On September 30th, around 250 people came together to celebrate The Midwife Center’s 40th Anniversary at The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium Garden Tent. With their support, we are thrilled to share that we raised nearly $150,000 - a record - to support exceptional, client-centered care!
This special event, featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s SEEN column, included a dedication to the original founders of BirthPlace and Midwife Center trivia. Speakers included Lindsay Cashman, MS, Vice President of the Board of Directors, Emily McGahey, DM, MSN, CNM, FACNM, Clinical Director, and Eileen Minnock, CNM one of the founding midwives of BirthPlace.
Mayor Ed Gainey joined the celebration and shared his gratitude to The Midwife Center:
“When I visited The Midwife Center in 2013, I remember being impressed by the commitment of the staff who provided exceptional care to all of its clients. The Midwife Center is one of only three licensed facilities in the City of Pittsburgh to have a baby. It also remains the first and only licensed birth center in Western Pennsylvania.”
Mayor Ed Gainey speaking to Ruby Revelry attendees.
Mayor Gainey also reminded the room that The Midwife Center’s work is so important because, “As many of you are aware, maternal and infant health outcomes in the US continue to be some of the worst among industrialized countries.” He pointed to the 2019 report by the City of Pittsburgh's Gender Equity Commission, which detailed extreme racial health disparities in Pittsburgh, including a staggering Black maternal mortality rate that is worse than 97% of similar cities.
“Everybody wants to make somebody a statistic. What we should be doing is looking at each other and creating pathways so that we can reduce [maternal and infant health disparities], we can build families . . .”
Eileen Minnock, CNM, on behalf of the founders, reflected on how far TMC has come:
“In a nation that ranks 55th for maternal mortality worldwide, our excellent statistics for the diversified population show what is possible to achieve in this country. The founders could never have predicted or envisioned that. We were too busy putting out fires and trying to stay ahead of the next crisis to look that far ahead . . . . however, no matter what roadblock presented itself, we were intrepid and resourceful, and we found a way around it somehow.”
Founders of BirthPlace accepting certificates and flowers. Pictured from left to right: Karen Knudson, CNM, Nancy Ritenour, CNM, Marilyn Mueller, Lori Albright, CNM, Eileen Minnock, CNM, and Susan Johnson, CNM.
The event also featured hors d’oeuvres, a signature cocktail, a silent auction, music by DJ SoloDolo, and displays honoring The Midwife Center’s history and the broader legacy of midwifery-led care in the United States. These displays included Witness: Honoring the Legacy of the Grand Midwives, an artwork by Bekezela Mguni for The Midwife Center’s celebration of the 2020 World Health Organization’s “Year of the Nurse and Midwife.” Witness honors the Black midwives who cared for people through pregnancy, birth, and beyond, especially poor and rural women in the American South from the early 1600s to the mid 1900s. Witness is on permanent display at The Midwife Center.
Left: Witness by Bekezela Mguni. Right: Bubbe Hannah Sandusky Portrait and Kettle.
The story of Bubbe Hannah Sandusky, a midwife known as “the saint” to the families she served in the Hill District during the late 19th century, was also honored. On display was a portrait of Bubbe Hannah donated by Janet Seltman, descendant of Bubbe Hannah, and Bubbe Hannah’s kettle, donated by Cathy Rephael, descendant of Bubbe Hannah, in honor of Ann McCarthy, CNM, MSN.
Left: Ruby Display Cake decorated by Breanne Gustafson of Bella Christie & Lil' Z's Sweet Boutique. Right: Ruby Wall with messages from attendees.
During Midwife Center trivia, hosted by Board Members Demia Tyler, MPH, CLC, CD (DONA), LCCE and Kate Harris, along with Lori Albright, CNM, guests competed to see who knew the most about TMC’s history. They answered questions including:
- Q: How many girls were born at BirthPlace before the first boy?
- A: Seven
- Q: What is the name of the Pittsburgh-based band that played a benefit concert for TMC in 2000?
- A: Rusted Root
The trivia winner, Cathy Raphael, along with the other top ten contestants, won prizes.
Founders' Reception at The Midwife Center
The day after Ruby Revelry, we welcomed the founders of BirthPlace and their guests to a small reception at The Midwife Center. Attendees reminisced about the joys and challenges of starting western Pennsylvania’s first and only freestanding birth center and the people who helped them along the way. As part of this reception, we dedicated a space in the center to the founders and their legacy.
Pictured from left to right: Susan Johnson, CNM, Nancy Ritenour, CNM, Marilyn Mueller, Mary Hoeller, RN, JD, NCG, Karen Knudson, CNM, Eileen Minnock, CNM, Lori Albright, CNM, and Elizabeth Stifel, MD.
We are so grateful to all of our generous sponsors, including our Ruby Sponsor UPMC Health Plan and UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, for helping to make this event a huge success! View a full list of sponsors here.
Special thanks to: 2206 Design, Jennifer Stein Photography, Shawn & Jaime Maceno, DJ Solo Dolo, The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Mon Aimee Chocolat, Scent With Love, and Bella Christie & Lil’ Z’s Sweet Boutique, our volunteers, and the Board Event Committee.
If you would like to honor the legacy of TMC’s founders and ensure we’re here for this generation and the next, you can make a gift here.