Our Team

Board of Directors

GFT President and CEO
Julia Seng

Julia is the co-creator of the Survivor Moms’ Companion and one of GFT’s founders. Julia is a nurse-midwife and professor at the University of Michigan. She was a high school French teacher in her first career, which is where she got her love of helping people learn. Her expertise as a researcher is on how posttraumatic stress affects childbearing. Her activism is working with others to find ways to improve the well-being of moms with PTSD when they are pregnant, during birth, and in the early years of parenting. When she’s not working, she enjoys cooking with friends and family, knitting, and planning her next long-distance walking trip. You can reach her at jseng@umich.edu or julia.seng@survivormoms.org. Here is her faculty home page.

GFT Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer
Mickey Sperlich
Mickey is the co-creator of the Survivor Moms’ Companion and one of GFT’s founders. Mickey is on faculty at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work (State University of New York). She studies the effects of trauma and mental health challenges on women’s childbearing, postpartum experiences and early parenting outcomes, and has been a part of several trauma-focused perinatal studies, and other studies looking at trauma more broadly. Mickey also was a teacher in her first career, in special education. When Mickey is not working on academic pursuits you will find her either with one of her beloved grandchildren or out kayaking in her happy place: the Huron river! To reach her, please email mickey.sperlich@survivormoms.org or msperlic@buffalo.edu. Here is her faculty home page.

GFT Board Member
Melisa Scott

Melisa is a Nurse Midwife, lactation consultant, mother and grandmother. She believes in the healing and transformative nature of relationships and connection and hopes to bring that to the families that she serves. She is a group prenatal care facilitator and the co-founder of "Our Village; a support group for black mothers." Over her nearly 30 year career in health care, she has heard countless stories of how trauma impacts the women and families that she has served. She is aware of how hard it is to make systemic change that "moves the needle" on these issues and hopes that GFT can grow and become a mainstay in large health systems.

GFT Board Member
Noelle M. St. Vil

Noelle M. St. Vil is an assistant professor at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. Noelle’s scholarship concentrates on two dimensions of Black intimate relationships: 1) Violence Against Women; and 2) sexual behavior, health, and well-being. Her long-term goal is to create prevention interventions that strengthen Black male-female relationships. When she is not working, she enjoys weight lifting, walking, bowling with her husband and kiddo, and just hanging with her family/friends.

GFT Board Member
Pamela Riggs-Maturo

Pam is a nurse-midwife, farmer, and activist. She has retired from clinical practice with human females, but she loves attending the births of lambs on her farm. Her activism focuses on environmental, food system, and anti-racism projects. Her farm does not leave much time for leisure, but she enjoys movies, cleaning duck week out of the pond, talking to her 3 dogs: Abby, Coco, and Scochi and spending time with her adult children when they return to the nest.

Staff & Contractors

Administrative Director
Grace Nadler

Grace received her Bachelors in Social Work from the University of Kentucky in 2017, and her MSW from the University of Michigan in 2022. She has operated in various social work roles whether as a children & families service provider, an after-school program coordinator, or hospital social worker. Grace provides administrative support and management within GFT and the SMC program, as well as to the Board of Directors. Time not spent working is spent at pub trivia, playing rec soccer, or taking her dog Koda on long walks. To reach her, please email grace.nadler@growingforwardtogether.org.

Training Coordinator
Ashley Gadway

Ashley holds a Bachelor's of Science in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience from the University of Michigan. Ashley is a trained birth doula, former infant safety educator, and mother of a one year old! Ashley's role as Training Coordinator at GFT involves scheduling and doing outreach for SMC trainings, processing Continuing Education Credits and Training Certificates, and project managing. In her free time, Ashley loves to spend time with her one year old (Danny), husband (Andrew), family, and friends. She also enjoys being outside and gardening. She can be reached at: ashley@growingforwardtogether.org

Licensing Director
Debra Lefever-Rhizal

Deb is a nurse-midwife at the University of Michigan. She became a midwife after 15 years of supporting families through childbirth and early parenting as a doula and an educator. She has a strong interest in the healthcare provider's role in empowerment. She has four amazing girls she loves to spend time with, and also enjoys collecting wild edibles, time by the lake or on the river, hiking (sometimes with her dog, Chester) and gardening. Deb can be contacted at debra.lefever-rhizal@survivormoms.org.

Director of Education
Marin Seng

Marin is a white trans woman, child of a trauma researcher, and former public school social studies teacher, living in Philadelphia. She decided to teach when her own teacher helped her to connect the dots between the persistence of racism in our culture/world and imperialist colonialism. As she grew to understand her mother's work, Marin embraced the concept of historical trauma, and the healing of humanity. Marin also loves gardening, antiques, and finding beautiful scenery for life to unfold in.

SMC Trainers

Catharine McDonald
Catharine is a National Certified Counselor, Connecticut Licensed Professional Counselor, and trained as a Family Life Educator and Baby-Led Sleep Educator. She owns Growing Well Counseling in Tolland, CT where she specializes in integrative perinatal wellness, fertility and loss, birth trauma, and maternal work-life balance. Catharine enjoys training others in perinatal mental health and is excited to be joining GFT as a trainer. On a personal note she’s a wife, mom of four kids, three dogs and 13 chickens.

