Meet the Midwives
Michele Burtner, CNM, MS, IBCLC (Director)
I have always had a fascination with the miracle of birth and I knew early on that I wanted to become a midwife. After receiving my BS in Nursing from the University at Buffalo, I practiced as a labor & delivery nurse at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover, NH. After this time, I received my Nurse-Midwifery education at Oregon Health & Science University and have practiced midwifery in a variety of settings which include Indiana, Portland, OR, and now here in Rochester. I love taking care of women throughout the life span and offering support during labor & birth. I also have a special interest in the breastfeeding process and helping women succeed with it. When not at work, I enjoy spending time with my husband and three young children, hiking, gardening, biking, and reading.
Elizabeth Cooper, CNM, EdD, FACNM
I joined the faculty of the department of OB/GYN in 1975 as the first nurse-midwife to practice in Rochester. A nursing graduate of the University of Texas, I completed my midwifery education at Columbia University in 1971, and my doctorate in Higher Education for Health Professions from the University of Rochester in 1992. As the founder and director of the URMC midwifery practice since its inception twenty years ago, I remain an active clinician in the practice. I also am involved in providing medical and midwifery education, as well as several research studies. My areas of expertise include care of the developmentally disabled, women in the peri-menopause, as well as group prenatal care. Outside of the practice I enjoy gardening, reading, traveling, and spending time with my family at our cottage on Keuka Lake. Beth retired from practice in October 2014, though remains involved in the OB/GYN department.
Tammy Farnham, CNM, MS
I have been a women's health care provider since 1999. Initially, I practiced as a Family Nurse Practitioner in a rural women’s health clinic in Wyoming County. It is here that found my love for this field and I decided to further my education and become a midwife. I earned my Post-Master's Degree in Nurse-Midwifery from the Institute of Midwifery, Women and Health (Philadelphia,PA) in 2003.
I have been caring for women in the Rochester area since 2004, initially working at Anthony Jordan Health Center and then in February 2007 I began my career with the URMC Midwifery Group. I have a special interest in working with adolescents and a strong background in gyn care.
I am a Western New York native, born and raised in Buffalo. My husband and I relocated to Rochester in 2006. We have a beautiful little boy and baby girl who continually brighten each and every day! Outside of the practice, I enjoy cooking, gardening, books (when I have a chance!) and spending time with family and friends.
Being a midwife is an amazing, rewarding experience and I am so fortunate to share these precious moments with the families we care for! Tammy works per diem for the Midwifery practice.
Alexis L. Gee, CNM, MSN
I have always been fascinated by pregnancy and childbirth, and knew I would like to work with women. I realized being a midwife was the career for me when I had midwives as professors in my women's studies courses at the University of Michigan. Learning about the midwifery model of care, it was clear what my career should be. I completed my Bachelor's degree and went on to Vanderbilt University to complete my Masters of Science in Nursing in 2011. I could not be happier with the path I selected, and I consider it a privilege to be a part of the most precious moments in women's lives and to empower women to make choices in their own healthcare.
I am originally from Traverse City, Michigan and excited to explore everything upstate New York has to offer. In my free time I enjoy walking my dogs, reading, shopping, RV camping, yoga, and exercise.
Megan Hogan-Roy, CNM, MS
I discovered my passion for women’s health within my sculptural work and in my anthropological studies. As I found myself on the road to graduate school to study global midwifery culture, it occurred to me that I would rather become a midwife than study them. I haven’t looked back since.
In the fall of 2000, I became a doula and knew that I had found my calling. My journey continued in nursing where it was important for me to preserve the doula philosophy, which enabled me to marry the two approaches while caring for women. Having worked in labor and delivery and mother/baby nursing for over a decade, I deeply value the journey women and their families experience in birth, change, and sometimes in loss. Transitioning to midwifery allows me to provide full scope care to women and their families across the lifespan. It is this lifelong connection that I am grateful to be a part of.
I have two children that make my heart bloom and continue to inspire and teach me every day. My family and I love to travel, play outside, garden, and make art.
Sarah Jensen, CNM
Pamela Jurich-Wright, CNM, MS
Pamela Jurich- Wright has been a certified nurse midwife for 14 years. She is a graduate of the University of Rochester with her master’s degree and received her bachelor of science in Nursing from Nazareth College of Rochester. Pam has practiced Midwifery in rural clinic settings as well as private practice. She has worked for the URMC Midwifery for 4 years now. Pam currently lives with her family in Victor NY and loves cooking and gardening, following the NY Yankees and traveling with her husband.
