About Cordelia Hanna-Cheruiyot
Childbirth & Lactation Educator | Maternal-Child Health Consultant
Birth Assistant | Childbirth Activist
Cordelia’s Family History
Cordelia Hanna-Cheruiyot (Cordelia Ellen Satterfield), was born into a life of social activism and music. Early on, Cordelia’s parents instilled in deep compassion for the oppressed and conviction to work for social justice, peace, and freedom for all people, and a love for music. Her parents were Anti-Viet Nam War Activists and folk musicians who were close personal friends of Bob Dylan. Cordelia Ellen Satterfield made her appearance into the world Winter Solstice 1961 in Lebanon, New Hampshire where her father was attending Dartmouth College. Born to young, idealistic and artistic parents, her father, David Satterfield, was an actor, writer, social theoretician and singer in the Celtic and Folk, Blues, and Country styles. Her mother, Bernella (“Nell”) Levin was a musician, journalist, and progressive political organizer. Her parents were involved in the “New Left”, they were founders of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) on the Indiana University campus in the 1960s and were student leaders in the movement to end the war in Viet Nam.
Cordelia’s father David Satterfield was the first in his family to attend college; he was Valedictorian of his class in a small town in Indiana. He earned a scholarship to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire where he earned a Bachelor of Arts English Literature in 1962. Cordelia “cut teeth” on Shakespeare, Beowulf, Chaucer recited by her prolific and erudite father. Cordelia’s dad was also was an aficionado of the folk music of the British Isles and sang these ballads a Capella to Cordelia as a young child. Cordelia grew up singing the folk music of Ireland, Scotland, and the music of rural Appalachia of the early 20th century, inspired by her mother, a Bluegrass and Old-Timey fiddler. Cordelia was also inspired musically by country, folk, and singer/songwriter influences and the English ballads that her father passed down from his mother.
Cordelia’s mother Bernella “Nell” Levin grew up in San Francisco, California, born of a Latvian Jewish father Bernard Levin and Swede-Finn mother Ellen Irene Sankaas. Ellen came to North America as a stowaway on a ship from Yittermark, Finland and entered the U.S. illegally through Canada. Ellen and Barney, Cordelia’s grandparents, met at a Socialist Party meeting in Seattle, Washington in 1935. Cordelia’s mother Bernella was born in 1941 and her brother Erick was born in 1943. Bernella (Nell) and Erick’s parents were amateur classical musicians who pushed them towards music at an early age. Cordelia’s mother excelled in school and classical piano. Cordelia’s grandfather Barney was a plumber for the City of San Francisco and her mother Ellen was a journalist, writing for the Swedish language press. Cordelia’s grandfather worked as a labor union organizer in the 1930s; radical politics was in his blood; his father had fled Latvia so as not to be consecrated in the Czar’s army. Once in America, Cordelia’s great-grandfather Louis Levin sent his ten children to Anarchist Sunday School. This is where Barney, Cordelia’s grandfather, became politicized. Barney only had an 8th grade education, as he had to drop out of school to help support his large family, but he was well versed in Marxist ideology. Cordelia’s great grandmother Sarah gave birth to 10 children, all at home with midwives in Latvia and Philadelphia, PA, USA.
In 1960, Cordelia’s 19-year old parents met in the San Francisco neighborhood of North Beach, the Beatnik mecca. David and Bernella were drawn to each other through a shared love of music and Beat Poetry. Coincidentally (or fatefully), Cordelia’s parents met again on the streets of Greenwich Village in New York City in 1961, moved in together right away, and soon conceived Cordelia. Her musician parents took part in the Greenwich Village Folk Scene, and were close friends with a promising young musician—none other than Bob Dylan, who held Cordelia as a baby. As legend has it, Bob Dylan asked Cordelia’s father, “What’s his name, Dave?” to which her father replied “It’s a girl, Bob, and her name is Cordelia.” David Satterfield and Bob Dylan became close friends. Not only were their politics aligned, but both were inspired by Woody Guthrie, John Steinbeck, and the like. Dylan and David were both good students of all styles of music from Hank Williams to British and Celtic folk, to Blues greats like Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson. Cordelia’s dad and Dylan knew all these styles, and studied them. David, being a poor boy from Indiana, grew up among Black folks, and his ancestors hailed from Scotland and Ireland, like Bill Monroe, father of Bluegrass and many Appalachian folk musicians. Bob Dylan loved David’s singing and thought he was a stellar talent. Dylan probably knew he was the real thing: that was why he sang so good. (Listen to “Bulldozer Blues” written and sung by David Satterfield on Homegas, 1968).
