Mary Strubhar, CNM, Practice Manager
An exceptional balance of joyful and astute, Mary Stubhar, CNM is our Practice Manager and Midwife. Mary can help you with any questions or concerns regarding your pregnancy care, and you will find her very practical support available when you need it.
Mary grew up on a small farm in the northern Willamette Valley. She accomplished her dream of becoming a nurse, graduating with a BSN in 1998 from Walla Walla University. During nursing school, Mary sensed God calling her to commit her life to medical mission work. She has worked at mission clinics in Paraguay, South America, and Haiti, where she was the Clinical Midwife Director at the busy birth center, MamaBaby Haiti. Because one of our owners was also a founding board member at MamaBaby Haiti, she met Mary while interviewing her for that position. Mary impressed the board and accomplished running a very seamless operation under very difficult circumstances. Because Mary was ready to be in Oregon for a while, we jumped at the chance to have her, knowing that if she could run that busy center, she would do an amazing job of running ours. Mary has also worked as a labor, delivery, and postpartum nurse at Providence Newberg Hospital for 10 years while pursuing her midwifery studies through Frontier Nursing University, graduating in October 2008 as a Certified Nurse Midwife with a Masters in Nursing. Mary loves nursing and continues to teach nursing students at her alma mater, but she especially loves the miracle of birth and working with mothers, babies, and families.
When not at work, Mary enjoys interacting with family and friends, traveling, gardening, reading, and singing. Her goal in life and greatest joy is serving God by serving others.
Stephanie Bennett, Business Manager
Stephanie Bennett originally came to us from a small private medical practice where she was office manager in Salem, for over a decade. She also understands birth, as before finally settling on a career in Office and Administrative Management, she worked as a Unit Clerk with the Salem Hospital Labor & Delivery team. It was there that she was truly transformed into a cheerleader for midwives. She fully embraces how joyful a birth can be, especially at a place like Bella Vie, where the focus is tailored to a mother and family’s specific needs and desires. Stephanie feels as though this job was tailored for her and she loves to work with all of our families.
Stephanie is caring and friendly, so feel free to ask her if you need support on the business side of operations.
In her free time, she happily keeps herself busy with her husband Steve and their three lovely daughters (Stacie 18, Shelby 12, and Sydney 6). “I feel so blessed and fortunate to be a member of the amazing Bella Vie Family. I look forward to meeting and getting to know all of you.”
Desiree LeFave is Bella Vie’s co-owner, as well as a wife, mother. She was inspired to become a midwife following the incredible experience of birthing her first child, Kaeli, at home, in 1995. She recently retired from being both a midwife and Bella Vie’s practice manager.
Desiree began attending births in 1998 and became fully credentialed in 2001 (CPM, LDM). Since then, she has given birth to two other daughters, Maryn in 2003 and Eden in 2005, and has helped at the births of about 800 babies.
Desiree, along with Petra, decided to start Bella Vie Gentle Birth Center because of their strong desire to carry on the legacy of midwifery and gentle birth in an environment that can serve many women and their families. Together with their husbands, they put many years of hard work into the birth center, and are proud of, and grateful for the results. Desiree loves to hear the stories of families blessed by Bella Vie.
Desiree’s current role at Bella Vie is in management, often working on billing and insurance contracts as well as supporting our managers and midwives.
Desiree now lives in Snohomish, Washington along with her husband Kristopher, and their two daughters who still live at home. She works from there most days, but you will find her at Bella Vie nearly every Wednesday.
In her free time, she loves spending time with her family, Bible study, learning more about natural health, reading, snuggling her basset hound and homemaking after many years of catching babies.
To really understand Petra’s journey into business, you have to start at the beginning of the story…Seeking to gain freedom and opportunity, Petra’s parents fled the communist country, then known as Czechoslovakia, when she was just 4 yrs old. Through nothing short of miracles and the generosity of perfect strangers, the Prostrednik’s ended up in America to build the life that they had dreamed of.
In July of 2000 (after the fall of communist rule), Petra and her high-school sweetheart, Christopher, went back to the small village where she was born, to say their wedding vows. The following year they were blessed to find out they were expecting a baby. Very excited, and being the thorough woman that Petra is, she interviewed every hospital based midwifery practice in the Portland area. She knew that she wanted a natural birth for herself and her baby. Despite all of her research and preparation, she felt disappointed by the lack of her own self directed control and the many medical interventions. It was theoretically a successful “natural birth”, however, it did not feel “natural” in the sense that she was unable to intuitively let her body do what felt right during the birthing process. A few years later, with the birth of her second child, she opted to go to a freestanding birth center. With the loving support of her husband, her midwife (and soon-to-be close friend) Desiree, along with the birth team, and her 3-yr old daughter by her side, Petra labored in water, was encouraged to listen to her body, and in a beautiful candle lit room birthed her baby into her husband’s welcoming arms. It was a beautiful, gentle birth and in that moment, her journey into midwifery began.