Heather Lane, CNM, MSN
Never did I realize that becoming a midwife would, for me, be like coming home (both literally and figuratively). My work with women, children and families over many years ultimately guided me in the direction of midwifery school. As I often say, I had no idea what I was truly getting into when I chose to become a midwife, but it was the most ignorant, divine decision I ever made.
I attended Yale School of Nursing after moving from St. Louis where I had spent a year working in a hospital based doula program. Both during and after Yale I traveled to South Africa where I worked with Zulu women in Kwazulu Natal. While obtaining my Master’s in Nursing, I also worked as a labor and delivery nurse at Yale New Haven Hospital. After graduating from midwifery school in 2005, I spent several years in the Boston area working with a diverse population of women from Cape Verde, Central America, Puerto Rico and Haiti.
As life often leads you “full circle”, in 2010 I found myself heading “home” to Rochester, where I had spent the first 17 years of my life. I married my husband, Brandon, a teacher, who is my solid and steady partner and has made my life and the life of our family manageable despite the unpredictability of a career “catching babies”. We were blessed by our first son, Tristan Cooper, in 2012 who was lovingly caught by Elizabeth Cooper, CNM, EdD and Michele Burtner, CNM, ICBLC and our second son, Bowden Preston, in 2016, also gently guided into the world by Michele Burtner. In our free time we love to swim, hike, travel, and spend time with friends and family. The boys keep Brandon and I busy and on our toes – life is never dull!
It is my privilege to care for women throughout their lifespan, from adolescence through menopause. I believe that people (not just women!) should be empowered through education and respect for individuality within our healthcare system and that midwives can promote, normalize and advocate for this through our family centered philosophy.
Caitlin LeGros, CNM, MSN, WHNP-BC
My interest in women’s health started with the birth of my brother at age 3 and coalesced during my service with the Peace Corps in Madagascar. I was lucky enough to work with amazing midwives and witness how intimate, protected and safe birth could be. I earned my Nursing degree from the University of Pennsylvania, worked as a Labor and Delivery nurse in Philadelphia, then returned to U Penn for my Nurse Midwifery degree in 2010. I spent my final semester in New Zealand working with Maori, Tongan and Samoan families- where the majority of births are with midwives and un-medicated. I love providing individualized care to women and their families throughout the life span and am particularly interested in evidence-based midwifery and global health.
I live in the city of Rochester with my family and enjoy visiting my 98 year-old Grandmother in Lyons, where she helps me perfect my pie baking. Caitlin works per diem for the practice.
Melinda Pisaro, CNM, BSN, MSN
I worked with my first Midwife at St Mary’s hospital several years ago. I found that the Midwifery model of care was extraordinary and one of a kind. It was that experience and the reputation of Beth Cooper that sparked my interest in becoming a Midwife. I received my BSN from Roberts Wesleyan in 2000 and my MSN from SUNY Stony Brook in 2002. I worked Labor & Delivery for 7+ years when I decided Midwifery was for me. I enjoyed the mother / baby experience and wanted to contribute further to bettering that experience for women and the adolescents. In my spare time, I love to cook and bake. I enjoy spending time with the children of my children!
Holly Pranaat, CNM, MS
It was through volunteer work in Central America that I first met a nurse-midwife, and realized I wanted to pursue a career in midwifery. I saw that reproductive health influences all aspects of women's lives, just as the health of women and children influences all aspects of society - and knew that midwifery was a hands-on way to make an impact for both individuals and communities.
I received my nursing and midwifery degrees from Oregon Health & Science University. Prior to joining the UR Medicine Midwifery Group, I worked as a midwife in a hospital-based practice in Oregon caring for mostly Spanish-speaking families, for Indian Health Service caring for Navajo women in New Mexico, and in a midwife-owned practice in Oregon providing out-of-hospital birth. I am originally from northern Michigan, and am happy to be back in the Great Lakes region.
It is truly an honor to participate in the labor and birth process with families, and I also really enjoy supporting folks across the reproductive health spectrum, such as with contraception and annual exams. I am happy to provide care in both English and Spanish.
Outside of work, I enjoy hiking, travel, good coffee, and outdoor adventures with my husband and our spunky rescue pup.
