experience, at age forty, of becoming a mother. An ex-social worker from Australia, I had been living in the US for 12 years, writing and facilitating seminars with my husband, John Travis, on healing the estrangement that is normative in the Western world, when we discovered Jean Liedloff's, Continuum Concept. This book radically impacted the way we perceived and tended to she-who-was-to-become-our child and indeed, all children.
Liedloff's experiences with the native people of the rainforests of Venezuela left me with a burning need to question the prevailing assumptions about the nature of humankind, and "popular" childcare practices. My review of the research--both scientific and cross-cultural--supported her assertions. In 1996, distressed by the sparse information and minimal support for the style of parenting Liedloff advocated, often known as continuum or attachment parenting in the literature or the culture, I began publishing The Wellspring Guide, a quarterly review and synopsis of informative and supportive books. In 2000, we moved the Guide from paper onto the World Wide Web as the Wellspring Online.
Siena was born in 1993 at home on 40 rural acres 40 minutes from the nearest hospital underwater with only my husband Jack and a midwife in attendance. She is now energetic, healthy, creative and bright, with long curly red hair, brown eyes, and a load of freckles.
In raising our daughter, we have followed continuum principles as much as possible. My then 77-year-old mother joined us for Siena's first three years we continue to be grateful for the extra arms and grandmotherly presence Siena was blessed with through these early years. Before she was a year old, my sister joined us and became Siena's favorite Auntie.
As an infant, Siena was rarely out-of-arms. We carried her in a sling much of the time and slept with her every night (we still do). She was exclusively breastfed for nearly a year, and continued to nurse until her 7th year. We both work at home, so we had no need for "child-care." She has had minimal exposure to the popular media.
From ages four to seven, Siena had the advantage of living in a cluster of four family homes, all with children her age, in an intentional community on 500 acres of land in rural Virginia where kids freely moved between each other's homes with minimal supervision.
In 2000, after several lengthy visits to my homeland of Victoria, Australia, to be with my mother who had become ill and had moved back there along with my sister, we decided to move there ourselves. The move was, in part, fueled by our concern at the levels of materialism, drug abuse, violence, and media addiction, etc., in the US. As Joseph Chilton Pearce, our neighbor and colleague in Virginia, points out in his new book, enculturation is one of the most insidious and omnipresent forces shaping young lives—before they are able to make intelligent decisions on their own. We now live near a village of 800 on the largest lake system in Australia.
Siena spent some weeks at the nearby one-room public school (15 children in 6 grades), but for now has decided to continue with homelearning. While I am not a model mother, nor my daughter a model child, I continue to feel deeply privileged to be the mother of this child, and to thrive on the wonder of the relationship we share.
Pam Leo, Gorham, Maine
I come to aTLC as an independent scholar in human development, a parent educator, a certified childbirth educator, a doula, a parent, and a grandparent. After my first child was born in 1972, it became my passion to understand human behavior. I began to study child development, psychology, sociology, and anthropology. I wanted to learn why we are each born a tiny, innocent being, and some grow up to be a Mother Teresa and others, an Adolf Hitler. What determines the difference? I was determined to find out.
My journey has been, and continues to be, a wondrous one. While raising my two daughters, I supported us by being a family childcare provider for children ages two to ten, fifty hours a week, fifty weeks a year, for twenty-two years. During that time I homeschooled my daughters and continued my own independent study of human development. In 1989 I developed the seven session parenting series, "Meeting the Needs of Children," which I teach publicly and in the prison system with inmate parents.
The feedback I most often get from parents is: "I wish I'd had this information from the beginning." In response to this feedback I created a prenatal parenting class. I became certified as a childbirth educator and as a doula as preparation to teach my new class. "The Needs of Infants" class draws from the works of Joseph Chilton Pearce, Jean Liedloff, Ashley Montagu and James Prescott. The class focuses on supporting expectant parents in creating the best possible foundation for a strong parent-child bond. To put into one sentence all that I have learned about optimal human development and parenting: "Our effectiveness as parents is in direct proportion to the strength of the bond we have with our child." Securing and maintaining that bond is our primary work as parents and the key to optimal human development.
My passion to learn how to support optimal human development grew into a mission to share all I had learned. In addition to teaching my classes, since 1994 I have been sharing this information through my "Empowered Parents" column in the Parent & Family local paper in Maine. When one of my articles was reprinted in the Empathic Parenting Journal, I was invited to work with the group that has now become aTLC.
