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Midwifery Program

Awards: Midwifery Faculty & Students are Recognized

The ACNM Fellowship in Recognition of Lifetime Achievement

This honor is bestowed upon those midwives whose professional achievement, outstanding scholarship, clinical excellence, and/or demonstrated leadership have merited them special recognition both within and outside of the midwifery profession. In light of the vast wealth of expertise and collective wisdom represented within the body of Fellows, its mission is to serve the ACNM in a consultative and advisory capacity.

Photo of Ronnie LichtmanRonnie Lichtman, CNM, LM, PhD, FACNM received her Midwifery education at Columbia University, where she later taught for many years. Prior to teaching, she was one of the first midwives at North Central Bronx Hospital and has always practiced clinically. She is currently Associate Professor and Chair of the Midwifery Program here, at SUNY Downstate. Previously, Dr. Lichman was midwifery Program Director at Columbia University and SUNY Stony Brook. She co-edited and was a major contributor ot Gynecology: Well Woman Care and the first author of a major revision of the classic guide for women: Dr. Guttmamacher's Pregnacy, Birth and Family Planning.


Photo of Aleida Llanes-ObersteinAleida Llanes-Oberstein, CNM, LM, MS, FACNM received her midwifery and master's degree from Columbia University. During the 1980s and 1990s she started two private midwifery practices and developed expertise in the areas of insurance and billing issues. Aleida has been a midwifery educator since 1990 at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn and is a recipient of the ACNM Excellence in Teaching Award. She developed and implemented the first international program on the medical center campus, and exchange program with Cuba, received a SUNY Downstate Medical Center Presidential Award for this project, and has published on perinatal health care issues of Cuban immigrant women. She is a recipient on the New York University Midwifery Alliance Koko Roy Award.

Aleida Llanes-Oberstein is an ACNM Division of Accreditation Site Visitor, member of the Division of Education Continuing Education Panel, and a peer reviewer for the Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health. Aleida is well-known throughout the region for her influential work in effecting important state legislative and regulatory change as ACNM local chapter Chair of the Legislative and Managed Care Committees and for coordinating state-of-the-art continuing education programs. Aleida Llanes-Oberstein was appointed to the New York State Board of Midwifery in 1998, is currently serving her fourth term and was the Board Chair.

Suzanne Schechter, CNM, LM, MS, FACNM received a BA in English from Clark University, a MS in Nursing from Pace University and a midwifery certificate from State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center where she has been a member of the faculty since 1985 and the program’s Education Director since 1995. Professor Schechter contributed to the transformation of the nurse-midwifery certificate program into a graduate level program that, for over a decade, has been offered not solely to students whose background is in nursing, but also to those whose education and experience is in disciplines other than nursing. She is currently the co-investigator of an on-going educational research project comparing direct entry and RN graduates of the SUNY Downstate Midwifery Program from 1997 through 2006.

Professor Schechter served as a member of the Board of Review and is a site visitor for the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (formerly the Division of Accreditation). She has also been a member of the Division of Education, Continuing Education Section’s reader panel since 2001. As an active member of ACNM Region 2, Chapter 1 for over twenty years, she has served in a variety of capacities including two terms as Treasurer, Chair of the Nominating Committee and has mostly recently joined the Editorial Staff of the chapter newsletter. In 2006 she spearheaded the formation of a Student Scholarship Committee which she has Chaired since its inception.   

While the principal focus of her midwifery career has been in the area of education, Suzanne Schechter has provided direct health care services to mothers, babies, and families for over thirty years. In 2004, she was a recipient of the ACNM Regional Award for Excellence and in 2008 the ACNM Foundation Excellence in Teaching Award. Suzanne is grateful to her midwifery mentors, colleagues and students who have inspired and helped guide her professional endeavors.

New York City Midwives Student Scholarship: Renée Fiorentino, Class of 2016

Renée Fiorentino came to midwifery after a varied career that included teaching health in a girls’ high school, researching long-term outcomes of a teenage pregnancy-prevention program, and serving as Evaluation Advisor to governments and projects in many low-income countries. She earned a degree in Public Health from Columbia University and has a deep commitment to social justice. She undertook the study of midwifery to become more directly involved in primary health care at individual and community levels and is committed to growing our profession to further extend the benefits of compassionate care to more families.

Renée has been involved in lobbying for midwifery legislation at the state and federal levels. Since 2014 she has worked with Karen Jefferson and Ronnie Lichtman on a proposal to summarize home birth routine service data.

Her future vision is for a system in which midwifery is integrated into effectively run health systems in order to meet the needs of all those seeking and deserving of high quality reproductive health services and justice. She is a strong believer in systems, data and standards. She desires to spend the next chapter of her career at that place where data meet and support patients.

New York State Association of Licensed Midwives' (NYSALM) Award: Rachel Ritter Class of 2016

Midwifery Student, Rachel Ritter, received the Future of Midwifery is in Good Hands Award at the 2015 NYSALM Lobby Day.













SUNY Chancellor's Award For Student Excellence: Maria Freytsis Class of 2007

Maria Freytsis already had an impressive resume before entering the Midwifery Program. In addition to providing training and health services to women in China, Antigua, Guatemala, and Kosovo, she is co-founder and board president of Friends of the Birth Center, a grassroots organization formed after the only birthing center in Manhattan closed in 2003. While enrolled at Downstate, she continued to volunteer as a public health worker, helping villagers in Indonesia affected by the tsunami. An excellent student, she pioneered a new clinical site for the Midwifery Program at the Developing Families Birth Center in Washington, DC, to provide quality care for underserved patients.

Each year, schools within the State University system are encouraged to submit nominations for the Chancellor’s Award. SUNY Downstate was permitted two, based on its student enrollment. Students graduating between June 2007 and May 2008 were considered for the award.