Our Team

Elizabeth Smith, CNM

Elizabeth Smith, CNM

Rachel Latta, CNM

Rachel Latta, CNM

Tessa Stephens, CNM

Tessa Stephens, CNM

Sara Flores, CNM

Sara Flores, CNM

Sara Van Acker, CNM

Sara Van Acker, CNM

Esme Palomares, Health Educator

Esme Palomares, Health Educator

Tina Alcazar, Health Educator

Tina Alcazar, Health Educator

Sacha Lepley

Sacha Lepley

Lisa Neiss, RN

Lisa Neiss, RN

Laura Hutchins, RN

Laura Hutchins, RN

Victoria Swarthout, RN

Victoria Swarthout, RN

Lily Rossman, MFT

Lily Rossman, MFT

Certified Nurse Midwives

  • Elizabeth Smith-Tyko, CNM, Director & Owner

Elizabeth Smith-Tyko, CNM, MSN, is the Director & Owner of the Santa Rosa Birth Center. Elizabeth received her Master’s Degree from Vanderbilt University in 1998, & relocated to Northern California to begin her midwifery career. She practiced full-scope midwifery in Santa Rosa & Marin County for 7 years, delivering over 700 babies during that time. Most recently, Elizabeth focused her clinical attention to caring for women with infertility, working in the only comprehensive, fertility practice in Sonoma County. After seven years in this capacity, Elizabeth found that she could no longer resist the call of midwifery, & joined the excellent team of midwives at the Women’s Health & Birth Center in 2012. In October, 2013, Elizabeth assumed the role of Director and Owner and endeavored to revitalize and build upon the 20-year legacy of the birth center. Thus, Santa Rosa Birth Center was born.

Elizabeth enjoys caring for women throughout their lifespan & is looking forward to expanding the services of The Santa Rosa Birth Center. She is committed to serving a diverse population of women and expanding midwifery care to families both in the birth center and in the hospital. In addition to traditional midwifery care, Elizabeth has a special interest in fertility treatment & the care of women with recurrent pregnancy loss. Through all of her care, Elizabeth is dedicated to empowering women through compassion & education.

Elizabeth is married to Len Tyko, also a Santa Rosa healthcare provider, with whom she has 4 children. She spends most of her free-time mothering these independent spirits, but occasionally finds time to indulge her creativity with her crafting, knitting & crocheting. Elizabeth loves to eat, but hates to cook, & thinks dessert is the best part of a meal. Elizabeth is passionate about her calling as both a mother & a midwife and is excited to lead the birth center into the next stage.

  • Rachel Latta, CNM

A Bay Area native, Rachel completed her Masters of Nursing at the University of Washington, specializing in Midwifery. While living in Seattle, she had experience providing midwifery care across the life span in both rural and urban settings. Her areas of interest include physical activity during pregnancy and the postpartum period, preventing common complications of pregnancy, and caring for newborns. She is a trained birth doula and has extra training in breastfeeding.

In her position at the birth center, she is committed to creating meaningful partnerships with women and their partners and honoring the creation of families. She is dedicated to providing culturally appropriate, continuous midwifery care to all who desire it.

Rachel’s path to midwifery has been long. She worked as a cardiac RN at the University of Washington Medical Center. During her time there, she became a specialist in heart and lung transplants and complex congenital heart defects. Prior to that, Rachel worked for many years in non-profit management with the Public Interest Network. As the Assistant National Field Director, her final position there, she helped with campaign planning and strategy, event organizing and staff management.

When she is not busy at the birth center, Rachel enjoys running, baking and spending time with her husband, Chase, and their children, Lucinda and Desmond.

  • Sara Van Acker, CNM

Sara Van Acker completed her training as a Certified Nurse Midwife and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner at the University of California, San Francisco. Her path to midwifery began many years before when she began exploring topics in reproductive justice and Latin American studies as an undergraduate. Her practice began with multiple doula trainings, emphasizing the capacity for women to show up for one another and hold space in a loving and nonjudgmental way. Her work has had an international focus, collaborating with and serving women in Peru, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Argentina, in addition to domestic work and training in the Bay Area and Texas. Sara is committed to providing high quality, holistic care to women of all backgrounds across the lifespan.

