To contact a staff member by email, please address your email to [first name] -at- opeanarmsps.org unless otherwise specified
Cynthia Turrietta, MSW, Early Learning Program Manager ext. 110
Cynthia Turrietta moved to the Seattle area in June of 2016. She holds a Masters of Social Work from California State University, Long Beach. Cynthia has previous experience in various settings that include outpatient mental health, school-based social work, medical social work, providing therapeutic services for survivors of domestic violence and as a site supervisor for Costa Mesa Family Resource Center. Cynthia is excited to join the Open Arms family as the Early Learning Program Manager and continue her work with families in the community. Cynthia enjoys exploring the natural beauty in Washington and spending time with her husband, Michael, and dog, Riley.
Deandra Ludovice, Operations Manager ext. 101
Deandra recently moved back to the Puget Sound area from the Bay Area, where she worked for STAND! for Families Free of Violence and Beacon Day School. Prior to moving to the Bay Area, Deandra worked in development offices at Seattle University and New Futures (now Southwest Youth and Family Services). She has extensive experience in operations, marketing, and fundraising, and she is passionate about Open Arms’ mission to help mothers and families. Deandra is married and has one young son and two dogs.
Dila Perera, MSW, MPH, Executive Director ext. 109
Dila has worked in public health and advocacy locally and internationally, including time spent as a doula for Open Arms. She earned both a Master of Public Health and a Master of Social Work at the University of Washington, after starting her career as a health educator at 19. She went on to spend twelve years helping to build and manage innovative and complex programs designed to improve the health of vulnerable populations, including mothers, children, families, and people living with or affected by HIV. Most recently she led the Washington State Training Program at the Northwest AIDS Education and Training Center.
Dila has managed several large-scale federally funded interventions, but believes that small organizations, even when working with minimal resources, are still the most effective at creating lasting and transformational change. She has been a program manager, a grant maker, a board member and a trainer. However, Dila considers working with pregnant woman before birth, during birth, and supporting new mothers and infants to be the most rewarding work she has ever done.
Hawa Egal, Outreach Doula ext. 102
Hawa Egal is an Outreach Doula for Open Arms Perinatal Services. Her main goal is to create a safe and non-judgmental environment for families to share their hearts and souls. Since earning her Promoting First Relationships certification she has been implementing early learning throughout her clientele. As an Outreach Doula, she wants to connect with and educate Somali women who have unique cultural needs, and guide them to having a healthy pregnancy. She continues to be with them to gently support and encourage them while they bond with their newborns. Hawa considers it an honor and a privilege to be a witness during this intimate time in women’s lives. Right now she is working toward a degree in social work. She is the mother of three beautiful children.
Jami Bess, Outreach Doula ext. 103
Jami Bess is an Outreach Doula for Open Arms Perinatal Services. Her heartfelt dream is that every family has the support, education, and the empowerment to be healthy, happy and to thrive. She is passionate about health and social justice and is excited to be a part of the dynamic work at Open Arms. She enjoys spending time with her three amazing children, and one wonder dog.
Kate Silvett, MSW, Program Manager ext. 105
Kate is a full-spectrum doula and holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Washington. Katie recently completed her practicum at Open Arms and has returned as the Program Manager. She is from Long Beach, California and has five years of experience working with survivors of violence, most recently at the Northwest Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian and Gay Survivors of Abuse. She is passionate about community-centered work and especially loves spending time with her cat, Mister Mu.
Margarita Celis, Outreach Doula ext. 108
Margarita Celis came to this country over 20 years ago from Peru with her 4-year-old child. Later, she and her husband had two more children in New York. Margarita says, “I did not have the best experiences having to give birth to my babies in a foreign country and with a language barrier. I wish I had the services that Open Arms provides, but this gives me the strength and the compassion to see the need of these women in our community and make a difference.” She was involved in activities from her local WIC, and she became a breastfeeding consultant as well as a stay-at-home mom. She says, “Open Arms found me and I felt so lucky because this is the job that I really value, not only for the income that I can bring home, but for the satisfaction I feel when I can help moms.”
Memorie Gladstone, Outreach Doula ext. 119
Memorie Gladstone is the American Indian/Alaskan Native Community Outreach Doula. She is from the Blackfoot tribe of Browning Montana. She has several years of experience as a breastfeeding peer counselor which inspired her to work as a doula since the two professions go hand in hand. The experience she had giving birth to her children and the knowledge she has now motivates her to educate and empower the women in her community. Being an advocate and providing extra support for a mother while witnessing new life is truly fulfilling. In her free time she enjoys the outdoors with her family which includes her dogs Otto and Giger.
