Monroe positioned ICTC as an advocate for disseminating culturally competent midwifery education, achieving recognition for Certified Professional Midwives (CPM’s), and directing funds to improve maternal health and newborn care.
Under her leadership, ICTC spread across the nation, increasing the number of midwives of color, giving midwives of color a seat at the decision-making table, promoting the profession, as well as researching and teaching the contributions of African-descent midwives in world history.
In 2002, Monroe organized the first US-based International Black Midwives and Healers Conference (IBMHC). The conference brought midwives together from around the world for improving maternity care, continuing education, and camaraderie. In 2010, Erykah Badu, a four-time GRAMMY™ Award winner, singer/songwriter, and holistic healer, was the keynote speaker for the conference. In 2011, Ms. Badu accepted Monroe’s invitation to be the ICTC National Spokesperson.
Monroe became president of Shafia Monroe Consulting/Birthing CHANGE in 2013, to aid healthcare professionals and doulas in achieving cultural competency, increasing clients, and improving perinatal outcomes. In the same year, she opened Doula Ready LLC to prevent premature births by reducing perinatal stress for professional women.
Monroe loves teaching and is a lifelong learner. She holds a BA in sociology, a Master of Public Health, and an Independent Primary Midwife (IPM) certification from the Massachusetts Midwives Alliance (MMA). She is a member of multiple coalitions to improve maternity care, through continuing education and training.
Her work has made a significant impact in improving infant and maternal health through leadership development. As an influencer, her model for improving maternity care is being replicated both here and abroad and is featured in multiple publications. Monroe has been recognized with numerous awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Midwives Alliance of North America and the Dr. Hildrus A. Poindexter of the Black Caucus of Health Workers of the American Public Health Association.
Shafia Monroe’s Story
Monroe is the fifth child of seven children. Her father was a foot-washing Baptist from rural Alabama, and her mother was a Bostonian Catholic. She is blessed to have experienced life in the inner city of Boston and in rural Alabama. She enjoyed ice-skating in Boston and riding horses bareback and barefoot in the Alabama countryside. Monroe’s parents were activists – she grew up watching her mother advocate for quality public education, voter registration, and fair housing. Monroe helped her father create community gardens in vacant lots in Boston and care for the land in Alabama.
Monroe’s parents taught her the importance of standing for justice, so when Monroe learned the Black infant mortality rate was two and a half times higher than the white infant mortality rate, she was appalled. She knew she had to do something to reduce the disproportionate rate of Black babies dying before their first birthday. At age 17, Monroe began working to improve perinatal outcomes by training as a homebirth midwife and educating members of the Black community on having home births to improve their birth outcomes. She also opened a midwifery school to increase the number of community midwives. Monroe attributes her success to her spiritual practices, her parents, her commitment to reproductive justice, and her love of midwifery and people.
Monroe spends her free time with her husband, seven children, and ten grandchildren. She enjoys cooking for family and friends, walking, dancing, gardening, writing, fishing, and horseback riding. Monroe lives in Portland, Oregon.
Geradine Simkins, Midwives Alliance of North America President on right Ina May Gaskin, American Midwife, on right Erykah Badu on left, four-time Grammy award winner, singer, and songwriter, at a Black Midwives Conference in 2015 Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers Shafia Monroe being initiated as a Zulu midwife Shafia Monroe training doulas in South America Shafia Monroe at Oregon Historical Society beside Freedom Fighter Banner Mikal H. Shabazz, husband of Shafia Monroe Shafia Monroe with Rick Steber, author of Red, Black and White – A True Story of Race and Rodeo Roberta Eaglehorse-Ortiz, a Portland doula trained by Shafia Monroe, and Senator Merkley Ayanna Ade, CNM and Shafia Monroe at Meharry Medical College Joycelyn Elders, 15th Surgeon General of the US on the right