After Cordelia’s father earned his Bachelors in English Literature from Dartmouth College, the family moved to Bloomington, Indiana so he could pursue a graduate degree in English Literature at Indiana University. Cordelia’s mother took a Bachelor of Science in History and classical piano. At Indiana University during the 1960s, David and Bernella Satterfield were student leaders in SDS, peace activists and Anti-Viet Nam war protesters. Cordelia’s childhood home was filled with live acoustic music and lively political debate all hours of the day and night. The roots of Cordelia’s social activism were planted early; she was pushed in a stroller on the March on Washington to end the war in Viet Nam as a toddler. Her parents brought her to meetings organizing protests against the war in Viet Nam and the photographs depicting the horrors of war were branded into her brain at a very young age.
Cordelia’s parents moved to San Francisco in 1970, and soon separated (Cordelia’s father died at age 59 in November, 2000, after a long struggle with alcoholism).
An original flower child, Cordelia grew up in a communal environment in Bloomington, Indiana, Aspen, Colorado and San Francisco. She attended “free schools” in San Francisco, and at 10 years old, hitchhiked from San Francisco to Zihuatenjo, Mexico with four other children and two women chaperones (without her mother) and lived on the beach for 7 months as part of a “school field trip.”
For some mysterious reason, Cordelia was fascinated with babies and birth even as a young child. At the age of six, she drew a picture of a woman having a baby while sitting upright in a chair, with a female helper behind, and a female helper bowing before the mother, ready to deliver the baby who is pictured inside the mother. (This “Classic Pose” –with a helper behind the mother, and a helper in front of the mother, and the birthing woman in an upright posture, is found in art and artifacts of birth from around the globe, in all cultures and eras). In addition, while living in Colorado in the 1970s, Cordelia was exposed to homebirth as an 11 year old girl, which obviously made a significant impression upon her choice to give birth to her children at home with a midwife.
Cordelia’s middle childhood was spent in the backseat of a 1958 Chevy Panel Truck traveling to Bluegrass Festivals throughout the Southern states with her mom, a fiddler, and stepdad, a banjo player, and in the backstage of music venues while they performed.
Adolescence and Early Adulthood
In her high school years, Cordelia did homework while listening to her parents’ band rehearsals in her livingroom. This is how she learned to sing harmony parts by repeating the musical phrases. In Cordelia’s family home, there were always musicians jamming in her livingroom and activists debating politics til the wee hours of the morning. Engulfed in a sea of music from her womb-time, and immersed in the musician’s lifetstyle throughout childhood, Cordelia “rebelled” and decided to study theatre instead.
In her teens and early twenties, Cordelia wrote poetry, learned all the songs of Joni Mitchell and read great American playwrights like Sam Sheppard and Tennessee Williams. She studied Acting, Vocal Music and Modern Dance, performed in community productions in Bloomington, Indiana, and studied at NYU’s Experimental Theatre Wing and with Ryzard Cieslak, Jerzy Grotowski’s protege from the Polish Theatre Lab in 1981. Cordelia graduated from Indiana University Bloomington with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre and Dance in 1986.
In 1983, at age 21, Cordelia Satterfield married her high school prom date Hugh Hanna. In the early and mid-
1980s Hugh and Cordelia were involved with Werner Erhard’s organization, Erhard Seminars Training (est), and with the Breakthrough Foundation’s Youth at Risk Program, where they worked with gang youth in Boston, Seattle, New York, Oakland, Philadelphia, Bridgeport, Connecticut and Los Angeles. The couple settled in Los Angeles in 1986 and Hugh became a set builder in Hollywood. Cordelia planned to pursue a career in the Theatre and film industry, but the best laid plans of mice and (wo)men can change unexpectedly. After giving birth to their daughter, becoming a professional actress was not the career Cordelia chose to pursue.
Becoming A Childbirth Activist
It was through the life transforming experience of giving birth at home that Cordelia discovered her true calling: to become a birth educator, doula, midwife and childbirth activist. As a result of the miraculous birth experience of her first child, Cordelia was inspired to help expectant mothers avoid coercion, and become empowered through knowledge as she had. Cordelia found that all of her skills were put to good use in the childbirth profession – her training in theatre, writing and dance became a real asset in the new profession.
Cordelia became certified as a Childbirth Educator in 1990 with Informed Homebirth/Informed Birth and Parenting (IH/IBP) and launched her career as a Childbirth Activist. Cordelia certified as a Birth Assistant with The Association for Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators (ALACE), and became a trainer for the organization. As a Childbirth Activist, Cordelia helped to bring about the legalization of direct-entry midwifery in California in 1993. As the Director of The Midwives Childbirth Awareness Project (MCAP) of California Association of Midwives (CAM), she helped to ratify the National Organization for Women’s (NOW) resolution expanding the definition of reproductive freedom to include Choices in Childbirth–including the Midwifery Model of Care, in 1994.
Starting in 1991, Cordelia began attending births as an apprentice to homebirth and at a birth center midwives while pursuing requirements to become a California Licensed Midwife. She also taught prenatal education in a Medi-Cal clinic for seven years, where she came to learn about public health. While raising their two children, Cordelia provided labor doula support for women giving birth in the hospital.