Rebecca Skovgaard, CNM, MS
I’m Becky Skovgaard. I have a bachelor’s degree from Bennington College in Vermont and then another in nursing from Case Western Reserve University. I attended Georgetown University for my midwifery education and worked there as midwife and faculty after that. I have been with URMC Midwifery since 1994.
I’ve been privileged to work with a midwife who I believe is the world expert on the topic of the timing of cord clamping, and have published a little on this. (Short answer: keep those scissors off that cord.) I also write regularly for Peri-FACTS, an ongoing, international educational program for obstetrics professionals that is based at the University of Rochester.
I have two kids in college and one in the Navy (and a husband who teaches nearly every biology student at the U of R). I grew up in Montana and I guess that’s why I spend a lot of time outdoors. I believe two things are true if you live in Rochester: your garden can never have too many spring bulbs, and your yard will never have enough Christmas lights. When I’m not too busy I write romance. And, oh yeah, I like waiting around for babies to come.
Becky has retired from full time practice but will remain per diem in 2017.
Julana M. Spaulding, CNM, BSN, MN
When I first learned about midwifery I was compelled to be a part of a profession that cares for women while embracing the valuable role they hold in their families and in their communities. Midwifery is to me the perfect model of care to promote normalcy and empower women in all stages and throughout their lives. After graduating with my nursing degree from Binghamton University I dedicated time as a labor and delivery nurse for several years and gained a foundation in the art of supporting women during birth. I then traveled to Portland to complete my midwifery education at Oregon Health and Science University. During my final semester I had the opportunity to work alongside midwives in a birthing center in Arizona on the Native American Reservation and witnessed the importance of tradition and community in which women are a part of. I have since returned home to upstate New York to practice as a midwife closer to my own network of family.
My interests in midwifery include facilitating group prenatal care, supporting physiologic birth in the hospital setting, empowering women, and promoting shared decision making. I also hold a passion for global women's health and have spent time volunteering in Sri Lanka.
In my spare time I love being outdoors, dabble in yoga and photography, and enjoy spending time with my husband and our amazing little boy.
Jenney Anne Stringer, CNM, MS
I obtained my undergraduate degree from Hamilton College and, after working as a doula for several years, went on to receive my nursing and midwifery degrees at Oregon Health and Science University.
I have experience attending births in a variety of settings including university hospitals, rural community hospitals, birth centers and home births. Supporting couples through their pregnancies, labors, and births is one of my passions and greatest joys in life. I also take great satisfaction in empowering women to find contraceptive methods that work for them.
I am an upstate NY native and I just recently moved to Rochester with my husband. In my free time, I love to cook, garden, practice yoga, ski, and spend time with family and friends.
Helene Thompson-Scott, CNM, MS
My interest in birth started at the age of 7 when my cat went into labor and had kittens in my bedroom and I stayed up all night with her. My professional midwifery path began in Chicago after graduating from West Suburban School of Nursing, then Rush University, I worked 9 years in Labor and Delivery. I moved back to my hometown of Rochester and worked at Strong Hospital's birth centers and later with the Rochester Adolescent Maternity Program (RAMP). I completed Masters/Midwifery program at the University of Rochester in 1996 and have been with URMC Midwifery since then.
Initially I believed midwifery was mostly about birth, over the years I have seen how the health of women of all ages can be improved by a midwifery approach that includes contraception, gyn care and colposcopy services for abnormal PAP screening. I have enjoyed learning and adapting my skills to meet the needs of women and their families.
I live in the city of Rochester with my husband, have 2 grown sons, enjoy city life and am involved politically and socially. I enjoy listening to music and being outdoors; if I can do both at the same time even better.
Jo Wrona, CNM, MSN
My inspiration for becoming a health care provider came during my years in Mali, West Africa, as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Afterward, I became a Registered Nurse and then a Certified Nurse Midwife (SUNY Health Science Center, Brooklyn NY, 1992).
I feel blessed to have worked with a wide variety of women and their families, especially supporting them in their births, as a guest in a home, birth center, or hospital labor room. Being a part of the URMC Midwifery group is excellent! This team of midwives gives great care to the women of Rochester and that gives me great confidence and support too.
It's a real pleasure to attend births at Highland Hospital. The staff in the Family Maternity Center ensures excellent safety but also, of the three local hospitals I've worked with, it gives the best family support!