Petra became determined to help other women experience the same joy. Specifically, she envisioned a Country Birth Center, where women could truly get away from the hustle of everyday life to have their baby in a natural, peaceful setting. She immediately began her study of midwifery. Soon there after, Desiree began her own private practice and asked if Petra would help be the second assistant at births. Petra jumped at the opportunity and it wasn’t long that she became her primary assistant. They continued to work together over the next three years. As her apprenticeship came to an end, it became clear to both Petra and Desiree, that they felt passionate about moving forward with the idea of bringing a birth center to Yamhill County. On August 14th, 2007 their dream, “Bella Vie Gentle Birth Center” was born in beautiful Hopewell, Oregon! Since then, Petra and Chris have also welcomed two more daughters into their family!
Petra’s role as the Business Manager is taking care of the many “behind-the-scene” business details that keep Bella Vie operating. You may see her at the center on Mondays, but she primarily works from her home office these days since she has her own little babies to take care of. Petra loves being a mother to her four sweet (and very busy!) girls, she enjoys all aspects of natural health, the outdoors, and in addition to midwifery, is passionate about Waldorf education.
Meredith Klein CPM, LDM
In 2012, Meredith Klein CPM, LDM and her family relocated to the area from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and have found a lovely farm to call home. She actually started her midwifery journey here in Oregon in 1996, at Eugene’s ‘Oregon School of Midwifery.’ She has since lived, and practiced midwifery, in Austin, Texas and Philadelphia, and it feels “full circle” for her to be back in Oregon.
Meredith earned her midwifery certification in 2000, and had private home birth practices until until 2012, when she joined us at Bella Vie. She has attended nearly 700 births of women from many different walks of life, in her career thus far.
After giving birth to her first child Nora, in September 2011, her motivation grew to leave her private practice behind and seek out a birth center environment, where there is more support for midwives to be mothers. She wanted to make sure that she could treasure her baby the way she had seen so many mothers before her do. Since joining us, she and her partner Tony have welcomed their son, Sam.
Meredith’s strong midwifery skills, coupled with her deep knowledge of natural remedies and her easy way of connecting with people have been a perfect fit at Bella Vie. We don’t know what we did without her! Meredith is also very excited to be a part of our close-knit group!
Margy Porter, CPM, LDM
Margy Porter joined the Bella Vie team as a staff midwife in 2016. She has lived in McMinnville with her husband Rob and their three children since 1999, and had a small homebirth midwifery practice from 2008 to 2016. She was originally inspired to become a midwife after reading Ina May Gaskin’s “Spiritual Midwifery” and Elizabeth Davis’ “Heart and Hands” in the healing process from two miscarriages. She was seeking a more heartfelt, more interactive, more informative, and personal level of care, when she found Midwifery! She began an Introductory Midwifery class at the Seattle Midwifery School just 8 weeks following the home waterbirth of her oldest daughter, Katie, in 1993.
Margy became a Certified Childbirth Educator in 1995 and taught childbirth education classes for a total of 13 years, for literally thousands of expectant parents. She has been a Certified Breastfeeding Educator since 1996 and worked as a Peer Counselor at WIC in Texas for 2 years. She became a Doula, trained by the wonderful Penny Simkin in 1994, and started supporting women through labor in 2000. She later began her Midwifery apprenticeship in 2005 and completed her training in 2008, when she achieved both her CPM and LDM. She has traveled to Senegal two times, once as a student, and once as a teacher, to work alongside the Sage-Femmes in Mboro and Kafountine, Senegal. Margy has also worked for 2 1/2 years in an OB/GYN clinic in McMinnville, where she gained an appreciation for the complexities of allopathic medical care and for the benefits of the Midwifery Model of Care. One of her goals is to keep an open bridge of respect and understanding between the best of hospital obstetric care and out-of-hospital midwifery care providers. She is thrilled to work with capable midwife peers and students at Bella Vie.
Margy enjoys swimming, gardening, and living in as sustainable a way as possible. She loves sharing dark chocolate with her husband, and hanging out with her grown children. She strives to recognize the light of good in everyone.
Debbie has had a varied and full life exploring historical/sustainable living practices. She enjoys soap making, candle dipping, weaving, gardening, and open fire cooking, to name a few.
About 20 years ago, when Debbie’s 8 children were younger, they struggled with chronic respiratory infections, ear infections, and general ill health. Debbie began looking for something other than allopathic medicine to care for her children, and found herbology. She began studying with a third generation herbalist from the Ozarks, then continued classes with various herbalists in the Portland area. Debbie completed herbal studies with blue iris herbal school in 2001, and continues learning at workshops and the northwest herb fest. Debbie continues to grow herbs in her garden, and makes plant medicine, sharing her skills with family and friends.