It is a dream come true to have the opportunity to work with many of the people who had unknowingly been my mentors. We come from widely varied backgrounds and we each have our individual area of expertise and experience. Our common bond is our passion for, and dedication to, working together to make this information available to all people who raise children or impact the lives of children. I can think of no work more worthy of my time, energy, resources, and love.
Marilyn Milos, RN, San Anselmo, California
My life is dedicated to bringing an end to the torture and mutilation of children worldwide and to securing the birthright of infants and children to intact sex organs.
After being forced to resign my position as a Registered Nurse in the maternity ward at Marin General Hospital in 1985 for ensuring informed consent for parents with regard to circumcision, I co-founded the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC) with my colleague, Sheila Curran, RN. I have been the director of NOCIRC since that time. NOCIRC is a 501(c)(3), non-profit educational organization in Roster status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
I am also the coordinator of the International Symposia on Circumcision, Sexual Mutilations, and Genital Integrity (1989, Anaheim, CA; 1991, San Francisco, CA; 1994, University of Maryland, College Park, MD; 1996, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland; 1998, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; 2000, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia).
I am co-editor with George C. Denniston of the proceedings of the fourth symposium, Sexual Mutilations: A Human Tragedy (Plenum Press 1997), with George C. Denniston and Frederick M. Hodges, of the proceedings of the fifth symposium, Male and Female Circumcision: Medical, Legal and Ethical Considerations in Pediatric Practice (Kluwer Academic/Plenum Press 1999), and with George C. Denniston and Frederick M. Hodges, of the proceedings of the sixth symposium, Understanding Circumcision: A Multidisciplinary Approach to a Multidimensional Problem (Kluwer Academic/Plenum Press, 2001).
I am the editor of the NOCIRC Annual Report and the NOCIRC Fall Update. In addition, I organize national conferences in the years between symposia.
Kent W. Peterson, MD, FACPM, Charlottesville, Virginia
I was originally invited to assist the Alliance as a process and organizational consultant, but the subject was so fascinating and the people so engaging that I stayed to play, grow, and learn.
Professionally, I've operated a small consulting firm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia for 15 years. Occupational Health Strategies provides strategic planning consultation to large employers, healthcare companies, professional societies, and entrepreneurs. My work focuses on diverse aspects of employee and workplace health—corporate culture and organizational health, environments safe from physical and ergonomic hazards, health risk assessment, screening and clinical prevention, worker wellness, self-care, health and productivity management, disease management, and health information systems.
As a teacher, I direct the Wellness Program at the Federal Executive Institute in Charlottesville, serve as Senior Vice President of the Institute for Health and Productivity Management, am Clinical Associate Professor of Environmental Medicine at New York University, and am a past President of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. I've authored eight books and several hundred articles, chapters, and presentations on subjects far less important than transforming the lives of children.
Personally, I've struggled to overcome the toxic effects of too much formal education—learning that it's OK not to know the answers, searching to find the right questions, seeking to surrender control and not feel overly responsible, and committing to follow a spiritual path toward wisdom and enlightenment.
My former wife and I were deeply empowered by reading three books when we had small babies. After Alice Miller's For Your Own Good, her Drama of the Gifted Child, and Joseph Pearce's Magical Child, we consciously chose to break the European parenting traditions by which we had been reared in our respective families. Surely, we could find something better. We decided to stop reading and instead listen to our own inner voices and seek guidance from the wise souls that appeared as our children. The results were tremendously joyous and rewarding as we stumbled across, by intuition and dumb luck, many of the same principles that aTLC has synthesized.
Our daughter Liesl, after Waldorf kindergarten, a rural schoolhouse, Montessori elementary, and Friends (Quaker) middle-schooling, entered the Program for Exceptionally Gifted Women at Mary Baldwin College (Staunton, VA) after the 8th grade. She was never homesick (much to her parents' chagrin), connected joyously with her classmates, and graduated from college at 18. Son Owen is an inventor, serious photographer, and budding engineer whose science project was selected to represent the Commonwealth of Virginia at the International Science and Engineering Fair last year. He decided to create his own home-school curriculum for his last year and a half of high school. These fascinating people are great inspirations and wonderful friends. I strongly believe that secure, well-bonded children can know themselves, their needs, and follow their own guidance whenever we (and cultural institutions, such as schools) allow them to blaze their own paths.
John W. Travis, MD, MPH, Metung, Victoria, Australia, and Santa Rosa, California
I started my career by becoming a doctor like my daddy—hoping it would bring the feelings of love and approval that I didn't experience in my childhood. I've been chronically depressed much of my life and continue to struggle to find ways of compensating for not having bonded with my mother.
