Each one of our facilitators is a trained expert in their field. They are all local and have knowledge about the hospitals and doctors in Fairfield County.
Many are parents themselves and can speak to the worries you might be experiencing or questions you might be wondering about.
They are excited to impart knowledge from their experience both as practitioners and as parents but more importantly to have a conversation with participants about their hopes, expectations, and concerns. Below you can learn a bit more about them.
Melissa Griffin and Jessica Hill: Co – Founders
Jessica had both of her children in the UK. As an American living overseas, she had anxieties about having her first child far from family support. Friends suggested she register for a prenatal class series called The NCT (The National Childbirth Trust). The NCT’s classes are organized by neighborhood and due date, which allows all couples to form a local social and support network prior to their babies being born.
Melissa grew up in England but had her first child much later than friends, so soon found herself with hundreds of questions, but no-one to give her any answers! She also turned to the NCT’s classes to fill this void.
This series of classes proved invaluable to both women. They developed a support network and friendships which were to keep them sane through early parenthood and as their families grew. Melissa and Jessica hope to create a similar community for expectant parents – one that will provide information and build supportive, social networks – The Parent Collective.
Stephanie Abraitis D’Ostilio, MS, CM, LM
Stephanie is a midwife and mom in Brooklyn, NY. She has worked in the city’s public hospital system and in private practice throughout New York City and Long Island. She received her Masters of Science in Midwifery from SUNY Downstate, where she studied with midwives who attended births at home and in the hospital setting. She is passionate about supporting women and their families through the ups and downs of becoming new parents. Stephanie brings a wealth of real world experience as well as warmth, empathy, and a sense of humor to her teaching.
Leslie Pavel, BSN-RN, NC-BC
Leslie’s nearly fifteen years as a labor & delivery, postpartum and newborn care nurse in the hospital setting gives her much first- hand experience as a class facilitator. She also brings with her the life experience that goes along with raising four sons. “I want to help parents grow in their confidence to meet the challenges that lay ahead; first to deliver their babies and then to build their families. Becoming a parent is the most challenging…yet the most rewarding thing they will ever set out to do.” Leslie recently became board certified as an Integrative Nurse Health Coach and is keenly aware of the importance of empowering individuals toward optimum health and wellness. Coaching, teaching and building self-efficacy skills are just some of the tools she brings to The Parent Collective.
Melissa Smith, RNC-OB, C-EFM
Melissa is a registered nurse, Certified in Inpatient Obstetrics and External Fetal Monitoring. She has over 17 years of experience in Maternal/Child Nursing. Melissa began her nursing career as a mother/baby nurse and has been a labor and delivery nurse for the last 15 years. She also cares for woman in the home in her role as nurse home visitor from pregnancy through the babies second birthday. Melissa is passionate about providing education and support to new families to help them thrive. She draws upon her ample nursing experience and personal knowledge of navigating new motherhood as the mother to three children. She is grateful every day to have the privilege of assisting women on their journey to motherhood. She feels strongly that each path is as unique and special as birth itself.
Beth Iovinelli RN, BSN, IBCLC
Through Beth’s many years of teaching breastfeeding, she has developed great strategies and techniques to make learning fun and easy to understand. She loves having light bulb and ah-ha moments with the families she supports. She has more than 22 years experience as a maternal child health nurse and lactation consultant. She has worked as a labor and delivery nurse, post partum nurse and patient educator in hospital settings and is the coordinator of newborn services and lactation in a pediatric office. She has also taught thousands of parents and provided staff training and development for nurses, doctors and nutritionists.
She has written articles and worked as a consultant, content development strategist and medical advisor and editor for: BabyZone.com– now Babble.com; part of The Disney Interactive Media Group. As a member of the i Village/Newborn Channel Nurse Advisory Board, she consulted as they updated breastfeeding programming for the Newborn Channel and she is featured in several segments, which air in more than 1,000 hospitals across the United States. She feels passionately about helping women feel empowered to make wise health care decisions and to be proactive about their health and the health of their family.
Melissa Gregorio, CNM, MSN
Melissa is a Certified Nurse Midwife, serving the New Haven area since 2013. Prior to midwifery she worked as a registered nurse in emergency medicine as well as labor and delivery. Melissa absolutely loves being a midwife and caring for women across the lifespan. She is a passionate instructor who enjoys teaching student nurses, midwives and pre-hospital care providers on a per diem basis. Melissa obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Fairfield University and her Master of Science in Nursing from Columbia University.
Allegra Gatti Zemel, RN, IBCLC
Allegra is a registered nurse, Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), and mother of three. She holds a BA in English from UC Berkeley in California as well as a BS in Nursing from Columbia University in New York City. Allegra has 13 years of experience in hospitals, classrooms, and in home care and instruction around Maternal/Child Health and specifically breastfeeding. Allegra works to help each person feel equipped and ready for the wonder, transitions, and joy of a new baby with special attention to feeding and bonding.
Caroline Reid, MSN, CMN, LM
Caroline is a certified nurse-midwife working in a hospital-based practice in Manhattan and Brooklyn. She received her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing at The University of North Carolina, before attending Vanderbilt University to complete her midwifery education. As a student, Caroline enjoyed volunteering as a birth doula. She also had the privilege of learning at a wide variety of birth settings, including a birth center, an academic medical center, and a rural community hospital. Caroline’s favorite aspect of midwifery is educating families on their choices in childbirth, thus empowering them to step into parenthood with confidence. She is looking forward to using these skills as a facilitator with The Parent Collective.
Laura Schack, RN
Laura is an RN who has been assisting mothers during childbirth since 2008. Laura has expertise in antenatal care, labor and delivery, postpartum, and newborn care. The care she provides is based on up-to-date research, continuing education, and both professional and personal experience as a mom. Laura is completing her Masters Degree in order to begin educating nursing students in the maternity specialty.