Goodbye is the Hardest Part: DONA International

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Because I have been asked by several doulas and clients why I’m leaving an organization I’ve been certified with for nearly 15 years I feel compelled to share the letter I sent today to DONA’s Board of Directors and Regional Directors that shares just a small (yet most influential in my decision) portion of why.

Dear DONA Board Members and Regional Directors,

It is with great sadness that I write to you today to let you know that I won’t be renewing my membership and am allowing my certification of almost 15 years with DONA be revoked for non-payment of annual dues.

Today, May 1, 2015 my membership will lapse and I wanted to reach out to the board at large to let you know of ongoing issues in the management of DONA International so that the board in its entirety can be aware of the ongoing issues with DONA International and hopefully work to resolve these longstanding issues so that DONA can once again become the thriving organization that works for its doula members that I once knew it as.  I’m not a quitter, I wholeheartedly believe that with hard work and dedication and sometimes tough decisions that any obstacle can be overcome. So I reach out to you today.  DONA International

Over the past 5 years, there has been a noticeable shift within the DONA organization.

The once responsive organization that would answer calls or emails within 12-24 hours has become an organization that requires repeated attempts, often over a period of weeks to illicit a response from.  In 2010 it was chalked up to growth and a less than optimal management company.

But over the past 5 years, these issues have persisted and management companies have changed.

I don’t’ want to rehash every grievance I’ve had with DONA over the past 5 years in some kind of parting shot.  I want to bring to the Board of Directors the very real issues that your members are facing.  In March of 2012 I had a conversation over messaging with DONA Regional Director Heather-Gail Lovejoy in which she stated “I really don’t know what else to say except we are WELL aware of member difficulties. we are WELL aware of OB evals, we are WELL aware if conference, we are WELL aware of unanswered inquiries etc …”  yet here we are 3 years later and these same problems still continue.

These very same issues of member difficulties, the lack of  up to date certification requirements and unanswered emails and calls are being spoken of in online forums and in doula communities today, and in growing numbers.

For the members who don’t require contact with the home office or their Board, there is a blissful lack of awareness of these issues, for individuals/members who need to make contact with questions and/or concerns they are finding that process repetitive, time-consuming, and frustrating.

In 2012 these complaints were attributed to just a small segment of the DONA membership (of 10,000 strong) by the DONA representatives I had contact with, and while I tried to believe them the doubt remained.

However, in the past three years, the number of dissatisfied doulas who are choosing to speak out and take their membership dues elsewhere has continued to increase.  If DONA was collecting statistics on memberships and certifications I believe the data would clearly show that memberships are falling, re-certifications are dwindling and DONA’s reputation is faltering as a result of member and prospective member interactions with the organization.  It has come to my attention that the trainers have been told that no such tracking measure is in place.  Retention and future growth

Retention and future growth are the cornerstones of an organization such as DONA and your members are moving on.

And so must I.

It’s with deep sadness that I have chosen to take my membership dollars to other organizations that don’t have such disorganization, lack of communication among members and the directors and who views themselves as a doula support organization not a “consumer organization” as many members of the DONA board have recently expressed as their interpretation as DONA’s role as being.

It is my hope that speaking out to you today will be a catalyst for change.

Positive change where DONA becomes responsive and understanding of the millennial generation of doulas who are coming up in our footsteps and who are demanding change, demanding more, expecting that their certifying body keep up with the times.  It is my hope that DONA can rise to the occasion and deliver.

At the center of my heart, this feels like a death.

I’m sad, I’m disappointed, I’m heartbroken that the organization where I first found my doula home isn’t the place that I am meant to stay.   I’ve tried to make this work for 5 years.  I’ve spent five years being increasingly afraid to speak out for fear of having my certification revoked. So I take my years of education and experience and am moving on to an organization that has its fingers on the pulse of doula work in 2015.

An organization whose directors are active and successful doulas and whose workshops are giving doulas the practical and business tools they need to become successful and thriving professionals.

An organization that views their role as one of professional education, certification and support for doulas, not a consumer organization and who offers ongoing mentorship and support to their membership.  An organization whose owners approached DONA because they also believed in the legacy that DONA had established and wanted to help them elevate their program to the next level.

A program who was dismissed by the DONA Board of Directors.

I bid you farewell as Angela Horn CD(DONA) and will see you on the flip side in the very near future as Angela Horn ProDoula CD Labor.

Angela Horn
CCEE, CBC, CLD(CAPPA), CD(DONA) – until end off day May 1, 2015


Postscript:
Since publishing this blog on May 1, 2015 I’ve learned so much more.

I’ve learned the the DONA leadership actively sought to silence my voice.  I’ve learned that I wasn’t the only one.

I’ve learned they were upset and angry that my contributions to their quarterly publication were actually published.  So much more.  Today I see direct attacks on members of ProDoula by members and leaders of DONA.  I see DONA trying at every turn to staunch the flow of members leaving in droves and doing their best to discredit other organizations in the process.  I’m sad. I’m disheartened.

I’m devastated that the organization I trusted with my certification for all those years worked so hard against me while I was a dedicated member of their organization.

I’m now a trainer for ProDoula, not just a member and certified doula.  I train doulas who have previously trained or certified with other organizations through our Cross Certification program.

Over 95% of the doulas I train have come to us from DONA. The problems above still exist today. I hear them again and again when I ask what lead the doula looking back at me on my computer screen to ProDoula.  Many had wonderful trainers, as did I. But the organization has let them down.

 

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