Co Executive Director
Sadie Whitehead has been a doula for 9 years, supporting many families in Chicago and the mountains of North Carolina with labor, postpartum, bereavement, and educational support. While getting her start with the Chicago Volunteer Doulas and pregnant women experiencing homelessness, she quickly developed a passion for serving those that need it the most.She has proudly taken on clients from all walks of life and now is excited to serve in South Carolina with The Lotus Alliance. Sadie is also a photographer, artist, and mom to three boys (four if you include Corndog). She loves dance parties, walking with friends, playing badminton, and sitting down to a cup of tea.
Co Executive Director
Kaylin Smith centers her heart around caring for mothers and their babies. She began her journey as a CNA in 2011 and has found her way to maternity care over the last decade. While serving her community in Columbia, South Carolina as a birth doula and lactation educator over the last four and a half years, she has fallen more in love with it's people and providers. She currently holds her Associate's degree in Early Childhood Education and is pursuing her Bachelor's degree in the Science of Midwifery. Kaylin is the Co-Executive Director of The Lotus Alliance and is eager to watch it blossom in the near future.
Director of Marketing &
Carey Shofner (she/her) is a teacher turned stay at home mom to two boys. After the birth of her second son Carey felt a deep desire to serve birthing people postpartum. As an adoptive mom she also knows the importance of making support services available for adoptive families post adoption. She is currently taking classes to become a certified postpartum doula through Birthing Advocacy Doula Training. In addition to working as a postpartum doula Carey is also a babywearing educator and has started a local babywearing group to serve caregivers interested in learning more about babywearing, Soda City Babywearing. Carey has several years of experience in content creation, blogging, influencer marketing, and small businesses marketing and branding. She is currently serving as the Director of Marketing and Community Outreach for The Lotus Alliance.
Director of Lactation
Jennifer Black-Peacock is passionate about supporting parents pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Jennifer holds many certifications to provide a continuum of care including birth doula, newborn/postpartum doula, lactation consultant (IBCLC), Lamaze Childbirth Educator, American Heart Association CPR/BLS Instructor, and Passenger Safety Technician (CPST). Additional training includes associate degrees in psychology/sociology, bachelor's in Maternal Child Health, and Master's in health and wellness (in progress). Jennifer is a proud parent of 5 children and a member of the LGBTQ community
Meet Dr. Cook
Board Vice President
Keely Vaughn, M.Ed. is a trained trauma counselor who currently works as the Program Coordinator for the Maternal and Child Health LEAP program at the University of South Carolina. Keely received her Bachelor of Art (2013) in Psychology with a minor in Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She then received her Master of Education (2016) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from DePaul University. In December 2016, Keely moved to Columbia, SC from Chicago with her husband and dog, Calypso.
Keely has worked in prison systems for over 5 years providing counseling services to incarcerated men and women. Specifically, Keely has over 10 years of experience working in sexual assault and domestic violence advocacy, education, and counseling. In 2019, Keely gave to birth to her son, Hudson. Her experience during pregnancy and birth is what sparked her interest in working in the field of maternal and child health. Keely became a member of the Board of Directors for the Lotus Alliance because she wished to intersect her experience working with incarcerated persons along with her passion for maternal and child health. Keely has dedicated her life to women’s health and believes in the vital importance of supporting all birthing persons before, during, and after birth.
Dr. Cook is an Associate Professor of OB/GYN and an Assistant Dean of Clinical Learning of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine - Columbia. He has close to a decades experience providing women's health care to incarcerated woman, as an attending physician with Primsa Health's Obstetrical and Gynecology inpatient services. In this role he provided both surgical services and inpatient management of laboring paitents. Furthermore, he has been the lead women's health provider at Camilla Graham, until recently transferring this responsibility to colleagues. While providing care at Camilla Graham, Dr.Cook initiated the Douala program, and helped coordinate the initiation of group prenatal care class at the jail. Furthermore, with respect to advocacy, Dr. Cook has testified in front of the South Carolina Senate committee regarding shackling of inmates, and participated in the bill signing ceremony at the state capital officially outlawing the routing shackling of pregnant patients in labor.
Deborah L. Billings, PhD is an activist, parent, friend, partner, sister, daughter, and co-founder of Mutual Aid Midlands (South Carolina). She also serves as a Board member for Witness for Peace SE and The Agape Table. Debbie is an Affiliate faculty member at the Institute for Families in Society (IFS), an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Arnold School of Public Health, and Faculty Fellow for Maxcy College, University of South Carolina. She also serves as Senior Advisor for Group Care Global and is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For the past 25 years, she has worked globally on sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice and serves as a consultant to organizations including World Bank, UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, and The Fund for Global Human Rights.
Lacey Thompson is a criminal defense attorney and law partner at Thompson & Hiller Defense Firm. She is married to Mark Thompson, and they have two boys, Luke and Mack. When not in a pandemic, she enjoys travelling and attending as many sporting events as possible with her family, especially to cheer on the Gamecocks. Lacey is passionate about The Lotus Alliance due to her work in the judicial system as well as the amazing doula and midwife care she had during the births of her boys.
In the summer of 2019, a fourth year medical student attended her first birth while at the University of South Carolina. The mother, because of being housed at a correctional facility, delivered her baby while wearing shackles and without any family or friends to support her. Experiencing this led the student and one of her advisors to seek the help of local Columbia doulas. This began a journey to form The Lotus Alliance, a collaboration between the UofSC medical school, the SCDC, professional doulas, and volunteers who all work together to support the mothers during pregnancy and postpartum. Our organization was born out of the belief that everyone deserves to have someone on their team through motherhood and beyond.
The Lotus Alliance is committed to providing compassionate support for birthing people housed by the South Carolina Department of Corrections. Through evidence-based educational sessions, emotional and physical labor support, postpartum community groups, and legislative advocacy, we hope to improve birth outcomes and postpartum wellness for our program’s mothers and their babies.
We imagine the justice-impacted birthing people of South Carolina with full spectrum support in all aspects of their pregnancy and postpartum period. Our birth workers and volunteers work together to uplift the mothers in a vulnerable time. We believe every delivery, every baby, every birthing person should be celebrated and supported.