Josie Granner
Josie Granner, PhD, BSN, RN (VA Scholar) recently completed her PhD at the University of Michigan School of Nursing. Dr. Granner’s current research focuses on the transition to fatherhood for men who experienced child maltreatment trauma. She is working towards developing interventions to support new fathers’ mental health and parenting as an approach to interrupt intergenerational transmission of trauma. Her current projects explore the development of a video gaming intervention for new fathers with the Play2Prevent Lab, which would leverage simulation, peer-to-peer support, and be uniquely engaging and scalable.

Students & Interns

Haley Paskvan
Haley is a current Senior at the University of Michigan studying Biology and Gender and Health on a pre-nursing track with the eventual goal of working at a CNM. She will be involved as an intern to assist staff in Survivor Moms trainings and other GFT tasks. She is incredibly passionate about combatting medical inequalities and reproductive injustices. Outside of school she loves to cook, hang out with her five roommates, or go get ice cream.

Juna Hume Clark
Juna Hume Clark is a senior at Washtenaw International High School. She has art and writing published by Up North Lit, The Light Ekphrastic, Black Ink, Borderline Magazine, Root & Star, Blue Marble, and Stone Soup. Her artwork has been featured on book covers, as well as exhibited at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago and Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit. She is the 2022 winner of the Congressional Art Award for Michigan’s 12th District, and her work is displayed at the U.S. Capitol June 2022-April 2023.


Lucas "Lulu" Maturo
Lucas' job with the Survivor Moms' Companion program has been to ensure class logistics run smoothly, and to interact with SMC clients. Lucas is passionate about survivor advocacy and excited to create more survivor centered spaces through his work with GFT and other local nonprofits. Some of Lucas' hobbies include painting, the outdoors, and spending time with his cat, Teddy.

Elise Girardot
Elise is currently a senior at the University of Michigan, pursuing her degree in nursing. She has been learning under the guidance of GFT President and CEO, Julia Seng, during her final semester at the University. Her main role is to assist GFT in piloting their Trauma and Society course, as well as learning about what it takes to run a nonprofit successfully and be a nurse leader in the community. Outside of school and work, Elise enjoys listening to music, spending time in nature, and practicing yoga.

Hannah Schneider
Hannah is a U-M Master of Public Health student in the Health Behavior and Health Education department. She is also pursuing a certificate in Injury Science because she intends to work in injury and violence prevention upon graduation. At GFT, Hannah is an intern helping to develop Trauma & Society, a high school trauma-specific psychoeducation course. She is also a research assistant at U-M Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention. She can be reached at hannahps@umich.edu

Kayla LeMarbe
Kayla is a certified nurse midwife and recent graduate of The University of Michigan’s DNP-CNM program. In her free time, she enjoys traveling with her husband and lab mix dog, Diesel. She completed her DNP residency with GFT, during which time at GFT she created and piloted a continuing education module for labor and delivery nurses. The module consists of background regarding trauma-informed care, interventions, PTSD and trauma-informed labor assessment and pain management. Kayla can be contacted at klemarb@umich.edu.

Adrienne Solis-Sherman
Adrienne worked with GFT throughout the last year of her Doctor of Nursing Practice program at the University of Michigan. With Mickey & Julia's guidance, she was able to design and implement a Trauma-Informed Self-Care training program for perinatal professionals focusing on staff wellness. Interning at GFT provided the supports and platform to implement career changing trainings in her institution as a student. Of her time with the organization, Adrienne has said, "It was a phenomenal experience and I felt highly supported." Adrienne can be reached at solisaj@hotmail.com

Samantha Torres
Samantha Torres is currently a pediatric nurse at Children’s Hospital of Michigan. She graduated in April from the University of Michigan with my DNP, specializing in pediatric primary care. In her free time, Samantha enjoys spending time with her three American bully puppies. During her time at GFT, Samantha worked towards creating a journal club for maternity care providers. The journal club focused on trauma informed care during the perinatal period. She took first steps in creating the journal club with interactive study guides and piloting it within a group of maternity care providers. Of her time with GFT, Samantha has said, "It was so rewarding to work alongside everyone at GFT. I learned so much in my short time there. If future interns want to contribute to the journal club or have questions regarding anything else please feel free to reach out!" Samantha can be contacted at Samtor22@gmail.com

Jillian Solomon
During her time at GFT, Jillian worked on designing and formatting the first few workbooks & guides trauma-informed birth curriculum for healthcare professionals. She is currently working as a domestic violence counselor and advocate at SafeHouse Center in Ann Arbor where she has learned a lot about the trauma-informed community approach and the reality that trauma survivors face each and every day. Jillian plans to carry the skills she has gained from working with GFT into all her future endeavors. She is interested in entering the School Psychology field to further promote and advocate for trauma-informed practices and systems within education. Jillian's passion comes from understanding the mind-body connection of trauma and the importance of social and emotional learning. She hopes to cultivate a safe healing space for students to feel comfortable to be themselves and find their voice. In her off time, Jillian loves to cook, read, roller-skate or hang out her my cat and friends! If you have any questions about her work or would like to chat, Jillian is available at jilliansolo@gmail.com.