Our non-profit dream began many years ago with one nurse who wanted to make a difference. Soon joined by another, the two spent time in Sierra Leone working with women who suffered birth injuries related to lack of professional birth attendants and access to care. It quickly became evident that birth injuries could be prevented by improving access to care and ensuring that the care received is appropriate and evidence based.
Our Board of Directors consists of seven people who are all committed to reducing birth injury and death for the women of Sierra Leone.
Joanie Seacrist (Co-Director)
Joanie was the first one to dream of Hawa’s Hope. She spent several years living in Sierra Leone as a child of missionary parents. After having received her Registered Nurse degree, she returned to the country on several short medical mission trips and developed a heart for the women there. She moved to SL and spent two years working as the ward supervisor of a hospital treating women after birth injury. In order to reduce injuries in the future, she returned to the U.S. and received her Master’s Degree in Nursing, and became a Certified Nurse Midwife and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, where she received the David Lawrence Community Health Award. Now ready to become directly involved in reducing maternal mortality, she will be returning to SL every year to provide support to nurses, midwives, and physicians caring for women during childbirth.
Janel Crawford, md (Co-Director)
Janel Crawford MD is an obstetrician-gynecologist, with over 20 years of clinical experience. Throughout her career she has contributed to the development of future healthcare professionals as a teacher and mentor to residents and students. With a strong background in maternal care, Janel served as the inpatient Maternity director at a high volume/acuity hospital for several years. In this role, she led critical events trainings, care experience teams, risk reduction teams, and continual performance improvement projects, ensuring the delivery of exceptional care to mothers and infants. Beyond her local contributions, Janel has volunteered on numerous surgical mission teams in Guatemala, offering her surgical expertise. Additionally, her South African heritage has fostered a profound connection to Africa. She went on her first Hawa’s hope trip in March 2023 and fell in love with the people and the work. Janel believes in the power of knowledge and is excited to work towards promoting positive change in the healthcare system.
Johannes Meerjanssen brings over twenty years of global management experience to hawas hope. He has worked internationally in the consumer goods, financial services and it industries. His background includes positions in general management, marketing, business development, project management and finance. Before joining the team of hawas hope, johannes served on the board of other non-profit organizations, supporting their growth and providing guidance from start-up to maturity. Johannes was born and raised in germany. He has lived and worked in the united states and a number of european countries.
Marla Seacrist (secretary/treasurer)
Marla is a Registered Nurse and nursing professor. She has more than 33 years experience in labor and delivery. She spent two years working with rural women in Guatemala improving birth practices there in the early 1990’s. Marla met Joanie when she was preparing to move to SL. The two shared a vision for the women there and she soon joined her in SL on two occasions to provide support to other nurses. In addition to proving direct support to the healthcare professionals in country, Marla hopes to work with the professors at two Schools of Midwifery in SL, developing curriculum to prepare the next generation of professional birth attendants.
(Advisory Board Chairman)
Michael brings a wealth of experience to the team with his visionary skills and media expertise. He is an entrepreneur with experience in web page construction, media platforms, and video production. Michael is innovative in his assessment and recommendations for interfacing with all forms of media. He is also the author of several ebooks, including one on starting your own business.
(Advisory Board Member)
Christine is a Research Sociologist with 20 years of experience working on projects to improve maternal health outcomes and researching women’s maternity experiences. Christine and Marla met while working on the Pregnancy Associated Mortality Review committee of the California Department of Public Health. Christine also has experience working with women who have survived severe maternal morbidity events. She brings a broad level of experience and insight from an organizational perspective to Hawa’s Hope and is a valuable member of our team.
(Advisory Board Member)
Brandon has two unique contributions to the mission and vision of Hawa’s Hope: web design and spiritual consultant. He is currently working on his certificate of ministry and is the worship leader of his church. His insight into how to meet the physical and spiritual needs of hurting people will contribute to the overall goals of our organization. His web design experience will also provide the organization with the best platform to share our mission with others.