PUBLIC NOTICE From the FOUNDATION for the ADVANCEMENT OF MIDWIFERY (FAM) 4/29/23
To Whom It May Concern:
The Foundation for the Advancement of Midwifery (FAM) has been put in an untenable position by the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA). FAM is the non-profit, grant-making arm of MANA.
MANA has recently asked the FAM Board for $28,000 to go to Bali, to attend the 4-day International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Triennial Congress in June. Their request includes a 2 week stay in Bali for 2 voting members and 3 other non-voting ‘delegates’.
This $28K demand includes: $8000.00 for an Airbnb; $10,000.00 for airfare, and $3000.00 per diem. They added, “There may be additional fees not included in this preliminary breakdown, which will be submitted as needed. A full detailed accounting will be maintained by our treasurer for review and reconciliation by FAM later.”
In October 2022 and February 2023, and March 2023 upon request, the FAM board told MANA that although we (FAM) are in the middle of a strategic pause, we would consider a reasonable grant.
Specific questions pertinent to this request were submitted to MANA, and few were answered, but MANA has continued to demand a $28,000.00 check to be cut to the MANA board so that 5 yet unnamed persons of MANA’s choosing can attend this Congress in Bali.
Because MANA’s approximate total membership is around 100 midwives currently, it does not represent a significant percentage of the midwives in North America.
Therefore, we the FAM Board consider a $28,000.00 request to attend a 4-day congress in Bali as a frivolous request that in no way furthers the strategies of FAM.
FAM is a small non-profit organization that looks to advance Midwifery in North America. Our funding areas include Research; public education; advocacy and health equity initiatives.
We were generous with donations during the pandemic, but ultimately, we took a hit with dropping donations, and many board turnovers.
In the past year we made grants to the Black Alabama Midwives, and to student midwives for their education. These are worthy recipients of FAM grants and these grants fit beautifully with our by-laws to advance midwifery.
It has been a tumultuous year, and we are getting back on our feet as a new Board and heading in a much clearer, more community-based direction with our grant-making process.
MANA is our sole member, but we are separate from them, and our bylaws state that we do not have to give them special consideration for funding due to them being our sole member.
We do not have a travel fund. A non-specified trust donation was given in 2016, which up to now has been used in a fashion not consistent with non-profit law, by someone not on the MANA Board, who is a family member of the donor. This person has put themselves in the un-official position to declare who receives the benefits with themselves always first on the list. They also took it upon themselves to decide who would go to conferences to represent which organizations that they were also not members of.
Past boards worked with this irregularity, but after consulting with a non-profit lawyer and obtaining the legal documents from the remainder account that the donation came from, this Board decided to no longer support this ‘smoky room’ deal.
This arrangement is not in alignment with FAM’s values, goals, and by-laws.
MANA has misrepresented the FAM Board by making untrue accusations and ignoring our emails for more detailed travel information and to schedule a joint Board meeting when FAM’s Board was available. Most of FAM’s Board are very active birth workers and cannot just drop everything to come to their meeting. We (FAM) have attempted on many occasions to negotiate a meeting time when most are available and do not have client births pending. These contact attempts have been ignored.
Further, the MANA Board Liaison attended an October FAM Board meeting to meet the three newest members of our Board. The MANA Board now maintains that it has never met these new members and ‘on-boarded’ them. These newer members have been working diligently with the rest of the board, as we clarify our vision, goals, and grant-recipients.
Because MANA refuses to acknowledge these 3 individuals; they (the 3) are not ‘invited’ to the joint MANA / FAM meeting that MANA has demanded take place.
MANA claims to have attempted to contact us ‘over 30 times’ which we find curious as they had many incorrect emails for our members despite our October meeting with the liaison in which all personal contact info was shared. Same info can be found on our website.
Further, the MANA Board has many of the FAM Board Members’ phone numbers and could have attempted to contact us via text or phone conversation.
MANA is demanding a meeting today, 4/29/23, at a time the FAM board is not available. The pretext is for a discussion. One of the few powers our bylaws grant MANA is to fire our board. This is what we feel is their purpose for demanding this meeting.
The meeting is at 1 p.m. Arizona time/PST for the two Boards to meet. The Zoom Link for this meeting:
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 842 7929 4707
We submit this detailed letter about our current situation in the interest of transparency and to affirm our commitment to being honest and forthright stewards of FAM’s Funds.
The Foundation for the Advancement of Midwifery (FAM) Board
Samsarah T. Morgan, President