AMCHP 2024 Local Organization Spotlight: SisterWeb
April 09, 2024

SisterWeb team group photoSisterWeb San Francisco Community Doula Network (SisterWeb) was created from a deep commitment and passion to address the dire pregnancy and birth-related healthcare inequities experienced by Black pregnant and birthing people, and has been operating since 2018 providing free doula care to Black and Brown families in San Francisco.

SisterWeb’s vision is to center and uplift Black families in San Francisco in their reproductive journey to welcome their children with respect, dignity, joy, and pride, leading to thriving families and communities and increased birth equity and justice. The organization works to dismantle racist health care systems, strengthen community resilience, and advance economic justice for birthing families and doulas. SisterWeb is a network of culturally congruent community doulas and birth workers who work to ensure pregnant people from these communities have access to fair and equitable doula care and that their community doulas receive the tools, skills, and mentorship to succeed in careers as professional birth workers. Learn more about the organization on their website.

AMCHP is excited to welcome attendees to this year’s AMCHP Annual Conference, which will feature a variety of organizations dedicated to improving the health of women, children, and families. We invited SisterWeb to answer questions designed to uplift the organization’s important work that centers reproductive justice and birth equity for Black families and share the connections to our conference. We hope this interview inspires AMCHP 2024 participants to reflect, purposefully partner with, and uplift the work of local organizations in the San Francisco Bay area that are committed to advancing maternal and child health (MCH).

The responses for this interview were kindly provided by Sofía Carbone and Alli Cuentos from SisterWeb.

We are excited to welcome team members from SisterWeb to the 2024 AMCHP Annual Conference. What elements of AMCHP 2024 are you most excited about?

SisterWeb and Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative (TBEI) are collaborating on multiple projects and we are SO excited about the opportunity to present one of these at AMCHP 2024. We will share SisterWeb’s framework of data collection, analysis, and reflection to gather what matters to all stakeholders while prioritizing the needs of clients and frontline staff. The session will provide an overview of the Purposeful, Powerful, Practical (3Ps) data framework that SisterWeb and TBEI follow, with a focus on how to engage all levels of staff in crafting questions and data collection methods. We are loving this experience of mutual support and sharing of resources with TBEI! 

We are also looking forward to the opportunity to engage in lifelong learning and uplift community wisdom in person with maternal health champions from the Bay Area and across the nation. We’re eager to have more casual ways to share experiences and learn best practices, which is often not possible online. 

What does it mean to you that the AMCHP Annual Conference is coming to the state of California?  For context, before the COVID-19 pandemic, AMCHP hosted our annual conference in a different state every other year alternating with Washington DC.

California is leading the way for progressive legislation and laws centering reproductive health and rights. In 2022, the approval of Prop 1 explicitly added abortion and contraception rights to the California constitution. In 2024, California implemented the highest Medicaid reimbursement rate in the country. Research is actively being carried out across the state to better understand the doula workforce in order to provide sustainable funding and resources. Further, California passed a slate of legislation that supports and protects LGBTQAI+ people. 

However, California is a state that holds complexity and contradiction. California has the largest population of unhoused individuals in the country. The high cost of living places heavy burdens on families. Nutritious food is inaccessible due to food apartheids, and combined with environmental racism, the health and well-being of communities are jeopardized. 

Holding space for both joy and pain makes California a place where revolutionary things occur, and is home to many important social justice movements. SisterWeb is proud to be part of the work to center Black birthing people and families, leading to thriving families and communities and increased birth equity and justice. We are looking forward to the movement we can co-create with other AMCHP 2024 guests based on shared experiences and values. 

How does SisterWeb operationalize the AMCHP 2024 theme, Partnering with Purpose? What are some examples of your team (or teams you have worked with) fostering equitable partnerships that share and build power and uplift the voices of the people you serve?

At SisterWeb, we believe that through collaboration, our impact grows! There are many efforts and initiatives we are part of in the Bay Area. Each second Saturday, we join community members and organizations at Pop-Up Resource Village. This is an invigorating space where we can collaborate with new and existing partners, and connect in person and in real time with potential clients. 

Through the Champion Dyad Initiative (CDI), we collaborate with medical providers to provide bi-directional feedback in order to promote accountability, and together, dismantle racism in healthcare. The focus for 2024 is helping to increase the impact of the CDI by working more closely with Black and Brown birthworkers beyond SisterWeb and across the Bay Area. We’re engaging in a learning series with the EMBRACE program at UCSF and Sherry Foote, a Certified nurse-midwife in our community, is holding mentorship sessions with our doulas each month. 

The Doula Data + Compensation Consortium has recently wrapped up the Time Use Study and is conducting preliminary data analysis to understand how community doulas from different organizations across the country spend their time. Another effort we are working on is building a Community Doula Hub with other community doula programs in San Francisco, including the Birth Companions Community Center, City Vitals, and many others. 

Given SisterWeb’s commitment to dismantling racist healthcare systems, strengthening community resilience, and advancing economic justice for birthing families and doulas, what kinds of conversations would you like to see happen among the range of people in MCH planning to attend AMCHP 2024?

We would love to see conversations on quality improvement tools focused on providing fair and equitable care, with a focus on accountability and bi-directional feedback. This is currently the framework guiding the Champion Dyad Initiative (CDI), and we believe it’s essential to replicate it across the nation taking into account contextual barriers and facilitators. 

In addition, we would like to discuss getting out of the constant struggle for funding for all Black and Brown community-led organizations. Specifically, not having to worry about keeping the organization afloat and building the system for long-term general operating funds. Further, moving beyond a scarcity mindset around funding can lead to meaningful mutually supportive partnerships among organizations. If we all take a deep breath, relax, and keep our doors open we allow more emotional and physical space to collaborate together. 

What would you say to state-level organizations and programs looking to support the health equity and anti-racism work of organizations like SisterWeb, and transform conversations from the conference into sustainable action?

Work to put the SisterWeb values of community wisdom and economic justice into action by trusting communities to put into practice what their communities need. Empower organizations to do so through equitable and trust-based funding and work with them to create long-term models of sustainability instead of piecing grants together. 

We have some really committed funders who provide multi-year, general operating grants and work collaboratively with community organizations, leveraging their connections and opening doors for grassroots organizations working on the ground like SisterWeb. When funders and public agencies take anti-racist practice seriously in their own professional houses and use trust-based funding principles in practice, we all thrive.

Is there anything else you would like to share with conference attendees about the work you do at SisterWeb?

We are open to having creative and inspiring conversations with all AMCHP 2024 guests and hosts. Let’s lift each other up, celebrate our victories, brainstorm how to tackle the challenges we’re facing, and build connections. If you see us, please say hello!