Meet our Staff
Élan McAllister, Executive Director
Élan McAllister, is a DONA trained doula with over 25 years of feminist activist experience. Élan founded Choices in Childbirth in 2004 to raise women’s awareness about their childbirth rights and options, respond to the urgent need for mother-friendly childbirth services, and lead evidence-based systems reform within the maternity care field. As CiC’s Board President from 2004-2011, Élan provided vision and leadership and helped create CiC’s core areas of public education, consumer advocacy, and systems reform programming. In 2012, Élan became the organizations’s Executive Director. Additionally, as a Tony-award winning Broadway producer, Élan brings a wealth of communications and media expertise to the birth field, helping to forward issues related to maternity care reform to mainstream audiences. Élan has a B.A. in Gender and Sexuality Studies from New York University and has studied with the Alvin Aliley American Dance Theatre.
Michele Giordano, Deputy Director
Michele Giordano has over 10 years of experience leading non-profits and for-profits focused on social good. Previously, Michele served as the Executive Director of dance4life USA, an international youth movement dedicated to inspiring and uniting young people to take action for their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Prior to dance4life USA, Michele served as Director of Global Operations for RockCorps, a brand communications platform that uses music to connect brands to youth and communities. In this role Michele operated in the UK, France, Israel, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela developing over 600 volunteer service projects with over 500 non-profits engaging over 100,000 volunteers. Michele’s career began at Planned Parenthood Association of the Mercer Area where she served as a project coordinator of Get Safe, an HIV prevention program. While there she was involved in advocacy and media efforts on the impact of HIV/AIDS on families and children. She has an undergraduate degree in Women’s Studies from Rutgers University and a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University.
Nan Strauss, Director of Policy and Research
Nan served as the Director of Maternal Health Research and Policy with Amnesty International USA, where she worked on maternal and reproductive health and health care, and the right to health. She was the lead researcher and co-author of the groundbreaking report, Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA in 2010. Nan was involved in campaigning, policy, advocacy, and media efforts associated with the project following its publication, including developing and strengthening federal and state legislation to improve maternal health. Prior to joining Amnesty, Nan worked as a staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, where she litigated cases in federal court. A graduate of Yale University, Nan earned her J.D. from New York University Law School, after which she clerked for the Honorable Cheryl L. Pollak, A United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of New York.
Clare Friedrich, BoBB:CE Program Manager
As a Lamaze certified childbirth educator, prenatal yoga instructor, and parent, Clare is passionate about influencing the maternal healthcare system positively and making sure that families feel confident about their options and have access to quality education. She provides outreach and marketing for The Business of Being Born: Classroom Edition (BoBB:CE) and coordinates CiC’s Healthy Birth Workshops. Prior to working at Choices in Childbirth, Clare was an education planner for an architecture firm designing K-12 schools, a health education consultant for the NYC Department of Education, and a qualitative researcher at Columbia University Medical College’s Center for Student Wellness. She has a B.A. in Environmental Design from the University of Missouri, an M.S in Design Studies from the University of Wisconsin, and is currently pursuing an M.A in Health Education at Teachers College Columbia University.
Sydney Sasanow, Operations Associate
Tiffany and Fiona, moments old © Mary Catherine Hamelin