A few years ago, when the “empty nest” years were approaching, Debbie’s family encouraged her to grow in a new direction that had always been an interest: mothers and babies. She enrolled in Ancient Art of Midwifery Institute. In October 2011, while completing her academic program, Debbie started her apprenticeship at Bella Vie Gentle Birth Center and was so fabulous we couldn’t let her leave when it was over. She now works with the midwives at Bella Vie, and whether you find her charting their ultrasound reports or helping with a baby’s birth, you are sure to appreciate her presence.
“It is exciting to be blending my love of herbs with my love for mothers and babies. This is a perfect next step for me. Midwife means “with women;” I love lending support and being with women during this amazing time in their lives,” she says. “I am so privileged to serve women as they move through birth, and excited to work with, and be influenced by, the strong and knowledgable midwives at Bella Vie”.
Claudia is a certified medical billing and coding specialist. She has lived in McMinnille, where she raised her family, for almost 40 years. She has worked in a wide variety of medical offices as receptionist, bookkeeper, and in medical billing. She says, “It is a pleasure to be at Bella Vie and see women have choices for birthing that my generation of women really didn’t have. The women of Bella Vie are kind, compassionate and lovely to be around.”
She has a grown son and daughter who both also live in McMinnville, as well as a granddaughter, with whom she finds great joy. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, walking, water color painting, and looking for cool stuff at thrift shops. She is an active member of First Baptist Church, enjoys spending quality time with friends, and is a part of a book study club to round out her busy life.
Kaeli joined Bella Vie in 2017, as a Project Manager and has already worked on several projects to promote continuous improvement in business operations and client experience.
She is from Portland, OR and is finishing her Bachelor’s degree in Management this Fall in Tacoma, WA at Pacific Lutheran University. When she is not working or studying, Kaeli enjoys vegan cooking, boating in the Puget Sound, and listening to podcasts.
Brett Johnson, BBA
Brett is a friend of the Bella Vie community and is working on an assignment to negotiate insurance contracts.
He grew up in south Seattle and is a Pacific Lutheran University alumnus, with a degree in Finance. Brett played baseball all four years of college and had most of his away games at Linfield, George Fox, Willamette, and other local Universities. As a business student, he was taken aback by the amount of small business thriving in the Willamette Valley and agreed to use his Enterprise Sales background to increase families’ access to care at Bella Vie. When Brett is not working, he can be found outdoors with his black lab, Wilson, or managing his productivity in Excel.
Emily Woodward, CMBS
Emily has been working in the medical field in Reception and Billing for the past 5 years. She is driven, with a passion for helping clients to have a positive, warm experience.
In Emily’s free time she is a coast enthusiast, creating many fond memories with her family, taking trips to the beach. She is an avid Oregon Duck fan and enjoys her ritual hot cup of coffee every morning before the clinic opens. She is a certified Billing & Coding Specialist, working with insurance claims and welcoming clients before their appointments.
Cody and Brooke are a husband and wife team with 3 beautiful girls, ages 6, 2 and a newborn. Cody grew up in Hopewell and attended Amity schools. Brooke grew up near Baker City and moved to McMinnville in 2008, then met and married Cody in 2010. Both of them love to learn new things and take on challenges.
Like many Bella Vie moms and dads, they value bringing children into this world and being able to provide them the best environment to grow. Living on the property at Bella Vie has provided them that environment and support, and they love providing support in return to the staff and families.
When not working, he can be seen spending time with his girls or working on his old truck. When not at work, she can be seen snuggling one of her girls, taking photographs, reading, or crocheting.
Valerie Brewer, CBE
Valerie Brewer became a Certified Childbirth Educator after the empowering natural birth of her second son. With a background in education and a growing love for birth and breastfeeding, she gained her certification with Birth Boot Camp in 2014 and has worked with dozens of couples as they have prepared for labor, delivery, breastfeeding and newborn care. Before joining Bella Vie in 2017, Valerie taught childbirth classes in Princeton, NJ where her husband was in graduate school. During that time, she worked with couples from all over the world (6 out of 7 continents… just missing Antarctica!). She has helped moms and dads planning for both hospital and out-of-hospital births, and she loves to see couples grow in confidence and knowledge as they work together and take ownership of their birth experience.
About her classes, Valerie says, “I think that taking a birth class is such an important part of preparing for your new baby. It’s a chance to communicate with your partner and gain tools and information to not only be ready for labor and delivery but to work with your body and enjoy it! Labor is intense, but it can be a wonderful, rewarding and joyful experience when you are supported, equipped and informed.”
Valerie and her husband, Jon, recently moved to Newberg where her husband is an Associate Pastor at Grace Baptist Church. They have two fun-loving, precious boys and a very sweet baby girl. On the weekends you can find them outdoors whenever possible – hiking, playing tennis, vegetable gardening, and exploring new places.
To learn more about Valerie’s classes, visit her website: www.MyAmazingBirth.com