Being a midwife is a calling for Sara. She feels deeply connected to the powerful and important work of honoring the transition to motherhood in a safe, supportive, and sacred space, meeting each woman where she is. This lens inherently considers the role of pregnancy for mom, baby, family and the community surrounding each life. Sara’s therapeutic alliance is rooted in listening, presence and emotional availability.

In her role at the Santa Rosa Birth Center, Sara is committed to each woman’s individual voice and desires for her pregnancy, birth, post partum, and family planning experience. Pregnancy offers an incredible opportunity for body awareness and connection, promoting pride, healing and new levels of embodiment for each woman. She is interested in integrating mindfulness-based practices, including yoga, visualization and simple meditation, to enhance each woman’s experience. This draws directly from of her own spiritual and self-care practice.

Sara sources her energy and excitement for her work through time with family and friends, hiking, yoga, travel, and creative projects.

  • Tessa Stephens, CNM

Tessa realized her passion for midwifery while providing care to women in Peru and Guatemala as a Public Health & Women’s Health Nurse. After returning from South America, Tessa started working at the Birth Center as a Labor & Delivery Nurse, resumed her studies and graduated from Georgetown University in 2014 with her Masters in Midwifery and is happily continuing care at the Birth Center as a Nurse-Midwife.

Tessa enjoys celebrating and honoring the many stages of life women walk through. She is quick to offer the holistic or natural approach to a wide range of concerns, but values modern advances in healthcare and loves to balance the two. Having worked as a Midwife, Nurse, Lactation Specialist, Childbirth Educator and Doula, Tessa calls on many years of experience to best assist women and families.

During her time “off-call” Tessa enjoys outdoor sports, yoga, bellydancing, singing, cooking and relaxing at home with her husband, Seth.

  • Sara Flores, CNM
For Sara Flores, being a midwife is not only a  career path, but also a calling to her inner most passion. Sara felt called to women’s health and midwifery in 1997, and has been attending births in various capacities for the past 18 years. Her roots in Detroit and Honduras, as well as her travels to Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa have shaped her work in creating access to midwifery care for under served communities, and in weaving traditional healing practices with her extensive western medical training.
She pursued her training in midwifery first through apprenticing with home birth midwives in Mexico and Guatemala where she deepened her knowledge of indigenous midwifery practices, and then by attending Nursing School at The University of Arizona in Tucson in 2002. She became a Registered Nurse in 2004 and worked in the Intensive Care Unit,  Medical Surgical Unit, and High Risk Labor & Delivery unit for 8 years at The University of California San Francisco (UCSF). Always with her vision on becoming a midwife, she  attained her Masters Degree in Nursing, specializing in Midwifery and Women’s Health and becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife and Nurse Practitioner in Women’s Health in 2011 from UCSF .Upon becoming a CNM, Sara started her own home birth and birth center midwifery practice in the Bay Area, and had the honor of attending hundreds of births there before moving with her family to Santa Rosa in 2014.
She believes strongly in learning from women and taking their lead on their own bodies. She trusts that the pregnant person and the baby are deeply connected and should be at the center of all decisions. She sees her role as a midwife as a resource of  knowledge, a privileged team member, a witness, and a gentle and experienced  guide.  In addition to full-scope midwifery care, Sara has a special interest in fertility and pregnancy services for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender clients.
When not attending births, Sara enjoys spending time at the ocean, traveling, dancing, hiking, reading, and relaxing outdoors with her daughter and wife.
 

Registered Nurses & Birth Assistants

  • Carol Appel-Basham, PA-M
  • Laura Hutchins, RN
  • Lisa Neiss, RN
  • Melissa Rudy, RN
  • Deanna Prey, RN
  • Becca Gunderson, RN
 

Support Staff

  • Cindy Beckley, Marriage & Family Therapist
  • Esmeralda Palomares, Front Office Manager, Health Educator, Doula
  • Tina Alvarez, Health Educator
  • Pamela Augustine, Childbirth Educator
  • Tiffany Lacey
  • Allyson Hanstad