Dear Penny Simkin,
I'd like to apologize to you. You may not remember me, but I sat on the DONA Board of Directors for a very short while. I pledged to make DONA better, listen to membership, and to paint DONA in a positive light. I wanted to create a clear direction, grow the organization, and to help make it a modern destination for doulas. I wanted the absolute best for the organization and the doulas it welcomed.
You might be wondering why I'm apologizing to you though.
During my first board meeting, the room was filled with fighting and arguing. I apologize that you heard many of them speak out against ProDoula with venom. I apologize that they spoke vitriol and made incorrect assertions that led you to believe such negativity about an organization you'd never heard of before that day. I'm sorry that I didn't stand up more than I did and stop it all together. I'm sorry that I left crying and didn't stop to check in with you and dispel some of the myths about doulas making a living doing what they love. I'm also sorry for not standing up for myself. In that meeting, I was the only one surrounding that board room table who answered a resounding yes when asked who actually made a living doing doula work. It left me shocked and saddened to know that the leadership itself wasn't even making a living. It showed me that the organization I loved dearly had no intention of seeing me provide for my family, but instead support women during labor.
Once I read your comment on a recent Buzzfeed article, my suspicions were realized and my heart broke yet again. I truly thought that you above all people would understand. You are a business women with book sales, trainings, and speaking engagements. You understand the need to make money doing the work you have loved over the years and it has sustained you well.
“The doula movement was founded on the needs of the woman,” said Penny Simkin, the beloved 78-year-old co-founder of DONA International, which bills itself as the world’s oldest, largest, and most respected doula-certifying organization. ProDoula’s business strategy “will do nothing for improving birth in this country,” she said, “and only improve their pocketbooks.”
I wonder if you realize that Randy and Debbie not only speak highly of you, but also make your book a required reading for their training. I wonder if anyone told you that they appreciate all of the work you have done. I wonder if you've been told you are held in high respect at our trainings. I wonder if they told you that Randy and Debbie offered to help DONA (just like I did) and were essentially ignored and shunned. I wonder if you truly understand the importance of what they are doing for this industry that you somehow believe they are destroying.
ProDoula seeks to elevate the role of doulas and to make it a viable career choice for all women desiring to do this work, not just privileged women. ProDoula was founded on the needs of the doula as well as the women desiring support. ProDoula's business strategy will indeed improve birth in this country while also improving the financial lives of doulas.
A former DONA doula,
See also: My DONA Story