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Meet the Golden Oak Team 

The Midwives
Ellie Griffinger
Co-Founder, Certified Nurse Midwife


After receiving my undergraduate degree in art history major at a small liberal arts college, I attended a post-baccalaureate pre-medical program. I quickly learned that I wanted to treat the whole individual and family. Instead of solely making medical decisions on behalf of my clients, I wanted to foster them to make their own decisions by providing complete access to information. I left my medical school path and began working with midwives at UCSF. This experience crystallized for me that through the midwifery model of care, I could empower women through education, informed birth options, and build a trusting relationship. In between becoming a registered nurse (RN) and obtaining my Master’s degree (WHNP/CNM) at University of Pennsylvania, I worked with low income, teen moms.  I saw what I had always believed to be true - if you nurture and empower the mother, there are many positive implications for the health of the child and effects on a mother’s life that go way beyond the birth experience. Being a midwife allows me to continue to do this everyday.


In 2009, our first son was born at a birth center in Philadelphia. The experience was wonderful. The model of care and level of attention to education was invaluable. I left that experience not only as a new mother, but with a changed vision for my own midwifery career. I  completed my education at the University of Pennsylvania in 2011 earning a BSN/MSN in Women’s Health and Midwifery. Upon graduation, we were expecting our second son and moving back to the Bay Area, the place I was raised. I was committed to finding great midwifery care in the East Bay for his birth, and I did. He was born into the hands of a midwife at Alta Bates that I knew and trusted. With his birth, so came the birth of my midwifery practice at Alta Bates. First in solo private practice, now in partnership with Gwen Haynes, CNM, my vision to treat the whole person has not wavered. The personalized care received at Golden Oak continues to empower, provide informed choices and build trusting relationships with all of our clients and their families. To bring everything full circle, my daughter was born in 2017 and is an official “Golden Baby” - delivered into our loving midwifery practice!

Certified Nurse Midwife, 2011


Masters Degree in Nursing, 2011


Bachelors Degree in Nursing, 2007


Bachelors Degree in Art History, 2002

Gwen Haynes
Co-Founder, Certified Nurse Midwife


I began working with women and their families in 2001 as a Registered Nurse at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. I worked as a labor and delivery nurse for 5 years before pursuing my dream to become a midwife. In 2006, I graduated from the Frontier Nursing University as a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). I immediately began working as a midwife for a local medical practice in Oakland. In this role, I cared for women in pregnancy and provided GYN care for a diverse population. I was also one of the “hospitalist” midwives at Alta Bates and worked in this capacity for 8 years.  In 2008 I started my own family and gave birth to my daughter Avery and two years later, my son Lucian. Both of my children were born into the hands of midwives at Alta Bates. Through the birth of my own children and the quest to provide more choices for women and families for their own births, I decided to start a private practice midwifery service in 2014. As an Oakland native, I was eager to serve my community in this capacity.  In 2016, Golden Oak was born! A wonderful partnership was shaped with Ellie Griffinger, CNM and our mission has been to bring peaceful, low intervention births into the hospital setting. We offer full scope midwifery care to women seeking an integrative and holistic approach to birth. We guarantee continuity of care, we build trusting relationships, and emphasis a model of care that is evidenced based and promotes wellness.  We believe that the support created by a woman’s midwife and nurtured in partners, family, and the community, leads to births that are fulfilling and beautiful. And now, after caring for women for almost two decades, I celebrate catching over three thousand babies and look forward to providing outstanding care to many more East Bay families!

Certified Nurse Midwife , 2006


Masters Degree in Nursing, 2001


Registered Nurse, 2000


Bachelors Degree in Psychology, 1996

Support Staff
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Amanda Kessner
Licensed Professional  Midwife

Amanda has over a decade of experience working with mothers and babies. She first began attending births as a volunteer doula at San Francisco General Hospital. From there she enrolled at the Midwives College of Utah, and completed the majority of her clinical training at the San Francisco Birth Center. She has since been active with public health organizations including Homeless Prenatal Program and The Body Positive. She also sits on the advisory board of the Global Pediatric Alliance and the Imeinu Jewish Birth Professional Collective. In 2019, Amanda co-founded a private, home birth practice called East Bay Midwives. Born and raised in the Bay Area, she loves to hike, pick wildflowers, and share a Shabbat meal with friends and family.


Amanda supports Golden Oak's prenatal clinic where where she provides our clients with her kind and thoughtful care. She's excited to be part of the team at Golden Oak and feels privileged to serve Golden Oak clients!


Amanda can be reached at

Sarah Hamilton
Education & Communications Director

Sarah was born and raised in the Bay Area amongst a band of working-class artist-rabble rousers types who instilled in her the primacy of the creative imagination, living life on one’s own terms, and that love and community make the world go ‘round. Those commandments well-seeded, she’s lived a pretty unconventional though heart-driven life--longtime wilderness/river guide, MFA in Creative Writing, nonprofit consultant, crazy-proud mother of two daughters, and longtime birth and postpartum doula.


Though many hundreds of births in, Sarah feels the same passion, commitment, and joy in supporting women/birthing people and their loved ones as she did with the first. Sarah deeply believes in the rights of all families to safe, respectful, unbiased, and equitable perinatal care.


Sarah, Ellie, and Gwen teamed up on their first births together many years ago, and she's  been an avid fan and supporter of Golden Oak ever since. Sarah oversees the Education Program and manages all things communications and marketing, along with whatever else she can do to support the practice overall.

When not supporting families or helping out at GO, Sarah's likely in some wild place by foot, bike or kayak; growing food; or playing with her (adult) girls. She can be reached at 


You can find out more about Sarah’s Doula and Childbirth Education practice here:

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Allison Stanton
Office and Billing Manager

Allison is born and raised Bay Area. She trained as a birth doula in 2010 and graduated from UC Berkeley’s Social Welfare and Gender Women Studies programs in 2011. She’s been called a 'baby whisperer' for as long as she can remember. Perhaps she inherited this proclivity to care for babies and calm new parents from her own mother, who delivered babies as a public health nurse in rural Philippines. But it was the empowering experience of the birth of her first son in 2010 that served as a catalyst into doula work. She currently provides birth doula services to clients across the East Bay. Allison strongly believes in the importance of the birth team and from the first time she attended a birth with Golden Oak, she wanted to work alongside Gwen and Ellie as often as possible. What a joy it is to see families step into parenthood surrounded by support!


As Golden Oak’s Office and Billing Manager, Allison is excited and proud to be part of a team of women who provide the best possible care to new families. She serves as the primary point of contact for welcoming new clients into the Golden Oak family; scheduling appointments; and is charge of billing and client invoicing. 


When she’s not birthing or in the office, she’s hanging with her two sons, indoor gardening, or walking Lake Merritt. Allison can be reached at:


You can find out more about Allison’s Doula practice here: 

Alexis Harrington-Kihn

Alexis has been a Labor & Delivery nurse at Alta Bates for over 15 years and is a Certified Lactation Consultant. Her knowledge spans the spectrum of pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. She is committed to empowering families as they navigate this time, through compassionate, non-judgmental, informative care. Alexis conducts Golden Oak's home visits which are scheduled within the first few days home after your birth. She also leads the Golden Oak Postpartum Power Hour every Tuesday and offers a regular Thursday Chat on "What to Expect at Alta Bates".


Alexis can be reached at


You can learn more about Alexis’ Lactation Consultant practice here:

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