Within the sick-care system, I felt like a round peg trying to fit into a square hole. After my residency in General Preventive Medicine at Johns Hopkins, I headed to California to start the nation's first wellness center (1975, Mill Valley); develop the first Wellness Inventory (1975); and over the years, co-author: the Wellness Workbook, Simply Well: Choices for a Healthy Life, Wellness for Helping Professionals, and A Change of Heart: A Global Wellness Inventory. In addition to working almost full time for aTLC, I've helped develop an online version of the Wellness Inventory at WellPeople.com.
In 1979 I met and married Meryn Callander and together we began working with helping professionals in learning how to create partnership and cooperative relationships within the prevailing culture of estrangement and domination. After reading the Continuum Concept in the early '90s, it became clear to me where much estrangement originates—by being put in a cradle or other separating device. Then I discovered some of the science behind this phenomenon of disconnection—James Prescott's Somato-Sensory Affectional Deprivation (S-SAD) Syndrome and the depression, addiction, and violence that result from it. I then wanted to learn how to apply this wisdom in our society—a desire that launched me on a new career.
My work with the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS), the group that created the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative, demonstrated the power of a coalition of organizations. In the late 90s, using CIMS as a model, and with the help of Meryn, Kent Peterson, and Suzanne Arms, I catalyzed a meeting that led to the formation of aTLC. My work is driven by a desire to prevent more babies from being subjected to the kind of conditions I grew up in, and in part, unwittingly inflicted on my first daughter in the early 70s.
In 1993, concurrent with the beginnings of my new career in children's wellness, Meryn and I were joined by a brown-eyed, redheaded bundle of energy, who was born at home, underwater, on our 40-acre solar-powered homestead in remote northern California. Siena has proven to be my ultimate wellness teacher by reflecting back not only the beauty of the human spirit when it is subjected to a minimum of interference with its natural developmental needs (not an easy task in this culture), but also many of my unresolved shadow issues.
Meryn and I now share much of what we've learned through The Wellspring Online, a learning resource center we are developing for children and parents, ages "minus 9 months" to 100+ years. We also continue the work of Wellness Associates, a non-profit educational corporation dedicated to personal and planetary wellbeing.
In mid-2000, after 21 years living in Northern California, Costa Rica, and Virginia, we moved to Meryn's homeland of Victoria, Australia. We now live near the town of Metung, 200 miles east of Melbourne in the Lakes District of East Gippsland.
I believe our gifts come out of our wounds, and I am deeply committed to creating a world where children can be raised within the paradigm of cooperation and partnership—something I still strive to experience myself on a daily basis.
Dee Yoh, PhD, Marshall, MO
I have been in executive management for 20 years in different industries ranging from Defense Systems to the Hotel Industry and Sevenoaks Pathwork Center. I'm a former state representative in Kansas (listed in the Young Leaders Hall of Fame in Washington, DC and was a National Spokesperson for the National Order of Women Legislators). My husband Pat and I purchased an old hospital in Marshall, Missouri that we are turning into a community arts center with interactive children's stations: the PahloArt Refinery & Gallery. The visual arts portion currently hosts 20 working artist studios and features 15,000 square feet of art in many modalities. We are now in the process of turning the center over to a non-profit organization "Friends of the Pahlo Center." Some of the works in the gallery may be viewed by visiting http://stores.ebay.com/PahloArt-Gallery.
In addition to Pahlo Center project, I have a private practice where I works with groups and individuals as a Hellinger Family Constellation Facilitator & International Trainer (a German therapeutic family modality). I am known for developing Inner Soul Constellations (the typical Hellinger methods deal with external family issues). My methods then move the internal world of the individual for integration of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual aspects. I also conduct trainings and seminars in business and personal development throughout the country as well as teach continuing education classes for Park University.
I am a certified hypnotherapist and Reiki Master Teacher, and have completed the 5-year Pathwork Transformation Program, Pathwork Teacher Training and Core Training at Sevenoaks Pathwork Center, Madison, Virginia.
In my free time I relax by painting. I mix prayer and meditation with art. Working with oils, acrylics and charcoal, my paintings are infused with the energies of prayers. I have displayed my work in galleries in Virginia and Missouri and it is now being internationally collected.
I have a grown son, Ryan and twin teenage stepchildren, Chris and Niki.
I have served on the finance committee of aTLC and participated in the mentors group prior to joining the board of directors.