Michele Valenti, Development Director mvalenti -at- openarmsps.org ext. 107
Michele, a recent Seattle convert, moved from Oakland for family and community. She has found both here at Open Arms! She is so excited to work for an organization that is transforming the community, one pregnancy, birth and child at a time. Having witnessed her oldest daughter’s home birth with a midwife and doula, Michele was empowered to help bring that profound experience to women regardless of their income. Since she has a strong development background of raising the funds necessary for equal access programs, like Open Arms, to succeed, she feels that she is definitely where she can make a difference for Seattle families. In addition, Michele is a mom to four brilliant and accomplished daughters, blessed with two loving and supportive son-in-law’s, and is Nona to four phenomenal grandkids who inspire her every day to make the world a better place.
Michelle Morse, MSW, Director of Programs michellem -at- openarmsps.org ext. 104
As Michelle sat as a participant in the Birth Doula Services Orientation at Open Arms, she knew she was hooked. Michelle was energized by the thought of taking her deep commitment to health equity and reproductive health, and growing this passion into maternal and child health as a birth doula. She came to doula work with the intention of volunteering with Open Arms as a supplement to her work as a Community Educator at Planned Parenthood. When Michelle became more immersed in this work, it was clear to her this is actually how she wanted to spend all her time. From connecting with Open Arms clients as a birth doula to being a trainer for the BDS, and trained as a trainer for the Outreach Doulas, Michelle couldn’t be more excited to support the thoughtful, grounded, inspirational work of Open Arms. Grounded in the values of integrity, humility and equity, she hopes to thoughtfully and deeply listen to the community wisdom, while keeping a visionary eye out for growth and opportunity, so more people can continue to be touched by the magic of Open Arms.
Michelle Sarju, MSW, Clinical Advisor
Michelle Sarju, MSW is a Maternal-Child Health professional with over two decades of experience in the field. She holds a B.A. in Rhetoric and Communication from the University of Oregon and a Master of Social Work from the University of Washington. She also graduated from the Seattle Midwifery School in 1999 and practiced for 10 years as an out-of-hospital Midwife in Seattle, Washington.
Michelle has provided strategic leadership to local, national, and international MaternalChild Health work and racial equity efforts. She was a key participant and advisor in a state-wide initiative to build a racial equity theory of change for the state of Washington’s Early Learning Plan. Michelle was also a part of a local leadership team that successfully planned and hosted an early learning symposium, bringing together local leaders and legislators as well as national experts.
Michelle is a board member of the Washington Association for Infant Mental Health and is also an appointed member of the Washington State Navigator Technical Advisory Committee–a committee established to provide expertise, experience, and professional perspectives related to developing the Affordable Care Act’s mandated Health Exchange Navigator program.
Rita Alcantara, Development & Operations Coordinator ext. 114
Rita was born and raised in Seattle and is passionate about social justice. Rita was strongly inspired by her mother, who ran a daycare for over 30 years in the family’s Beacon Hill home where aside from caring for children, she often connected mothers and families to opportunities for employment or housing and passed on hand-me down clothes. Since 2003, Rita has worked in programs and development for various non-profit organizations serving young people. After becoming a mother in 2013, she was inspired to add “doula” and “birth educator” to her work and life experience.
Rokea Jones, Outreach Doula ext. 118
Rokea Jones is one of the Open Arms’ Outreach Birth Doulas for the African–American community. Rokea is a Seattle native, she received her Bachelor’s degree from The Evergreen State College in Olympia Washington. Rokea started her doula experience as volunteer birth doula in 2007 with Open Arms! She has consistently worked with the African–American and East African communities. Rokea takes pride in being very resourceful and in her commitment to being of service. Rokea is passionate about seeing communities of color experience improved birth outcomes, helping as many moms as possible experience birth the way they desire, and achieving the Open Arms goal that every family that wants a doula, gets one. Rokea’s other interests are in nutrition and herbal remedies. Rokea has been blessed to become a mother and is looking forward to swapping stories and sharing her experiences with other moms. She is also a city commissioner on the Seattle Women’s Commission, holding the position as the health and community wellness liaison. One fun fact about Rokea is that she loves to sing and she use to sing in a seven piece band with her brother.