Along with two midwives in 1993, Cordelia co-founded Wholistic Midwifery School of Southern California, for the purpose of establishing a direct-entry midwifery school in Los Angeles.
In 2005, after 22 years of marriage, Cordelia and Hugh Hanna divorced.
Becoming A Public Health Professional
From 2002-2009, Cordelia Hanna worked for the City of Pasadena Public Health Department Black Infant Health Program, a state-funded program to reduce perinatal health disparities among African-Americans living in Pasadena, California. Cordelia became a Le Leche League Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program Administrator and became a Certified Lactation Educator through CAPPA. Along with Geraldine Perry-Williams, PHN, MSN, Cordelia spearheaded a Community-Based Doula Program and Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program at the Pasadena Public Health Department and developed a childbirth education project, addressing an unmet need among Pasadena’s low income families.
In 2006, Cordelia Hanna married John Cheruiyot, who is from the Kelengen tribe of the Rift Valley of Kenya. They divorced in 2016.
Cordelia Hanna-Cheruiyot attended Loma Linda University School of Public Health earning her Masters in Public Health in Health Education and Promotion/Maternal Child Health in 2008 and becoming a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) through the National Commission on Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC).
Cordelia served as the Co-Chair of the Evidence in Action Committee of The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS), where she worked on issues of informed consent and refusal in maternity care, and in 2007 traveled to London to participate as a delegate and volunteer at the first Women Deliver global conference on gender equality, reproductive rights and maternal mortality. After earning her Master’s Degree, Cordelia resigned from the Black Infant Health Program and worked in South Los Angeles at a Federally Qualified Health Clinic (FQHC) on a perinatal program.
Becoming Executive Director of AWMNH
In 2010, Cordelia assumed leadership of Wholistic Midiwfery School of Southern California DBA The Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health (AWMNH), and obtained a 2-year grant through California Community Foundation for Hospital Improvements and Nursing Education. From 2011-2013, Cordelia worked along with colleagues Moraya Moini, MPH and Nicette Jukelevics, MA, ICCE and others, to increase awareness of the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative (MFCI) developed by The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) in Los Angeles County. AWMNH established the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Consortium of Los Angeles County, promoting mother-friendly care in the hospital, clinic, and community setting, and encouraging agencies to use the MFCI as a policy and planning tool to achieve objectives for maternal and infant health and improve quality of care.
As a Health Education Consultant, Cordelia developed several courses for MCH health professionals to increase knowledge of evidence-based maternity care.
Cordelia is passionate about increasing the numbers of women of color in the midwifery and Doula professions, and forwarding the midwifery profession and the midwifery model of care through public health in order to address ethnic disparities in maternal and infant health. Cordelia believes that access to safe and supported woman-centered childbirth for all is a human right. As such, she mentors young women and men who want to make a difference in the lives of childbearing families. Cordelia educates her organization’s volunteers and the students in her courses about The Lifecourse Model for Addressing Perinatal Health Disparities and Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) approaches, which have been successful in fostering collaborative relationships between communities and researchers focused on developing effective and sustainable interventions and programs targeting needs of the community. As Executive Director and CEO of The Association for Wholistic Maternal and Newborn Health, Cordelia provides leadership to health professionals to integrate mother-centered care and community health promoter models into public health programs in Los Angeles County in order to achieve goals for maternal and infant health. She also spearheads a Community-Based Doula Program and a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program.
Cordelia also continues to provide services for expectant parents through Heart and Hands Maternity Concierge- Cordelia Hanna-Cheruiyot. Services include: childbirth education, lactation support, and Birth and Postpartum Doula Support, Blessingway Ceremonies, and more.
Cordelia continues her professional development, receiving training and coaching in leadership skills, project management, team-building, mastery of communication, through Landmark Education.
Cordelia’s home-born, family bedded, breastfed children are now bright and capable young adults. Daughter Aria recently graduated with her BA in Child and Adolescent Development from San Francisco State University, and is pursing her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy at Pacific Oaks College in San Jose, CA. Son Dylan is now living in Indiana.
Cordelia Hanna-Cheruiyot, MPH, CHES, ICCE, CLE, CBA
Masters in Public Health (Health Education and Promotion/Maternal Child Health)
Certified Health Education Specialist (NCHEC)
Certified Childbirth Educator (ICEA)
Certified Lactation Educator (CAPPA)
Certified Birth Assistant (ALACE)
Cordelia is available for trainings, presentations, media interviews and consultations to individuals and organizations.
HOW TO REACH CORDELIA
Online Resume: http://cordelia-hanna-cheruiyot.yolasite.com
Heart and Hands Maternity Concierge – Cordelia Hanna-Cheruiyot Website for Expectant Parents: http://cordelia-hanna-cheruiyot.com